A Cold Shooting Session

DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
36,789
4,786
Well, I awoke this morning to the promise of a bright day; the temperature was already at a balmy 3 C (37 F). The forecast was for a high of 5 C (41 F) and temperatures dropping on the following day. After a leisurely morning perusing the news, drinking a couple of cups of Tim Horton's, I decided to tackle the driveway to clear the snow before it all turned to ice. I cleared the drive, gathered my shooting gear and loaded the Tundra. It promised to be a leisurely day at the range. The temperature had risen to 5 C (41 F) and the sun was shining brightly. It is only a seventeen km drive to the range, I would be there and set up and have about four to four and a half hours until darkness would force me to shut 'er down. I noticed that when I arrived, it seemed somewhat cooler than when I left home twenty minutes earlier. Pulling my Kestrel out of my shooting bag, I discovered that it was -11 C (12 F). Somehow, that didn't bode well. The fact that dark clouds were obscuring the sun only heightened the sense that this could be an abbreviated range session. What it did mean was that I was assuredly not over-dressed for the weather. I had donned a wool sweater and a fleece vest, which is more than enough for me down in the valley when the sun is shining, the wind is still and the temperatures drop no lower than -5 C (23 F). I uncased the three rifles I had brought (a Sako chambered in .338 Lapua, my .30-06 and my 7X57), set up my chronograph, trotted through the snow to post some targets and prepared to pull the trigger. After the first round of shots, I took another temperature reading--it was now -13 C (8 F). At 1430 hours, it was -19 C (-2 F), snow was blowing sideways and it was surprisingly wet snow. I made a decision that is unheard of for me--the rifles could go home dirty today. Not that it mattered much, the solvents I use were all frozen by this point. I popped the top on a bottle of water, and it immediately froze. I glanced over at a bottle of Coke I had brought, and it was iced up as well. Time to pull a Hank Snow and get movin' on.

Despite the deplorable weather conditions, I did garner some decent data, and that made the trip worthwhile. All I would need would be a pot of very hot coffee once I got home and some nourishment to replace what was depleted due to heat generation. The Sako performed admirably. I'm doing load development on this rifle so the shop can burn turrets for a Huskamaw scope. I had previously shot a series of loads built with Hornady 225 grain SSTs and ReLoder 25. A maximum charge of 94.0 grains of RL25, produced a velocity of 2924 +/- 10 fps and a group of 0.55 inches. Today's workup ruled out H1000; velocities were good, but accuracy was ~2.00 inches across the spectrum of charges tested. My final set of loads were built with what has become a preferred powder in large capacity cases--Vihta Vuori N570. Velocities were exceptional, ranging from 3000 fps to 3172 fps. The initial load was quite disappointing, giving me a group greater than 3 inches. The mid-range charge, had lowered the group size to ~2 inches. I wasn't prepared to quit, as I have often witnessed that with this particular powder, near maximum charges produced astounding accuracy. And such was the case in this instance. The group measured 0.43 inches. It looked like this.



Yeah, I can live with that. We'll verify the data and then shoot to burn turrets next. However, because it is Christmas (and because it can be cold), it will wait until the New Year.

I have been working with the .30-06 for some time, looking for "the load." I've been shooting Hornady 165 grain InterBonds for the past couple of years. I'm gravitating toward a load built with 150 grain E-Tips. My first effort was rather unspectacular; the loads, charged with RL19, yield abysmal accuracy, though the velocity wasn't bad. The first loads tested today were built with RL17; and though they weren't abysmal, they certainly would qualify as appalling. Fortunately for me, I had constructed a second set of tests built with Hunter. Velocities are lower than I wished, but I can build them gradually, watching for pressure. Accuracy, however, was quite encouraging.



The velocity for this load was 2720 fps and the accuracy was 0.57 inches. Playing with seating depth and upping the charge will likely produce a load that I can enjoy. I should be able to approximate 3000 fps with this load, which would be quite a good all-round load for this area.

This was only my second trip out with the 7X57. The first trip yielded a group of 0.75 inches and a velocity of 2723 fps with the 140 grain AB and RL17. That could prove effective, especially for deer and caribou. It would be a good load for black bear, as well. Today, I was testing W760 behind the 140 grain AB. As charge increased, the group size moved toward a satisfying tightness, until I reached 49.7 grains of W760. At this charge weight, the velocity was 2783 fps and the group was 0.71 inches.



Again, playing with seating depth and upping the charge incrementally should produce a somewhat higher velocity and even tighter groups. This has always been a fun cartridge to shoot, and this rifle is a joy to play with.

Oh, yeah, the temperature is slated to drop to -27 C (-17 F) overnight. Wonder what the chance of the forecast erring in that case might be?
 
Nice work Doc.
The 338 Lapua is impressive. Have you ever tried Retumbo in the Lapua?
The E-Tips can be temper mental. They seem to like a lot of jump and I have had my best accuracy seating the bullet .100" off the lands.
The 7x57 is looking good. What's not to like about the 7mm Mauser? Talk about a slick round for WT deer!

JD338
 
wayno945":39ja2itn said:
Is that one of the new M70 7x57s? How are you liking it Mike?

Yes, I picked this rifle up last summer. I'm just now getting around to shooting it. I do like it very much. I'm sorry I didn't have a load worked up for deer this season. I'll rectify that oversight next year. :grin:

JD338":39ja2itn said:
Nice work Doc.
The 338 Lapua is impressive. Have you ever tried Retumbo in the Lapua?
The E-Tips can be temper mental. They seem to like a lot of jump and I have had my best accuracy seating the bullet .100" off the lands.
The 7x57 is looking good. What's not to like about the 7mm Mauser? Talk about a slick round for WT deer!

JD338

I have tried Retumbo in other Lapuas, but the volume required makes seating difficult.

The E-Tips are seated 0.100 inches off the lands. The ballistic data was reasonable, which leads me to believe I need to play with seating depth, perhaps giving even more jump to the lands. In any cast, I've only begun with this lighter bullet in the 30-06. There will be other tests coming up as we move toward spring.

I do like the 7 Mauser; it has been a favourite for many years. I let my last one get away more than ten years ago (also a Featherweight), and have not forgiven myself since.
 
Mike,

Retumbo has yielded the best accuracy and velocity in my 338 RUM. I did try RL 33 but need to do a complete work up next spring. I will be using the 250 gr AB as opposed to the 300 gr AB.

The M70 7x57 is a real sweet heart.

JD338
 
I've used quite a bit of Retumbo in various RUMs; it is the powder of choice when working up a load in most of those cartridges. It has not given me the same success in other Lapuas. Based on those experiences, I didn't test it in this one. However, the rifle does appear to be delivering the goods. Oh, yes, I am truly enjoying the 7X57. After torching off the Lapua, it is a pleasure to pull the trigger on the Mauser.
 
Good show, Mike. That 150 ET may well be the holy grail of North American big game, and your rifle has the looks to match. Also glad to see you're enjoying the new 7mm.

And as far as the Lapua goes, well, never mind a camel through the eye of a needle, you just threaded a Mack truck... :)
 
Thank you, sir; I've had excellent success with moose and elk shooting the 130 grain E-Tip in my 270WSM. I can't imagine it won't give me similar results in the good ol' .30-06. As for the Lapua, it is an accurate cartridge; the Sako platform ensures that it performs up to expected standards.
 
Sounds like you started out in a heat wave and ended up in a deep freeze Mike. You might to be able to contribute some of those groups to the shivers. :lol:
One things for sure you didn't have to worry about over heating the barrels.
Looking good Mike.
 
truck driver":2o9yoci4 said:
One things for sure you didn't have to worry about over heating the barrels.

That is a true statement! It is a rule of thumb that I do not venture forth when temperatures drop below -15C. However, I had never been caught at the range when the temperature dropped that drastically. I've been shooting when extreme increases in temperature occurred, but never the reverse. 'Twas chilly, I'll give you that. :grin:
 
Very nice Mike. I think your onto something with W760 and RL17 in the 7mm Mauser. I am itching to reengage my son's 7x57 with RL17 and the 140AB's. I was getting excellent results in the 2900 range with 17, and W760 looked to be just as fast. I have Norma cases for the 7mm now, so I need to attack them soon.

The 30-06 will come around. I know you won't let it rest till it does!

That 338 Lapua is a cool one for sure. Be hard to stop a 225 at 3100...

Glad your back and warmed up. That is some bitter range time for sure.
 
DrMike
Well, I awoke this morning to the promise of a bright day; the temperature was already at a balmy 3 C (37 F).
Balmy??? This time of year I frequently shoot at freezing + Or - a few degrees, but not nearly as cold as you!!!
Some really nice work, the results with the 338 were fantastic!!!! That's a thumper at both ends and it takes both the SHOOTER and the rifle to perform that way.
Even though the others need a little fine tuning I would not be afraid to take any one of them to the field tomorrow.

Sounds like a great day, and a nice write-up besides.
 
Thanks, Scotty. Bill, yeah any time it is above -8, it is shirt sleeve weather after a year or so up here. 0 or above is actually balmy after -45 to -30 weather.
 
"As charge increased, the group size moved toward a satisfying tightness, until I reached 49.7 grains of W760. At this charge weight, the velocity was 2783 fps and the group was 0.71 inches."

Very interesting. I get and even 2800 FPS from my FWT 7x57 with 49.0 gr. of W760 and .75" groups with the 140 gr. Ballistic Tip. With 49.5 gr. of W760 I got 2880 FPS but bolt lift and extraction were just a tad sticky. However, this was during out summer and maybe the 100 plus degree weather may have contributed to that stickyness. The load was fine in my Ruger #1 but locked up the bolt on my custom FN Mauser. I did a test a while back using W760 and the 175 gr. Hornday round nose bullet. The charge was 44.0 gr. which was supposed to give 2400 FPS. The M70 and Ruger #1 were in the low 2300s but the Mauser gave 2430 to 2450 FPS as I recall. Accuracy was excellent in all three rifles. It'd be inteesting to do a hunt with thatold round nose bullet for deer ot some such just to put myself in the shoes of those old African hunters like Bell, Selous or Stigand even if the game is only deer or maybe cow elk. I'll cheat a bit though and stick to using a scope. :lol:
I haven't seen a single kernal of any RL powder in almost a year around here.
I have some of the 150 gr. ABLRs that my .280 Rem. apparently does not like that I plan on trying in the 7x57.
Paul B.
 
Jim, I have two pounds of Retumbo and never thought of using it in my .338RUM. What was your recipe and if your shooting a Rem 700 what overall length were you using? I prefer using the 225 grain bullets and don't know if the Retumbo is too slow.
 
PJGunner":u52ipu9m said:
"I have some of the 150 gr. ABLRs that my .280 Rem. apparently does not like that I plan on trying in the 7x57.
Paul B.

The 150 grain ABLR has been a sterling performer in my .280. I'm quite pleased with it. You are correct, however, that it may be just the thing for your 7 Mauser.
 
Dr. Mike,
Your groups look good. I had good results in my 30-06 shooting 150 Ballistic Tips and Accubonds using W748 powder. I could get 3,000 fps from a 22" barrel, for what it's worth.

I have had good results from Hunter Powder with the 165 BT, just need more range time with it.

Don
 
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