High-Power Rifle Fun On the Border, Yet Again
We'll post this after-action report on the happenings at Sanderson.
A good time was had by all which is to be expected. This installment could be called the "4B Border Patrol and Rock Crushing Service." The 4 B's being Bob (owner), Bo, Ben,and Bryan.
This place does a pretty fair imitation of "gettin' back" as far as remoteness and it makes our old place seem like sitting in the middle of one of the main North/South runways at DFW Airport by comparison. Due to Bob's 2-WD pickup load of four 55-drums of water, additional cans of water, fuel, and gear it took us an hour and 3 minutes to arrive at the bunkhouse after leaving pavement. More on that later.
We enjoyed excellent weather for the trip with lows in the 50s and highs in the upper 70s and lower 80s.
The region is dry, very dry this season. Apparently no water may currently be found in the bottoms of the canyons at present so Bob regularly hauls water out to his bunkhouse for the local mule deer population which is quite large. They are spoiled brats too, sucking up the water, munching ample supplies of cottonseed hulls, and licking on salt blocks. They exhibit obvious impatience whenever he arrives to replenish their empty troughs. I think we probably saw fewer than 20 around the house though Bob has seen several times that many on occasion. And, they are right around the house. I went out the back door once and was within 20 yards of a couple who only eyed me balefully while they were scarfing the groceries.
We would be interested in the javalina that are abundant to the area but Bob takes an excessively dim view of the critters. He is happy for any hunting efforts we might make but he makes them jittery with his efforts to keep them away from his provisions for the deer. Late one evening we were sitting around the bunkhouse and he went outside. I hadn't paid attention to what he was doing so was mildly surprised to hear a fusillade of rapid-fire .22 shots. He apparently chases them away with a Marlin Model 60.
Later, nephew Ben made an attempt to take one using a .308 but ran into some difficulty so didn't fire the shot. Even much later when I went out at 3:30 in the morning to "find a bush" I heard them so flipped on my flashlight to see several forms bolting from the area where the deer are fed. I though of essaying a shot at them from my Smith & Wesson Model 10 but they would have been a poor target and that would have been a rude arousal from out of a sound sleep for the other occupants of the bunkhouse. The javalina skittered away with a snuffling sound and also with their jaws popping.
I've seen javalina off and on all my life here in Texas but have never taken one. I'd sort of like to get one and even try to prepare it for eating, just to sample it. I've had it on a single occasion but it was so masked by marinate that I couldn't tell if it was javalina or pork... or dog for that matter. Many say it is way overrated for the pot.
I missed out on a trip down to the bunkhouse earlier this year, a portentous occasion where Akmet finally met his demise. Akmet was our primary rock target and was particularly suited for the purpose. He was good at giving off inspiring puffs of white dust when fairly struck with high-powered rifle bullets. He always shrugged off my attempts to engage him with .22 rifles or handy .38 revolvers, scarcely deigning to show a telltale puff.
After quite a few trips over several years he finally succumbed to the withering fire and collapsed, falling to the bottom of the creek bed below. From what I heard it was superbly spectacular.
Anyway we now have settled on his neighboring rock, Hamim. Hamim has endured some fire over the years but we really assailed him this trip. He was much reduced and altered in appearance after our barrage. We attempted to shoot his feet out from beneath him by directing fire at his base and at a small watermelon sized rock that appeared to be propping him up on the edge. If we knock his prop out from under him and make him top-heavy then we'll send him to the same fate as the late, lamented Akmet.
Bob is always hospitable and displays all the enthusiasm that an old Marine can exhibit. Bo is always gracious and jolly on these outings. Y'all would enjoy his company. I have to make special mention of my nephew, Ben. What a fine young man he has turned out to be. A real synthesis of the personalities of his dad and my wonderful sister, he is a joy to be around. Bo rode with Bob from Bob's home in Sheffield, Texas on down to the Bunkhouse so Ben and I rode together, visiting and cutting up. Ben played tunes of all genres for me, both down to the border and back, from his vast collection on his "device." I'm so old fashioned that I don't know what it is that stores the song tracks for him. A strong, well-rounded individual who exhibits an infectious self-possesion, he'll do well in life. He can handle and shoot M1 rifles too which is an admirable trait not often found these days.
Border ruffians would have had to "bring their lunch" if they had happened to show up with evil intent. Let's see if we can list all the cartridges represented by these rifles. .30-06, .308, .30 Carbine, 7.62 Russian, 7.62X39, 6.5X55, .303, .22 Long Rifle. Rifles include: Remington Model 700, 3 M1s, 2M1As, 1903-A3, Model 1917 Enfield, Sporterized Model 1917 Enfield, 2 M1 Carbines, No. 1 Mark III, No. 4 Mark I, Model 96 Swedish Mauser, 2 different variations of Mosin Nagant, SKS, AK Sporter, Colt AR .22, Marlin Model 60.
Strangely enough, the star of the show in my view proved to be Bo's newish folding stock AK sporter shown above in the close-up of the end of the row of rifles. This one is a Century Arms job with the stamped receiver that some aren't thrilled with. It gave a nicely finished appearance though and most importantly, shot like a match rifle. Despite having no place to gain a proper cheek weld, it hit Hamim with ease. The front sight was triangular with a very sharp point. One could call his shots on any part of the rock he desired to hit: "bottom center, top left, middle right." If the front sight was placed on the particular portion of the rock, the rifle was held fully supported with both elbows anchored, then that's where the bullet would go. Bo had it sighted in for the distance and it worked absolutely great! Most AK and SKS rifles don't perform this well at longer ranges. My M1 and M1A had nothing on this AK and they are both good, accurate rifles.
I took a SMLE in the form of a 1918 dated No. 1, Mark III and Bo took a WWII No. 4, Mark I. We both shot a quantity of Kynoch '52 dated military ball loaded with Cordite and large Berdan primers. This stuff is likely corrosive but was sure-fire and seemed to give consistent accuracy. Came handily loaded into proper 5-round stripper clips too. While I was grateful to get the clips, I was not impressed with loading an SMLE with its stripper clip. The process is much more awkward and troublesome than using stripper clips in a Mauser or '03 Springfield, both of which load smoothly and with perfect grace. It takes two of the aggravating 5-round clips to fill the British rifles' magazines.
It will be noted that the .303 174 grain military Mark VII loading seems equally effective as the other high-powered rifle rounds we used at the yardage at which it was employed. It shot flat, hit hard and, with the short stock of my rifle, recoil took a toll after awhile. The old .303 could well handle most applications appropriate for the other rounds we had on hand and doesn't take a back seat to any of them.
Bo extracted a bullet from one of the .303 cartridges so we could take a look at the Cordite, funny orange-brownish stuff like long strands of angel-hair pasta and about the same consistency as uncooked spaghetti. A bit difficult to remove from the cartridge case once loaded, it seemed to have some sort of sealer dabbed between the powder charge and the bullet's base. When peering down into the case it looked as if a tiny dab of tar was on top of the ends of the Cordite.
We intended to take a photo of it for "show and tell" but forgot.
I had a ball firing my '17 Enfield on this trip. I shot it more than I did the M1, a special favorite which has always been the "go to" rifle for me. I shot a lot of ammo through the M1917, 120 rounds in all, over two days time, and got to know it better at longer ranges. I quickly figured out how it shot at the close 325 yard rocks and took a stab shooting it at rocks perhaps 150 yards further away with indifferent success. I finally walked the bullets onto those rocks but wouldn't have been "first shot effective." Any further out and I was really just winging it since I didn't bother to readjust my sight but attempted to just "hold over"on some rocks at truly long distance. They were far enough away that I could lower the rifle to my lap after firing it before observing the bullet strikes.
The M1 and M1A turned in the expected performance. Hits are easy with them. I only shot a couple of 20 round boxes of ammo through the M1 and shot twice that many through the M1A.
The day after returning home my shoulder felt well pounded. I think it was due to the extended shooting sessions with the '17 Enfield along with the early session with the SMLE. If I had any sense I'd dig out my PAST shoulder pad or my shooting coat for the trips.
Bo brought along a really keen Remington Model 700 heavy barrel .308. I can't recall which version this one is but it looks all the world like the modern rendition of the great Model 700 Varmint Special. He spent some time working on the small watermelon-sized rock with it and I also got a turn with a couple of magazines-full. It has a nice trigger, conducive to accurate shot placement.
It just occurred to me that I didn't take the opportunity to try out Bo's Swedish Mauser and that was one rifle I was looking forward to shooting a bit as I love both the rifle and the 6.5X55 cartridge. Oh well, next time.
Bo's little Colt/Umarex AR .22 is really cute and a worthy understudy of anyone who is into the AR 15 system of rifles. It gives a true feel of an AR 15 in size, weight, and handling characteristics. The only criticism I could level is that the bolt catch doesn't serve as a hold-open device. The familiar AR 15 bolt catch is present but doesn't catch anything. The rifle burned a lot of ammo while we were there especially in Ben's hands and was reliable in my observation. I wouldn't mind having one.
Bob and Ben watch Bo go to work with the Remington Model 700 .308.
Looking on from the opposite side, I stopped to watch Bo.
Shows the Remington in more detail.
Raising the dust. A telephoto shot of Hamim taking fire from Bob's M1A, Bo's AK, and Ben's M1 simultaneously.
Nothing is more relaxing than rifle shooting. I'm shooting the M1A here.
Links to previous installments of Sanderson excursions: