.303 shooting

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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 15 Sep 2022, 6:45 pm

bladeracer wrote:I fired my case life test rounds for the sixth time and they are starting to get tight, so probably best to bump the shoulders every five firings. I'll bump them just enough to chamber before loading them again. Measuring after firing they have stretched no more than .001", so after bumping and neck-sizing probably another .003" to trim off I guess.


Haven't had time to reload these yet but I did measure the shoulder.
The original new PPU brass measured in this chamber after one firing measured 1.843" to the .375" shoulder datum. After five firings they measured 1.879", after six firings they measure 1.881" and the bolt is getting hard to close. So I guess I want to keep them around 1.880" max, but it's possible they might stretch that two-thou again after each firing now and need bumping every time. If that is the case I might decide to bump them a little further to get a few shots between bumps - not sure yet.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 23 Sep 2022, 5:51 pm

Okay, been a very busy time but I finally managed to get around to these .303 test rounds.
I bumped the shoulders .005", figuring it'll give me several easy firings before the shoulder gets back to being tight.
I was surprised that bumping it that far significantly increased the case length. Rather than trim the usual .003" off this time I trimmed .009" off.
I think that's .031" trimmed off them now after six firings.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 30 Sep 2022, 6:40 pm

Had my daughter and four kids here this week but I managed to shoot another case life test, the sixth and seventh firings.
Firing after bumping them .005" has them not quite as tight to chamber as they were before bumping, but I think one more will require bumping again, and that is going to get annoying. Before neck-sizing they've stretched .004", after neck-sizing they're .005"-.006" longer, so after seven firings I've trimmed .037" off them. Neck tension seems fine still, as do the primer pockets.

I'll fire them again (eighth time) then bump them .010" and see if I can get three or four firings out of them before they need bumping again.

The scope mount actually held very well for 70rds after I replaced the screws with stainless. But it has given me the info I wanted so I've removed it now.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by in2anity » 30 Sep 2022, 9:01 pm

What sort of 10shot group you gettin now blade? from cold
Please, explain to me the practical difference between the 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.5×55 Swedish cartridge. GO.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 01 Oct 2022, 12:14 am

in2anity wrote:What sort of 10shot group you gettin now blade? from cold


With my eyesight I'm around 40-50mm at 50m off bags, my mate is similar, but I don't think we've fired any 10rd groups as yet, just 5rd as we've been sorting our loads.

Yesterday I just rested standing over a tree branch and fired two groups on the Figure 12 at 50m. I wanted to check my zero off bags without the scope but as I had the kids with me I just grabbed the rifle and the Figure 12 and made some noise for them as another step in the case life test.

Last week we were shooting the SMLE and the M91/30, and I really enjoyed shooting the Mosin.
Earlier this week I noticed I was seeing a "W" for the rear notch on the SMLE, two distinct notches. The front sight is still just a barely perceptible blur but I can make it out. The first group I decided the right side of the W looked better and that seemed to be the real one as my shots were centred on the orange-black blob of the target - it's very difficult to have a precise hold on these military targets I'm finding. Then I thought I'd try with my reading glasses, which give a very clear single-notch rearsight and a reasonably clear front sight, but a very, very blurry target. Couldn't aim at anything specific on the target. Both groups were wide but fairly tight in elevation so I just need to work on finding a specific point on the target to aim at I think.

Should be able to practice on the Figure 12 at 100m and the Figure 11 at 200m next week so I'll have a much better idea of how I'm shooting. Also have to try the Eye Pal thing as well some time.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 24 Oct 2022, 11:21 pm

Been a while :-)
I had a hernia repair surgery two weeks ago, then two days later ended up getting an ambulance back to hospital for an indirectly-related issue but all good now. Wasn't up to shooting at all for seven days then started getting back into it slowly practicing offhand with the Henry .22LR. We've been calving for a few weeks, going up to check on the cows every three hours, including through the night. Each check is a 600m to a thousand meter walk for the round trip and great exercise for recovering from the surgery. In daylight I've been taking the Henry and shooting some steel on the way up and back.

Went out to a mate's place today, did a lot of walking and found a spot where I can shoot out to 1000m. Only issue it's across a heavily-treed valley so walking out to check the targets doubles the distance, quite a bit of hiking :-)

Also shot another round with my case life test brass in the SMLE at 180m on the Figure 11. At least the zero is pretty close, though I might try coming up a notch on the rear sight next time.
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I practiced a bit with the .22LR first to get a feel for the wind was it was weird, no wind at all for the first 45m because of a shearing shed I was shooting alongside, then a gap of 50m with an 8mph to 10mph crosswind coming through a gap, then the line of fire ducks behind a ridgeline where there was no perceptible wind again. The .22LR gave me about 4.5MoA of wind at 180m which I didn't think would mean much to the .303 so I held dead centre. The group is only about 1.5MoA off centre. The group is 190mm wide and 420mm tall. I called one of the high shots but the rest felt like they were on when I fired them. I shot this just kneeling behind the ute tray, very informally. Pretty happy with the result but I want to see if I can improve it.

My eyesight has not improved so the front sight is still virtually invisible. I have to find a background of contrast to find the front sight, get the sight picture, then move the sights over the target, it does work but it's not ideal :-)

I have been playing with the EyePal aperture but it really is a painful way to shoot. It does make a remarkable difference in defining the sights almost perfectly, but it's _very_ difficult to actually see anything else through the hole, it's difficult to find the target, and I have not been able to use it with both eyes open at all. It pretty much takes all the fun out of shooting. But I want to try to make it work for me so I'll persevere with it a bit more. I want to find the position for it on the glasses, then drill a 6mm hole through them so there is nothing between my eye and the sights, I'm hoping that will be a big help.

My mate did manage to find the jacket in one of the holes drilled in the mud. I'm sure the Bertram bullet would make a nice hunting bullet.
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But I also found what might be an issue with the old Lithgow. Looks like the standard SMLE failure of the draws but I'll have to strip it and see what's happening inside. If it's not something I can fix very quickly I may have to take the PH aperture off the other SMLE and switch to that one.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 25 Oct 2022, 4:39 pm

I stripped the rifle and had a close look at everything. She's been very well looked after, any screws that were munted since 1943 have been replaced at some point, and nothing was very tight, just tight enough, as they should be. The barrel channel is tight and shows no signs of somebody trying to relieve it anywhere.
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Very pleased, especially as the front handguard was "glued" fairly well to the barrel with old oil - I was dreading finding rust under there when it showed signs of stubbornness. A nice coating of Ballistol should prevent any more of that.
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I can't find anything in the inlet that indicates cracking or movement or looseness and the wood is a fairly tight fit around the action. I think it's just been a little over-relieved along the left side, leaving a heavy shadow line that caught my eye yesterday.
I've got photos now so I'll carry on shooting and just keep an eye on it.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 27 Oct 2022, 7:10 pm

I forgot to mention that the last case life test firing I used powder that was unsealed for more than two years - I noticed no difference at all compared to fresh powder. I'll keep using this unsealed powder for more of these case life test rounds until I've used it up.

I bumped them .005" last time and got two firings out of them. I reckon I could chamber them again but they were getting very tight already - usable but potentially unreliable if you don't consciously push the bolt handle fully down.

After firing they've only stretched .0015" this time, the least stretch so far.
I've bumped them .007" this time hoping I might get three firings this time. After bumping they've stretched .009" (about .046" trimmed off them now).
I'll continue shooting this batch until they eventually fail, they're my warm-up rounds when I'm practicing.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 05 Nov 2022, 8:16 pm

Got out for a practice today, but first we had to chase one of our cows a couple kilometers after she decided to go looking for a bull this morning :-)
We found her in a neighbour's property hanging with a young bull and a mumma cow, and a fox. The rest of his herd was up over the hill but this pair were on their own. I discovered the mumma's baby dead, very recently, probably this morning. Looks like she'd gotten under a single hot wire around some sheds yesterday or the day before, couldn't get back out, and died. The fox was just getting stuck into her lips when we showed up looking for our girl. I'd like to get out there at dawn to see if the foxes come back to her (a fox took two of our chickens and two from a neighbour this week). We walked our girl all the way back to her own gang, through the bush. When we came out of the bush she spotted her mates 700m away and set off at a trot leaving us way behind. Rose followed her to let her through the gate while I set up the Figure 11 at 180m for some .303 practice.

I made up fifteen dummies this week to practice dry-fire rapid and reloads, which have been running just fine. Except that every single time (no exceptions) I strip the rounds into the magazine the top round gets rim-locked, whether I strip in one charger or two. I also discovered the mag holds, and feeds perfectly, eleven rounds - maybe it's not entirely "as issued"? I tried loading the chargers sloped rather than staggered and so far they load just fine, zero rim locks. I used Federal brass for the dummies as I only have about 50 pieces. It's possible it's just this brass as the PPU seems to work fine, or it might be a nasty result of stripping the rifle last week. I've been videoing myself running the dummies. Just running 10rds through the action in my lap without pulling the trigger takes about seven seconds. From prone, running the mag through the rifle, including getting a rough sight picture (on a tree at 50m) and dry-firing each time is about 28 seconds. It then takes about five seconds to grab another round, toss it in, close the bolt, get a sight picture, fire, and open the bolt ready for the next round. From prone this is significantly quicker than trying to strip a charger into the magazine and reacquiring the target. I'm sure it's quicker to run five singles than to strip a charger in, then fire five rounds - from prone it's fairly awkward stripping a charger into the magazine and requires some positional changes. Grabbing loose rounds from the ground and tossing them in is smooth and very easy with no change of position - five singles loaded, aimed, and fired is only 25 seconds. From offhand and kneeling a charger is quicker.

I did a dry-fire rapid practice today as a warm-up and found that acquiring a good sight picture on the Figure 11 at 180m slowed me down to around 40 seconds. I was going to do a few live-fire rapid practices to see whether recoil recovery increases it but didn't bother. My shooting today was absolutely atrocious. Last week, just shooting across the back of the ute my 180m groups were 450mm and well centred on the target. Today's efforts gave me 50% on the board (1200x600mm), with the "group" almost the height of the 1200mm board. Looking at the impacts in the dirt behind the target, the width was probably not as bad but still well wider than the 600mm board. I did have a terrible sight picture, with the "W" rear notch and no visible front sight, as usual, but this was ridiculous :-) Oh well, I knew my eye issue would be a problem.

So I tried the Eyepal aperture again. It does do an amazing job of defining the sights, but I really hate using the thing. It is never in the same position after each shot so you have to adjust your glasses and twist your head around to get the aperture to align somewhere in front of your eye that also lets you see the sights and the target, very, very annoying. I can usually manage to see through it but I'm basically trying to peer around one of the edges of the circle rather than having it centred - which can't be good for precision. I'm sure for Benchrest, sitting at a bench with ten-minutes to take each shot it's a godsend, but for field shooting I would have to say it's hopeless. I've tried it on five different pairs of glasses and none of them work any better than the rest. Perhaps with goggles strapped around my head the thing might stay in position - I have just such goggles coming to test that out :-)

I tried a second 10rd group with the EyePal and it was as dismal as the first. And two shots managed to hit the 6mm steel rod around the target frame, the first bending it, the second blowing it apart. I really did think having the frame 600mm wide would make it impossible to inadvertently hit it :-)

I fired the case-life test rounds and packed it in for today. I'll have to get out and shoot some groups off the bench tomorrow at 50m to determine whether today's result was due to my eyesight or whether the rifle simply no longer groups after disassembly. Hopefully not the latter.

I measured the case life brass. Despite bumping the shoulders .007" last time, one firing has them up .005"-.006" already at the shoulder. I can only guess that all the brass I've trimmed off the mouths is coming from the shoulder area, making it thinner. One more firing will almost certainly require bumping them again. Case lengths have stretched .008" before sizing so I expect to trim these at least .010" after neck-sizing.

From new, this PPU stretched fairly consistently for the first five firings, then I needed to start bumping them. The first firing after bumping gives a significant lengthening, the second firing stretches very little. Clearly this variation in case volume is not conducive to consistency. I'm inclined to think you would be better off simply bumping the shoulder every time. You'd likely also have to trim them about .005" every time, but as I'm having to trim them every time even neck-sizing that's no loss, so really you're just adding having to lube the brass every time. After ten firings you'd likely have trimmed about the same off them as I have with seven neck-sizes and three shoulder bumps. The case volume would be more consistent for every loading though. My new PPU brass has the shoulder .033" short for my chamber, which is huge. If I were trying to build a precision load for this rifle I would fire-form all the brass with a fairly warm load to push the shoulder as far forward as possible, and then bump the shoulder every time .003" to .005" from then on. I might even try a batch this way and see if I have a measurable difference, but I'd have to re-scope the rifle for that.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by Vince24 » 06 Nov 2022, 9:38 pm

Hi Bladeracer

what's the case life thing? You're studying the longevity of a 303 case?
How many reloads so far?

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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 06 Nov 2022, 10:14 pm

Vince24 wrote:Hi Bladeracer

what's the case life thing? You're studying the longevity of a 303 case?
How many reloads so far?

Cheers,
Vince


Hi Vince :-)
Yep, trying to get an idea of case life because the .303 is renown for tearing through them due to the rear-locking and loose chambers.
In ten firings from new with the 174gn/2300fps load I've trimmed over 1.5mm off the PPU brass. The new brass is about .005" short and didn't need trimming before I loaded it, but I trimmed them after that first shot.

I got out this arvo and shot some groups off the bench at 50m to confirm the rifle still groups - it does, so that's not a problem. I pulled one to the right but it shot three 45mm groups, even with the bayonet fitted. All using the EyePal aperture though, I simply couldn't use the sights at all without it. I also tried a group left-handed. I could see the sights fine that way but my ability on the trigger is lacking :-)
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by Vince24 » 06 Nov 2022, 10:25 pm

10 firings with 38gr behind a 174gr bullet, it's not too bad! Too easy with the PPU cases. Should try the same with S&B :lol: .

I have started to reload this year and have many rifles and cases (brought my PPU cases in my container when I moved from overseas), so I don't think I have fired any of mine more than 3 times, if that.

Glad that the rifle still groups.
When it comes to stripping rifles, I have a very simple rule:

DON'T ! :evil:
Unless you really have to.

Some rifles are known to be very fussy with the screw torques etc. notably
- The Enfields
- The Swiss rifles

Good old Mausers...
With my Mosin 91/30 however, if you don't tighten the screws, the rifle will fall apart after 50 shots:)
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 06 Nov 2022, 11:42 pm

I do have S&B as well, but I got 500 pieces of PPU for $250 a few years ago so I decided to use that batch for this rifle as I was planning to get involved in competitions with it - even at ten loads that gives me 5000 rounds. With my eye issue though I'm not sure it's going to be realistic, I might have to switch to the No4 Rifle or the M1903-A3, or to the competition SMLE with the aperture sight. I have goggles coming to try next with the Eyepal aperture. They should stay well fixed in position, thus I shouldn't have to try to find the aperture after each shot. I've also found that the aperture needs to be moved when shooting offhand compared to prone. If you were going to use it you'd probably want to set up different glasses for each position, as well as different sets of glasses for each rifle.

The brass is still not giving any indication of immanent failure but it must be getting close now, you can't just keep trimming brass off indefinitely.
I did a batch of 200rds back in June, plus I've been shooting, loading, and shooting the same eleven pieces over and over as warm-ups when I'm practicing (I must've had an extra one in one of the bags, but it's not a problem as it holds ten-plus-one, although I discovered the mag actually holds eleven without issues).
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It's time to do another bigger batch. I'm sure the Hornady shoots a little better but the Bertram and Driver bullets are just fine for practicing (and hunting I reckon), and I got boxes of the Hornady and Woodleigh 174gn Round-nose from a member here to try as well. I've bought more than 3000 174gn .303 bullets the past few months so I do need to stick with it. I used Bertrams for the fifteen dummies for practicing dry-fire rapid cycling and loading and they are very beat up now from being pushed through the chargers, cycled through the action, and spat out of the rifle many dozens of times. Eventually I'll pull the bullets and use them in these case life test rounds as well.

I also want to try them in the M1903-A3 - when I can find time.

Agreed about the milsurps, stripping and reassembling them is regarded as some sort of dark magic :-)
I thought the draws were failing though so she had to come apart for inspection.
Plus I found she is just as beautiful underneath as she is to the casual eye, very well looked after indeed.

My mate's has developed a small crack that we need to look at before we do much more shooting with his.


Vince24 wrote:10 firings with 38gr behind a 174gr bullet, it's not too bad! Too easy with the PPU cases. Should try the same with S&B :lol: .

I have started to reload this year and have many rifles and cases (brought my PPU cases in my container when I moved from overseas), so I don't think I have fired any of mine more than 3 times, if that.

Glad that the rifle still groups.
When it comes to stripping rifles, I have a very simple rule:

DON'T ! :evil:
Unless you really have to.

Some rifles are known to be very fussy with the screw torques etc. notably
- The Enfields
- The Swiss rifles

Good old Mausers...
With my Mosin 91/30 however, if you don't tighten the screws, the rifle will fall apart after 50 shots:)
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by Vince24 » 09 Nov 2022, 10:19 pm

By the way, Western Firearms sells some 180gr FMJ 311 projectiles at 49$ / 100.

Sounds like a pretty good deal for 311 projectiles, I thought I would mention it.

Back in Europe when I was only shooting factory, the S&B were quite good in my Lee.
So you put an S&B pill in a PPU case and you have something decent!
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 09 Nov 2022, 11:50 pm

I went out yesterday in the rain and tried four rifles with aperture sights to see if I can shoot better than I can with open sights. Yep, very significantly better with the apertures. The 1945 Lithgow SMLE PH5, M1903-A3, 1942 No4Mk1* Longbranch, and the Uberti 1866 with the aftermarket Williams aperture sight.
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The M1903-A3 in particular shoots extremely well, about 30mm at 50m off bags. Unfortunately the heavy rain must've gotten into my phone and killed the SD Card, I lost all photos and video from when the rain started, so no target pics. And the soaked paper targets came apart in the back of the ute on the way home so I couldn't even measure them afterwards. Today the SD Card is still dead so I dismounted it and recorded today's effort directly to the phone. This worked fine as I watched each video as I walked up to check the targets. But when I copied them across to my computer only two videos and two photos came through. Even though I copied rather than moved them it also wiped them from the phone in the process. It was extremely heavy rain yesterday so I can only guess a lot of water got into the phone. I wanted to specifically try the EyePal aperture yesterday as I got strap-on goggles for it. But the rain wasn't going to allow that.

I went out again today and shot a group at 50m with the 1945 SMLE PH5 without the EyePal. I pulled one but four went into 46mm, not too awful. Then I put the EyePal aperture on the goggles and shot two groups with the open-sight 1943 SMLE. Very nice groups of 48mm and 38mm. With the goggles the rear sight notch is not as crisp as it has been with the various glasses I've tried, but the front sight was perfectly defined through the aperture. But best of all, the aperture not only remained in position during the recoil over fifteen rounds, it also fell back into the correct position after removing the goggles and putting them on again. I also shot a group at 100m, the sights were excellent but I really couldn't see the 70mm target diamond so I don't think the group is representative of anything useful. I'll make up some targets about 90mm, 120mm and 150mm and see which best suits me. I was going to try at 180m again but it was 1900 by the time I was ready to move and getting a bit late. I'm going to see a mate tomorrow though and might be able to try it at his place.
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I'm not sure it'll be viable for rapid-fire yet though, the aperture does obscure a lot of the view, making quick target acquisition difficult, and I can't use it at all with both eyes open (as I'm used to with the Williams aperture on the Henry .22).
https://youtu.be/lQ48HDC1mR4

The cataract in my eye seems to bend the light so the rear U-notch lifts up in the centre, turning it into a W. Using the EyePal on several pairs of glasses this wasn't an issue, with these goggles it is, though nowhere near as bad as my normal eyesight - I'm guessing due the greater curve in the lens. I have another pair of goggles to try, hopefully tomorrow. The EyePal does make the sights visible for me, but it can't prevent the floaters from dropping into the centre of my pupil and blocking out the view of the sights, usually I can wait a few seconds and it drops away, sometimes I have to shake my head to clear it.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 10 Nov 2022, 12:09 am

I really prefer the lighter bullets, 174gn is already heavier than I want to be shooting in my .303's. I have some 215gn Woodleighs for it, plus 240gn .308" bullets I could try if I really want to hurt myself :-)
Price is good though, same as the Bertram 174's, although that price may have risen since I bought them.
The Bertram and Driver bullets are just fine for practicing, and I reckon the Bertram is a decent hunting bullet too.
The Hornady FMJ shoots very well so will be my match bullet for now. I want to try the SMK's but they've been out of stock for a long while now.

The 50m groups I managed today are as good as I was getting with the scope on so it's not looking too bad. I need to practice more unsupported prone, kneeling and offhand still. But I need to find time to make up another batch of ammo too. I've got hundreds of rounds with 150gn bullets I can practice with until I can make more 174gn loads. I've fired over 300rds in my three .303's this year, but hopefully that'll be well over 500rds by the end of the year.


Vince24 wrote:By the way, Western Firearms sells some 180gr FMJ 311 projectiles at 49$ / 100.

Sounds like a pretty good deal for 311 projectiles, I thought I would mention it.

Back in Europe when I was only shooting factory, the S&B were quite good in my Lee.
So you put an S&B pill in a PPU case and you have something decent!
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by Cooper » 13 Nov 2022, 12:18 pm

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I picked a couple of hundred of the 303 174 gr soft point projectiles along with two hundred of the 150gr and a couple of hundred 303 Bertram cases. I also got some .308 projectiles which I’ll try in my 308 and brothers 30 06. Felt good buying something in made In Australia.

I mainly use the Berrys 123gr copper plated projectiles in my 303 with Trailboss. They shoot quite respectable ( considering open sights and an old 303) so I’ll be happy if the Bertram projectiles shoot similarly. Not sure how well I’m going to tolerate full power load in the 303. I am still recovering from a shoulder injury and while I have shot a few of my other CFs and 12 gauge shotgun. I’ll need to make sure I don’t over do it. Will try to post up some target pictures over the next couple of weeks.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 13 Nov 2022, 6:19 pm

Cooper wrote:
E9E9E307-7BF9-4616-B80E-482C786DB9FC.jpeg
I picked a couple of hundred of the 303 174 gr soft point projectiles along with two hundred of the 150gr and a couple of hundred 303 Bertram cases. I also got some .308 projectiles which I’ll try in my 308 and brothers 30 06. Felt good buying something in made In Australia.

I mainly use the Berrys 123gr copper plated projectiles in my 303 with Trailboss. They shoot quite respectable ( considering open sights and an old 303) so I’ll be happy if the Bertram projectiles shoot similarly. Not sure how well I’m going to tolerate full power load in the 303. I am still recovering from a shoulder injury and while I have shot a few of my other CFs and 12 gauge shotgun. I’ll need to make sure I don’t over do it. Will try to post up some target pictures over the next couple of weeks.


Yes, having bullets made locally is very useful, particularly earlier this year when I couldn't find anybody with stock of 174gn bullets. And they're cheap and they shoot very well. I want to try them in the .30-06 as well. I haven't managed to shoot the .311" Berry's 123gn well in my 7.62x54R's or .303's, they're just too under-size I think. But they shoot extremely well in the .30-06 so I use them for that. I have a little over a hundred .303 Trailboss rounds made up (150gn Hornady SP) but I'm going to switch to AR2206H for the next batch of reduced loads, I'm saving my Trailboss for other things.

Are you shooting an SMLE or a No4 Rifle?

I have a significant permanent shoulder injury myself. The few hundred rounds of .303 I've fired the past few months haven't been an issue, although one round last week certainly bit me. Probably had the buttplate a millimetre from where it should've been :-)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQ48HDC1mR4

12ga. still beats me up with factory loads though, even a half dozen shots is too much.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by Wm.Traynor » 13 Nov 2022, 7:12 pm

Bladeracer,
When I shot fullbore, floaters were a problem for me too. Have you tried looking hard to left or right and blinking several times?
As someone with dodgy eyesight, I look forward to your results with the Eye-pal :)
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by Cooper » 13 Nov 2022, 7:31 pm

bladeracer wrote:
Are you shooting an SMLE or a No4 Rifle?

I have a significant permanent shoulder injury myself. The few hundred rounds of .303 I've fired the past few months haven't been an issue, although one round last week certainly bit me. Probably had the buttplate a millimetre from where it should've been :-)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQ48HDC1mR4

12ga. still beats me up with factory loads though, even a half dozen shots is too much.


Yeah I’m shooting a Mk111. I loaded some of 150s and 174s with 2208 and shot of 5 of each. My shoulder felt pretty good think the full wood stock and weight helps a lot with the felt recoil. Definitely a bit rusty with the open sights. Hopefully get some more practice in next weekend.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 13 Nov 2022, 8:21 pm

Wm.Traynor wrote:Bladeracer,
When I shot fullbore, floaters were a problem for me too. Have you tried looking hard to left or right and blinking several times?
As someone with dodgy eyesight, I look forward to your results with the Eye-pal :)


Floaters are a problem but I can generally wait a few seconds for them to drop out of the way, if they hang around, then shaking my head a little usually dislodges them. They're more of an issue when shooting on the clock, when I don't have time to wait. Then I have to guesstimate the sight picture and take the shot, and it works okay, but is far from optimal. It's difficult to say whether the EyePal aperture helps with seeing "through" the floaters, it might be possible but I doubt it. Even with the aperture I still seem to get a significant number of floaters I have to wait on.

I did notice the other day that trying to use aperture sights with the EyePal as well, made it _very_ difficult. You have to align two very small holes (sub-2mm) first, then adjust that "tube" to find the front sight, then keeping these three in alignment try to find the target through a _very_ obstructed view. Opening my left eye it wasn't unusual to find I was sighting several metres to one side of the target.

I think the EyePal could be a real godsend for slow-fire where you have time to get everything aligned though, it is remarkable. And for the $40-odd it's well worth trying I think - if you can punch a neat hole through a piece of paper or tape it would probably give you an idea of whether it might help. With glasses or specs I found that they move under recoil every time, thus moving the aperture out of alignment with the sights, not a big issue for slow-fire as you can adjust them. Shooting more rapidly though means twisting your head around to get a view through the aperture, then adjusting your cheek weld to align it with the sights again. Strap-on goggles were my last-ditch effort to make it work. So far, the goggles are working very well indeed in keeping the aperture in position. I can even take them off between strings and it stays were it should be when I put them on again. I was concerned that the bulk of goggles might foul against the stock but this hasn't been an issue at all thus far. The aperture is supposed to stay in place from static electricity but I'm sure that's just asking to lose it, I have two small pieces of insulation tape securing it. Once I've determined the ideal placement I'll probably just glue it in place.

I don't find goggles (or glasses) comfortable, but that's probably a personal thing that I hope to get used to. The lenses do fog fairly easily, and I made the mistake of pushing them up on my forehead for a few minutes which really filled them with moisture. I think the fix is simply to drill a hole through the lens, which will also remove the lens from my view. Shooting prone, benched and offhand does move where the aperture needs to be, but only within a few millimetres. I think a 6mm or 8mm hole through the lens would be sufficient.
Last edited by bladeracer on 14 Nov 2022, 3:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 13 Nov 2022, 8:25 pm

Cooper wrote:Yeah I’m shooting a Mk111. I loaded some of 150s and 174s with 2208 and shot of 5 of each. My shoulder felt pretty good think the full wood stock and weight helps a lot with the felt recoil. Definitely a bit rusty with the open sights. Hopefully get some more practice in next weekend.


Yes, these are not lightweights :-)
I've been carrying two rifles, and ammo, and targets and frames 300m into the paddock as a tree is down across the track.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 13 Nov 2022, 9:07 pm

It occurred to me the other day that my 1951 BSA Sportsman 5 might make a decent .22LR analogue for practicing with, so I pulled it out.
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Length of pull, bolt position and overall length and sight radius are pretty close :-)
Going to do a lot more practice with the old girl I think.

I full-length sized 150 once-fired PPU last night, that really does slow it down compared to unlubed neck-sizing. Trimming them all tonight. Not sure I'll stick with it if I don't see more consistent groups as it is a lot more work. Plan is to FLS this batch only, no neck-sizing to maintain a consistent case shape and volume for every load.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by Biscuits » 14 Nov 2022, 4:09 am

Excellent write up and photos, Bladeracer.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by Wm.Traynor » 14 Nov 2022, 9:14 am

Thank you for that reply, Bladeracer.
re the 2nd para, It sounds like you are using the aperture in your sight And the Eye-pal, at the same time. How about unscrewing the aperture from the sight and simply looking through it with the Eye-pal?

As for the Eye-pal. I recall many years ago seeing an old geezer who had "Flip up" tinted lenses on the same spectacles frame as correction lenses. As he left the supermkt to go out in to the blazing sun, he lowered the tinted lenses. My question is, "Could you have a correction lens in a frame that made the foresight clear, with Eye-pal attached, that you could flip up for general vision but lower for shooting?

I hope the reply is not a nuisance to you mate and yes, I am asking for myself but in the hope that it might make your life easier too.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 14 Nov 2022, 11:53 am

Wm.Traynor wrote:Thank you for that reply, Bladeracer.
re the 2nd para, It sounds like you are using the aperture in your sight And the Eye-pal, at the same time. How about unscrewing the aperture from the sight and simply looking through it with the Eye-pal?

As for the Eye-pal. I recall many years ago seeing an old geezer who had "Flip up" tinted lenses on the same spectacles frame as correction lenses. As he left the supermkt to go out in to the blazing sun, he lowered the tinted lenses. My question is, "Could you have a correction lens in a frame that made the foresight clear, with Eye-pal attached, that you could flip up for general vision but lower for shooting?

I hope the reply is not a nuisance to you mate and yes, I am asking for myself but in the hope that it might make your life easier too.


I hadn't done much with the EyePal with aperture sights as it seemed redundant, but I had it with me while I was testing my aperture-sighted rifles last week so I tried it - and it wasn't good :-)

I'm mainly using the Eyepal with open sights to make the front sight visible, the rear notch has generally been okay, though recently I'm finding the centre of the notch being "pulled upward" into a W-shape, making aiming very difficult. Most of the time I think the right side of the "W" looks more defined so I use that as the notch and I'm generally in the ballpark. The front sight though has been a problem for a couple years now and is about as invisible as it is possible to be, I can sometimes make out the slightest blur in the region of where the front sight should be, but most of the time it's not there at all as it is entirely blocked by the cataract. With the SMLE I can use the front sight protector "ears" visible above the rear sight to determine where the blade should be, and that works fairly well for windage, but it doesn't give me any precision for elevation so my groups tend toward tall and thin. I'm sure I could paint the top backs of the "ears" with white down to the level of the blade to give me a correct elevation hold, but it seems like cheating to me :-) Likewise I could paint the back of the rear sight with paint to centre the "ears" in the same way for precise windage.

The past few years the vast majority of my iron sight shooting has been with the Williams aperture on my .22LR lever-actions, practicing on silhouettes offhand. Initially the aperture was good enough to give me an excellent front sight post, but last year I found I was losing the front sight, which I think is more down to the short barrel bringing the sight too close to my eye, with very long barrels (front sight more than 900mm from my eye) I can still see the front sight even with open sights. I have done so much shooting with the levers though that just with consistent cheek weld I can put bullets onto the silhouettes without needing to see the front sight at all (I can see the sight ramp through the aperture). For snap-shooting practice I unscrew the aperture insert and use the housing as a ghost ring (about 5mm I think), with virtually no loss of precision. I don't think it has occurred to me to try the EyePal with the ghost ring though so that may be worth trying.

To the contrary, I greatly appreciate your responses! This is a real issue for me as shooting is a very large part of my life. The cataract is still so miniscule that is has no impact on my life at all, outside of trying to see a front rifle sight, and recently, seeing a well-defined rear notch. Magnification is not likely to help at all as the light still has to pass through the cataract for me to see the image of the sight. For this reason I had not expected the aperture to be much help either, but it certainly does help significantly in my case. I do wear reading glasses.

My brother wears specs that have magnetic lenses you can click tints on. I'm sure this would just fine for pure target shooting where you can adjust the position for each shot. For rapid shooting and from positions other than off a bench I find glasses move significantly with each shot, making it not viable for me.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by Wm.Traynor » 14 Nov 2022, 2:20 pm

Plenty to think about there for me. Thanks Bladeracer :thumbsup:
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 15 Nov 2022, 3:10 pm

Biscuits wrote:Excellent write up and photos, Bladeracer.


Thanks Biscuits - might have to change your user name to Bickies now you're Down Under ;-)

I'm really just relating whatever I'm doing. It might entertain somebody, it might give somebody an idea they might want to try, it might allow somebody to spot the mistakes I'm making, and perhaps even correct me, but it's mainly just to record it for myself so I can refer back to it.

Have a look at your private messages when you get a chance.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 23 Jan 2023, 7:00 am

December was a mess and I don't think I took the .303's out at all. The past couple weeks I've been laid up with an infection in my arm so haven't done any .303 practice this year either.
But I was able to load up a large batch of ammo that should be enough to last me most of the year if I do decide to shoot all the LERAA shoots, as well as plenty of practice here at home. The Bertram and Driver 174gn bullets shoot fine for practice, I reckon it's at least as good as military ammo. But if I decide to get serious I can load more up with Hornady's 174gn FMJ which does shoot a little better.
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LERAA's first shoot is February 18/19 and starts at 500yd or 457m, which I haven't been able to try yet. I'm hoping I can manage it this week at a mate's place though as my arm is healing nicely now that the infection has been killed off. I'll be very surprised if I can put any rounds on the 45"x18" target at that distance but it might be fun trying. I doubt these soft-points have the BC of the MkVII FMJ so I need to work out what sight position I need for 460m.
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Re: .303 shooting

Post by bladeracer » 02 Feb 2023, 8:55 pm

I went out to a mate's today planning to practice at 500yd. I set up the Figure 11 at 200yd first to check my elevation. By the time I got there and set up the target the wind was howling and the storm was closing fast.
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I fired a group off a front bag and it hit 400mm high and 200mm to the right, and in a diagonal string 250mm long. At 50m off the bench it groups around 50mm right and about 150mm high so the windage is consistent and needs adjusting. So I moved my point of aim down to "about 150mm" above the bottom edge of the board and along the left edge of the Figure 11. I walked back and discovered I couldn't actually see the bottom of the board through the grass so I had a fairly abstract point of aim, but the group was good, and a little low (I also now realised that my centre hold on the target was high as I was only seeing about 80% of its height so I was probably more like 300mm high). I pulled one badly low right. As I'm sure to pull a bad one anyway the overall group was 310mm, but including it to find the centre makes a mess of the elevation hold so I'm confident it's very low. Excluding the bad one made it 140mm across in the bottom of the "5" ring. To give me a more precise aiming point I put a couple strips of insulation tape on the side of the board but I couldn't see them at all from the firing point. I did study the target though and found I was seeing three horizontal stripes, each about a foot deep. Black, orange and black, then the bottom of the target disappears into the grass. The black of the right knee is not visible to me. So I held level with the bottom left corner of the black stripe, still on the left edge. My first shot went while I had the trigger on the break but I was still floating the sight down on an inhalation before letting it float up onto my point of aim on the exhalation, when it went. It was close but I really didn't think it would be on the board. The other four went into a rectangle with a 140mm diagonal, the fifth making another 250mm group. The "5" ring is 240mm across and 340mm tall so the groups are certainly in the ballpark, even including the shots I messed up. If I put a little effort in I shouldn't have too much trouble putting them where I want them...off a bag.

I fired another group off my elbows, and held centre as I wanted to see how much difference it made from the bag. Two dropped off the right edge, with the remaining three giving me 240mm across. Elevation is perhaps 200mm less than off the bag, and I had about 100mm more windage to the right.

Pretty happy for a very rushed test, particularly considering I walked up to check the target after every five rounds - it was a nice workout. I was all for taking the target up to 458m just so I could check the drop but I was glad I was talked out of it as the sky opened. Hopefully it doesn't hang around and I can get out again tomorrow.

Running the numbers just now it looks to be zeroed around 320m with the sight on the 200yd setting, so a dead-on hold at 500yd should drop around 1000mm low. Although the "group" is likely to be in the region of 350mm if I try hard, to as much as 650mm if I'm throwing fliers. I'm using a guesstimate .450 BC, which, if it holds up would put a 500yd zero about 700mm or so high at 200yd, or a hold along the bottom edge of the board. Worth trying but first I need to work out what sight position puts me on at 500yd.
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