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AB 962

As has been reported elsewhere, the California Legislature passed AB 962, which creates new restrictions on the sale or delivery of ammunition in California. The latest version isn’t nearly as bad as the original version (which, for instance, limited transfers to 50 rounds a month), but the one thing that concerns me the most is that it might make it illegal to buy ammunition online. The bill says:

the
delivery or transfer of ownership of handgun ammunition may only
occur in a face-to-face transaction, with the deliverer or transferor
being provided bona fide evidence of identity of the purchaser or
other transferee.

Ok, so that doesn’t sound so bad. The deliverer has to be provided an ID at the time of delivery, so instead of the UPS man leaving boxes of ammo at my door step, they have to hand it to me personally and check my ID. That’s sensible, right? Except…

a vendor shall not sell or otherwise transfer ownership
of any handgun ammunition without  ,  at the time of
delivery  ,  legibly recording the following 
information: 
   (A) The date of the sale or other transaction.
   (B) The purchaser's or transferee's driver's license or other
identification number and the state in which it was issued.
   (C) The brand, type, and amount of ammunition sold or otherwise
transferred.
   (D) The purchaser's or transferee's signature.
   (E) The name of the salesperson who processed the sale or other
transaction.
   (F) The right thumbprint of the purchaser or transferee on the
above form.
   (G) The purchaser's or transferee's full residential address and
telephone number.
   (H) The purchaser's or transferee's date of birth.

So the “vendor” has to get all this information “at the time of delivery.” I’m no lawyer, but if I had to interpret this literally, well, I think it means we can’t buy ammo online unless the vendor wants to deliver it to me personally and collect all this information. In theory, the UPS man could get all this information, but I’m not sure that counts as the vendor getting the information at the time of delivery, unless the UPS man beams all that info to the vendor and waits for confirmation before handing me the box… or something. In any case, as written, the bill sounds like it makes it nearly impossible to mail-order ammo without breaking the law.

So, that’s my beef with AB 962. We can’t buy ammo online, and frankly, if we can’t buy ammo online, we can’t buy ammo period, because local shops sure as hell don’t have any ammo in stock. Hell, I drove across the country, stopping at every Wal-Mart I saw, and it wasn’t until I went all the way across then most of the way back that I found some 9mm at a Wal-Mart in Cody, WY.

Well, that’s one half of my beef. I’m not entirely opposed to gun control laws if I think it’ll work, and it doesn’t make it impossible for responsible citizens to enjoy the shooting sports. But this particular bill won’t do squat to curb crime. A person could legally purchase ammunition, then use the legally purchased ammunition to commit a crime. Oops. Or, if you’re a hard core criminal (whatever that means), you can probably buy ammunition from illegal channels because, well, being a criminal and all, you probably don’t care about buying ammunition through legal channels. Oops. So, yeah, here’s a bill with all downside and no upside.

Fortunately, there’s still a sliver of hope. The Governator can, in theory, veto the bill. You can prod him into vetoing this bill online, by phone (916) 445-2841, by fax (916) 558-3160, and for good measure, via Twitter.

Bunch-o-links

Few interesting links I’ve come across lately:

If you reload, I’m sure you’ve noticed that primers are practically impossible to get these days, unless you’re willing to pay 2-3x retail price. Anyway, as a “last resort” it’s apparently possible to make your own primers! I wouldn’t expect much reliability/consistency (or safety) out of them, but I thought it was cool anways.

(via CalGuns.net)

Gun Porn

my collection

my collection

I’m going to be out of town for the summer, so I had to put my gun safe and guns into storage. Before I put each of my rifles into Zerust bags, I lined ’em up and took a picture, since I rarely pull them all out of the safe at once.

From top to bottom: Kimber 82 Gov’t (22LR), AR-15 (.223), Swedish Mauser (6.5×55), M1A (.308), M1 Garand (30-06), Remington 700 VTR (.223), Marlin 39A (.22), sporterized 1917 Enfield (30-06).

I’ve heard it said that if you want to be a good shooter, you have to shoot using your dominant eye. For years, I’ve ignored this piece of advice, and have been shooting right handed even though I am left-eye dominant (and also left-handed). I am now trying to decide if I should switch to shooting with the right side, by which I mean the left side.

I’ve been shooting right handedly for a number of reasons, but comfort and convenience are the two main ones. I simply feel more comfortable shooting right handedly, and I think this habit was developed when I first started shooting rifles in our basement, using an air rifle my dad had built me. Being left handed, I’m sure my dad gave me the option of shooting lefty, and I probably tried it, but it never stuck. Shooting right handedly is also convenient because most rifles are designed for righties, and I don’t have to get anything special. Sure, the AR (which I shoot most of these days) is ambidextrous, but the mag release is hard to get to, especially when all slung up, under time pressure, and with a CA-legal bullet button (where you have to guide a pointy tool into a small hole). Shooting right-handed bolt rifles lefty is outright awkward.

My club Service Rifle match scores

My club Service Rifle match scores, in percentage of total possible

As far as I can tell, my shooting isn’t limited by my eyesight yet. My left eye is considerably better than my right, but with glasses, the difference is diminished. There’s also the thing about being able to keep both eyes open if you shoot out of your dominant eye, but in competitions, you can put a blind over the other eye and with a little practice, you can train to “see” out your non-dominant eye too. And practically speaking, my scores haven’t plateaued yet, I don’t think. In my club matches, I’ve been shooting around 89-91%, which, has plenty of room for improvement, but is also markedly higher than the 42% I shot in my first match 2 years ago. In my last club match, I shot a 188 in slow prone, with 13 of the 20 shots in the 10 ring. I feel like if my eyes let me put 13 of 20 shots in the 10 ring, it’s good enough to get the remaining 7 shots in the 10 ring too. On the 600 yard line at the State championships, I shot a 172-6x, and I feel like my inability to read wind correctly was a bigger issue than my eye sight. On top of all that, I’ve been shooting in a flimsy cotton shirt, and I’m quite certain that using a good shooting jacket will improve my scores considerably, perhaps enough to get me into the Master range (94%+).

It all might come down to how hard I’m willing to work, and how far I want to go. Maybe I can make Master shooting right handedly, with a good jacket and ample practice. Can I make High Master? Can I become a nationally ranked shooter? Maybe, but I don’t know. To some degree, this is a race against time. I’m not old, but I’m 29; past my physical peak. Every year that I wait to find out whether I should switch, is a year in which my learning ability atrophies, a year in which my eye sight worsens, a year less I spend shooting using the correct hand. On the other hand, I’m very weary of starting from scratch when I’ve come so far. I’m not sure I have the patience, the perseverance, and the time to get as good shooting left handedly as I do right handedly. Right now, I’m thinking of compromising and continuing to shoot Service Rifle right handedly, but spend some time shooting lefty using my .22 Kimber 82 match rifle. Hopefully, that way, if I hit a wall shooting right handedly in a few years, I would’ve laid enough ground work that I won’t have to start completely from scratch shooting lefty.

I’m in Coalinga, CA for the California State Service Rifle Championships. I have no ambitions (or chance) of winning anything, but having only shot on 200 yard ranges, I wanted to try shooting at a full 600 yard range. Normally, I shoot 69 grain bullets, but for this occasion, I loaded up some 77 grain bullets. I settled on 77 grain bullets because, unlike 80 grain bullets, I can still load them to 2.260″ COAL and shoot them out of magazines (necessary for the rapid fire strings), but they have ballistic coefficients high enough to not completely suck at 600 yards. Most good High Power/Service Rifle shooters shoot 69-77gr for 200-300 yards, and 80 grains for the 600 yard line, but I decided having one cartridge would be logistically simpler. Anyway, I spent some time this past week developing loads, and my final recipe (24gr of TAC and CCI 450s in LC primers) seemed to push those bullets at around 2740fps.

To help me calculate my come-ups and wind drift for the 300 and 600 yard line, I bought two ballistic apps for my iPhone: Ballistic and iSnipe. Which did I like better? Neither. They were both wrong. I punched in the BC for my bullet (or in the case of Ballistic, selected my bullet from a list), muzzle velocity, that I had a 200yd zero, my altitude, temperature, approximate humidity (dry), and everything else I can think of. Both apps gave me the same numbers: 3 MOA up for 300yds, 15 MOA up for 600 yds. I shot a team match today, and actually got to find out what my come-ups were. They were 2 MOA and 11 MOA for 300 and 600 yards respectively.

So how did the algorithm fail? I don’t know. Maybe Nosler’s advertised BC for the bullets is incorrect. Maybe my muzzle velocity was incorrect, although assuming everything else is correct, my bullets would have had to start at 3150fps to get those come-ups. Maybe I am somehow aiming higher at the 300 and 600 yard lines than I do at 200, although seeing how the aiming blacks are the same angular size, that doesn’t sound likely either. It’s a mystery. But either way, for my particular purpose, both apps failed me. Of course, YMMV.

Over the last few months, I’ve been trying to decide what my next rifle is going to be. I already have a couple of rifles in .223, so I knew I wanted something bigger. I also knew I wanted a rifle I could use in long range practical matches, in short-to-mid distance silhouette matches, and perhaps hunting medium-sized game. I eventually decided to start with a Remington 700 chambered in 260 Remington. While this paring is far from unorthodox, I did investigate and research a wide variety of alternatives, so I will describe them here.

Caliber: 6.5mm
My options were 6mm/.243, 6.5mm/.264, 6.8mm, 7mm, or 7.62mm/.30. I settled on 6.5mm for the following reasons:

  • Relatively light recoil – What can I say, I’m a little guy 😉
  • Big enough for hunting – In Europe, I hear the 6.5×55 (Swedish Mauser) is a popular hunting round, used even for moose (with good shot placement, obviously).
  • Good bullet selection – Lots of match and hunting bullets from Sierra, Nosler and others for reasonable prices, in various weights.
  • Very high ballistic coefficient – Heavier 140-142 grain 6.5mm bullets have ballistic coefficients equivalent to 200+ grain .30 caliber bullets. So compared to, say, a 150-175 grain .30 caliber bullet, it’ll have less wind drift and drop, as well as higher retained velocity and energy at long distances.

Platform: Remington 700
Picking the platform (action) was the hardest part. There were a few factors to consider in selecting a platform. My requirements were:

  • Accuracy – it should shoot better than I can, which at this point means better than 1 MOA
  • Cost – it has to be reasonably affordable (less than $1k)
  • Ergonomics – I like pistol grips or thumbhole stocks
  • Detachable magazine – seems necessary for practical matches

Here are some of the candidates and what I thought of them.

  • AR-15 – As I’ve previously mentioned on this blog, I like the AR-15. Unfortunately, the AR-15 only supports a limited selection of cartridges because the magazines will only seat cartridges up to 2.260″ in length. The most famous (and perhaps the only viable) 6.5mm cartridge that works in the AR-15 is the 6.5 Grendel. In other words, my decision to use or not use the AR-15 platform depended on whether or not the 6.5 Grendel was the right cartridge choice. I ultimately decided the answer was “no”, and I’ll discuss this decision in more detail below.
  • AR-10 – For someone who likes the AR-15 but wants to shoot bigger cartridges, the AR-10 seems like a logical choice. I briefly considered this option, but decided against it because of limited availability of lowers in California, and high cost.
  • Swedish Mauser – One of the more well known 6.5mm rifles is the Swedish Mauser. Famous for its inherent accuracy, rifles based on these Mausers have been popular hunting rifles in Europe. I happen to own one of these rifles, made in 1902, but I have a weakness for milsurp rifles, and can’t bring myself to drill into the receiver (say, for a scope mount). I also don’t like the stock, but I’m not sure there are very many after market stocks. I also haven’t found a way to add a detachable magazine to these rifles.
  • Ishapore 2A1 – The 2A1s are modern Lee Enfield rifles designed specifically for the 7.62 NATO (.308 Win) cartridge. As such, they purportedly are made of stronger steel than their older British brethren, to withstand the higher pressures of a modern military cartridge. I also have one of these, but the muzzle is pretty worn out, and I can’t seem to shoot anything resembling a group with it. One option was to have it rebarreled and chambered for 260 Remington. Since the 260 is based on the 308 case, the cartridges should fit in the detachable box magazines and feed just fine. I ultimately decided against this option because finding a high quality replacement barrel seemed difficult, and also because these rifles aren’t exactly known for their accuracy.
  • Creedmoor CSR-1 – If cost weren’t an issue, these rifles have everything I’d want. AR-like ergonomics, detachable magazines, and support for various 6.5mm cartridges. But at $3750, it is unfortunately far beyond my budget.
  • Remington 700 – I have a model 700 in .223 that I don’t shoot that much any more, now that I’ve built that bolt action AR, also in .223. At the end, I decided it made the most sense to just have my m700 rebarreled and chambered for a 6.5mm cartridge. High quality replacement barrels are pretty affordable, and I have a friend who can rebarrel it for me, so my up-front costs would be relatively low. At some point, I might spring for an AICS stock to get that pistol grip and detachable magazine, but I can start shooting 6.5mm without it first.

Cartridge: 260 Remington
Some other candidates were 6.5 Grendel, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5×47 Lapua, and 6.5-284.

  • 6.5 Grendel – I took a nice, long, hard look at the 6.5 Grendel short of actually spending the money to build one. If you absolutely must have (or just plain want) an AR-15 to shoot 6.5mm projectiles, the Grendel seems like the answer you’re looking for. But if you want the best 6.5mm rifle, regardless of platform, there are better cartridges. The main weakness of the 6.5 Grendel is its relatively slow muzzle velocity due to its small case capacity. The Grendel can take about 30 grains of BL-C(2), while maximum loads for 260 Remington calls for up to 38 grains of BL-C(2). Correspondingly, muzzle velocities for Grendel loads seem to be 150-200ft/s slower than the Remington 260 for comparable bullet weights. The ballistic properties of the 6.5 Grendel are still impressive (often comparable to .308 Win), it doesn’t maximize the performance of those 6.5mm pills.
  • 6.5 Creedmoor – From what I’ve read, the 6.5 Creedmoor is ballistically similar to the 260 Remington, but has a slightly shorter cartridge length which allows bullets to be seated out further while keeping the overall length short enough to fit in a magazine. I’m sure for top level shooters that’ll make a difference, but I doubt I’d notice any difference. I was ultimately turned off by the high brass prices.
  • 6.5×47 – I rejected this cartridge for pretty much the same reason as the 6.5 Creedmoor.
  • 6.5-284 – The 6.5-284 has an impressive track record, but also has an extremely short barrel life (supposedly about 1000 rounds). Since I could easily shoot 1000 rounds in a year, I decided I’d rather not have to rebarrel every year, even if it means I might not get the absolute most out of my 6.5mm cartridge.
  • 260 Remington – I decided the 260 Remington was right for me because it’s a relatively proven cartridge, has pretty good ballistic properties, and brass is pretty cheap/available (I could either neck up 243 Win or neck-down 7mm-08, of course, in addition to using 260 Remington brass). If you’re interested, “The Case for 260 Remington” is a great read.

After Thought…

One crazy thought I have bouncing around in my head is to design a “lower receiver” to the Remington 700. You’d basically screw on a m700 barreled action to this “lower”, then attach an AR-15 pistol grip, butt stock, and hand guard tube to complete the rifle. The “lower” would also have a magazine well to accept either an AR-10 magazine, or more realistically, an AICS magazine. This all seems possible, but I’ll have to sit down with a CAD software to see…