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Bore Cleaning

Bore guide

 

 

 

 

Rifle barrel cleaning
Bore guides– If you don’t have one get one! Without a good one the cleaning rod could damage the bore, chamber/throat area.
Solvents – I use Sweets 7.62 for copper, Hoppies #9, JB Paste and Kroil.
——————————————————————————————————————

One Insert bore guide into receiver and chamber.
Two Run one wet patch of Hoppies #9 through the bore and let soak for approximately 30 seconds. Then run a correct bore size brass brush thru the bore (one pass for each round fired) another wet patch of Hoppies then dry patch out the bore.
Three When passing the cleaning rod thru the bore use a folded paper towel and hold it against the muzzle. this way when you feel the jag or brush exit the crown you can guide it out and back in to protect that expensive barrel.
Four Follow the instructions on the bottle fo Sweets 762 solvent and clean until no copper is evident.
Five Use JB Bore paste along with Kroil to remove stubborn deposits and follow-up with JB Bore shine (follow instructions on jar of JB)
Six I follow by applying a patch soaked with LOCK-EEZ This is a graphite powder suspended in a solvent that coats the bore slightly before that first round fired through a dry bore. ( I picked this up at a NAPA auto parts store ). Clean out the chamber with solvent to remove any graphite and lightly coat with kroil if you are not going to shoot until a later date.
I have found this ( Lock-eez ) method to reduce if not eliminate those first round flyers.
Patch colors:
Green = lead
Blue = copper
white = Clean bore

As for cleaning rods I use stainless steel and coated rods. One piece! stay away from the screw together sectioned rods especially aluminum (partials can embed in the rod).

Clean bores and tight groups keep rounds in the X-ring

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Remington 783 range results – part 3

Remington 783 range test:

With the Leatherwood 4-16×50 Uni-Dial scope locked down and torque along with a quick check to the stock bolts for torque. I tested two powders with the 243 Winchester cartridge one being IMR4064 and the other IMR4831, this barrel did not like the IMR4064 and would throw flyers with each group. IMR4831 proved to be the powder for this barrel with a final charge of 46.5 grains under a 70grain flat base H.P. ( these were unknown maker brand bullets I found around the shop and are light for the fast 9.125 twist barrel). I did find this cartridge stretches quite a bit after two firings and needed trimming along with neck/shoulder annealing. Full length resizing dies proved to be better than just neck sizing the cases and bullets seated -.010″ from the lands settled the groups right in there.
* THIS IS A MAXIMUM BOOK LISTED LOAD AND MUST BE REDUCED BEFORE LOADING FOR ANY OTHER RIFLE OF THIS CHAMBERING*
Velocity was measured at 3150fps from this short 20″ carbine barrel and recoil was very minimal. I didn’t test accuracy with factory ammo to verify the claim of sub moa out of the box since a light for twist rate bullet was used, extraction was smooth with one finger to manipulate the bolt along with a very snappy ejection of the spent cartridge.
The importance of this article is to show a $250.00 rifle can shoot sub moa right out of the box with quality optics and good loads. Nothing fancy no jewled bolt, high gloss wood or bluing just good solid accuracy. Five shot groups at 100yards with the cryno set at 10′ from the muzzle, 40 degrees F, cloudy dark day.

 

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Remington 783 – part 2

Remington 783

Remington 783

This is a follow up on the Remington 783 after the Leatherwood scope was installed. As mentioned in the first post two handloads were picked with IMR 4064 & IMR 4831, The day was windy with 21F  temps I seasoned the bore with a clean and scrub after a three round group. First off the trigger was amazing for a factory job! adjusted to 2LB, 4oz no creep just that breaking glass feel, consistent two shots touching with a flyer seemed to be the norm for IMR4064 with 40grains as a final load.  Switching to IMR 4831 really tightened things up with my last group at 46grains printing a nice clover leaf 1/2″ group, these loads are with 70grain H.P. varmint pills and a quick look at the  Quick Loads program had me loading up some hotter rounds with 4831. I plan to run loads up to 48.5grains to check for pressure and tighter grouping, remember this is a off the shelf factory 243 Winchester chambering with what I found to be a very short throat limiting even getting close to maximum magazine length with the tiny 70 grainers. Once back in the shop the bore was cleaned with Sweets762 copper solvent and after three treatments the barrel was copper free and ready for more rounds at the bench. First impressions of the Remington 783 are good with promising accuracy right away, light felt recoil even with a synthetic stock and a very smooth feel to the action, as for the Leatherwood scope it holds zero, clicks are positive and the range adjustable flags are a big plus!

Nice to see when a budget rifle lives up to the factory claims with out needing to shoot expensive premium ammo. Although all my brass is checked and preped  with a benchrest focus. More range results to come with hopes of some chewed ragged holes.

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Remington 783

2colbanner783 Remington-Model-783

 

Remington 783 new in 2013 and I am getting around to checking one out. I picked one of these up at a sport shop for $250 with a scope package (budget bushnell 3-9×40 scope that will find a home on a 22 rimfire). I chose the 243 winchester chambering because I wanted a short action and the cylindrical receiver with a minimal ejection port was to much to resist at that price. I’ll post a picture when the Leatherwood Hi-Lux Uni-Dial 4-16×50 scope is mounted in the beefy 30mm rings and tightened down on a EGW 6″ picatinny rail. Remington claims sub-moa performance with quality factory ammo, I have preped some winchester 243 brass along with annealing the neck and shoulder to aid in smooth fire forming. IMR 4064 and 4831 are the first choices to season the bore and hopefully drill some bugholes!

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Overbore Addiction

Overbore Addiction

The Big .224’s

 

 

This is an overview on a subject that has been dubbed barrel burner cartridges. You know the talk “you’ll replace that barrel in 600 rounds, better have a good supply of extra barrels on hand, and the barrel makers will love you”.  As avid varmint shooters (that’s why you are reading this…right?) we all know about the effects of too much heat to a barrel will end up with an eroded throat, the 220 Swift was an example of this however shooters proved that otherwise with proper loading recipes and keeping barrel overheating in mind.

 

While shooting my 22-250 and 22BR I eventually became interested in the Big .224’s, sure I can push my 22-250 to 4000fps with 40grain woodchuck medicine but out to 500 yards bullets are taking the beating effects of wind and drift.  I had a copy of “Wildcat Cartridges Vol 1&2 by wolfe publishing” and became intrigued with the examples of .224’s pushing 80 grain bullets well into the 1000yard range.  These dedicated purpose cartridges are developed for long range shooting where long and heavy .224” bullets are used to buck the wind better and retain there energy out to extreme distances.  How this is done is sort of confusing to the reloader since fast twist barrels will most likely shoot best with fast burning powders and like wise for slow twist barrels and slow powder.  What I have found out is that to obtain the desired results from an Overbore case design is to load up with a slow burning powder, heavy bullets and a fast twist barrel.  The results are the longer the pressures push down those 26+ inch barrels enough velocity is produced to send the heavy .22 caliber bullets down range effectively.  Another factor that becomes apparent is the need to scrub out that bore more frequently (some as frequently as after 10 rounds) the high velocity produced in a small bore capacity tends to copper foul quicker and degrade accuracy.  A word of caution when working up loads is to always look for high pressure signs and stop shooting any load that produces such indicators.

 

There are numerous cartridges that fit this category and I will only just touch on a few.  Some need extensive case preparation and forming while others need only to be necked down, I consulted Quick Load for max case capacities, overflow grains in H2O and will list them from least to greatest:

 

 

 

 

  1. 22-250 A.I.           = 46.90
  2. 22-243                  = 50.00
  3. 22 Cheetah MK1  = 54.00
  4. 22 Cheetah MK II = 56.00
  5. 220 swift A.I.        = 57.00
  6. 22 Clark                = 59.00
  7. 22-284                   = 61.84

 

22-250 A.I.

 

Another P.O.Ackley success with his classic blown out case and 40 degree shoulder, velocities will push to 4000fps and has an effective range out to 500 yards. Reduced bolt thrust and case stretch along with the ability to chamber and shoot factory 22-250 loads make this extremely accurate round a versatile choice.

 

 

 

 

22-243

 

This cartridge was developed by Paul Middlested of San Diego, California it is based on the standard 243 Winchester case necked down to .224”.  The body dimensions remain unchanged only the shoulder angle is increased to 30 degrees giving a longer neck ( .300” vs .241” ), case forming is accomplished by running a 243 case thru a 22-243 full length sizing die. Velocities have been reported to exceed 4000fps while keeping groups well under ½ MOA @ 100yards, this cartridge excels with heaver bullets in the 68 to 75 grain range with rifling twist rates of 1-9 or 1-8. Other versions include the 22-243, 22-243 Middlested and 22-243 A.I.

 

 

 

22 Cheetah

 

The 22 Cheetah was developed by Jim Carmichel, shooting editor of outdoor life magazine and Fred Huntington of RCBS. The case is a full length Remington 308BR case with small primer pocket and necked down to .224”. There are actually two versions of this case one a MKI with a 40 degree shoulder and the MKII with a 28 degree shoulder. This cartridge has proven to be superbly accurate and very effective out to 300 yards.

 

 

 

220 Swift A.I.

 

P.O. Ackley’s Wildcat, blown out with a 40 degree shoulder. The three best known versions are the Ackley, Weatherby Rocket and the Kilburn, they share the mechanical advantage, extract better and cases last longer for the hand loader. Again better ballistics can be obtained over the standard case by the use of slow burning powder and heavy bullets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

224 Clark

 

Timothy Clark of Madera California designed this case for long range use around a flatter trajectory and harder hitting with greater retained bullet energy. The case is a 257 Roberts necked down to .224” with a steeper shoulder angle and expanded body, the 257 Roberts cases were found to be stronger as compared to reforming 6mm Remington brass. The small bore and relatively large case capacity and velocities ranging in 3800+fps to 4100fps can be a combination for short barrel life. Twist rates of 1-9 or 1-8 should be used to stabilize the long heavy bullets.

 

 

 

22-284

 

This variation of the 284 Winchester case is simply necked down to .224 (one way to accomplish this is with a 6mm-284 forming die then a 22-284 FL die) the 35 degree shoulder and body taper remain unchanged. We have arrived at the case capacity of diminishing returns where larger amounts of powder don’t necessarily result in greater percentages of increased velocity.  Accuracy will be best with heaver bullets as several conversations with gunsmiths have resulted in a preference of fast twist barrels and 70+ grain bullets. Reported velocities have been in the 3800fps range.

 

 

 

In closing there are several others not mentioned here such as the .224 Vais, and 22-6mm.  A look thru volumes 1 & 2 of Ackley’s Handbook for shooters and reloaders reveals quite a few and provides good insight on ballistics. Pressures can spike quickly with Overbores so a careful eye should be kept on spent cases along with sticky bolt lift. There is abundant information on these cartridges and with a little research you will be well informed on any specific cartridge. So if this small sampling finds you wanting more as it did for me grab your computer, some books and brew up a pot of coffee! Soon you will be chambering for that Overbore Addiction.

 

 

 

overbore 003

 

 

 

This is a handy chart I found on a cartridge forum posted from an unknown source. Interesting thou.

overbore table

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Mauser 22-250 Varminter Project

guns 001 guns 005

 

Mauser 22-250 Varminter project

I’ve been shooting / reloading and buildings rifles for quite a few years and have realized the desire for small caliber varmint rifles. After a quick inventory of my battery of rifles, I noticed there was a M98 VZ24 Mauser action collecting dust. (Not really- just well oiled and tucked away.) After inspecting the receiver and bolt, the idea for a tack driving bench varmint rig was hot on its way. I decided on the 22-250 Rem. due to its classic accuracy and range. I have a small gunsmithing shop at my home, so the first stop was an order for forging blocks and heat sink to turn down that bolt handle. Following the grinding, filing and buffing, the bolt was ready for jewling. Then the Buehler low safety was installed along with a 26 lb. firing pin spring (Wolf). The bolt was finished and I was very happy with the end result.

Next, the receiver was checked for squareness and warp and the rear tang was tapered to give a sleek smooth approach for the bolt/stock fit. The receiver was then set in a jig, drilled and tapped for bases and the barrel threads chased with a standard 60-degree tap. Then the bolt lugs were lapped for a better fit with the receiver and the receiver rails polished for glass-smooth bolt push. I decided on a matt finish for the receiver so into the blasting cabinet it went. A heavy bead blasting resulted in a very nice finish for bluing and the results were pristine. An order was placed for an Adams and Bennett stainless steel bull barrel, .050 short chambered. Upon arrival, inspection proved to be excellent. Into the barrel vise for fitting to the receiver came next. Then I hand finished, reamed the chamber with a PTG finish piloted reamer, and checked for proper headspace with forster gauges. All the while this project was progressing, I had ordered a laminated stock from Richards Micro-Fit Stocks, marksman style in camo laminate.

It seemed like everyday I was eagerly opening a UPS package with more mauser varminter goodies inside. A Bold Premium trigger was fit to the receiver and I stayed with the factory heavy 2 lb-8 oz pull (just a starting point, you know) and a Leaupold one piece base was installed.

The trigger guard was modified for a sleeker look and finished to match the receiver. When the stock arrived, it was just what I wanted – a semi-inletted laminate with a slightly smaller barrel channel. Out came the rasps, files, bedding tools, and lots of sandpaper in varying grits. When I was happy with the shape and smoothness, pillar bedding was next. Then a steel rod bedded in the stock to help stiffen the recoil lug area. After reading several Gunsmith Kinks articles I decided to also bed the trigger guard along with the action. Pro Bed 2000 was the ticket for this task and it turned out as smooth a bedding job as ever! All the stock prep work was followed with a hand rubbed oil finish until a high gloss was attained. My next task was to make a custom fit steel butt plate that would display what I hoped would be what a varmint rifle should shoot. “MOA” was then placed on the butt plate and removed after sand blasting the piece. The bluing revealed a shinny logo stating “MOA”.
The end results of a VZ24 Mauser rebuild turned out to be one very nice looking bench shooting varmint rifle, weighting in at 10 lbs! A quick trip to my shop revealed a Leaupold VX1 4-12X40 scope on a 30.06 that didn’t see much use. So on the Mauser it went, along with Stony Point target knobs and bore sighting.

 

*ALL LOADS LISTED SHOULD BE REDUCED 10% AND WORKED UP SLOWLY, CHECKING FOR ANY HIGH PRESSURE SIGNS*

 

Factory ammo was purchased for seasoning the bore and much needed left over brass for the Forster Bench Rest dies to roll out some tack driving loads. The first day on the range proved to be a bitter cold February day around 20 degrees, but clear. After a proper settling in of the bore, factory ammo was grouping under one inch at 100yrds. Not bad for bulk Winchester ammo with that weird looking crimped tip on the bullets. No signs of headspace problems were evident so to the loading bench I went. Nosler Ballistic Tip 50 grn bullets were chosen along with the classic H380 powder at 37, 38, 39 grns to check for accuracy. The next trip to the range was warmer. The morning temperature was 40 degrees, clear with no wind. The best results were with the 37 grns of H380, which revealed a group of 0.338” for four shots with the fifth shot just outside of the ragged hole. I was very happy with the accuracy of my Mauser varminter! But accuracy is a thing of constant pursuit, so back to the loading bench to try different primers, however the overall cartridge length of 2.460” would be maintained. That placed the bullet ogive 0.030” from the rifling which proved to be a liking for this 26” 1 in 12 twist air gauged barrel. Case trim length of 1.90” would also be kept for uniformity.
The next trip to the range was windy and 55 degrees. The Winchester magnum primers proved to be a major step backwards with a five shot group opening up to a terrible 1.340”. A quick ammo change back to the large rifle primer loads proved a much better grouping at 0.400” (slightly larger than the previous results of 0.338”).

So after the range work was complete and several hours working up loads, my “MOA” Mauser was shooting SUB-MOA groups and I was pleased…until I pulled out the 55 grn bullets. The quest for accuracy continues! Did I mention that I also found a small ring Swedish Mauser action that I prepped the same way while doing the M98 action? Perhaps a Wildcat chambering would be a good choice. But that’s another story.

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25 wssm coyote, part 2

25WSSM (Winchester super short magnum)

Varmint loads……….velocity velocity with a good bit of accuracy to boot! The target fps I wanted to have was 3600 along with tight accurate grouping. I had some varieties of powder on hand however I will admit while sitting on 8+ pounds of IMR4064 I was driven to make that powder work! Funny how things work out and I did learn some unique traits of this short fat power house of a .257 caliber.

*ALL LOADS REPRESENTED IN THIS ARTICLE ARE SAFE IN THIS RIFLE. DO NOT DUPLICATE ANY LOAD INFORMATION LISTED UNLESS YOU REDUCE THE CHARGE AND WORK UP SLOWLY. SOME OF THESE LOADS ARE NEAR MAXIMUM ACCORDING TO PRINTED RELOADING MANUALS*
I start by prepping my fired cases with a shoulder bump die three thousands less than fire formed length, I used a Sinclair shoulder bump gauge and a caliper. CCI BR2 primers are used thru out all the load development ( I have found them to be good performers in past cartridge/load work and they are my go to primers ). These wssm cases have the thickest necks you will find (.022”) on the average, I turned the necks to .014” thick and will talk more about that later……ughh. Hornady V-max was the bullet of choice at 75 grains and IMR4064, Varget and IMR4320 were the powders.
Starting loads with what I thought was a great powder (since I had so much of it). A quick run thru Quick Load gave me starting charges along with safe estimated chamber pressures. A shoulder bump length of 1.218 measured with gauge and cartridge overall length (C.O.L.) ranging from 2.340” – 2.380”, 45.5 up to 46.3 grains of IMR4064 was sitting under a 75grain v-max, ignited by a CCI BR2 primer. Plenty of test loads and now some range time, I soon found out 4064 was not going to get along with this 25wssm no matter how bad I wanted it to, nothing grouped better that ¾” with erratic flyers, along with this struggling attempt I decided to turn the case necks to .014” and a C.O.L. of 2.360” was picked. With necks turned and 46 grains of IMR4064 loaded in groups were still terrible and now I was splitting necks on cases fired twice. Lesson learned don’t turn the wssm necks on a factory chambered rifle.
Giving up on IMR4064 I moved to Varget and started with a C.O.L. of 2.360” and after various load charges I settled with 47grains and a nice 3600fps. Sounds good except the groups were all 1+” all over the paper! I remembered reading an article on the wssm cartridges, the author mentioned bumping the shoulders just a little more to eliminate what he called the wssm sticky bolt. A new shoulder bump length of 1.212” measured with a gauge, 47grains of Varget, then set a v-max down the neck and back to the range. The fraction extra shoulder bump was the trick to smooth extraction with the wssm case but groups still did not improve with the switch to Varget powder. Not getting groups better than 1” at 100 yards had me putting the Varget back on the shelf now on the IMR 4320.

With a C.O.L. of 2.360, CCI BR2 primers, factory Winchester cases with unturned necks and 75 grain V-max’s I started yet another try at getting this rifle to cooperate. A clean bore and proper bench setup set the stage for these loads: IMR 4320 @ 46.5, 47, 48grains as usual I started with the low charge looking for pressure signs while measuring group size. Three shot strings would be checked for down range results and slow fire timed shots will keep the barrel form heating up to quickly. The day wrapped up with these results 46.5 grains @ 3565fps, dirty case necks and 3/4″ groups. 47 grains @ 3601 resulted in clean necks, better groups but a nasty flyer opening the group to 1.1/4”. Finally 48 grains @ 3681fps produced ½” groups, nice brass but still somewhat larger groups than I wanted. I prepped some brass and loaded a slightly lower charge @ 47.4 grains to try and sweeten up the load. Touching off rounds at the bench give their own type of satisfaction and this range day was no slouch! With three shots measuring a tiny ¼” and clocking in at 3625fps. A nice accurate varmint load was found and boy was I happy, one tight group does not evaluate a load as “the one” so I loaded up twenty proof rounds with 47.4 grains of IMR 4320 for another days shooting.
A nice cool 15 degree Michigan day with little to no wind had me kicking snow away from the 100 yard back stop. The pet load still produced tiny bug hole groups consistently so I went and shot a group with six rounds knowing my odds were good at opening up the group. I posted a picture of the group showing four of the rounds in a ¼” hole with two opening the group to ½”. I would never have thought IMR4320 would be such a good performer in this round and this brought me to remembering the wildcat 22-284 I build previously. Looking at ballistics between the two with one a .22 caliber and the other a .25 caliber, both shooting 75grain V-max’s at close to the same velocity. Bullet drop being very similar at extended ranges I highly doubt a crow would know the difference between the two cartridges as he turns to black dust. Case forming for the 22-284 is required while the 25wssm was a factory round, funny how close these two cartridges preform and it will be a tough choice which one will see more field use in the crow fields with me.

 

25wssm varmint loads

25wssm varmint loads

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Rifles in Michigan shotgun zone during Deer season

This bill passed in June 2014 and is in effect now.

Michigan House Bill 4283
During regular firearm deer season “limited firearm deer zone”

A .35 CALIBER OR LARGER PISTOL CAPABLE OF HOLDING NO MORE
THAN 9 SHELLS AT 1 TIME IN THE BARREL AND MAGAZINE COMBINED AND
LOADED WITH STRAIGHT-WALLED CARTRIDGES.
A MUZZLE-LOADING RIFLE OR BLACK-POWDER PISTOL LOADED WITH
BLACK-POWDER OR A COMMERCIALLY MANUFACTURED BLACK-POWDER
SUBSTITUTE.

A .35 CALIBER OR LARGER RIFLE LOADED WITH STRAIGHT-WALLED
CARTRIDGES WITH A MINIMUM CASE LENGTH OF 1.16 INCHES AND A MAXIMUM
CASE LENGTH OF 1.80 INCHES.

Some suggested cartridges that have been advertised as legal.

Cartridge velocity grain bullet
.357 magnum rifle cartridge, 1500-1700fps, 158
.357 maximum
41 magnum
44 magnum, 1500-1700fps,
460 S&W, 1400-1700fps, 240

Two AR15 uppers that are legal to use as applies to House Bill 4283
The .450 Bushmaster was developed by Hornady for the Bushmaster company and is based on the .284 Winchester case, case length measurements are 1.700” mouth to base and bullet diameter 0.452 inches. Bullet weighing 250 grains. Muzzle velocity is 2,200 fps (670 m/s) from a 20 inch (508 mm) barrel.

The .50 Beowulf cartridge is based on the .50 Action Express, case length is 1.650” mouth to base. The numbers for 300 grain .50 Beowulf are almost 1900 fps at the muzzle and 1400 fps at 100 yards, bringing a load of about 2300 and 1400 lb.-ft., respectively. In other words, the .50 hits hard.

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25 wssm coyote

25WSSM (Winchester super short magnum)

 

The series of Winchester super short magnum cartridges never really started any fires with the interest of shooters. You can read many threads of why these (223wssm, 243wssm, 25wssm) rounds are undesirable, along with reloading issues and touchy pressure spikes.

I found a very lightly used Winchester model 70 Coyote, chambered in 25wssm. These rifles have a nice look with the laminated stock, matte finished receiver and stainless barrel, this one saw very little use with aprox. 80 rounds down the bore. The previous owner claimed ¾” groups with handloads using 100grain bullets at 100yards are the best this rifle will print and doubted tighter groups could be produced. The price was right the rifle looked good so off to the bench for a really good barrel cleaning was first up on the list, those were some beep blue colored patches that kept getting pushed out of that 24” varmint taper barrel ( I’ll cover some bore cleaning methods in a later writing ). Disassembly revealed good stock bedding, free floated barrel and solid scope mounts with Burris rings.

The factory twist barrel was 1-10 allowing a good selection of bullets so I picked the 120grain Winchester “pep” ammo at 3000fps to check for accuracy. This would be a very good choice for those Michigan deer this fall, I did one small adjustment to the factory trigger after installing a lighter weight sear spring and was able to tune a nice clean breaking 1.5LB trigger pull. The morning was a mild spring day and I settled the 25wssm in the sand bags then adjusting a Weaver Grand slam 6-20×40 scope on the 100 yard target I fired the first three rounds to produce an unimpressive +1” group, which should tighten up once this very clean bore fouls a bit. Taking time between shots with a larger bore diameter helps evaluate groups better while controlling barrel over heating. The next three rounds printed a very nice ½” group that will work well for larger game, and already this average shooting rifle was showing some accuracy potential!

With a proper barrel cleaning, trigger tuning and good shooting technique box stock (kinda) rifles can produce very good accuracy. Now we will go after some really fast velocity along with good accuracy for the varmint loads, these will be handloads directed at squeezing out the best performance using a 75grain Hornady A-max bullet that will be focused at reaching 3600fps.

Stay tuned in for range results on the 75grain varmint loads……….I was surprised at the powder of choice I ended up with.

 

 

Testing 75grain varmint loads, a surprising powder came out the winner

25wssm

25wssm

25wssm

25wssm

This is the factory  load that proved it was a shooter!

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Project 6mm-284 winchester

7-30 004

 

ALL LOAD INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE PRODUCED SAFE PRESSURE IN THIS RIFLE. REDUCE LOADS BEFORE TRYING TO DUPLICATE MY RESULTS.

Project 6mm-284

From Vais to Arch to 6-284 some things never change.

 

“Whatever cartridge design that is necked up or down, blown out or shortened has already been experimented with”

 

This is a phrase I read years ago and it has stuck with me like copper jackets on bullets, as I recall in a recent VHA issue #71 an article on a 22-6.8, later to be compared to the 1940’s era Lindahl Chucker cartridge. Its funny how things are forgotten then rediscovered as with my latest cartridge notion which brought me thru a full circle process when wanting to wildcat my favorite 6.5×55 A.I. case. In a previous article I wrote for VHA issue # 68, a 6.5×55 A.I. chambering was chosen; while reloading the 6.5×55 A.I. brass I wondered what performance I could obtain from necking it down to a smaller caliber. After consulting friends about the wildcat chambering I came across “The Vais” rounds based on the 6.5×55 Swede cartridge.

 

George Vais improved the brass then necked them down to .224” and .243”. The Vais loads used a heaver bullet than I intend on using however the velocities looked very good with published data. Along with several short articles and ballistic data found on-line all my questions about necking down this case were answered. A 6mm (.243”) bore diameter was picked for this build to fill the gap between my 22 caliber and 6.5 caliber varmint rigs. I really liked the idea of the 6mm Vais cartridge it looked to be a very promising one with good velocities along with a vast choice of 6mm bullets. After researching custom reamers and reloading dies along with head space gauges the costs were reaching far more than I wanted to spend on this venture.

 

While re-reading the Vais articles I noticed a small reference in one section making the comment about a “ballistic twin”; this small statement opened the door to huge cost savings to my now revived project! The 6mm Vais ballistic twin is the 6mm-284! Again more research started and while pouring thru P.O. Ackleys handbook for shooters and reloaders  the 6mm Arch cartridge was found. Developed by Dr E.L. Arch the 6mm Arch is a 6.5×55 Improved case pushing 60 grain pills at velocities of 4200fps!!  Ok now I’m hooked and orders were placed for components to build a 1-12 twist 6mm-284 varmint rig. The action to be used if you haven’t already guessed by my other articles printed in this magazine (issue #60 & #68) will be yes once again a Mauser M98, now with consideration to chamber pressure the soft receiver core along with a case hardened surface, the Mauser action will hold up for many years of faithful service. P.O. Ackley’s volume II handbook lists several blown up actions along with pressure comments on several military conversions, the actions are nicely machineable and provide an excellent platform for accurate varmint builds. Bolt lock time can be improved by 40% (I’ll cover this later) and quite a few gunsmith/hobbyist/shooters have cut there teeth on customizing Mausers. Parts are abundant and many enjoyable hours can be spent machining parts for custom applications; bolt shrouds, bolt stops, receiver charger humps, rear tang, bottom metal…..it’s endless!

 

When built with correctly fit components the finished rig can easily shoot in the .2’s at 100 yard ranges, I know this because I have built and shot several sub-moa Mausers. First up the bolt needs a low handle so I shipped a Ruger M77 style handle and the Mauser bolt body to “the bolt man” James Robert from Paxton, MA, he will do a fantastic tig weld job at very reasonable prices along with bead blasting if requested. I decided to have the bolt handle polished bright while the bolt body would be bead blasted. During the time it took to have the bolt work completed I modified the bolt shroud to function with a side safety, I  will say building the fixture to machine the shroud was just as fun as milling the shroud itself!  The finish on the shroud and extractor were blued and the cocking piece was polished bright. Now focusing on lock time of the firing pin will need to be addressed and a Blizchreen 24lb firing pin spring from Brownells was ordered, I have noticed when using a Buehler wing type safety along with a 24lb firing pin spring the safety will be heavier to operate. The side safety will only need a moderate touch to function with the new spring installed and this will produce an improved lock time which is adequate for what is needed. With the bolt finished I completed typical action work; lap lugs, polish rails, chase receiver threads, square bolt face, and as usual contoured the metal to have a sporter look. A call to Boyds resulted in a nice pepper laminate varmint stock that was shipped right away, after pillars; action bedding then free floating the barrel this would serve the purpose of a load development platform. After all the heavy laminated Thumbhole bench rest stock would not arrive until quite some time later and I just had to see how this rig would perform!

 

I had earlier placed an order with E.R. Shaw barrels for a short chambered, 1.250” diameter straight no taper stainless steel 26”, 1-12 twist heavy varmint barrel.  I could now turn my focus on finish chambering this fine tube, headspace gauges and finish chamber reamer came from PTG and are excellent quality tooling. There is a special joy in finish chambering a custom built rifle and with only .009” (aprox. 3 sheets of standard paper) between the go gauge and the field gauge a light touch is all that would be needed to obtain a nice snug varmint/target chambering. I have always liked light pull weight triggers and thought I would try a Jard 8oz trigger; the fit was great along with smooth function, creep, over travel and sear engagement are adjustable. Looking thru the scopes I had on hand I decided on a Tasco World Class 24×44 target model, this will allow for some fine placement of the 1/8” target dot on the reticule.

 

I have spent countless hours on-line gathering data on 6mm-284 loads and then crunching the numbers with a Quick Load program ( VHA issue #70 has an excellent article on the use of this very effective program). The more I read gave fuel to the excitement of this cartridge! Keeping in mind as with any overbore chambering hot loads equal short barrel life. So even thou I plan to touch the outer fringes of that wonderful +4000fps I will slow things down to preserve the barrel some. RL22, RL17, IMR4350 and IMR4831 seemed to be the powders of choice for this 6mm along with 66grain custom H.P. jacketed bullets made by a fellow VHA member Dominick Gagliostro. Winchester cases already necked down to 6mm were purchased, full length resized and trimmed to 2.165” along with flash holes deburred.

 

 

The first trip out to the range was a nice mild 60 degree day with a slight breeze. I decided on RL17 & RL22 as starter powders and used mag primers from the start. With case length trimmed to 2.165”, necks turned to .014” thick an overall cartridge length measured at 2.800” to the tip of the 66grain match bullets. I was pleased to see three shot groups of ½” at a velocity of 3514fps while using 52grains of RL17, now for the surprise while grouping the RL22 loads of 53 and 54 grains both printed the first two shots in the same hole with the third opening the groups to just under ½” with a velocity of 3300fps. As I have read the secret to bringing this cartridge to life is with the use of slow burning powders, first round loads didn’t show any high pressure signs bolt lift was easy and 4000fps might be seen in the next load batch. (accuracy will trump velocity for me)

Very mild recoil and ease of load development is a wonderful thing to experience during beginning load development! The first twenty rounds gently seasoned the bore along with proper barrel cleaning and I am excited to load up the second batch of rounds to further check for accuracy and pressure. Time at the bench assembled another twenty test loads then off to the range. Temperature was at 57 degrees  with a slight breeze again, first up would be the RL22 batch with 55grain loads producing .243” groups @ 100yards with 3444fps. With the 24x tasco holes on the target could easily be seen and what a delight to look at one ragged hole! RL22 would not be the powder to produce velocities close to 4000fps as 58grains opened the group up to ¾” @ 3778fps.

 

RL17 turned out to be the velocity king with this barrel combination. As I slowly touched off the 8oz trigger mellow recoil allowed me to quickly re-sight the X-ring and after three rounds punched thru the paper I was glad to see that 54grains under the excellent 66grain match bullets printed a very nice .164” group @ 3844fps. Now seeking the 4000fps mark I went one grain hotter and found 55grains opened the group to .306” @3920fps, as the groups seemed to spread out with more RL17 an odd thing of slightly easier bolt lift was noted. When cleaning the barrel later that evening no copper fouling was found and the carbon quickly brushed out to leave a bright shinny bore that will be coated with (lock-ease) liquid graphite. Another test batch of RL17 & RL22 rounds were loaded up to check consistency, 54grains and 55graind respectively.  Bullet seating depth would be adjusted to find the sweet spot for both loads. As you can see by the load data chart both loads proved to be accurate and consistent, I will use RL22 for target shooting to save the throat while shooting RL17 for live varmint control. After load development was finished the Boyd’s stock was sold and the Richards micro-fit bench rest stock was shaped, bedded and pillared. Ordered as a blind bottom stock I made up new action screws and custom length pillars along with a cut down magazine box that I bedded in the stock to provide an extra locking point for the action when tightened down for accuracy.

 

 

I thought this would be a good time to check out a new optic line (new to me) so a Leatherwood/Hi-Lux 7-30×50 Uni-Dial scope was ordered. I have had a lot of conversations with Corbett Leatherwood regarding his optic line since there is a lack of reviews available on line, posted in the Varmint Hunter Magazine optic forum I started to test these scopes out and have posted results for members. As a little known company there quality recently has reached excellent levels for clarity, crisp image, durability and after talking with Mike Sexton at Iron Sight he ranks then as good as Leopold’s!

Features I like are the programmable elevation flags that will lock in any desired zero for 10 different ranges. The windage  turrent  has a zero set that will allow windage adjustments to be made without any chance of losing your original zero, then there is the unique feature of the objective focus adjustment knob that is located at a 45^ angle in front of the turrent housing! Unique to Leatherwood/Hi-Lux and very easy to operate. At the range I found tracking to be right on while shooting the “box” test and no point of impact shift was noticed as I ran thru the power settings while keeping a reference zero. This is a Second focal plane construction with a fast focus eye bell and a 50mm objective, another handy feature is the No-Math Mil dot reticle. With a quick frame of the target then look at the power ring (which will also indicate range) turn to elevation to the correct flag and dust that critter! A sunshade and flip up end caps are included along with a lifetime manufacture warranty this turns out to be a very nice optic.

 

 

Looking back at this build has shown me the potential of the 284 Winchester case. I am pleased with the accuracy and looks of the now completed rifle (as pictured with a 7-30×50 Leatherwood and Richards stock) in 6mm-284. I would like to think I have a complete collection of rifles chambered for my needs, however that all changed when my 22-284 Winchester barrel arrived a few days ago……I’m kinda liking these overbores!

 

 

6mm-284
winchester 284 cases, necked down to .243 and turned to .014″
flash hole debured,annealed necks/shoulder
CCI magnum primers
trim to 2.165″
C.O.L. 2.800″
bullets- custom 6mm, 66grain match j4 jacket
RL17
49grns 3346fps primers backed out slightly (to light load)
51grns chryno error clean necks, easy bolt lift (.50″ group)
52grns 3514fps clean necks, easy bolt lift (.50″ group)
RL22
52grns 3055fps dirty necks, easy bolt lift
53grns 3136fps dirty necks, easy bolt lift   (see note)
54grns 3300fps clean necks, easy bolt lift   (see note)
note: first two shots in same hole with third opening group to +3/8″
ALL ABOVE LOADS WERE SHOT DURING BARREL BREAK IN
chrony placed 10′ in front of muzzle, 60 degree F, slight cross berrze, 100yards

!���s7-30 0076mm284 4shot

Groups during load development

Groups during load development

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