...because when I went this evening, I found out it was closed for the day yesterday for a state/county holiday (they called it Presidents' Day but they also take off on the 21st for that, I imagine they meant Lincoln's Birthday which actually was February 12, 1809). So I was lucky not to have made a wasted trip yesterday.
My trip there tonight was a fun one as most of my range trips turn out. I only brought along 2 guns, the new Mosin Nagant 91/30 and my issued SIG 229. The range is an indoor one and the maximum distance at which one can shoot is only 25 yards. It's probably needless to say, I did all my shooting with the Nagant at that distance. With the open sights I would much have preferred to shoot at a range of at least 50 yards but I made due with what was available. I only had 40 rounds for the Nagant but that was enough to get an idea of how it shoots and to realize what kind of ammo it probably likes. I had a 20 round box of Prvi Partizan 150 grain soft points and a box of 20 Silver Bear 203 grain soft points. Let me just say right out that there was one heck of a difference in how well the rifle shot the two different bullet weights.
I started off shooting the Prvi Partizan out of the Nagant in 3 round sets. I wanted to see how well of a group I could get with it. When I brought my target back after the first 3 shots I was absolutely amazed to see only one bullet hole on the paper. Okay, I tried again but made sure the rear sight was set as far back/low as it would go. On the next target there were only 2 out of 3 shots on paper and the darned paper is 10.5" x 12". I took another look and saw that two shots had apparently gone though one hole (note, I said apparently, more on this later) but the group was 2 3/4" across at only 25 yards. I was beginning to think that the frosted barrel was shot out. The three shots were all at about the same level vertically but were spread out horizontally from left to right. Not something I usually see when I shoot. Another try with 3 shots and all 3 were on the paper but sort of 3 in a row from left to right. All the shots were hitting about 3" low but that was not my concern, it was that spread from left to right that was bothering me.
I decided to give the Silver Bear ammo a try. I moved the rear sight forward 2 notches to raise the sight. Then I fired 3 shot groups with the Silver Bear ammo. After I got the first 3 off, I brought the target back not expecting to see anything better than what I had done with the Prvi Partizan but wow was I surprised. The first group was about 3" high and 2 1/2" to the right of the bull's eye. The group size was 1 1/2". I decided to just keep shooting for group size not worrying about where the group was hitting for now, so I did not adjust the sights again. I tried a second set of 3 rounds. That group was in just about the same place and the group size was 1 1/4" across. I gave it one more try with 3 rounds and that last time again shot in the same area but with a group size of 13/16 of an inch.
I shot some more withe the Prvi Partizan, until all of it was gone - which was another 11 shots. Of those, I shot two 5 shot groups and a single shot. The 5 shot groups both had 5" spreads. I was shooting bent over at the waist so that my elbows were resting on the bench. I figured I could do better with my SIG 229 at 25 yards and fired 7 shots out of it from essentially the same position. I got a 6 shot group with a 2 1/8" spread and one flier a few inches directly above that group. With the flyer, the group was 4 3/4" with my SIG 229 pistol at 25 yards. I then shot two 5 shot groups from the Nagant using the Silver Bear ammo. The better of those two groups was 1 5/8" across the other was only slightly larger.
The Nagant was consistently shooting in the same area, with decent sized groups, using the 203 grain Silver Bear ammo. It was pretty much all over the place with the lighter 150 grain Prvi Partizan ammo. Once I got home and I looked at the targets to measure the group sizes, I discovered something interesting about how the ammo was hitting the paper. Remember I said more about two of the Prvi Partizan shots having gone though the same hole! Well, it seems I was wrong. There actually only were 2 shots out of 3 that hit paper on that set. What had looked like a 2 shot hole actually now seems to have been caused by bullet wobble. Not like a bullet that was tumbling end over end but as ft it had been wobbling side to side just a little bit because the hole was just a wee bit oblong horizontally. When I looked at the other targets I had shot with the Prvi Partizan ammo, I noticed that most of the holes in the paper looked just like that one, as if the bullet had wobbled side to side a little bit. On the target that I shot with the Silver bear ammo, the holes were crisp and about as perfectly round as a bullet could make them. I am not much of a technical guy when it comes to guns or to ballistics and how bullets fly toward the target. I do know that the rate of twist can cause different weight bullet to fly differently, some weights are just not made for certain barrels. My guess is this is what happened with the lighter Prvi Partizan ammo. I will see what happens in the future with heavier bullet weights, those closer to the 203 grain Silver Bear. Prvi Partizan makes a 182 grain FM, I will probably try that one but will have to wait until I can get to the outdoor range for the FMJ stuff. They also make a 180 grain soft point and if I can find some of that I will try it at the indoor range as soon as possible. There are lots of other choices out there for me to try, I may even try some other lighter weight stuff but for now will probably stick with the heavier weight ammo until I see how each of them shoots though this Nagant. Of course, I will continue shooting the Silver bear 203 grain ammo thought it and see if I can fiddle with the sights until I am hitting pretty close to dead center. I am eagerly looking forward to some better weather and a day at the outdoor range with this rifle.
Back to the range this evening - once I had finished up the ammo for the Nagant, I took a look at the spent shell casings to make sure they looked normal. Actually I did that after the first 3 shots with each ammo, then looked at all the shell casings once I was done shooting the rifle. I wanted to see if there was any apparent evidence that the head space was off. All of them looked fine. The primers of the Prvi Partizan ammo looked to have normal to almost light hits on them. The Silver Bear on the other hand were dimpled more than I would have expected. I am guessing the Silver Bear may have a hotter powder charge that caused this or suppose it could just have been due to softer primers.
After that, I shot up about three boxes of ammo for the SIG 229. Other than the 7 shots I took at 25 yards while resting on the bench, I fired the rest of the ammo at 7 yards. I shot some of it slow fire and some rapid fire from a 2 hand hold unsupported. Then I shot one handed with each hand and then went back to the 2 handed shooting. Let me just say, there was a single big hole in the center of the target with a few orbiting shots around it when I was finished. Once the ammo was expended, I loaded for the street. (I always make sure to have enough put on the side for that so when I leave the range I am sure to have a loaded weapon. I once left unloaded because I had shot up all my ammo and I can tell you it gave me a feeling of vulnerability that assured I would never do that again.)
It's been a good couple of weeks for me, I have been to the range 4 times in the course of exactly 2 weeks. I had been thinking of what I could do to get over the winter doldrums and shooting is sure one way to keep myself happy. of course, it would be nicer if Brendan had been coming along but he has been working on the 3 days I have been to the range for recreational shooting and of course, he cannot come with me when I shoot to qualify for my job. Maybe next time, I can work it for a Saturday and he can come along. We always have a good time shooting together and I enjoy it immensely to see him shooting not only well but safely. That, along with a few other of his good habits, convinces me that he is a responsible young adult.
All the best,