First trip to the range with my Model 81

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DWalt
Posts: 510
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 1:18 pm
Location: San Antonio & Brackettville TX

First trip to the range with my Model 81

Post by DWalt »

I have made several postings concerning my new (to me) Model 81 in .30 Remington, which I have owned for about a month, having bought it the first Saturday in December. Today, I finally made it to the range to try it out for the first time.

This Model 81 is one of the very last made, and is dated July 1950. It's in excellent condition cosmetically and mechanically.

Regarding ammunition, I loaded several different types.

1. Hornady 150 grain RN, 30.1 grains Hercules HiVel #2. I know, HV #2 hasn't been made in many years, but I still have a good supply of it. It seems historically appropriate to use HV #2 in the Model 81 as it was a very commonly used propellant in the heyday of the Model 8 and the Model 81. HV #2 is essentially identical in ballistic performance to IMR 3031 on a weight basis. This was loaded in two cases - first, those I made by turning down rims of .30-30 brass, and second, in new R-P .30 Remington brass. I had no functioning or firing problems whatsoever with the modified .30-30 cases, even though they still had the .30-30 shoulder angle. During firing, the shoulder angle of the .30 Remington was formed. Cartridge OAL was 2.52"

Velocity results: Using my Chrony chronograph set up about 6' from the muzzle, the average MV was found to be 2139 Ft/sec (17 rounds), with a standard deviation of 42 ft/sec. There were no obvious signs of high pressure (flattened or cratered primers) and ejection was flawless.

2. Sierra 125 grain spitzer, 32 grains of Accurate Arms 2460. AA2460 is somewhat similar ballistically to H4895. This was the only .308 spitzer bullet in my inventory that could be loaded to an OAL of 2.52" without the tangent of the bullet nose being below the case mouth. All loads were in old (1930's vintage from the old Remington "Dogbone" boxes) REM-UMC primed brass in .30 Remington. I had two duds, and several slight hangfires with these old primers.

Velocity results: The average velocity was 2331 ft/sec, with a standard deviation of 40 ft/sec. Again, there were no indications of excessive chamber pressure and all rounds which fired functioned the action properly.

3. Sierra 125 grain spitzer, 34 grains of AA2460 in new R-P brass.

Velocity results: The average velocity (10 rounds) was 2461 ft/sec, with a standard deviation of 12 ft/sec (the smallest SD obtained). No excessive chamber pressure or functioning problems were encountered. Yet this load grouped the poorest.

4. 110 grain FMJ bullets (.30 Carbine), 36 grains AA2460 in new R-P brass. Owing to the short bullet, the cartridge OAL used was 2.3"

Velocity results: The average velocity was 2525 Ft/sec, with a SD of 54 ft/sec. No excessive chamber pressure or functioning problems were encountered. This load fired the tightest group.

I am not recommending that anyone use the load data above. They all worked fine for me, but maybe not for you. Any .30-30 load data from any reputable reloading manual should also work fine for the .30 Remington, and that's what you should use.

Accuracy and Grouping Performance: All firing was done at 50 yards on a paper target with an 8" black bull. All firing (except for 5 rounds offhand) was done from a bench rest over sand bags. Sights were the standard factory open iron sights (no peep or scope). I chose to shoot at 50 yards rather than from a greater distance as my eyes are not that good, and I don't do well with open sights at other than close range. All figures are averages of several 5-shot groups:

Load 1: Extreme spread average (center-to-center) = 3.41"
Load 2: Extreme spread average (center-to-center) = 3.45"
Load 3: Extreme spread average (center-to-center) = 6.25"
Load 4: Extreme spread average (center-to-center) = 2.5"

I would guess this level of grouping capability is more or less typical for the Model 8/81.

Comments: It is surprising to me that once I had adjusted the open sights, ALL loads produced points of impact inside the 8" black bull, and were generally evenly distributed around the center. That would be plenty good enough for close-range deer hunting (here in West Texas, it's considered that at any distance, if you can hit a basketball, it's good enough accuracy for deer). I also fired five shots offhand, and even those were inside the black bull. Ejection was good, and most fired cases landed in a neat pile about 2' to 3' ahead of the rifle. No need to hunt around for lost fired brass. Functioning was flawless throughout the test run. I did not perceive that the recoil from any load was disturbing, and in fact I thought it was fairly mild. I was not aware of the double-shuffle of the long-recoil action. However, due to its weight, I would not want to have to carry the Model 81 around too far in the field.

Regarding the brass cases made from .30-30 brass, they worked as well as new .30 Remington brass. And yes, you CAN use .30-30 dies for reloading, although I will be doing only neck resizing on fired .30 Remington cases, as fired cases seemed to chamber and extract OK in my Model 81.

There are those long guns which have a sort of undefinably elegant character, mainly those made when fine craftsmanship in wood and metal actually was common. I own a few of these, namely a 1938 Winchester Model 70 in .270, a first-year-of-production (1912) Winchester Model 1912 in 20 gauge and a 1920-vintage Savage Model 99 in .303 Savage. To that elite group I am now adding the Model 81.
Last edited by DWalt on Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:57 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Wildgoose
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Location: Nebraska

Re: First trip to the range with my Model 81

Post by Wildgoose »

Great post. Thanks for taking the time to share your results and observations. Interesting that your rifle throws the cases forward of the rifle. Mine sent all of them just behind me a bit to the right. Other than that it behaved much the same. Easy on the brass and really pretty tame considering all that is going on when it cycles.

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imfuncity
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Re: First trip to the range with my Model 81

Post by imfuncity »

Hey, not fair :o I shoot left handed. I can count on the brass hitting me and trying to go inside my shirt! :? How did you do that?
Though defensive violence will always be “a sad necessity” in the eyes of men of principle, it would be still more unfortunate if wrongdoers should dominate just men. - St. Augustine

DWalt
Posts: 510
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 1:18 pm
Location: San Antonio & Brackettville TX

Re: First trip to the range with my Model 81

Post by DWalt »

With this rifle, that's where the cases go - generally forward and a little to the left. I can't explain why, they just do. There were a few times at the benchrest where the fired cases landed on the bench near my left elbow. Firing all by myself, I couldn't see the path through the air the ejected cases followed, but none of the cases flew to the right.

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81police
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Re: First trip to the range with my Model 81

Post by 81police »

Dwalt,

Fine ammunition testing and fine post. It's interesting to see the 110gr. loads grouped the tightest. I would say by far the most common round of the 30Rem in it's day was the 170gr. soft point. In the mid 1920's Remington manufactured a 110fr. "mushroom" for the 30Rem. Good shooting btw.
There are those long guns which have a sort of undefinably elegant character, mainly those made when fine craftsmanship in wood and metal actually was common
If you ever have the chance to handle a clean, early production Model 8 you'll really understand fine craftsmanship!

Thanks for sharing your info.
Cam Woodall
Site Co-Administrator

ctgodog
Posts: 199
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 1:29 am
Location: Roseburg, Oregon

Re: First trip to the range with my Model 81

Post by ctgodog »

Dwalt,

First of all...you have a far greater knowledge of reloading and ballistics than I have even attempted to understand!!! Thanks for the info and for sharing your experience.

Secondly...I am encouraged to learn more about the interesting aspect of reloading my own cartridges for my 30 Rem's!!

And last, but not least..."81", regarding "fine craftsmanship"....I believe that is one of the main reasons that we all appreciate and regard these rifles as one of the best in the history of the art of manufacture and ownership of these firearms.

I love my Browning BAR's, and these model 8's/81's are, IMHO, their equal, both functionally and artistically.

Clint
[b][color=#0040FF]Time is the Essence of Life, Wine, and Great Guns[/color][/b]

DWalt
Posts: 510
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 1:18 pm
Location: San Antonio & Brackettville TX

Re: First trip to the range with my Model 81

Post by DWalt »

Stay tuned. I'm loading up some test .30 Rem ammunition using 165 grain hard (18 Brinnell) cast lead bullets with different propellants (Herco, 2400, AA2460, H240). I'm trying to keep MVs in the 1600-1700 fps neighborhood. Should have some results in a few weeks.

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