September 20th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Old “Number 2″ — Cherished M1A of Ray Gross

Ray Gross M1A M14 service rifle .308 .30-06 Distinguished rifleman badge
Old “Number 2″ belonging to Ray Gross. Click Photo for full-screen Image.

Ray Gross, one of America’s great rifle competitors, has served as captain of the United States F-TR Team. While Ray is best known for his F-Class shooting and leadership, Ray is also an experienced service rifle shooter, who secured his Distinguished Rifleman Badge 25 years ago. Ray has shot many rifles during his competitive shooting career, but the M1A rifle above held a special place in Ray’s heart. This old semi-auto earned Ray his Distinguished Badge, and he’ll never forget that, though he parted with the rifle in 2016.

Ray Gross M1A M14 service rifle .308 .30-06 Distinguished rifleman badge

Posting back in 2016, Ray told us:

“I said goodbye to an old friend… Affectionately known as ‘Number 2′, she is the rifle that I earned my Distinguished Rifleman Badge with in 1995 (#1159).

That rifle was also responsible for a fair amount of Venison in the ’90s, as well. But since then, she has spent a lot of time in the closet. Last time I got her out was to destroy a bunch of hard drives containing evidence collected during my Computer Forensics days. She deserved better than that.

I will miss the beautiful sound of all that American steel slamming into battery when I tripped her bolt.” – Ray Gross

M14 rifle Springfield M1A camp perry Shooting Sports USARay Gross was profiled in Shooting Sports USA last year. He explained how he started his competitive shooting career with an M1A rifle:

How did you begin in competitive shooting?

I began competing in 1991, at age 27. I bought an M1A and joined the Midland County Sportsman’s Club. One day I was at the club shooting the M1A when a member, Rich Koskela, came over and invited me to join them shooting competitions. Up until that point, I had no idea there was such a thing as NRA Competitive Shooting and I had been a member since 1986. Anyway, Rich and some of his friends showed me the basics and at my first match, I finished in the top half and first MU.

What are your major accomplishments in the shooting sports?

In 1995, I earned the Distinguished Rifleman Badge and a few years later switched to Palma rifle. On the way to making my first Palma team in 2003, I won the Army Cup, the Andrus trophy twice and the Sierra Trophy once. As a coach, I won the Herrick match, and seven F-TR National Championship team matches. Internationally, I’ve coached three gold medal America Match teams (The USA has only won four in Palma Rifle), and earned a Silver and Bronze coaching on the Palma Team in 2015 and 2019. In 2017, I led the U.S. F-TR Team to a World Championship. This year (2019), I also won the NRA ELR National Championship (25-lb max Division).”

Ray Gross M1A M14 service rifle .308 .30-06 Distinguished rifleman badge

M14 rifle Springfield M1A camp perry Shooting Sports USA

“Descended from the M1 Garand, the M14 utilized multiple improvements that made it a far superior firearm for combat and a much better rifle for competition.” — Dick Jones, Shooting Sports USA.

In the April 2018 issue of Shooting Sports USA, you’ll find a good article on the civilian version of the M14, now sold commercially as the Springfield M1A. An evolution of the battle-proven M1 Garand, the M14 was designed to shoot the 7.62×51 (.308 Win) round instead of the larger .30-06 Springfield cartridge used in WWI, WWII and Korea. While the vast majority of today’s M1As are chambered for .308 Win/7.62×51, Springfield Armory also produces a 6.5 Creedmoor version.

Ray Gross M1A service rifle

Dick Jones reports that accurized M14/M1As could post remarkable scores: “The accuracy potential of the M14/M1A is unquestionable. During their reign as service rifles, they produced multiple perfect 200 scores at 600 and 1000 yards in the hands of top shooters. This is a difficult feat with a modern, scoped, magnum-caliber rifle and remarkable with an iron-sighted battle rifle. Good competition rifles can group 10 shots under one MOA, and the meticulously-massaged rifles used by the top shooters during my career would consistently put up 10 shots under an inch at 200 yards off a test cradle.”

M14 rifle Springfield M1A camp perry Shooting Sports USA

For many years, the semi-auto version of the M14 was “top dog” in iron sights Service Rifle competition. Now that discipline is dominated by .223 Rem (5.56×45) AR-type rifles, but the bigger .308-caliber rifle, now sold as the M1A, remains popular. And in non-pandemic years, the CMP hosts a major M1A Match at Camp Perry, sponsored by Springfield Armory. This is a very popular event with 100+ competitors and significant cash prizes.

See how the modern M1A is built in this Springfield Armory Video:

As racing improves automobiles, competition improves firearms, and the current crop of Springfield M1As, from the Basic to the top-of-the-line Super Match and Loaded models, reflects the years of development. The M14 and its variants are … still considered by many to be the best battle rifle in the history of the U.S. Military. — Dick Jones, Shooting Sports USA

Military Version Operation Revealed — M14 Training Film

The original military version of the M1A was the select-fire M14. The 27-minute official U.S. Army video below demonstrates the operation of the M14. Field-stripping is shown from the 5:13 time-mark through 8:30. Cut-away drawings show the M14’s gas operation at 8:40.

Watch M14 Functioning Cycle Starting at 9:25 Mark:

The M14’s complete 8-step functioning cycle is demonstrated from the 9:25 time-mark through 22:41. These eight operations are: 1) Feeding; 2) Chambering; 3) Locking; 4) Firing; 5) Unlocking; 6) Extracting; 7) Ejecting; and 8) Cocking. This movie is fairly long, but fans of battle rifles will find it well worth their time. Every M1A owner should definitely watch this video start to finish.

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September 20th, 2020

BLAZING AMMO — The Great SAAMI Ammo Fire Test

With the big fires happening on the West Coast, many have wondered about hazards faced by gun owners in fire zones. This important video shows what really happens when loaded ammunition burns. You will probably be surprised. Contrary to Hollywood notions, the ammo doesn’t ignite in a massive explosion. Far from it… basically the rounds “cook off” one by one, and the bullets release at relatively low velocity. We’ve featured this SAAMI research project before, but it is worth reprising for those who have not yet seen the burn tests.

A few years back, SAAMI released an important video concerning ammo and fire. With professional fire-fighters standing by, over 400,000 rounds of ammo were incinerated in a series of eye-opening tests. If you haven’t had the chance to view this video yet, you should take the time to watch it now

The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) has produced an amazing 25-minute video that shows what actually happens to sporting ammunition involved in a fire. This video shows the results of serious tests conducted with the assistance of professional fire crews. We strongly recommend you watch this video, all the way through. It dispels many myths, while demonstrating what really happens when ammunition is burned, dropped, or crushed.

Watch SAAMI Ammunition Testing Video

Video Timeline

  • 2:10 Impact Test (ignited outside firearm)
  • 3:40 65-foot Drop Test
  • 5:08 Bullet Impact (.308 Win firing)
  • 7:55 Blasting Cap Attacks
  • 9:55 Bulldozer and Forklift Tests
  • 12:20 Boxed Ammo Bonfire
  • 15:37 Bonfire without Packaging
  • 17:21 Retail Store Simulation Burn
  • 20:55 Truck Trailer Burn

Over 400,000 rounds of ammunition were used in the tests. Some of the footage is quite remarkable. Testers built a bonfire with 28,000 rounds of boxed ammo soaked in diesel fuel. Then the testers loaded five pallets of ammo (250,000 rounds) in the back of a semi-truck, and torched it all using wood and paper fire-starting materials doused with diesel fuel.

The video shows that, when ammo boxes are set on fire, and ammunition does discharge, the bullet normally exits at low speed and low pressure. SAAMI states: “Smokeless powders must be confined to propel a projectile at high velocity. When not in a firearm, projectile velocities are extremely low.” At distances of 10 meters, bullets launched from “cooked-off” ammo would not penetrate the normal “turn-out gear” worn by fire-fighters.

We are not suggesting you disregard the risks of ammo “cooking off” in a fire, but you will learn the realities of the situation by watching the video. There are some amazing demonstrations — including a simulated retail store fire with 115,000 rounds of ammo in boxes. As cartridges cook off, it sounds like a battery of machine-guns, but projectiles did not penetrate the “store” walls, or even two layers of sheet-rock. The fire crew puts out the “store fire” easily in under 20 seconds, just using water.

Additional Testing: Drop Test, Projectile Test, Crush Test, Blasting Cap Test

Drop Test
The video also offers interesting ammo-handling tests. Boxes of ammo were dropped from a height of 65 feet. Only a tiny fraction of the cartridges discharged, and there was no chain-fire. SAAMI concludes: “When dropped from extreme heights (65 feet), sporting ammunition is unlikely to ignite. If a cartridge ignites, it does not propagate.”

Rifle Fire Test
SAAMI’s testers even tried to blow up boxes of ammunition with rifle fire. Boxes of loaded ammo were shot with .308 Win rounds from 65 yards. The video includes fascinating slow-motion footage showing rounds penetrating boxes of rifle cartridges, pistol ammo, and shotgun shells. Individual cartridges that were penetrated were destroyed, but adjacent cartridges suffered little damage, other than some powder leakage. SAAMI observed: “Most of the ammunition did not ignite. When a cartridge did ignite, there was no chain reaction.”

Bulldozer Crush Test
The test team also did an amazing “crush-test” using a Bulldozer. First boxes of loaded ammo, then loose piles of ammo, were crushed under the treads of a Bulldozer. A handful of rounds fired off, but again there was no chain-fire, and no large explosion. SAAMI observed: “Even in the most extreme conditions of compression and friction, sporting ammunition is unlikely to ignite. [If it does ignite when crushed] it does not propagate.”

Blasting Cap Test
Perhaps most amazingly, the testers were not able to get ammunition to chain-fire (detonate all at once), even when using blasting caps affixed directly to live primers. In the SAAMI test, a blasting cap was placed on the primer of a round housed in a large box of ammo. One cartridge ignited but the rest of the boxed ammo was relatively undamaged and there was no propagation.

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September 20th, 2020

Forster Co-Ax Press Features Showcased in Video

Forster Co-Ax Coax Reloading Press Grafs Grafs.com Sale Co-Axial rockchucker

In recent years, Forster Co-Ax® presses have been somewhat hard to find, as demand has out-stripped supply. However, right now Midsouth Shooters has Co-Ax presses in stock for $349.99. This price includes a set of jaws. The Co-Ax Single Stage Press accepts any standard 7/8″ X 14 reloading die, but Forster suggests using Forster Cross Bolt Lock Rings for best results. As the Co-Ax is back-ordered at most vendors, you may want to order soon.

If you are not yet familiar with the many unique features of the Forster Co-Ax, we recommend you watch the video embedded below. This shows how the press operates and highlights the design elements which set the Co-Ax apart from every other reloading press on the market.

Video Shows Special Features of Forster Co-Ax Reloading Press

Forster Co-Ax Press Video Review
This is a very thorough review of the Forster Co-Ax done by Rex Roach. This 14-minute video shows the key Co-Ax features, explaining how the floating case-holder jaws work (3:30 time-mark), how the dies are held in place (4:40 time-mark), how spent primers are captured (6:10 time-mark), and how to set the primer seating depth (10:00 time-mark). We’ve used a Co-Ax for years and we still learned a few new things by watching this detailed video. If you are considering purchasing a Co-Ax, definitely watch this video start to finish.

Forster Co-Ax Coax Reloading Press Grafs Grafs.com Sale Co-Axial rockchucker

The Co-Ax case-holder features spring-loaded, floating jaws. These jaws have two sets of openings, small and large. This allows the system to adapt to various rim diameters. The jaw plates can simply be reversed to switch from small jaw to large jaw. In the photo above, the Co-Ax is configured with the large jaw openings in the center.

Photos are screen shots from Forster Co-Ax Review by Rex Roach on YouTube.

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