Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Return to the range

Last week I had the pleasure of hitting the range for some trigger time. What with the rising cost of ammo, I’d forgotten what it was like to have more gunfood than time to work with.

If I had my way, I’d be at the range weekly. As friends have gotten jobs and kids, it’s become more and more difficult to find the necessary time and company. Back in March I spent my portion of our tax return on a Benelli Vinci tactical—a semiautomatic 12 gage shotgun built off Benelli’s newest sporting design. I also got my 10/22 takedown back from the gun smith. I’ve been waiting for two months for a chance to test the new hardware—so I was super excited about this outing.

I invited K&G to attend, but in the end K wasn’t feeling good so it was just the two guys. G is a relatively inexperienced shooter—smart and attentive but still learning the basics. We got placed on a small caliber lane first so I took out the 10/22 for function testing. The current 10/22 takedown build consists of the standard receiver, stock, and barrel fitted with a Kidd precision 3 pound trigger group, extended magazine release, bolt, rod, buffer, QD Leopold 4xrimfire scope, and 2 piece scope base. I don’t see the point of building a heavy barrel onto a .22 takedown as it imbalances the package. A takedown rifle should be compact and handy, not a bench rest piece. Our first five round strings from the factory BX10 magazine were…mixed. It worked pretty well for me, but G had several failures to eject leading to crushed brass and a lot of resets. After 50 rounds of bulk rim fire ammo, the action seemed to be breaking in—though G was still having a disproportionately larger number of feeding and ejecting issues. He preferred to run the Ruger without the scope. He said that with more practice he might change his mind; but he enjoyed the clear lines of sight provided with the irons. The quick detach rings let me remove the scope in seconds as intended.

There’s a perception in the gun-owning community that firearms should work 100% of the time regardless of conditions. My experience is that most guns require a 250-1,000 round break in period before testing for absolute reliability. Parts need to wear in before an action is going to operate at peak efficiency. Since the 10/22 became more reliable during the initial testing, I’m not concerned about its dependability yet—I just need to get to continental again and run some more rounds through it.

After a half hour of rim fire fun, the clerk told me that a big-bore lane was available. I moved our gear over, set up a new target, grabbed ammo, and pulled out the Benelli. The Vinci is my second Italian scattergun purchase following last year’s super nova tactical acquisition. I wanted a semiautomatic shotgun with an 18.5 inch barrel, easily disassembled action, inertia driven system, and a dependable track record—oh, and it couldn’t be made by a Freedom group subsidiary. I read a bunch of reviews and came to the conclusion that my best options were either the Vinci or the M2. Then while browsing the cases after a range trip the clerk put a vinci law enforcement into my hot little hands. I can’t buy it (stupid import laws) but the attendant said that the tactical American version just had a longer barrel and lacked the increased magazine tube. As I mulled it over I shouldered the gun and put hand to the pistol grip. I usually detest pistol grips. They are often built as an afterthought lacking any kind of ergonomic comfort. But this, this was like heaven. The front grip has beefy finger grooves molded into a smooth plastic form that feels natural to the hand. The rear is covered in an over-molded rubber coating that provides a very comfortable cushion—especially in the face of 00 buck loads. Having held the monster I set about acquiring my own 943 compliant version.

It took me a couple tries to get the hang of the Vinci’s manual of arms. It has a disconnect which keeps the bolt from loading another hull into the chamber. It’s designed to let you unload the gun without grabbing another round from the magazine tube. The challenge is that if you actually want to chamber a shell, you can end up working the action without actually touching the magazine—leading to some interesting click-no-boom situations. Once I got it down, G and I took a couple tubes worth of 9 pellet buck and had at it. It quickly became apparent that the Benelli, much like the 10/22, liked me better. I ended up with 1 failure to eject while he had 3 in the course of shooting through 40 shells. My suspicion is that since he has a bad shoulder, he wasn’t driving the scattergun into the pocket—giving the inertia driven action less to push off of. After a couple tubes down range, G moved to my .22 marlin lever action while I kept on hosing down targets with the Benelli.

Things I learned this session:

1. I need to go through my range bag and look for opportunities to consolidate and lighten the load. I keep adding gear to the kit such that with 100 rounds of 12 gage, a couple hundred rounds of .22, and all my accessories it felt like I was hauling an anvil collection.

2. Upgrading the Ruger with quality parts should have made it more accurate and reliable. It looks like I have an uncertain break-in period coming up. If that doesn’t work, I’m going to have to put it back in for smithing. I’ll try it with some cci minimag and see if premium ammunition helps. Maybe I’m just using crappy ammo.

3. I really like 12 gage. Especially with the choke keeping the patterns tight, I get a nice accurate shot weight with a satisfying boom. I used to think of myself as primarily a handgun guy, but that’s changing. Daddy is really taking a liking to these Italian boomsticks.

4. I need to sit down with wmtrainguy and figure out how to disassemble and clean several of the newer pieces. I’m going with frog lube as my main cleaning/maintenance product line. That means I need to treat all of my platforms.

5. I really miss regular range time. It validates the time I spend researching and futzing around with gear at home. It relaxes me. It’s a rewarding activity that I’ve been able to ignore due to gym sessions, but that capacity is rapidly dwindling.

That’s it for now. Hopefully I’ll have more to report soon. I just ordered a custom holster for the Governor—and once that’s set up it’s due for an action job. Priorities priorities.

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