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VOLUMES  167 & 168 -------- MAY/JUNE 2016

June 29, 2016

Finally decided to break out the Browning and Cooper .280 Remington rifles for a short bench session.  Looking back two years, when I got both these rifles in hand, I began taking a close look at them in the May/June 2014 newsletter.  You can review that newsletter HERE.

My, how time flies!  I should have had many shooting sessions with these guns before now, but have only shot them two or three times.  My original premise here was to check out these two rifles with factory ammunition and see if a semi-custom rifle, like the Cooper would out perform the 'off the shelf' Browning to the degree that would justify the extra cost.  (Well, hell, it was a good enough story for Little Heifer to bless the purchases and I really wanted the rifles!)

One excuse for some of the delay, was the persistent ammunition shortages we've all experienced.  As you can imagine, the ammunition manufacturers were not concentrating on marginal sellers like .280 Remington, when their machines could be churning out the likes of .30-06, .270 Winchester, .30-30's, .22 rimfire, etc. and still couldn't keep up!

The nearby Cabela's store in Post Falls, Idaho had only the Remington Core-Lokt 140 grain ammo for many months, but finally got in a small assortment of other brands.  So, in addition to the Remington stuff I ended up with one box each of Hornady Super Performance with 139 grain SST bullets, Federal Fusion with 140 grain bonded core bullets, and Federal Premium with 150 grain Nosler Partition bullets.  Sometime later, I disremember where, I picked up a box of Federal Premium with their new 140 grain Trophy Copper bullets.  The Trophy Copper is a polymer tipped, monolithic all copper bullet, as the name implies.  Just one more 'non-toxic' entry into a world that is becoming increasingly anti-lead in all things.  (Debating the issue of whether lead core rifle bullets actually harm the environment to any measurable degree we'll save for another of my soapbox sessions!)

In addition to the accuracy testing, I wanted to chronograph each load for velocity and consistency, so I set up the Oehler 35P unit for that chore.  I ordered the Oehler Chronograph about five years ago when they again became available after being off the market for several years.  Oehler manufactures testing equipment used by several commercial ammunition makers, and lacked the capacity for both the commercial equipment and the 35P consumer unit for a period of time.

What is unique about the Oehler as compared to other makes and models, it utilizes three 'skyscreens' instead of two, and actually gives you two velocity readings for each shot.  They call the reading between the first and second screen the 'proof' velocity.  The reading between the first and third screen is the velocity of record and is used in the other ballistic calculations the unit can perform.  A major discrepancy between the 'proof' velocity and record velocity reading is supposed to be an alert if something has gone astray as in a faulty reading, bullet passing outside the reading window of a screen, or other error.

Here is a setup with the Oehler 35P in use by our friend Courtney Johnson a few years ago

On to the shooting.  This session would check out the Hornady Super Performance and the Federal Fusion ammunition.  The protocol was one fouling shot from a clean barrel, off target, then two, four shot groups from each rifle, with both brands of ammo.  All eight shots from each rifle and ammo brand were run over the chronograph with the first screen eight feet from the rifle muzzles.  Statistics for each eight shot string are shown in the accompanying table.  Shooting was done from a Benchmaster shooting cradle atop the bench.

The Cooper set up in the Benchmaster fixture

Group size was measured per standard protocol.  A digital caliper was used to measure between the outside edges of the two widest spread bullet holes.  We then subtract the bullet diameter; in this case, .284 inches.  This gives us the center to center measurement of the holes as precisely as possible.

Some interesting observations about the velocity readings.  Hornady touts their Super Performance ammunition as giving 100 to 200 fps faster velocity than 'standard' loads for the same caliber and bullet weight, without exceeding SAAMI pressure limits.  This is supposedly accomplished by a proprietary blending of powders unavailable to us in the reloading crowd.  In this case the Hornady was 93 fps faster than the Federal Fusion in the Browning and 97 fps faster in the Cooper.

Since most of us ordinary gun people have no way of measuring actual chamber pressure, I'll have to take Hornady's word for the Super Performance pressures.  I can tell you that the recoil when shooting the Super Performance felt 'snappier' to me than the Federal ammo with both rifles.

As you can see from the table, the Cooper's velocity was 72 fps faster than the Browning with the Federal ammo and 76 fps faster with the Hornady.  These differences are most likely due to the extra two inches of  barrel on the Cooper, versus the Browning.



FEDERAL FUSION 140 gr psp  bonded


Average Velocity

Extreme Spread

Standard Deviation



Average Velocity

Extreme Spread

Standard Deviation

























Lest someone think I'm trying to convince you that my limited testing here is a statistically valid rendering of the relative accuracy of these two rifles, I have two disclaimers.  One, the sample size is clearly too small to be statistically valid, and two, my aging eyesight and mediocre bench shooting skills may not reflect the actual accuracy of the firearms given such a small sample.

Unlike real gun writers, I have no sponsors, editors, or advertisers to call upon for unlimited ammo supplies and must buy my own stuff.  So, this is somewhat self limiting by the size of our bank account at any given time.  I do plan to call upon some younger friends to bench shoot these rifles hoping their superior eyesight and shooting skills will make for more consistency and better comparisons.

Another alternative, is a rifle machine rest which I bought some half dozen years ago, and have never used.  Most of us who are interested in guns and shooting are familiar with the Ransom Rest for handguns.  Although I've never owned one, they've been around ever since I learned to read a gun magazine.  This is the first consumer product that I've seen, that purports to do for long guns, what the Ransom Rest does for handguns.  That is, hold them firmly for firing, provide remote triggering, allow for recoil, and return to battery pointing to the same spot.

One reason the rest has not been used, it's supposed to be at its best when solidly mounted on a concrete shooting bench and I ain't got one! (Yet)  Nevertheless, I may try the thing on my wooden bench after piling on a few sandbags to make it less likely to shift position.

I won't bore you with the details of the Hyskore machine rest here, but I did describe it in my October 2010 newsletter.  If you want to look at that, click HERE.

Rick celebrated another birthday on May 31st.  Ann and I can't believe we have a kid that is 53 years old and a Granddaughter about to turn 20!  Makes us think we must be older than we feel and act!  At any rate, Rick's birthday was celebrated in two sessions. The first, was on May 29th, when  Little Heifer and I treated Rick and Jennifer to an early dinner at Texas Roadhouse in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
The Roadhouse helps those willing to do so, celebrate special occasions with a ride on the roll-around saddle.  Rick was more than willing to take the 'ride' as he has done so for several years!  In the past the saddle ride included a 100 gallon, Texas Roadhouse sized, foam cowboy hat, but we were informed that someone stole it, so the ride was bareheaded.

Ride 'em Cowboy!

A second mini-celebration was held with Rick at our house on June 2nd, that included the 'Whoopie Bag".  The 'Whoopie' gift bag has been in the family for many years, and tradition holds that it be rotated and used for at least one gift on family birthdays.  As I recall, this year it held a card, WSU Golf Towel, and a can of smoked almonds.

That infamous Whoopie Bag!

Another tradition for lo these many years, is for us to buy Rick's hunting licenses and tags as his main birthday gift.  That was accomplished a few weeks earlier with the purchase of deer, elk, bear, and cougar tags, along with a small game license for Rick, Ann, and me.

On a side note, with her studies at Washington State University, Jennifer does not have the time to hunt, so the only thing she gets is what is called a 'ghost hunt' point for a moose tag.  This does not enter you into the actual drawing for a moose tag, but does continue to accumulate one's 'points', which under Washington rules, improves your chances of being drawn for a permit when you enter the drawing.  Jennifer has been accumulating Moose points since age twelve, so by the time she finishes college and has time to hunt again, she will have accumulated enough points to have a much better chance for a moose tag.

As we get older we find that our bodies seem to need repair more often, and the cost of those repairs is ever rising.  We recently found that vehicles seem to be the same way!

We have been so involved in our Hunter Education activities in recent years that we have severely underutilized our travel trailer.  We simply haven't been on as many outings with our Elks RV club as we were in the past.  Thus, our old 1999 Ford Diesel Pickup is seldom used to pull the trailer.  Actually, it is seldom driven at all.  How else would a 17 year old vehicle have less than 100 thousand miles on it!

Since we hope to do more RV camping in the next year or so, it seemed sensible to take Big Red to Gus Johnson Ford for a thorough 'physical exam'.  I wanted the automatic transmission checked out, as it seems to hesitate to pick up reverse gear when it has been sitting for a few weeks without being driven.  Turned out that Service Writer Keith Trowbridge, called with news that they could not replicate the issue, and transmission wise, it checked out to be A-OK.

However, he went on with, "It needs an alignment, the driveline slip joint needs re-packing, a new windshield wiper switch will fix that issue, the glow plug relay is defective, one battery needs replacing, and the rear brakes are worn out."

Some $1,300 later the truck is ready to pull the RV with little risk of being stranded in mid trip. We hope!

I just clicked off an email to a distributor in Wichita, Kansas, inquiring about a product I saw at the NSSF's 2016 Shot
Show in Las Vegas.  The LabRadar is the product, and the makers call themselves "The Velocity Experts."  Their literature also declares, "The Chronograph Era Is Over!"

The concept here utilizes doppler radar to calculate the velocity of projectiles.  According to the company website:

"LabRadar was developed by Infinition Inc of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada. Infinition has been the industry leader in Doppler Radar Technology since 1996 with products being used by defense agencies all over the world.
Infinition Inc. has unique expertise in Ballistic Instrumentation Radar Systems and highly sophisticated software for the capture and processing of a ballistic event.  Our radar systems include the most complex long range multiple target tracking systems to small laboratory range applications capturing tiny projectiles at ultra high velocities. From this technology the creation of LabRadar was developed for everyday use by individuals."

After visiting the Shot Show booth, I came away with an inquisitive mind, wondering if this thing really works?

Other information provided at the show booth included:
  • Obtain muzzle velocity and five additional velocities at user defined down range distances.
  • Works in any light conditions.
  • Mounts on standard Tripod.
  • Virtually unlimited storage on SD card.
  • Tracks .30 caliber bullets up to 100 yards.
  • Projectile weight can be entered for calculation of Kinetic Energy and Power Factor.
  • Provides Average Velocity, Standard Deviation, Extreme Spread, Min/Max Velocities.
All this without shooting through a small, ill defined area above a sky screen.  Just mount the unit on a tripod beside the muzzle of the firearm, point it in the direction of the target, and fire away!  MSRP is just under $600, with several optional accessories.  Street price, will likely be less.

Therefore, my email.  I am requesting a sample of the product to review and write up in my newsletters.  The reason I have waited several months to make the request, is to give the professional writers time to get their licks in for samples.  As the little guy on the block, without a national readership, who knows how successful I'll be.  All they can do is say no, right?

You can see images and more information on the company's website at: www.mylabradar.com

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from a quote by Voltaire (1764):

"In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other."

Well, it's time to shut down here, so. . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!

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