It must be encroaching age. As I near the big one starting with a 7, I find myself struggling with some perplexing data. Let me explain.
About 18 months ago, after learning of the passing of Swampy, I decided to switch to Hornady A-tips 230gr bullets on the strength of recommendations here and the technical data.
It was not an immediate success. To be completely non-judgmental, it was nothing short of a disaster. My scores took a nosedive and then they got worse. Everything that I had learned in 14 years of F-TR and 38+ years of competition shooting was out the window. Nothing made sense. One day I would have a great string then it would just blow up. After 1300 rounds of match ammo with 230 A-tips, I was ready to give up on these bad boys. Then I loaded my last 300 rounds for one club match and TSRA LR. I had found recently than the A-tips behaved very badly in heavily fouled barrels. My JLKs could go many hundreds of rounds before they started acting up. Then a quick cleanup and back to normal.
Not so with the A-tips. A few months back, I posted here where I was at my wits' end, and after inspecting the bore with my Hawkeye, I cleaned the snot out of the barrel. I reported that it took almost 15 round before the barrel settled in after the JB bore (not Weld) treatment.
I shot a club match 2 weekends ago and did ok, but not as I used to. Then we got to TSRA last weekend. On Friday, we shot team and I had a great time calling for the other 3 shooters, but we were short one shooter and I had to shoot and let someone else call wind for me. It was not a success. We did win the third match of three, where the wind was awful (remember, we had hurricane Delta a hundred miles away of some such.) I did fine with the first 3 shooters and I shot last and crumbled, but we had done well enough with the first 3 to win that match. I blamed the wind caller most, and my rifle next.
On Saturday, we started the individuals and in bunny conditions (Delta had gone by that time, and it's quite calm after a hurricane has gone by,) I shot a master score. Not good enough to place, however. As the day wore on the scores got worse. I was watching my bullets jump up or down and not going where I expected them to go. Everyone was saying it was the Hornady A-Tips and that I should switch to the Bergers and give up on those Hornadys.
Saturday night, I toyed with the idea of sleeping in late and not going to the match. What was the use? But that's not my style, I was going to show up.
So, I decided to clean the snot out of my rifle again, even though it had only been about 300 rounds since I had cleaned it to the metal. Usually I would go 600 rounds or more before a deep cleaning and 300 rounds for a quick 2-3 patch clean. I cleaned that puppy on that Saturday night, down to shiny metal.
On Sunday, I started the first match, fully expecting to take about 12-14 rounds to stabilize but instead I went for record after 6 rounds and did OK. I still was not fully confident in my rifle and the wind was twitchy. A couple hours later, after coming back from the pits, I started my last match. The mirage was up and running and the wind was nasty, once again. I took three sighters, and elected to put 2 MOA on the gun to get me just to the left side of the 10 ring. I figured the wind was mainly from the front right, (northeast) and I would just hold one or 2 lines from it and play from there. After the third sighter, which was a 9 at 3 o'clock, I declared for record and started my 20 round string. X, one on; X, two on; 10, three on. I was running my magnificent March-X 10-60X56 HM at 50X and I was watching the mirage in my Kowa on my left side. I kept up the rhythm and I was shooting fast. I was adjusting between center and 2 left. Then on shot 7, I got an 8 at 7 o'clock and I figured the A-tips were acting up again. Looking in my scope, I noticed that the mirage had actually switched around when I shot and that was what cause the blowout left and low. Without hesitation I switched to the right side, held 2 and a half lines right, favored high and cut loose. 10, nine on. I kept going. 10s and Xs. I was switching left and right, about 2 lines, 2 and a half, and then I dropped another one, a 9 at 9 o'clock just outside the 10. Should I challenge? Nah, we'll lose the story of the condition. I kept on going for the last few rounds, collecting a couple more Xs, and even aiming center at times. My last shot was a 10. I dropped two rounds, but 3 points for a 197-7X. I will tell you that I had some very fat 10s, but a 10 is a 10, however fat it may be. I was elated with my rifle and the ammo. My scorer was in awe. I did not listen to the other scores, but he told me this was some fancy shooting and that others were struggling in these bad conditions.
I signed my card, my scorer turned it in and then I noticed that I was the first one to finish. Looking back over my string, I just seemed like I could not miss; left hold, right hold, center, etc. Never more than two, two and a half lines out. It was uncanny.
Then I started going up and down the line looking at other shooters scores and it dawned on my that I had done quite well. As it turned out, I won that match beating the overall winner by a point and all the others by much more than that.
This is what the A-tips were supposed to do for me, I was holding one to two lines less than the other shooters; the A-tips were bucking the wind. So, it looks like the A-tips require a super-clean barrel. Or put another way, they HATE fouled barrel. So instead of clean every other match or three, I have to metal-clean after every match, and I'm toying with the idea of even running a patch or two through the barrel between strings.
That is, if I stay with the A-tips.
But for one glorious string on a windy switchy Sunday afternoon, I was able to coax the A-tips to shoot "sub-MOA" at 1000 yards. However, one must remember that sic transit gloria; the b*tch.
And now, do I stick with the A-tips or look elsewhere? I am soooo confused.
Thanks for that; I actually got a little tense reading it.
“The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
— Bertrand Russell
I’d try the Berger’s just to be sure.
But I don’t compete.
"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers
I found out recently that JLK bullets are back in production. It seems someone picked up the stuff from Swampy's family. They are not making 30cal yet, but I am monitoring.
The problem with Bergers is that you can't just load them from the box; they have a pretty high base to ogive variation and so you have to sort them, and that's a pain. The JLKs were much more uniform. I would like to think the A-tips are also. I have measured a bunch and they look ok.
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