Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

An Overdue Range Report

Darn Carnivals Suckin' Up all My Time...

On my mini-vacation last week, my buddy Zibig and I took advantage of my weekday out of the salt mines to go fling some rounds downrange at American Shooting Centers over in West Houston.

Spending part of a weekend there is nice, but going on a weekday is a shooter's dream. The firing line is barely half-full so you can spread out your krep across another station if you need to, and you can hang multiple targets, as long as you don't get too prolific in your paper hanging. The atmosphere is not more relaxed, they still run a pretty tight ship, but with fewer people to monitor, it takes less time between each round of shooting.

This was a .22LR caliber session, for the most part. Zibig brought his S&W 422 with the 6" barrel along with a Marlin Model 60 autoloader topped with a nice Bushnell scope. I had my little S&W 2214 autoloader and my Savage bolt-action .22 rifle. I brought along the .45 auto and the SKS, but we had so much fun with the .22s that I only put 50 rounds through the .45 and we didn't even get around to shooting the SKS.

At the last shooting session at ASC, Jim of Smoke On The Water suggested I benchrest the 2214 to see how it would perform. There were a few range sandbags laying around, so I grabbed a couple, along with a chair, and set up at a 15 yard target.

I started off with some really slow fire from the sandbag rest, trying to keep as tight a group as possible. I was using Winchester SuperX .22 rounds. It's not el cheapo stuff, but it's not premium fodder either. Regardless of how careful I was with breathing, trigger squeeze, follow through, etc., the best grouping I could get out of that pistol measured around 5.5 inches. I guess that's all you can expect out of the 2" barrel sporter pistol. Not great, and my freehand groupings are only an inch or so larger than the benchrested groupings.

I switched to Zibig's popper, which is essentially the same firearm with an extra 4" of barrel, and the groups shrunk down to the 2" range, apart from the occasional flyer. Looks like it's definitely the gun. Well, I bought the 2214 as a tacklebox tool/last ditch gun, so I'm not looking for MOA accuracy from it. It shoots well, is easy to control, and as long as you feed it decent ammo, it's reliable.

I alternated between shooting the rifle and pistol. The .22 rifle I brought this trip is a family heirloom, owned by my grandfather back when he lived on a farm in Arlington Texas, on land now occupied by Interstate 30 and Six Flags Over Texas. Countless rounds have been put through it in the '40s and '50s by my father and his 3 brothers, and it's easily got another 100 years of life left in it.

It's a Savage Model 19 NRA Match rifle, and even at 75+ years of age, it still lives up to the "Match" name. When Dad & I re-discovered it 8 years ago, moldering in the back of a closet in my grandmother's house, it was jammed into an old leather saddle boot, and was missing the magazine. A good cleaning put it into proper order, except for a worn safety mechanism that'll fire the gun if you move it from 'S' to 'F'. It took a while, but I found a replacement mag at a gun show up in Mesquite TX 4 years ago.

The micrometer rear sight has seen better days, but still holds a zero as long as you don't bump it too hard. The trigger is just about perfect, with a crisp break at maybe 3 lbs of pressure.

Once I got it dialed in, it was shooting groups consisting of one ragged hole right in the X ring. Wherever you placed that front sight, you just breathed on the trigger and a .22 cal hole appeared instantly above the sight post. Even Zibig's scope-sighted Marlin on 9X zoom couldn't outshoot it.

It was the first time I'd had the old Savage out in several years, and I enjoyed it immensely. There might need to be a little shootin' contest at the next blogshoot! This old gal still has what it takes!