Range Day 08/30/2009

The past few weeks have been rather busy.  Some of it is good busy, others not so good; so trips to the shooting range have been infrequent.  Since my last trip, I acquired two “new-to-me” rifles, shimmed the scope on a Thompson Center .17 HMR barrel, installed new glass on one of the “new-to-me” rifles and built my 922(r) compliant Saiga 7.62x39mm rifle.

At the range today, I brought a Remington 121, Marlin 25MN, Thompson Center Encore with a .17 HMR barrel and the Saiga.

I was VERY fortunate to find a Remington 121.  It’s a pump action .22 that can feed Long Rifle, Long and Short cartridges.  I’ve been meaning to buy one for quite sometime; however, I usually encounter opportunities that were out of my price range.  Instead, I got lucky on GunBroker.  I gave it a good cleaning and it appeared to have good wood furniture, original (albeit fading) finish, shiny barrel and the trigger appeared mechanically sound.  The only draw back was the pitting on the receiver.

The Marlin 25MN is a .22 WMR bolt-action rifle.  I mounted a Leupold scope with a fixed manification of 4 and the Burris rings I used with the Henry US Survival Rifle.  The stock was sanded down by the previous owner, but it wasn’t very thorough.  Rather than finishing the stock, I just rubbed on some tung oil to make it look at least semi-presentable.  I removed the front and rear sights.  I found a screw plug that fit perfectly where the front sight used to sit.  I have a dovetail blank sitting around, waiting to be filed down and hammered in.

I mentioned a several days ago that I shimmed the Thompson Center Encore because the Point of Impact was too high – so high that I could not adjust for elevation.  Using Diet Pepsi cans, I raised the front about .004 inches.

The Saiga was a project I took on to create a workable, travel-worthy, “California carbine.”  The AR-15 clones look nice, but lack the “capacity to accept a detachable magazine.” A bullet button to comply with CA law is  not practical.  Sure.  I could have used a MonsterMan Grip (I have one), but I’m not a fan of the angle.  The SKS was another possibility since reloading with clips is actually simple and practical – not to mention that the rifles are still inexpensive.  Nonetheless, the Saiga appeared to address my needs more.  To utilize magazines that were in my possession prior to December 31st 1999, I had to modify the rifle to comply with federal laws.  Specifically, I had to research 922(r).  The Saiga (Made in Russia) has 14 parts, according to the US Government, that are counted to determine the legality of an imported firearm.  I must have no more than 10 foreign parts.  I decided to replace the hammer, disconnecter, gas piston and hand guard (All Tapco products).  I am aware that magazine parts also count towards that requirement, but I wanted to be certain that I will never exceed the allowable number of foreign parts.  Beyond shortening the length-of-pull, I installed the bullet guide on the trunnion.  The bullet guide enables the rifle to have the capacity to feed cartridges from surplus AK magazines.  All the Tapco parts were easy to install.  The only major difficulty I had was removing the factory gas piston.  Though the process was labor intensive, it was well worthwhile!

At the range, the wind was blowing from the left consistently at 5MPH.  Shots placed at 100 yards with the Marlin 25MN weren’t too bad.  I bore sighted the rifle (the real way) and placed my shots on target without a problem.  I eventually nailed it down to less than 2 MOA. I’m pretty happy with it so far.  I will eventually free float the barrel and observe any improvements from that.

The Remington 121 shot very well.  I only have .22 LR and Short cartridges and they shot wonderfully at 50 yards.  Trigger isn’t as light, but groupings at 50 yards with iron sights was satisfactory.  Each shot with a .22 Short cartridge made me smile – it was so quiet, I could hear it puncture the paper!

The TC Encore’s elevation moved up at least 8 inches – well over the projected 4 inches.  It’s now dialed in and shooting consistent dime sized holes at 100 yards (give and take a few fliers).

I had some concerns regarding the Saiga.  The Tapco hammer and disconnecter improved trigger pull dramatically; almost to the point I began to worry that it might be unsafe.  However, comparing the pull to the former weight, anything would feel “unsafe” after that.  After performing a safety/function check, I placed two rounds in each surplus magazine.  I didn’t have any trigger malfunctions and the cartridges fed, so that was nice.  I then shot several rounds from each magazine and it continued to feed well.  I was placing respectable hits at 50 yards; however, the windage was off 3 inches to the left.  I’m contemplating on getting the Mojo sights or simply bumping the front sight.

Today was a very productive day at the range.  I’m glad I finally got out there!

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Categories: Firearms, Guns

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