View Full Version : Ranch Dogs in my .308

10-13-2014, 12:28 AM
I finally got around to shooting my first tests in my Rem788 of the Ranch Dog 180grFNGC hunting bullet. My 4895 test ladder started with a much reduced charge as per the reduction formula for extruded powders, working up to the jacketed START load in five one-grain increments. I got a chance to shoot two 5shot groups of loads #1 & #2 off a sandbag @ 100yds. Load #1 gave me a 5" wide by 1" high spread and a nice tight 2.5" group. Load #2 gave me a 4shot of 4" and a 5shot 7" pattern. Maybe there is an accuracy node 1gr below my starting load. I will speculate further when I have shot loads #3-5 and see how they do. I hope for an accuracy node at a higher velocity, but it's up to the rifle, not me. We'll see. Other powders to test, too. That one group tells me the bullet has potential.

I have three other good .30cal hunting bullets too, but I wanted to try these .30Ranch Dogs first as I have been so pleased with the 190gr .35cal version in .357mag and .35rem Contenders. So far a .300Sav and several different .30-30's love them, they're proven deer and moose killers.

I've been wanting to try them in my .308, but first I had to shoot up 300rds of tests with target bullets already loaded, to free up the brass to try the RD's. I have a box of 50 empties I'll fill with 3031/RD tests, and after I shoot up the rest of these 4895's some 4064/RD's too. That will tell me if the rifle likes the bullet. If it does, I have four more powders to ask its opinion of with the same bullet to see just how accurate it can be. I'm really just looking for an accurate (2.5-3" 5shots @ 100yds) deer hunting load for the rifle. If I can get an accuracy node above 1700fps with one of the first few powders I try that would be nice too. I'd settle for 1400-1500 if I could get consistent groups under 3" with a load, but I'd choose one faster, 1800-2000 in a perfect world, or even 17-1800 that still stayed under 2MOA for a bit flatter trajectory if I could find an amenable powder.

I'd kinda like to find a cast hunting load as accurate as the rifle is capable, .5MOA with 150 & 165 Sierra GK's, though I might find the rifle chooses instead the 120gr soupcans, or the 150gr custom FNGC's, or the old standby 180gr 311041's, or the RCBS 180FNGC that my K31 loves. But its always nice to find a rifle's favorite bullet on the first or second try.

I tend to forget thirty years back when I spent two years of testing dozens of different 125-165gr jacketed hunting bullets after I first got this rifle and found out how accurate it is and found its favorite loads. Then I loaded up a couple thousand of them in brand new cases, (both 150 & 165 SGK bullet loads have a common POI between 100-150yds), some 165's but mostly 150's and a full box of nickel plated cases to carry while hunting.

But gathering dust in the corner I have a 20mm ammo can full of 50rd boxes of as-yet unfired tests loads of one kind of jacketed hunting bullet or another for the rifle, every time I finish another box of 50 I can reload them with more cast hunting bullets. Still haven't fired three 50rd 180gr JSP & JRNSP tests, loaded them twenty years ago, perhaps I should pull them, still have the partial boxes I loaded them with in the bullet stash. There are a bunch of other half remembered jacketed bullet tests in there too, just incompleted notes in the loading logs of the time and they don't make many of the bullets anymore. 1000rds or so I should pull that my collet puller would pull easily. I could better use the brass and have more fun with it, no need to neck size if I load cast in them, just need to expand the necks a tad. I guess I just thought myself up a lot more work.

10-18-2014, 01:07 AM
No shooting today, maybe tomorrow or Sunday.

10-20-2014, 12:01 AM
Well, it looks like the RD/4895 combo is a bust, but I still want to further reduce the charge and see if there is an accuracy node down there as groups have been opening up as I increased the charge all the way to shotgun patterns at the upper end. No leading in the barrel at all, that upper load has to be close to 1900fps, but it looks like it will stabilize at 14-1500. That's just an estimate - I won't dig out the chrono until I get acceptable and consistent groups, and I haven't with this bullet yet. One 2.5" group, but the second was 5" at that charge. It was the starting load on the test ladder I chose, but I could have started lower had I not been primarily interested in getting as much practicable velocity that I can with this hunting bullet. Seeing the test results it appears that reducing the charge ought to keep tightening the groups, if the start I chose isn't the itself the node, which would not be encouraging. I will reduce in two more increments to further test and load up more of the original starting loads to shoot enough groups for a decent average in a couple of weeks.

But next week I have ready to shoot a box of fifty test loads with some 3031.

I love shooting this rifle with these cast bullets. With jacketed bullets I do not want to shoot more than three rounds of 150's without a recoil shield. Just the pad on the rifle is enough for thirty to fifty rounds of cast loads with no discomfort despite having the vertebrae in my neck seriously violated by licensed torturers with heavy equipment in March. It recoils about like a .243/.260/6.5swede, not like a .308 with 180gr bullets. How can you not like that? It's a light bolt action with a peep sight, no optics, I'm thinking it weighs around six pounds, maybe six and a half at the very most with sling and a full 3round mag and one up the pipe. I last shot jacketed 180's in it in my 20's when I bought it, shortly before I put the recoil pad on it.

The rifle doesn't get very hot with these cast loads either. Five rounds of jacketed and it won't pass the johnson test. Too hot. It has to cool off for a while before I can shoot a second 5shot group. After twenty of cast the barrel is warm, but it is not hot enough cause any discomfort if you were to lay a hand on the barrel over the chamber and muzzle-ward. It easily passes the johnson test. After thirty shots in ten minutes it finally gets hot enough to fail the test and I have to let it cool off for however long before resuming. It will be even nicer when I get some decent groups, too. Patience will be rewarded eventually. If not with this bullet then with one of the others.

I have some test loads of these RD's for the K31 to try out, too. It shoots everything well, including three cast bullets I've tried so far, but even though it shoots them MOA loaded singly, it will not feed some of the blunter cast designs. It won't feed soupcans or those custom 150's the leverguns love. But it will feed dummies with seated and crimped RD's, so they're up next for testing in it. But that will be in another thread.

10-20-2014, 01:33 AM
Hey Versifier did you post a pic of the K31 at one time? If not could you?

10-20-2014, 02:25 AM
Custom K31, Leupold 3x Scout scope


10-20-2014, 11:12 PM
I saw an ad for a scope mount on a k31
It attaches via the action screws
Don't remember where I saw it

10-21-2014, 12:01 AM
That one attaches to the rear sight base, like a Mauser scout setup. It's low and very stable. I got it from someone on the Swiss Rifles forum, but that got taken over by Yuku recently and I deleted my membership there. It's very like the BSquare Mauser and other milsurp mounts that replace the rear ladder sight, but it has a bunch more setscrews for added stability. I really like it. I would put a red dot on it to hunt with, but that 3x scope is fine for all the 100yd testing and offhand target shooting that I use it for. The mil sniper version had the scope mounted off center on the left of the action and I didn't like that idea at all. It has a detachable mag, but it is numbered to the action and you never find surplus mags available for them ever, so I don't generally remove it. From what I have read, the Swiss didn't either. They generally loaded them with stripper clips through the top of the action, but I do it singly like any internal mag bolt gun as no one is shooting at me.

10-21-2014, 08:50 PM
I found were I saw it
It was in American Rifleman
Made in the States company called
Swiss Products and available at Grafs.com
It's a little steep in cost

10-21-2014, 08:59 PM
Its an expensive and ugly looking one too.

10-21-2014, 10:19 PM
That mount from Graf's won't fit K31's, just the older ones S/R 1911's. And like HR said, it's expensive AND ugly.

My mount cost around $75, six or seven years ago. I'm sure someone on the Swiss Rifles forum can tell you where to get one, but I won't post on a Yuku forum.

None of those setups pictured in Graf's or Brownell's are worth installing for my money. The clamp-on's are for rimfire scopes - like they would work under recoil. The d&t mount goes over the receiver like a standard mount. It would be fine for a long distance target rifle though.

Many of the mounts on the market require the scope be mounted offset to the left or the right instead of over the bore. (Swiss sniper rifles had them offset to the left, but they aren't really K31's - there were other modifications.) They're on drugs if they think anyone is going to make those work at varying ranges. I do like the peep-style target sights they make for them, but I am more than happy with my current setup.

Check out this site: http://www.swissrifles.com/

10-29-2014, 05:00 PM
Ok, I got some range time yesterday and got to shoot the first three ladder increments with the RD's/3031.

Not impressed so far, but I may yet be onto something. Every test teaches me something, often gives both answers and more questions. Load #1 with 3031 was shotgun patterns of 10-12", #2 tightened up to 8-10", and then #3 gave me two actual 6" groups. Next week with loads #4 & #5 will tell me if they continue to shrink as the charge levels increase and I might have a usable load at the accuracy node (if there is one). Patience is the key. This is one of the most accurate rifles I own, so I KNOW what it can do. Just a matter of finding the right load, right bullet so it can do it with cast too.

Here is the interesting thing I learned from this session: I am noticing that with 3031, unlike 4895, the 100yd POI is getting much closer to POA. (The rifle is sighted in for its favorite 150&165gr jacketed loads - I never move the sights unless I have to in a rifle that is all set up for a specific load, and this one has been so set for more than 30 years. If I find the tack driving cast load I'm looking for, I will move the sights to accommodate it, but I will not until or unless I do find it.) POI with last 3031 load was printing 3" low and left as opposed to about 16" low and 12" left with all of the 4895 loads, if they grouped or not. 3031 results are much different: Load #1 groups were 12" low and 3-4" left, #2 were 4-6" low and 4" left, and #3 were 3" low and left, so the POI is coming closer to POA as the groups tighten up. Odd, but I'm not complaining at all. If it shoots a 4" group or better on the paper (so I don't have to move the sights and can carry short and long range loads in different mags) with one of the next two tests I'll be good-to-go, but I'm not taking any bets at this point, just thinking positive. There is an equal chance they will open up instead of tightening up. I shot ten rounds then walked out to check POI. The rifle was barely warm so I resumed shooting. After then shooting four more 5shot groups is less than ten minutes the rifle still passed the johnson test, warm, but not too hot to continue shooting if I'd had enough light to do so.

Still too early to be sure about these .30RD's, but I don't think that 2.5" group with the 4895 a few weeks ago was a fluke. Some more testing with both powders will determine if there is a lower velocity accuracy node with the 4895 as well as if there is a higher velocity one with the 3031.

I do miss the easy access I had to the old club before I moved here when I could shoot four or five days a week if I wanted to and had the time. Back then I could test one bullet per rifle per week, not just one powder/bullet combination every two weeks. Testing has been a lot slower since, but I much prefer the private range on my buddy's farm even if it's just once or occasionally twice a week. There is no way I am going to have a cast deer load for this my favorite deer rifle this season unless a miracle happens in next week's test firings, but it's not like I have any shortage of choices of cast hunting loads in other rifles, I'd just prefer to carry my favorite old friend. I have a 16" .35rem Contender Carbine with peep sights that will do just fine with a 180gr .35RD bullet, and a 24" .30/223 barrel with a soupcan load. I think I'll put the .35rem barrel on it when I get a minute and shoot some rounds through it next week too just in case.

I saw a large deer crossing the road in front of me on the way home in the dark, couldn't see if it had antlers, but from what I saw of its south end it was over 150 easy.

10-30-2014, 02:11 AM
This is becoming the working notes for another damned article. It will take months to get all the data together for it though but it will be worth the effort I think, maybe saleable but I doubt it. No one profits from cast bullets except hunters and shooters and that doesn't sell magazines. Me mother wanted me to be a doctor; I wouldn't listen. My daughter did that instead. There's no money in poetry either.

11-04-2014, 07:08 PM
Tomorrow we will have a good long afternoon session and not be fighting sunset. Maybe we will get some answers about the RD's.

Article draft is nine pages. Even if I cut a bunch out (and I will) it's way too long for an article already and only half way done. When I got started I realized that I don't want to write a short magazine-style article about firing showcased loads of a few different bullets. I want to write about the actual process of working up searching for and working up the cast load for my trusty deer rifle, and all the steps and the months it actually takes to do the job as thoroughly and as completely as I can with the hunting bullet moulds I have on hand to explore the rifle's abilities with. Looks like it may have to be a chapter in a longer work, or several chapters as it progresses. Oh well, the idea wouldn't have sold to a magazine anyway even if I could have kept it to 1500 words and the unlimited longer format will give me the freedom to do it in the detail I have in mind to. I suppose I can put it and a dozen short articles and some longer pieces on casting, loading, shooting and related topics all together in a collection of 300-400pages. That might work and it might even be marketable. I have plenty of material. But I still have to do quite a bit more shooting before I can finish this part of it. And then we'll see how much motivation I still have to put it all together when I get through writing it all up.

11-06-2014, 05:48 PM
So, I have some answers, but not necessarily the ones I was looking for.

I finished the 3031 tests, hoping for some decent groups and almost found them. Load #4 gave me a 3.5" 5shot and a 3" 4shot (I got a hot .223 case from my buddy's AR down the back of my shirt as I was squeezing the last shot off). At #5 the groups opened up to 10" and 12". So the accuracy node is somewhere around the #3-#4 charge levels and I have found tight enough groups so I'll get to go to stage two testing with 3031 & RD's. Weird, but the POI moved back down and to the left for the last two loads, right around where the 4895 groups were hitting. Go figure.

Mike in tx
11-07-2014, 10:43 AM
V at least you got some range time. We got 5.5 inches of something that others call rain. Two of the 3 ranges I go to are under water; actually you can not get to one. So, I thought I would drop some boolits for the 7.65. NOOOOOO rain blowing into the portion of the garage that I use to cast in. So I did what old men do and took a nap.

11-24-2014, 10:31 PM
I got the 4895 and 3031 RD retests all loaded up for the .308 today, and some more RD's in 7.5Swiss with 4895. It will be another week before I get a chance to shoot them, but they're all ready. I'm way behind on casting, so dog alone knows when I'll have some time for that, maybe next week.

01-12-2015, 04:36 PM
I am off to the range at last tomorrow for a round of tests! We have been getting my buddy's new AR all sighted in and squared away for him and the .308 testing has taken a back seat for a month or so, but I am going to shoot it with the remaining RD tests tomorrow. Anything might happen.....

I will test the Soupcans in it next.:mrgreen:

01-16-2015, 03:39 AM
Oh well. Win some loses some.

I got a 4shot 2" group with the minimum 4895 charge, jerked the trigger on #5 and got a 4" group altogether. It's a workable load if I had to use it, but it's barely 1600fps (estimated).

Retests with 3031 got me one 4" group and the rest 7-10", opening up as the charge increased.

I am not going to bother trying 4064. Clearly the rifle just doesn't like this bullet.

Soupcans next!