Eley .22 subsonics v Winchester SX subs in Magtech 7022 (Mossberg 702) semi autos

February 27, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Down to my last box of fifty Eley .22 subsonic rounds and them being out of stock locally, I took the advice of a friend, who also owns the value for money Magtech 7022 and bought some Winchester SX .22 subsonics to try. With a break in the cold, wet weather, I fancied my chances of nailing my first rabbit of 2013, when the sun peaked out from behind the clouds as I made my way past the stables at the equestrian centre. A dozen wood pigeons were busy searching for grains among the new straw of the muck pile and from the cover of the barn, took a shot that hit the nearest with a whack, my mono pod,  sling combination once again providing a steady shooting platform.

Putting  the breast in my bag, I made my way with caution towards the next likely spot for pigeons, but they’d been spooked by the other birds and made their getaway. 50 yards on is a bit of cover, from where I can view the corner of another field and the most productive warren on this permission, the rabbits feeding along the pathway and into the field.  The Magtech can usually account for two or three each visit, before they scatter into the safety of the brambles. Today was not going to be one of those days, the whole area was under water and had been for a while judging by the number of moorhens and mallard cruising the surface. There is a lake in the country house next door and it’s level had risen to the point of overflow, filling the ditch and flooding the warren in front of me.

Skirting the flood, I waded across the bridge into the wood, which seemed devoid of life, not even a squirrel and made my way down towards the end, where a fallen tree has created the perfect spot for shooting targets. The bark of a muntjac deer drew my attention, as it broke cover and bounded off to the right, which in turn disturbed a fox and they crossed paths briefly in their flight, the small deer crashing through the undergrowth, while the long fox, red tail extended, slipped silently away in the opposite direction.

The fallen tree provides a rifle rest and a seat with a view through the wood and a clear line of sight for about eighty yards, ideal for the placement of targets. I paced out fifty yards and set two targets side by side. The Magtech is already zeroed for this distance, which gives a relable killing zone out to seventy yards. With two clips of ten Eley subs, I took my time with single shots at the left hand target. As expected, there were no jams, or misfires and on inspection the group were within a 30 mm dia. This empty clip was now filled with the Winchester subs and fired towards the right hand target. The second shot had jammed, the bullet half way out of the clip. Most disappointing. Next shot fired, but didn’t eject, the case sitting on top of the clip. There was another jam and the last shot did not hold open. I walked down to the target and was pleased to see that those that had reached the target were all within a 20 mm dia, some touching. The next clip of Eleys performed as before and likewise the Winchesters jammed and misfired with only three consecutive shots OK, and again no hold open, but the hole grouping was way better than the Eley subs.

With no more Eleys, I loaded up with the Winchesters and went off in search of rabbits. At one point I stopped to observe a pair of  nuthatches flitting around a tree and reached into my pocket for my camera, only to see out of the corner of my eye a buck rabbit sitting up on his back legs observing me. He didn’t wait around and hopped down a freshly dug burrow. I saw another pair a hundred yards away, an HMR shot I said to myself. They were the other side of a flooded ditch and out of range. Walking back, an adult and a juvenile rabbit ran across the path ahead, too fast for me to even raise the rifle, but a welcome sight with spring just a few wintery weeks away.

When I told my Magtech owning friend of my comparisions,  he could not believe the Winchesters had done so badly and insisted we try another box the next day. With two mags already loaded with the Winchesters, we took one each and did a side by side test firing. His jammed second and last shot. Mine fired eight before failing to eject. This time the breech was held open. More Eleys were fired without a hitch. We loaded up again with the Winchester SX and this time they all fired. I have since fired another fifty Winchester subs without a problem. They all grouped very well, 10 mm inside an Eley group, so guess it must have been a bad batch and I shall give them a go for the time being.


Urban chub fishing among the shopping trolleys

February 23, 2013 at 2:56 pm

I thought of another Olympic sport this week, Shopping Trolley Pushing, when I arrived at my local little river to find yet another trolley semi submerged in my favourite swim. The river runs through a park on the outskirts of town and over a mile from the nearest supermarket, so whoever deposited it had a near Olympian task to get it there. A couple of major roads had been crossed, before heading out of town along a busy road and finally dragged, or carried thirty yards through thick, ivy covered undergrowth and thrown into the shallow river. Definitely deserves a medal, or something?

 The trolley was bang on line for the trot under an overhanging tree where the chub live, so positioned myself upstream with the intention of drawing them up, throwing a few snooker ball sized lumps of liquidized bread in a path down towards the offending metalwork. The river had fined down nicely, following melting snow, which had caused the banks to overflow and coat everything with a layer of silt. With more snow forecast for the weekend, this was my chance to fish before it happened again and despite a chilling wind blowing about more flurries, I tackled up my Hardy 12 foot float rod with a light stick float rig set at a depth of 30 inches to just trip the bottom.

I cast in, following another cloud of feed, held back the rig and watched the 6 mm pellet of bread sink out of sight, the float settled and slowly dragged under. Bottom? I lifted the rod tip and felt an immediate explosive response as a pound chub stormed off downstream, instinctively backwinding as the light rod curved over. With a size 14 barbless giving a strong hold, he was soon heading back up towards me, that big mouth gaping as it slid over the rim of my net. First cast, not bad. Another ball, another trot and another fish, this time a hard scrapping 8 ounce chub. Three more consecutive casts brought more small chub around the 12 ounce mark, good fun in this shallow river, but the larger fish were not coming out to play and the next trot through brought the tap, tap bite of a gudgeon.

At this point of the river, the flow runs down over gravel shallows and opens up into slower water, where roach shoal, but today the gudgeon had well and truly moved in, even grabbing big pinches of flake meant for better fish. Many of these gudgeon were stonkers of 2 ounces and put a bend in the rod, shame they don’t reach 8 oz, then it would have been worth  staying on, but with the wind biting through to my core, I packed up. 5 lb of fish in 90 minutes was enough to keep me going til next time, no specimens, but to me this is what fishing is all about.

Bread punch v pinkies on the Basingstoke Canal

February 14, 2013 at 6:53 pm

The weather forecast was  dry and mild, after days of snow and rain, with more to follow tomorrow, only problem, where to fish? Having some serious, sponsored match fishing friends, I remembered them moaning about  struggling at a league match on the Basingstoke Canal, when the winner had bagged up with skimmer bream from a bay below the Barley Mow pub. Looking at the map, it was further than my usual stomping ground around Woking, but only another fifteen minutes in the van, so why not give it a go.

With help from a local, I managed to find the car park, which was already full, but squeezed in on the end of a row next to the tow path and unloaded my gear. The canal was coloured and moving at a fair pace, similar to the Wey Navigation. I found the bay 200 yards downstream, where two other anglers were already fishing the upstream end, both with poles at 11 metres.  They were fishing pinkie and maggot, having their own private 10 til 3 match, putting a steady stream of small roach and perch in their nets. They were OK with me fishing below them and I set up about 30 yards away at the tail end of the bay, my bait being the bread punch, with a few small red worms for backup. The match winner had caught at 11 metres, but I intended to fish closer to start, so plumbed the depth and found the near shelf at 6 metres, the bottom remaining constant out to 9 metres at about a metre deep. Due to the flow, I’d selected a 6 x 10 shouldered float, heavier than my normal 4 x 10, bulked with two 10s down the line.

I introduced a small ball of liquidized bread just above my float on the 6 metre line and trotted through, the float diving away as a tiny roach took the 4 mm pellet of bread. A few more small roach and misses and it died. Another ball and more small roach. This was not a match, although looking upstream, by swinging the fish to hand, my catch rate was already outpacing the two above me. I put on another pole section and ran it through, a few slightly better roach.  Next move was to deepen up by 6 ins and hold over depth, easing it down the swim, then holding. Second trot the float slid away, but I  missed it. In again, following another ball, the float cruised under and 12 oz skimmer was taking out the elastic from the pole tip and running upstream. I put on a couple more lengths and waited until it was ready, before sliding it back across the surface to my net. The guy upstream called down and I held the fish up for him to see. Skimmer! The next few fish were better roach up to 2 oz, the over depth and steady feed of crumb working. I moved up to a 5 mm pellet and lifted into a 6 oz skimmer first cast, followed by a 4 oz roach and more small skimmers. The feed was going in every time the bites slowed, at a much higher rate than on a static canal, but the fish were consistently larger. I’d brought two bags of  liquidized bread from my freezer, about one and a half  loaves worth and it was going fast, but another large skimmer made me keep going. This fish brought the other two anglers down for a chat, as I was now building a decent weight and they were still getting mostly small stuff.

They’d never fished with bread punch and thought it was only good for small roach, when on cue I lifted into a pound plus skimmer. This ran out the elastic towards the middle and I followed it with a couple more lengths of pole, the fish settling down to a deep pulsating fight, before coming to the surface, ready to be pulled back to the net. I ushipped the pole at 7 metres and skimmed the fish to the net, show boating to my audience and paid the price, as the size 20 hook lost it’s hold. The rig pinged back into a knotted ball of slime. Oops. With that they returned to their pegs.

I unclipped the rig and fitted on one similar and chanced a run through at it’s shallower depth without replumbing and the float sank as though it was overshotted, but no, there was a good roach on the line, the net going out again for an eight ounce fish. To rest the 7 metre line, I tried fishing out to 9 metres, but snagged the bottom, due to shortage of bites and lost a hook. This gave me the chance to try a larger hook and went up to an 18, going back to the 7 metre line with a 5 mm punch and lifted immediately into another clonking roach. With three hours of fishing gone, the roach and skimmers were queuing up and my audience were back to watch me successfully net a bream of around a pound, the larger hook hanging on. They had now packed and weighed up, the one above me netting over 6 lb and his mate 8 lb, all on red pinkie and maggot. Their catch was a lot of small roach and perch with the odd bonus fish, plus small skimmers, but none over 4 oz. Although they had watched me catching close in, they didn’t try it. A few snow flakes were beginning to swirl around, so the guys left me to it and I decided on another half hour before packing up, but with ten minutes left, the float buried and stayed down for five minutes, as a large fish made a dash for it. It was too fast and hard a fighter to be a bream, making long runs, which I followed out to ten metres, putting on more lengths, before it began to get worn down, only making the odd roll under the surface, before I slipped the net under it, a monster roach! Thew. My best roach in years. I decided to weigh it there and then, 2 lb 7 oz, so taking off  7 oz for the net, a genuine 2 lb roach. Who said you can only catch small fish on the punch?

Knowing I might catch bigger fish, I’d left my small canal landing net and brought my larger river fishing net, this lot would not have fitted in it, the total being just over 12 lb in under four hours. This proves to me that the bread punch is the better bait on the Basingstoke Canal and OK you miss out on the perch, but with fish like this it’s not worth switching.



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?