Winchester .22 42 gn subsonic versus RWS 40 gn subsonic field test

February 9, 2017 at 6:52 pm

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A letter from the Thames Valley Police dropped onto my door mat this week. Before tearing it open open, the fear of a speeding fine filled my mind, had I been caught by a hidden speed trap? No, it was a reminder that my Firearms Certificate was due to run out in six months and that I needed to renew it as soon as possible, to avoid not being covered. When I last renewed, the whole process, including a visit from the local Firearms Officer, had taken under six weeks. Now due to the “current peak renewal period” it was now six months minimum.

Terrorism raises it’s head in all walks of life today and no less with legally held firearms, various government departments processing information back and forth, with more detailed intelligence checks needed by the Information Research Bureau, including contact with an applicant’s GP and deeper checks on referees. My information is the same as my last two applications and hope for a clean run through. I will be putting in a variation on the new .17 WSM (Winchester Super Magnum) bolt action rimfire. Maybe that will slow it down.

One of the requirements, when applying, is that the current certificate has to be sent along with the application form. What’s the problem you say, well without the actual certificate, ammunition cannot be purchased, as all bullets bought have to be written by hand on the back of the certificate, along with the signature and number of the Registered Firearms Dealer at the time of purchase. This means that my stock of ammunition needs to last at least six months, until I receive my new certificate.

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HMR ammunition has been unavailable at my RFD for months with promises of a new batch in the country “any day now” for at least a month. Only able to purchase 200 at a time, I’m already well into the last 100, so do I hang on for a few weeks in the hope of a delivery, or end up running out once the warm weather arrives? With two new permissions to explore this is a possibility.

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.22 subsonsonic ammunition is readily available, but my semi automatic Magtech will only recycle certain brands. Eley subs were the best through this rifle, then they became unavailable in my area. I tried 40 grain Winchester, but these jammed on every other round. Recommended German made RWS, I tried them and they worked well, being accurate and quiet. Having bought 500, I was now down to the last 200 and in need of a top up, but guess what? The RFD has stopped stocking them too.

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Winchester have recently brought out a 42 grain bullet with slightly more power than the RWS, which is supposed to give better recycling in a semi auto, being heavier with a speed difference of 1065 FPS to the slower 990 FPS of the RWS. I bought a box of 50 and set off to my nearest permission to give them a comparison field test.

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It was a cold, damp, but still afternoon and I set up two targets side by at fifty yards, checking the zero on another target using the RWS. The zero had not moved and single shots gave hits in and around the 10 mm bull. Ideal for rabbit head shots. Of these ten shots, one did not recycle. Firing ten of the Winchester, there were no misfires and similar accuracy, although the report through the silencer was deeper in tone, but not loud. Happy so far.

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Moving on to the test targets, I fired five RWS  shots in five seconds, a good test of the semi auto Magtech. The first shot went straight through the bull, two edged the 10 mm bull and the other two hit the main target area with a maximum deviation to the left of 20 mm centres, these two being the last fired. Maybe warming of the barrel, or pilot error, but pretty good for rapid fire and a certain kill on any rabbit.

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Next up was the Winchester 42 grain, again similar results, one in the bull, two others edging and two out to the left, the furthest at 22 mm centres, but an almost identical pattern as the RWS. Most of the RWS were just below the centre of the bull, while the Winchesters were above, possibly due to the extra speed and power of the bullet giving less drop despite the additional weight.

This test was enough to give me the confidence to buy another 300 Winchesters  and with .22 High Velocity Remingtons already in the ammo box, the top up brings me near my 650 limit for .22 rimfire.

Hoping to try out the Winchesters on a rabbit, I went for a walk along the hedgerows, but nothing was on show and with the light drizzle turning to sleet, I headed back to the van.

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A post script to this blog was a phone call saying that my 17 Hornady were now in stock, so it was a quick drive to the RFD to use the FAC to buy enough ammunition to see me through the application period. The assistant in the sports shop said that I would be lucky to get the new certificate in six months, as he has been waiting for nine!

 

Isle of Man fly fishing for brown trout

September 12, 2015 at 6:22 pm

Known worldwide as the home of the TT motorcycle races, the Isle of Man can boast excellent game fishing too, with runs of salmon and sea trout up it’s short rocky rivers and well stocked reservoirs, while the resident brown trout will provide sport on light tackle at any time of the day.

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The bonus of trout fishing on the Isle of Man is the scenery encountered along the way, finding out of the way gems missed by most visitors, this being the river Neb a mile above the estuary. A trout can be seen rising on the right of the arch.

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These trout have to be some of the most distinctly marked browns, that I have caught, this one taking a dry sedge on the river Neb. Unlike the mainland, there are no riparian fishing rights, all rivers are controlled by the I o M government, a weekly £27 river license allows fishing in all the rivers, where you can gain access to the water. National Glens and Government owned lands also give access to miles of fishing.

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One of many browns netted from the Neb at the Raggatt, an overgrown wasteland, when I first visited, but recently transformed into a park with managed banks, having seating for anglers and walkers, but also the ideal spot for ball chasing dogs, their owners seemingly unaware of the needs of anglers.

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Another example of  the Neb trout, well rounded and full of fight. I watched a brown twice this size cruise up along side my fly, give it nudge with it’s nose, then slowly sink back to the depths. Must try harder next time.

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A pool on the Foxdale river, in the parkland grounds of the DEFA offices at St Johns, where I bought my license, which was home to several above average browns, all taking the dry sedge fished upstream. The best came from a deep tree shrouded pool, that only allowed a bow and arrow cast into the back eddy formed by a waterfall, watching a dark shape rise out of the depths, turn over and take the fly, then running off downstream beneath overhanging branches. I could only fight the fish with my rod tip held under the raging waterfall, reeling it back, until ready to pull into the net.

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This was just a taster of the river fishing in the Isle of Man, these waters all with in walking distance of my accommodation, a ten mile drive will put you on the Sulby river near Ramsey, or the Dhoo near Douglas, while many smaller rivers, like in Glen Maye below, will give plenty of sport.

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River Neb fly fishing sea trout in the Isle of Man

September 9, 2015 at 6:06 pm

Visiting the Isle of Man for the Manx Grand Prix motorcycle races, my fly fishing gear was a priority addition to the holiday packing, this hilly principality jutting from the Irish Sea, able to provide excellent sport to the angler prepared to search out the deeper pools of the rivers flowing out of it’s many wooded glens.

The ferry had left the English mainland in bright sunshine, but as the Island came into view, it was shrouded in dark clouds and on docking in Douglas at 6 pm, headlights were needed to light the way along the narrow rain drenched roads to Peel. The following day dawned bright and clear,  but a walk to the nearby river Neb, showed that it was in spate, full of dark brown peat water, washed down from the hillsides high above Glen Helen. There would be no fishing today, or the next, but two dry days saw the river back to a steady pace and according to a Manxman met on the bank, it was full of sea trout and salmon, fresh run from the sea.

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I’d only come equipped with my trout gear, expecting to catch small brown trout on my 7 ft rod, but the chance of a sea trout got me to the bank, just as the sun was setting. Sea trout will usually lay dormant in deep water during daylight, dropping back into shallower runs, as the light fades, the early ours of darkness, or just before dawn, being the most active.

Making up a leader with an 8 lb point, I searched through my trout flies for a suitable candidate, initially settling on a traditional sea trout fly, a silver and blue Peter Ross, but it looked insignificant against a modern reservoir standby, a Blue Flash Damsel, with it’s gold head, flashy blue tinsel and long tail.

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The BFD was tied on, but the weighty head made for a looping cast on the short rod and I battled with a gusting upstream wind, blowing from the Irish Sea only two miles away. Plenty of small trout were rising, some jumping clear of the water and was tempted to try an upstream dry Sedge, before the sun disappeared behind the trees, but persevered, casting down and across, getting the occasional pluck, as these small fish pecked at the tail. A swirl and a solid pull got my heart racing for a moment, lifting the rod into a high flying brown of about six ounces, that cartwheeled across the surface, before fighting hard with the flow of the river.

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Not my target fish, but as it would turn out, the biggest brown of my visit. Fishing with worms and spinners are legal trout fishing methods in the Isle of Man and I would think the preferred method of many locals for migratory fish, these banned on most mainland rivers, while fishing any fly downstream is also not permitted on the chalk streams of the South of England, a Blue Flash Damsel also a definite no no.

It would have been easy to pack my waders, but had only packed wellies, mainly in case of a rainy visit, which restricted access to many of the pools, tending to fish in gaps between trees and gorse bushes. The light was going fast and I’d had a few near misses among the branches, but skill, or luck kept me clear of the greenery.

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A large fish had jumped 30 yards downstream and I was on edge, ready for a take, when one came, but again a hard fighting brownie was the result, good sport on light tackle, this plump fish was returned with the minimum of fuss, due to the pinched down barb of the lure.

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Under the trees it was now getting difficult to judge my casts and walked back down to the large open pool, where I’d begun the evening. Here the light was better and a safe backcast allowed me to explore a deep run below the trees along the opposite bank, swinging the lure across into shallower water. The river was alive with the movement of fish, sea trout were disturbing the resident browns, causing them to leap clear, while there were constant swirls and splashes from these larger fish. A hump raised up behind my lure, as I retrieved it upstream, not taking, but swirling away, when I lifted off. My anticipation was on full alert, following a series of fierce plucks and recast to cover the same area, when it all went solid. Milliseconds later, the surface erupted with a head shaking boil and a tail slapping jump, as the bar of silver zoomed across to the deeper water, swimming at full tilt upstream, line spilling from my reel, as it went by, my tiny rod bent double in response. I followed it upstream for ten yards, laying the rod over to avoid overhanging branches, the sea trout easing off the pressure, but still pulling hard against the flow of the river. It turned and came back down, with me stripping line, desperate to stay in contact, aware of the barbless hook, shorter straight line runs, giving way to head shaking. I got back in the river, the shallows engulfing my boots, as I guided the streamlined fish towards my net, lifting it out in triumph, only for the lightweight net to collapse, when one of it’s arms pulled out, dumping the fish unceremoniously onto the bank.

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Not the best picture in the world, but the best of a bad bunch in the low light conditions. At 16 inches long, this would have made a fine meal, but these fish do not come my way very often and I was happy to return it to the river. I just hope it made it to the spawning grounds, avoiding the worms and spinners of the locals.

Pike Lure Fishing brought up to date

March 18, 2014 at 11:55 am

When this picture dropped into my e-mail inbox from fellow club member Lee, along with an invite to join him on his next pike fishing session, I jumped at the chance, just to go along with my camera to see how it was done.

 

 For our morning session, Lee took me to his local water, where this near 12lb pike was caught on a lure,  a well matured gravel pit surrounded by trees, with features every twenty yards, bays, roots and reed beds in abundance. Early mist had cleared, with just a hint of ground frost and the lake had returned to it’s normal level following flooding, a white tide mark evidence of the level two weeks before.

Lee’s tackle was a revelation to me, a seven foot Savage Gear lure rod, coupled to an Okuma Tormenta bait caster reel, loaded with sinking braid, that gives a direct feel from rod top to the lure. A far cry from the nine foot heavy feeder rod and Garcia ABU 506 closed face reel loaded with 15lb mono, that I have been using for years. Likewise a small selection of his lures, jelly eels and various multi-bodied plugs were an example of how far lure fishing has come since the simple Mepps spoons I’ve used in the past.

We walked the bank first, with Lee pointing out where he’d had pike before, starting to fish at an inviting looking reed bed, expecting a strike, or a follow from each cast, his outfit easily capable of reaching the edge of the reeds fifty yards away.

This is usually Jack Alley, but today the smaller pike could not be persuaded to take, despite frequent changes of lure. Lee joked that he wasn’t used to fishing under pressure, feeling the need to put a fish in front of the camera. We moved down into a heavily wooded area, where he’d had good pike before and a few casts in, there was a swirling boil just feet from the bank, as a big fish veered away from his lure.

Encouraged by this promising action, Lee rang the changes in an attempt to tempt this fish, but maybe the clear water was against us and it failed to move to the lure again. As the saying goes, “here’s one I had earlier”, a finely marked nine and a half pounder from this swim a month earlier.

 We moved on, trying each gap in the trees, expectant of a take at the slightest tap of the rod, as the lures worked their magic among the roots. This is the attraction of lure fishing, with dead and live baiting for pike, it’s a waiting game, but a lure can be taken the moment it hits the water, or just on lift off, going from inaction to explosive action in a matter of seconds.

Two hours had passed quickly and each new area offered up several choices of holding spots, this bay being a pike fisher’s dream, but once again Lee’s efforts were frustrated and we moved to a narrow spur, that at first glance had nothing going for it, until I saw a small fish jump, followed by another. Either a small jack pike, or a perch was attacking a shoal of roach. Another change saw a fish bodied lure with a bright jelly tail clipped on and cast out to the topping shoal.

Third cast through, the rod bent into an arc, as the lure was seized and Lee instinctively struck hard to set the barbless hooks, a boil on the surface indicating the exact take point. The rod kicked as the pike shook it’s head, before heading for open water, pulling hard on the reel drag. I went back to collect the landing net, returning in time to hand it over to Lee for the end game of an epic battle, the look of satisfied relief on his face saying it all. This young, fit guy had still managed to break a sweat on a cold morning.

 Job done! What a fin perfect beauty. A quick spell in the weighing bag ran the scales round to 11lb 8oz, then this heavily camouflaged killing machine was slipped back in the water. Not content with his capture, Lee ran the lure through several times more, saying that two, or three pike will often work together to drive a shoal of bait fish into such an enclosed area. Not today though and both with family commitments that afternoon, we headed back down the motorway.

A week later another photo dropped into my inbox. Lee had been busy again. While visiting relatives in Leicestershire, he’d found time to pop down to the river Soar for some R&R and bagged a personal best 3lb 6oz perch.

This was taken on a Savage Gear 3D white crayfish lure.

Roach queue up for bread punch on the Middy stick

March 11, 2014 at 7:30 pm

A return visit to my local river, found the level down nine inches and running at a slower pace than last week, when trying for roach, I struggled in the conditions, being broken by two big fish, carp, or chub. After being broken for the second time, I’d left with a feeling of unfinished business, determined to return before the end of the coarse fishing season, for a decent crack at the roach,that live in the fast water of the outfall.

Not wanting to be broken again by big fish, I’d scaled up my tackle to a six No6 Middy alloy stem stick float on a 5lb main line, with a size 14 to 3lb hook link, a compromise that I hoped would not put the expected roach off taking my bait. I needn’t have worried, as minutes after introducing a couple of balls of liquidised bread down the middle of the run, my float gave a couple of rapid dips, then sank out of sight and the first of many clonking roach was putting a bend in my rod.

 The hot spot was the edge of the fast water, often just holding the float back as it drifted into the area, hooked a fish. More feed brought the roach out into the main river, and I was getting into a rythm, cast, trot, hook and play to the net, until I tried to rush a half pounder, which came off, taking the shoal with it. For a while small chub and big gudgeon took their place, the chub dashing all over the river, while the gudgeon bored deep. Some of the gudgeon were monsters approaching 8 inches long and very fat, hugging the bottom, giving the impression of a much bigger fish.

The Middy alloy stem stick is now one of my preferred floats for most shallow river conditions, the tip rising up on the shoulder, when held back, while the bulk of the float stays down, giving more control to ease the float through a swim. My next bite entered the foaming weir stream and headed upstream, the strike hitting into solid resistance, that had me guessing at the species on the end, a deep thumping fight keeping the fish out of sight, until brought up to the surface for the net, revealing a roach-bream hybrid of about 8oz.

Next to take was another unexpected fish, a 6oz rudd, the float sailing away as the rig followed a ball of bread down the swim. Another hybrid, a rudd, a few small chub and several gudgeon coming in quick succession.

This interlude was soon over and the roach moved back in on the bread feed with a bang, getting larger with each trot and I make no apologies for including more pictures here. I love catching roach, especially big ones.

The roach above could have been a season best for some people, but the float kept going down and they continued to fight their way to the net.

The bites were beginning to get few and far between in front of me, so I made a cast to the middle of the faster water and trotted down towards the bend, striking when the float dived, hitting into a fish that ran hard down stream and backwound rapidly to counter it. A chub I thought, but then saw a broad flank with a flash of red, a good roach and the best of the day, which treated with respect, I netted minutes later.

This was a deep fish that, when laid against my bait tray, had it’s tail over the edge. The tray measures 11 inches, so the roach was over a foot long. A couple more smaller, but equally deep roach followed from the fast stream, before trying a change to a brandling on the hook, having raided my compost heap for the worms before I left. I’ve often thought the concrete structure of the weir could hold some perch, but usually only fishing bread, I never catch any. Hooking the size 14 hook once through the head of the brandling and letting it be taken by the flow back in towards the weir, it zoomed out of sight.

Not a perch, but a 4oz chub had seized on the live bait, where several times the 6mm bread pellet had passed. This was not a fluke and these small chub lined up to take the worms, until one came in under my feet to be missed by the landing net and dive into a submerged bramble, snagging the hook. I pulled for a break, only to then flick the float into the bush on my right. Again pulling for a break the precious float hung suspended over the water.

Although there was still over an hour of daylight, I decided not to be too greedy and quit while I was ahead, having finally found my searched for shoal of big river roach, plus a few surprise fish along the way. I also learned that the chub will go on feeding, if you switch from bread to worms.

I had a final look at this impressive over eight pound bag of mostly roach, taken during a busy three hour session from this small tributary of the Thames, then set about rescuing my float from the bush.

 

Rapala Countdown lure hooks pike trainee.

January 17, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Constant heavy showers put an end to any thoughts of a bait fishing trip this week, my desire to stay warm and dry, overcoming the need to catch fish. The local weather forecast had promised an afternoon of sunshine with occasional heavy showers and this was enough for me to chance a couple of hours lure fishing on the Basingstoke Canal.

Jack pike and perch are a nuisance on this stretch, when fishing for roach, often flashing through the shoal, as a ball of groundbait goes in, or worse, taking a roach on the retrieve, which on light pole tackle, usually results in at least a broken hook link. Temperatures being mild, it seemed the ideal time to get my own back on these carnivores, while giving the opportunity to try out a new sinking lure, the Rapala Countdown.

With a range of body sizes and patterns available, I chose the 2 inch long, roach lookalike and set about searching out the dead reed beds and features along the opposite bank. The Countdown has a sink rate of one foot per second and can be cast into the shallowest of water without snagging, if retrieved immediately. The action of the lure  gives a side to side motion, causing the flanks to flash as it swims, while rapid reeling, or sharp forced movement of the rod top do not induce it to dive into the canal bed. This canal has only a couple of feet beneath the far bank trees, which drops off to 3 feet along the boat road and I concentrated on this far shelf, making 25 yard diagonal cast across the canal as I made my way along the bank.

The weather forecasters seemed to have got their sums wrong and I spent much of my time sheltering under ivy ladened trees, as I worked my way towards a likely looking hotspot, where permanently moored narrow boats jut out on a bend in the canal. Like the rest of the afternoon, this area was drawing a blank, wherever I cast, whatever depth, or speed, not a touch. Finally, probably the tenth time I’d cast beneath a bush, the rod top rattled and pulled round. The strike brought another rattle from the rod top, but little else. Not a perch, but the smallest pike I’ve ever caught. Totally outgunned by the tackle, I swung it in to hand.

 As can be seen from the photo, this little 10 inch jack really wanted this Rapala, two of the rear trebles hooked neatly in the gill rakers. I always remove the barbs from my trebles to avoid damage and following a quick twist of the forceps he was swimming free again, none the worse for his experience. Minutes later the heavens opened again and I beat a retreat back to the van.

 

RWS .22 subsonics v Winchester SX subsonics in the Magtech 7022 semi auto

April 24, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Just when I was confident that I’d found a substitute for the super reliable, but unavailable Eley subsonics in my Magtech 7022 semi auto rimfire, Wichester’s SX subs had proved reliable after a shaky start, but my belief in the bullet was shattered again, when, with a rabbit firmly in my sights, there was a pop instead of a bang, as the bullet misfired and the rabbit ran off. This began another target session, where the Winchesters repeatedly failed to cycle, while others went off like a damp squib. Time to try another manufacturer.

With Eleys still unavailable, my gunshop suggested RWS  .22 subsonics, so with a box of 50 I arrived at my improvised woodland shooting range to do a three way test. Ten Winchesters were loaded, but after two miscycles and one jam in five rounds, I stripped out the other five and loaded a few of my last Eley subs. These all fired perfectly. Next was the brand new box of RWS. These had wax lubricant filling the hollow points, which I removed, before loading and firing a perfect ten, all grouping well on the target. Another ten and another good 50 yard group, despite the lack of magnification from the red dot sight fitted to the Magtech. With my confidence back, I continued down through the wood, stopping to observe daffodils still growing in mid April, a sign of the late spring.

A rustle of dead leaves to my left reminded me that I should have been observing the fauna, not the flora, as a rabbit hopped to safety through the undergrowth. Further down I reached a point where a path enters the wood, a rabbit highway,  and turning the corner was confronted by a big buck coming in my direction. Too late, he dived into the hedge as I raised the rifle.  Backtracking, I settled down to wait for more intruders, with a good view of several likely hot spots within 50 yards, but the only visitor to my domain was a beautifully conditioned fox, which slipped out from cover and sat observing me from 70 yards away. On this permission, fox and pheasant are strictly off limits, as are the deer, being an equestrian centre, rabbits and their burrows are enemy number one.

Able to see activity behind the hedge leading to the path, but no clear targets, I got up and stalked to the corner, where a good sized rabbit was unaware of my presence, until it was too late. Raising the rifle, I placed the green cross hairs of the sight on the target and watched the rabbit topple over from a head shot.

 More proof that the point and shoot sight is ideal for close range, snap shots, I took  another adult and a juvenile on my way back to the van, also putting a big tick in the positive box for the RWS subsonics. As a follow up, I navigated the perimeter of the 80 acre permission a few days later,  accounting for a few more rabbits and a pigeon out in the afternoon sun. The RWS subs once again performing well and maintaining a dependable accuracy.

Trying to get to the bottom of the bad batch of Winchesters, I’d noticed that the bullets were tight in the magazine, when I removed them. Measuring the large diameter on the cartridges, I found the Eley and RWS to measure 0.270 inches and 0.269 respectively, while the Winchester cases were 0.2735, or 0.1 mm bigger, which may have been enough to slow the passage of the bullet, when recycling. RWS from now on.

Red/Green Dot Holographic Point and Shoot sight on Magtech 7022 (Mossberg 702). Field Test.

April 16, 2013 at 10:24 pm

This sight was originally fitted to my Relum Z II springer air rifle and was impressed by it’s point and shoot quality, when shooting barn rats at close range and the occasional pigeon in the rafters. Unlike a scope, where the target is identified by eye, then located in the lens before firing, the holographic dot is visible at the same instant as the target, with the dot only needing to be placed on the target and the trigger pulled.

The model I purchased has added features over some of the lower priced dot sights. Some are moulded plastic, but this one is made from anodized alluminium, giving a solid two allen screw, 11 mm dovetail mount. A choice of four images are available, a 4″ MOA dot, a 1″ MOA dot with outer ring, a 4″ MOA ring with outer cross hairs and a cross hair. These are selected with a positive toggle switch at the rear of the sight. Another feature is the colour of the reticule, which is also adjustable, one to five in level of brightness. In the barn, I found the red light setting at level one, fine for reduced light,  while on five it worked well with a filtered torch. For shooting in the field, I found green best and level five required in very bright sunlight.

The sight is easy to fit to the 11 mm scope grooves and unlike a scope, eye relief and focusing are not needed, the manufacturer recommending at least 3″ from the mirror to your eye when shooting. In practice this will be about 8″ in the normal shooting position, which allows an instant view of the target, whether moving or static. Zeroing is by way of an allen key, which is fiddly and the clicks are only just  noticeable for elevation and windage. On the average scope, each click is usually 1/4″ at one hundred yards, while this scope has only 1″ per click at one hundred yards, so adjustment to the level of a telescopic scope is not possible. For the air rifle I had set the sight at twenty yards on a target and I did the same with the Magtech .22 semi auto rimfire. At twenty yards, the trajectory of the .22 subsonic, will give point-blank at 50 yards. This shows up a disadvantage of the Dot scope, as with no magnification, even if the bullet holes were touching as mine were at twenty yards, on a target, the bull was obscured by the cross hairs at fifty. At fifty yards I shot a 2″ dia group, within the killing zone for a rabbit chest shot with subsonic ammo. I didn’t try one of the other reticule settings, which may have framed the paper target better. My rifle is used for hunting small game, so I will compare the options with use.

Following my setting up for zero on my woodland target range, I ventured out into the fields to put theory into practice and rounding a corner saw three rabbits feeding about seventy yards away, too far for an untested sight, but clearly visible through the mirrored window. Using cover I was able to get to a slope within forty five yards of the three and with the Magtech rested on my shooting bag, placed the cross hairs on the chest of the biggest and fired. The bullet impacted where I had aimed, sending the rabbit skyward in a reflex kick, while the others briefly looked on, then bolted down the field. I realized that I could have taken another shot in the following second, as the targets were there for the taking, but I was overawed by the simplicity of it all. This sight suits the semi auto, where multiple targets can be taken on in rapid succession.

 

Improved Magtech 7022 (Mossberg 702) field test.

February 7, 2013 at 5:08 pm

In an attempt to stave off the onset of cabin fever brought on by the snow and heavy rain of late, with just the occasional visit to the supermarket for human company, I decided it was time to fit the rifle sling, that had come courtesy of Father Christmas.

The Jack Pyke sling came complete with quick release clips to fit into the supplied front and rear sling spigots. To fit the spigots, I first removed the two screws fixing the stock to the rifle action, then pushed the two apart at the trigger assy. I have a deep bench vice and first placed the rifle butt in a cloth before just nipping up in the vice. Being a two part plastic moulding there is a convenient mould line to work to. I marked and dotted with a centre punch the rear spigot point position 3 inches (75 mm) from the underside butt end. I then drilled a 3/32 inch (2 mm) pilot hole, before opening up with a 5/32 inch (4 mm) drill to suit the self tapping spigot. I used a drill to form a T to screw the longer rear spigot into it’s hole, stopping when the spigot hole was at 90 degrees to the butt in the final turn of the self tapper. I repeated the exercise for the front spigot, drilling the hole 1 and 1/2 inches (40 mm) from the front of the stock, fitting the shorter spigot. Fitting the sling then took minutes with the quick release clips.

A bright, cold, but windy day gave me the opportunity to get out and try the sling and also test the trigger, which had received further attention from the valve grinding paste, removing more rough edges from the rubbing surfaces. It’s pull is now smoothe and defined, although the trigger spring could do with some easing. The sling carried the 4lb rifle comfortably on my shoulder, while allowing the Magtech to be brought up to the firing position easily. I had intended to just shoot some targets away from the horses at the equestrian centre, but as I left the confines of the stables, the field ahead was covered with feeding wood pigeons. I raised the rifle and selected a pigeon thirty yards away, just as they were about to launch, the sling giving a firm support to the front of the rifle from my left shoulder. The .22 hit with a smack between the shoulders and rolled the bird in a burst of white feathers. The remaining flock headed for the safety of the woods, while I retrieved and debreasted my prize.

I set a target at 50 yards, the Magtech zero and fired a clip rested, grouping most shots around an inch with a couple outside, OK for this rifle in the wind. The trigger felt good. I then tried standing shots with the sling giving support and firing three shot bursts and was pleased to hit the target within a two inch group, just right for a rabbit chest shot.

With less than an hour before I needed to collect my wife from a shopping expedition, I decided to circle back to check out any recent burrowing from the local rabbits in the water logged ground, noting their positions for dryer days. I saw no rabbits, but woodies were beginning to fly in to roost along my hedgerow and I waited beneath an oak for some to settle, before stepping out from the cover of a holly bush and downing one with a perfect shot up through the crop. Breast removed, it was time to go. I kicked myself for spooking two more pigeons, that had settled into the tree. When will I learn to look up before moving off?

CZ 452 Varmint .17 HMR Rimfire

December 7, 2012 at 9:02 pm

 

The CZ 452 Varmint .17 HMR  is my most accurate and powerful rifle. Mine has a 16 inch barrel and a trigger mod to ease the trigger pressure. Necessity forced me to purchase this rifle. When I began shooting over the various farms and pieces of land that I cover, the majority had never been shot over and the rabbits were running and breeding free, undermining trees, pathways, destroying crops and grasslands. In those days, I was able to consistently take four, or five rabbits per visit where ever I shot, using my Webley Viper at ranges up to 35 yards, due to their lack of fear of humans. I learned where the rabbits would be and could stalk within range with ease.

Some of the farms are open with hedgerows and it didn’t take long for the rabbits to slip back into the safety of their burrows once I got within a hundred yards. A much more powerful rifle was needed. HMR stands for Hornady Magnum Round, a .17 calibre copper jacketed round with a ballistic plastic tip, mounted on a .22 Magnum rimfire case. The small calibre bore accelerates the 17 grain bullet to supersonic speeds which equate to 245 ft lb muzzle pressure, which when compared to the legal air rifle limit of 12 ft lb at the muzzle, illustrates the power of this round. The bullet is pointed and spins at such a rate, that it’s gyroscopic effect is to keep it on a flat trajectory. When setting the 4 – 12 x 42 scope sights of mine on a still summer’s day, I was amazed at it’s performance. Dead on at 100 yards, at 120 yards the bullet only dropped about 10 mm. At 200 yards it drops 4 four inches. With the range of this rifle a decent scope with a parallax front ring is vital. My best shot to  date was a rabbit sitting up,  estimated about 200 yards away. I aimed between the ears near the top. I fired and thought I’d missed due to the delay, but then it jumped and fell over, shot in the back of the neck. I paced it out at 186 paces.  Accuracy at this level can not be repeated, even in relatively light winds. On the day mentioned earlier, when setting up my sights, a slight head wind started up and those 120 yard 10 mm groups opened up to 30 mm. Still fantastic though.

 I shoot with my HMR off a bipod in the prone position, as it is quite front heavy, due to the 20 mm dia tapering varmint barrel, but I do take shots to hand, usually at close range targets, knowing that if the cross hairs are on, then the target will be hit. The negative of this round is that there is a terrific percussion within the animal, any mid body shot will destroy the meat. Side head shots are a must, a head on shot will usually travel the length of a rabbit’s body and exit out the back, often breaking a leg as it does so. Corvids, very hardy, tough birds are no match for this bullet and often appear to explode on contact. For this reason, I would not shoot pigeons with this rifle, as it is a waste of very good meat.

This HMR is the perfect tool for pest control, a recent request by a farmer to shoot the rabbits on a grazing field saw me run out of ammo. I usually take about twenty five bullets, two clips of five plus more in a plastic case, more than enough I thought. I’d shot a few as I’d walked the field edge, then saw the main warren, where the grass had been turned into a dust bowl, by the root gnawing vermin.  I got down into a comfortable prone position along a hedgerow, with a full view of  the area and began picking them off at ranges between 100 and 150 yards. At this distance the muzzle report is muted, most of the “crack” going out to the sides from the supersonic bullet, the head on blast being absorbed by the silencer. Rabbits will usually continue feeding, while those around them leap up and drop and this was the case here, although towards the end of the session, which lasted about five minutes, a few were running about in confusion. I was reminded of film of the Somme, the bolt being worked, another clip fitted, reloading, etc. The final tally was nineteen, due to a few missed moving shots and a couple of extras to make sure.