Picky shooters are never satisfied


In writing, as in music, there are always little pieces of tape that end up being thrown on the studio floor.

A few things of interest didn’t make the cut from our Sunday interview with gunsmith Bill Pool about varmint rifles.

Pool talked about a rifle he built with a custom barrel that wouldn’t bundle any of the loads he developed. Finally, he read a promotional article from Sierra Bullets about one of their backyard variety balls being as accurate as their competition ball. Pool loaded a bank of regular bullets and fired a group of five shots one hole 100 yards out. It was the only bullet his barrel grouped tightly.

This article omitted a disclaimer that, despite its accuracy, Sierra’s hollow boattail tip has a low ballistic coefficient. This means that it is not aerodynamic. It has a large drag, which makes it vulnerable to wind deflection.

Pool built the rifle to hunt prairie dogs. You do this in the west, where the shots are well beyond 100 yards and almost always in very strong wind. You need a long, thin ball with a high ballistic coefficient to fly straighter against adversity. Pool’s cannon does not accurately fire high performance bullets, and the one bullet it fires accurately at 100 yards is not accurate at prairie dog range.

Pool has discarded the barrel and will start over with a new one.

Prairie dog hunting is a precise sport, so it’s no surprise that many prairie dog hunters also shoot competitively in tournaments. They all reload their own ammo, and they’re very fussy about the details. Casual shooters like me don’t obsess over neck concentricity, case wall thickness, and runout, and we don’t care about headspace until we have to. In fact, some of us have to check Google “headspace” periodically just to relearn what it is.

Serious shooters – and therefore serious reloaders – adhere to all of this religiously. They speak a language of their own.

Years ago, a reader criticized me for an article I wrote about introductory reloading. I ordered a few boxes of 30-06 once fired cases off the internet and reloaded them with a Lee Loader, a basic reloading tool that doesn’t require a press. The ammo worked and it was surprisingly accurate fired from a Browning automatic rifle. I even killed a deer with it.

The article triggered the reader. I broke every commandment in the shooter’s bible, apparently. The Lee Loader only resizes case necks. Reloading doctrine says you can only use neck-sized holsters for the rifle they were originally fired from. Before loading them, I chambered them to make sure they would fit. A few didn’t, and I put them aside.

Reloading doctrine also states that you must use small base dies to reload cartridges in semi-automatic rifles. I didn’t, which also offended the reader.

“I don’t know what else to tell you,” I finally said, exasperated. “The ammunition got lodged in my rifle, and everything exploded. It killed game. Mission accomplished. What else do you want me to do? »

“I want you to do it right,” my antagonist said, just as exasperated. “You’re going to get someone killed.

As in, never. If you are using published loading data from a legitimate reloading manual and the barrel is unobstructed, the reloaded ammo is safe.

The only problem I’ve ever had was reloading Swedish 6.5×55 PMC cases that I bought from a local retailer. I don’t know how many times these crates had been reloaded, but none lasted more than three reloads before the necks snapped. Two cases suffered body ruptures. All were about three-quarters loaded, far south of the red line. I’ve used them to test balls that I don’t use often, mainly Barnes TTSX.

My most accurate reloads for the Swede were the Remington holsters, and my most accurate bullets were the 140-grain Remington Core-Lokts. I tried to duplicate the original Remington factory load which was very accurate in this rifle, a Ruger model 77. It was my main rifle for many years but I could never get the speed that I wanted.

“He killed all the deer you shot, didn’t he?” Pool requested.

“Yes, but the Creedmoor is faster.”

Shooters are never satisfied.


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