No.  Good guess though, and YUCK!  Blue ribbons must have been a dime a dozen at the fair that year.
Closer, but not this time. 
Yes, that would be the one.
More to come…

An Outing With the Twins


Since I’ve been unattached, so to speak, since deciding my Sako 75 just wasn’t passing muster, I have had more opportunity to do things I haven’t had time to do for a while.  Things like taking my carbines out and burning up a case of good ol’ Federal XM193. 

They should develop a powder for this load that smells better.  Scratch and sniff the photo on your monitor for a sample of the smell.

In addition to the one I keep next to the bed, I’ve gotten into the habit of throwing a carbine behind the seat of my truck as of late, what with all the crazies out there shootin’ folks up and all.  I leave the case open for easy access.  If you state laws prohibit you from the non-crime (where’s the victim?) of keeping a loaded rifle in your vehicle, a loaded mag kept with the rifle, but not in it will add a second or two in the event you should need it, which is actually quite a long time under those circumstances.  If your state does not allow you to have an unloaded rifle in your vehicle then something is very wrong.


I keep a USGI bandoleer with 4 Pmags loaded with 28 rounds (easier insertion, less chance for operator induced malfunctions) hung over my headrest.  I could probably use something more user friendly than the cotton bandoleer, but it was free and it works.  If I need to access the rifle, the bandoleer is right there to throw over the shoulder.



I checked my zero and re-discovered how frustrating it is to try to shoot groups with these things (these ones in particular- I have another that’s pretty good).  The only luck I have really had with any kind of groups was with 69 grain SMK’s and a little too hot test load of TAC.  What I then re-discovered was how easy it is to hit stuff with them. 
I stayed inside of 50 yards.  I hadn’t done any “point shooting” for about 10 years or so.  WOW!!!  You can really hit stuff fast!  About as fast as you can see it.  Instead of holding the rifle in port arms as a preparatory position, the AR is better suited to low ready.  Within 7 yards there was not a safe milk cap on the range.  Within about 15 yards there weren’t any ammo boxes that had any hope for survival.  Transitioning from target to target was about as instinctive as seeing them.  Again, WOW!!!
It was a good thing I brought both of the carbines, cause about a quarter way through the first one got so hot that the handguards were not really good to touch.  They also started making a funny creaky noise, I figure from expansion/contraction kind of stuff (that’s about as scientific as I am capable of being).

If you look you can see the smoke coming off it.  It was hot.  It had been hotter, but it took a minute to get to the camera.

I was planning on taking them out to at least 300 and ringing some steel, but some folks showed up to do maintenance on the range.  I shared a mag and kept on a rollin’ with what I was doing inside the 50. 
If you ever have a spare afternoon and a case of ammo to burn up, I highly recommend it.

Later in the day edit, ’cause Jonno wants info on the lights:

The lights are Surefire G2 LED’s, very simple and light. The “on” switch is at the rear of the light. The mount is a “scout mount” http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/pid=26772/Product/SCOUT-MOUNT

The base for the mount is a Midwest Industries front sight mount.  Actually only one of the twins has that mount; the other is slightly different.

I was trying to get a decent flashlight position and keep the weight as far down as I could. I think I was successful.  I first tried 11 o’clock. After experiencing how effective the “thumbs forward” grip with the carbine is, I figured it would be just about right. It actually worked pretty well. The reason I moved it over to 1 o’clock was that it was easier to operate while shooting either right or left handed. Now I tend to hook the left hand over the top of the handguard while (whilst in Australian?) pointing with the support index finger. Makes point shooting work better. The thumb is already in a good position to activate the light. I really like it.

I have also used a pistol light with a rotating tailcap “on” switch mounted on the handguard of a carbine at about 5 o’clock. It was built for more of a conventional style hold on the handguard. I don’t like it AT ALL. I have an issue with flashlight AD’s with that setup and it doesn’t work with the way I shoot now.






A Target to be Shot Over the Course of Time

Since I haven’t gotten a new rifle that solved all the world’s problems yet (and I emphasize YET), I need to work with the stuff I have, quirky though it may be.  One of the things that has always vexed me about my Sako 75 is that it throws the cold bore shot high.  My perception is that it is consistent in its deviation.  If it is consistent in its deviation it can be accounted for.  If it can be accounted for then it can be made to group better through intelligent intervention.  Until someone capable of this comes along I will have to try for myself.

To check the consistency of the cold bore shot and the actual value of its deviation from the subsequent shots I will be keeping track.  A fun way to do this will be to use the same target over the next howeverhowlong every time I take the Sako out to shoot.  I’ll fire a shot in the cold bore target, then immediately fire a group at a separate target.  I’ll keep track of the points of impact of all the shots fired and see if there is a way to manage the strange phenomenon that I experience with this rifle.


                                             Cold bore shot #1.


         The rest of the group (on a different target), in case you were interested.


Every time I take the rifle out and do this I will post an update on the group that appears over the course of time.  Stay tuned.

Ranging, Part 3

Having covered rangefinders, the good ol’ eyeball, and the reticle, what’s left in terms of ranging tools?  How about becoming more familiar with your area of operation?  The easiest and maybe the most intuitive for the technologically inclined is to make use of a computerized satellite map such as Google Earth, which even has a means of measuring from one point to another and getting a distance reading in your choice of outputs.  Some GPS units have a similar function, but the units may not be as friendly.  My GPS reads in feet or meters, whereas I prefer yards.
Google Earth is so easy to use for ranging and so accurate it’s almost scary.  There’s a little ruler button which opens the ruler function.  Just click a point, then another, and it will tell you the distance in any unit of measure you might like.
Another useful option that also requires a bit more knowledge and skill would be a good map.  Maps are easily portable, the hardware is simple and proven, and the batteries won’t die.  There is also something about an object that can be manipulated that has a quality that the virtual technology crap can’t touch.  I think that a big part of that is reliability, but another part of it is that it is just more tangible and less gimmicky.
Maps have scales.  A map printed in a useful scale and with terrain features, like a USGS quadrangle topo map would lend itself to being used to get an idea of the range to your target.  I have a suspicion that old school military snipers made good use of resources like this.  For you to make use of it you need to be able to orient yourself on the map, which is one of those skills that everyone should have.
The primary drawback of computer satellite images, GPS, and good ol’ maps is that they take time to consult, and that they don’t lend themselves to consultation during the time after target recognition and before engagement.  To make use of these tools, you need to put in your intelligent study in advance and with some idea of how and where you will be operating.  You also need to be familiar enough with the terrain to interpret what your map is telling you.  Not a bad idea…
So to sum all of this up, at distances that are close enough for time to be an important factor you need to be good with your eyes.  Practice a lot to develop this skill.  At longer distances in which you have a little more leeway with time you should make use of a rangefinder if you have one, which is not a bad idea.  Speaking of not a bad idea, become familiar with any terrain you plan on putting your boots on, which will help to keep you sharp and aware of where you are and how far it is to where you are shooting, like having a master range card located conveniently within your cranium.  If all else fails, perhaps you will know exactly how big your target is so you can reticle range it.  Good luck with that.

Ranging, Part 2: Using the Reticle

Continuing on with our discussion of determining the range to target, we move on to reticle rangefinding.  Using a reticle is based on the physical properties of the reticle- that it will subtend a consistent angular measurement.  To say it another way, the reticle will always be a visual representation of a particular unit of angular measurement.  That means if your reticle has a milliradian (mil) scale, you have the ability to measure a mil on a real object that you view through the scope.  If your scope has a reticle that subtends an inch per hundred yards, you can also view that on a real object.  Even if you have a duplex reticle, at a given power your reticle will have a consistent measurement of an angle.  You’ll have to measure it precisely, but it can be done.

Before reticle ranging I would take a second to make a visual estimate of the range to your target beforehand and note it.  If you make a mistake with the math that leads to a huge error, hopefully what you see with your eyes and interpret with your common sense will alert you to it.
How does reticle ranging work?  An object at an unknown distance is viewed through the scope.  The reticle is used like a ruler to measure the object in the unit of measure that the reticle is graduated in.  Let’s take an example of a target that we know meaures 20” tall if you could walk up to it and measure it with a tape measure.  We’ll say that you look through the scope and measure the object with the reticle and call it 1.2 mils.  There’s an equation involved.  Multiply the size of your object in inches by 27.78, and divide the product by the object size in mils.  That would be 20*27.778/1.2, which equals 463 yards.  That equation only works with an object size in inches and an output in yards.  There are different equations for different units of measure.  Here are a few for mil based reticles:

            Object size in meters x 1000/Object reading in mils = Distance in Meters
            Object size in yards x 1000/Object reading in mils = Distance in Yards
            Object size in inches x 27.78/Object reading in mils = Distance in Yards
            Object size in inches x 25.4/Object reading in mils = Distance in Meters

It seems easiest to me to work with inches for the object size and to have an output in yards.  One thing I have noticed is that the larger the object that you use to range with, the less error you will have in your estimation.  A sheet of plywood would result in a better estimate than a 6”x6” piece of steel.  Just make sure that you remember that the plywood is 48”x 96” for this purpose and not 4’x8’.  If you view the object at an angle without compensating for it your estimate will likely be over the actual distance.
You may have noticed that one of the drawbacks of this method of rangefinding is that it involves math.  Notepads and calculators are the last things you want to be using in preparation for a shot in the field.  There is an item called the Mildot Master that works like a slide rule that will give you the answer in a few seconds. 

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To compare the ease of operation of the methods of solving the formula I tried the above example of a 20” object at 1.2 mils with paper and pencil, a calculator, and the Mildot Master.  Here is how long it took me with each method:
Paper arithmetic: 51.82 seconds 
Calculator: 13.23 seconds
Mildot master: 7.43 seconds
The primary drawback with the concept of reticle ranging is that to do it you have to know the size of the object you are ranging.  About 3 years ago I bought a pocket tape measure to carry in my pocket and measure things so I would have a catalog of object sizes in my memory.  I was obsessed with it for about a month.  I do still carry the tape measure in my pocket.  Comes in handy sometimes…
The only times I have successfully used the reticle to range and make a hit have been on range trips when I measured items downrange beforehand.  It could be handy for a competitor who knows the size of his target and is not allowed a rangefinder.  I believe that the real-world application for reticle ranging in this manner is extremely limited.
Explanations are only so illustrative, so let’s take an example.  I took my scope outside and found a truck.  Don’t worry, I have no plans to shoot it, just an example. 

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001 zoomed and resized

It’s very hard to hold a scope steady without a rifle, but I did my best.  The pictures aren’t all that helpful either, but I did my best.  Hopefully everyone gets a trophy today.  About as close as I can figure with the grainy photos, the wheel (not including the tire) is about 2.0 mils.  My guess was that the Dodge would have 18” rims.  That would put the range at about 248 according to the Mildot Master, and about 250.2 according to the calculator. 
I checked the internet, and it would appear that the stock rims are more likely 17”, which the Mildot Master would put at 236 and the calculator would tell me 236.13.


A quick check of Google Earth tells me it’s likely 220-230.  Would I have hit the target?  Depends on what that target was I suppose.   
What is a more practical use of the reticle is having a general idea of the gross measurements a common object, or your expected target, will be at a range of set distances inside the part of your trajectory that is still somewhat forgiving of error.  This is a skill that will take experience to acquire.
Reticles can be extremely useful.  I believe that rangefinding is one of the less useful applications for them.  If you want some practice doing this, there is a very cool shooting simulation for the computer called Shooter Ready.

Ranging, Part 1

One of the things that is important to know if you really want to be able to hit your target is the distance between you and it.  There are several ways to determine your range to target.  Some are more useful than others.  Guessing a number between 1 and 10 is probably among the least useful.  I’m going to discuss several over the next few days that might work better.

Let’s start with the easiest, the rangefinder.  The rangefinder is becoming an increasingly essential part of the rifleman’s kit.  The rifles made these days are more accurate, and the bullets and powders keep getting better, both of which allow us to extend our ballistic “reach” beyond the old 300 yards that our forefathers were limited to (more or less).  Extended ranges are less forgiving for inaccurate range estimations.  Rangefinders are getting less expensive and therefore are finding their way into the hands of more and more of the regular rifle shootin’ folk.
There’s not much to say about rangefinders.  They’re simple to use.  Just point and shoot.  Some seem to be more accurate and reliable than others.  The Leica 1600 that I had a chance to use was pretty amazing to me; it gave a reading quickly and easily, and the range it gave me actually worked with the dope that I had for the rifle.
The downside of the rangefinder is that it is a delicate blend of the optical and the electronic.  “What could go wrong?” you ask.  Batteries die, stuff breaks, sometimes if it doesn’t break it will act funny and not work when you need it most.  I don’t sound bitter towards technology do I?  Well I might, because I am.
I don’t currently have a rangefinder.  It’s on my list, but unfortunately don’t have as big a budget as I would like.  Maybe later on down the road…
On the other end of the technology spectrum is the one that most of us were blessed with at birth- the Mk. I eyeball.  The human sighting system can be pretty accurate out to a limited distance.  The trick to really get it calibrated is to have access to something that will quickly tell you the distance to the object you are ranging… something a lot like a rangefinder. 
When I’ve had access to a rangefinder I was able to confirm my visual estimate of ranges inside 100 yards to an accuracy of +/- 5-6 yards.  Look at something, make an estimation, range the target, compare the difference, then note how far you were off and whether you were long or short.  Do this enough and your eye will start to become very accurate within a couple hundred yards.  I know that it sounds like it makes no sense that I’m essentially saying, “Get a rangefinder so you can be good at visual estimation.” It might prove to be worth more to improve your ability to use your own senses than to rely on a piece of gadgetry.  Maybe you could borrow one if you can’t afford one.  It will force you to find a friend. 
Ironically the distance at which the eyeball is most effective coincides with the distance that a rifle can be fired point blank at most targets, given the proper zero.  If you have a target at a distance inside 200-300 yards, the eye may be used to estimate range and make corrections accordingly to good effect.  The rifle’s trajectory at these distances undergoes radically less change inside these distances than it does farther out, where your eye won’t work quite as accurately.
Things that affect the apparent range to target are terrain and environmental factors.  According to the reference materials I have on hand, targets uphill will tend to appear farther away than they actually are, and targets downhill will tend to appear closer.   A valley between you and your target will make it appear closer.  Looking around at stuff would suggest that a target in a narrow clearing with obstructions to either side of your field of view would create a tunnel effect that makes the target appear to be farther.  A straight visual line, such as a path or road, leading to the target is supposed to make it look closer.  I would have checked all these out as part of my research for this article, but I don’t have a rangefinder to verify my estimations.
I have noticed that at night things tend to appear farther away than they are, especially through optics.  Usually the target area will be illuminated by some ambient light if you are able to see it, and you will probably be in the shade if you don’t want to be seen.  This has the effect of making the target seem quite a bit farther away when viewed through an optic.  It is almost difficult to reconcile the optical image with a tactile sense of distance under these circumstances.  Fog has a similar, albeit more dramatic effect.
I would imagine that the eye can be honed to a surprising degree given regular practice.  I would also wager that keeping a log of estimations and actual distances would contribute greatly to this skill.
The eye has the advantage of being quick and readily available.  Batteries die.  If your eyes don’t work you have more immediate problems to deal with other than your range to target.  Best to do what you can with your most basic and immediate assets before progressing to more complex methods…

Range Day: Ammo Test

The object of the range day was to test ammo.  My friend Scott and I had three varieties of Hornady TAP ammo chambered in .308 Winchester, the 110 grain with the V-Max, the 155 A-Max, and the 168 A-Max.  It was right around 100° with no shade to be had.  We had the range to ourselves. 

We conducted the tests from 100 yards.  Scott was shooting his Remington LTR which he mounted in a McRee Chassis.  I was shooting the Remington 700, which has a Krieger barrel, wears a McMillan “Baker Special” stock, and is adorned with an IOR 2.5-10×42 FFP scope.  I will be doing more shooting with this rifle while I save for a new primary rifle to write about on the blog here.

We have been shooting the ubiquitous Federal Gold Medal Match (FGMM)168 grain, which is topped off with the classic, but somewhat dated, Sierra 168 HPBT.  FGMM is pretty hard to beat as far as precision is concerned.  I started out with a cold bore shot.  The first shot was very pleasant to shoot, and left me with appreciation for what little recoil a 15 lb. .308 has.

The Remmy doesn’t throw the cold bore.  I find that although the rifle action is uninspiring, its performance is intriguing. 

I shot a couple groups with the FGMM and determined that the IOR MP-8 reticle is a little difficult to use on a black target (I had also determined this previously).  I decided to do something about it this time and switch targets.  Then I shot a 5 round group with the 110 V-Max.


This was my best group of the day, which tells me that I was not in my best form, but made me happier than the groups from #1 have been.  The 110 grain TAP was very fun to shoot.  The recoil was significantly less than what you would expect from a .308 round.  I didn’t chrono it through my rifle, but through Scott’s 20” factory Remington barrel it was running an average of 3008 fps, where the FGMM will do about 2650.  I would think that you could load the 110 much faster, but it would probably still have spectacular results as is.
Next up was the 155 A-Max load.  I really had high hopes for this.  I had thought of the 110 as a specialty load, almost like a frangible load.  The 155 seemed like more of a general purpose load; better at distance, packing more of a punch, good (if not spectacular) terminal ballistics, almost ideal penetration. 
As I pulled them from the box I noticed the crimped primer pockets:


I felt a little uncomfortable as I fired this five shot group:


After I was done I realized that the reason I was uncomfortable was that the cheekpiece, which is adjustable, had come loose and had unadjusted itself all the way down.  This particular setup is pretty high maintenance as far as how frequently the screws must be checked.  The rifle is uncomfortable enough as is due to the 12.5” length of pull, which leaves me feeling a little cramped.
It was also at this time that I noticed something about the Harris bipod.  I’m really working on trying to understand how the concept of natural point of aim relates to the use of the bipod.  I have a pretty in depth amount of experience with natural point of aim and the use of the sling.  I think the bipod’s trickier.  Anyway, on to what I noticed.  I would get the rifle into position and release it so I could get up and begin from a standing position, which is a way that I learned will align the body such that the spine and bore are both pointing in the same direction (though offset).  I noticed that as I released the rifle the bipod would steer it a little left or right, due to uneven tension in the legs.  The rifle really needs to be settled in as a unit if neutrality is to be attained.  I don’t know if this matters that much, but I’m finding that with regard to precision shooting, everything matters.
I fixed the cheekpiece and moved on to the 168 grain A-Max load.  I felt pretty dialed in as I shot this mediocre group:


With one group of all three loads shot, I decided to put a control group of FGMM on the same target.  I hadn’t been paying much attention to how much to pull the butt into the shoulder pocket.  With the FGMM I paid closer attention.  Here’s what happened:


The outlier up top is undoubtedly my fault, although I didn’t call it.  I currently peak quite early in the shooting day with this rifle.  Then things start to go amiss and begin to open up, which they did.  My next range emphasis will likely be on the fundamental of follow through.
We didn’t do any testing on terminal ballistics.  I thought about bringing 4 chickens to the range with me, but I didn’t want to sacrifice them unless the meat would be usable, which is very unlikely.  Pete probably doesn’t want to hear about chickens, and Jonno lives too far away to benefit from me firin’ up the barbi.  Maybe a Fosters would lure him across the pond…


Accuracy Guarantees

There are a number of rifles and pistols out there with guarantees for accuracy.  Since I’ve been shopping for rifles I’ve had plenty of time to ponder the question of what a guarantee actually means.
Let’s start with my Sako.  I’ve always heard that Sakos have an accuracy guarantee of 1 MOA.  A brief perusal of their website left me unsuccessful in finding any such guarantee.  So it may or may not exist.  I think that one could probably find more examples of companies who are reputed to have accuracy “guarantees” like this, but that the actual documentation of the guarantee proves to be like Nessie, Bigfoot, or the Chupacabra.  I remember seeing all of them, but I can’t prove it and nobody believes me.  I will call these the “urban legend” guarantees.
I’ve been looking a lot at Model 70’s, both Winchester and FN (FN currently manufactures both).  This is from FN’s website page for their SPR A5: “Built to achieve and maintain a 1 MOA standard of accuracy at 100 yards  I couldn’t find anywhere where they use the word “guarantee”, but I have heard from an employee of FN USA that they will indeed take them back if they don’t shoot. 
Let’s begin the dissection of what the guarantee actually means.  Again, we’ll take FN’s example: “Built to achieve and maintain a 1 MOA standard of accuracy at 100 yards.  1 MOA is approximately 1.047” at 100 yards.  Note that they don’t flat out guarantee that it will shoot 1 MOA.  If you take the quote literally, as a lawyer would, they only claim it to shoot 1 MOA at 100 yards, which may or may not matter, but I think it’s interesting.
What exactly does it mean to have a 1 MOA standard of accuracy?  Does this include the cold bore?  How many shots does it take to make a group in the context of the guarantee?  A 2 shot group is not very meaningful, and I would say that the typical 3 shot group is also not enough.  I would consider a four shot group to be the absolute minimum, 5 shots to be respectable, and 10 to be really, really cool.  Is it an average of several groups, meaning that one or more of the groups could be over 1 MOA?
Back to Sakos, mine has always thrown the cold bore by a lot, 1.5 to 2 inches high at 100 yards in what seems to be a very consistent manner.  I’m actually going to keep a cold bore target and make a group over several months to see what it turns out like. 
If I took five rounds from my Sako, threw away the first shot, and shot the remaining four, there’s a very good chance that you could call it a “sub MOA group with a cold bore flier”.  My problem with that is that the group is actually over 2”, and the cold bore shot is likely to be the one that actually counts for something.  Search the web for the Sako accuracy guarantee and there are many examples of folks having a hard time to get the rifle to shoot that well (not talking about the exceptionally accurate TRG here).  I’m not quite sure what that means.  Hmmm.
I have shot 3 four shot groups that were sub-MOA with my rifle.  These were all warm bore groups, but I don’t discard “fliers”.  So does that mean that my rifle meets the level of the urban legend guarantee that Sako may or may not offer?  I consider my Sako to be maybe a 1.2 MOA rifle after the first shot is gone.  That’s plenty good for a general hunting rifle, but I would like to be able to test myself in a more meaningful way than is possible with a rifle that leaves you wondering “was that me or the gun?”
From what I have heard about FN’s, it seems that people get rifles that produce groups about half as large as is guaranteed.  That seems quite commendable to me.  It makes sense to rate your product at about half the performance you have measured.  Quality means exceeding the customer’s expectations.  If elevator companies rated their weight capacity like Sako rates their rifles for accuracy, there might be more broken elevators.
My take on any accuracy guarantee is that it should give me an idea, in a very general sense, of how the rifle will likely shoot.  There are too many interpretations of what a 1 MOA rifle is to make it objectively meaningful.  The real test is what the rifle will do in your hands.  It takes a lot of time shooting the rifle to determine that.

Rifleslinger Answers Your Most Pressing Questions

Part of the superb bennies (“benefits”) of being among the world’s top bloggers, aside from the lucrative pay, hob-nobbing with celebrities, having to wade through piles of free rifles, glowing feedback from adoring fans (people on Reddit are usually amazed at my writing), etc…, is that the blogger program lets me see a portion of the search words that someone typed in to reach my blog.  Some of the search terms are actual questions.  I used to just look at them and say to myself, “Hmmm.” 

After the wheels in the brain turned one revolution (about a year’s time), I decided to answer some of the questions.  Let’s get started.  Here they are exactly as I received them with direct answers:

1.    What is the best rifle bipod? Atlas

2.    How do left handed people kneel? Similarly to right handed people, only in a mirror image.

3.    Appleseed USGI sling what size swivels? 1.25”

4.    Difference between .308 and .338? 0.030

5.    Are you supposed to hold your breath? Generally no.  Being underwater is usually one of the exceptions.

I suppose it would be nicer if I expounded on my answers a bit. 

1. When the question is asked, “What is the best…” it really leaves more questions than before the first question was asked.  It is begging for a simple answer where only deliberate study and experience can provide a solution that hopefully will be close to optimal.  If every bipod (substitute any item) were made with the same design, then maybe it would come down to quality of materials, tolerances, fit and finish.  Maybe then there could be a best.  Maybe not.
In reality products are conceived to address slightly different problems, concerns, and even applications.  The best bipod for a tall man to use on a light rifle for hunting in an area of tall grass will not be the best bipod for a man of average height to use on a long range rifle in a clear area.
To take it further, for someone with limited funds, a less expensive bipod might be best in the overall scheme of things, because money for ammo and training is more important.  For another person who is trying to squeeze the most performance from every facet of their shooting system, a pricier bipod may be warranted.
Personally, I have spent quite a bit of time with a Harris 9-13 swivel.  It’s alright.  I’ve gotten the opportunity to use the Atlas a few times and I think it would be worth the extra money if I had it.

2.  The way I answered it above pretty much covered it actually.  Read this.  The descriptions, as I recall, are non-biased in terms of hand dominance.  If it helps, copy the photos, past them into a photo editing program, and reverse them into a mirror image.

3.  USGI slings use a 1.25” swivel.  That was easy.

4.  The .308 is basically a medium powered rifle cartridge.  Conventional wisdom says that it’s good out to about 800 yards, although there are people who shoot them farther.  Typical bullet weights range from 147 to 180 grains, although again, you don’t have to look far to find an exception.
There are several .338 cartridges out there, so unlike .308, where I can safely assume that .308 Winchester is the subject, just “.338” is a bit vague.  Here’s a list I just pulled from Wikipedia:
  • .338 Edge

  • .338 Federal

  • .338 Lapua Magnum

  • .338 Marlin express

  • .338 Norma Magnum

  • .338 Remington Ultra Magnum

  • .338 Ruger Compact Magnum

  • .338 Winchester Magnum

  • .338-06 A-Square

  • .338-378 Weatherby Magnum

  • .340 Weatherby Magnum

What I would say is that generally the .338 will shoot larger (duh) and significantly heavier bullets, somewhere vaguely in the 200-300 grain range.  My Lapua Mag, toward the larger end of the .338 scale, has roughly twice the powder capacity as a .308 Winchester, shoots a 250 grain bullet (in my case), and stays supersonic for about a mile.  The folks using 300 grain bullets can probably go a bit farther.

5.   Are you supposed to hold your breath?  I gave a smart (in the sarcastic sense) answer above.  Seriously, I would say no for shooting purposes.  I would advise you to breathe normally but just pause in your normal spot during your breath cycle (after exhaling) for as long as you need to fire a shot, as long as you don’t need more than about 5 seconds to press the trigger.  Again, breathe normally- inhale, exhale, pause, press, BANG!!!  Don’t try to be tricky or special by breathing funny.  Just breathe the way you always do (except keep your mouth closed this time- it makes you look dumb breathing like that with your mouth open).

There.  That was fun.  If you’d like to see your question answered, type it in your search engine and scroll the results until you see my blog, even if this takes hours of scrolling through hundreds of pages to find the answer to “What kind of chicken is in the picture with the Sako?”  Click on the blog.  Repeat 3 or 4 times to ensure that the software will tell me that those terms are among the most popular used to reach my site.  The other, much less preferred method would be to email me your question.  Good luck.  I promise to only make fun of you a little tiny bit.

Choosing My Next Rifle

I had a bad month with #1.  I had fallen for the Sako 75 mostly due to its smooth action, but I also appreciated the trigger and detachable magazine system.  The scope mounting system, which seems like a good thing in concept, was like a bit of a pain, but until mounting up the Roadale 20 MOA rail it didn’t really get to me.  Discovering that the bolt stop pin was broken, and likely had been for quite some while, was not confidence inspiring, but I also wondered if my bolt technique had been excessively brutal.  The final nail in the coffin was that pillar bedding did not improve the rifle’s precision to a significant degree.  So begins the long and arduous process of saving up and selecting a new rifle.

My concept of the rifle I want is that it will primarily be for punching paper and ringing steel, all while practicing for the zombie apocalypse.  I’m looking to build my skill in field riflery, and also to shoot in some long range competitions.  I’ve heard of the ranges at the competitions getting out to 1200, so I would prefer something that will get out there. 
I would like the rifle to be chambered in a cartridge that would be legal for hunting, in case the opportunity presents itself.  My preference would be for a non-magnum cartridge in the “medium” range, perhaps based on something easy to find, such as the .308 Winchester or 30-06.  If I really had my druthers, it would be a 6.5mm version, such as the .260 Remington or 6.5-06.  Even a 6.5×55 or 6.5×57 would be fun and likely more than adequate.
The next question is of action type.  Part of me says just go semi auto.  Shooting the bolt gun almost exclusively for a year has been largely an exercise of honing my bolt technique to a degree that I didn’t feel that there was much of a disadvantage for most applications.  There’s always the pistol for conversational distances, right?  But if I’m going to buy a new rifle, why limit myself in terms of speed and capacity.  I think that with a careful selection of components, an AR is as accurate, for practical purposes, as a bolt gun.
The argument for the bolt gun is that I like them.  That’s compelling.  Another is that there are fewer limitations on cartridges.  Within any given cartridge, a bolt gun allows for a wider variation in bullet and powder selection. 
Long action or short action bolt action?  I had got it in my head some time ago that if the bolt gun were to have an edge over the semi, a long action would be preferable.  A modern semi-auto can be had in .308, and can be just as accurate, so for a bolt gun to really have an edge, it would follow that it would have to have more oomph to get the bullet farther, or to hit the target a bit harder.
Another preference for the new rifle is that it be an American product.  One of my friends, Scott, had said that he wished that the rifle I blogged about had been made in the USA.  That makes sense to me.
I want the rifle to be reliable and tough.  Cooper said, “show it no mercy,” and I obeyed.  My rifle couldn’t take it.  I don’t like that.  I want the rifle to feed, extract, and eject perfectly every time.
I want a rifle that is not a complete boat anchor.  I feel too limited by what passes for tactical rifles these days.  They seem to be built for shooting solely from prone with the bipod.  I like a bit more flexibility than that.  I’m not going to put an extreme weight limitation as Cooper did with the Scout rifle, because I’m asking for a little more on the precision end than the Scout concept.  I think that somewhere in the area of 10 lbs. should allow for a sufficiently beefy system that I can still stand to carry and shoot from field positions.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I reallywant an accurate rifle.  My TRG, which I consider to be a specialty tool, as it is chambered in .338 Lapua, just does what it is supposed to do, and always has, right out of the box.  That kind of performance costs $$$, but it sure does provide piece of mind. 
I don’t want to deal with crazy cold bore shots, wandering zeroes, loosening parts, hard to find parts and accessories, etc…
There are a few rifles that have tickled my fancy in the past year or so that I would consider practical in one way or another.  These are:
1.    The Mauser 98 in its military and commercial variations.
2.    The Tikka T3.
3.    The Winchester Model 70.
4.    AR rifles chambered in some variation of the .308 case (.308, 7mm-08, .260)

I dismissed the T3 primarily because it’s made by Sako and I’m not feeling the love right now, except for the TRG, which I kind of think of as a thing unto itself. 
I still would love to have a Mauser, but I don’t want a project gun at the moment.  I want a gun that will do what I ask of it right away.
I have to admit that the Model 70 has always intrigued me, and that I don’t currently have one in my collection.  It would also give me some of what I admire about the Mauser action.  The current production Model 70’s also seem very nice and well made.  I am a little reluctant to buy another rifle that’s built for hunting and expect it to perform like a tactical rifle.  I just tried that and failed.  Since FN offers tactical versions of the Model 70 with accuracy guarantees, it seems like an awfully attractive way to go.  The only drawback to me with the FN’s is that they only come in short action, and the only non-magnum chambering is .308.  I consider .308 to be a solid, if unexciting, cartridge. 
The big AR seems equally attractive, for different reasons.  My friend Scott has one that he built with a Krieger barrel that is so easy to shoot, holds its zero, and has that mythical half minute precision that I struggle to get out of my bolt gun.  It’s a little on the heavy side, but there are ways to build a lighter gun.  He has also questioned its reliability, as the buffer and spring seem to take a beating.
Reality strikes when I consider my budget.  It pretty much rules out the big AR.  I do have an AR-15 lower built that has been sitting around for a few years now.  I could probably afford to build a .223 or 6.5 Grendel.  It would be a little underpowered for my expectations…
The FN could still be within reach.  I’m going to start saving and scrounging for stuff to sell.  Input would be appreciated.