BOOMERS & BABY BOOMERS-Long Range Shooting in the US


#1

Excerpted from JOURNAL #456

For most of the first half of the 20th Century the 30-06 Springfield dominated long range shooting in the United States. But in 1935 something happened that had a profound effect and started a change that continues to this day. In that year a shooter named Ben Comfort won the prestigious Wimbledon Cup with a rifle chambered for the 300 H&H Magnum, shooting factory match ammo of all things. The magnum craze was underway.

Following a lull during World War II, competition at the longer distances started anew but shooters had not forgotten the big belted H&H case, and it was a rare firing line that did not bristle with big 30 caliber wildcats firing long boat tail bullets of 200 grains or more. A few 30- 06s were still seen but most competitors turned to cases with large, and even larger capacity. When 1000 yard Benchrest shooting started in 1967 it was natural that many of the same large capacity cartridges used in conventional long range were used. They are what I like to call the Loudenboomers, or simply the Boomers. But the early Boomers were not restricted to 30 caliber. Both smaller and larger calibers, such as 6.5 and 7mm, and 338, were seen on the line. The belted magnums dominated until new wildcats, based on the large bodied “beltless” cases, appeared. Most of the old and new Boomers exhibit abrupt shoulder angles and little body taper. Even when seen sideby-side it is often difficult to identify one from another. Today, all that restrains shooters from going even bigger are rules that prohibit rifles of more than 40 caliber.

I’ve assembled and photographed six of the Boomers in my collection. First is the one that started it all, a 300 H&H MAGNUM. Next is one of the oldest long range wildcats, the 6.5/300 Weatherby-Wright Magnum. Badly over bore-capacity, this cartridge could easily shoot out a barrel in one season. (Stainless steel barrel = $400. Pot metal and fake wood 1st Place trophy = Priceless.) Third is the 7mm JADE, an Australian cartridge made by necking down the Remington 375 Ultra Mag. Next is a 30 HART MAGNUM, an improved 300 Weatherby case with a short neck. Fifth is the 30-404 IMPROVED, a 404 Jeffery NE necked to 30 caliber and improved. Finally a 338 LAPUA IMPROVED made by blowing out the shoulder to 40 degrees and reducing body taper to a minimum.

Next, the Baby Boomers.


#2

Good stuff there, Ray.


#3

A similar thing happened in Britain with the rimless .303 Magnum in the 1920s but interest fizzled out after about a decade and it dropped out of sight and is now just a footnote in history.
Actually it could have been so much more than it was and I have often wondered why interest was lost. one theory (mine) is that it only used the military Mk7 bullet and this was the weak link. British rifle shooting has always had a long range element out to 1200 yds and I don’t believe the bullet did it justice. No doubt somebody will now put me straight on that.


#4

Vince

You won’t get an arguement from me. Bullets are not everything, they are the ONLY thing. When US shooters finally got over their metric hang-up and started demanding that manufacturers make match bullets in 6, 6.5, and 7 millimeters, things changed rapidly and for the better.

JMHO

Ray


#5

[quote=“VinceGreen”]A similar thing happened in Britain with the rimless .303 Magnum in the 1920s but interest fizzled out after about a decade and it dropped out of sight and is now just a footnote in history.
Actually it could have been so much more than it was and I have often wondered why interest was lost. one theory (mine) is that it only used the military Mk7 bullet and this was the weak link. British rifle shooting has always had a long range element out to 1200 yds and I don’t believe the bullet did it justice. No doubt somebody will now put me straight on that.[/quote]

I think that you are right.

I’ve never had any success with boat-tailed bullets fired from a variety of service Lee-Enfields over the years. The consensus is that the shorter bearing surface of the boat-tail doesn’t allow the bullet to stabilise correctly in the barrel. I’ve always found accuracy to be poor when not using flat-based bullets.

This is only an observation, but one formed over a lengthy period of time.

Peter


#6

Are flat bottom bullets available in .303 today? (Apart from pulling my .303 “collection” to pieces)
Soren


#7

I think most of the bullet companies put out a flat base .311 bullet.


#8

[quote=“TonyG”]I think most of the bullet companies put out a flat base .311 bullet.[/quote]They do, but only for hunting, i.e. softnosed. My two-groove No4 has a ‘CEP’ of about 30 centimeters at 300 meters with boattails, when I used 10 original 1943 vintage WRA bullets knocked apart in the hammer, the groups shrank to 15 cm (that’s the 8 ring, good enough for me)
The reason we are not allowed to use anything but FMJ is the SIUS scoring system (acoustic swiss rubber targets) I should have pointed that out earlier, sorry.
Soren


#9

In Britain .303s are only really used for target shooting and so by law are restricted to FMJ . In practical terms this effectively means S&B and Privi bullets if bought to reload or ammunition from the same two makers bought as complete rounds. Both are BT bullets. Ex Milsurp RG is available ( intermittantly)if you want to waste your money on it but it is now at least 55 years old and has probably spent several decades cooking in the heat of some distant country and is of doubtful quality. Anyway, I don’t like cordite loads they erode the barrel.

Sierra Matchkings are available at a price ($31 a 100 )but again its a BT bullet and I found the results a little disappointing. No better than S&B and Privi provided you batch weigh the latter.

Greek HXP was plentiful a few years back but it was very harsh , espescially the early batches and accuracy was nothing special. Variable might be a better word.

Kynoch sells a retro copy of the old style ammunition in 220 grn RN which is a flat base but they are in Mildenhall which is close to a 200 mile round trip for me and I would probably have to take out a second mortgage on the house if their other prices are anything to go by.

The really interesting bullets in 125grn and 150grn are all SP and denied to us. Anyway its a catch 22 because there is no demand for them so nobody keeps them except Henry Krank and they are a 400 mile round trip even if I was allowed to buy them which I am not. We can’t order them mail order so the subject is effectively closed.

Another point that has not been made yet is that all the cheap bullets available are steel jackets and I am not entirely comfortable with the idea of of putting them through my 93 year old barrel. Lee Enfields have deep rifling and the top of the lands in my rifle barrel are looking very shiny compared to the grooves. The rifling is much deeper than the thin copper wash on the bullets and I’m sure it all gets scraped off in firing and the bullets are going down the barrel running steel against steel. Copper jackets would be much kinder to the barrel.

All these silly laws and restrictions serve no practical purpose and don’t deter the criminal or the terrorist but can have a detrimental effect on the honest shooter.


#10

Thanks Vince, you just confirmed what I had found out but could not bring myself to realise: I have a completely useless rifle, since a new or slightly used 4 groove barrel is nonexistent. If I ask Lothar Walther to make one, It’ll take two months pay to finance it…
I have three other rifles in the same class, a model of 1917, an IH Garand and my trusted mixmaster K98/GreekM30/Schultz and Larsen rebuild. The two first are fed a steady diet of ancient (1962) AMA and seems to like it :-)
Soren


#11

We are getting a bit off the ammo topic now and I’m not sure how far the forum will allow me to go but new barrels for Enfields are still available, PM me and I will put you in touch with someone in this country.


#12

[quote=“enfield56”][quote=“VinceGreen”]A similar thing happened in Britain with the rimless .303 Magnum in the 1920s but interest fizzled out after about a decade and it dropped out of sight and is now just a footnote in history.
Actually it could have been so much more than it was and I have often wondered why interest was lost. one theory (mine) is that it only used the military Mk7 bullet and this was the weak link. British rifle shooting has always had a long range element out to 1200 yds and I don’t believe the bullet did it justice. No doubt somebody will now put me straight on that.[/quote]

I think that you are right.

I’ve never had any success with boat-tailed bullets fired from a variety of service Lee-Enfields over the years. The consensus is that the shorter bearing surface of the boat-tail doesn’t allow the bullet to stabilise correctly in the barrel. I’ve always found accuracy to be poor when not using flat-based bullets.

This is only an observation, but one formed over a lengthy period of time.

Peter[/quote]
Peter
I think it is the weight distribution. The BT causes all the weight to be centralised whereas in the Mk 7 bullet the aluminium tip and the design moves more of the weight to the back of the bullet. What you say though has been said to me before, many times. If someone were to make a modern high quality Mk7 style bullet it would be a winner.
I have just finished up the last of my Mk7s that I bought years ago from Mountain & Sowden but the quality was poor and they needed much batch weighing. I think they were factory rejects or bought from those people in Finland that used to rebullet ammo with SPs for the American market.


#13

Vince is right. The discussion has gone into primarily a gun and shooting discussion with only a peripheral connection to cartridge collecting. Also, it is a long way from Ray’s original topic.


#14

Would it be economical to dismantle RG surplus to use the FMJ bullets for reloading?


#15

I think we should call a halt to this line Falcon. As Ron has said


#16

I’m enjoying these discussions. I never realized how many restrictions have been placed on shooters in other countries. Makes me more appreciative of what I have.

Have you guys considered Palma?

Ray


#17

Ray
First I must apologise for hijacking your thread. However, I do appreciate the selection you posted very much and thanks for taking the trouble. You are right to call them boomers. It occours to me that they must have caused some serious hearing problems for if the US was anything like the UK in those days hearing protection was a very casual affair.
Really speaking, Britain has been very slow to appreciate the benefits of target bullets and there are no UK manufacturers. Everything we have comes from the US. The new RUAG ammunition is the first approved ammunition to be loaded with a dedicated target bullet (Matchkings) and only then in 7.62.