Friday, January 03, 2014

Overheard in Gunsmithing...

No $#!+, there I was...

I'm sitting there in gunsmithing yesterday, eating a slice of pizza, when in strolls one of those people who have graduated from customer to professional hanger-on. Every gun store has them; they're not employees, so you can't just tell them to leave, and there's always the chance they might start spending money and become a customer again*, so...

Anyway, I'm given to understand that this particular dude introduced himself as "The best AR builder."

"'The best AR builder in...'?"  I asked.

"No qualifiers; just 'The best AR builder.'"

"That's a pretty bold claim."

Anyway, this guy was dragging a .308 AR of some sort and asking what kind of modifications he needed so it would shoot with his buddies at a thousand yards. "You know," he says "Groups like this," gesturing with his hands. "It's all in the setup on the gun."

I looked up. "Wait... Groups like how?"

"Like this," he says, making a ~4"-5" circle with his hands.

"Dude, that's like, less than half MOA. At a thousand yards..."


"Your buddies should get together and put David Tubb out of business!" pipes up Gunsmith Bob.

"Who's David Tubb?"

Gotta love this stuff. Or you'll pull your hair out.

*Heck, I technically fall into that category myself, these days...


LCB said...

1000 yards is no biggie to me. I can't see that far. I probably couldn't see that far with a scope either. :-)

Without a scope I do good to see a target at 50 yards.'s time to go to the eye doc again.

Funny thing...I used to be in a band. The same kind of guy(s) used to hang around music stores too. "I'm the best sound man...", "I'm the best drummer...".

But somehow they always managed to say stupid crap that let you know without a doubt that they didn't have a clue.

Anonymous said...

And you expecting a discussion on Euclidean Geometry or the merits of the Rule of Law?

Gun shops are stupid magnets. Embrace the stupid; snark on!

Shootin' Buddy

Goober said...

I'll bet he hasn't ever grouped like that at a hundred yards, much less a thousand.

Thousand yard targets are generally one meter in diameter (minimum) for a reason. At distances like those, a flea fart will knock your impact point off by a couple feet.

Don't kid yourself, it takes a massive amount of skill to hit even a 3' diameter target at 1,000 yards, much less group 4 to 5 inches. I don't think ANYONE is doing that, especially with a .308.

Tam said...

I've done a small amount of shooting past 100 yards.

Bear in mind, this guy was telling these tales in a room where there were tools for blueprinting 700 actions, which takes a certain combination of cluelessness and cheek.

Gewehr98 said...

Jeebus, I've been damned lucky to group inside 8" at 1000 yards with my Krieger-barreled 6.5-06, let alone a home-smithed AR in .308. The force is strong with that one!

Robin said...

Ah, but that particular species of BS artist is never short of cluelessness nor cheek.

fast richard said...

Does "the best AR builder" mean he hardly ever leaves out any important parts?

Tango Juliet said...

Whazzit they say, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."

Titan Mk6B said...

Sounds like you met my brother-in-law. I thought he did not have enough money to get out of Oklahoma

Windy Wilson said...

And we (Western Civilization)seem to be making more cluelessness and cheek every year. The Progressive Program for producing Nietzschean chestless men.

This is why the late Colonel Cooper (pbuh), when he proposed the Apollo Prize, questioned whether it was even possible to get 20 shots in a 20 inch circle in 20 seconds at 1000 yards, let alone all within the open span of a yahoo's hand.

A hand span, unless he's Andre the Giant is under 10 inches. Do even bench rest shooters shoot sub minute of angle at that range?

Hermit said...

Hangaround gun shop guy has already bored all his friends and family to death with his BS. He plies his trade in the gun shop because he has a captive audience.

'Tis one thing to be ignorant, but to openly display it moves one from the category of ignoramus to fool.

I saw an "I love Obamacare" bumper sticker I saw the other day.

Scott J said...

Double facepalm.

I have had the privilege to shoot honest to God 1,000 yards.

Best I ever did was 1.5 MOA.

One of the city PD's snipers then sat down with my gun and my reloads and did 1 MOA.

I have with the same combo shot a .298 group in a 100 yard benchrest match. But that was probably just luck.

Sub-MOA rifles are rare. Sub-MOA riflemen are rarer still.

Chris Rhines said...

"A hand span, unless he's Andre the Giant is under 10 inches. Do even bench rest shooters shoot sub minute of angle at that range?"

IIRC, the IBS 1000-yard record is in the 3" range. That's for a single 10-shot group.

It's not happening every day, but it absolutely can be done.

Scott J said...

February 1993 until Summer 1994 was a wonderful time for me.

I met the woman who is now my wife in February '93 and was also befriended by a local city detective who had some for real sniper training and whose family owned enough land to set up private 600 and 1,000 yard ranges.

Most Saturdays (when we weren't at a Highpower match) we were playing on his ranges. We had to start shooting as early as possible (especially in Summer) because by 9AM the haze was so bad you could barely see past 500.

I consider myself so very blessed to have had such opportunities as a newbie shooter.

Al T. said...

Maddest I ever made a customer was when I tried to explain that I could not sell him a 1,000 yard "Beanfield" rifle as I didn't have a scope with enough adjustment, nor a base with enough cant. The world is full of 100 yard rifle shooters with 300 yard rifles.....

staghounds said...

Best AR builder... in these trousers.

Anonymous said...

I had a to you shoot an Alexander Arms 6.5 Grendel R-GR at 800 meters. Bob Alexander spotted for me, he was letting folks shoot it at a Rockcastle event The rifle was sighted in for the distance.

If I did my part I could keep it on a 12 by 12 piece of steel. I only did my part 3 out of 5 shots using the bipod from the prone position. Miss read the wind on one and just yanked the trigger on the other.

The rifle/optic/ammo was probably close to a 1/2 MOA combination but I sure wasn't.


Scott J said...

"The world is full of 100 yard rifle shooters with 300 yard rifles"

This is the thing. Most folk just don't realize how f'n far away it is.

I have a friend at work I'm getting back into the hobby. His background was more cowboy action. I took him with me to my (now our) club to check my zeros from 200-500 since it had been a couple of forevers since I'd shot those distances.

He rode in the truck with me when I went downrange to move my 200 and 300 targets to 400 and 500.

At 400 he gets out of the truck to have a look back at the firing line. He pauses for a long moment then whispers "daaaaaamn".

My theory is that most Cleti look at a target 200-ish yards away, declare it to be 1,000 and think themselves Hathcock if they manage to hit it.

Anonymous said...

I have a guy at work who doesn't shoot at 1000 yards anymore. Because it got boring. He could shoot a group the size of a tennis ball all day long with his .223 bolt gun. So now he does trick shooting. Shooting tic tacs out of the air from his hip. He once said he threw 12 tic tacs in the air, pulled his revolver, shot 6, reloaded, and managed to pick up 5/6 of the others before they hit the ground.

I don't talk to him about much about guns anymore.

Goober said...

Scott J nails it.

I was talking with a guy at the range the other day. I was practicing on the 275 yard gong. He casually mentioned something about how I was practicing on the 800 meter target, and I corrected him, telling him is was a little more than a quarter that distance.

When i showed him on the hillside where the 800 yard gong was, he scoffed and said "bullshit!"

400 yards looks impossibly far to a person who doesn't distance shoot. 800 yards is laughably far. You can't even really see a three foot gong at 800 yards with the naked eye (I know someone is going to correct me. yes, you can see it, but if you didn't know what it was, you'd never know without optics).

And what is more, with most long distance guns, the difference between shooting 800 yards and a thousand yards is night and day. 800 is frigging easy by comparison. Lots of stuff happens in that last 200 yards.

I shoot long distance for fun. I don't shoot competitions, so I've never scored or graded my card, but even after tens of thousands of rounds shooting long distances, I don't feel "confident" in my ability to "reliably" hit a 3 foot gong at 1,000 yards.

I won't shoot at an animal past 500 yards. It just isn't ethical.

Goober said...

Gewher98 - If you're grouping 8" at 1,000 yards, then you are way above my pay grade.

And like you said, you're holding a, what, $6,000 rifle? in bolt action with a long distance, high velocity round?

A .308 AR is not that...

I can't stand these mall ninja types. They drive me nuts.

Tam said...


"I can't stand these mall ninja types."

This guy's all flannel and blue jeans and Mossy Oak. He's no "mall ninja"; he's aaaaaallll yours. :p

Scott J said...

Hat tip, Goober.

Even with as little practice as I get 300 and less still seems relatively "easy". I reckon because of past experience. But it's like there's a magic barrier crossed somewhere on the way to 400 where the slightest little thing makes strange stuff happen.

You'll appreciate this story: back in those fun times I was doing my 1,000 yard with .30-06. 190gr MatchKing over 53gr Accurate 3100.

It was stellar out to 800 but would go all over the place beyond.

One humid day we found the answer. They were going subsonic about 850. My friend caught the shockwave in the spotting scope.

Sport Pilot said...

I fall into the category of past “hanger-on” and past part time gun shop employee who sometimes helps a gunsmith friend. With that I profess no uber expertness in firearms knowledge or long distance shooting. This doesn’t denote incapability or inexperience but rather I long ago realize after learning to keep my mouth shut learning is lifelong if you keep an open mind. Oh yeah, I’ve trained and shot a lot at distance and it’s a damn sight easier with a good rifle and coach then on your own

KM said...

My 700 is an under 1/2moa rifle.
All it took was about $3500 and a very pricey scope.
More often than not, my rifle sees the long range groups I shot and looks at me in disgust. I can't read wind worth a damn.

og said...

It is fun to reach out and touch things far away, but the cost of the equipment is high, and the opportunity for practice not easy to find. Where is there a 1000 yard range near Knoxville? Best we got is 275 around here, other than private land.

Tam said...

Gewehr98 said...


Not higher in pay grade, just quality parts, assembly, and wildcat handloads. It's a long-range 6.5-06 custom using tricks I borrowed from the BR world and the big brains in my former USAF physics lab. I even paid homage to David Tubb with one of his titanium strikers in the bolt. The rifle is famous for centerpunching a golf ball cold bore at 500 meters. The story's published in Tactical Shooter Magazine, September 1999.

BR shooters are most definitely sub-MOA, across the different classes in that sport. They usually run 1/4 MOA or tighter, with one 6.5-284 rifle I know posting 10 rounds at 5.352" at 1000 yards. Rule of thumb in BR is that if the rifle stays inside 1" at 300 yards, it shows promise out to 1000. My rifle's not a BR rig per se, but I did build it to put 10 rounds inside 10" at 1000 yards. That it will do, and if I lay off the Mountain Dew in the morning, I can do just a wee bit better. Not $6K, but I did design the wildcat round and chambering reamer:

Burl Thalmann said...

@Anonymous 4:26 That tic-tac trick was with a SAA, I hope. Any goober can do it with a DA with a cylinder crane. Kinda cheating to use the big brightly colored targets too, but I guess not everybody has #8 birdshot handy.

The real men have a friend 1000 yards downrange toss the bird shot, with a cameraman for proof, but people always get agitated when I talk about that. Just intimidated I guess.

Bobby Nations said...

"people who have graduated from customer to professional hanger-on"

My suburb has only one gun store, and the owner doesn't police the hangers-on at all. They are allowed to just kind of free range throughout the showroom including behind the counter. I got so tired of "employees" bailing on me after the initial battle space preparation for buying this or that thing under the glass that my last pistol purchase was made at the Bass Pro two suburbs over from mine simply because the employees there are all clearly marked.

I simply do not understand any shop's business model that allows Tom, Dick, and Harry to play employee when the mood strikes them. It is profoundly rude and says volumes about the owner's respect for his customers' time and trade. Not being born last Tuesday, I do understand that businesses buffered from market forces via government enforced monopolies can afford to shirk the lessons of good customer service. It cant, however, good for the firearms industry in the long run.

Tam said...

Then your LGS owner is doing it wrong.

Goober said...

"He's all yours"

Gee. Thanks...

I think.

Goober said...

Yup. Most standard by standard rifle rounds lose their shit at 800 ish. If you're interested in shooting further you need a magnum or some sort of wildcat.

I'll note that your 30- ought still has more juice than homeboys 308.

Robert said...

I guess this is one time that playing golf helps with shooting, in that you learn to estimate distances in yards pretty well after awhile.

Goober said...

I'd love to shoot that thing sounds awesome.

I just have a ruger m77 mk2 in 300 win mag that I load at 190 grains and 3,050 fps. So smoking hot, and heavy as hell. It holds up well, but it is a sporting gun with a vx leupold scope in 3x9, so your equipment kicks the poop out of mine.

Jim said...

Last time I attended an Appleseed shoot, I used my M-96 Swedish Mauser, replete with 29" barrel.

Iron sights, it was holding under 6" groups at 300 yards.

Sadly, my Mk1, Mod 1 eyeball failed to cooperate at the 400 yard mark, and I have no idea how it'd perform at that, or more distant ranges.

Limitation in this case = shooter.

Any opinions out there on Lasik or other options for an otherwise physically healthy 55 y/o Jr. Geezer?

Sunk New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Scott J said...

Thanks for bringing up (sorta) one of my favorite topics.

Here's my rig: on photobucket

1903-A3 action, 24" Douglas air gauged barrel turned down from blank just enough to remove the machining marks. 11 degree crown. Action bedded in a patched up old 40X stock with Devcon. Timney trigger.

Less than $1,000 in 1993 dollars.

Scott J said...

"Any opinions out there on Lasik or other options for an otherwise physically healthy 55 y/o Jr. Geezer"

I'm new to the world of presbyopia myself. I was saddled with my first pair of glasses (straight to progessives) a month before my 44th birthday.

I'm still adapting to how it changes my shooting.

I need to find an optometrist in Central AL who understands the needs of a shooter.

Scott J said...

"If you're interested in shooting further you need a magnum or some sort of wildcat"

I was able to keep them supersonic to 1k with 53gr of IMR 4350. That's the load I shot 1.5 and the sniper did 1 with.

I've since gone back to 168gr since researching though old targets (yes, I save the good ones) showed that they over IMR 4064 shot tighter groups at 100.

At their chronographed velocity they should stay supersonic to 1,000. You just have to read the wind better with them than the 190s.

Goober said...

I run 71 grains of 4350 behind a boattail 190 grain. It stays super out past 1 k easy.

Scott J said...

71 grains! And I thought my 53gr ones drank powder.

That's one of the reasons I've not had much interest in playing with a belted magnum.

Robin said...

"people who have graduated from customer to professional hanger-on"

I just show up to refresh the nose prints on the glass...

Gewehr98 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gewehr98 said...

123gr Lapua Scenars here, sitting on top of 59.0gr compressed H4831SC in reformed RWS 7x64 Brenneke brass. 3200fps 10 feet from the muzzle, supersonic well past 1000 yards. (By design - no fun watching bullets smacking the paper sideways out there)

global village idiot said...

Tam's estimate is spot-on - 5" at 1,000yds is 27.5 arc-seconds.

The only thing I'll shoot at 1,000yds and beyond is a prism with my surveying total-station, and then only on cloudy days, as the heat shimmer makes for unreliable distances past a half-mile.

Easier just to traverse the half-miles; then again, with GPS no one actually traverses a section anymore.

I can hit 50% of the 300 meter targets with my M16A2's iron sights on a pop-up range - did it back in November. This is not to say I'd be nearly as good on the "two-way range" but God be praised I've never been called upon to fire a shot in anger.

My "go-to" gun for the home & hearth is in .30-06 but that's more for turning cover into concealment than it is for range.


Steve Skubinna said...

You know, this gives me an idea... retirement has become an actual goal to plan towards finally, and I was toying with the idea of getting a Segway and a SERPA holster and being a sort of vigilante mall ninja. You know, kind of like a Sheriff's Reserve mall cop. Because the guys out there holding the line like Gecko45 would like to know somebody's got their back.

But I could save on the Segway and just be a professional hanger on at the LGS... yeah, I think I could do that. Then I could say I was the armorer for Westfield Mall Team Six.

Thanks Tam!

og said...

@Tam: Nice range!

staghounds said...

Excuse me, maybe I'm a traditionalist, but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity. I'll go so far as to call them "terrorist" rifles. They tell me that some companies are producing assault rifles that are "tackdrivers."
No, no matter what he wears he's not ours with that AR. Sorry, folks, in my humble opinion, these things have no place in long range accuracy shooting. We don't need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them, which is an obvious concern. I've always been comfortable with the statement that target shooters don't use assault rifles.

Murphy's Law said...

Jim, Lasik is fantastic. I got it last year and was finally able to ditch the optical shooting glasses. A rifle match at Perry where I was torpedoed by a spatter of rifle lubricant onto my glasses during the rapid fire segment convinced me to go for it. Glad I did. No downside whatsoever--get it!

Now I can shoot farther and easier, but I don't pretend to shoot sub-MOA 1000 yard shots. My range has a 1'x1' steel gong at 400 yards that is more than enough to keep me challenged, esp. with iron sights.

As for staghounds...woo, boy. Incoming!

Tam said...

Murphy's Law,

It's a trick!

mikee said...

Since we are all telling our long distance shooting exploits:

Back when I could still see well, I used my Ruger Mark II to pop bright pink PEEPS bunnies on the 25 yard berm at an outdoor shooting club. They'd hop like crazy if I hit them. And they'd hop like crazy if I hit anywhere near them, because they weigh nothing (marshmallow) and fly when the ground erupted from a near miss.

Made me look really cool, though, blasting a whole line of bunnies at that long range.

Jess said...

I'm guessing his modifications involve jack-stands, power assists and 200 yard long barrels.

They probably work, but there would be hell to pay when putting it in the trunk.

Steve Skubinna said...

Nice trolling attempt Staghounds, but I think everyone here is hep to that jive.

global village idiot said...

LASIK is painless and worth every penny, but it is EXTREMELY unnerviing.

I had the procedure done about 6 years ago. No complaints whatsoever and I'd do it again in a New York minute.

It's medical magic.


Kristophr said...


I guess all the non-benchrest highpower shooters who are migrating to the AR platform are just operator wannabes?

Good job zumbo-ing yourself.

Tom the Impaler said...

Yeah, hard to learn to shoot long range when Oklahoma has 2 1000 yard ranges that I know of. Red Castle and Badlands Tactical. Seems there was an 800 yard range out near the Texas panhandle and 600 yard max at OKC gun club. Hard to play the game if you have to drive minimum 2 hours to get there. Add that to your trigger time bill and holy crap, I had to give up before I started, pity too, since I'd really like a reason to own a big 50. McMillan by preference. Seems the FCSA record was held at just a bit over 4" at 1000 but hell that was the RECORD. Not an average schlub at a Sunday shooting bench.

SteveG said...

The owner of the store I used to hang out in referred to us as "Gun Store Groupies." I learned a lot from him and the other groupies and eventually did work for him for a while before I shuffled off to Basic Training.

Tam said...


Not making yourself look too hip there. Staghounds was quoting Zumbo verbatim.

[Foghorn Leghorn voice]"I, I say, I keep pitchin' 'em and you keep missin' 'em. It's a joke, boy, a joke, I say.[/Foghorn Leghorn voice]

Davidwhitewolf said...

Another vote for LASIK. Resting comfortably after getting both eyes done yesterday afternoon and I am at 20/20, going from -6.5 in one eye and -7.25 in the other. Miraculous is an understatement. Pretty freaky procedure but so very worthwhile.

Steve Skubinna said...

Tam, maybe "Tells jokes to aspies" is the name of your tribe...

Ted said...

I just hope that I'm not the only one who found himself mentally quoting Tam in Foghorns voice?

Either too much time watching Loony Tunes as a kid (and with my own kids) or too much time on the computer.

Kristophr said...


It's OK. I guess I'm just not troll aware enough for the USENET cool kids table.

I try to throw in a smiley when I do that, since I don't trust that others will detect my humor attempts.

Kristophr said...


If I was an Aspie, I'd have an excuse, at least.

Steve Skubinna said...

Don't sweat it, Kristophr, we're all Aspies at one time or another.

I will say you accusing Staghounds of Zumbo-ing himself was a lolworthy moment.

Anonymous said...


I had Wavefront lasik 10 years ago in my right eye. I went from 20/550 to 20/15; as it was my dominant eye my shooting improved markedly. Just don't go cheap--find someone who has been doing it a while and guarantees their work (will do follow-up examinations and corrections).

For the record, I'm happy to hit what I aim at from 100 yards...


Critter said...

Dr. Irwin Fingerman. His shop is known as Dr. Optical. He's a competitive pistol shooter. Google.

Kevin R.C. O'Brien said...

"The best AR builder" -- hoot. That is a rare-as-Bigfoot sighting of Bubba the Gunsmith his ownself.

Usually we only see his spoor in canted front sight bases and suchlike (one canted FSB was compounded by putting the upper in a vise -- who needs a receiver block or padded jaws, right? -- and torquing the barrel until the pin sort of bulled a swath about 5ยบ off plumb in the upper receiver).

I also saw a Colt AR15 SP1 that someone had lost the original pivot screw and replaced it with a wood dowel and a wood screw. (Unfortunately he would not let me photograph it). They walk among us.