17 HMR’s, The Bushmaster AR-15 & My Dog

I went to the range the other day to make sure my 17′s, the .223 and my new dog were dialed in for squirrel shooting season, and they all did OK. There was a quartering wind at 10 mph for most of the morning, but the guns still did pretty well when I remembered to breathe and squeeze the trigger instead of yanking it whenever the cross hairs on the scope got close to the mark.

The first thing we did (did I mention the Verminator went too) was to have the Verminator shoot some .17 HMR while I held the new puppy, who isn’t really that new anymore and hardly qualifies as a puppy. He’s around 6 months old, weighs about 60lbs and is an all black, Black Lab and Golden Retriever mix. He is by far the smartest dog I’ve ever owned, but that’s not saying much.

When the Verminator shot, I jumped and “Hunter”, looked at me like I was some kind of pansy. “I wasn’t ready”, I said, but he still kept looking at me like I was a wimp. I then had the Verminator fire off a couple more from the .17 just to make sure that his reaction wasn’t a fluke. It wasn’t, he still looked at me like a pansy when I jumped the next two times.

“Well, that doesn’t seem to bother him”, I told the Verminator, “Why don’t you try the .223?”

“OK, but why don’t you let him go then, instead of hanging on to him, he’ll get jumpy if he feels you jump each time the gun goes off”, said the Vermin… ator.

I hate him sometimes!

So I let Hunter go, and he wandered off and started eating shell casings, gravel, cow crap and anything else that looked like it wouldn’t bite him back. That dog is a fricken goat, and will pack away tons of garbage, and then puke up this big pile of rocks and sticks and plastic bottle caps and stuff… he’s gross. But he is also soft, black and smart, so I’m willing to overlook a few small character flaws.

The Verminator then broke out the Bushmaster .223 Varminter and fired off a round. The dog, who was about 20 yards away, looked up with a look that said, “What the heck”? I told Vermin to do it again and the dog had the same reaction, but went back to eating whatever he was eating when the 2nd and 3rd shots were fired. After awhile, he came over and lay down under the bench where we were both shooting the .17′s and the .223′s. He is by far the calmest and coolest dog I’ve ever seen under fire… he doesn’t even look up while you’re shooting; unless you drop your doughnut or something, of course.

The first rifle I got out to get sighted in for this year’s sage rat season was my Savage .17 hmr with Accutrigger. I didn’t have any of my usual 17 gr. Hornady Ballistic Tips, so I used some CCI Hollow Points I had left over from last year. The first couple of groups were all over the place, until I remembered to squeeze instead of jerk. Then the groups settled down to a decent inch, with one group coming in at about 5/8th of an inch.

I then tried my Remington 17 gr. Ballistic Tips. The Remington’s shot about the same size groups as the CCI’s, but they shot like 2 whole inches to the right. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s a little weird don’tcha think?

The Bushmaster was OK, but I was still trying to use the Ammo I got at Wal-Mart last year, and it had a deviation of like 79, which leads to 2 inch groups at 100 yards. I need to go to the store and pick up a couple of different brands and see which does the best in my rifle.

All in all, I think I can hit some squirrels next month in Lakeview. I’ll also do some filming when I’m there, so look for some new squirrel shooting videos on Youtube in about a month.

ps. I shot the Henry Golden Boy in 17HMR, and it works fine, but none of the rings I took to the range fit it, so I will have to get some and go back and sight it in later… Sorry.

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