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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
(continued from Part 1)

This wasn’t so much a physical endurance test, such as a sniper might face, but a good lesson on the difference that good optics can make. The last shooter was running the Mk IV Leupold with an illuminated reticle, that he continued to dial down in intensity as the light continued to fade. The shooter with the best glass, the Nightforce, would likely have been able to stay on target even longer due to the superior light-gathering ability of the 32mm objective and better glass, but physical limitations kept him from holding his position. I mention this not to pimp for Nightforce, but to illustrate that with some things, you still get what you pay for. Santa, are you paying attention?

On TD3, Randy started with a detailed demonstration of properly cleaning an accurate rifle (or at least one you want to shoot as accurately as possible). I expect that Brownell’s will be busy this week, filling orders for things such as bore guides, good rods, cotton flannel patches, Shooter’s Choice, Kroil and Sinclair chamber & lug cleaning tools. I was glad for the quality ball bearing-handled rods from Denny Ivy and the superb bore guide I’d gotten from Mike Lucas, as well as shooting buddy and fellow windowlicker Russ’s coaching on using it properly. We then shot at 200 yards from prone, grateful for the slings and lots of practice with the seven points of contact with the rifle, understanding how they affect the accuracy of your shot. We covered the different ways to transition from your rifle to a pistol if circumstances demand it, and practiced with empty rifles. We saw a demonstration of just how fast you can get a rifle on target and shoot from African carry when matched up against someone drawing a pistol from a holster (you wouldn’t believe the results if told you – you have to see for yourself). From there, it was more drills, more position work, the covering fire drill (easy with 28 rounds in your AR magazine, a little different proposition with a bolt gun), and the five shooter metronome drill. We finished up the day starting with head shots from prone at 100 yards, then advanced, taking up the different positions as the range decreased, finishing up with fast and furious offhand fire, and even a little surprise once we were unloaded and cleared out.

To briefly return to equipment, a couple of observations. It’s surely the Indian more than the arrow, but the arrow does matter. I’ve heard Randy Cain go on (and on, and on) about the virtues of the pre-64 Model 70s for years now (and more recently, the re-introduced Classics, that improve on the pre-64 design). I learned, both from observation and personal (painful, expensive) experience that there’s a good reason for that. The guy running a new Model 70 Featherweight in .308 never missed a beat the entire class (except for one late-breaking case of operator-induced error). You can run the bolt on that gun with a single finger, to include unlocking and re-locking it. It was an absolute gem. On the other hand, the light factory trigger setting on my gun that was so delicious when breaking in the gun and zeroing it apparently had a price – whenever I ran the bolt home vigorously (as you should), it would lock up the trigger, and the gun wouldn’t fire until I re-set the bolt, slowly and deliberately. Can’t tell you how many times that happened.

The hinged floorplate magazine showed itself to be the preferred setup, with internal box magazines and detachable box magazines running behind. The DBMs in my gun were very handy during the covering fire exercise, but other than that, they were a huge disappointment – prone to double feeding at the worst possible time. As Randy presented me with my course certificate, he looked my hands, still bearing dried blood from being shoved into the action to force out the magazine and clear double-feeds: “Damn, you look like you put your hands into a coffee grinder.” What do you suppose my next rifle will have? And finally, when the gun heated up, lifting the bolt handle became a real effort, one that would often cause me to break my cheek weld on the stock. Not good.

Again, in fairness to this rifle and its maker (that I shall not name, since I will contact them and give them the opportunity to address these issues), for 99% of the rifle-shooting population, it would be a great, accurate gun. But for use as a real practical rifle, including realistically hard training, it fell short of the mark. I spent as much time fighting the gun as I did running a demanding course. So at the end of the day, I still want a left handed bolt gun that will pass the test. But since I can’t afford a Dakota or Brockman right now, that right-handed Model 70 Featherweight is starting to look mighty good….

That’s a fair amount of discussion about equipment in a training AAR, but believe me, the right equipment can make a world of difference in the value of your training. I can’t wait to do this class again with a rifle that is up to the task, so that I can focus on the training and get my head (and bloody hands) out of the gun.

We do love our handguns in general, and our 1911s in particular, and they serve us well in daily carry. But as Randy has often said, "A handgun is a weak, puny, inefficient weapon.” I took a lot of good things away from this class, including some that will make me a better hunter. But perhaps the most striking conclusion we reached over the course of three days is that a bolt gunner doesn’t need to feel at all disadvantaged should he find himself having to rely on that weapon as a defensive tool. The ability to put accurate, effective fire on target, including quick successive shots, turns out to be (surprise) mostly a matter of training. And first class training is something that Randy Cain excels at – I can’t recommend him highly enough to any serious student.

Finally, I’m pleased to recognize Irv Lehman, the training coordinator at Southern Exposure, a great place to train in Central Florida. Despite his many annoying traits, the truth is that Irv and his wife Watfa make every student feel like he or she is part of the Southern Exposure family, and Irv brings in some of the best instructors in the business, starting with Randy Cain. Southern Exposure may lack the cache or fancy facilities of some of the big name resident schools, but the quality of training there is equal to that of any of the famous ones (and in many cases, that’s because the same instructors do the training at both). You can view the coming year’s training schedule (which is always being updated as new classes are confirmed) here: http://southernexposuretraining.com/schedule.php

I'll continue to train with my 1911s more than anything else because that what I carry more than anything else, but carbine, shotgun, edged weapons, improvised weapons, empty hand and practical rifle round out the curriculum for me. Practical Rifle was an eye-opening, fun class that left me with a few more good tools in the toolbox - I'm glad I took it, and will take it again. I recommend it highly.
 

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Thanks for the great AAR, Buck. Would have liked to taken the class. Hope to get a chance in the future. Guess I'll start looking for a Model 70.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
...Guess I'll start looking for a Model 70.
Thanks, Dude. Just be sure it's either a genuine pre-64, or one of the new (as in 2009 new) ones with the key pre-64 features (Mauser extractor, controlled round feed). :)

Push feed actions of any brand may be great for that 99% of rifle shooters, but will invariably disappoint under the hard use that windowlilckers will put them through.

I received an email this morning from one of the other students in the class, a very good shooter, who said that fighting his Browning A-Bolt nearly "brought him to his knees," and that he came to class, as did many of us, unaware of the problems with push feed bolt guns. He also said his new stainless Model 70 would be on order very shortly. :)

Whoever said that we windowlickers aren't trainable?
 

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Hi Bulldog Six

Thanks for the kind words but what did you mean with:
"Despite his many annoying traits".
:)

It was a good class and the pilot was using my controlled round feed Win 70 and it did a good job also. Certainly you guys worked to keep the rifle loaded and shooting but you now realize how universal this weapon can be. Under the watchful eye of Mr. Cain all improved.

Thanks again.

be safe irv
 

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Randy's Practical Rifle class is my absolute favorite shooting instruction that I've had. I enjoyed reading your review as it brought back a lot of good memories.

I like it so much in fact that I've taken it three time and had just as much fun each time.

I used the same Model 70 Featherweight Classic in .308 with a Leupold heavy duplex 1.5-5 every time and as you noted in your review, these rifles don't hang up. They can handle an enormous amount of abuse that leaves rifles I would have considered their equal sputtering through the class.

Anyway, thanks for the review. As you noted you'll never look at a bolt-action rifle the same way.

Brent
 

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IIRC, Winchester made the pre-64 action type M70 Fwt. Classic in LH and s/s beore they folded. Keep an eye out for them, but they don't show up too often.

Regards,
Andy
 
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