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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Reloading saved a rifle today


Last year I bought a .45-70 Handi Rifle from a friend of a friend. It had a nice Nikon scope on it and I was told it was in good condition. He was asking $250 so I figured I couldn't lose...especially with the nice Nikon glass. 

Well I got the gun and it shot like garbage. It constantly threw 8 inch groups with every type of factory ammo I tried. Nothing was loose on the gun or scope...it appears as though I had bought a turd. 

I was at the point of keeping the scope and throwing the gun away...I had just put around $120 worth of factory ammo through it and there was no way I could hunt with it. 

I bought a set of dies for it earlier this week and I figured I'd give it another chance with some reloads to see if I could find a load it liked.

I prepped 20 shells and used the same bullet and seating depth for all of them. The only variable was the powder charge. I loaded three variants.

All rounds were loaded with Reloader 7...I used 44, 46, and 48 grains under a Hornady 325 grain bullet.

The 44 grain loads shot around a 6.5 inch group. Ouch...looks like I wasted about 100 bucks on reloading these. 

As I was cursing the gun under my breath I remembered that a buddy had given me 4 shells that he swore worked magic in his gun...they were 250 grain bullets and I had brought them with me. After the disappointing results with my first load I switched to the 250 grainers my buddy supplied. 

Boom, boom, boom, boom...and i had a group that measured about 5 inches. Ugh. No hope in sight.

I wanted to quit and throw the gun in the lake so it couldn't live to frustrate anyone ever again...but then I remembered that someone in Lord of the Rings threw that ring in the water and years later someone found it and it caused a lot of problems and I didn't want that to happen so I got back to work. I decided I needed to shoot the other two loads I created just to be thorough.

The next load was the 46 grains of RL7. My first shot was the benchmark...the second through fourth shots would define my "group". On the second shot I saw what I believed to be the worlds biggest coincidence. The second shot hit the same hole as the first. "Weird" I thought "I must have screwed something up."

My third shot went down range and after the gun recoiled up and over I searched to get the target back in view. Whoa...the third shot hit the same hole as my second shot. "No way this is happening." 

Fourth shot...boom...touching the same hole as the first shot. At this point I sat back to analyze what I was seeing. 

I had put maybe 70 rounds through this gun using a variety of ammo and achieved average groups of a horrendous 7 inches at 100 yards...but now this same gun was tearing a ragged one-inch hole in the target in front of me. A few minutes earlier I would have sworn this rifle was incapable of such an achievement.

I've never seen such drastic change in my life. This gun is like a spoiled brat...if it doesn't get exactly what it wants it pitches a fit. Good news is that I found exactly what it wants. I'm writing the recipe down and that's all I envision loading for this gun the rest of the time I own it...which will likely be til death.

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