I have come to the conclusion that torque wrenches are pretty much like range finders; they expose our delusions about how good our judgement is and leave you wondering how you ever coped without them.

This morning, after a bit of a delayed start (more on that later), I fired up my new FAT digital torque wrench.  It is made by Wheeler Engineering and marketed by Battenfeld Technologies Inc.  In Australia the FAT wrench is distributed by Nioa.

FAT stands for Firearm Accurizing Torque.  Without going into the fine detail here, getting the correct torque settings on rifles and scope screws is an important and fundamental aspect in achieving optimum accuracy.  I will be writing a detailed impression and going into that more closely in my review for the SSAA magazine.

FAT torque wrench

First up I checked the tension on the scope rings holding the Swarovski z6i 2.5-15×56 scope on my Vanguard 257 Weatherby Magnum.  They were well short of the 28 – 30 in lbf (inch-pound force) recommended for scope ring attachment.  That would account for why a close inspection under the bright lighting of my work bench showed that the scope had moved back a smidge under recoil.

The FAT digital torque wrench told me the action screws were also well short of the recommended tension of 35 in lbf.  I then pulled the Vanguard apart and solvent cleaned both the action screws and the threaded holes they screw into.  It was also a good opportunity to wipe over and re-oil the metal work normally covered by the stock.  The rifle sees a lot of wet weather in my hunting grounds.

After making sure that the screws and thread were clean and dry I applied a dab of Loctite 243 to each screw and put the gun back together.  With both action screws only loosely screwed in I stood the rifle upright and firmly pulled the barrelled action back into the stock.  There was a pleasing clunk as the recoil lug on the action engaged its matching slot in the stock.

As per the instructions I then tightened the rear action screw first, all the way to the 35 in lbf.  I had set the FAT wrench to the peak mode and so it beeped as I approached and reached the 35 in lbf.  Then I tightened the front action screw to 35 in lbf as well.  In the next few days, weather permitting, Mike and I will be hunting Chital deer again.

FAT torque wench display screen

Now, this morning when I went to my shed to retrieve some T type fittings that matched those of the rifle, the first thing I found was a generous sized snake skin draped across my work bench.  The skin must have been shed last night and looks to be that of a goodly sized night tiger.

shed snake skin

That caps off a snaky few days.  My lawn mower is out of action at the moment (and as I type this my neighbour is kindly re-establishing order to a luxuriant growth of grass).   Yesterday Kathy walked a few steps off the patio to hand me my mobile phone.  With a start we realized that a sold red-bellied black snake was lurking in the thick, ankle-deep grass between us.  When it slithered up onto the concrete surround, and stopped under the laundry trolley, Kathy got a photo on her mobile phone.

red-bellied black snake

Red-bellied blacks are normally an inhabitant of the thick vegetation along water courses.  The recent heavy tropical rains have generated exuberant grass growth and, I presume, that has effectively extended the snake’s preferred habitat well away from the lake and feeder creeks.  There was an even bigger specimen in my neighbour’s work bench area last week.  They are poisonous but more docile than the king browns and taipans we also have in abundance.

python on the road

A few nights back, I was returning from an evening hunt with mike.  As I neared home I suddenly had a largish python stretched across the dirt road.  Luckily, I skidded to a halt just in time to avoid running over it.  I backed up some and watched the snake.  After a minute or so it had not moved so I reckoned I would give it some encouragement.

Normally that just requires a prod to the tail to get it moving.  I tried that a couple of times with no result, so I figured I would grab hold of its tail and drag it to the side of the road.  When I did that the big old python reared up and spun around on me.  That caused me to jump clear in a hurry.  Luckily, it maintained the momentum of its lunge and made haste into the roadside jungle.