Guns

Guns

Part 1: Cartridge selection Long range precision shooting has come a long ways. A thousand yards used to be a magical number, but advances in ballistics understanding and rifle and ammunition technology have effectively moved that target closer. It is now commonplace to find thousand yard benchrest competitors shooting 10 shot strings under minute of angle, or roughly 10″. Think about that for a minute. In years past, a rifle that would hold less than minute of angle at 600 yards was considered to be exceptional. Now you need to shoot considerably less than minute of angle at 1000 yards to even be competitive, and if you expect to win you need to shoot closer to half a minute. Thousand yard benchrest competitors are now closing in on the quarter minute mark:Part 1: Cartridge selection Long range precision shooting has come a long ways. A thousand yards used to be a magical number, but advances in ballistics understanding and rifle and ammunition technology have effectively moved that target closer. It is now commonplace to find thousand yard benchrest competitors shooting 10 shot strings under minute of angle, or roughly 10″. Think about that for a minute. In years past, a rifle that would hold less than minute of angle at 600 yards was considered to be exceptional. Now you need to shoot considerably less than minute of angle at 1000 yards to even be competitive, and if you expect to win you need to shoot closer to half a minute. Thousand yard benchrest competitors are now closing in on the quarter minute mark:

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accurateshooter.com best 10 shot 1000 yard group in history Videos on You Tube abound of shooters hitting steel plates at 1500 yards and further with .308’s and even 3000 yards with more specialized calibers. I’ve been shooting .308 out to 1000 yards for a while, but I’m starting to feel left behind. It’s time to push the envelope. To show just how far long range shooting has come, I’m going to combine this with another project I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I’ve always been a DIY kind of guy, and I’ve always tried to educate myself and do most of my own work instead of just calling up a good gunsmith and having something made to order. That’s the easy route, although for something like this it requires a rather large budget.  I’m going to make this a DIY project where I buy the factory rifle, optics, rings, cases, bullets, powder etc and prepare the entire platform myself, at home, with no expensive machine work (I don’t have a lathe in my garage), using tools that are easily and inexpensively available from well known and reputable gunsmith suppliers Brownell’s and Midway USA. One thing about extreme long range shooting, you aren’t going to do very well at it with ammunition you buy.

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This is the province of the precision handloader, where all of the aggregate skills of creating the ammunition to good position and reading the wind are tested thoroughly. That means for specialized calibers new reloading dies will be required, at a minimum, along with quality cases and bullets, all of which have gotten extremely expensive. The goal of this project is to keep the budget under control, and that means creating a precision rifle and ammunition all by my lonesome. Known as “homesmithing” there’s an entire market out there for people who like to do their own tinkering, and I intend to tap what’s available to homesmith a reasonably available factory rifle into a one mile precision machine.

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Choices, choices….. There are literally dozens of wildcat cartridges out there designed and specialized for long range shooting, but since this is a home project I have to consider only calibers available from the factory in suitable rifles. I have a nice tactical .308 but videos on the internet notwithstanding, I know that shooting any bullet at extreme long range requires that it stay supersonic to the range desired or you risk losing stability as the bullet passes back through the sound barrier. I’ve seen many a short barreled .308 exhibit this problem at a thousand yards with bullets cutting slots in the target from tumbling, if they hit it at all, from losing stability on every third or fourth or fifth shot. My .308 has a 26″ barrel on it but there’s no keeping a .308 supersonic at one mile, likewise a .30-’06, so those are out. 338-lapua-comparisonLooking at the factory catalogs brings me to two cartridges that have found favor with the military for reaching out a little further than standard sniper rifles and can be found in factory rifles: the .300 Winchester Magnum and the .338 Lapua Magnum. (The .50 BMG is of course a contender at these ranges but is an automatic $5k+ investment and thus is disqualified by the expense.) Both the .300 Win Mag and the .338 Lapua are supersonic at 1760 with heavy bullet loads, but one cartridge does have an advantage. The .300 Win Mag pushing a 200 grain SMK to 2900 fps starts a .596 BC bullet at a higher velocity than the Lapua. The favored Lapua load is the 300 grain SMK at .768 BC and 2600 fps (both rifles with 26″ barrels). The superior BC of the heavy .338 bullet is the clear winner at one mile. It drops 3 MOA less, drifts 4 MOA less in a full value 10 mph wind, and stays decisively supersonic while the .30 caliber round is threatening to drop into the danger zone. Dies and reloading components for the .338 Lapua will be slightly more expensive but it is clearly a one mile cartridge while the .300 Win Mag looks better suited to 1500 yard ranges. I’m a far cry from being an expert wind reader, so I will take all the “bullet fu” I can get before I ever pull the trigger. In the next installment of Project 1760, I’ll cover rifle selection. You might be surprised to find you can get into extreme long range shooting a lot cheaper than you might think. [caption id="attachment_981" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Firearms, Tactical & Defense Training Firearms, Tactical & Defense Training[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1540" align="alignright" width="300"]22_penny_223 22_penny_223[/caption] I have said that if I hear one more person say that the 22 Long Rifle is the best all 'round prepper/survival cartridge,  I would challenge them to a duel at 50 paces (my 100yd pace count is 64 paces). I get an AR chambered in .223/5.56 (basically a heavier 22 going really fast) and they would get a 22LR and their choice of semi or bolt action rifle. From the low ready, go! Most folks who are into preparedness and survival aren't planning for getting stranded in a national forest and having to "survive" their way back to civilization shooting rabbits for sustenance. According to a study conducted about preppers, most are waiting for a financial collapse. In my view, a severe financial collapse entails much bigger varmints to contend with. Even natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina had it's varmints. That means self-defense.

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First we will talk combat pistol distances. I use the term combat pistol because if you are using a pistol for self defense, you are in close quarters combat. Inside of 25 meters is the realistic limit for pistol combat. Most altercations occur much closer in the 7-10 meter range. The exception being a transition from a dry or malfunctioning long gun/carbine to a pistol out of necessity. My carbine is my primary weapon if I have a choice but its not always practical or legal so sometimes my pistol is my primary. [caption id="attachment_1538" align="alignleft" width="175"]22Lr vs 5.56 5.56 vs 22Lr[/caption] At 10 yards a 40 grain 22LR out of a 20 inch barreled rifle has a velocity of about 1200 feet per second (fps) and about 135 foot pounds of energy. Keep in mind that out of a pistol things are dramatically less due to the decreased velocity associated with shorter barrels. For example, out of a revolver with a 2" barrel, the bullet will be about 850 fps and 70 foot pounds of energy and I'm being generous. The maximum practical effective range of the 22LR is (if you push it) 150yds. This is what the promoters 22LR folks have to contend with. It's factual. It's science. At the CAG we preach shot placement and consider it king.  However,  let's look at some other stats that bring this into perspective for the prepper. A common and affordable 9 mm cartridge is the 115 grain ball round.  Typically it is travelling at about 1200 fps and has about 350 ft lbs of energy at 10 meters. This is 2.5 times the energy of a 22LR with a larger wound channel. Rifles. Consider the 5.56/223. Out of a 16 inch barreled AR (one of the most popular, most versatile, modular, most common rifles in America that literally millions of Veterans are trained to use) the 5.56mm M855 screams out of a 16 inch barrel at about 3000 fps, with a 10 yard muzzle energy of around 1275 ft lb. The maximum effective range (M855) is 500 yards and can blow through 1/8th inch steel att that distance. I really don't think I need to do any more comparisons but......  Nearly everything else on the planet is better than the 22LR. There is a reason its not legal for medium/big game in most states.

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Yes,  it's cheap....well it used to be. It's hard to find in some locations nowadays.  Yes, you can slay some small game very cheaply, I'll concede that. I've killed more squirrels, groundhogs, coons and grouse than most with the 22LR. I use a 22LR when its time to butcher my hogs but my life doesn't depend on it dying immediately. I've also had two uncles shot with the 22LR and both lived,  one in the temple-- he lost his eye, the other nearly in the heart--he was fine. Both were shot at a distance of less than 10 feet. Again, we preach shot placement but who can afford those kinds of stats when there are much more viable survival rifle options. Some Pros and Cons to help you with your decision making process. Pros:
  • Cheap.
  • Lightweight platform and ammo.
  • Most common round in the world.
  • Superb training platform.
  • Doesn't destroy all the meat when harvesting game (with head shots anyway). When shooting 2 legged varmints, this is a Con.
Cons:
  • Not much stopping power.
  • NOT a self-defense round.
  • Short range.
  • Unreliable. Many guns are finicky about the type of 22LR they will ingest and I have had tons of dented primers with no explosion.
These 4 simple Cons should be weighted heavily in your decision matrix, your life depends on it. There are a lot of internet stats and opinions out there and data can be manipulated and misinterpreted. I'm sure there's a chart that shows 22LR is more effective than 50BMG. I can tell you this, I have never been issued a 22LR weapon while serving in the Special Forces. Sure there was some dabbling with it as a silenced assassination weapon in Vietnam but I think I'd rather assassinate Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi with a suppressed 300AAC AR takedown gun than a suppressed Ruger 22/45. I digress, we were talking about survival and preparedness.

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I love the 22LR. It should be included in every preppers arsenal and every responsible kid should be taught to use them at an early age. But use it for what it's good for, small game and learning the fundamentals of pistol and rifle marksmanship on the cheap. A better option would be to have a brick of 22LR ammo and a drop in 22LR conversion kit stowed in your bug out bag. The best of both worlds. One may as well say that a high end 22 caliber pellet gun is the best survival weapon. After all, there are models that are comparable to some 22LR cartridges and they are not considered firearms.  Pellets are cheap and at least scalpers aren't buying them all up at Walmart to sell for double the price, they're quieter....but....that's another article. Any takers on the duel? [caption id="attachment_981" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Firearms, Tactical & Defense Training Firearms, Tactical & Defense Training[/caption]

Certainly underrated and overlooked in today's market as friend to the prepper arsenal, that shotgun is without doubt one of the most valuable weapon systems you can own.Certainly underrated and overlooked in today's market as friend to the prepper arsenal, the shotgun is without doubt one of the most valuable weapon systems you can own. A proven performer, the shotgun boasts the widest array of specialty ammunition selections there is and without argument the largest compliment of capability. From standard shot and slugs to "Less Lethal" to multiple forms of specialty ammunition intended for dealing with threats of all shapes and sizes, even signaling via flares - look no further than your friendly pump action or auto shotgun.

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Not all preppers are made out of money these days. Many cannot afford to drop a grand or more on an AR or higher end AK or similar. Much less all of the magazines and additional accessories needed to complete the package but nonetheless want the ability to effectively defend what is theirs. The shotgun allows them a lower cost but incredibly effective alternative to accomplish this task.

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Pictured above is my personal choice for this piece of the small arms puzzle, the FN Tactical Police. Outfitted with AR type sights, grip and telescopic stock. A C-More red dot fast acquisition sight and a ported barrel with selectable chokes, this particular model fits the bill for all of the needs I look for when I search for a shotgun. Highly reliable, I choose the pump-action as I personally feel that semi-autos have a higher fail rate. But that's just my personal opinion. (and experience) Where ammunition is concerned, it's typically stacked with full power 00 buckshot or slugs. Also readily available, a nauseating array of specialty ammunition because I like it and like to push this platform to it's limits. I keep a wide array of LTL ammo on or near the gun in the event of a home defense or other scenario that doesn't require a lethal response. If I don't HAVE to kill, I'd rather not. "Bean Bags", rubber rockets, baton rounds, rubber pellets, pepper spray, hydrokinetic impact bags and quite a few others open up a plethora of options for you to select from to change the outcome of your situation. Not every encounter needs to result in death. We'll let you decide which ones do.

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As far as things like "reduced power" and "low recoil" rounds. Foolish. The only person you are screwing there is YOU. By reducing recoil or power you are in fact reducing EFFECTIVENESS. Your life, your choice. Train how you intend to fight. Widely available and typically considered highly reliable, the shotgun has for over a century fed, fought and provided for countless lives and will continue to do so for many years to come. Let's see yours, hear about what you chose and why and hear some feedback about where you stand on the mighty SHOTGUN!

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