Owners of Mossberg MVP rifles might have noticed that Mossberg isn’t into selling parts to individuals and as far as I can tell they won’t sell to gunsmiths either. If you break a part right now you’re mostly relegated to sending the rifle back to Mossberg and having them repair under warranty. That sucks a lot and denies that many shooters are easily capable of installing most replacement parts.
MVP rifles in .223 have been popping extractors like pop-tarts especially with protracted use of steel cased ammo and barring sending the rifle back to Mossy the only other option has been to put the rifle back in the safe until Mossberg pulls their heads out of their butts and gets the spare parts machine working. Well, those days are OVER.
Thanks to Crosshair Precision we now have spares available and they’re not just a replacement, they’re an upgrade. I’ve personally tested these under very abusive conditions and they’ve taken a serious beating without fail. Check out http://www.mossbergmvp.com/index.php?threads/mvp-556-extractors-are-available.1477/ for details. If you’re not a member sign up and send Bob a private message. He’ll get you squared away. Price is set at $20. I suggest buying 2 sets of spares. You know you’ll drop one in the dirt someday. Might as well have a spare spare.
Quite a bit if you do what all the other really competitive shooters do, which is try to win. I realize that’s pretty glib. Let me explain. Nobody is going to yell:
…without knowing what the cost is. The long and short is it’s somewhere between $50 and $500 for registered, sanctioned matches. Local pistol matches like GSSF shoots will generally be on the lower end of that for a number of reasons. State Championship level matches are likely going to be toward the higher end. Rifle matches will cost you more than pistol matches which will cost more than the average rimfire match.
Let’s break into some of the costs you might not consider: Beyond the cost of ammunition, which I’ll come to in a minute, there’s a not small cost involved in getting there and usually some cost in being there. You need food, fuel, drinks and lodging. You’ll need accessories and supplies like cleaning equipment, cleaning supplies, pain killers, maybe an extra gun and ammo for it, tools, match clothing, blah blah blah. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to do most of your match shoots close to home and you’ll be able to mitigate the costs of traveling to matches. That means you’ll only have to drop a little money on gas and food and the rest. You still have to drag all your competition shit to the match and it’s nice to bring an assistant to spot, get you drinks between relays, watch your stuff and lug crap around. Don’t forget that you need to feed and care for your range slave and it’s best to buy them a nice meal, not just Mickie D’s.
In an average away match I’ll drop 200-300 bucks. 100 for the hotel/motel, 50 or so on the gas, an easy 60 bucks on snacks and drinks for the cooler for the trip and then there’s food. On average it’s 20 bucks per person per meal. You’ll have 2 proper meals a day and one match meal (whatever you put in the cooler and can eat between line calls). So you’re at 80 bucks a day on proper meals. You don’t want to drive directly to the match from home if it’s far away. You’ll really want the hotel for a good nights sleep. So we’re nipping right at $300 for a 2 day trip. One day of driving there and one day of being there isn’t cheap. On match days where I’m shooting locally I still have to bring a spotter and I still have to provide drinks and 2 fast-food meals and some snacks and gas. The day usually ends up closer to $75-$100. Gas is maybe $20, food will be $40-ish, snacks will be probably 10 bucks and drinks another 10 bucks.
Match fees vary pretty dramatically. I shoot matches that are $5 to enter and some that are $50 to enter. There is the match fee itself and very frequently a range fee of $5-$20. You can easily be at $75 for match and range fees alone. It’s important to note that this specific set of costs is almost always payable in CASH. Don’t bring cash and you probably won’t compete. Many ranges don’t accept credit cards or checks and most match directors don’t have a card reader or merchant account. Most match directors are volunteers and they’re not likely to even have a useful amount of change on hand, so try to bring exact change.
Now then. About that ammunition cost. If you’re shooting from a retail box then you’re at 2-3 bucks a round and that makes the average 50 shot match another 100 or 150 bucks on top of the 300 you’ve put down already. We’re at $500 per away game without getting fancy accomodations or eating at steakhouses and that’s nothing to sneeze at. My ammo costs are generally about $.50 per round for High Power Metallic Silhouette. In F-TR where I use my .308 with Hornady pills it’s about the same half-dollar a shot. If I use Berger bullets it drives the cost up to $.75 per round. When we jump up to F-Open and certain other long range matches where I can/need-to use my 7mag rifles then the cost is very close to $1.00 per round, sometimes more if I’m low on components and have to hit the retail shop for more. The magnums use Berger bullets and eat gobs of powder. Sometimes I also use my .223 in long range matches and those rounds are $.35-$.50 each depending on if I use Berger bullets or Hornady bullets. My High Power Silhouette matches are 20/40/60/80 round matches. An 80 round match is usually at the State Championship level and are not common. Most of my matches are 40 round for Silhouette and 50 rounds for F-class and other long range precision. So it turns out the ammo cost is not more than half of the trip cost if I roll my own.
What do I do to keep myself in ammo? Well sometimes I forego competing for a few months and save up some shekels so I can buy enough powder and primers for 1000 rounds. Then if I need to I’ll forego competing for a few more months and save up so I can buy 1000 bullets. I have a TON of brass on hand but still occasionally need to replace some of it. Those are 60 cents to a buck a piece and I’ll usually just buy 100 of them at a time whenever I can afford to. Once you have 1000 rounds worth of supplies stocked up, start loading so you have 200-300 finished loads on-hand. Keep that much on-hand. After a match put together enough ammo to refill what you burned. I would seriously advise that you buy your powder and primers in big lots (8lbs of powder or more, 1000 primers or more, 1000 bullets or more) so that you can get the associated cost savings. When you get down to 300 rounds worth of supplies then you should already be preparing to re-up.
Now that you have supplies and ammo on hand, go compete. When you get home from the match load up as many cases as you fired and put them in back stock. You want a few hundred rounds ready to go because sometimes powder, primers, brass, or bullets can get scarce and you don’t want to end up missing a match because you couldn’t get 100 bullets. Sometimes those droughts can last a few months. This is why we keep enough for a few matches and practice on-hand. It also removes the pressure to load a bunch of match grade ammo the night before you leave for a match. Being in a hurry makes you suck. Having to make do with non-standard components sucks. Not having ammo sucks. Don’t let things get to suck.
I took part in another smallbore metallic silhouette match last weekend and managed to win my class. That was pretty awesome because a win is a win but it’s not as awesome as you might think. I was the only shooter in my class. I didn’t know that going in. When Inez showed up I figured she might be shooting in my class and she’s a kick ass shot. Better than me at this point at least. It turned out she was in the next class up. Charlie was there too and I thought he might be shooting in my class as well but no, he was 2 classes up from me. I shot horribly badly with the heavy gun. 7 shots of 40. I had a Mountain Dew when we got to the range and a HUGE carb laden breakfast and then Inez showed up and the nerves and the caffeine started little muscle shakes in my upper leg and my trigger finger started jitterbugging and I couldn’t hit a bull in the butt with a broomstick.
At the end of the first match (there were 2 that day, back to back) I was pretty downcast but, I picked up the light gun for hunter class and with the heavier trigger and more rearward weight balance I was hitting targets. I had to dial in dope and verify it before the match and only had a few minutes to do it. At the end of the hunter gun match I’d hit 11 of 40 shots.
After the match they start calling the winners and I just took to packing up. Then they called my name and I was shocked. I went up and got my cash prize and smiled and sat back down. That was pretty cool. I mean, I didn’t even hit 25% overall today but ok. I’ll take it.
Then they called out Inez for her class and we all went to hootin’ and hollerin’ and congratulating. Inez is a super classy person, a heck of a shot and a gracious competitor. As one of the few women we see regularly at matches she gets a little extra attention but it’s not the normal leg humper stuff. The guys all convey a great deal of respect for her ability and her as a person. I point that out because it’s important to know that women can come to a match and compete and be taken seriously. Now, backing out from the digression.
Next they called out Edo for winning his class. Edo is another of those really personable people which is hard to pull off being as quiet as he is. He seems to be very serious and thoughtful with large reservoirs of a sort of cheerful authoritative kindness. He’s one of those people you think might be a cop that moonlights as a kindergarten teacher.
This is pretty cool so far. Two of the nicest people I met at the state high power match were there and the 3 of us had just won our classes. The only thing missing was my spotter/coach George taking home his usual win. He usually wins either the match or his class or both and I was surprised to not have heard his name yet. Well the next thing you know they call George’s name out as overall match winner. He runs up to quickly collect his prize while showering the rest of us with mischievous good-hearted nya-nya’s. George is very well known in the silhouette game in the region and his sort of impish wild-child humor really goes over quite well and nicely breaks up an otherwise serious environment. Most of the shooters I’ve come across in this game are a bit high on the gleeful end of mischievous. There are more serious folks too but they don’t spend a lot of time at the bullshit circle so I don’t know how good or not good they are as people. I suspect they’re just shy.
You can get started in Smallbore Metallic Silhouette shooting with whatever .22lr rifle you have. A good bolt action is best but beginners can get away with super accurate 10/22’s. Great ammo is necessary though. SK Rifle Match, Eley Target or Tenex, Federal Target Match, RWS and other match .22lr ammo really does help and makes a difference. Smallbore competition has a low barrier to entry and it’s super fun. It’s also not entirely unlikely that you’ll go to your first few matches and occasionally be the only person in the beginner class which is an easy and amazingly satisfying way of winning. With just a little bit of practice and shooting some matches you’ll be honestly winning against other shooters in your class and maybe even above it in no time. You can’t get into the winners circle if the only thing you shoot off is your mouth.
It’s fun to say you’re a good shot. It’s fun for others to think you’re a good shot. It’s a completely different level of pride to know for a fact exactly how good you are and exactly how much effort it takes to improve. In my first match I wasn’t shooting against anyone else but myself in my head so the fact that I tied for last didn’t hurt my feelings. I did a little better than I thought because I wasn’t dead last. Being dead last would have just met my expectations. Now when I go I expect to shoot at least in the middle of my class. I expect that in a few more matches I’ll have to get bumped into the next class up and then I expect to not win for a good long while as I make my way up that ladder. There’s always going to be a better shooter than you. The key to winning is to be the best shooter you can be by actually getting up to that line and competing. Without that step you’ll never have a chance.
For years we’ve all dreamed of having a chronograph system that could be used in the way we want it to:
1. Set the device down near the shooting spot.
3. Read velocities.
We didn’t ever want to deal with diffusers, metal rods, infrared illuminators, lighting problems, angle problems, shooting the chronograph in the face, failure to detect/trigger, straps, plastic things attached to the barrel, POI changes, cable length, dim remote displays, blast effects, tiny shot windows, or not being able to move the gun. All of those problems are native to extant systems for noting muzzle velocities. Many of us hold chronographs in general in a sort of love:hate relationship. We know we need them and we treasure being able to get data but we are also sick up and fed with the three little pigs (a metaphor for the endless little niggling problems that make chronographs annoying or difficult or both to use).
Enter Labradar. Apart from being something that my autocorrect can’t seem to leave the hell alone it’s a brilliant solution to a long standing problem. Not only does it provide velocity data but there’s a lot more there that can be used to refine ballistic coefficient data (I have not tinkered with that but it’s possible now that multiple velocity measurements can be taken for the same projectile).
I was given the chance to use one recently and it was great. We tested with a small 1-inch bore black powder cannon which is not something you could use a Chrony or even a magnetospeed for. Barring the availability of the Labradar it would not have been possible to get a good MV reading.
I would love to more extensively tinker with one and give a more thoughtful and considered appraisal. Perhaps someday Labradar will be kind enough to allow me to eval a unit before I end up just buying one (which I will do). In either case whenever I can lay my hands on one again I will make sure to provide a thorough review with useful information. In the short term I can say that setup is not quite trivial. It takes a minute or two to fiddle with it and you really really want to read the manual. I didn’t do the latter but I did a bit of the former.
Once you have it set up usage is stupid easy. You just shoot. If you have it triggering off of the report of the gun firing you’ll have the best luck and battery life. You’ll want to have an extra set of batteries if you plan on a lot of chronograph readings being taken. Battery life isn’t terrible but you are operating a doppler radar unit, they’re not exactly low energy devices. Cost is pretty tall but you get what you pay for. For the man who hunts while dragging around gear with labels like Sako, Hensoldt, Le Chameau, and Turnbull & Asser this is about what one would expect to see them using. For the rest of us, it’s still the best bit of kit for the purpose and all things considered it’s not that expensive.
THE VIDEO IS AT THE BOTTOM
The match at Sunnyvale Rod and Gun Club on 4/11 was pretty good. My spotter brought his sons who are amazing shots for being so young. They added a more balanced family vibe to what has been a mostly old -guys event. The match only ran two relays though we could have done three if a couple more people wanted to run hunter gun and standard gun but no luck and no point in having a whole additional relay if there’s not enough folks shooting. It just makes the match take longer.
It was a nice temperate Saturday morning with almost no wind. I started on pigs and ran a 3-2-3 which is a very auspicious beginning for a B-class shooter and makes them fret instantly about ending up in A-class that day. Still I soldiered on and put up a 38% hit:shot ratio for the day. My last match (last weekend) was with high power standard gun and I pulled 35% hits in that match. I’ve been able to consistently add 2-5% to my hits each time I do a match. I don’t know how long that will hold out but it’s nice to see progress happening. It’s also an example of how keeping close eye on my statistics helps me tune my training and enhance my performance consistently.
Shooting rimfire is at almost as challenging as high power but I think high power is still harder thanks to the huge distances involved. 200m only high power isn’t quite as hard as 200-500m but they’re both tough. Rimfire is about real precision and getting the fundamentals right. Recoil isn’t there so you’re not as inclined to really tuck in on the rifle and so it’s easier to get loosey goosey with your stance and hold. That ruins follow-through.
Within rimfire Silhouette I think the chickens are actually the easiest target. It’s not about their size which is tiny and extremely unforgiving of inability to hold small. It’s that despite having a hit zone the size of a postage stamp they’re still super close and so there’s almost no drop and wind is basically a non-issue. Once the reticle is on the white you dump the payload. The bullet cuts out and almost the moment you’ve touched off the shot the bullet is slapping steel. It’s sort of the same benefit as ultra fast lock time but it’s better because even with the small angular size, the distance just isn’t enough for some of the little things that matter further out to be so important. This is not to say that the chickens are easy. It’s that they’re easy compared to the chickens at a high power course. (On a high power course the pigs are the easy ones)
Well, yes and no. It depends on your goals. If you want to be national champion then yes. You’re going to have to pump serious cash; and many other things, into your campaign to reach those levels. The days of some random guy showing up with a rattle trap 1911 to a pistol match and taking overall match winner are basically over and I don’t think they ever really existed in the romanticized way that people tend to fantasize about these days.
In my younger days I was competitive in palma shooting for a while but that was already a game requiring substantial money and skill and I only had the latter and not enough of it to be a champion. Later on I did a lot of running deer shoots (this is shooting at a moving deer silhouette on tracks at 100yrds standing unsupported) and that was pretty easy to be competitive in. I could use any ol’ hunting rifle from the rack. The short range and fast shooting was a lot of fun and kept the money out of the game for the most part. F-Class is a money game if you fit in with the crowd but it doesn’t have to be. You just probably won’t win without the expensive stuff.
Nowadays I’m doing a lot of metallic silhouette competitions. Silhouette both is and is not a money game. If you’re reasonable about your goals and don’t have to be national champ then you can be highly competitive within any of the classes with pretty mundane equipment. The reason for that, I think, is that there is a standard gun (heavy gun) and hunter gun (light gun) class within each of B, A, AA, AAA, and Master classes. Hunter guns really are commonly put together at a factory and not at a gunsmith unlike standard guns. The weight limit for hunter gun means that the barrel profiles are normally slender and stocks are not ultra fancy. This is where a lot of guys actually use a pretty plain deer rifle. As long as you’re not shooting a .22 cal centerfire and you’re not using a magnum chambering you can use any ol’ deer rifle.
When you step into standard gun the higher weight limit allows for a lot of custom work and heavy barrels and silhouette specific stocks are the norm among the regular serious competitors in the upper classes. Here’s where the path gets leveled. The B,A,AA,AAA,Master classes all have mixes of people using highly custom rifles and much more factory-ish rifles. It’s not always the guy with the fanciest rig that wins. It’s always the guy that shot the most targets in his class and standing up really evens the field because you are easily as important to making the shot as your rifle. Also because you start out unclassified you get put into the right class your first time and so you’re not trying to punch above your weight. As long as your rifle will reliably put 5 shots under an inch @100yrds you’ll be able to be very competitive.
In silhouette shooting when you start shoving money into the hole hand over fist you’re really just trying to pick up that 1 extra hit or be that little bit more comfortable, etc… The guys with $5,000 in their rifle and $3,000 in their scope aren’t dominating the sport at every level because their bodies are as-issued. The most consistent master class shooter I’ve ever seen uses a hunter weight gun for both hunter and standard classes and is in impressive physical shape. That rifle is nice and semi-custom built but not anything particularly special. You could replicate his rifle for $1500. Another master class shooter I know very well has a $6K standard gun rifle but he’s a bit more of a spotty shooter though and frequently scores AAA level. Spending 4x the money on the rifle hasn’t helped and he’s an ass kickin’ shooter. The point is, if you were to take an off the shelf Savage 10 in .243 or .260rem and drop an appropriate stock on it and topped it with something like an SWFA 20×42 SS you could easily be competitive out of the boxes.
Part of the reason silhouette shooting is less a mandated money hole than F-Class; for example, is the targets are 2-3MOA so your rifle doesn’t NEED to print .3″ groups at 100yrds. I’ve competed with ammo that printed 2MOA and while I missed a few I would have hit with more accurate ammo I was still not last place. Since a 1MOA rifle is all you really need and every bit under 1MOA you can get it only helps by exactly that much the field is well leveled between the guys that dump cash into their gear and those of us that; like me, have to be somewhat more frugal.
As a point of full disclosure, the rifle I use in silhouette competition is a Savage 110 left hand action with a Shilen match barrel with a .8″ muzzle. It sits in a full length glass bedded Nesika Bay left hand stock and wears a Weaver T-24 AO scope on top of a 20MOA riser in tall rings. The barrel is installed shouldered, no nut, and there’s been a full action truing and blueprinting done to it. I bought the rifle used for $1000 with 1000 7br cases, most of them primed, and some ammo. It had about 3K rounds through it when I got it and has another 500 through it now. The barrel should be good deep into the 7-8K round range. You can find deals like this at almost every match but especially at state matches. I shoot it right handed much to the amusement of other shooters. Still, I just moved from B class to A class and I plan to be in AA by the end of the year. Not bad for having only 1000 bucks of skin in the game. You can do the same. Hell, I started with a tactical oriented .308 Savage 10FPSR with a 10x US Optics scope on it and was competitive right away.
The best part of competing is when you go the 2nd time and you see how much better you do. After a while you’ll start really advancing fast if you put some effort into it. Matches are not places where you get picked at or sneered at for doing things your own way. They’re supportive and fun environments with a bunch of people that just like getting together to shoot. Whatever you do, don’t get into competitive shooting to win. Get in it to get out and shoot. You are the weapon, the gun is just a tool. Learn how to use your tools.
Here’s the beastie. It’s a 1915 manufacture Swedish Mauser action with a Timney trigger, Troup Systems .45ACP conversion barrel with a short .45acp chamber and magazine adapter, custom black oak stock and Williams peep sight and of course a 1911 magazine.
I take .460 Rowland brass and cut it to .888″. Add deeply double digit loads of Hodgdon LongShot or Ramshot TrueBlue, a magnum large pistol primer and either a 200gn Bear Creek HBRN moly coated lead (hollow base round nose), 230gn RN, 200gn LSWC or a 185gn Nosler Custom Competition JHP. Velocities are nominally 1780FPS with the 200gn lead hollow base. Any faster than that and they turn into 4″ long lead darts. With the 230gn RN I’m able to push them to 1900fps. With the 200gn LSWC’s I’ve gotten them as high as 2100fps. When you make the SWC’s go over 1500fps they make a roaring sound which is super neat. I get 2100FPS with the 185gn jacketed bullets. I know I can squeeze a little more velocity from it and have but there’s no reason to.
The cast lead bullets at that speed are best left to close shots at light bodied critters like blacktail deer, coyotes and bobcats. The bullets don’t come apart but they do substantially deform and penetration can be erratic on larger bodied game. If you want to go for bear or even tule elk the 185’s offer amazing penetration and don’t suffer from substantial core/jacket separation and the 230gn RN penetrate like liquor stores in a ghetto. The reason I use the Nosler Custom Competition bullets at all is their toughness and ability to hold together under these extreme velocities.
Here’s the 185 grain Nosler. These are not a bonded bullet but they manage to hold together like a bonded core bullet. I’ve driven these over 2100fps at 1/4″ mild steel and they penetrated clean through. On light bodied game they’re absolutely devastating at high velocities.
Here’s the 200 grain Bear Creek HBRN. The hollow base makes them appreciate being loaded really stoutly or seated deep. Either way you gotta pick the pressures up or leading can be an issue. You want to get the pressures up so the base is able to obdurate and fill the bore to avoid gas cutting and related leading. This bore filling action is how I’m able to get such high velocities.
I can already hear you asking about .45ACP brass. Well, I’ve used it extensively and apart from primer pockets loosening when I get overly exuberant about powder charging they’ve held together exceptionally well. Remember, the .45ACP pressure limit for pistol use is in the low 20K psi range because of an unsupported section of the case which is necessary to allow reliable feeding in auto pistols. In a bolt action rifle that’s not an issue. We can seat that case deep in the chamber if we want but in any event it’s well supported all the way to the case head. The pressure holding capability of normal .45ACP brass is pretty stout in my experience.
|.45Cinderblock provides performance capability from .45acp to .454Casull power level in a 1911 magazine. It uses .45acp chamber dimensions with .41magnum level powder charges. .460 S&W power levels can be attained using the same bolt action rifle conversion and .45WinMag brass.|
As a case in point, I’ve loaded as much as 12grains of Unique under a 200gn bullet using Remington brass and fired 6+ of those kind of loads from the case without substantial primer pocket loosening. 9.8grains of Unique seemed to be the sweet spot as far as performance per unit powder consumed with Unique. Remember the .45acp charge for ball equivalent ammo with Unique and a 230gn bullet is 5.8gn. I’ve done deliberate double charges and it’s perfectly safe in a rifle. I’ve gone as high as 14.5gn of Longshot in a .45acp Remington case (this is over book for .460Rowland and double pressure for .45acp) and had the primer pocket loosen up too much to reuse the brass.
With .460 Rowland brass I’ve gone even further off the reservation. I won’t say how high but my rifle only loads have been higher than 16grains. This is fine territory to play at as long as loading procedures and tolerances are extremely tight. Seating depth changes of .002″ make a difference at these levels and all the charges above 14grains are going to compress so it’s not something to just play around with. I found that a .1g charge variance at the very top of the range (which is not a safe place to play in the first place) made the difference between pierced primers and not pierced primers. Probably the neatest part about loading for .45 Cinderblock is what you see when you drop the hammer on a full-house load. The gas volume that comes out of the muzzle is just tremendous and you’ll certainly be surprised that you can get that much gas out of that itty bitty .45acp case.
If you’re ready to walk on the wild side and willing to sacrifice a bolt action rifle with a .308 bolt face you can have a really amazingly powerful and handy rifle that you can also feed .45acp pistol ammo to. Your little girls can shoot it with pistol ammo and you can shoot it with full house ammo. The one thing you need to do for sure is bring plenty of extra ammo to the range. Whenever I bring my .45 Cinderblock to the range I end up getting to hand it to at least 5-10 people that want to try out some .45acp compared to my full-house Cinderblock loads. They always hand it back with a huge grin and the wheels inside their head spinning.