Greetings! May your hunts be prosperous, and your nights restful! Jambo!
[I just made that up.. ha ha!]
Well, this is a range report of sorts: just to give you all an account of how far I have been able to go with Mathilda, my Mossberg 500A Shotgun, in recent times.
I earlier this year got a 24-inch rifled barrel for my shotgun, and fitted it together with a Bushnell Red Dot Sight at the same time. Mathilda looks FINE now…
But the questions are:
- What will she shoot and shoot well?
- What range will be reasonable to operate her?
- How accurate can I possibly get?
So with these in mind, I set out for a range trip, in the [safer] Middle part of Nigeria, where I come from.
I went with the following types of homemade slugs to test. I had done a lot of research, and got a lot of insights from Longbow and others of the exceptionally warm, friendly and knowledgeable forum: castboolits.gunloads.net. For those who cast their own ammo, I suggest you check it out.
- RB 1a – 2.75” shell, overshot plastic disk, Slug is a .729” Lead Round Ball, Felt wad donut [NO hard card wad]. Slug is a .729” Lead Round Ball.
- RB 1b – 2.75”, shell, overshot plastic disk, Slug is a .729” Lead Round Ball, 1 Felt wad donut, one 18 mm hard card wad – original plastic wad properly filed down flat.]
- RB 1b+ – 2.75” shell, overshot plastic disk, Slug is a .729” Lead Round Ball, Felt wad donut, One 16 mm hard card wad, and one 18 mm hard card wad.]
- RB 2a – 3” shell, Overshot plastic disk, Slug is a .729” Lead Round Ball, Felt wad donut [NO hard card wad]
- RB 2b – 2.75” shell, overshot plastic disk, Slug is a .729” Lead Round Ball, 1 Felt wad donut, two 18 mm hard card wads – original plastic wad properly cut down flat.]
- RB 2b+ – 3”, Low Brass shell, overshot plastic disk, Slug is a .729” Lead Round Ball, 1 Felt wad donut, two 18 mm hard card wads – original plastic wad properly cut down flat.]
- RB 2c – 2.75” shell, overshot plastic disk, Slug is a .729” Lead Round Ball, 1 Plastic Coke bottle cover wad donut, one 18 mm hard card wad – original plastic wad properly cut down flat.]
- RB 2c+ – 2.75” shell, overshot plastic disk, Slug is a .729” Lead Round Ball, 1 Plastic Coke bottle cover wad donut, two 18 mm hard card wads – original plastic wad properly filed down flat.]
- RB 3a – 2.75” shell, overshot plastic disk, Slug is a .729” Lead Round Ball, 2 Plastic Coke bottle cover wads donut, – and original plastic wad properly cut down flat.]
- RB 3b – 2.75” shell, overshot plastic disk, Slug is a .729” Lead Round Ball, 2 Plastic Coke bottle cover wads donut [1 with 10 mm hole, on top of another with 8 mm hole], – and original plastic wad properly cut down flat.]
- 16 mm Socket Slug – 2.75” shell, 16 mm Socket Slug with Ball Bearing Penetrator, Felt wad – and original plastic wad properly cut down flat.]
- Foster-Type 18.5 mm – 2.75” shell, 18.5 mm Foster-type slugs cast from locally fabricated mould, 1 Plastic Coke bottle cover donut wad with 8 mm hole – and original plastic wad properly cut down flat.]
- I made sure to properly sight-in my Bushnell TRS-25 Red Dot Sight, using a Sightmark Bore Sight laser: focused on a 10-inch panel of reflective material which I took to the farm with me. Using reflective material sight-in target enables a shooter see the laser even in bright sunlight. All you need to do is make sure your Red Dot Sight is focused at same spot as the Sightmark laser at the range you plan to shoot, taking into consideration ballistics and projectile behaviour – A shotgun slug zeroed at Point of Aim = Point of impact at 100 yards will hit BELOW point of aim… [Don’t forget to take your reflective target down before shooting real slugs!]
- All my slugs were labelled, and before shooting each batch, I would specify to the camera which batch next to be shot, and in what order. That way, it was easy to cross-check and verify the behaviour of each type of round. I must confess that after a few shots, and with the sun fast setting, I lost focus with this methodological process, and just fired off a few of each type of slug… I did not even go out to search for expended wads, as I had planned. But I think I got enough for the findings below.
Almost all these slugs, especially most of the Round Balls, shot LOW at 40 yards. Most of my hits were seven to eight inches low. The .729″ round ball slugs did not do well at all.
Out of all the different permutations [Listed above] the RB 3b Round Balls performed best.
I suspect that the .729″ round ball slugs were simply too heavy at almost 40 grams for the load, versus the normal 32 grams. Also, the round balls were simply not hitting the forcing cone right. So while spinning from the rifling, they were not spinning on a stable axis.
Also, the jump in the forcing cone must have affected things. These shells, when re-crimped are shorter than normal, and when fired, the slug has longer to travel unsupported before entering the forcing cone.
The 16 mm Socket Wrench slugs performed much better: giving me an impressive 7-inch group at 44 yards. These actually shot a bit HIGH! These weighed in at about 35 grams each.
My home-made Foster-type slugs performed WOEFULLY. I don’t even want to talk about these. [Maybe the thin skirts had something to do with this?]
I am re-working my mold for these: a thicker and shorter skirt should help.
I did not take any Lyman 525 slugs with me, as they had initially failed the “push through bore” test, which is done to check if a slug will go through the rifled [Or smooth] bore of a shotgun without too much effort. If too much effort is required, you might have a glorified pipe-bomb about to explode in your hands, literally… Too free through the bore, and it means you have a loose load and this will lead to poor accuracy. Fortunecookie45lc explains it better in one of his Youtube videos.
Slugs – I have modified my Lyman 525 slugs to pass through the bore with just the right amount of force: I basically used a precision sizer, which I fabricated myself, and the slugs [Inside the shotcups] go through with reasonable pressure now.
I plan to test-fire the Lyman 525 slugs to see if I will get better accuracy out to 40 or even 50 yards… [I will start from 25 yards though, this is still a reasonable hunting and self-defense range for a shotgun.]
I am also working on further improving my 16 mm Socket Wrench slugs.
Sights – I noticed that the Bushnell Red Dot Sight did not just cut it for me for two related reasons:
- It was a pain having to sight in every time: as it was installed on the receiver, and I had to remove the barrel for transport.
- It seems my eyes simply do not like optical single-point aiming: and it was a bit of stress to get my eyes aligned to the red dot and to the target. I actually have better target acquisition on basic iron sights as Alex C. would attest to.
So I have gone back to iron sights on my shotgun [Actually Aluminium sights!] When I got my Rifled Barrel: I noticed that the rear sight seemed canted to the left. I discovered it is the easiest thing to loosen the screws/ bolts, and adjust it to the right accordingly. They are perfectly aligned now. I also installed an improvised front sight, made from discarded Scope mountings…
Note that now, both front and rear sights are on the barrel itself, and not partly on the receiver: so there is no problem with RTZ [Return To Zero] even after disassembly and reassembly.
Well, here is a video of the testing experience: please drop a comment or two on what I can do better in your opinion. Any suggestion at all is very welcome!
Video – [VOLUME WARNING!]
Also: I tried to run a rapid-fire drill, with comical results! Let me know your thoughts – hold nothing back!
Any flinching spotted? Stance weird? The strange, grimacing “war-face” just before the shots? LOL
Quick update on Nigeria –
New Party in power, new president in office. The criminals who had looted the country before now are quavering and quivering in their Gucci sandals…
Terrorism in the North seems to have increased: a lot more suicide bombings happening now, but fewer gun attacks… We are hopeful that with a revamped, professionally-trained, genuinely-supplied and properly-victualed military [Funding going where it is meant to go…] we look forward to the end of the extremists in the North soon.
For the time being, regardless of where one is in the country on business, work or family stuff: we avoid large gatherings, and keep our eyes peeled [And my shotgun oiled!].