Friday, November 30, 2007

Minute of William

Kevin Baker's recent
kind comment on my state of health, which came as something of a surprise (I knew I read him, but was unaware he returned the interest), prompts me to inquire as to how his experience building long-range
precision rifles might apply to a bit more restricted setting.

A bit of history to inform what follows might be in order. I sold my own Remington 700 (in 25.06) because there isn't a long enough distance firing range in the Tyler area at which to fire it. Unlike in many other states, Texas - at least this portion of it - doesn't have any large tracts of publicly held land (by the BLM or the like), and most people are understandably hesitant to let people shoot on their property without their direct supervision. Whether in the 25. or 30.06 caliber, such a rifle is designed for 300 to 500 yard range shots and Kevin's desired metric of 700 yards for his current project isn't all that much of a stretch for the gun itself. Remington 700's appear at the National Match at Camp Perry every year, after all, and have for decades now held their own on the 1000 yard range - in the hands of master shooters of course, which qualification gives rise to the title of this particular post.

Given the quantity of sharp sticks and cohearent light that's gone into my eyes in recent years, I can actually see surprisingly well: 20/25 corrected to 20/20 with glasses, with only some loss of peripheral vision. Even so, I can no longer make out the target well enough to attempt anything more than a desperation shot at a distance much over 200 yards. My thought here is to discover what options I might pursue, with a gun I already own, to turn it into a reliable shooter at it's ballistic practical extreme, that I can also fire at a local known-distance outdoor range.

I own a Marlin 983S that I intend to use as the basic platform, with which I can shoot 3/8 inch groups (from a rest) at 25 yards indoors without a scope (ie: the gun's basic accuracy exceeds my ability to shoot it).

I had thought to dress it up with a Simmons 22 Mag scope, but those are limited to 60 yards definition adjustment at most. Granted, you can see further then that through them, and they are priced quite attractively too (Lock and Load have three in a display case priced at $45 and change (EDIT: $47.95 as of 12/01/07) + tax), but the object here is a rifle I can shoot to the limit of my ability at 100 yards, so consultation regarding optics seems to be in order.

As well, my preference in ammo tends toward CCI (who have a really cute home page graphic - that dial-up users might find annoying, a rotating series of color graphics might cause ya'll some problems) because of their uniformity of quality and their breadth and depth of market penetration. Errr, so to speak ... ;-)

All of which prompts me to wonder if some other brand has a comparable reputation for performance. I don't expect to be participating in match shooting (although the occasional friendly wager might arise, cough Kim du Toit cough), so I wouldn't be buying much of anything expensively exotic, but I'd probably try a box or two of something highly recommended if only for the uniqueness of the experience.

Returning to CCI's ammo, I'm wondering if anyone has a recommendation as to which of these magnum cartridges might be best for this purpose?

Suggestions regarding slings, rests or other outdoor range equipment would also be useful. It's been many years since I shot on an outdoor KD range (and the standard of the era was an unlined canvas "pad" and a couple sandbags, if that), so I'll have to acquire most of that as well once I have a better idea of what's out there.

You're right Kevin, this stuff can get expensive fast. I'm going to have to go to the range tomorrow just to vent the anticipation a little (you've all heard the lyric; "That's my story and I'm ...").


Anonymous said...

I'm in Tyler and you are welcome to try out my Win 52, Rem 40X, Ruger 10/22 with Titan Barrel, Mossberg M44, et. I have a couple of these rifles sitting around. I think I even have a scoped Anchutz MS64.

I shoot at 31 west. Just email me at

kbarrett said...

A .22 boltie?

I would suggest a zero magnification red dot sight.

Maybe one of Adco's.

Don't take 200 yards shots with a .22 rimfire cartridge ...

Will Brown said...

@ kbarrett:

I bought a rifle with a red dot sight on it once and had to swap it out in the end. I could never adapt to the paralax drift between shots.

I want to shoot a .22 WMR boltie at 100 yards. According to the ballistic chart (actually, it's a computer program for sighting in scopes at Lock & Load), .22 WMR has a drop of ~2.5" at that distance but drops 6 to 8 inches at 150 yards. I don't know that I'd want to try even small varmint-type game at much over 50 yards, but paper ought to be a decent skills test at 100.

At my age and general physical condition, I'll be more than satisfied with sub-1" 5 shot groups at that distance. Which ought to translate to the same level of performance with my center-fire rifles out to 200 yards or so, with only minimal adjustment of my mechanics to accomidate the increased recoil.

Or such at least is my theory ...

We'll see.

Rabbit said...

Hi William;

I have a friend/retail gunsmith here in the Dallas area that does a terrific trigger job on those Marlin bolt actions. He sells a lot of the magazine fed models in the .22mag/.17 line. To me, the trigger feels almost as good as an Anschutz when he's finished with them. I think you're definitely in the right track with your rifle; you might see about putting a good crown on the barrel if you decide to do any trigger smoothing, too.

I'm a believer in More's Law as far as scopes- if enough is fine, more than enough is just ducky. I might be inclined to spend as much or more on the scope as I spent on the rifle. You might see what SWFA/ has, or check his sample list of seconds and demos.

BTW, we used to be neighbors, sort of. I lived in the county to the east for a long time.

Do you ever get by The Shootist on Broadway? Mack is also a good friend of mine. I bought my FAL from him.


Will Brown said...

Hi yourself, Rabbit,

My local gunsmith/range manager is Steve Prater and he did a terrific trigger job on my Colt Commander, so I feel kinda honor bound to give him a try at the thing first. That said, part of this exercise is to gather as much related info as I can so if your friend has no objection please add a comment with his store or other contact info. You never know, Steve has been known to let himself get overcommitted at times (which is an entirely different circumstance from his having been committed, you understand).

Thanks for the scope link, I'll be sure to check that out.

I'm afraid Mack is getting a little long in the tooth and his store hours are more miss than hit these days. Maybe you don't want to put off that next impulse to give him a call, you know?

Ninth Stage said...

This site has a info on rimfire accuracy games:

Rabbit said...

Hmm...I meant Mack Woods, whose shop The Shootist Gun and Knife, out south on Broadway; just north of the loop. He used to be on the square next to the corner by the jewelry store below street level, on the west side of Broadway by the old Rose theater. Mac's Gun Shop, off the square, might be the place you're thinking about- back nearer to the Sheriff's office.
Mac;s hours were always 'hit and miss'. :D

I've seen Steve's work. You couldn't get a better guy to do it for you.

My guy is Larry Gresham
SPS Guns
(972) 416-8530
1103 S Josey Lane, Ste 209
Carrollton, TX 75006

here's what passes for his website.


Will Brown said...

Right you are; which of us actually lives here? :)

I have been in The Shootist, but their lack of a range makes it difficult to try out a potential purchase.

Thanks for the Larry Gresham contact info, I'll check him out.

Steve's head may explode; we try to keep him on a regular diet of abuse and qualified praise. I'm not sure how he'll react to an outright compliment. :)

Kim du Toit said...


Larry's a lovely man -- I use him a lot myself -- but be warned that he's overworked, and projects take a LONG time.

Now: I happen to have a similar errrr project in mind (only my Marlin is a 982VS). Anytime you want to go play with yer gun, let's do it at TDSA (they have a 100-yd range now, and I'm a member).

I have about 5 or six different .22WMR ammo brands on hand, and you're more than welcome to test all of 'em.

Just drop me a note so we can coordinate calendars.

Will Brown said...

Welcome home Kim,

As it happens, I also have a Marlin 882 SS with a Simmons 3-9x40 scope. It was/is going to be my baseline comparison for what I eventually come up with on the other model. :)

I'm not in a big hurry to put this all together, I had thought to have it ready for public demonstration for the next NoR event. But a test run sometime early next spring sounds promising. Does that fit your general timeline?