Over the weekend I was able to take my 1940 Israeli Mauser out for a test-drive. I was shooting in reduced course 100 yard High Power Match with the Ar-15, and although I was shooting on pace for a Master score, a poor off-hand score mathematically eliminated the possibility of a High Master score, so I figured I would use the range time I already paid for to shoot the Mauser in the slow prone portion of the Match.
The results were promising, but revealed a number of challenges faced with using this rifle in a target competition. On the plus side, I found the stock extremely comfortable ergonomically. Being a smaller person, I really like the narrow fore end to grip and the relatively short length of pull. The trigger is great. Overall, a much more comfortable and natural experience for me than the AR, despite the hundreds of hours of trigger time I've spent with the AR. As for the challenges, there are a few but I think they can be overcome.
First and foremost, the sights are going to take some getting used to. Although they are aperture sights from Mojo, the rear sight is forward of the feeding/ejection port, directly over the chamber. So unlike traditional target peep sights an inch or two from the eye, these are a good 5-6" or more inches from the shooter's eye. I have not decided yet whether it is better to focus on the front sight, the target, or to simply "look" at the sight. I ordered interchangeable apertures to experiment with, but the set I have in there now produce a sort of double bull (like a Venn diagram) when I look through them. If aperture sizes don't fix that, I may just have to pick one bull or the other to center.
Second, I need to figure out a sling solution. I tried using a nylon strap with sliders, but it didn't stay put as I put weight on the sling. I think the way to go will be to simply create a loop for my standard service rifle sling, and use that, especially because I am so comfortable with it. Third, the steel butt plate does not want to stay put in my shoulder, despite the rubber on my shooting coat. I may solve that by spraying some tacky glue onto it and my jacket. I found that a loose fit in the shoulder resulted in the shots going far right, but a nice snug fit kept the shots centered, as well as making sure I was well positioned behind the rifle.
As you can see from the target above, my random zero started low, and then I guessed how many clicks on the Mojo sights to come up, but came up to high. I'll have to take some measurements to see how many MOA per click on the sights, because although the instructions estimate .75 MOA, I think it is much less, maybe more like .5. I slowly started walking the sights down, but I think the loosening of the sling caused me to raise shots. I only loaded 20 rounds, so that was it for the day. But I think I have a good sight setting to continue tweaking off of. I am pretty happy about the horizontal distribution of the shots, especially given the difficulty I was having with the sights.
All of the shots were made from the prone position with a sling. Some may question this approach, but I prefer it, even if it takes some time to get a zero. As a target shooter, I don't think there is a whole lot to be learned or gained from shooting off of a rest to zero. I am interested in how the entire system performs, which can only be learned by simulating the position, in my opinion. I think I shoot well enough to be able to make some judgments. For example, immediately before I shot with the Mauser, here is the 20 shot group I shot in the prone rapid fire event with the AR (prone rapid is 2 shots, magazine change, then 8 shots for a total of 10 in 70 seconds; this stage is then repeated for a 20 shot total):
The 10 ring is roughly 2". So the point is, I know I'm capable of shooting at least 2MOA prone with the AR-15, so that is my justification for not using a rest to evaluate the Mauser's capabilities. My 2MOA results pretty much match my Scatt traces. Granted, this will never tell me what the rifle is capable of from a rest, but I don't really care.
I started with a very light .308 load, 41gr. of H355 under a 155gr. bullet, seated to 2.775" OAL. I am just trying to use up the H355 I have and then I'll move on to other powders more suitable for .308, I am just to lazy to dump the powder from my powder measure. I hope consistency will benefit from a different powder and greater velocity, as well as seating closer to the lands. I also have some 168 and 175gr. bullets to try, but I'm hoping that I can get 155s to work because they are cheaper.
All in all, if you move the group above the equator of the target down and center it, you have respectable group. I am planning to use the rifle for the entire High Power match next month if I can figure out a sling solution that works well.