Monday, September 19, 2005

The Word from Camp Freehold

The word is once again...guns!

This summer at Camp Freehold (The Freeholder's weekend RV away from home) has been a merry-go-round of guns, guns and more guns. It seems that just about everyone has had their inner gunny awakened this summer, and I'm proud to have played a small part in that.

This weekend, it was back to the 100/200 yard range (known at my range as the "high power" range) with a large assortment of long guns. Attendees were numerous, and were enough to literally take over every shooting bench in the place. Four of them were impressionable young children--take that Feinstein and Schumer!

The assortment of guns was simply incredible. We had the inevitable .22s in several flavors, a .270 bolt action, a 30-06 bolt action, a pair of .243 bolties, a custom-built 22-250 originally built by one of the participants great grandfather, my evil green Springfield SAR-8 (a HK-91 clone) and the favorite of the day, my M1 Carbine on its maiden trip to the range.

By way of history, the M1 Carbine was developed to provide more firepower than the M1911 pistol, and was issued to second line troops such as artillery and military police units. Small, light and very handy, this rifle was produced from 1942 to 1945, and has seen service in WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Firing the .30 carbine cartridge, a standard military loading provides a muzzle velocity of 1975 fps and a muzzle energy of 955 ft lbs. This would make it pretty anemic for a rifle, but far more powerful than any "normal" pistol cartridge.

I acquired this piece of history from a co-worker who was settling a family estate. From what I can tell, it seems to have been a later production piece, and as such has all the improvements that combat showed necessary.

We loaded several magazines with some old Winchester soft nose ammo that I acquired at a different estate sale. We experienced some feeding issues with ammo, which I attribute to the age of the ammo as well as the soft lead nose. Being a military gun, I expect it was designed to be reliable with FMJ ammo, and everything else is at your own risk.

Being the proud owner, I took the privilege of firing the first magazine. Of course, the sights were off--way off. Working slowly, I was able to get the windage right, but had continual problems with elevation--the gun simply shoots low at 100 yards. Not seeing any way to set the elevation for the entire sight, I just shot using Kentucky (North Carolina?) elevation for the rest of the session. I want to solve this problem, since I'd like the rear sight to be accurate when using the 100 and 200 yard settings. (I think the 250 and 300 yard settings are a bit optimistic with this cartridge.)

Recoil is very mild--anyone, no matter how recoil sensitive, could shoot this gun. It really reminds me of the average pistol-caliber carbine, not only in terms of recoil, but in size as well. The gun points very well for anyone with a ordinary size frame. I can see why so many men liked this gun for combat use. The light weight and small frame make it just the right size for use in close quarters, but it has enough (OK, just enough) punch to reach out 100-150 yards if needed.

Everyone present (save one party pooper who was all PO'd that her new .243 actually had recoil) had to shoot this gun, and everyone, save my Daughter, simply loved it. Between the group of us, we went through over 400 rounds of ammo.

Once I get some reloading dies (.30 Carbine ammo is sort of expensive to my cheapskate taste), I think this gun will be a frequent companion to the range.

I'm also happy to report that the FTE problems I've previously experienced with my SAR-8 seem to have been solved. It seems to be a primarily magazine-related problem (don't ask me, I don't know how that works), but I suspect there is also some measure of "new gun" syndrome--it was tight, and just needed to be broken in.

Out here.

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