Something Old, Something New…

Well, today was take a PHD to the range day…

One of my project scientists decided he wanted to go shooting, so I invited him out to the range. Now he IS both a mathematician and an acoustician, so he’s a pretty smart cookie, and actually has pretty good common sense and people skills…

Anyhoo, we met up at FRGC, and spent about 20 minutes going over the four rules, next we went down to the rifle range, and I brought out the M-4 to let him try that, and see what his skill set was. I checked the zero on the TA-31 and it looked good, so I had him do a dry fire load, then gave him a Barney Fife mag and let him load, trip the bolt, and fire a round. He did all those well, so I let him have a 30 rounder of 55gr to shoot off. He didn’t do too badly at 100 yards off the bench, but he was complaining all the shots seeming to be going high left. Now I thought it might have been the difference with my eyes/zero and his eyes/aim point, but that wasn’t true.
The interesting part, if you look at the 100 yard target below, is the rounds inside the orange square are 69gr shot offhand. The rounds to the upper left are 55 gr shot offhand with the same aimpoint!
I’ve never encountered this before, so any comments are appreciated. The ONLY thing I can think of, is the 55gr are “flying” differently…
Since he was doing pretty good, I brought out the “old” gun- 1962 Winchester Model 94 in 30-30. I put a couple down range to check the sights, drew up a sight picture for the Buckhorn sight for him, and he at least hit the paper ๐Ÿ™‚
His parting comment was, “This is NOT as easy as it looks on TV!” I just grinned…
Then it was off to the pistol range.
I started him on the old Ruger .22 with the same drill, dry fire, a Barney Fife, and once he was comfortable, he shot a couple of magazines. Next up was the Python, I started him on .38 spl to see how he managed the recoil and flinching, and no problems, so about a half a box of .38 later I brought out the .357 ammo. THAT got his attention! ๐Ÿ™‚
Next up was my carry pistol, C&S 1911, again same drill and let him shoot about half a box of practice ammo, then I gave him a mag of Hydroshocks. After the first round he looked over at me with the funniest expression, like whatthehellisthis??? He finished the mag and I let him finish the box of practice ammo. He did pretty well with both, but on the last mag I could really see he was starting to flinch/anticipate the recoil, so I called a halt at that point.
I shot a cylinder of .357 and a couple of mags of .45 and we called it a day.
On yeah, one funny note- While we were up at the rifle range, a couple of guys were sighting in/testing a 300 Whisper. They had the full setup including the Chrono, load sheets, et al. Since he was curious, we walked over during one of the cold range periods, and got to talking to the guys. Remember I said this guy is a PHD right? He starts asking questions like bullet coefficient, muzzle velocity, etc. and starts doing the math OFF THE TOP OF HIS HEAD!!! We all pretty much had the old deer in the headlights look when he started that… funny thing was, he was pretty much dead on with what the bullets were doing…
As we were leaving, I asked him if his wrist was hurting, he said it was and wanted to know why- Recoil my friend, recoil… ๐Ÿ™‚
On the way back, he was asking for recommendations for pistols, so I “think” it was a pretty productive day!


Something Old, Something New… — 43 Comments

  1. You got one, but what does he need a pistol for? I am sure that will be a question you ask before recommendations.

  2. Two things Earl, self defense in the home, and as a carry piece when he jogs his 4-5 miles (which is usually late night or early am). I did caution him that a shotgun was better HD weapon, but he only wants to buy 1 gun and learn how to use it correctly…

  3. It is always nice to take non-gunny folk out and teach them what guns are really about.

    As to your question,the only thing I can come up with is, were they both boat tailed? This might have something to do with it. Other than that, it should make that huge of a difference in shot placement at 100 yards.

  4. Lawyer- Hopefully!

    CS- No, the 55gr is standard XM193, not boat tailed… Barrel is a 9:1 so I don’t have a clue. I went back and shot 5 69gr and 5 55gr off a rest and saw the same thing…

    JPG- I’m tryin, I’m tryin ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. If he carries while jogging, he won’t want a full-sized 1911 until he has one hand continuously on his waist band.

    I carry an Officer’s 1911 frequently and it’s a constant task, pulling up the belt and pants. If the belt isn’t tight, you’ll find your pants around your ankles before you can blink. Even with a fanny pack, it’s a struggle. During winter, I sometimes add suspenders when wearing a jacket to hold up my belt.

    I’m one of those afflicted with the condition know as noassatall. I was diagnosed with that condition several years ago while fitting a suit. The tailor was quite explicit! Amused my wife to no end.

    Keeping my pants up is a full time task.

  6. Crucis- I “think” he will probably go with a S&W 6XX snubbie, at least that was what we talked about. He liked the 1911, but admitted it was too heavy.

  7. One gun, well, it is good to have a goal and common sense which is exceptional — but this is America, one will turn into two and then a trillion here and a trillion there…

    One is always the first on the journey – steps or firearms.

  8. Good job.

    Just one gun is as likely as one potato chip!


  9. Congratulations on bringing a new shooter into the fold.

    You must not load your own ammo, of course they fly different. As a reloader you’d learn the POI difference with the 55 & 69 is huge and could be caused by a hundred things. The surprise is: that you’ve never seen this before.

    Slightly different vibration patterns in the barrel can make different bullets of the same weight vary more than that. Different powders under the same bullet at the exact same velocity can vary that much or more. Even different primers under the same powder with the exact same velocity/bullet can vary more than that. Welcome to the science ๐Ÿ˜‰ of rifle ballistics.

  10. Earl- Agreed! ๐Ÿ™‚

    ADM- I have been an instructor before, and have helped teach basic classes

    Gerry- Yep ๐Ÿ™‚

    Buff- I don’t load my own, and yeah I’ve seen the differences in .308 loads, but NEVER this pronounced a difference! 6 inches high left at 100 yards just amazes me! I’m used to an inch or so high, but on line… I’m going back to only 69 gr rounds as soon as I can shoot up this 55 gr junk. thanks.

  11. Very nice article.
    I definately agree with Buffboy as to cause. Even if you do not handload, remember, even manufacturers change components.
    Head stamp the same? Same powder? Same primer? Same bulle??(nope)
    Even if those ARE the same, how about lot numbers?
    I know it sounds nit-picky, but, all of those do have an affect on bullet travel.
    I do handload, and know changing anything, especially the bullet, will have a noticable impact on bullet trajectory.
    What you’ve noticed is common and expected.
    If you get a chance, re-sight with the 55’s, then switch to the 69’s.
    Guess where the bullets go?

    How about a Midway article tomorrow?


  12. A number of years ago, I was shooting 1000rds of .45 a month (IDPA can get expensive!) To offset the cost, I began reloading my brass using 200gr LRN. All was well until I opened the second box of bullets (I had bought 1000 bullets delivered in two boxes of 500.)

    So off to the range for a practice session. Suddenly, my reloads were all over the target. I had some from the previous box and they were fine, punching a night small spread. Second mag of the new reloads—same distance, same pistol, were all over.

    I went home in disgust and started weighing bullets. The second box weighed 192grs instead of 200. The earlier bullets varied in weight,but on 1-2 grains, not 8-10 grains.

    I got a hacksaw and split a bullet from the 2nd box and discovered an air bubble inside. I did the same for a few more and 3 out of 5 bullets had an air bubble.

    I don’t know how that occurred. I sold that second box off to a guy who casts his own.

    It was a learning experience. Now I weigh samplings of bullets, every 5 or 6 reloads as a matter of habit.

  13. Skul- I’m on the road for a couple of weeks, but I’ll do the reverse sighting when I get back and put up a range report on it. Your points are well taken, and I’m used to dealing with lot numbers, etc. from shooting long range.

  14. Enjoy the time away.

    I guess the Midway and D-Day posts will have to wait.
    Safe trip.


  15. OK, I think I can explain the M4 point of impact thing. If I understand the situation, all the 55 grain bullets (offhand and from the bench) shoot consistently high and left of the 69 grain loads.

    I think it has to do with barrel vibration. Barrels seem to vibrate in kind of a 3D sine wave. (Sorry, I’m an engineer…) Different bullets leave the barrel when it is in a different point in the vibration. I have a 300 Win Mag and once upon a time I shot a bunch of work-up loads for it. The shots started dead left of the bull by about 2″. As I increased the powder (and velocity), the groups started moving clockwise in a circle. The final load ended up 2″ dead high.

    Of course, I reserve the right to be completely wrong about all of this!

  16. Crucis- your point is well taken!

    Just my .02- Yep, I agree with your hypothesis. Since this is NOT a bull barrel, the vibration makes sense, along with the different bullet weight height offset and “throw” caused by the differences in cyclic frequency vibration with each weight.

    Skul- Your Midway post is up!

  17. There is likely nothing wrong with your 55gr ammo. It’s just different from your 69gr ammo. Somewhere I watched a video of a centerfire rifle barrel filmed at very high speed while a bullet was fired in it. I searched youtube and elsewhere, but didn’t come up with it or I’d post a link. It was amazing to see.

    It was a bolt action hunting rifle, don’t remember the caliber but you could even see the slight bulge in the barrel behind the bullet as it traveled through. That barrel looked like a snake as the bullet passed down it and out. Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit but not as much as you might think and I’m only seeing 2 dimensions. Just like 2 cents said, the whole rifle; action, barrel, scope and stock was a 3 dimensional wave. After seeing that video it still seems like magic that bullets come within a foot of each other downrange let alone how they can make itty-bitty groups. I’m also astounded how well most factory ammo shoots in a variety of guns.

    Bull barrels whip too, just not as much, with a little better consistency and at a higher frequency. The higher frequency makes your chances of an accurate individual load in an individual barrel more likely. Shorter barrels raise this frequency, heavier bullets and lower velocities too. An accurate load (factory or reloaded) makes the barrel whip in the same way each time. Hang around some benchrest competitors to see this carried to its extreme in the name of consistency. Extreme it may be, but the results they get speak volumes.

  18. Sounds like you had a great day. Anyday shooting guns with friends is great!!! Glad you had a good time.