Iron Sights at 800 Yards: New Mexico Milsurps Match!

While traveling through Albuquerque, I was invited to join the New Mexico Milsurps club for one of their long range rifle matches. This is no typical shooting challenge – the course of fire is 20 rounds (after the spotting shots to figure out your hold) on a 21″ x 43″ silhouette target at 800 yards. It is open to unmodified military firearms only, with a heavy focus on iron sighted bolt action rifles. I was loaned an Eddystone M1917 rifle in .30-06 to use – one of the best military bolt actions ever made, in my opinion.

The club has a very cool system set up for spotting hits on the target. A bracket on the back of the target holds a piezoelectric accelerometer connects to a bright strobe flash on a tripod about 10 yards off to the side. When a bullet hits the target plate, the accelerometer triggers the strobe to flash, and that light is readily visible from even 800 yards away (as you can see in the video).

The match was a lot of fun – both the shooting challenge and the company of the club members. My thanks for their hospitality and a great time!

40 Comments

  1. Looks like a lot of fun. I would like to try my 1903-A3 and see how it would do.

    Sadly, I live in western Kentucky. The only time I see some thing 800 yards away is when I am driving down the highway.

  2. When doing this sort of thing, would help tons if you could describe the exact sights you’re using, what you were seeing, what guns that are more common the sights compare to, etc. Not complaining, and thanks for posting this up!

  3. Eddystone? He was a character on the Flintstones, right?
    Ha ha ha ha ha……dad jokes, I got a million of ’em! 🙂

    • Mr Ambassador these chocolates are delicious, are they Ferrero Rocher? “No, they be Novichoks” Novichoks? “Do not worry, it simply means new chocolate in Russian.” Oh, burp. Pardon me, how delightful.

      • I see your saying it was us now “as if” more likely to you “highly likely” in the mean time, if I was Al Bigdaddy I’d be on route to Washington D.C dressed up as Rasputin, with a Pizza for the President.

        Straight out of the Terminator triology- Get your enemy destroyed, by them doing it to each other.

        • Parts of Salisbury town centre are out of bounds for months apparently, all those people after buying things, tourists after trinkets… The local council would never allow an international conspiracy like that to transpire- Revenue is well down; so it wasn’t “us” I.e. Britain. People dying in suspicious circumstances here and there is one thing, but putting off tourism is another.

          You “Russia” are being unreasonable: It’s highly likely to be you, for made up reasons, so there. “Tongue out, at you.”

          • Ok we think you have Novichok, and you think we must have it to be able to test it.

            Third party… Not impossible, Russia/us say it’s each other or niche countries in a particular argument: Ukraine, U.S, but… What if it is Isis, they had access to Syrian labs- Did Syria, once have it.

          • The fact is a significant proportion of Sunni Iraq hates us to death (because, individuals lost entire families; via the 2003 invasion.) So. Is it over, no.

          • And this has moved to Syria, are they all bad- No. Are there, upset people- Yes. More than before: Hell, yes.

          • In regards the above, I am saying: They’ll Nuke us if they could for sure- Sure some, always would. Fewer.

          • “Ok we think you have Novichok, and you think we must have it to be able to test it.”
            IMHO this case is just reminder for all spies that would want to switch sides and forgot about (supposed*) fate of Oleg V. Penkovsky.

            * it is generally accepted that he was executed for that, how it was exactly done is arguable

  4. Mastering the unmodified bolt-action rifle or self-loading rifle seems to be the best thing before adding optical sights. If you can’t shoot anything with the rifle’s original sights, a scope will not help improve your marksmanship!

    • “self-loading rifle”
      Citing Handbook How To Shoot The U.S. Army Rifle (1943)
      Your rifle should give you an advantage over the enemy. But actually, your rifle is no better than the man who shoots it. If you can’t shoot your rifle accurately, you might just as well meet the Axis with your bare fists.

  5. If anyone is interested in shooting with this club, you can contact me, Patrick H at ordnancesgt@yahoo.com
    We shoot every Saturday with the 4th Saturday being a ‘Match’ Day … he hold different type of matches all the time.

    Now waiting for Ian to post the video of him shooting my Carabine de Cuirassier Modèle 1890 (Carbine of Cuirassier Model 1890)

  6. Awesome Content! It’d be interesting to see this done with other rifles. After all Military planners seemed to think long range engagements would be the Norm.

    • “After all Military planners seemed to think long range engagements would be the Norm”
      What is mind-boggling for me is that M1903 Springfield has (iron) sights scaled up to 2500 meters. How to even identify “friend of foe” from that distance?

      • Take a good spyglass !
        More seriously, if preparation (where should be the front line, what are planned friend moves, where are expected enemy troops to come), communication (intelligence, reconnaissance and means of communication), and sight line (hill or mountain covering plains or area without real cover), shooting preventive volleys over 2,5Km without relying on artillery can help a bit in specific cases.

      • If they’re that far on the other side of your FLOT (Forward Line of Own Troops) odds are they’re not on your side.

        cheers

        eon

        • BTW: Which rifle adopted as default military rifle has “farthest” sights and for how much meters it was graduated?

          • Good Question! Magazine Lee-Metford Mk 1 (LOC 5877, approved 22/12/1888) have dial sights marked to 3500 yards. Skennerton suggests this extraordinary range
            was based more on theory and optimistic hopes for the new smokeless powders than reality and was reduced to 2900 yards for the Mk 1* Any advance on that?

  7. Good Question! Magazine Lee-Metford Mk 1 (LOC 5877, approved 22/12/1888) have dial sights marked to 3500 yards. Skennerton suggests this extraordinary range
    was based more on theory and optimistic hopes for the new smokeless powders than reality and was reduced to 2900 yards for the Mk 1* Any advance on that?

  8. I really enjoyed the mil-surp video! Would love to give it a shot with my ’18 m1903 or ’42 Savage mk1 no.4. No matches around NNY tho..:/

  9. GREAT VIDEO, IAN!:
    Your choice of rifles is also my favourite rifle . My ex wife of 1982 could shoot a Loonie at 50 yards with this rifle two shots out of three. It was given to me by a grade 11 student of mine at Estevan Saskatchewan in 1978. His Grandfather had brought it home from WW One.

  10. Might we know what else was being shot, and how well, and which were the unexpectedly accurate rifles? If Patrick H reads this, please fill us in if Mr. M does not.

    Dear Mr. M: How much credit does Karl get as long range shooting teacher?

    • We had all sorts of firearms at the range that day , M-N 1891’s, Chilean Mauser’s, Brazilian Mauser, 1889 Belgian, etc.
      The person who won that match was using a Brazilian Mauser in 7 x 57 mm.

      We have found many of the rifles can do well with a good shooter behind them … I usually shoot very well except for that day, I shot a perfect 0 … I just do not shoot well in the matches, I do better on non-match days.

  11. If anyone cares to read Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Soldiers Three’ short stories (and other less obvious works) they will find an historically arguable use of British military rifles at ranges at least as long as the 800 yards shot at in this video.

    Kipling’s stories reflect an under paid professional army of dog thieves and manic depressives that just got on and did their jobs using bitter experience.

    The important point is that Kipling wrote stuff based on what he had learned from British soldiers when he was an unimportant journalist in Lahore in the 1880’s. Unlike the on-line ‘demand’ for US service rifles that can hit the next mountain, through mountain air, when you’re on a mountain, Kipling spoke for the poor sods of Tommy’s that gave and kept an empire, and not for his own political advancement.

    http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_tommy.htm

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