Yesterday I was busy testing the Savage B22 VFSS 22WMR and the Bergara BA13 243 Win.
I initially treated the Savage 22WMR like I would a centrefire rifle. That is, I shot the barrel in slowly, meaning a lot of cleaning between shots. I did some research and there seemed to be some variation in opinion about that. Some advocate just that while others regarded cleaning of no value, perhaps a detriment to accuracy even.
Now that the rifle had seen over a hundred rounds, and a lot of cleaning, I decided to see how the range session went and only clean the barrel if it seemed to be losing accuracy. That worked well on the day and there was a noticeable improvement in group size from the initial testing.
The best results yesterday came from the CCI V-Max 30 grain Poymer Tipped ammunition. It produced a series of sub-Moa groups at 50 metres, the best of which was a nice 5-shot clover leaf measuring 0.5MOA. Can’t complain about that! I measured a muzzle velocity of 2,140 fps which was close to the nominal MV of 2,200 fps.
In fact, all the 22WMR ammo I shot yesterday came in close to their nominal MVs, which is good to see. I expect that some of the other ammo should start to challenge the MOA benchmark as I put more bullets down the barrel and the rifle settles-in.
Last week I put some factory rounds through the Bergara BA13, but halted the session because I lacked appropriate cleaning brushes and jags. Yesterday I started by giving the BA13 and thorough cleaning, armed with nylon brushes and jags of the correct size.
I had a batch of handloads to test, but started off by firing a couple of factory loads. I wanted to season the barrel after the big scrub-out and I was also curious to see what MV the factory ammo was delivering from the stubby 20” barrel. I fired a couple of the Federal 80 grain soft point rounds. Pleasingly, the measured MV averaged 3,110 fps, which was more than I was expecting.
My handloads were the 90 grain Nosler BT, all to an length of 2.745 inch which, in the Bergara BA13 puts them 10 thou off the lands. That is always a good place to start when beginning with a new loading of any projectile. I used the Federal Premium Match Magnum primers because that is the only large rifle primer in my cupboard and I figured the short barrel might need a bit of help in consuming the propellant before it left.
The propellant load was AR2213SC (H4381SC in the USA). I chose to use the ADI reloading guide data, which agreed with that of the veritable Nick Harvey. I checked the Nosler reloading guide too, but it was a few grains off the pace compared to ADI & Harvey.
The only variable was the powder charge. I started at 45.0 grains and moved up in 0.5 grain increments, prepared to stop at any sign of pressure. I measured the case heads before and after each shot and found an increase of about 0.5 thou for all loads. I also visually checked the cases and found little indication of increased pressure with load.
I was pleased to see an increase in MV with each increase in powder charge. You cannot always expect that in short barrelled rifles, which is another good reason to use a chronograph as you develop loads.
I did not change the scope sighting during the shooting; it is way too early, and pointless, doing so at this stage. The rifle was shooting reasonable close to point of aim (POA) at 100 yards and that was fine for the exercise. The fixed sighting allowed me to plot the centre point of each group along with the group size. The variation in both point of impact (POI) & group size can sometimes be useful in determining where-to-from-here after an initial load testing session.
The little Bergara delivered a couple of 0.6MOA 3-shot groups. Given the lack of pressure indicators, I will next try a few seating variations around the 47.0 grain loading for the Nosler 90 grain BT.
Next range session I will also start the ball rolling with some test loads of the 85 grain Nosler Partition and the 90 grain Accubond. I will also run some more factory ammo through the rifle for MV and accuracy testing as well. I feel the Bergara BA13 has good prospects, accuracy wise, and I am looking forward to finding a load it loves and working that together into a fabulous little stalking outfit. But, it is early days yet and there is a way to go before we get there.