For this month’s 2-Gun Action Challenge Match, I decided to shoot my Remington Model 8 in .300 Savage. It’s a semiauto sporting rifle designed by John Browning, which went into production in 1906. It’s a long-recoil action, and has pretty hefty recoil from the prone position. I incorporated use of my new GoPro and quadcopter – let me know what you think! (and yes, I am working on finding a way to get rid of the ‘copter rotor noise).
The Remington had one malfunction, which appears to have been caused by the barrel takedown screw coming loose – which was easily fixed. Other than that it ran without any trouble. The buckhorn sights were definitely better at close range than long, although my trouble making hits in stage 3 was as much due to trouble seeing the dull-colored target as with the sights.
Recoil was heavier than you would expect, for a couple reasons. The long-recoil action of the Model 8 does seem to transfer more energy to the shooter than most other types of action, for one thing (I have had many people describe the Browning Auto-5 as similarly unpleasant to shoot, and it is a very similar action). In addition, the .300 Savage is a more potent round than many people realize. I used mostly Remington 150 grain softpoints, which have a muzzle velocity of 2630 fps according to Remington. That’s only 50-100 fps below military spec 7.62mm NATO ammo, with 3 grains more bullet weight. The rifle weighs 8.25 pounds, so there isn’t much mass to help dampen the recoil. Still, it is easy enough to shoot offhand; only sitting and prone positions really hammer you.
Loading with stripper clips was pretty reasonable – not the smoothest gun out there and definitely not the worst (and in the sporting role for which it was designed, super-fast reloading is not necessary). Without a clip, it is much more of a hassle, things to the single-column magazine. Once the first round is loaded, the subsequent ones all want to roll off to one side rather than stack into the magazine. It can be done, but it takes some finesse.
The very low profile sights are a benefit to the rifle for practical use, as there are very few situations where the muzzle can fit somewhere that the sights are obscured. You can see this in stage 2, where I was able to shoot normally through a port barely more than 30mm tall. Almost everyone else had to rotate their rifles over 90 degrees to be able to see sights through that obstacle.
Overall, my only real complaint about the rifle is its excessive recoil, and that’s really not a huge problem. The Model 8 was not really cut out to be a military rifle, but it would excel in the woods (and has for more than 100 years now). if I were told that my only rifle was a Model 8, I would feel pretty comfortable taking it into almost any situation.
One last thing I want to comment on is an element of the match itself, rather than the rifle. This is July in southern Arizona, and the temperature was in the low 100s. Shooting under stress and on the timer in that kind of heat has a very real physical and psychological effect that doesn’t emerge in more relaxed settings. In those circumstances, you really do often lose focus, and lose your “edge”. Trigger control suffers, situational awareness fades, and you are much more likely to make mistakes. This hit me worse in this match than in most, and you can see it in places like the beginning of stage 4, where I forgot the stage instructions and started moving after one shot at the beginning (I was supposed to engage all three targets from each cone). Frankly, this performance degradation is part of what I find valuable in this type of competition, because if one is ever going to use a gun in a lie-or-death situation is is sure to involve a huge amount of mental and possibly physical stress. Competing in the desert sun all day is one good way to begin to simulate that type of situation and learn to function effectively in it.
That being said, I will not be sad when October rolls around and the temperatures are lower. 🙂