boomershoot 2014 preparations, the caliber

So it looks like I am going to Boomershoot.  After somewhere north of seven years of, “Damnit, I really should…” I am getting up off my arse and actually doing… mostly because fuzzyKBP is going to drag me whether I want to go or not.  It certainly does not hurt that he is already planning on bringing the majority of the accessories that make Boomershoot a pleasurable experience. 

So what exactly is Boomershoot?  The simplest explanation I can think of is “explosive targets arranged between 350 and 700 yards away from a firing line”, and if that does not sound like fun to you, there is something seriously wrong with you.  It is a multi-day evolution involving one core day of shooting targets, and then two lead-up days where you can attend a precision rifle clinic (fuzzyKBP and I will be doing so on Saturday), shoot at steel targets, or just hang out with folks. 

All this, of course, raises the question of what I plan on bringing.  To run down my rifle inventory, I have… 

– Three .22LR rifles of various configurations.  These might be useful for the “High Intensity” and “Cleanup” portions of Boomershoot, but for any real shooting… yeah. 

– An M1 Carbine.  Basically the same problem as the .22LRs. 

– A .45-70 Springfield Trapdoor Carbine.  While it would be hilarious to shoot Boomershoot with that caliber – and arguably possible, given modern loadings – that rifle is wholly unsuited for the task, even though its ladder sight goes out to 1100 yards. 

Trollsin.  7.62x54R is certainly a Boomershoot-able round, but ~3MOA is an unacceptable accuracy.  It is possible we could improve on that, but there is no guarantee. 

B.O.M.B.E.R.  .223/5.56 is generally considered to be a suboptimal round for these events, except at the bare minimum of the ranges, and who wants to be limited that way? 

M1A SOCOM II.  So this is pretty much the closest thing I have to a Boomershoot rifle, except for a few small details.  First, 16.5”, non-match barrel.  There are some interesting studies out there about how barrel length affects velocity and accuracy (*.pdf warning), with the upshot being it might be possible, but that brings us to the second problem.  Mounting optics on this thing is hard (and, in my opinion, unsafe as hell), or requires really expensive glass.   Finally, it shoots .308 Winchester / 7.62x51mm, which I find to be a remarkably stout round, especially out of a steel-butt-plated battle rifle.  Sure, it is a heavy rifle, and I could get a pad for it, but sending 300-500 rounds through it over five days?  Well, we will get to why that might be a bad idea for me. 

So assuming I have one marginal rifle, what are my options, assuming I have a remarkably limited budget… because I do?  Well, we might as well start from the ground up at calibers – I do have a pile of .308, but it is all milsurp, and its accuracy is anyone’s guess.  While we were over at Dennis’ last weekend, Better Half brought up the possibility of .22-250, mostly because one of her former coworkers really liked it as a long-range varmint round, and partially because the thought of a .22-caliber round exiting the barrel at around 4000fps gives us both a raging case of the giggles.  So how about we look at the two rounds side-by-side? 

For the purposes of this comparison, I am using the cheapest “match-grade” ammunition I could find in-stock on GUNBOT as of 27MAR14.  In the case of .308 Winchester, that looks to be Hornady’s 155-grain Boat Tail Hollow Point Steel Match round (found on Sportsman’s Guide for $0.78 a round), and for .22-250, I kind of had to stretch the concept of “match-grade” and went with HSM’s 55-grain V-Max loading (found on Selway Armory for $1.00 even a round).  The latter is strictly a “hunting” round, but apparently there are no “match” rounds for that caliber, so I went with the first thing I could dig up enough ballistic data on.  Sue me.  On the flip side, I have never heard of steel-case ammunition as being “match-grade”, but, what the hell – I am cheap. 

A rough breakdown of their pertinent details is below: 

Caliber Weight Ballistic Coefficient Muzzle Velocity
.308 168 .405 2610 (24” barrel)
.22-250 55 .255 3610

Atmospheric and geographic conditions are assumed to be Boomershoot estimations – 3000 feet, 55° Fahrenheit, 29 inches of mercury, and 50% humidity.  Both calibers are assumed to be zeroed at 100 yards – as far as I can easily reach in/around Raleigh – with the optic being 1.5 inches over the bore (a random-assed guess on my part). 

All data and charts are generated by the Theory Ballistic Simulator developed by Frank Clarke. 

[Update]  Graphs have been adjusted after Davidwhitewolf accurately pointed out that I had to compensate for the M1A SOCOM II’s 16 inch barrel, versus the 24” test barrel used by Hornady.  Based on information I have read, I subtracted 200fps from its muzzle velocity and reran the graphs accordingly.  Disregard anything struck through.  [/Update]

So, let us start with the easiest comparison – velocity drop over distance: 


1500 feet per second is generally considered the absolute minimum necessary to detonate a Boomer, and you can see how .308 starts to dip under that right at 650 550 yards.  That is kind of immaterial to me, given I doubt I can hit anything past 500 just on my own merits, but it is good to know.  That is something of a concern for me, given that I figure 500 yards is about my maximum, personal engagement distance. 

Next up, what about drop? 


65 inches at 500 yards will equate to about 13 minutes of angle (generally abbreviated MOA), and it is interesting to see how the 1000fps difference in muzzle velocities plays out. 

By subtracting 200fps at the barrel from the .308 round, its drop went from 65 inches to “holy crap”.  Interesting. 

But now the real clincher – what about wind drift?  Assuming a 10MPH wind at 90 degrees off (something of an average case, from what I hear)… 


Ouch.  But, surprisingly, the .22-250 is not as much more “ouch” than the .308 than I might have thought the .22-250 is no more ouch than the .308 out of the SOCOM II.  I went ahead and checked the numbers generated by this program against those created by Modern Ballistics (which happened to have been built by Joe Huffman, the proprietor of Boomershoot)*, and they are close enough that I am comfortable with them – 26.1” at 500 yards from the former versus 25.7” from the latter. 

At this point, I can see no reason to go with .308 over .22-250. 

But those are all the ballistic properties of the rounds… what about things on the operator’s end?  Thanks to this handy table from Chuck Hawks, we learn that .22-250 creates about 4.7 foot-pounds of energy at 6fps out of an 8.5 pound rifle.  On the other hand, .308 Winchester creates 18.1 foot-pounds at 12.5fps out of a 7.5 pound rifle.  Now, that is huge for me. 

Why?  Let me show you something: 


Yes, I am a hairy bastard.  No, I am not shaving my chest for you.  But that picture was taken Wednesday night, after I sent approximately 20 rounds of 7.62x54R and 10 rounds of Trapdoor-safe .45-70 downrange on Saturday and another couple .45-70 rounds on Sunday, plus a smattering of 6mm Bench Rest and .243 Winchester across the weekend.  The first two rifles had plastic or metal butts, while the last two had rubber pads.  Interestingly, according to that table I linked above, x54R has less recoil energy and speed than .308, and .45-70 is right even with it. 

Granted, I am not going to buy any rifle that does not have or cannot support a mother of a rubber pad on its back end, but still… I need to be able to use my arm after that. 

On a similar note, the .22-250’s light recoil would be fairly handy for Better Half to use as a medium- to long-range rifle too, so that is a not-insignificant consideration. 

If we are trying to balance wind drift, velocity at target, and overall recoil, what about the seemingly natural middle step between .22-250 and .308 – the .243 Winchester?  It seems you can land some Federal Premium 80-grain Power-Shok for about $0.90 a round from SGAmmo (again, this round does not have a “match-grade” option, so work with me), with a ballistic coefficient of 0.365 and a muzzle velocity of 3330.  Time for the charts: 




Interesting.  So in exchange for a 75% to 100% increase off .22-250’s recoil, you get a round that retains its velocities better at the ranges I am interested in, has much the same ballistic path, and is a good 30% more resistant to wind drift – in fact, it is more resistant to wind drift than the .308 we examined above, which honestly kind of surprises me.  .243’s recoil still comes in at about half that of .308’s, but having shot fluffyKBP’s .243 last weekend, I have to wonder about either the accuracy of that table… or how he loads his rounds. 

Given that it is tremendously likely that this rifle will finally propel me into reloading, how do the three calibers line up there?  The Hornady .30 caliber 155-grain BTHP bullets run $29 for 100 ($0.29 each), Hornady .22 caliber 55-grain V-Max bullets cost $40 for 250 ($0.16 a shot), and Hornady 6mm/.243 caliber 80-grain FMJ rounds (I do not know what Federal Power-Shok is equivalent to) is $23 for 100 ($0.23 per).  I am figuring the powder costs are “in the noise”, and while that is not strictly accurate, run with it for the time being; I am too lazy to do all of the necessary conversions. 

Granted, reloading is something I am not going to get into until after Boomershoot, but it is something to consider now.  When it comes to Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS, since that acronym is surprisingly not common) ammo, .308 is clearly king in both selection and cost, with .243 next and .22-250 trailing the pack. 

So what do you, the readers, think?  Suck it up and go with the .308 and maybe unable to help drive back cross-country afterwards?  Have a blast with a round that seems to defy the laws of physics?  Or drive right up the middle? 

We will talk about actual rifles during a following post, but the good news is that, in most cases, the same rifle model can be had in all three rounds, which makes sense, considering they all trace their lineage back to the venerable .30-06. 

(* – The only reason I am using Ballistics Tables rather than Modern Ballistics is that the former allows for the creation of those handy comparison charts, while the latter does not.) 

i guess introductions are in order

So Better Half and I wandered back to Knoxville this past weekend, her for work stuff and me to hang out with some friends.  While there, I got to handle something I never thought I would see in person, much less touch: 


That is a positively beautiful 12 gauge / 12 gauge / .30-30 WCF Drillings made for Charles Daly by J.P. Sauer and Sons, before Sig joined the game, and let me tell you, if I had the money, I would.  I have no idea what I would use it for, but the engraving on the side is lovely, and, damnit, it is a drillings.  Amusingly enough, Dragon Leatherworks also has another Drillings on the wall from “The Three Barrel Gun Company of West Virginia”; I honestly did not know drillings were made in the States. 

Also this weekend, we proved that my Trollsin is not Boomershoot-able, in its current condition: 


The grids and black dot are 1”, and this was at 100 yards.  3MOA just is not going to cut it, and I honestly do not know if cutting and crowning the barrel would make a blessed bit of difference.  The Limbsaver Deresonator I shoved on the barrel might or might not have helped with the barrel whip that pencil-barreled Mosins tend to suffer from, but even that is a guess at this point, and I am not sure I want to or can spend the money to make this thing capable of reliable 1MOA fire.  But darned if it is not good for a giggle. 

Now, if I could find an affordable Finnish Mosin, and preferably one with a removable front sight (do any Finns even have that?), we might be talking, but, even then, I am not sure my shoulder would tolerate three days of shooting 7.62x54R. 

Sadly, I do not think I came away with any useful high-speed video from this weekend, but I need to go through it more-carefully on my desktop before I make any final determinations. 

All that said, you may have noticed that “walls of the city” also managed to pick up a new author this weekend – fuzzyKBP.  I will let him decide what he wants to share with you all – and he may end up sharing more than you care to learn – but his credentials include “computer nut”, “gun nut”, and, well, “nut”.  He is currently prepping to take himself and his 6mm BR rifle to Boomershoot, and figured that if he was going to sit down and document the process, he might as well share the information with the world.  Apparently I am willing to let darned near anyone have an account here, and here we are. 

So give him a warm welcome and brace for… something. 

worth saving here

If you know anything at all about Erin Palette, it is probably that she has a Mosin Nagant rifle that she has slowly and surely been customizing in a way that is sure to make purists all manner of… shall we say ‘annoyed’.  Most recently, she has gone and shoved a 10-round magazine into it, because ten rounds is better than five.  Obviously. 

However, whilst teasing us with the prospect of her upcoming review, someone questioned the… financial utility of going down the path she had selected: 

How is spending ~$600 to improve a $100 rifle "saving" money over just buying a $600 rifle to begin with?

There is the small detail, of course, that Erin never once claimed to be “saving” money over anything, or at all, and she easily combusted that particular straw man in fairly short order.  But, being the person I am, I just had to respond

I would say that Erin has handily dispensed with the straw man implicit in this particular comment, but let us take it at its face value, and go from there, shall we?

Potential answers include:

Because no one makes a $600 bolt-action rifle that throws 10 rounds of 7.62x54r before having to be reloaded.

Well, damn, that really is the only answer one really needs. I mean, one could go the PSL route if you wanted to spend around $1000 for a good, not-hacked-together one, or one could go the route of the all-too-awesome VEPR or Zastava 7.62x54r rifles that are slowly filtering over from Russia, but those both fail the arbitrary budget and bolt-action requirements.

But, hey, let us keep moving on with potential answers:

Because building something from the ground up is often more fun than buying it off the rack.

Because building something from the ground up is more educational than buying it off the rack.

Because building something from the ground up engenders a sense of ownership that buying something off the rack does not always.

Because at the end of the day, this rifle will remain a Mosin, and can thus be used, abused, and beaten upon in far worse ways than your average $600 bolt-action rifle (though corrosive ammo will still make the rifle its bitch).

Because feeding this rifle, no matter how much the platform itself costs, will still be cheaper than feeding another rifle that shoots a slug of similar ballistic properties.

Because this is Erin’s rifle and she can do with it as she bloody well pleases.

And probably the most important answer of all: Because fuck you, that is why.

The truth is, not everyone can plop down $600 for a rifle right off the bat, and while I am a firm believer and ardent supporter of saving money, I can certainly comprehend how that can be difficult for people. So they piecemeal-build things, like this. Is it the most financially optimal solution? Probably not, but I do not see where "financially optimal" was a constraint anywhere on this build, despite the ashes of a straw man vigorously screaming it might have been.

On the other hand, Erin has learned a lot about her rifle, has shared a lot of that knowledge with people who might not otherwise have a clue, and has had a load of fun in the process.

Personally, I call that a win.

But I am weird like that. 

Firearms are just like any other hobby – some people enjoy walking into a store, buying the best and shiniest off the rack, and going home to show off their new acquisition.  On the other hand, some people like starting from a beat up old platform and seeing what they can make out of it.  To put it in contemporary terms, it boils down to the “built not bought” argument that has surfaced in communities involving automobiles, computers, houses, and just about anything else where the two options are viable. 

Is one of those options “better” than the other?  Define “better”. 

And therein lies the core problem – what works for you may not work for someone else.  Of course, the funny thing is that the same person who upbraided Erin for not meeting a goal she never actually set for herself also proceeded to berate her for the possibility of someone actually taking her advice when it came to products she reviewed.  And what if Erin had taken his advice (before he gave it, granted, but still) and never proceeded down this path to begin with?  She would know a lot less about her firearm, and would not have experienced the enjoyment of working on it herself. 

In other words, she considered the cost worthwhile – not just for the firearm itself, though, but for the “whole package” – and who is anyone else to tell her she is wrong? 

So get out there and dork around with your firearms.  You never know what you are going to learn, and unless you really start doing bizarre things, the odds of you actually hurting anything is fairly low.  Plus, the good news is that for older firearms, like, say, Mosin Nagants, not only can the price of admission be absurdly cheap, but replacement parts for the ones you jack up are pretty cheap as well (except bolts… if anyone has a good lead on affordable Mosin bolts, let me know). 

could you stop the world please? i would like to get off

Alright, I am officially not a fan of North Carolina.  Since moving to this state…

– My DSLR has broken (refuses to auto-focus). 
– My printer has died (printer head went kaput, and those cost more than printers).  
– My new-to-me Land Rover Defender’s engine detonated for no apparent reason. 
– My desktop’s video cards are exhibiting all the classic symptoms of spontaneously combusting in the near future (no, I do not overclock, and yes, if you have a >512MB video card laying about collecting dust I would appreciate an email). 
– I have had to pay more for exceeding the speed limit than I had to pay for being involved in an accident that ended with one car upside-down.
A good friend of mine just had open-heart surgery (all reports are that the surgery went smoothly and he is recovering well).
– My father has been diagnosed with squamous cell cancer with no known origination source (he starts “carpet-bombing” radiation treatment (linear accelerator and chemo) next month). 

No, almost none of that is the state’s fault, but damned if I will not blame it anywise. 

In somewhat related news: 


Which is good, because we are not Minbari.  It only took us three months…

And to show that I have not been completely idle these past months of not-really blogging, you may do with these two graphics as you like: 


… and …


And speaking of things found on Twitter, I give you the classic example of a “gun control” cultist’s psychological projection: 


The government should tell you that you cannot own a firearm because he does not trust himself to own one.  Statism, projection, insecurity, and assumptions, all in 140 characters or less, wrapped up with a tidy little bow.  Granted, the author of this particular tweet is a British subject, and thus the very natures of freedom and liberty are probably foreign to him, but still; you cannot get a lot more perfect than that. 

Oh, and if you need something to shake your head at and go “Whiskey tango foxtrot?” over, here are two parts of the same conversation: 



The only reason I engaged the nutter above is that he is rabidly (and I do mean rabidly, in all of its irrational, frothing, abusive glory) anti-open-carry and pro-“gun control”… and then everything just fell off the rails.  Of course, this is the same “ex-arms dealer” who literally could not differentiate a Mosin (specifically, this one) from a Mauser… literally, and then proceeded to tell me “Mosins use Mauser actions”.  Ummmno.  I guess that should have been my first clue. 

One does not have to nucking futs to support “gun control”, but apparently it helps. 

And on a lighter note, the first experimental batch has been started: 


Details on the Rover will be forthcoming, along with probably a listing for its sale.  Prayers for my father, if you are the praying type, would be appreciated, and I know the same is true for Dennis.  As for the rest… well, I am still breathing.  And I still dislike this state. 

still for sale: cbrps white standard mosin-nagant stock


Since neither person who was supposedly interested in the White Standard CBRPS Mosin-Nagant stock I have for sale ever bothered to respond to emails, the stock is still for sale, and still at $275 OBO.

If you are interested, leave a comment here, or email me at "linoge (at) wallsofthecity (dot) net".

I know you know someone for whom this would make an awesome Christmas present… 

for sale: cbrps white standard mosin-nagant stock


Well, I was going to disassemble this thing and spray-paint it silver, since it needs to be painted something and I just wrapped up painting a shower rod (who in their right mind makes a shower rod out of a material that can rust?), but the thought struck me that there might be some folks out there who want the stock in its original white coloration.



This one is barely used and is actually a little upgraded from the original, and sports a COTS Picatinny rail on the carrying handle, rather than the milled-into-the-handle not-quite-Picatinny-rail that the stock originally came with. As you can see, it is one of the white models, it is cut out for the speedbolt modification, though I have not done that to mine yet, and it has the recoil-absorbing spring-loaded buttplate installed as well.

I would be willing to let it go for $275 OBO plus shipping (Mosin-Nagant, scope, scope mount, and ammo not included). The wait list for this one was somewhere in the "nine months" range, so you would certainly be saving yourself a lot of time…

Why am I selling it? Well, on the one hand, I am intrigued by CBRPS‘ newer models, and I think they may actually be what they were intended to be.

On the other hand, this current one comes off as being the alpha model for the current generation he is producing. When putting it together, the bolt holes did not line up, the original optic rail was nowhere near appropriate spec, the material used to make the white paneling is rough and porous on its cut edges (hence my desire to paint it, in order to seal that up), and the spring-loaded buttstock does not work so well with my bony-arsed shoulders. Yeah, I know, hell of a thing to say about something you want to sell, right? However, various people have put about 20 rounds through it, and all agree that the balance and handling is better, the recoil is lessened, and the muzzle rise is lower than your "normal" M-N 91/30.

It is a fun toy, but this particular one has annoyed me enough that it is time to move on.