The Ugly Duckling’s Day Out

So, Range report for 26 May- took the Rossi M68 and the Carcano-Mannlicher carbine over to Renton Gun Club. Mixed results for the day.

The Ugly Duckling “This isn’t even my final form!”

Starting with the bad news- Last time I took the Rossi M68 to the range it experienced 80% failures to fire. I replaced the mainspring and it’s an improvement- 20% failures. The primer strikes are a bit shallow; time to replace the hammer-mounted firing pin. After examining it it seems a bit short. I can buy one cheap enough, but I might just fabricate one; it’s not a complicated part.

Linda’s Rossi M68 with custom grip tailored to her hand.

 Now for the Carcano. The original front sight was drift adjustable and was offset significantly to the left. When I made the new front sight I canted it to the left to approximate the position of the original sight, though of course I had no real way of knowing that the original sight was correct. So when I go to the range I bought a large target- the one with five red squares on it- a two-inch square near each corner and a four-inch square in the center. I set it up at fifty yards; since there was not telling how far off the sights would be I wanted to at least keep them on the paper.
The range’s rules for rifles are that you can only load one round at a time, and this is a bit of a problem for Carcano rifles because they load from a six-round clip. The way the extractor engages you can’t simply drop a round in the chamber and close the bolt. So you need to either remove the bolt, clip the cartridge into the extractor and replace the bolt or try to get it to work with a single round in the clip. It doesn’t want to, and requires significant fumbling to get e round chambered that way. After I’d fired five rounds the solution was at hand- load five empties under one live round. Problem solved- load, fire, release the clip and repeat the process. Worked a treat.
The trigger has some slack, but after that it breaks pretty cleanly and the pull is not at all heavy. Maybe 5 lbs? Anyway it always surprised me with the bang, just as it should. Recoil is about what you’d expect from a 5-1/2 to 6 lb. gun in the .30-30/300 Savage range. It’s fairly mild, but after 15-20 rounds you start to feel it. I think there is a recoil pad in this gun’s future, but there’s no real hurry.

the steel butt-plate is OK, but a recoil-pad will be better.

Once I started shooting I discovered a problem with operator headspace and timing- I’d brought the wrong glasses. Instead of my general-use glasses I had my close-work shop glasses. This meant that while the front sight was sharp the little red squares tended to register as a tiny, indistinct pink blur.
So, based on my guess of how to set up the sights and allowing for the wrong glasses where did my Ugly Duckling hit at fifty yards? Dead On. Seriously, I mean dead-nuts exactly where the sights were pointed. Damn, I’m good… and absurdly lucky. Mostly lucky.
The sight picture does require a bit of explanation- The M1938 7.35mm Carcano had a fixed ‘battle sight’ that uses an atypical sight picture. The rifle has a drift-adjustable post front sight and a robust fixed V-notch rear. It seems crude and rudimentary but it’s actually quite clever. Italian soldiers were taught to center the tip of the front sight in the base of the V, rather than a more typical sight picture that would center it even with the top of the V. At ranges from 0-200 meters if they aimed center-mass of their target’s body they would hit somewhere on the torso. For longer ranges- out to 300-350 meters- they would get the same effect by centering the front post even with the top of the V. 350 meters was considered the maximum effective range of the M1938. Simple, clever and effective.
I wanted this to be a 100-150 yard gun and with that in mind I had altered the height of the front sight and deepened the V-notch. Using the ‘bottom-V’ sight picture it seemed to hit the exact point of aim. Using the conventional sight picture (with the top of the front post even with the top of the V-notch) the rifle hits about 4 inches high at fifty yards. If the tables I found are accurate this means it will hit about right on at 100 yards and about 3-4 inches low at 150 yards.
So how did I accomplish this remarkable adjustment to the sights to produce exactly the result I was hoping for? I’m going to go with Divine Intervention. Seriously, because I looked at it and guessed. Yes, I got the result I wanted, and yes I did it on purpose. I shortened the barrel and guessed at how tall the front sight should be and how deep the rear V-notch should be. But there is absolutely no way that it came out right by anything but sheer dumb luck. Like the man said, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
As some have predicted the muzzle-blast is spectacular. After I touched off the first shot I clearly heard the work ‘Blunderbuss’ from one of the gentlemen at the other end of the firing line. Well, you shoot a load designed for a 21 inch barrel out of a 16-1/2 inch barrel and that’s going to happen. Once I am loading my own I’ll experiment and see if I can tailor the loads to the shorter barrel. Big Fun.
So, a mixed bag today. I’m over-the-moon about the Carbine, frustrated and irritated by the revolver. Oh, I shot the 22TTP today also, and it did what it does- shoots good groups a bit too high… got to remember to fix those sights next.
Overall a good day.

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