I finally decided to keep the Kick-Eez recoil pad, so I went ahead and fitted it to the stock and refinished the stock (which had never been refinished after reshaping the stock to fit the rear bag). By the way, the Kick-Eez weighed 14 ounces before shaping, if I remember correctly, so if you are looking for a lightweight recoil pad to "make weight" on a competition gun, the Kick-Eez is not it.
Unlike a lot of pads that are hollow, the Kick-Eez is solid sorbethane, plus it has a brass plate molded into it to hold its shape.
Here is how the rifle currently rolls. The white thing on the front of the scope is a "modifier ring," just a piece of plastic with a 1" hole drilled in it. It acts similar to a camera aperture to increase the depth of focus, but at the cost of less light transmission. It doesn't reduce mirage at the target but I used to struggle with keeping the reticle in focus on mirage-y days and the modifier ring solved that problem for me. The loss of light is not a problem during the day but I do unscrew the modifier ring if I'm shooting in the late evening, when there is little mirage anyway.
Getting back to the lousy velocity spread. I did scrape together enough money to order some more Varget, as well as a pound each of some more powders to try (H322, H4895, H4166, Benchmark, and Reloader 15). In the meantime, I wondered if a heavier bullet would make WC844 burn better? So I scaled up the 75 gr. BB to 80 gr.
Note the bevel on the 80 gr. is smaller than the bevel on the 75 gr. That's because it obturated a bit during the push-thru sizing step prior to coating. I'm not sure if that matters, but on the next batch I'll try a different sizing routine to try to reduce the unintentional obturation.
OAL was 0.817" and weight was 81 grains, after sizing and lubing. Miller Stability factor in a 14" twist is:
SF = 1.38 @4600', 50F, 2500 fps
SF = 1.17 @sea level, 50F, 2500 fps
So it should be plenty stable at my elevation.
I used the same nose-sizing and seating settings as for the 75 gr. bullet. As a result the extra length went into the case while the part sticking out of the case remained the same diameters and length as the 75 gr..
It shot just as well as the 75 gr. if not a little better. This is the rifle's best average to date for 4 consecutive groups!
Unfortunately the ES did not improve much. The first group (on the left) was 1.15% standard deviation, but then the next three groups averaged 1.78%, not a whole lot better than the 75 gr. bullet. Nonetheless the groups were round.
The BHN was not actually verified for this batch. This lot of reclaimed shot has run from 10 BHN up to 14. I've been adding it to the pot directly out of the bag without making any attempt to blend all the bags together, so that may be a source of variation.
I measured one of the bullets from this batch and it was 14.7 BHN.
Things To Try Next Time and Down The Road
-- retest the 80 gr. BB to see if the 1.35" accuracy is repeatable
-- verify and possibly tweak the BHN. Would 14.5 or 15 BHN shoot better?
-- test the 80 gr. BB with Varget