Idly Shooting the Afternoon Away

This is a discussion on Idly Shooting the Afternoon Away within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I'm assisting with a Texas hunter safety course this weekend so thought I'd make up some props while out shooting today on our old place. ...

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Thread: Idly Shooting the Afternoon Away

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    Array bmcgilvray's Avatar
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    Idly Shooting the Afternoon Away

    I'm assisting with a Texas hunter safety course this weekend so thought I'd make up some props while out shooting today on our old place.

    I wanted to carry some items into class that would impress the kiddies with the power of firearms and the fact that bullets don't behave as Hollywood would have us believe. So often the good guys are shown to recover with the merest hint of blood on the shirtsleeve and the bad guys go "down for the count" with nary a show of gore. Corrugated sheet iron stops all manner of projectiles as does dry wall, paneling, and the fenders of Chevy Corsica rental cars.

    Now, I cheated for best effect and used a .30-06 with FMJ bullets, in this case a partially opened box of Lake City Match ammo out of a small cache that I have squirreled away. A 150 grain spitzer soft point won't quite give the penetrating effect that the big boat tail bullet does.

    Live, green mesquite, cedar elm, mountain juniper, and creek willow was shot. No tree 8-10 inches in diameter was proof against the .30-06 and this load. I sectioned out the holed portions to take to class.

    I did shoot one 14-inch mesquite which absorbed the FMJ bullet. It was left behind since it was uncooperative.

    I thought I might shoot a water-filled gallon milk jug and take its remains along to class for additional show-and-tell. I cheated again and this time loaded up with a 150 grain Sierra Spitzer over a charge of IMR 4350 that should yield an honest 3000 fps from the 26-inch barrel of the '17 Enfield. It gave 3012 fps from a 24-inch barrel.

    I stepped off 20 yards so as to avoid giving both the Enfield and me a shower bath and let fly, drenching both the rifle and me pretty thoroughly. Perhaps there was a breeze.

    A 12 gauge 2 3/4-inch No. 4 duck load was up next. These were of the old lead variety and had been lingering on the bottom of a tub full of boxes of shotgun shells. These were Winchester Western Super-X from perhaps the mid 1980s. One of these, fired into a 4 1/2-inch mesquite limb, left a nasty entrance hole and showed splits on the opposite side of the limb but no noticeable exit hole.

    The shotgun and this load was turned against another gallon jug of water at 10 yards and obliterated it but didn't leave any real signs of individual shot holes. So I backed up to 20 yards again and shot another jug. Got a good-looking specimen of shredded jug to show.

    Moving down in power, the .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 27 6-inch was brought out. I had some heavy handloads on hand, using 2400 with a 158 grain lead SWC and had purchased a box of Remington 125 grain JHPs this morning on my way out.

    The 125 grain JHP certainly did cause a jug to erupt impressively. Blew the bottom out of it. It's been a long time since I bothered to shoot jugs with handguns because the jugs often don't do anything spectacular. Most of the time they just leak with perhaps a split. This load fully equals a screaming .44 Magnum with a light bullet and gave about the most impressive jug-bursting display I've ever seen with a handgun. Definitely one to keep for the class.

    I circled the same wide area around the pickup as I did with the rifle and shotgun, shooting the same types of trees only this time I stoked the .357 up with the heavy cast bullet handload.

    The .357 magnum will punch through 8 inches of willow like it wasn't there. After shooting the willow with the revolver I was disappointed I didn't tackle a larger willow tree than the 10-inch specimen selected to be shot with the rifle.

    Five inches of mesquite won't stop this .357 Magnum load either. I shot two different limbs and it whistled right on through both. A 7-inch mesquite limb called a halt to the SWC's forward progress though.

    The mountain juniper, or "cedar" as it is called in error around here, seems to be the toughest to completely penetrate. Several attempts to shoot a .357 bullet through 5 inches of the stuff ended in failure.

    I plugged a 2-inch mesquite limb and shot a hole dead center through a gallon jug of water with a .22 long rifle solid, just to show what the rim fire is capable of doing. With the jug it is just a matter of glug-glug-glug...out through the two holes.

    Now obviously this has no real merit, only showing how water jugs may be induced to irrigate the landscape, but perhaps it can illustrate a point. At least the torn jugs and pierced firewood looks impressive.

    I also fetched home a piece of I-beam that's been up on the side of the hill for years, used to sit targets on. Some 25 years ago I shot some holes through it from about 200 yards. On that occasion a '03 Springfield was used along with some of the same match loads I used today.

    Today, I wagged that I-beam down the hill and stood it up against a mesquite about 100 yards from my shooting position. It rang merrily upon receiving the first shot. The '17 Enfield is pretty well zeroed for such shooting. When I trudged up to the beam I found that the bullet certainly penetrated the 1/2-inch mild steel from that distance but hit in the edge of an old bullet pock mark. I needed a bullet to hit in a untouched part of the beam so went back, resumed my sitting position and fired again.

    This time a good hit was registered. I'll take the I-beam to class for all to see as it should be impressive. Mild steel doesn't offer much to stop .30-06 full metal jacket bullets and wouldn't be suitable to hide behind to avoid incoming fire.

    After prop-making, I whiled away an hour or two, shooting some long distance jugs with the '17 Enfield, using up some residual batches of handloads and fiddling around with a 94 Winchester carbine in .32 Special, verifying its sights in case I want to use it on a deer hunt this fall. I shot off some .357 Magnum ammo from the Model 27, comparing it with a 4-inch Smith & Wesson Model 586 I also had along for the ride. This is my brother-in-law's revolver which he kindly left over to "spend the night" so I could play with it.

    The two different S&W revolvers handled the loads similarly. The handload with 158 grain bullet gave noticeably more recoil but was very pleasant to shoot in these guns. The Model 586 is more front-heavy than I prefer but it undeniably absorbs recoil well. Both revolvers seemed mild after that wretched Winchester Model 94 carbine, a rifle I never really enjoy shooting from a rest.

    In fact, between that Model 94 carbine and the chain saw I used to cut my tree pieces, I went lame. I cut the day short and came back home because I woke up this morning with a crick in my neck and shoulder and the activities of the day didn't improve it. I didn't even get to shoot .22s as planned.




    Entrance holes


    Exit holes



    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

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    Nice writeup.
    There are worse ways to spend the day.
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    That sure sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon. I hope the kids appreciate and learn from your effort.
    "Mind own business"
    "Always cut cards"

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