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Offhand Shooting



The Nautilus is a 32 caliber PCP rifle. Featuring a Barnes manufactured Tri-Valve Butt Flask, and Barnes Brass sights, it has an 18th century appearance.

The rifle is power adjustable and can shoot a number of Barnes 32 caliber slugs. I took a selection over to a buddy's farm to try them out.

The rifle has been a long term background project for a few years. I just completed it and reassembled it a few days ago. Never fired it since, so this was it's completed maiden voyage.

The overfill regulator inside the buttflask was set for a 2,000 psi operating pressure. Filling above that point would cause a "weep" back down to operating pressure. I tested this in the field and it worked as designed. By 2,100 psi, it was weeping. It reset back near operating pressure.

I picked some slugs from a tin I took from a drawer in the shop. These were cast a couple of years ago from a particular Barnes mold labeled on the tin. I made a mental calculation as to what diameter to size them for this barrel, hand sized some and began. Let's look at the session and some targets.

Last comment. The Nautilus was designed to be an "Off-Hand" target rifle. It features Barnes sights - rear peep - front dual ghost ring design. All targets were thus shot standing - offhand - no optics.


These were the first three slugs I shot. I was glad to be this close at the start. Almost at 12 o'clock and just alittle high at 23 yards. This is an 83 grain slug I call the "Shrike". I later found that it shot even better when one thousandth of an inch larger in diameter.




Note here that three shots are circled - three have a square around them. These were shot from 50 yards offhand standing. The circled ones are the Shrike slug @ .317" ... the Square ones are the same Shrike slug @ .318"

A couple of things are on view here. 1). The size diameter of the slug obviously makes a critical difference. 2). The rifle holds and shoots great for Off-hand shooting. In order to note the group difference as resulting from the slug size, we have to assume that I did everything perfectly and that I was not a variable factor. Actually, I've never considered myself a crack off-hand shot so I was really pleased to do so well with the Nautilus - and no optics to boot! ;?)


Getting bold now. I moved back to 60 yards - offhand - with open sights. Sticking with the .318" Shrikes. I color coded the three five shot groups for you.

That's all 15 shots on a paper plate size target (and most on a tea saucer size) @ 60 yards offhand - brass sights. I was developing a technique for holding and shooting as well during this target. People think I might spend half my life shooting. Actually, I spend 7/8th of it working - very little shooting. And, mostly, when I go shooting, it's with a brand new rifle I've never shot before. So, there's a learning curve involved in every group of targets I show you.

Nevertheless; you can see the groups aren't bad for the variables mentioned. Let's move on cause it gets better ...


Discount the green dots. They were from earlier shooting - one's even a stray when I shot the wrong target (I'd posted a double target on the stake @ 60). I can feel for the poor fella that shot the wrong target at the Olympics this time! A shame ...

So, we are just looking at the yellow and red 5 shot groups. And, this was later in the session. I was almost ready to leave. Decided to try a tin of Barnes Falcons I had brought along. Glad I did. Same 60 yards - Off-hand standing - Brass sights - no optics.

Part of this improvement can be attributed to me cleaning up my technique over the last hour of shooting. Part will be the choice of slug and sizing.

Bottom line: This thing shoots. And, it likes my Falcons.




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I took along my favorite brew ... After that last target, I could not resist before leaving. Set a can on the stake at 60 yards. Bang ... and missed. Well ... what do you expect? ha ha. One more ... and the can flips way off into the bushes. That was the top "clip".

Maybe alittle lower aim ... another can.

First shot a miss again. Then another can goes into the stew pot! Offhand standing - no optics - 60 yards - handmade airgun - handmade barrel - handmade slugs - shooter somewhat frayed around the edges ... hey - I'll take it. ;?)

Thanks for coming along.

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