Many years ago I bought a new Mossberg Model 640K “Chuckster”. You would need to be of a certain age to remember this model, so I will explain that the 640K was a clip-fed, bolt action rifle chambered for the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (WMR). Like most Mossbergs, it was an inexpensive, plain,
serviceable arm. The picture shows a 640K, not mine, courtesy of Photobucket. The .22 WMR was a longer version of the beloved .22 rimfire that we all learned to shoot with. In fact, it was a totally new cartridge, with a lot more power and velocity, and could not be chambered in the standard .22 rifles. Most gun companies soon offered rifles for this more powerful rimfire cartridge. The .22 WMR has enjoyed moderate success, and is still available. There are some interesting modern loadings with lighter bullets, but when I had the 640K you could only get 40-grain bullets, either solid nose or hollow point. Of course, they have always been considerably more expensive than standard .22 rimfires, so not very popular for casual plinking. The picture shows the .22 WMR on the right, next to a standard .22 long rifle.
The .22 WMR made quite a stir when it appeared on the market, but the standard story that soon appeared in the gun press was “Nice cartridge, like the power, but it is just not very accurate.” And it was true. At modest ranges, the original .22 long rifle in a good gun usually beat the .22 WMR for accuracy. Part of the reason for the resulting attitude is that the old .22 long rifle is one of the most accurate cartridges ever offered, and every shooter has had a really accurate one in his background, as a kid or adult.
I, too, was disappointed in the accuracy of my “Chuckster.” It was good enough to hit varmints at, say, 60-70 yards, but the power of the cartridge was enough to take out prey at 100-125 yards, and what good is that if you can’t hit ‘em? Not a very satisfying situation. Then one day I was shooting a target at 100 yards, comparing groups with a couple different brands of shells. In those days, I knew little of the importance of how the rifle action is held in the wooden stock. For some reason, however, I took out a big screwdriver and cranked the screw that holds the action in the stock as tight as I could get it. Accuracy quickly improved to the point that I could regularly put five shots in 1.5 inches at 100 yards (with 9-power scope). Not fantastic, but good enough to hit varmints at 100 yards, and I was pleased. I never shot a woodchuck with my “Chuckster,” didn’t have ‘em on our farm, but I tried a few crows, ground squirrels, racoons, etc. Somewhere along the line the gun left my holdings, and I confess that I do not remember what I did with it. Probably traded for something.
Years and years later, in another state, I happened to be bench shooting on a 100-yard range and at the next bench a fellow was shooting, lo and behold, a Mossberg 640K Chuckster. His results were making him grumpy. Generally, it is better on the range not to give advice unless asked, but I couldn’t help it. I had my Forster screwdrivers in my kit, so I handed him a big one and asked him to crank the action screw down as tight as he could. His groups tightened up immediately, and he pronounced me to be a great shooting guru, which was fun.
I would like to be a wise shooting guru, but a more accurate statement is that, by coincidence, I simply had a small bit of experience that another person needed. Over the years, I have had a number of opportunities to share, and to benefit from the sharing, of shooting experiences. The older we get, the more experiences we have in our portfolio. We never know when an opportunity to share will come along, and the real art is in finding how to do it constructively, whether on a shooting range, or in some other venue. One thing I know, there are few persons more grateful than someone who has been helped in getting better results with his/her gun.