Category Archives: Firearms and their use

Discussions of various specific firearms, evaluations of their functionality and appropriate use and employment in every day life. Also discussions of ammunition in the same light. Thirdly, brief discussions of the legal side of firearms ownership and use – Second Amendment considerations and those who seek to destroy personal liberty.

I Now Have Another Gripe…

The title reminds me of an old mock up cartoon drawing of Daffy Duck in a foul mood (as if he had alternatives) saying, “Daily I am forced (forthed) to add to the every growing list (litht) of people who can just kiss (kith) my … [- uh – tailfeathers]!”

I like Brownell’s company for firearms parts and tools. I’ve used them. I have an account with them. They’re good people. But the advertising…

The ‘catch my attention’ line in the email is “Don’t settle for the same old gun!” So I’m already a bit chaffed. I’ve carried this old Colt (lightweight) Commander in .45 Awfulmatic for a number of years and had it longer. I like it. I like what it does. I have no intention – and regardless of ‘deal’ – to change it for something – Lord help me! – new.

Then I opened the advertisement. It shows a pistol – looks like a Glock – with ‘enhanced’ sights, a holographic sight along with the sights, an extended barrel with a boss or lug on the end, a flashlight or laser beam attached under the slide/barrel, fancy decorative milling on the slide and and oversized base to the magazine. I cannot see it, of course, but I would imagine a beveled magazine well.

I carry my Commander as a concealed weapon. It is already big enough to hide. I do not need all that foo-foo crap to hide as well.

I do have high visibility fixed sights and some work on the trigger. That does not add any weight or size to the pistol. The pistol is sighted in with the load I carry and I am confident of hitting a human silhouette from the muzzle to in excess of fifty yards (depends on how the eyes focus that day; I’m getting old.) Head shots only to twenty-five to thirty yards.

No, I’m not ‘settling’. No, I do not require a ‘new gun’!

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Filed under Firearms and their use, General Idiocy, Much Ado About Nothing, Self Revelation

Another interesting factoid I found

Collecting World War One rifles.

Those early rifles are long!

I have a few rifles – the long rifles, not carbines – are too long for the common rifle case sold currently. The 1892 Krag-Jorgensen rifle is 49 inches long. The 1891 Argentine Mauser rifle is 51 inches long (actually it’s probably in millimeters; I haven’t measured or figured it in millimeters yet). The 1911 Swiss straight pull in 7.5×55 mm is close to 52 inches.

It wasn’t until the Second World War military rifles shortened a bit to what most of think of as normal. In fact, the K-98 Mauser has the “K” prefix which means ‘Kurz’, ‘short’ in English. The original 98 Mauser rifle was just over 49 inches with a barrel nearly 30 inches long. The 98K – a later variation and common in WW2 – was shortened to about 43 inches over all and a 23 inch barrel. However, with smokeless power the velocity and kinetic power levels were more than adequate.

All that aside, I have several rifles for which I just don’t have carrying cases! I can wrap them up in old blankets for taking to the range and such, but this development is ‘curious’. I’ll have to think of something. I hope I don’t have to make some from plywood or such!


Filed under Firearms and their use

A Decent Human Being with a Gun

24 January 2017. Thomas Yoxall, age 43, tattooed and pierced, was driving West on Interstate 10 near Tonopah, Arizona. He saw a man (later identified as Leonard Penneles-Escobar) ‘savagely’ beating an Arizona State Trooper (Edward Andersson). Mr. Yoxall could not ignore the situation and stopped.

He called to the man beating the trooper, presumably to stop beating the trooper. The man kept beating the trooper and Mr. Yoxall fired his personally owned sidearm at the attacker, stopping the attack. While tending the trooper, Mr. Penneles resumed the attack on Trooper Andersson; Mr. Yoxall fired one more round, incapacitating Mr. Penneles permanently; Penneles died later from his wounds.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Girls and Boys; Mr. Thomas Yoxall is the sort of man to be admired and encouraged. Seeing a serious problem, he acted swiftly and surely. Victorious in the conflict, he declines the title ‘hero’ and says the aftermath of killing another human is difficult mentally and emotionally.

A telling comment, Mr. Yoxall says he was “…put there by God.” A good man clinging to his guns and his God.

Not much else to say.

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Filed under Civilization, Crime, Firearms and their use, God, Heroes and Heroism

The Order of Saint Ballistica

I have started the Order of Saint Ballistica. It is a religious order. More or less.

Anyone is welcome to join, provided one can fulfill the requirements, as listed following:

One: Know and observe all the requirements of basic, mainstream, Christianity. (Orthodox or not, but observing a sense of mutual Christian respect and love and consideration for the details of others observance.)

Two: In addition, an adherent of the Order of Saint Ballistica must observe three additional sacrements:

* Firearms ownership. One must of one’s own volition own and approve of firearms and firearms ownership. If prevented by law or circumstance, one must be in favor of firearms ownership.

* Firearms possession. One must be in possession of a firearm, loaded and adequately maintained for use. Again, if prevented by law or circumstance, one must be in favor of such activity and state of being.

* Coffee.





Yes. One must have a gender.

Application process and membership bestowal:

In good faith, an applicant will acknowledge the above and post a placard showing affiliation in a reasonably visible place.

Excommunication process:

Should a member be found in blatant violation of the above requirements, a quorum of four other members will gather in view of the violator, point at the violator and say, “Neener, neener, neener!” followed by evidencing the raspberry.

Then go for coffee and exchange lies about one’s shooting ability.


Filed under Firearms and their use, General Idiocy, religion

Forming Cases for the 6.5x53mmR Dutch (or Romanian) Mannlicher cartridge, used in the M1895 Dutch rifle

I read up on the process and started. I found most of the pitfalls. Please read the entire article prior to beginning the process. I wrote this more or less as a log of my attempts. It worked well on the first try, more or less. I did find some easier or less damaging techniques and added them later.

All my sources and information indicates the Dutch cartridge is the same shape, size and pressure specifications as the 6.5×54 (rimless) Mannlicher-Schoenauer cartridge, save the rim. Since no one commonly makes dies for the Dutch cartridge (actually, RCBS does, but they run over $100 a set; more for ‘forming’ dies), I bought a set of 6.5x54MS dies (made by Lee and cost less).

Start with .303 British cases, preferably new and unfired. This actually simplifies the process, since no one I could find makes a dedicated 6.5x53mmR shell head holder. To simplify this essay, I’m going to refer to the round as “Dutch”, as that is the type of rifle I have.

.303 British case, unaltered.  .303 British case, unaltered.

.303 Brit cases are normally 54 to 56 millimeters (mm) long (depending if at maximum length or recently trimmed). Dutch cases are 53.5 mm when longest – according to my readings of the few schematics I found. Trimmed, Dutch cases are 52 mm. Therefore, the .303 cases need to be trimmed. The Dutch cases headspace on the rim, so the actual length is not crucial. However, too long a case will cause the shoulder to crush and rumple. Not desired. Too short a neck will not hold the bullet properly and securely. But even a full millimeter probably won’t stop the show. Also, one must turn the neck to allow the seated bullet to enter the neck portion of the chamber AND allow for some expansion so the case can release the bullet when fired. These actions will be discussed later.

I note a scratch on the shoulder of some of my resized cases. Debris in one of the sizing dies I used. It doesn’t seem more than a surface effect, but it does annoy me. I have located the problem. It doesn’t really mean much and the ‘defect’ is removed later (shooting the cases), but do inspect brass regularly during the forming procedure.

Step one.  Size .303 British case in .308 Winchester sizing die, without decapper or expander. Step One: Size .303 British case in .308 Winchester sizing die, without decapper or expander

1. I found the best way to start was by removing the decapper/neck expander from, then sizing the original case in a .308 Winchester (Lee brand) sizing die. With the decapping and expander pin removed and the top mounted pin ‘holder’ removed, I didn’t have any difficulty with the 56 mm case in a 51 mm cartridge die, the reader may (depending on brand and style of dies used), and is encouraged to watch for it.

This step accomplishes two things; one, the neck size is reduced somewhat, making it easier to reduce the neck size smaller. (Obviously, it’s going to be 6.5 mm when finished; doing this in steps is easier and less brass is lost in the process.) Second, this sizing moves the shoulder back to where it almost should be. Almost.

Step Two:  Size case in 7x57 Mauser sizing die. Step Two: Size case in 7×57 Mauser sizing die.

2. Next, I sized the neck down again in a 7x57mm sizing die. Again with the decapper/neck expander removed. One notes the 57mm case die leaves the necked down portion of the case a bit longer than the finished product. However, with the already sized upper portion the case enters the next ‘size down’ procedure easier.

Step Three and Four:  Case sized in 6.5x55mm die and trimmed.

Step Three, Four and Five: Case sized in 6.5x55mm die and trimmed.

3. Neck down the neck in a 6.5×55 Swede sizing die. After this, most of the neck is roughly the correct diameter.

4. At this point, I shortened the cases to 52 mm, the correct length. (Check this length; mine came out a little shorter than some original collector rounds I have.) I did mine on a Forster case trimmer, as that’s what I have. There are other options and the reader is encouraged to investigate the matter. (Frankly, using a hand cranked trimmer to remove several millimeters of case neck is a pain in the neck.) But trim it anyway. AFTER I did the hand trimming, I ordered the Forster power adapter which allows an electric screw driver to do the cranking.

I later bought a rather inexpensive electric screw driver at the local “Harbor Freight” outlet. It seems to do the turning without the wear and tear on my fingers. In retrospect, I wish I had had it before.

5. Now, the only sizing left is the shoulder, which is still a bit long. I found using the 6.5x54MS dies made the cartridge ‘look’ right, but didn’t sufficiently set the shoulder back to chamber freely. After I purchased the MS dies, I heard the 6.5×53 Mannlicher-Carcano dies are a better fit. I later bought the Carcano dies (from Lee) and the cases ultimately chamber without difficulty.

So I resorted to brute force. (Don’t do this yet). I beat the bolt closed with rubber mallet (still with an unprimed, empty case). This does not seem to affect the bolt and does partially form the shoulder of the case to fit into the chamber. After one forcing, the case will chamber and the bolt lock with some minor pressure. This actually seems to be good, as when the case is fired, the base of the case is firmly seated on the bolt face and no stretching can occur.

Note: For some reason, the 6.5×54 MS dies did NOT set the shoulder back appropriately. Others have used them with reported success. Hopefully, your attempt will be easier. The rough-formed cases will not enter the rifle chamber easily. I obtained a set of 6.5×52 Carcano dies; the shoulder length from the base and length of case are both less. Doing the final sizing the the Carcano die allowed cases to chamber. I did not have to beat the bolt closed any longer.

As draconian as it may sound, I don’t think beating the bolt closed as I outlined did any harm to the rifle. All in all, I find using the Carcano dies a superior method. I strongly recommend NOT beating a loaded case into place.

Please note: The Carcano dies set the case mouth to .268” and the .264” bullets will not stay in the neck. So after setting the shoulder back with the Carcano dies, size the neck (at least) in the Mannlicher-Schonauer dies to properly hold the bullets. 6.5 x 55mm Swede dies have the correct sized expander (.264” bullets), but are too long to fully size the neck to the shoulder.

In retrospect, I probably should have annealed the cases at this point. I didn’t and everything seems to have worked out, but annealing sooner will not harm anything. Information below.

5. Prior to neck turning, I decided to fire-form the brass. Inspecting the thus formed cases, I decided to attempt a ‘live’ load to fire-form. I have a small pile of 140 grain 6.5 bullets from previous work with a 6.5×55 Swedish Mauser. They are the correct bore diameter.

Large Rifle primers, a starting load of IMR 3031 and one of the aforementioned 140 grain bullets seated long seems to be about right. I did measure the loaded round and the outside diameter of the neck with bullet and it miked out just under the schematic dimension. It is rather disappointing in velocity at 2056 fps, but this was a starting load and merely for the purpose of forming the cases.

Outside diameter of neck is just below the one online dimensional drawing I found of the cartridge; therefore, the neck(s) should open enough in firing to release the bullet and not cause a pressure excursion.

Note: The cases you use may react somewhat differently and the dies you use may work a bit different. Do check the outside neck diameter with bullet in place to check if bullets will release. I did not include any dimensions as YOU need to find the information yourself and measure the outside diameter of the loaded round to assure yourself of the safety of the configuration.

Be sure and measure the neck and be sure there is enough space for the neck to open and completely release the bullet. If the bullet and case neck wedge together, pressures get truly unmanageable.

6.5x53Rmm finished and loaded round beside original FN loaded round.

6.5x53Rmm finished and loaded round beside original FN loaded round.

The observer notes the ‘formed’ case (on the right) is a bit shorter than the original on the left. I possibly shortened them a bit too much. However, as the case is rimmed and headspaces on the rim, I don’t think it’s a tragic error. Were I fighting a war, or shooting constantly with the rifle (I am doing neither) I would be concerned about the burning powder gases cutting into the exposed end of the chamber under the missing case neck. I do not think for my purposes this makes a grosse affaire. If I make another set of cases, I will correct this, of course.

I also just ordered pilots (.264”) to ream necks both inside and outside. I have a feeling I will need them at some point.

The fire-forming worked swell. I should mention I tried a lighter charge of fast burning powder and it almost worked.

With all this cold working of the cases, I then annealed the cases to soften and return the malleability to the case necks and shoulders. Good information on line if you haven’t done this before. Not really a difficult operation, but one needs a proper place to do it.

According to Cartridges of the World the military loading of the 6.5 Dutch round features a 156-159 grain (10 grams in metric) round nosed bullet at 2433 feet per second. Wiki agrees with this, but that may mean it was copied. CotW also has a couple suggested loads.

My goal is to duplicate the original loading of cartridges for ‘obsolete’ military rifles. In my thinking the sights are set up for the ‘issue’ load. Also, one can reasonably try out the rifle as it was intended and intelligently form an opinion of the system.

Should one desire ‘lighter’ loads for plinking or fun – including those acquaintances who have never fired a rifle of such age – the loads shown in CotW can be reduced somewhat, or lighter bullets used, or ultimately use light loads for the 6.5×54 Mannlicher-Schonauer.

Cartridges of the World suggest either IMR 3031 or IMR 4350 to duplicate the original loading. See our next exciting episode – Bang! Please note, it is cold and snowy in the Central Plateau. I estimate the next proper shooting date to be at soonest mid April.


Filed under Firearms and their use

The Last Savage

I should qualify the title. The pistol of which I write is the last production variation of the Savage Model 1907 pistol in .32 ACP. The Savage 1910 and 1917 were still in production until the middle 1920s or so and Savage continues to build rifles to this day. Savage made the Model 101, a single shot .22 pistol made to look like a single action revolver for about 10 years in the 1960s. They also made a Model 502 Striker pistol, which is a pistol length bolt action single shot in choice of .22 long rifle, .22 WRM or .17 rimfire something. It was a fairly recent arm, but is not on the Savage Arms site, so I presume it is no longer in production. (I don’t follow ‘new’ guns much.)

However, the Savage model 1907. variant 19, modification 2 was the last of the models 1907. According to the serial number, the one here was made in 1919. This seems to be the year more Savage 1907 pistols were made than any other. The 1907 ceased production in 1920. The 1915 and 1917 carried on longer.

Left side - rear - view of the pistol.  Very good condition.

Left side – rear – view of the pistol. Very good condition.

As Savage pistols (of that type and vintage) go, it is pretty much the same as all the other models 1907. It does of course have distinctives which distinguish it from other variations.

Probably the major telling differences between this variant and the earliest variants is the hammer is a spur type with the rear of the spur exposed, vice the burr version; and the small and more dense cocking serrations on the slide, vice the fewer and wider serrations of earlier versions.

This variant has no legend on the side of the frame proudly displaying the Savage name. (That marking seems to be a bit uncertain. Many of the variants did have the name either on the right or left side of the slide, just above the respective grip and many did not.)

Atop the slide is the usual legend of

PATENTED NOVEMBER 21, 1905 — 7.65 MM

This slide top legend also varies from variation to variation, but is consistent in message.

Grips are hard rubber – possibly gutta percha. They are black, tending to a very dark brown probably from ‘fading’; that may not be the correct chemical term, but it suits the common usage.The grips on this example are intact; they are not cracked or chipped and show no wear. Reportedly, the grips can be removed by gently prying each grip to bend the panel (fore and aft) which will release the grip panel from a groove arrangement in the frame. However, the material of the grips does not age well and tend to break when manipulated in such manner. If the grips are in good condition, don’t fool with them.

Finish on this variation is a matte bluing. It is not the bright bluing of the earlier models, nor is it the ‘paint’ finish attempted at one point. On this example, it is rather complete with a few spots of light rust over the pistol. There is some wear on the front muzzle and on exposed edges. The magazine is a double slot (for magazine catch) type and rather worn of bluing. I have a small suspicion the magazine may not be original; however, as the magazines were not serialized to the individual pistol, I cannot tell.

Note the clean and unworn appearance of the engraved markings.

Note the clean and unworn appearance of the engraved markings.

The case hardening on the trigger is visible and not too badly faded.

The sights are the later type.

The rear sight is machined into the top of the slide. The rear sight ‘notch’ is an almost “U” shaped groove. The sides of the groove are slightly slanted outboard; giving the appearance of a compromise between a thin “V” and a “U”. The bottom is rounded.

The front sight is a separate piece, fitted into a mortice milled into the front of the slide, then riveted from the bottom; much like the front sight on a traditional Government Model. It is tapered, wider at the base, and does have a flat top. However, when aimed, the top of the front sight exactly fills the top of the rear sight notch. Consequently, the ‘windage’ is just a bit vague.

To be fair, this pistol was designed as a close use arm. I’d be willing to bet the sights are nearly unused.

The bore is in amazingly fine condition. Many of these pistols have bores ranging from ‘somewhat worn’ to ‘nasty’. No doubt some combination of corrosive primers (primers leaving a salt deposit, attracting moisture; therefore rust) and lack of cleaning (to remove those salts) are to blame for this condition. This example was obviously cleaned. Or perhaps never fired, just carried a bit. The breech face is also rather clean and fresh.

Shooting this pistol was rather ordinary. I chronographed five shots from my secret stash of Privi Partizan brand .32 ACP ammunition – that lot which I use only for velocity comparison between various pistols. Average velocity was 721 feet per second. (Advertised velocity for the .32 ACP is 900 feet per second; no pistol I’ve tested does that.)

I shot five rounds (not the velocity lot) slow fire at 10 yards for accuracy. The group was just under 2.25“ wide by just under 5 “ high. The group was centered to the left (from the shooter’s view) of the aiming point. As the accompanying photo shows, the group was neatly contained in the head of the target. Then ten shots rapid fire into the main area of the target, also from 10 yards, one handed;. I think I missed once – can’t find the tenth hole – but the nine hits measure seven inches wide by eight and one half inches wide, with one flyer another four inches out to the right. All were within the “C” area of the target, albeit centered lower than one would desire.

Five shots @ten yards on head section of combat target.

Five shots @ten yards on head section of combat target.

Ten rounds fired 'rapid fire' at ten yards.  One missing shot.  Circular pattern indicates I was focusing on target more than front sight.

Ten rounds fired ‘rapid fire’ at ten yards. One missing shot. Circular pattern indicates I was focusing on target more than front sight.

Savage used the marketing phrase “Ten shots fast!” in connection with the Savage pistols. It was more or less true. The M1907 (and the following M1910 and M1917) in .32 ACP utilized a ten shot, staggered magazine. (This was some twenty-eight years BEFORE the FN P-35 (High Power) was released with its thirteen shot magazine. It was also eleven years AFTER the Mauser Broomhandle with a staggered magazine, but since the Broomhandle was loaded via stripper clip and the magazine was not removable, I’m not sure it counts.)

Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but the Savage M1907 is just a bit small for my hand. I quickly say, my hands are not large by any stretch. Holding the pistol in firing position I find my trigger finger extends through the trigger guard and my trigger finger rests with my first joint (from the tip) rather than the ‘pad’ of my finger on the trigger. Normally the pad of the trigger finger is to be on the trigger. (Of course, with the hideously heavy trigger pull, attempting a ‘target’ trigger pull with the pad of the trigger finger is quite difficult.)

Speaking of trigger pull, this example breaks at twelve pounds or so. Fairly normal for these pistols; they were not made as target guns, but for self defense. One presumes the heavy trigger pull was to discourage premature discharges and may owe some to the somewhat complicated trigger mechanism.

Again, I am amazed at the utility of this design. Okay, the trigger device – that is, the linkage between pulling the trigger and releasing the sear – is probably more complex than needed. (Which never seems to bother advocates of the FN P-35.) The sights, by modern standards, are rather small and not prone to quick acquisition and the caliber is, again by modern standards, pretty anemic. Still, it is very easy to use. The ‘delay’ device is functional and quite positive.

And it is a very good looking bit of ordnance.


Filed under Firearms and their use

Battle Sight Zero – a somewhat technical discussion

“Battle Sight Zero” is a phrase used by the U. S. Armed Forces (and probably others) in two separate but related meanings.

* First meaning is the concept of combining the properties of the trajectory of the bullet (which depends on the firearm – usually rifle and the loading of the round used), the effectiveness of the bullet loading (that is, how far it will either dispatch or seriously wound an enemy soldier), the effectiveness of the bullet in maintaining a true flight (accuracy in terms of wind drift), the size of the target (in this case the torso area of a ‘standard size’ adult human belligerent) and the line of sight of the rifle and shooter in such a way as to maximize the probably of a hit for the furthest possible distance. When determining this condition, ‘elevation’ is the only sighting variable considered. One is on one’s own for windage.

Depending on the authority and the round in question this elevation is a distance of up to 20 inches. This is NOT a single point targeting technique. The rifle is sighted – aimed – at the belt or waist level of the belligerent up to a specified range, then, again depending on the rifle and ammunition, aim may be shifted to shoulder level.

* Second meaning is the actual sight setting for an individual and rifle (and load) which causes the proper combination to achieve the above. For instance, for the U. S. M14 rifle with ball ammunition, the sight setting is the 300 yard rapid fire setting, MINUS two clicks [lowered elevation]. Other rifle and ammunition combinations will vary.

Trajectory diagram 30-06 2

The above illustration (NOT TO SCALE) is a diagram of trajectory and battle sight – danger zone – setting for the M14 rifle with ball ammunition (M59). This is remarkably similar to the U. S. military .30(-06) M2 ammunition fired from a rifle. They are roughly the same bullet weight and type at the same muzzle velocity. (Not perfectly identical.)

The blue line indicates the trajectory of the fired bullet. Note the bullet is above the line of sight out to 400 yards range. The highest or greatest change from line of sight is called the ‘mid-range trajectory” – which is not really at the mid point of the trajectory, but early on shooters thought it was. (This ignores the first 25 yards or so of flight where the bullet is lower than the line of sight. However this distance can never be more than the distance between the muzzle and the sights – typically a matter of one and one-half inches; perhaps a bit more with a telescopic sight. This ‘lower than line of sight’ area is insignificant, unless one is firing at a fly or spider.)

From the muzzle to 400 yards, the bullet from the rifle under discussion will impact a human torso presumed the rifle is correctly aimed at belt level. The blue rectangles represent the torso area of a belligerent. The entire range where a specific bullet will strike a human torso (with either belt line or shoulder hold) is the ‘Danger Zone’.

Notice the blue rectangle past the 400 yard Second Intersection. The ‘Battle Sight Zero’ distance can be lengthened by – at a certain distance depending on the trajectory of the rifle/cartridge used – aiming at shoulder level. The bullet is still falling, but by aiming at the shoulder level the bullet will still impact the target area for some distance.

As noted, the illustration is NOT to scale. However, since a falling object (in this case, the bullet) falls faster with time (which corresponds to downrange distance in this case) the first portion of the ‘danger zone’ is longer than the second portion of the ‘danger zone’ past the Second Intersection.

This technique can also be used in hunting. The target zone (either heart/lung or spine/neck) is smaller, therefore the ‘danger zone’ where the trajectory of the bullet not rising over X inches from line of aim is shorter. One notes the small the target area, the shorter the danger zone or effective range for this technique.

The technique does NOT work well for formalized target shooting, where the 10 or X ring is smaller still.

How far is the danger zone? This depends on the cartridge and load used. From the illustration, one should note a ‘flatter’ trajectory makes a longer danger zone. Conversely, a ‘higher’ trajectory makes a shorter danger zone. It should be apparent the danger zone begins at the muzzle; clearly the bullet cannot depart from the line of sight/aim sufficiently to miss a torso sized target between the muzzle and First Intersection with the aiming line.

A second limitation for the ‘danger zone’ is the effectiveness of the bullet at range. At some range, all ammunition runs out of power – usually determined by kinetic energy – and will no longer deliver a suitable blow for the purpose at hand. At whatever range a hit with a given round will not injure the belligerent, seeking hits at that or further range is pointless.

So how does one – the average shooter – use this technique and knowledge to one’s advantage. Glad you asked.

Ground rules. This will work with any rifle and any ammunition – to different results. A .30 Winchester Center Fire will not have as much range as a .300 Winchester Magnum, typically. However, one can get the maximum range from the rifle and ammunition combination as is possible. The shooter must be able to shoot a ‘group’ from the rifle in question. That is, with the shooter’s selected ammunition, the shooter must be able to deliver at most a five inch grouping at 100 yards. In other words, if one cannot shoot worth a hoot, this probably won’t help.

Step One: Determine the rifle and ammunition to be used. In many cases, this will be the rifle one has. Then decide which brand and type of ammunition that best serves one’s needs for the use intended. Some may choose a quasi-military rifle and the ‘regular’ ammunition which is intended for such rifle. Or one may buy an exotic rifle and hand load for it. No matter – pick A rifle and A type of ammunition.

Step Two: Determine the trajectory of the selected rifle and ammunition. No need to make a graph, like I did, but simply have a table showing the drop of the bullet (from the selected ammunition). Some of the loading manuals have this and I’m sure the information is on line some where. One may also look up the ballistic coefficient of the bullet used, actual velocity and calculate it – but I’m not that compulsive.

Step Three: Determine the allowed target size for intended use. The vitals of a deer are bigger than the width of a prairie dog. Both are considerably smaller than the torso area of a marauding, predatory human evil-doer.

This ‘allowed target size’ determines just how much elevation from line of sight is to be allowed. For instance, a six inch diameter ‘target’ limits the mid-range elevation of the trajectory to six inches.

Step Four: Determine the maximum effective range of the rifle/ammunition selection for the purpose intended. Pretty much any hit one can make on a prairie dog will be effective, regardless of caliber or loading. A deer or moose will require some greater level of kinetic energy to kill humanely. Any rifle/ammunition selection will – at some range – lose energy down to an unsatisfactory level. Such distance may be shorter than the range at which one can score a hit on the intended target. This rather limits the ‘battle sight zero’ range.

Step Five: Fit the information from Step Two into the allowed parameters of Step Three. Make sure the elevation at the ‘mid range’ point is NOT outside the parameters of the intended target.

Step Six: After determining where the ‘battle sight zero’ should register at 100 yards (note in the diagram above, the 100 yard difference in bullet impact is 8.6″), go to the range.

First, shoot at 25 yards to ensure a zero setting. With most modern calibers, this will put one on paper at 100 yards.

Then, shoot at 100 yards to match the 100 yard impact from the range and drop table. Remember the ground rule about ‘shooting a group’? One may well ask “How am I supposed to have the group be 8.6″ high?” The answer is to have a ‘group’ more or less centered 8.6″ above the aiming point. Do NOT aim 8.6″ high, aim at the bull or aiming point and adjust the sights so that the bullet impacts are – on average – 8.6″ above the bull.

There are other problems at times. A rifle equipped with buckhorn or otherwise ‘open’ sights utilizing a ‘wedge elevator’ may be difficult to adjust perfectly.

Historically, the Springfield 1903 rifle first used the 1903 cartridge. Then in 1906 the Army decided to change rounds and started issuing the 1906 (.30-06) round.

The two rounds are nearly identical, except the ’06 round is slightly longer. The serious difference is the ’03 round used a 220 grain bullet at a muzzle velocity (officially) of 2300 fps; the .30-06 used a 150 grain bullet (with a slightly better streamlined shape) at a muzzle velocity of 2700 fps. This difference in bullet weight and velocity alters the trajectory noticeably. The ’06 bullet simply shoots flatter.

It is more complicated, of course. In 1926, the Army developed the .30 M1 Ball to better accomplish indirect fire in machine guns. This round was somewhat heavier and slower, but had better long range ballistics in terms of retained velocity. Then, 1938 the Army found the M1 round would shoot too far for some ranges, and the M2 round (more or less the original ’06 round) was developed. All of which have different trajectories.

This is further complicated by current ‘claims’ by the U. S. Government. Army Technical Manual TM 43-0001-27 published April 1994 is titled Army Ammunition Data Sheets Small Caliber Ammunition FDC 1305. Small Caliber includes up to .50 BMG rounds.

Page 5-9 lists information for “Cartridge, Caliber .30, Ball, M2” the .30-06 Springfield round mentioned earlier, in common speech. The TM has NO listing of the bullet weight (traditionally accepted as 150 grains), but lists the propellant as “IMR 4895, 50 gr”. The chamber pressure is listed at “50,000 psi” and velocity as “2740 fps, 78 ft from muzzle”.

One notes this information (combination of bullet weight, powder charge and velocity) is somewhat verified by reloading information.

Speer loading manual #14 shows 150 grain FMJ BT with a maximum of 49.5 grains of IMR 4895 for a velocity (chronograph distance not provided) of 2722 fps.

Hodgdon #26 shows 150 grain bullet (not further defined) with 49 grains of IMR 4895 at 2852 fps (no details).

Lyman #49 shows a 150 grain jacketed soft point bullet with 51.5 grains IMR 4895 at 2958 fps and pressure of 49,200 C. (Fired from a 24 inch Universal receiver.)

Hornady 9th edition shows loadings for .30-06 Springfield and a separate section for M1 Garand. Neither section lists loads for a 150 grain bullet with IMR 4895 powder.

The 7.62 (x 51) NATO round (very much the same as the .308 Winchester) for the M14 rifle seemed to maintain essentially the same loading for ball (infantry) rounds. (Page 11-3 of the TM, if anyone cares to look.)

The last few statements are merely to reinforce the idea that even the Army sometimes ‘over advertises’ their figures.

The M16, et al then reintroduced the problem. Not satisfied with the original M16, the various Armed Forces decided to change the physical shape of the arm, usually shortening the barrel (called the M4, if memory serves); which changed (lowered) the velocity of the issue round. Somewhere in this process, the issue round was altered to fire a boat tailed bullet, which caused a change in retained velocity. In other words, a different trajectory.

One also notices the 5.56mm NATO round lags to just over 400 foot-pounds of kinetic energy at 400 yards. This is enough for a fatal wound IF in a suitable location, but may not inflict a serious non-fatal injury at such range. One also notes the wind drift suffered by the rather light bullet fired by the 5.56mm round at ranges greater than 300 or so yards.

For these and perhaps other reasons, the 5.56mm NATO round usually has a battle sight zero determined ‘danger zone’ of not more than 300 yards. On the other hand, the 5.56mm round battle sight zero setting normally has bullet strikes no more than 8 inches or so above line of sight. Additionally, the 5.56mm round seems to not use the ‘shoulder hold’ concept. On the one hand, it somewhat limits the ‘danger zone’ of the battle sight zero. On the other hand, I never could remember the exact range to switch from belt to shoulder and I was never good at range estimation.

One can determine the ‘switch’ range. When the bullet impact ‘falls’ with range to the point of aim, one then moves the point of aim to the top of the target area. One will have to do some range testing to find this point, or calculate it from drop tables. Using the information for the arm being used, of course.

That’s it. Actually, it’s simpler than it looks if one remembers the bullet trajectory is a curved line in space (technically called a parabola) and it always, always, always happens.

Since I began writing this, I’ve found a ‘cheat’. The web site
has a calculating program where one can enter the details for one’s own rifle or pistol and get a full result. One might have to ‘play’ with it a bit. Ballistic coefficients are not available for obsolete and proposed rounds, but it will do.

However, what I’ve outlined here is the basis of the calculations in the web site.

Just for the tally-book, I am not associated with that web site or any products or services sold therein. (Other than lip, sass and grief, no one gives me much of anything; other than my retirement and God, who simply loves me more than I deserve.)

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