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Ann's Corner

VOLUME 108-----------JUNE 2011



June 11, 2011

Did I promise to get the newsletter done on time this month?  I didn't think so!  Anyway, I'm gratified that I've received complaints via email, telephone, and Little Heifer's facebook page about my lateness.  At least this tells me someone is reading these things.  (Never mind that they are mostly either relatives or those I know some secrets about.)

Seriously, this retiring and then being dumb enough to volunteer for too many extra curricular activities is kickin' my butt!  What with spring cleanup and lawn work here at the ranch, Hunter Education, and Elks Lodge activities I'm thinking of going back to full time employment so I can get some rest!

OK.  Enough bitchin'.

Well, no.  I ain't done bitchin'!  What really ticks me off, is my failure to take time to do some shooting and reloading!  We still haven't tried out the long gun machine rest I wrote about in last October's edition.

I'm anxious to set this up with the Kimber 84M rifle I bought a few years ago at the local NRA banquet.  This rifle was being auctioned and bidding stalled about $200 shy of market value.  I waved my bid card one time and bought a rifle!

The short action Model 84M is a beautifully crafted, lightweight rifle chambered in several of the more popular calibers using the .308 Winchester as the base cartridge.  Like many popular 'controlled round feed' bolt action firearms, this one is a downsized takeoff of the old Mauser Model 98 and most similar to the pre-1964 Winchester Model 70.


Left and center: pictures of the Kimber from the April 2007 newsletter.  Right:  The Kimber with a Leupold 4X scope mounted as described in the January 2008 newsletter.

As with most calibers of military heritage, the .308 has been necked up, necked down, blown out, and 'improved' in numerous ways.  Some examples from this parentage that became factory rounds are the .243 Winchester, 7MM-08 Remington, and .260 Remington.

My 84M is chambered for the then new .338 Federal.  This round was developed through joint efforts of Federal Cartridge Co. and Sako Firearms.  It is nothing more or less than the .308 necked up to accept .338 caliber bullets.

The idea was to propel .338 caliber bullets at reasonable velocities without the punishing recoil of rounds like the .338 Winchester Magnum or .338 Remington Ultra Mag.  With 210 grain bullets, the .338 Federal factory ammo on my shelf advertises a muzzle velocity of 2630 fps.  For comparison, the Nosler 6th edition reloading manual lists loads that push the same bullet from the .338 Win Mag at 3000 fps and the .338 Rem Ultra Mag at near 3300 fps.

I can assure you that the Win Mag and especially the Ultra Mag, are much more punishing from the recoil end than the .338 Federal as I shoot all three of them.

Problem is, with the Kimber, I can't get groups better than about 4 inches at 100 yards from the bench using sandbag rests!  Thus, I want to christen the machine rest with a thorough test of the little rifle to see if the accuracy problem is with the rifle, the ammo, the scope, or something else.  Using the machine rest should eliminate human error from the equation, as my benchrest shooting can be somewhat less than perfect.

See, I have a good game plan, I just don't seem to ever get in the game!  When I do, you can read about it here.

We do have another new rifle residing in the safe.  Well, it's not new, and no one really knows how old it might be.  The gun is a Japanese Arisaka, the main battle rifle of Imperial Japan for many years.  This particular one was 'liberated' by U. S. Military personnel in Subic Bay Philippines in 1946, shortly after the end of WW II.

The rifle came home with a fellow Spokane Elks member, who decided that he no longer had a use for it and donated it as a demo gun for our Hunter Education classes.

The rifle is a Type 99, which was in production from 1938 until the end of WW II in 1945.  The 99 was chambered for a 7.7 X 58 MM cartridge, patterned after the British .303, but without the rim.  The 99 replaced the earlier Type 38 Arisaka whose 6.5 X 50 MM semi-rimmed cartridge was deemed too puny after extensive battle experience in China.

Like many other bolt action firearms, the Arisaka was loosely (or not so loosely, depending upon your point of view) patterned after the Mauser rifles.  One major difference, apparently universally hated by most users, was the unique safety mechanism.  The Mausers had a lever on the back of the bolt that could be rotated by the flick of a finger or thumb, while the Arisaka has a knurled knob that is rotated by pressing with the heel of the hand and turning.  I can attest that this is much more difficult to operate than the original Mauser type safety!

Our rifle has been extensively 'sporterized' as were many of the world's surplus military arms that found their way into civilian hands.  The stock has been cut down, refinished, decorated with some diamond shaped inlays, and the military issue sights replaced.


Sporterized Japanese Arisaka.  (On the right is that knurled safety that is rotated with the heel of the hand.)

With rifles for the commercial market both scarce and expensive after the war, many returning military personnel simply converted liberated military arms to use in the hunting fields.  However, with the Arisakas, a slight problem became evident.  There was no ammunition available!

Ever adaptable, American ingenuity kicked in.  Looking at the similarity between the dimensions of the American .30-06 and the 7.7 X 58 MM, gunsmiths realized that lengthening the chamber in the Arisaka would accommodate the .30-06 without further modification.  The bolt head fit perfectly, and the 06 would function from magazine to chamber just fine.   So, many Arisakas, including ours, were converted to .30-06 so they could be used for hunting.

While a lot of game was harvested with these converted Arisakas, they weren't very accurate.  They probably didn't win many target matches.  The bore diameter of the 7.7 mm is a nominal .310 inches, while the .30-06 has a bullet diameter of .308 inches.  This two thousandths slop meant the bullets didn't always make a perfectly straight exit from the muzzle!

The caliber conversion also destroyed any collector value.  Sporterizing didn't help either.  Today unaltered Arisakas, especially those with the original Emperor's 'Mum' insignia, are highly prized by collectors.

Several months ago, I wrote about crossbows becoming legal for big game hunting in Washington.  They are still not allowed for general archery seasons, and can be only used in 'no firearm shooting zones' during modern firearm season.  This is an effort on the part of state regulators to increase the harvest of big game in semi-urban areas where they have become a nuisance.

Rick was going to capitalize on that, as they live in a no shooting zone with deer and elk making occasional visits to their back yard.  That didn't happen for the 2010 season, but since Christi bought him a crossbow for his birthday last month, he should be ready to go this fall.


Rick's Birthday present.  (The electronic, 'red dot' sight that came with the bow is illegal for hunting in Washington - This will be replaced with a regular 'peep and pin' sight.)  Right: Crossbow projectiles are called 'Bolts' not arrows.

The bow has a pull weight of 165 pounds, and is designed to be cocked by placing a foot in the 'stirrup' like appendage on the front end and pulling the string up to the cocking latch with the hands and arms.  I understand that doing this repeatedly to show one's strength, can result in pulling a muscle in one's chest, (ask Rick) and makes a convincing case for the use of a mechanical cocker.  I was offered the opportunity to strain myself by cocking this thing by hand, and respectfully declined until such mechanical cocker is obtained!

I'm gonna spare you from the soapbox again this month, but rest assured, your day is coming!

This month's hillbilly wisdom again comes from the list of paraprosdokians that my friend Steve Kemp sent me last September:

"You're never too old to learn something stupid."

Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .

'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!

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