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How realistic is 600 yards with iron sights?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by MTMilitiaman, May 31, 2008.

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  1. MTMilitiaman

    MTMilitiaman Member

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    And what do I wish to accomplish here? I said to myself, huffing and sweating profusely as I finally reached my shooting perch and turned around. I can't even see the thing? Did the wind blow it over? I pulled up the only form of magnification I had, a 6x Nikon range finder, and scanned the power line maintenance road along the right side tree line. Nope. There is was. I pressed the button on the rangefinder and the invisible beam shot out, bounced back, and told me what I needed to know. Six-hundred-thirteen yards away the 16x32 inch silhouette target still stood erect, having been stapled to an old stump. I removed the rangefinder from my eye and squinted down range again. The 8.5x11 inch piece of standard printer paper with the 4 inch black circle wasn't nearly as visible as I hoped it would be, and the brown cardboard the target was cut from served very well to camouflage it into the environment. The whole thing was nearly invisible, in fact, and completely indiscernible from the dozens of other stumps that littered the tree line.

    600yardperch.jpg
    (above) View from my perch with M1A. 600 yards down that power line maintenance road near the right-hand treeline is the target.

    "Maybe I was a bit optimistic," I said aloud to myself as I plopped down in the sitting position and started adjusting the Tanner leather M1907 military shooting sling, "There's no way I am going to hit this thing...not even close."

    I adjusted the elevation knob to "6," pulled the rifle in tight, with sweat dripping from my brow and heart still racing from the hike back up to my shooting perch after placing the target. At least it ought to be fun, I thought to myself as I picked out the shape I thought was the target, and reminded myself to focus on the fundamentals. Besides, I apparently need the exercise. Front sight, natural respiratory pause, slow, steady squeeze.

    600yardtargetfullzoom.jpg
    (above) View from perch with camera at full zoom. The target is still barely visible, and my Mk I eyeball doesn't have the advantage of a zoom feature.

    The first round broke with a "crack" that echoed through the mountains like a thunder clap. It being spring, the ground was too wet to show any dust at the bullet's impact. With no spotter to call for me either, I was truly on my own. I lined up the sights once more and sent nine more rounds down range--all of them S&B 147 gr FMJ. "Hmm," I wondered to myself as the bolt locked back on the last round, "now comes the fun part," already dreading the hike there and back. Still not sure if I had been shooting at the target or just another one of the many stumps, I contemplated saving myself the effort and leaving the target still stapled to the stump down range. If I hit it once, it'll be a miracle. But curiosity compelled me onward.

    Imagine my surprise when the target revealed not just one, but two bullet impacts! I patted myself on the back and let out a congratulatory holler that also echoed through the mountains, and began the return hike back to my perch, the truck, and a Nalgene of water that I needed with increasing desperation in the 80 degree spring heat.

    600yardtargetrecovered.jpg
    (above) Recovered 600 yard target, rangefinder, and the Springfield Armory M1A Loaded used to shoot it.

    The whole event was really eye opening for me. As I sat there, still breathing hard, fighting the stinging sensation of sweat in my eyes, I couldn't help but think about the soldiers sucking that thin Himalayan air in Afghanistan, and being thankful that hit or miss, I didn't have to worry about return fire, and taking comfort of knowing I would be home in another hour or so. I know this test could never be considered realistic because of this. But I consider them more realistic than match shooting. I can remember shooting and qualifying at 500 yards with an M16A2 in boot camp, but the targets used were much larger, the range conditions were better, and we spent an entire week practicing for qualification. We also had spotters, and we were able to shoot prone. This was 100 yards further in range, on a more life-size target, with no practice or previous experience at that range with this rifle, beyond shooting at the occasional rock or stump during hunting season. I had no spotter, and vegetation prevented me from shooting prone. I had to make due slung up in the sitting position.

    Overall, I am optimistic about my results. It was hard trying to make out that target at that range with the naked eye--much harder than I expected. But I learned that if you stick to the fundamentals, hits are possible, and with practice, I know I could do better. I don't know how practical shooting this range with iron sights is, especially under duress, but it is an interesting challenge that I highly recommend everyone attempt at least once.
     
  2. TAB

    TAB Member

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    thats damn impressive...



    I guess the old saying is true, if you can see it, you can hit it.
     
  3. Harve Curry

    Harve Curry Member

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    That is a good shot!.
    How often can you do that?
     
  4. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    i'm not at all surprised that you and the gun could hit that. (although, in the future, i'd recommend a larger aiming black and a much large white area for contrast.)

    I'll wager that if you'd been using match grade ammo, you could easily keep them all on the cardboard at that distance.

    edit: still, nice job and looks like fun!
     
  5. glockman19

    glockman19 Member

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    IMHO the M1A is under rated. nice shooting. Yes it is very accurate in the right hands.

    I have mine fitted with a Bushnell Elite 4200 6-24x40 that helps group them nicely at that distance too.

    I love my Springfield M1A Loaded .
     
  6. kcmarine

    kcmarine Member

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    I wish I had a place like that to shoot. :(


    That's awesome. :D
     
  7. Don't Tread On Me

    Don't Tread On Me Member

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    That is good.

    If you can see it, yes, it can be hit. There's a lot of people that think that just because they made a 1/2" group at 100 yards one time outta 10 groups that's what they can do all the time and that it somehow applies to shooting at true long range. A lot of people would get a reality check if they actually shot their weapons at longer ranges. I see the results of most people at the range at 100 and 200 and that's enough to show that a 300 meter shot on a human-sized target is out of their league.

    Figure. If your rifle can hold 2moa out to 600 ...which it should or better. And you can hold steady enough to shoot MOA ...at the very most your dispersion should be 18" which should good for multiple hits on a target like that. Correcting drop and compensating for wind is the real problem. Also, depends where the ammo zeros in relation to the sights and how coarse/fine the adjustments are. This makes a difference. On some sights, one click over puts you off the target on the other side...:uhoh: A lot of times they're no where near as fine as they advertise.

    You also used S&B. Try 168gr Federal Gold Medal Match. Not only will it cut the wind a lot better, but it will shoot MOA or near-MOA in your rifle.

    10 shots, 3 hits (that looks like two hits on the cardboard unless it is a key-hole??). That's not bad. That's a small target and this is the max effective range for this platform with iron sights. It's not a sniper rifle and you're not using optics. Not using match ammo either.

    If you can get hits at 600 like that, anything at 300-400 is dead meat. And that is still a long combat range.


    Good shooting.
     
  8. ROMAK IV

    ROMAK IV Member

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    I'm not really surprised. The NM sights make it easier, but even with NM sights, the target will be likely covered completely up.

    O remmeber reading an article in SGN written by a former Soviet Spetznats that had served in Afghanistan. He mentioned how unnerved the Soviets always were when the Muhajadeen used Enfield rifles against them. They usually never even saw the shooter, but reacted by burning down the nearest town.
     
  9. MTMilitiaman

    MTMilitiaman Member

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    I wasn't sure if that was two hits or one hit on the left hand edge. I figured the target was being bent around the stump that it was stapled to, and that attributed to the oblong shape of the hole. I'd like to think it was two hits, but I only counted it as one.

    In the future, I am planning on shooting some match ammo through it. The longest actual range around here is 300 yards. But there is plenty of open and uninhabited space around here to shoot, as long as you're careful to check for houses and vehicles, and don't mind hiking your butt out there. In the future, I'll probably make sure the target is of greater contrast. That will make it less "realistic," but will make actually seeing the target a lot easier.
     
  10. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    another point of interest is that it looks like you were shooting at a significant downhill angle, which normally means you should have hit high, and yet you hit low. if you were shooting level, you might have hit closer to the bottom of the stump
     
  11. Brass Rain

    Brass Rain Member

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    Great shots! I wish I had a long, uninterrupted lane of flat ground to shoot down. This really makes me want to do some long range shooting.
     
  12. Funderb

    Funderb Member

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    I wish there were anywhere easy here to shoot that far


    oh and, 80 degree spring heat? psshhhh. I know montana can do better than that.
     
  13. selector67

    selector67 Member

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    At the WW1 battle of Belleau Wood, marine riflemen were picking the Germans off at 800 yards with iron sighted Springfield 1903 rifles.
     
  14. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

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    Camp Perry.

    600 yards.

    AR15 with iron sights.

    White disc on target signifies impact location.

    240far.jpg
     
  15. LKB3rd

    LKB3rd Member

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    Cool story, and well told and put together with the pictures too.
     
  16. Funderb

    Funderb Member

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    yeah, those .223 went in sideways though. :p
     
  17. MTMilitiaman

    MTMilitiaman Member

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    Downhill angle? Yes. Significant? Not really. The pitch off the side where I was perched is steep and goes down maybe 80 yards or so. Then there is a gradual downhill pitch on the road around the ridge on the right side of the first picture. After that, it levels out and gradually starts going uphill again.

    So by the time you get out to 600 yards, the downhill angle is present, but not very significant. I would figure between 10 and 15 degrees, max.

    As near as we can determine (using the MOA scale on the reticle of the scope) where the road switch-backs on the opposing hillside in the first picture is 2000+ yards away. I've shot a 48 inch tall plastic sled (purple) with my bro's AR-50 here about 1200 yards away. But I consider half the range with ball ammo and iron sights to be a bigger accomplishment.

    Yep. But hiking my out of shape butt up a mountain made it feel a little warmer.

    I know. And my grandpa instructed a long range marksmanship class on a hillside in Korea using a 1903A3 and M2 ball ammo to score 3 out of 5 on a torso target from 900+ yards. I know it is possible. It is also difficult if you have little or no experience, esp under combat conditions, and I would be curious to know how many rounds my fellow Devil Dogs fired in that engagement for every hit that was achieved.

    I can remember scoring 9 out of 10 at 500 yards during pre-qual, but was pissed when I only managed 7 out of 10 during qualification. That was with M855 ball ammo and a beat up old A2 as well. Regardless, I wish someone was spotting and pulling targets for me here...
     
  18. goon

    goon Member

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    Good shooting!
    Damn right it's hard. If it wasn't, the Marines at Belleau Wood wouldn't be remembered for making hits like that.

    Makes me do some thinking though - I have some power lines near me that may serve a similar purpose.

    I think the sportsman's club that has the 500 yard range finally went under...
     
  19. MTMilitiaman

    MTMilitiaman Member

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    Just, obviously, try not to shoot the powerlines.

    I hate it when people shoot up signs and powerlines and such. It reflects poorly on all of us, and since my dad has worked as a lineman most of his adult life, I know those poles are expensive and time consuming, as well as difficult and dangerous, to replace.
     
  20. Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow

    Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow member

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    Yep. Contrary to popular belief, that's a looooooong ways to almost most everyone in the world. Now "some" people can *ahem* shoot RUNNING targets at almost that far....

    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=364886

    ...amazing what internet shooters and their mythical "sebn mags" can do. :rolleyes:

    Thanks for posting some realism, MT man! :) Good shooting, but (a) where in that 2nd pic IS the target, and (b) what magnif does your camera zoom up to?
     
  21. bl4ckd0g

    bl4ckd0g Member

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    That is a an admirable group of shots on a target that my eyes could not discern without magnification. Since you did that, let's see you go even further! Have you tried to shoot a couple Palma style matches with your M1a?

    I was trying to hit a soda bottle at 600 yards today w/ my .222 Rem rifle. Tried 800 hundred but soon realized that I was throwing rocks at that range. But that was with a retired BR gun and a quality scope.
     
  22. rc109a

    rc109a Member

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    Wow!
    That was great shooting. I was having a hard time seeing the target at 200yds with open sights. Great job.
     
  23. MTMilitiaman

    MTMilitiaman Member

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    a) I don't have image editting software that will allow me to highlight exactly where the target is in the picture. The white piece of paper with the black dot is barely visible on the target. The target is to the right and a little below the second power line back, and appears about 1/2 an inch from the tree line on my monitor. If you follow the road to where it turns left to go between the two power poles, and track up and right from the curve, you should be able to see it.

    600yardtargetfullzoom.jpg

    b) The camera is a 6.1 megapixel Kodak Z612. The zoom feature is described as 12x IS. Whether that is digital or optical, I don't know. Cameras really aren't my thing.

    I think I am a ways from doing that, but I appreciate your compliment.

    I am in the process of moving and finding another job, so things are hectic for me right now. When I get moved in and settled down, I do want to make it to some Appleseed shoots, and try get involved in some two gun matches.
     
  24. skinewmexico

    skinewmexico Member

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    Looks like you need to start shooting High Power.
     
  25. Ridgerunner665

    Ridgerunner665 Member

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    600 yards is very possible (as you found out)...think about those guys shooting the Creedmore matches over 100 years ago...and those were 1000 yard shots.

    I have done some 600 yard shooting with my AR 15 (S&W)...and its not even a match barrel...here is a 10 shot 600 yard group shot with peep sights...4 missed the paper because "doping the wind" with a little .224 caliber bullet is new to me...I'm waaaay better with my 308 and 300 Win Mag. and a 24x scope.

    121_2173.jpg
     
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