SHOOTING A $17.00 SWISS 7.5X55MM RIFLE
I was in "Cooter Carter's Shooter's Shop" in Brookhaven, MS. It was the fall of 1976 and I had just moved to Mississippi from Florida. It was great to find a shop with reloading supplies and a few project rifles.
The rifle that caught my eye was a sporterized 7.5x55mm 1911 Swiss Rifle. The barrel had been cut off at 21", the stock was cut off and the front sight reinstalled on the rifle. The crown was not very good but the bore was perfect. I asked how much and he said $17.00. He admitted the rifle did not shoot accurately. He sold me the rifle, two boxes of Norma ammo and gave me the 20 rounds of brass from the ammo he fired.
I took the rifle home and used a hand re-crowning tool to square up the muzzle. We bought the RCBS 7.5x55 dies in Baton Rouge and reloaded the 20 rounds of empties. The .30-30 shell holder was the proper size for the 7.5x55mm.
The trip to the SW Gun Club Range was disappointing. The rifle would not stay on the paper at 100 yards. I took the rifle into my shop area and checked it out. The front sight band was loose and would move as much as 5/16" either side of center. I decided to soft solder the front sight band to the barrel. I centered the front sight on the barrel and made a witness mark with a scratch awl and drove the sight band forward. I heated the front sight band and melted some soft solder under the barrel band. The sight band was moved to the rear and placed on the witness mark. When it cooled, it was there for good.
The next trip to the range was much better. At 100 yards, groups with open sights were less than 1.5". I decided to make this rifle a poor man's Over the Course rifle. I bought a Lyman 17 globe front sight and a Williams Fool Proof receiver sight. The trigger pull was great but it had backlash in it, so I used an ACE trigger shoe for a Colt Python and turned it upside down on the trigger. I set the trigger shoe, so the points at the bottom of the trigger touched the trigger guard just as the sear broke from the cocking piece.
I was ready to test the rifle. For the new reloads, Norma Brass was used with 168 GR Sierra International Match bullets, 39 gr IMR 4895 and a Federal Primer. The results were spectacular. Groups well under 1" were the norm. A sling swivel was mounted on the bottom of the forearm and I was ready for our 100 yard NRA HP Rifle Matches.
I took the rifle to a rifle match at the Magnolia Rifle and Pistol Match in Jackson, MS. There were over 100 participants at the match. We fired a 100 yard NRA 50 shot HP Rifle Course and I scored 476/500 with a score of 189/200 in the 20 shot prone slow fire event. When the match was over, many people there wanted to know what kind of rifle I was using. I have been amazed over the years that several Military Rifles I owned would perform extremely well. I have seldom had surplus ammo perform as well as my hand loads. The exceptions being:
LC66 .30 M2 Ball
Svenska Metallwerken 7.62 NATO Ball
MEM and HXP .303 British
.303 RG Tropical Pack ammo
5.56mm RG 62 gr Ball
Bulgarian 10-53 light ballAll in all, my experiences with military rifles have been positive. But, military ammo can be unreliable and inaccurate. My thoughts on the ammo are, if the Country of origin still uses the caliber they surplus, it only stands to reason they would sell off their worst lots first