Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Somewhat lighter loadout

Well, because we got sick, we cut our boomershoot trip short, and we wont be arriving onsite 'til saturday afternoon; meaning we won't be doing any shooting (except maybe sighting in) until Sunday.

That being that case, we decided to cut back what we were bringing to boomershoot, to two rifles in the same chambering.

1. The "understudy":

  • Winchester Model 70 in .300wm
  • 26" 1:10 featherweight barrel
  • Timney trigger, set to 1.5lbs (totally crisp. No takeup, no creep)
  • Hogue pillar bed stock
  • CDI Precision AICS magazine system bottom metal
  • EGW 20moa pic rail
  • Millet 35mm high tac rings
  • Millet LRS-1 6-25x56 35mm scope
  • Horus ASLI
  • Harris bipod

2. The "development" gun

  • Thompson Center Encore, blue and wood, in .300wm
  • 26" 1:10 full heavy, stainless target barrel from Bulberry, with Bulberry medium length, medium width flat target forend, in fancy walnut
  • EGW 20moa pic rail
  • Weaver 30mm high tac rings
  • Burris BlackDiamond 8-32x50 target scope
  • Horus ASLI

We've also  got a number of different loads to play with, all in all about 400 rounds total:

  1. Federal commercial  180gr btsp, 2960fps, .549bc (g1)
  2. Winchester commercial 180gr accubond (btbp), 3000fps, .509bc (g1)
  3. Winchester commercial 180gr silvertip (btbp), 2950fps, .507bc (g1)
  4. Sierra handload 180gr Match King (bthp), 3150fps, .475bc (g1)
  5. Hornady handload 208gr hpbt match, 2850fps, .642bc (g1)
Were going to be shooting off a Caldwell lead sled plus, and a Boyts "tactical" rifle rest. I'm also bringing a set of caldwell bags, and an ancient Forster forend rest with a Caldwell bag on it and a rear bag for that.

I'm bringing a Newcon LRM 1500 laser rangefinder, a Celestron 100mm F-ED Regal spotting scope, and a pair of Celestron 20x50 binocs.

We're bringing our shooting platforms (two 4'x6' "stages" to set up a level spot for benches and tables), but not our heavy shooting benches; just a couple of portable benches and a folding table; plus some stools and folding chairs. Also our 8'x8' ez-up pavilion with side walls, and a propane heater.

I'm looking forward to seeing how we perform, given two completely new, just built, and unbroken in rifles, with two out of practice shooters behind them, shooting 5 different, completely untested loads.

At the very least, it should be fun.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A note on the royal wedding

As it happens, I was awake, and I watched the arrival of the bride and groom, and then caught the vows later on, and watched the service.

She looked beautiful, and radiant, as a bride should.

He looked dignified, and squared away, as a proper officer should...

...until he saw his bride that is; when they both turned giddy, and couldn't keep big stupid smiles off their faces.

They both looked scared as hell, and in love; as a bride and groom should.

I wish them the best of luck, and the best of lives. Whatever you think of the British royal family, this young officer, and his bride, deserve every chance at happiness.


A couple other things...

Man, William punched above his weight with this one. She looked like a Hollywood actress (in a good way); and there couldn't possibly have been a better dress for her.

William wearing his Irish Guards uniform. Again, whatever else you may say about them, these are fighting men, men of duty and honor, and true class.

Harry looked like Ron Weasley, as usual.... But that's CAPTAIN Weasley, challenger qualified, Apache qualified, forward air controller qualified, and two tours in Afghanistan (and he's trying to go back for a third)... So I think we can cut him some slack for looking goofy.

The service was really beautiful. Well written, very much inspired by the holy spirit, and still very relevant to marriage today.

I wish everyone could have such a wedding service; and I almost feel sorry for those of us who did not grow up in the Catholic or Anglican traditions, which have them.

That isn't to say the simpler services in most other Christian traditions aren't also beautiful... but there is something special... something grand and magical... about the Catholic wedding mass (and the Anglican nuptual mass is very similar). It truly places you in presence of mind and spirit that your marriage is a union in and before god, and that god is truly great and grand.

Oh and the music was beautiful. That choir is amazing.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's official, no Friday

Our original boomershoot plan was to set out relatively early Friday, so we could set up late morning or early afternoon; and use the afternoon for practice, sightin etc..

Due to shipping delays on parts, I didn't even receive the new barrel for my encore until Thursday morning (not Bullberrys fault. They had the barrel completed over a month ago, but EGW was out of stock for 20moa Encore rails until last Friday, so they didn't ship til Monday).

Pics of that build to come next week by the way.

Due to shipping delays on powder combined with my travel, I also didn't have my ammo loaded up until Thursday night.

So, I've got two new rifles built, with new scopes, and new ammo... on the Thursday before an event that starts on Friday.

Needless to say, we NEED the time to practice with these rifles. Hell we need the time just to get them on paper at 25/200.

Unfortunately, our respective upper respiratory infections are not co-operating.

We're both fairly well recovered; but not sufficiently recovered that we can spend all day in the field; especially followed by a night camping in 30 degree weather.  Even with a pavilion and a propane heater (and three 20lb cans) all day, and a motel at night, it would be iffy. We don't want to take the chance of being out in the weather all day for two days, and then be too sick for Sunday.

As it is, right now our plan is to try to recover some more tomorrow, load up the truck in the evening, and then head out relatively early morning Saturday; so we can set up our platform, benches, and pavilion at lunch, and get on paper in the afternoon.

To everyone who wished me a happy birthday

Or some variant thereof; Thank You.

The wife and I had a generally quiet day, together, at home; which is a good thing.

Only generally quiet however, because I forgot to tell Facebook not to message my phone whenever someone posted to my wall.

Facebook and birthdays being what they are these days... I must've got 100 messages from facebook today... More than I normally get the entire rest of the year (which is why I hadn't bothered to shut that "feature" off before).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Atlas Either Shrugs or Develops Knees of Adamantium

One lesson I've learned being an executive's wife: if you poke up above the crowd, someone's going to attempt to kneecap you and bring you down to "equal" (i.e. their level).

There's nothing more dangerous than being successful. It makes people "feel" bad. It makes them want to bring you down.

As if they had a clue what it was like to be above the crowd. It's really awesome to be in the top 5% of earning households. Which is obviously why I buy groceries at Costco and Super Walmart and buy sides of beef at a time to save money. We're just rolling in it.

There is an impressive amount of suck attached to being near the top, both financial and strength-wise. In fact our neighbor gave a name to it about a week ago when discussing my grandparents being on their final days and my father's lack of deal.

"Don't worry, Mel can handle it."

He meant that sarcastically. Too many people mean it literally, as an in-built excuse for whatever gets thrown at us.

It's very close to "don't worry, the rich can afford it."

"Don't worry, it's only one more regulation on small businesses."

"Don't worry, it's only one more law."

"Don't worry, it's only one more tax."

At some point, the final straw appears.

Let's wrap up what's happened so far this year, shall we?

September: the kids are taken from us on a flimsy legal pretext, requiring another legal fight, this time in Canada. After all, we can afford it!
November: Chris has a hypertensive crisis, requiring me to essentially stay within an hour's travel of his bedside. But we can handle it!
January: Chris's brother dies and we fly out to Boston for the funeral. Also, the IRS decides the kids and I don't exist and therefore Chris should give them an extra $100K in taxes. Oh, and the thyroid tumor is found! But that's okay, we're strong and it's the rest of the family that needs to be taken care of!
February: Chris is disowned by his grandmother. Tumor is measured. It's over 3 1/2". And is most likely cancerous...
March:...but the tumor can't be removed yet. That's okay, he's strong, he can handle it!
April: Mel receives word that her grandfather most likely has stomach cancer and is not long for this world. He is 94. This is when she decides to go on Chris's business trip with him, where she visits grandparents and discovers father is not dealing. After all he doesn't have to deal, Mel can handle it for him!
Today: Official contact from IRS. After all, we can afford it! We're obviously not paying our fair share! It was only $60K last year!

The urge to give up everything and go become a hermit is strong. However, there is no such thing as Galt's Gulch. There is also SO much that we want to do that, by definition, becoming hermits would prevent. We can not bow out.

So if Atlas can't shrug, he can at least develop knees of adamantium for the inevitable attempts at kneecapping.

And that's where this turns from general rant into specific rant, aimed against family, friends, and everyone else we come in contact with.

There is only so much in this world two people can take.

Your emotional crisis/ slight irritation/ sense of ennui/ general inability to deal = NOT OUR PROBLEM.

The petty bullshit? Yes, we're intentionally ignoring it. The drama? Banned. Y'all put on your big boy/big girl pants and deal.

It's not that we didn't notice that you don't want to grow up. Or that your marriage is falling apart (dude, you have a pre-nup for a reason). Or that old age somehow "snuck up" on you.

We just don't have the energy to say anything, or the willingness to wade into the drama right now.

Please, please do not insist that we wade into it with you. You will find that knees of adamantium also equal spine of adamantium.

To all of those we have invited into our lives recently, you're here for a reason. You're here because we've determined that you will be a joy, not a pain, and we need more joy in our lives. Thank you for that.

I was dead.... but I got better

Not quite dead, just halfway there and wishing for the other half.

Unfortunately, I'm still sick, and so is Mel. Sinus and upper respiratory leftovers, plus the irritation that goes along with your body having had to deal with being intensely ill for a couple days.

At this point though, if it doesn't clear up completely real soon now, we're going to have to cancel our boomershoot trip.

First, because we've been sick, we haven't been able to finish our prep work. I haven't even started loading the ammo. I'll be starting that today. Thankfully, brass prep is the longest and most tedious step, and I can do that while I'm on conference cals at work.

Of course, processing 400x .300winmag and 200x 5.56 cases is still going to take a while (less than a minute per case... probably two days total given interruptions). Thank god I've got the motorized case trim, and case prep tools (I've got the RCBS, but I lust after the new Hornaday) otherwise it really would take forever.

More importantly though, one does not go out in an Idaho spring (which most other places would call late winter) all day long for three days, with a sinus infection, while having hundreds of large caliber rifles going off around them... unless one is a particularly twisted kind of masochist, which I am not.

Well... I'm not an old gangster pimp...

But I do own a Cadillac, and have a cane (and limp to go with it), and a fedora... No pinky ring though.

A note on the fedora thing: Mine is a pure beaver felt in natural dark brown, handmade by Steve Delk, the guy who did Harrison Fords hats for the last Indy movie. The hats for the first three were by Herbert Johnsons of Saville row, and were rabbit felt (three different felts and three different blocks as it happens, so the fedoras look very different in each movie, because they are).

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ours is actually somewhat more convoluted...

And was arrived in about the same way...

The funny thing was, I was assigned the project to redefine our naming standard at one point; so I got a bunch of stakeholders all together, and we hashed out a short, logical, meaningful standard in two one hour meetings.

Importantly, it was written entirely by people who depended on the naming standard and used it every day. We made it easy, because we were doing it for ourselves.

Then we forwarded our results to the "standards committee" consisting of "process experts" and technical writers... and... well...

Like I said, ours is actually somewhat more convoluted.

It's a textbook example of attempting to convey too much information with too few bits.

Because the internet is full of win today

funny facebook fails - Accounting for Middle-Earth
see more Failbook

You can have your own opinions but not your own facts


Friday, April 22, 2011

Sick call

So I woke up feeling pretty bad thursday morning, coughing, congestion, sinus etc...

By the time I was on the plane, I had a fever. Halfway home from the airport, my fever hit 103 and I passed out.

The fever still hasn't broken fully, but I'm floating between 99 and 101.

Judging from the number of hacking coughs and the amount of nose blowing I saw in the lobby that morning, I doubt I'm the only one.

Early this morning I felt a fair bit better, but I've been up and down all day. Even worse, Mel started feeling late last night, and we spent the day miserable together.

at this point, I'm feeling good enough to be hungry. I haven't eaten since Thursday around noon.

I Still feel like I'm being squeezed between a pair of rollers; but the rollers are further apart now. Mel hasn't come through to the other side yet.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

This is good and makes sense...

And therefore will never be done.

He missed one major part. In addition to all the organic reasons things broke this bad, in this way; he neglected to mention that a big part of it, was people making the laws for the benefit of themselves and their allies, and people exploiting the laws for their own benefit... mostly lawyers, but also accountants, environmentalists, bureaucrats etc...

They represent a permanent constituency for the broken legal system, and prevent it from ever being fixed; because fixing it would reduce their power, control, and income.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Thousand Yard Conspiracy - Part 5: "The Understudy" - The Low Dollar Lightweight Layout

So, about 18 months ago, as part of my Thousand Yard Conspiracy series, I wrote a post about how to get into long range shooting on the (relatively) cheap.

In that piece, one of the recommendations I made, was grabbing a relatively low cost factory rifle, and converting it to long range use.

Around the same time, I managed to run across a late 80s or early 90s production Winchester model 70 featherweight, push feed, 26" barrel, blind mag, synthetic stock, in .300wm (I think it's actually an early production black shadow from the serial number); with just a few rounds through it (the previous owner only shot it twice, once for sighting, once on a successful elk hunt; less than a box of ammo through it).

Basically that gun, but blind box, and a "W" in the checkering.

Of course, the 70 featherweight, at under 8lbs and with a pencil barrel; isn't exactly the ideal platform to build a long range rifle on. It IS however a great platform for a mountain rifle (what the featherweight series was made for).

Now, I'm still halfway through my thousand yard gun build (I've got most of the pieces, just haven't done the barrel, the optics, and of course, the final assembly) and I need a practice rifle. Plus, I plan on hunting next year, and I need a hunting rifle... and I now live in the Idaho mountains...

And of course, the kicker on the featherweight, was that I snagged it for $300 (a new one would be about $800, though they don't do the featherweight long action in synthetic anymore, and a new one would be a CRF action).

For $300... what the hell, why not.

When it came time for boomershoot last year, and it became clear I wasn't going to finish my 1000 yard gun any time soon, I decided it was buildup time for "the understudy".

From the beginning what I decided I wanted, was to improve the accuracy and precision of the rifle, the ergonomics and shooting feel, and make it a good practice gun for my long range shooting; while keeping it light weight for dragging it around in the mountains, and preserving the budget for my bug custom.

Keeping in mind that budget constraint, that meant no rebarrel, a low cost optic, and a low cost stock.

So, I started acquiring parts as I could, on sale, special, or in good shape used.

Step one was to find a new stock. The Winchester factory synthetic stock was, frankly, crap. No pillars, no bedding block, nothing but plastic... no thanks. No way to tighten an action down properly without risk of warping.

I knew I wanted either a pillar bed, or a bedding block stock; and later Winchester synthetic featherweight guns used a McMillan stock.

Unfortunately, that stock runs about $500, and that was beyond the budget of this gun. H-S Precision also has a full length bedding block stock for this gun, but I won't do business with them anymore.

I was just about ready to go with a Bell and Carlson Carbelite, for about $200; when I found a Hogue overmold pillar bed stock on clearance for $79, and snagged it:

Yes, I could have grabbed the full bed model for another $100; but remember, this is a budget build, and the difference between pillar bedding in a stable reinforced synthetic stock, and a full bedding block, is going to be nearly negligible. If I was going to spend any real money on the stock, I'd spend the $500 on a McMillan. Plus, the full block stock is about half a pound heavier.

Now, all the stocks I was considering are cut for the hinged plate mag bottom metal; and this gun was a blind box. I hate blind box guns for field use though. If your bolt ever jams, you need to disassemble the entire gun to unload it. Although a blind box gun can be stiffer than a mag gun, in this case, with no bottom metal, just a three screw attachment to the action, and a plastic triggerguard; that is definitely not the case. It is lighter than a steel bottom metal with internal box though.

I looked at a couple different internal mag bottom metal solutions; and that was a strong option, but they were all going to cost me at least $200, and be quite heavy (all the ones I found for the long action Model 70 were steel, not aluminum). A new detachable box mag bottom metal wouldn't run much more than that; and even with the mag in them, they're not too much heavier than the steel bottom metals as they're aluminum. So I decided to go with a box mag.

The default choice most make is Badger, but the model 70 long action bottom metal from them is about $350 with a magazine, and is usually backordered.

I decided instead to go with CDI precision:

They're a small shop out of Florida that does really good work; and shipped me a bottom metal and AI .300wm magazine for $290, in a week. I think they're every bit as good as Badger, a little bit lighter, a fair bit cheaper, and quite responsive.

Now poking through that bottom metal is the second most important part of the gun as far as accuracy,  the trigger.

The factory trigger isn't awful. It's about a six pound weight, but should be easily adjustable (the Model 70 is one of the easiest triggers on the planet to adjust weight on) down to 4lbs.

Unfortunately, it's got a fair bit of creep, and a slightly uneven feel. Rather than try to stone the trigger into something good, there are plenty of drop in triggers already set to the weight I want (1.5-3 pounds), and with a crisp, creep free, even break.

Normally I'd buy a Jewell and be done with it, but again, the budget on this build is a little low, as they run about $250.

You can get a rifle Basix trigger for the Model 70 for about $80; but I found a considerably better Timney on sale for $90 and grabbed it immediately:

The final critical element of a shooting system, is an aiming system; and as this is a long range shooting system, that means a decent scope and mounts. 

 As it happens, another great deal came my way:

The BlackDiamonds are the same optics and adjusters as their XTR line, but with low profile target knobs with screw down o-ring covers, rather than tactical turrets (and the 8-32x in particular has 1/8moa adjustments instead of 1/4moa... both a plus and minus there). It's even got a mildot reticle with a drop scale out to 700 meters on .300wm (same as in the xtr).

I've made no secret of the fact that I consider Burris's high end scopes the best value in midrange optics, with excellent optical performance, great toughness, and the best warranty in the business (lifetime, no questions asked).

The best part though, was the price. MSRP on the thing is $1350, but you can frequently get it online for around $850. I got this one, new in the box, never been mounted, with sunshade and butler creek covers, for $450.

Now normally I wouldn't go for an 8-32x given that I prefer a scope with a minimum exit pupil over 2mm. Anything lower than 2.5mm or so and you lose sharpness, so for a 50mm objective I prefer something more like a 5-20x or a 6-24x. 

But for the price I got... 

Nothing says I need to turn the knob past 24x... and besides at 32x on a bright sunshiny day, I can spot the holes better.

Also, at 21 ounces, it's a bit of a heavy SOB, but still lighter than a Nightforce (36oz for the comparable model), and you don't get good long range optics and light weight at the same time. 

So, how to mount it up?

As I said, the 8-32x has 1/8moa elevation adjustments. That's a great thing for precision at long range; a 1/8moa click means each click is only 1.31" at 1000 yards instead of the normal 2.62". Unfortunately it also means that unlike similar 30mm tube scopes, it's only got a 39moa elevation adjustment range (at least that what the documentation says. I actually measured 42moa in clicks; but that's not unusual).

That's not exactly a small range (some 25mm scopes have as little as 20moa), but it's not a lot for a gun that I want to shoot at 700 yards (in comparison, most tactical scopes have over 80moa adjustment... many over 100moa, and one I know of has 170moa adjustment).

Depending on bullet weight and design, and the velocity of the load from the rifle, .300 winmag runs anywhere from about a 25moa drop, to about a 40moa drop, at 1000 yards. That means, in order to leave a full range of adjustment for bullet drop compensation at all reasonable ranges, I need to mount on a 20moa canted rail.

Normally, the neutral set point of a scope (the point where if the optical center of the scope were mounted on the bore axis the crosshairs would line up with a laser shot down the bore) is somewhere near the middle of a scopes elevation adjustment range. This allows for the scope to adjust to a wide variety of zero ranges, mounting heights and positions etc... Then, you need to compensate for the offset of the centerline of the scope from the centerline of the bore. Finally, you need to compensate for the rise or drop of the bullet at your zero'd distance.

In a normal hunting scope, you're lucky if you have half the scopes adjustment range left once you're zeroed; though in some scopes there is deliberately more drop compensation than rise compensation (especially with tactical scopes, and other scopes designed for long range shooting).

A 20moa rail will hopefully put a 25/200 yard battlesight zero (with this sight offset, a 0moa adjustment from the neutral setpoint of the scope should intersect the ballistic arc of the bullet at 25 yards, and 200 yards. This is the battlesight zero) close to the very bottom of the adjustment range... preferably within 1/2 turn up or less; and a 300 yard zero (where I like to zero a 1000 yard gun. About a 2.5moa drop from 0/0, using the loading I plan on) to less than another 1/2 turn up or so (this scope runs 7moa elevation per turn, with six turns of total elevation available). That should let me dial in any range from 25 to 1000 yards, down to less than the mechanical accuracy of the rifle, within the full adjustment range of the scope.

Actually, presuming I get the results I expect from the load I want to use, I should be seeing something like 15moa drop at 700 yards, and 25moa drop at 1000; so presuming 200 yard zero was within 15moa of the bottom of the range, I could get away without a 20moa rail; but why take the chance? 

The rifle came with a pair of Weaver bases, but I want a full, one pice, Picatinny rail. A full rail will be stronger, more precise, and more versatile; and with a detachable box magazine system, theres little disadvantage (with a blind magazine you want a 2 piece, to give you more clearance under the scope to load and unload).

If I had unlimited budget, I'd just buy a badger 20moa rail, and badger tactical rings (you can probably get away with medium rings, but I'm going to go fo high to give a little extra clearance to the rail). Unfortunately, that would run around $300... nearly as much as I paid for the rifle itself; and weigh almost a pound altogether. 

Thankfully, EGW makes a perfectly acceptable 20moa rail, and it sells for $40:

Would I run these on a 1000 yard gun? absolutely not. Am I reasonably certain they're going to hold zero for this gun? Absolutely.

Now, do I expect 1moa performance from this gun at 700 yards... Well, it'd be nice, but with the factory featherweight barrel, I doubt it. I've only shot the thing out to 300 yards, and it gave me a 4" group with the nasty stock, mediocre trigger, crap glass, crap mounts... so with the upgrades, maybe maybe not. I think it'll do better than 2moa, maybe better than 1.5moa.

I've also grabbed one of those barrel resonator donuts to try out. Some guns they work great on, some not. We'll see.

But either way, I'm pretty damned happy with the state of the gun. The new stock is great, the new scope is great, the new trigger is great... if it shoots at 1.5moa or better at 400 yards I'll be happy. If it does it at 700 I'll be thrilled.

And of course, what I'm really thrilled about, is the price:
  • Base gun - $300
  • Stock - $80
  • Bottom metal - $290
  • Trigger - $90
  • Scope - $450
  • Rail - $40
  • Rings - $40

  • Total rifle - $760
  • Total optics and mounts - $540
  • Total system -  $1300
Given that a factory rifle of similar quality with a detachable box mag, would run me at least $1250, and a scope for it another $850 for the same scope new... or $1600 for the nightforce I'd probably buy if I was spending that much anyway...

Or to put it another way, for the same money I'd be getting say, a Howa 1500 with a Vortex 4-16x50. Not a bad solution for the money certainly, but I'd rather the mag, trigger, and scope I've got.

So moneywise, not bad at all.

Hell, at that money, I don't mind throwing the factory barrel away and spending $400 on a really nice Krieger... AFTER boomershoot.

Now I just hope it's under 9.5lbs. With that big scope on there, that might be a pipe dream.

Next post on this topic, well go over the actual build process and pictures (and I'll weigh the thing).

The one problem with bringing two .300 winmag rifles to boomershoot

Is the ammo cost.

Up 'til this week I haven't had the ready cash to buy either the ammo or the components for our boomershoot trip. I just now finished ordering them.

For said trip, we've got three shooters; and we're bringing two .300wm rifles (a customized Win model 70 featherweight in a Hogue pillarbed stock with CDI bottom metal, and a Bulberry barreled Encore), and two 5.56 rifles (a long range superheavy AR, and an AR carbine for the high intensity event).

I'm bringing 200 rounds of precision ammo for each of the long range guns, plus at least 200 rounds of plinking ammo for the carbine and for the other AR to use in the high intensity events.

Now, the 5.56 aint nothing so to speak. I've got a few hundred rounds loaded, a couple thousand empty brass, and probably 12 lbs of the powder I use for those loads; plus at least 400 match bullets lying around., and a whole case of small rifle match primers.

I used to shoot a hell of a lot of 5.56, and haven't in the last two years so...

The big issue is the .300wm, and the fact that I don't yet have a large stock of fired cases for it.

Now, conventionally to acquire said stock of cases, one just buys factory ammo and shoots it; because it's usually only slightly more expensive than buying fresh rifle brass, and powder, and bullets, and primers etc...


Not in the case of .300wm however; especially match grade heavy weight loads.

The least expensive factory .300wm loads I can find run $22 to $24 a box of 20, and aren't significantly cheaper in 100rd or 500rd quantity. Also thats all below 180gr, and I want 190 to 210gr.

No major manufacturer actually loads above 200gr winmag in long range bullets for national distribution (a couple load 240gr smasher solids for big game. Some of the specialty companies do load heavy vlds, like Biterroot, HSM etc... but they don't have national distribution). The heaviest long range loads the majors sell is usually 185gr or 190gr (almost always with the Sierra Match King, a great bullet choice; or the 185gr Lapua Scenar, another great bullet choice).

The least expensive factory option on 190gr, is $38 a 20rd box, and again, not available cheaper in 100rd or 500rd quantity. The commercial "gold standard" round, available in wide distribution, is the Federal Gold Medal match, 190gr SMK; and you can get it for $42 a box (and it retails locally for over $50 a box by the by, so $42 is a big discount).

Honestly, I understand the relatively high per box price; what I don't understand is why I can't order it in 100rd or 500rd quantities (at hopefully a substantial discount).

At any rate, that would mean around $800 for the 400 rounds we need... yeah, not happening.

So, off to powder valley I go (generally the cheapest, and best customer service, in the reloading business).

I've already got 100 winchester cases , 100 sierra 190gr bullets (more on that in a bit), and a case of large rifle magnum match primers (for which in total I paid $140, local retail); so I need to grab brass and bullets for 300 and powder for 400.

Ok, well, powder for 400 .300wm is about 5 lbs. Actually, it's a little over 4lbs plus wastage, but that means you need to buy 5 lbs.

I'm going with Reloder 25, as that's what Walt Berger recommended to me for his 210gr bullets (he gave me load data for about 20 different powders, but rl25, h1000, and Retumbo actually ended up the best out of a 26" barrel. Of those, rl25 is cheapest in 5 pound quantities).

Local retail price, about $24 a pound. Powder valley had it for $90 for 5 lbs.

Brass... I'm just going to stick with standard Winchester .300wm, and match prep it myself. I'm not shooting benchrest with this stuff, so I'm not going to lathe turn it or segregate into 1gr lots or anything (if I were I'd spend the $1.40 a piece for the lapua match brass and save myself the extra work).

Local retail price, $39 for 50. Powder valley, $145 for 250 plus $29 for 50 more.

I bought my primers locally for $42 a case (a case of 1000), but powder valley has them for $33.

Bullets... this is where things get interesting.

So, for the custom 1000 yard gun I'm still building, I plan on using the Berger 210gr long range boat tail match hollowpoints; and when I have the chamber reamed, the lede will be set for that bullet.

However, in talking with Brian Litz over at Berger, he mentioned that some factory rifles don't like their 210s, because they're set up for 165gr to 180gr bullets, with shorter ogives etc...

I talked with Bulberry about what bullets I was planning on using with the barrel they made for the Encore, so it should be reamed right for the heavies; but the Winchester has a factory featherweight barrel, and I'd guess it's probably set up for best accuracy with the 165-180gr factory loads most people would be shooting.

Also, you never know exactly what load a barrel is going to like. Even when it's reamed for the longer throat,  a particular barrel might just like a lighter (or heavier) bullet than any other barrel.

Finally, I'd like to try out some loads that I can reasonably duplicate with factory ammo, in case I should ever need to buy some in the field, or when I can't load in time for an event etc...

So, rather than just buy 400 Berger 210s, I want to mix it up a bit.

I already bought 100 190gr SMKs, because I know I can get commercial loaded ammo using that bullet... and it's a great bullet for which plenty of good experience and data exists.

I got them on special sale at a local retailer for $34 per 100 (the normal retail is like $45). Powder valley has them for $31.

I also want to try the 210gr SMK, which sell for $35 a box of 50 retail (yes, $0.70 each bullet only... special order only as well), but Powder valley has them for $26 for 50.

Specifically, I want to try the 210gr Berger against its two best competitors, the SMK, and the 208gr Hornady (for some reason Lapua don't make any Scenars over 185gr, and the 190gr and heavier Noslers just aren't in the same league).

The Hornady is considerably cheaper than either Berger or Sierra, at $39 per 100 local retail; with Powder Valley coming in at $28 per 100.

The Bergers are actually less expensive than the heavy Sierras (more than the 190s though), at $59 per 100 retail, but only $41 per 100 at Powder Valley.

So, if we were to presume all Hornady (as it's the least expensive), and all my components were purchased at powder valley; the same 400 rounds that would have cost us over $800 plus shipping from the factory, would run $440, plus shipping.

Since the primers and powder both have useful remainders out of their lot, the actually cost per round is right around $1, vs. the $2.10 for Federal Gold Medal Match (and I'll presume that FGMM is about the same quality as my best match handloads, since I wont' be playing silly benchrest games with necks, runout, weight sorting etc...).

Not cheap by any means; but I'll take $1 a round over $2.10 any day, even factoring in my time and effort (probably about 10-12 hours to do all 400).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This. Yes. Exactly.

I still think he never should have been allowed back in the league, never mind this...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tired... goanna bednow...

Spent the day alternating between conference calls (starting at 7:30), moving crap up and down  two flights of stairs (reorganizing the basement - a daylight basement with its own porch, view of the lake, and a full bath) into my office/mancave/hobby/gun/electronics workshop, and scratch building furniture (as part of said reorganization).

3 weeks minus 3 days to boomershoot. One major task before I'm ready about 1/3 done. 4 days to the weekend... so far so good.

Long damn day. Sleep now.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Positive Externalities

Hilton Yam over at 10-8 performance has just set himself up for the 1911 based flaming of a lifetime, possibly without knowing it (though he probably does), in saying this:
"Almost every modern service pistol design features a spring loaded external extractor design. The 1911 still gets by using a spring tempered hook machined out of a straight piece of steel that is bent to achieve tension. It does surprisingly well with this, but it is certainly not the 21st century answer."
Of course, I have made this same argument, many, many times, in person and online...

Every single time, the logic and reasoning of the argument is utterly ignored, and I am roundly excoriated as both an idiot and a heretic to the church of the holy St. John Moses Browning.

In fact, just by posting this, I guarantee you that within the next day or two (it would be today, but I'm posting this on a Sunday, and almost no-one reads blogs on a Sunday) I will get comments saying exactly that... possibly entire threads on THR, TFL, and dedicated to the concept that I am an idiot (since Hilton posted his a few hours ago, there may already be such a thread calling HIM an idiot).

The internal extractor fanatics always insist that (and it is almost always all five of these arguments... they seem to be speaking out of the same hymnal):

  1. The design is utterly perfect as it is (false), and if it should have had an external extractor, John Browning would have designed it that way (ignoring the fact that initially, he did, but changed his mind later).
  2. You give up controlled round feed with an external extractor (false... plus most of them have no idea what CRF is or how it works)
  3. The internal extractor is far more reliable (false), so long as it is fitted and tuned by a REAL gunsmith (vs the external which requires little skill or precision. Why SHOULD you need a very good gunsmith just for proper functioning?)
  4. No external extractor was ever reliable (false), because everyone who has tried it in a 1911 has failed (false)
  5. It's worked for 100 years, why change it (fallacious if not false)

The fact that each point is provably false or fallacious, frequently with a cursory look at their own guns (if not an external extractor then a hand tuned Ed Brown hardcore or Wilson bulletproof, a lowered and flared ejection port, a trigger job, an extended ejector, beavertail, a beveled magwell etc...); doesn't seem to penetrate.

  • Nor does the fact that Browning himself put an external extractor on almost all of his designs (including the 1903, 1906, 1908)
  • Nor does the fact that the BHP itself had its internal extractor replaced with an external because the internal was unreliable, fragile, and difficult to manufacture and fit (they usually claim it was Dieudonne Saive who must have completed the design wrong... if they know who he is).
  • Nor does the fact that almost all other semi-automatic pistols have external extractors (in fact, that seems to reinforce their feeling of self righteousness), including ones that are provable more reliable than the 1911 (though in practical terms, I generally agree, the difference between going 25,000 rounds without a failure to extract vs. 100,000 rounds is moot. At some point, it's "reliable enough").  

The fact is, the single greatest point of unreliability in a properly manufactured and maintained 1911 (other than springs and magazines, which are an issue for all semi-automatic weapons, not specific to the 1911) is the internal tension spring extractor. It is the only part on a 1911 (again other than springs) that regularly requires re-tuning or replacement; and frequently it's the first (sometimes only) part (other than springs) that gets replaced by a knowledgable shooter when they buy a factory gun.

Yes, there are guns that go 25,000 rounds, and guns that are now 95 years old, that have never had their extractors tuned or replaced; but those guns are rare, especially with the garbage metallurgy and heat treating you sometimes see on factory small parts these days.

Everyone knowledgable about the 1911 knows this... but for some reason when the superiority of the internal extractor is challenged, this knowledge somehow disappears, or for some reason doesn't fit into their mental model of argument.

The only disadvantage you can logically argue about an external extractor, is that an external spring and lever design provides less controlled feed and extraction than the internal tension spring design.

This can be true to a degree, but that superiority is primarily theorietical. As a practical application in the real world, I don't think the argument stands up.

On the feed side, the geometry and tension of the external extractor can be designed such that it has identical feed geometry and tension to the internal extractor. There is no need to design an external extractor that in normal feeding operation snaps over the rim on lockup as in a push feed rifle. An external extractor can accept rounds from the magazine and slot them into proper feed position just as well as an internal extractor.

This would provide identical function, excepting in a situation that would jam the internal extractor anyway (a deformed or out of spec rim for example, or a cartridge presented at a radical angle), where the external extractor might ride up and over the problem, or deflect enough then rebound, so that the problem is compensated for.

That could be an advantage or a disadvantage, in that the casing might fail to extract on that cycle; but at least the round would have fed and fired instead of jamming up on feed, and I can always rip-rack-rack to try to clear the failed extraction, without damaging my extractor (unlike an internal tension spring extractor, which can be damaged by snapping it over the rim; or which may jam the cartridge worse).

Some would rather clear the misfeed rather than the failure to extract; but I say there's a 50/50 it's going to extract anyway, and I'd rather have that round shot down the barrel at a bad guy and THEN clear a malf, than have to clear the malf then fire.

On the extraction side, the internal extractor in theory prevents doublefeeds and provides more positive extraction... but that's in theory.

The 1911 internal extractor is NOT the claw on a Mauser 98 or a pre-'64 model 70. It is strong, but it's not THAT strong, and anyone making that analogy should know better. 

The 1911s extractor will slip off rims, and it will also snap over rims, something that a CRF winchester won't do (in fact it will tear the rim off of most brass before it slips off).

In practical terms, if the hook is going to pull off the rim on a properly designed and tensioned external extractor, it's probably going to pull off with the internal extractor as well (and any experienced shooter of 1911s and other designs has probably seen plenty of both). Again, it's a matter of correct geometry and spring tension.

I've seen plenty of internal extractors slip off rims, or worse, tear off rims (either of which can damage or detension the extractor); though at least most of the time when that happens, they don't have the energy to doublefeed.

Yes, the external extractor is somewhat more likely to slip off a rim (though not much more if properly designed and manufactured), but I've never seen an external extractor tear a rim off unless the case was already defective; and I'd rather have an extractor I can snap over the rim and try again without damage.

So at best, it's a wash; and I really think that argument comes out favoring the external extractor.
A side note: I feel the same way for semi-automatic rifles as well. Having an extractor that provides or aids in controlled round feeding, while still allowing it to snap over the rim, is an advantage (a CRPF design); just because it compensates better for the foibles of semiautomatics. I say make your design a CRPF and get all the advantages; but if I have to choose, in a semi or full auto, I'll take the push feed over the controlled round feed, because it's generally going to cycle better; even though it won't cycle properly upside down etc...
For bolt action rifles, I see a marginal advantage to a full CRF design; but I also think that the hybrid CRPF designs work as well, and have their advantages. Either are marginally superior to a plain PF design.
...And remember, all this is coming from a dedicated and experienced 1911 shooter and armorer.

I've owned a number of Glocks, SIGs, HKs etc... and I keep selling them off. I've never sold a 1911 (though I have given a couple away, and had a couple stolen). In fact, right now, the only handguns I own are 1911s, and revolvers (oh and a little Kel-Tec, but thats mostly my wifes. I replaced it with a 340pd).

...But, as an engineer (by education), a shooter, and an armorer; I recognize that there is no real disadvantage to a properly designed and manufactured external extractor.

The external extractor is stronger, provides equal or superior functionality (if properly designed and manufactured), is easier to manufacture, is less prone to breakage or wear, is easier to repair when it does break or wear, and is far easier to fit, requiring less skill and time.

So... why is this even an argument?

Oh... ok... there is ONE argument I will concede the validity of:

The internal extractor is prettier than the external extractor.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Oh hey, there IS actually some unambiguously good news...

In the last 4 weeks, I've lost a little less than 30 lbs; and i've lost 50 lbs from my peak weight of 5 months ago.

So, there's something.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


So, that is my daily vitamin regimin, to avoid malnutrition on my ultra low calorie diet, and correct the vitamin deficiencies I currently have.

That's a total of:

2000mg calcium (200%)
9200iu vitamin D (5300%)
250mg phosphorous (25%)
660mg vitamin c (1100%)
10,000iu vitamin a (200%)
60iu vitamin e (200%)
100mg niacin (500%)
16mg b6 (800%)
2000mcg folic acid (500%)
2144mcg vitamin b-12 (36,000%)
330mcg biotin (110%)
60mg pantheonic acid (600%)
240mcg chromium (200%)
75mcg Molybdenum (100%)
1500mg potassium chloride (would only be 25% dietary, but as a supplement its 750%)

Yeah... that's a lot; and of course, it's in addition to everything I get from food and beverages (I drink a fair bit of fruit juice, eat a fair bit of potatoes and tomatoes, and a lot of lean meat).

I use the gummy vitamins, because the tumor impinging on my esophagus is making my gag reflex hyperactive, and trying to swallow normal vitamins makes me throw up. The gummies are easy to chew and swallow, and also don't taste quite as nasty (though most of them have some calories. That stack is about 200 calories worth).

The one on the end that isn't a gummy is the 1500mg of potassium chloride, and I can't swallow it either; I have to crush it to powder dump it on my tongue and wash it down.

I take that, because I'm on so much diuretics (160mg furosemide, 20mg Bumetanide) that I need to take in a huge amount of potassium to avoid becoming deficient.

That, along with other medication side effects and digestive issues (ulcerative colitis and the prilosec I take for them, gastric dumping syndrome) are also why I take so much calcium, and so much in B vitamins.

I take this quantity of vitamins every day, and my blood, urine, and saliva tests indicate I'm either at normal, or slightly deficient levels on all of them (yes, including the b12).

... and of course, that's just the dietary supplemental vitamins. I also take other supplements for the muscle loss, and to help with the hormone imbalances. Then there's the hormone injections (a 2-1/2" needle deep into the thigh muscle with 3cc's of fluid injected every two weeks).

Then theres the additional electrolytes I take to avoid cramping, and deficiencies from from the diuretics (basically sea salt and lemon juice, and in fact that's what I use when I'm out of the prepared stuff); and to compensate for the very low dietary sodium I take in.

The average American takes in about 3500mg of dietary sodium a day, mostly from processed food, fast food, and bread (Wonder bread has 160mg per slice. Factory baked sourdough might have as much as 250mg per slice). The usrda for a 170lb man is 2400mg, never mind someone my size (given my blood volume and size, it would probably be around 4000mg). My normal dietary intake is less than 1000mg, because I don't eat any processed food and rarely eat fast food or bread. The only way I make it up is with pickles (which can be very high in sodium); but with the diuretics anthe dumping syndrome, itstill just enough to keep my blood electrolyte levels normal.

Then, when I'm working out I take a bunch more supplements to keep me from becoming deficient from the exercise; and to help be able to use the extra protein I eat etc... etc...

At least I don't have to take a painkiller, anti-viral, or chemo cocktail.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Well... this good news bad news thing is getting really old... really...

So, the doc just called.

The good news, I don't have any visible pituitary tumors (or other tumors that we didn't already know about).

Also, my kindey and liver function are fine, I'm still not diabetic or even pre-diabetic, my cholesterol is still good, my white count is good, my blood gasses were good, my electrolyte levels were good... almost everything was good (actually a lot better than it "should" be, given the weight, especially since I'm on some hefty diuretics).

The mixed news is more of the same.... strange, and without any known cause.

While my cortisol production is high, and my suppression is low; neither are extreme enough to indicate cushings (though I have almost all the other symptoms thereof).

My thyroid function is low, but not so low it requires supplementation yet... which is odd... Given the giant tumor on the side of my thyroid I should either be producing way too much, or way too little.

My testosterone is still WAY low (running between 60 and 130, when it should be between 400 and 600). There doesn't seem to be any specific cause there either.

There's a couple of symptoms that seem to be new to the party.

My red blood cell count is unusually high; especially unusual since I'm on a dramatically reduced calorie diet (I've lost about 20 pounds independent of the fluid retention); and that's actually opposite of what is expected. If anything, they'd expect me to be a bit anemic. The doc wants to test for hemochromatosis.

The one that's really odd, is that I have a moderate vitamin D deficiency. The reason that's really odd, is because I already take 2000iu of vitamin D a day, which is 8 times the RDA. The assumption would be that if I wasn't taking so much D already, I'd be severely vitamin deficient.

Finally, we've confirmed I have pituitary and adrenal insufficiency; but it's ideopathic. There is no readily identifiable cause. Without a cause, there's also no readily identifiable treatment.

So, it's back to "treat the symptoms, then wait and see".

Basically, the doc says that there is no reliable medical research on what works for guys my size, chemistry, and body composition.

They generally understand obesity in "smaller" people, but when a guy my size, with my muscle mass, and my athletic background gets this big... they really have no clue. It could be any number of things, but all the diagnostic indicators are screwed up and masked by everything else.

The doc wants me to get my iron levels tested, to go back on hormone supplementation for the insufficiencies, and to take 5000iu of vitamin D per day.

Then he wants to monitor my weight loss, and restest everything every few months, to see how things change and if anything unmasks itself.

This is... frustrating to say the least.

Cups, runnething over, etc... etc...

Sorry about the lack of content lately folks; between work, and medical... there are just higher priorities at the moment.

I was in for tests half the day Friday.

Two full MRI studies, head, neck, and upper chest; with contrast.

I was inside the magnet for over an hour straight through. Not the most comfortable thing in the world, given you can't move at all or you ruin part of the pics.  After an hour, the itches you can't scratch tend to get irritating.

Anyway,  I should have the results back Tuesday or Wednesday. Here's hoping we get a real diagnostic indication out of this. Also, here's hoping no gigantic tumors filling my sinus cavity or anything.

So, then we have to get ready for Boomershoot.

First I've got two rifles to finish building (unfortunately still not the 1000 yard gun. I'm rebuilding my Encore with a Bulberry barrel and furniture, and my Model 70 featherweight with a Hogue stock, bipod, jewell trigger, and CDI AI mag bottom metal); one precision AR to strip to the bones and rebuild, and three scopes to mount and/or remount.

Then I have to rebuild and remount my progressive press (my Hornady LnL-AP. I never put the EZ-ject kit in. I need to do that now), and mount my Hornady single stage (for the precision .300 winmag), reset my full loading setup, and get loading (which I haven't done since we moved here).

I've got 300 rounds of precision .300 winmag to load (two .300 winmag guns coming with us), a couple hundred of 5.56 to load (two ARs coming with us), and some handgun ammo to load (I'm completely out of 10mm, mostly out of .45 colt other than cowboy loads, and 9mm.. the only thing I've got plenty of is practice loads and .45acp).

Finally, I've got a pair of shooting platforms (our spot is both sloped and muddy, so I'm building a couple of 4x8 shooting platforms to give us a level and dry surface under our pavilion) and a pair of shooting benches to build... At least I bought the stools this time (mechanics rolling stools on heavy duty 2.5" casters. I like a rolling stool, and a rock solid bench) so I don't have to make those, just assemble them.

Then in the third week of the month, I'm off to AZ for four days of meetings. Mel is coming along so she can visit her family and friends. I hope to see everyone I want to see, but it's doubtful given scheduling.

At least I get a weekend after we get back from AZ to either rest... or far more likely, finish the projects we haven't finished before the trip (especially the loading).

Then the weekend after that is boomershoot.

Here's hoping we don't find anything bad that keeps me from going. That would be very, very irritating. Three years in a row I've been ready and raring to go and something has happened, including last year where for the first time Boomershoot was only two hours away.