Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The AR, the A-Max, and the Defender

Well, since the second day of the Texas shoot was cancelled, the first chance I had to take out the now complete AR was this past weekend.

I mounted up a relatively cheap Bushnell Sportsman 4-12x40 scope on sale for $60 from wally world (until I can decide on and acquire the permanent optics), and I grabbed the rest of my 75gr A-Max experimental loads... the ones that were loaded with 24.5gr of Varget, with no crimp... and this time I didn't let them sit out in the sun for an hour before shooting.

The last trip I had some overpressure problems, even with the Federal commercial loads never mind my max pressure A-Max loads using 2230. The overpressure made the loads inconsistent, and the powder was pretty dirty... and I had wanted to use Varget anyway (they were all out of stock locally) so I was happy enough to switch over.

The first news was the functioning. For the first 20 rounds everything was great, but then I got one failure to feed after another. Finally I got really irritated and looked at the mag lips... well, the cheap national mags I bought as a stopgap (Brownells was out of stock of everything else) were completely out of spec, with the mag lips flexing and bending; and galling against the bolt.

SO, I unloaded those mags, and loaded into some good mags JohnOC brought with him, and we were golden; not a single problem for the remaining 60 rounds.

I will say though, even in a 10lb AR, you definitely feel the max pressure 75gr loads a LOT more than a 55 or 62gr standard .223. It's by no means unpleasant, in fact it's a lot like a .243; which is appropriate considering that it's performing at about the same level.

So, how well did it shoot?

How does 5 shots into one ragged hole at 50 yards, and one slightly larger ragged hole at 100 yards sound?

We only had 100 yards where we were shooting so I didn't get to try anything at longer ranges, but the gun was quite literally putting down 1/2 moa or better groups at 50 and 100 yards; making one big hole in a lot of cases.

Even better though; not only was I getting one hole groups, but so were JohnOC (who will tell you he's no great shakes as a rifle shooter), and Mel; and this was only the third time she'd ever fired an AR.

At this point I'm very confident the gun is going to make the 1/4 moa mark, at least out to 300 yards; and hopefully with the right tuning at least 1/2 moa at 600.

Yeah, I think they liked it; and so do I.

Next up, my 75gr hornady BTHP Match loads, hopefully at 300 yards. Oh, and my new progressive press arrives tomorrow; so I can crank out some bulk loads for plinking.... time to place that powder valley order.

This was also the first time I'd been able to take out my new Defender; and I also have to say, I'm VERY happy with it. It groups well, shoots well, and even with my hottest loads it's still controllable; something I couldn't say when I had a G36.

Here's an amazing, but HUGE pic of Mel in a rapid fire string; where I managed to catch some brass in the air. Seriously, it's cool, but its 1.3 megs so don't click unless you're prepared to wait.
Oh, and jsut for the hell of it, here's a pic of my small collection of the designs of John Moses Browning (not including Mel's - she has a Llama, which is a 1911 clone; and an Ithaca model 37, a modification of a Browning shotgun design):