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Ruger’s Mini-14 Tactical 300 Blackout Part II Peep sights and lever action bullets

I hate exercise for the sake of exercise. No, I am not lazy and I have no qualms about expending the same level of energy in more productive or entertaining ways. It is just that exercising, for the sake of exercising, is incredibly boring and offers no short term gratification. I don’t like to feel…

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Ruger’s Mini-14 Tactical 300 Blackout Part I Seeing spots, but in a good way...

I don’t know exactly, how long a firearm needs to be in production before critics become a bit more rational and bit less cliche. The Ruger Mini-14 is a good firearm. How do I know? The Mini-14 has been in production since 1975 and sold worldwide to sportsman, private security firms, police, and military. So,…

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Browning’s Silver Field 20 Gauge Not new, just really good...

I do not know much about shotgunning. I tend to think of shotguns, for the most part, as the firearm of choice for golfers and Canadians, the more… evolved sectors of modern society. Reluctantly, I would have to admit that shotguns work well when there is a need to terminate a turkey, or a squirrel, or rabbit, or any number of game birds. Sure, they fit well into some defensive strategies and, yes, there are those “shotgun only” deer hunting states where shotguns have been legislated into use by citing flat earth and urban considerations. OK, shotguns are also great for sharpening snap shooting skills and they do make for an enjoyable afternoon of recreational shooting with family and friends.OK, maybe golfers and Canadians irk me and they seem to like shotguns.

In any event, i have just finished taking a look at a Browning Silver Field. No, it is not a new release, but it has been in production for over fifteen years, which makes it an example of a firearm many people find useful and of value. Sounds pretty straight forward, but that is a far less common outcome than most people might think. Comparing a company’s catalog of fifteen years ago to its catalog of today typically will show significant change. So when a firearm persists and expands in models offered, it is worth a closer look. Could be as simple as a well made product, that also looks good and is sold at a reasonable price.

 

Browning Silver Field

Item # 011413605
Manufactured Portugal, Viana
Type Gas Operated Auto Loader
Gauge 20 (2¾” – 3″)
Mag Capacity 4+1 (2¾“) 3+1 (3”)
Barrel Length 26″
Invector Plus Chokes Full, Modified, Improved
Weight 6 Lbs 5 Oz
Overall Length 46¾“
Stocks Walnut – Satin oil
Hardware* Matte Black/Silver Aluminum
Length of Pull 14¼″
Drop at comb 1¾”
Drop at heel 2¼“
Sights ¼” Ventilated Rib
Trigger Pull 5Lbs. 9 Oz.
Safety Cross Bolt
MSRP $1,039.99

*Aircraft Aluminum Receiver

The Browning Silver series is not a new or even recent introduction. Introduced in 2004 as a value priced product, the Silver shotgun has appeared in many versions, something to the tune of thirty seven since its introduction. Currently, there are eight models concurrently available within the Silver product line. The Field model is available in 12 gauge and 20 gauge, each with 24″ or 26″ barrel. Other Silver models are are available in 12 gauge 3 1/2″ and there are both 20 gauge and 12 gauge 3″ chamber slug guns.

Distinguishing features…

First, the things I cannot readily illustrate photographically unless I take a saw or milling machine to the subject firearm. The Silver Field, 12 gauge or 20 gauge, is a back-bored product. The bore is opened in diameter ahead of the chambered shell to reduce shot bore friction; not so large so that gas bleeds past the shot cup, disrupts the shot and reduces velocity, but not so tight as to deform pellets and cause unpredictably formed shot patterns.

The end of a 12 gauge SAAMI chamber is 0.798″ in diameter -0.000/+0.005″ at the onset of the forcing cone. The forcing cone is the length that it takes for converging 5° angles to reduce the chamber diameter to bore diameter 0.725″ -0.000″/+0.020″. This is a longer overall chamber spec, implemented 07/27/2015, which superseded a shorter chamber spec implemented on 05/29/1979.

Browning exploits the SAAMI specification by increasing its 12 gauge bore to 0.742″, which is only 0.017″ over nominal and still 0.003″ inside the maximum diameter tolerance. The 20 gauge Silver; SAAMI bore diameter is 0.615″ -0.000″/+0.020″ and the Browning back-bore is 0.632″. The increase in bore diameter, coupled with a 5° forcing cone angle, allows for a less abrupt transition for shot cup and shot from chamber to bore. And yes, there are many shotgun manufacturers that now do something very similar because it works. My point is that this is a proven technique that is used in many applications from performance car exhaust systems to natural gas pipelines, rooted is some form of aerodynamic and/or hydrodynamic physics, neither of which are very intuitive and easily addressed by opinion.

No, Invector Plus is not a new Marvel Super Hero

I guess there isn’t much point in smoothing out the entrance if you’re not going to streamline the exit.The Browning Silver utilizes Browning’s Invector Plus interchangeable choke system. Three are supplied with the Silver Field, all are flush fit and the bodies are longer than the Invector Series, which provides a longer internal taper. Yes, the choke key is included. Thank you for asking.

Active Valve gas system…

The Active Valve gas system bleeds gas from the bore, feeds it to the gas piston which actuates the push rod at the end of the piston sleeve and cycles the shotgun. Only enough volume and pressure are used to cycle, the rest is vented through the forearm. This allows the system to function reliably with a wide range of loads.

Top, the gas supply ports for the Active Valve system and the vests at the top of the forearm. No, jet streams are not emitted from the forearm that scare wildlife and give your fingers whiplash. In fact, I did not notice the vents until I was illustrating the system and that was after lots of shooting.

Initial Impressions…

I like the Browning Silver. It has an understated appearance, even with the silver sided aluminum receiver and artful logo. I particularly like the combination of matte black metal piece in concert with dark walnut with a satin finish. I like the semi-humpback receiver. It helps me with line of sight alignment and find the front bead quicker.

The Silver Field 20 gauge is lightweight, but nicely balanced. Stock geometry is comfortable. Browning indicated their Active Valve system reduces recoil and gas systems typically reduce recoil by consuming gas volume and  because they slow recoil velocity. In the case of the Browning Silver, recoil reduction is notable in comparison to other other gas actuation systems.

Browning indicates that the Active Value system is adaptive to a wide array of ammunition types. I only worked with three types that were handy, but they all cycled reliably, even when mixed in the shotgun’s magazine. Pictured L-R: Winchester Super Target 2 3/4″ 1200 fps 7/8 Oz #8 shot, Remington Express Long Range 2 3/4″ 1220 fps 1 Oz #6 shot, Remington Nitro Turkey 3″ 1185 fps 1 1/4 Oz #5 shot.

I did not put out pattern targets for a couple of reasons. First, because there is no separating the ammunition selection from the shotgun’s performance, so it would not be clear who to high five versus raspberry based on the outcome, the ammo maker or the shotgun. Of greater importance, it is sub zero weather, the snow piled high on the ground. While I like you guys a lot, I am not that self sacrificing.  I did shoot some clay targets, connecting much better than my typical. I also did pretty well on some tossed pine cones that turned out to be material for one of my wife’s craft projects.

I could have shot the target ammo all day. For a 6 lb shotgun, it really does manage recoil well. Express loads… half a day and still be smiling. For 3″ Nitro turkey loads? After shooting a bunch of the other types, I was not disappointed when I reached into the box for the fourth reload and found only one shell left. Nice shotgun, typical Browning high quality. A couple of days of shooting and both me and the shotgun concluded in good shape.

Ruger’s Hawkeye Long Range Target 6.5 PRC Part I And how do you feel about that?

I really have to move the house closer to the mailbox. The snow fall hasn’t been too bad, compared to the past year, but the wind chill factor yesterday was -15°F with winds gusting to 30 knots. I’ve had to pour hot water on my trigger finger to separate it from project rifles. I shouldn’t complain. I left New Jersey to get away from the cold and ended up in South Dakota. Accordingly, another move would probably put me above the article circle. Joe, stop whining. Stop it. Right now!

The term “transference” refers to the reassignment of feelings, often retained from early days in a person’s life, to a new object, sometimes human, sometimes not. Please see Sigmund Freud’s “Remembering, Repeating and Working Through” circa 1914. I picked up the Hawkeye Long Range Target rifle and it was 1959, I was fourteen years old and attempting to master a Winchester Model 54 target rifle. It was heavy, the 30-06 Springfield cartridge was stout but, with concentration and some practiced sling work, it shot as a memorable firearm.

Other than the Ruger’s absence of: a parkerized finish, linseed oil blackened walnut stock, peep and globe sights, the rifles are nearly identical. Actually, the familiar presence is the heavy barrel, fat stock and the Ruger’s heft. The rest of the old Winchester attributes gave way to much improved modern materials and processes developed during the 60 years that separate the two rifle’s manufacture.

Ruger’s Hawkeye Long Range Target

Manufactured Newport, NH
Model #  47189
Type Bolt Action 90° Lift
Caliber 6.5 PRC
Mag Capacity 3
Barrel
26″ 4140 CM 5/8″-24 Threaded
Rifling 5R Type 1:8″ RH Twist
Weight – Actual 11 Lbs
Overall Length 47″ – 48.50″ (Recoil Pad Spacers)
Stock Laminate
Hardware Finish Matte Black
Length of Pull 13″ – 14.50″
Drop at comb +/-1/2″ Bore ℄
Drop at heel 1/2“ Below Bore ℄
Sights Clean
Scope 20 MOA Picatinny Rail
Trigger Two Stage Adjustable
Safety Three Position
MSRP $1279

For the neophobic enthusiast, the Long-Range Target rifle is also available in 300 Winchester Magnum and 6.5 Creedmoor. But what fun would that be with a year old, stubby long range cartridge right in front of us in the form of the Hornady 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge? Purpose built, heavy… Not a sporter pretending to be a target rifle and not a target rifle pretending to be a sporter.

First things first… from front to back… sort of

The Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target muzzle has a 5/8″-24 thread for attaching muzzle devices. The rifle ships with a removable Ruger Precision Rifle® Hybrid Muzzle Brake in place and a muzzle cap to protect threads when the brake is removed. The brake design is very efficient, substantially cutting recoil and directing muzzle blast away from the shooter.

The Long-Range Target barrel is 26″ long and cold hammer forged from 4140 CM steel. The rifling is the 5R type for more consistent bore diameter, less bullet deformation and for ease of cleaning. The 1:8″ right hand twist is optimized for high Ballistic coefficient bullets. The barrel is matte black to minimize glare.

Listing the barrel as a heavyweight is an accurate statement. It begins at the receiver with a 1.160″ diameter and is still 0.840″ at the start of the muzzle end barrel threads. The barrel is full floating. While the bore is cold hammer forged to minimum groove and bore specification, the chamber is cut with minimum headspace and concentric to the bolt face.

While the stock has the appearance of a foam core fiberglass stock, it is actually a very stable and rigid hardwood and epoxy bonded laminate finished in black and brown speckle. The stock has two cross bolts providing reinforcement at major stress points, the receiver tang is carefully inletted as is the recoil lug.

Beefy stock and stout action and Ruger was smart to include specific torque values and sequence for fastener tightening on a slip sheet, packed in the box. In this case, 95 inch pounds front first, followed by aft fastener torqued to 45 inch pounds.

The Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target follows the standard for Accuracy International Chassis System magazines, ACIS. Magazines are interchangeable between the Ruger Precision rifle, the Scout rifle and other firearms and aftermarket following the standard.

Length of pull is adjusted by adding or subtracting 1/2″ recoil pad spacers. A total of three are supplied with the rifle. The adjustable comb can easily be adjusted by lifting the cam lever. Without the adjustable comb, the stock has a 1/2″ drop from bore centerline at the comb and heel. Installing the adjustable comb raises it to bore centerline with 1″ of upward adjustment available. The comb can also be revered to shift the support surface and the comb can be shifted fore and aft in a range of 2″. Ease of adjustment is important if it is to be used as intended for changes in shooting positions.

The Long-Range Target includes an M-LOC compatible forearm rail, as well as a Q-LOC sling swivel and Picatinny rail for mounting a Bi-pod. The rifle also has three QD sling mount attachment points.

The Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target has a three position wing type safety; safe locked bolt, safe unlocked bolt and fire. The 20 MOA Picatinny rail moves scope adjustment closer to optical and mechanical adjustment center for long range shooting. The rail is secured with #8-40 to carry the weight high magnification, large tube scopes.

The one piece Ruger Hawkeye stainless steel bolt is two lug for a 90° lift. The long Mauser type extractor provides controlled round feed. A blade ejector allows shooter to determine force of ejection.

The 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge

Right, 300 RCM 165 grain and 6.5 PRC.147 grain.

The 6.5 PRC has been with us for just about a year. Originating with Hornady, it is derived from the 300 Ruger Compact Magnum cartridge with a number of notable differences. Beyond the neck size reduction to accommodate a smaller 0.264″ bullet… The 6.5 PRC has a 0.115″ longer MAX COL, its shoulder is set back 0.074″ farther than the 300 RCM and the 6.5 PRC’s case capacity is 68 grains of H2O compared to 75 grains for the 300 RCM.

The increase in powder capacity over the 6.5 Creedmoor provides higher velocity when both are loaded with heavier, high BC bullets. Like the 6.5 Creedmoor, the short case permits the use of longer bullets in a short action rifle. As a small bonus, the short case chamber also increases net barrel length compared to a standard length cartridge.

As a note of no particular importance, the case capacity for the 6.5 PRC is actually the same as the 1966 6.5 Remington Magnum, but the 6.5 Magnum was a compilation of the problems the 6.5 PRC overcame. The 6.5 Remington’s case length was dimensionally marginal for a short action rifle, which resulted in deep seating heavier, high BC bullets, causing a loss of net case capacity. Consequently, factory ammo was loaded with either 100 or 120 grain bullets. The 6.5 Remington Magnum was launched in a short 18 1/2″ barrel carbine that threw away the benefit of greater case capacity and even the lighter bullets.

Current;y, there are only two factory loads available for the 6.5 PRC, both from Hornady, both with 147 grain bullets, but one is for match shooting and the other is for hunting. Not to let a small issue like factory ammunition availability get in the way of a terrific cartridge, more than half of the 96 bullets available in 0.264″ for handloaders weigh 140 grains or more with several stretching above 160 grains. These would take advantage of the rifle’s tight 1:8″ twist and and relatively large case capacity.

I don’t know why some popular writers persist in advising that 6.5mm cartridges are “catching on”. There are roughly sixty eight, 6.5mm/0.264″ cartridges, although many of them are are of Euro origins or from the bench of handloaders, with both civilian and military applications. Above, are six I handload with some frequency. We’ll use them in order of case capacity to place the 6.5 PRC into proper context. Left to right, top to bottom on the table. Why? Because I said so, and I am the supreme commander of this desk and monitor and the ruler of all that surrounds me… within a foot or two…. until the cleaning crew tells me to clear out.

Cartridge Case
Length
Inches
Cartridge
Length
Inches
Case
Capacity
H2O
MAP/
Pmax
KPSI
SAAMI
Bullet
Grains
SAAMI
Bullet
FPS
6.5 Creedmoor 1.920 2.825 53.5 62 140
2690
260 Remington 2.035 2.800 53.5 60 140
2725
6.5×55 Swedish 2.165 3.150 57.0 51 140
2550
6.5×284 Norma* 2.170 3.228 66.0 60 140
2936
6.5 PRC 2.030 2.955 68.0 65 147
2900
264 Winchester
2.500 3.340 82 64 140
3015

 

* The 6.5×284 Norma is under CIP homologation, not SAAMI and data is conversion from metric to imperial. All SAAMI listings are with a 24″ test barrel and velocity and pressure are stated in imperial measurement. The 6.5×55 Swedish, when handloaded for a modern bolt action rifle can easily match or exceed 6.5 Creedmoor and 260 Remington performance.

Left, the 6.5 PRC adjacent to the 6.5 Creedmoor and 260 Remington. All cartridges that have seen a lot of exposure in long range target shooting competition. No, the picture was not necessary. Thank you for pointing that out. Still, it was a good shot and I did not want it to go to waste.

So where does all of this leave us, other than at the intersection of pseudo arcane and mass confusion? The 6.5 PRC is arguably, the best short action 6.5mm cartridge where there is an objective of using heavy lead and shooting over long distances.

How do the Ruger Hawkeye Lon-Range Target and the 6.5 PRC perform with light bullets and that tight twist? Other than hearsay, I do not as yet know, but I will by the time I get done with Part II.

 

 

Ruger’s Hawkeye Long Range Target 6.5 PRC Part II Long bullets and short necks

My writing routine is to type a few sentences, then reference “Common Errors in English Usage” just to see how many mortal and/or venial grammatical sins I had committed.The report on that research is typically, “All of them”. The truth of the matter is, my writing stems from the stream of consciousness school of expressed…

Real Guns is a membership supported publication. Membership offers access to: all current and archived articles, handload data, ballistic calculators, and the Real Guns Image Gallery. Membership is available for $39.95 for twelve months.

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