I got a chance to go to the range this morning and had a ball trying out some of my new gizmos.
First, after I got set up and was waiting for the range to go cold so I could put up my targets, I looked at some of the other targets through my new spotting scope, an Alpen 15-45x60. One guy had a black silhouette target up at 200 yards. After squinting a little, I could make out the little black holes on the black target. I was thinking, "great, I got this thing so I could see 30 caliber holes at 200 yards, and these are hard to see!" After setting up targets, I complimented him on his shooting, and he said, "yeah, that's my 22-250." I was looking at 22 caliber holes at 200 yards - black on black! Needless to say, my 30 caliber holes, black on white, were easy to see, even when the mirage started kicking up. I am very happy with the scope! I even showed my daughter Saturn the other night - you can see that it has rings!
Second, my new Ruger Bisley Super Blackhawk in .44 mag was a ball to shoot. Even with 240 grain full magnum loads, it handled beautifully. Almost anyone could handle 44 special loads in that gun. After getting the sights adjusted, it was shooting pretty well at 25 yards. Now I just need to get my skill level up to the capability of the gun... :o} I can't wait to try 310 grain elk loads. Black powder would be fun, too.
Third, the Limbsaver pad I put on the rifle was incredible. I shot 26 rounds from the bench today and felt like I could have shot 50 more. My shoulder wasn't sore at all, and it was like shooting a much milder caliber. It's the best after market shooting accessory I've ever put on my rifle.
Finally, I was very happy with the results of my load testing. I'm working on a 180 grain Nosler Accutip load for elk hunting with my 308 Winchester. For the first time today, I tried using the "ladder method" (a simplified version) for load development. I loaded two sets of rounds from 40.5 to 42.6 grains of IMR 4895 in 0.3 grain increments. One set used Winchester brass, the other Remington. For foulers and sighters, I loaded two extra each at the 40.5 grain level. I fired the strings at two different targets at 200 yards, and noted each hit on the target shown here. I started with Remington, and noticed I was 5" right, so I adjusted the scope, then kept shooting. I wasn't shooting very well at first, but then settled in and got some very good results. The Winchester string came out very good. To be honest, I've never shot this well at 200 yards. Going slow and focusing on the fundamentals really helps!
Bottom line, the most consistent load is between 42.0 and 42.6 grains. I'll use 42.4, cheating it a little high. This should give me good temperature and load insensitivity. The best part is that the data matches both Lyman and Nosler data with 42.5 grains (the max) as the most accurate load for this combination of powder and bullet. It runs right about 2500 fps, which means they should be effective on elk out to 400 yards. Now I just need to find the optimum seating depth to narrow the groups a bit more and I'll be set. (Well, that and work on my riflery skills so I can shoot as well as my rifle!)
I had a good conversation with a fellow 308 Winchester fan. He was breaking in the barrel on a brand new FN-FAL. We talked about everyone thinking they need a 300 Win Mag or stronger to hunt elk. "If it's not a 338 Shoulder-Buster Magnum you can't kill 'em!" Nonsense! Old-timers were killing elk with 30-30's after WWII, and thought the 30-06 the GI's brought home from the war was overkill. All I know is the last elk I shot didn't complain about me not using a big enough gun!