Apr 13, 2014

Blasts of the past

I picked up a few new pieces of "iron" over the last several months and have been itching to get them to the rifle range.  Yesterday, a beautiful 65°F Saturday morning, I finally got the chance.  I loaded up the truck and popped over to the Hap Baker Rifle Range, here in Westminster.  I like this range a lot.  It's local, well run, has target posting ranges (in increments of 50 yards) all the way out to 200 yards, and its very cheap.  Its just $10 for an in-county resident like myself.  I took with me, my Remington Model 81 in .300 Savage (1945).  Also, my Winchester Model 63 in .22 (1939). And my Colt 1911 A1 in .45 (1943).  A sucker for the older guns, I sort of had myself an old-timey session down at the rifle range.  These three pieces were all made during the same era.
I started off with the Remington Model 81 first.  I really love the shape of this rifle.  It's Remington's first semiautomatic, big game rifle.  Chambered in .300 Savage it really packs a punch.  The internal magazine holds four rounds.  Although, it was made in November of 1945, I was lucky enough to find this rifle with 95% of the original bluing in tact, and not a flaw to speak of in the stock.  It's a tank of a gun; very heavy.  One of John Moses Browning's designs, it does not use gas to operate the action, instead, it uses a long spring, around the barrel, shrouded by an outer jacket.  The action is very similar to that of Browning's 1911.  The barrel actually moves for and aft with each shot.  I find it neat that it utilizes a very large safety on the right side of the receiver.  Keep in mind that Mikhail Kalashnikov's AK-47 (which uses a very similar safety lever) debuted in Europe, shortly after the Remington released their Model 8's & 81's...  
Curious to see how the Model 81 would handle, I loaded four rounds into the internal magazine, racked one into the chamber and lined up on my target 25 yards away.  Let me tell you, this gun packs a wallop!  I thought my featherweight Model 70 in .30-06 was damaging (to the shooter).  I'll be damned if this one isn't worse!  Granted; I was shooting in a T-shirt.  Again.  I sent the other three rounds, down range and ended up with a nice 1" group.  I'm happy with that.  No need to mess with the sights.  I then shot it at 50 yards and found myself shaking from the first four shots.  My shoulder was killing me.  I managed to hold a lousy 5" group.  This is good enough to put meat on the table, but otherwise could be a lot better.  I'll have to go back to the range with some shoulder padding and see how I do then!
Satisfied with how the old Remington semiautomatic performed (And not willing to subject my shoulder to it any more) I packed it away and brought the old Winchester .22 over to the bench.  This is a gun I've wanted since I was a little kid.  I just love the look of it's receiver, its feel in my hand, and the fact that it's Winchester's first semiautomatic .22 rifle.  I loaded ten rounds through the stock and set to work grouping shots at 25 yards.  Luckily, this rifle was shooting dead-nuts as far as left-to-right goes.  I say luckily, because my father replaced the front sight for me while I was last home.  Luckily, he tapped it into the grove in the barrel, centered enough that I didn't have to move it.  Elevation wise, it was a different storry.  At 25 yards, I was shooting an inch high of the bullseye.  I looked at the rear sight and saw that the elevator was moved all the way forward, yet still held the rear sight up and off of the barrel by about a 16th of an inch.  Just enough to cause my shots to land high.  With no way of lowering the rear sight, I just aimed an inch low and my bullets found their mark; no problem.
Finally, it was time to fire the 1911 A1.  This is a pistol that my father recently gave to me.  Made by Colt in 1943 it is the same model that was used in WWI and WWII.  I find that fascinating.  To think, that a gun of this design was being used, in a time when people still rode horses, or drove Model T Fords!  Anyway, it's no wonder that Browning's design is still copied today.  It's a beautiful piece.  Only having 50 rounds of .45 ammo.  I shot only a few magazines through it.  I have to say, I'm awful with a pistol.  I need a lot more practice.  At 10 yards, I think I held a 6" group.  Good enough for self defense, but it definitely needs improvement!


recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Great collection of vintage iron! When I first saw the Model 81 I thought BAR. Then you mentioned this was Browning's design. You can sure see the lineage.

Pistol marksmanship is a challenge for sure. That's why I really like it. "Practice Makes Perfect" is very true when it comes to handguns. Congrats on that 1911 it is a beauty!

Mike said...


Thanks! Yeah, that's what I like about the Remington; the BAR look.

I'm looking forward to getting better with my 1911. I just found some cheap ammo at Walmart. Tulamo is $15 for 50 rds here. Steel casings.