A Fine Day For Shooting

Today (Sunday) was a beautiful sunny day, and with the drifted snow glistening like it was covered with diamonds, it was far too beautiful to stay inside.  I took Alex to the Peterson Range near Moscow, Idaho for some fresh air.

The driveway up to the shooting bays was blocked with a large snow berm.  We could have spent some time with a shovel to clear the berm, but even then I’d need chains on all fours to have any chance of driving in.  Too much bother.  Much easier to don the snowshoes and walk in.

Now this is a nice exercise in itself.  If you have your rig right there at the shooting bay, it means you can lay everything out– your shooting bag, all your ammo, gun cases, everything, even working right off your tailgate.  When you’re hiking in, you bring what you can carry.  In this case it meant leaving the range bag, most of the ammo and some of the gun cases behind.  Not a problem.  I had my .45 in in my pocket and a CZ-52 pistol in a flap holster with two mags, plus a three-mag AR pouch on by belt.  One 20 rounder in the AR and another 30 round magazine that fit in my breast pocket.  Four 15 round mags for the M1 Carbine on one belt, plus a 50 round box of Carbine ammo in another coat pocket.  With water bottles (you lose a lot of water just breathing in these conditions, so always bring water) targets and a stapler, wearing our eyes and ears, we were off for a nice afternoon of leisurely hiking and shooting in the sunshine.

Strangely, we were the only ones at the range today.

The weather could not have been better.  At around 20 degrees F, the snow doesn’t melt too much on your clothing and you stay nice and dry.  Plus when you’re hoofing around the range with a load, on snowshoes, you don’t overheat, and it’s not so cold that your lungs are stressed.  Perfect.

Here we’re testing out the steel pistol targets.  No problem, except that some trespasser had gone in and shot holes in the steel with a centerfire rifle (all members know never to do anything so stupid and inconsiderate);

Since everything around us is covered in anywhere from several inches to several feet of snow, loading the mags required a little different technique.  Holding the ammo box and the magazine in one hand, I’m stuffing the rounds in with the other.  Everything stays out of the snow.  For the rifles we brought enough pre-loaded magazines;

Here I’m sighting in the M1 Carbine.  This gun had failed on the last outing, due to a gas piston nut that had worked its way completely out of the gas block.  I am amazed that the thing never self-destructed.  Nice going on the design, W.W. II era guys!  The gas nut is supposed to be staked in place, but this more recently manufactured IAI carbine never had the nut staked.  It took many thousands of rounds of UltiMAK product testing before the gas nut finally worked its way out.  After that I had disassembled the rifle completely including a full takedown of the bolt, removed the optic and the optic mount, repaired the damaged gas nut threads and trued up the gas piston, then reinstalled the nut with Locktite (another accepted method) installed a new optic mount (to test a new lot) and reinstalled the Holosight.  After all that, the Carbine shot to POA with no adjustments at 20 yards, and then at 100.  I didn’t see any need to change the settings on this old Holosight.  No malfunctions;

If you happen to own a .30 Carbine, let it be known that the exposed lead at the base of regular FMJ bullets does partially melt, it atomizes when liquefied and it finds its way into the gas block, depositing in there, slowly reducing the volume inside the gas chamber and eventually preventing the piston from traveling all the way forward.  It forms a very hard dross that is a royal bitch to clean out.  That’s one reason why I want to try the Speer hollowpoints– they have a full copper base.  You may find similar deposits inside the AR-15 bolt carrier, back behind the bolt, which is why you need to clean it thoroughly.

Alex and I each got photos of each other with brass in the air (here’s the trick; press the shutter button part way own, into the “here’s the exact exposure I want” setting. The instant you hear the report, press the shutter button all the way– you get instantaneous shots that way.  Works nearly every time);

We had a brass catcher on the AR (a good idea when shooting in the snow) but no one seems to make one for the Carbine.  The brass comes out hot and melts the snow when it hits, so when you pick up the cases they’re encrusted in ice.  Yes, a brass catcher would be much better out here today. I wanted to bring home every .30 Carbine case because I’m going to load up a batch of hollowpoints for function testing.

All in all it was a great time.


6 thoughts on “A Fine Day For Shooting

  1. I’m trying to place the “Peterson Range”.
    Was it there in the ’70s?
    We used to drive down to Lewiston area to the range there as I recall.

  2. The range was not there in the ’70s. It was formed in the ’90s under the name of “Palouse Practical Shooters”. Then around 2000 the Lewiston Pistol Club took it over. The directions to the range are here. The GPS coordinates are N 46° 38.172 W 116° 50.256.

  3. That’s a shame about the range equipment. For what it’s worth, my club officers simply shut away the plates in a shed with a combo lock. I know that makes it a pain in the neck, but it’s more of a problem to buy new targets. Then there’s that guy who shoots holes in the roof and the partitions in every club I’ve ever visited. Who is that guy, anyway?

    The powder selection for .30 M1[dget] is usually dirty, double-base (hot) ball powders. The pressure really scours out the lead. Perhaps your FMJ problem could be helped by switching to a stick or flake powder–if you’re loading them yourself. Another band-aid fix would be to put a drop of Alox 606-55 on the exposed lead, and let it harden, though that will likely build up in the gas system as well. (I’m assuming that you’ve got a stockpile of FMJs that you don’t want to waste.)

  4. TJP; The FMJ stuff we’ve used has all been commercial ammo– mostly S&B. We’ve always gotten .30 Carb ammo in quantities of several cases at a time for use in testing our products.

    I just got a set of .30 Carb dies and I’m waiting for some primers. I’ve never loaded for the Carbine in the past. The only hand loading I’ve done in any quantity was for my son’s 280 Remington; VLDs for Boomershoot and similar style shooting, and for a Win ’94 AE so my daughter can shoot light loads– that’s why I originally got the 110 grain HPs.

    If I go to the HPs (and they feed OK in the M1 Carb) I’m assuming the gas chamber leading will stop entirely (the only other source of lead at that point would be the primers, or small flakes from the HPs’ noses that get rubbed off during feeding). If the HPs don’t feed, Speer also makes a round nose 110 gr SP with a copper base I can try– much less exposed lead at the nose and none at the base. Win 296 seems to be the favorite powder, in that it produces the best velocities with the same pressures as other powders. I might go with the starting load for the 296. Just have to see what works. Thanks.

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