1,000 yard shooting with the M1903 , M14 and even A Colt Commando


After my last two  posts about shooting at 1,000 yards with the service A2 and the M4 carbine with SOCOM barrel  of 14.5 inches along with some 800 yard shooting with 16 inch barrel  and T-1, I was talked into to shooting some other rifles under the same, or close to the same way.

So with that in mind, I tried 1K with a made in 1935 M1903 Springfield rifle, US caliber .30,  an LRB  M1A ( M14 ) a  target AR15 to show what you could be done with the seirra 80 grain match HPBT loaded long  and just to see if it could be done, something I never dreamed would make it to 1K. More on that later.


To talk about the guns used and results not in the order I shot them, I will start off talking about the  80 grain bullets in the 5.56.  The bullet has been a staple for the longer ranges in matches for a while now and to get the performance you want, you have to load them very long. this opens up the case for more room for powder.  Sure they can be seated to magazine length but you restrict powder capacity and lose so much velocity they stop being useful in the way they are meant to be.

I wanted to try to make the 80s look as good as I could so I didn’t try it iron sighted this time. I used a set up a lot more practical for making hits at long range.


After my sighting shots to confirm I was on paper. I shot 20 rounds of the 80 grain handloads with two misses.  The weather yesterday was  perfect with no wind. I did string the shots and a few other problems but all in all I think this will give a good idea of just how well the 80 grain HPBTs and VLDs can perform.  The gun is not as custom as the more serious long range set ups but it is obviously more then just a rack grade gun.   If you have a A2 with a 1/7 0r 1/8 twist, you can use the 80s in it and it will deliver much improved long range accuracy. The first time I tried this was years ago using a Colt  Match Target HBAR  with the 80s.  So give it a try if thats all you have and you want to see what you can do. It can be done.


I am going to take this time to show the size of the target with me beside it for scale.   Some may be confused by the point I am trying to make with all this 1K shooting or miss the point,  I am not trying to demonstrate ways to win at Camp Perry nor am I worried about some absurd idea like head shots at 1000 yards.  I am simply showing that hits on a man sized target can be made.  I am not concerned with cones of deviation, muzzle velocity at 1,000 yards ( other then to help me get on target) terminal performance of the different rounds at that range or any other pedantic minutia.  That will have to wait for another time. This series is about what can be done within reason and maybe to instil confidence in the average marksman beyond what something like the apple seed shoots teach.   The details will be addressed at a later time for those more worried about the more technical details.

Moving on, I also fired the M1903 using the seirra 175 grain bullet in handloads.


The target above shows my hits after a 20 round string of fire after confirming I was on target ( or thought I was close). The gun was made in 1935 and is from the CMP.   It is not worn out but neither is is brand new.  The sights on the ’03  are something I have a love/hate relationship with.  I feel they can be used for precise long range target work under idea lighting and with the use of a sight micrometer to make accurate adjustments, but I feel are  horrible for combat.   But, my lack of time behind the 03  shows on the target even with match 30-06 loads.  A round that otherwise handles 1,000 yards very well.  I think If I had the 03A3 with a rear peep I would have done better.

The M14 did about what I thought it would. its not secret I loathe the M14/M1A but I promise I did give it all I had.   I initially was going to use the 7.62 ball ammo like I did the M855 in the AR15 to make it fair. But since many people know I despise the rifle , I wanted to give it an advantage after it was suggested to me by my spotter.   I even turned down a rack grade  SA M1A with standard  barrel for this custom rifle with SS Krieger barrel.

Knowing how finicky the M14 operating system can be with different loads, I used  the federal 168 gold medal match  ammo.  This seems to be much loved by a lot of people who for some reason think it is a great 1K load. So I figured I would try two in one.


I marked the 1903 hits in red and the M14 in orange though you can not really tell.   I labeled the hits as “M14”  on the target.  few hits were made and all but one of those was a keyhole hit.  The 168 runs out before 1000 yards despite popular opinion.  You can see the huge gaping oblong holes with light shinning through, that the 308 made from the M14.  I plan on doing this test again with heavier bullets and also with ball ammo.   I want to give it every chance I can since I personally dislike the rifle a great deal. I will also do my best to get a friend who admires the M1A to do the shooting next time.   But, until then, this is what I got for you. Do with it what you will.

Last is something I did on the request of my friend who took the pictures and spotted for me. It was his gun and I never expected anything but a waste of time and utter failure along with a pile of empty brass with nothing to show for it.


The last gun I used, was indeed that 11.5 inch barrel Colt Commando.  I really was not going to talk about this and we spent a while discussing  if it should even be talked about on the website.  But since my partner and co owner of looseorunds has experience making extreme range ( for the gun) hits with a  MK 18  I decided to write about it.

the hits of the sub carbine where made with match hornady 68 grain bullets.  I fired over 90 rounds to get on paper.  The hits are marked with a star like shape around the holes.  Most are at the bottom of the target, with one very, very , very lucky random hit dead center of the torso.  Likely a freak accident or me yanking the trigger or a bird flew by , or whatever. Certainly not from any skill from me.


The red star cannot be made out, but by clicking on the picture it will enlarge and you can see the light through the hole.  All rounds did not strike the target straight on of course and the amount of holder over and sight fiddle work is so beyond reason I am not even sure exactly what the hold ended up being.  At the end it seemed like I was holding 30 or 40 feet over the target to see if I could artillery a round on.   After 90 rounds I suppose statistically you have to make something connect?  I doubt I could repeat it. The conditions and weather seemed to want to see if happen as well. I have never had better luck. Below is a picture of me getting ready to foolishly attempt to use a 11.5 inch barrel carbine.

I really can not stress enough how  very lucky this was.  It was very little skill and probably would have had the same results if I had fired a 100 round burst from full auto at the target. I fully expected it to be a waste of time, and truly it is.  I am sure a couple of those hits were even base forward. All the holes showed unstable bullets as expected and to add to that it was clear they barely made it through the thin card board.   The barely hit with enough force to kick up dust from the misses allowing us to spot where they impacted.   In another  century of shooting I am sure this would never happen again.


One other point I would like to mention is this is the first time I have tried the Leupold Mark AR  scope at a range beyond 200 yards.  This is the Mildot with Mil turrets model  with the illuminated center “dot”   it was repeatable and held up well.  I did run out of elevation using this scope since I did not have a canted base or enough elevation adjustment in its 1 inch tune to get out close to 1,000 yards, but it was not meant for that. It does have a BDC turret  that matches common laods to around 600 meters. I was able to work it by running it almost out then using a few mildots as hold. I ended up swapping it out for my regular lang range Leupold target scope for the  precision I needed.   For the money, I think these are really neat optics though for anyone who wants a good solid scope for varmint or closer range AR15 work.   I’m sure leupold probably can supply turrets with a BDC for MK 262 or any other standard load you may want. But I am not sure.  I would not expect to use it for long range sniper work though. Keep in mind its price and what it was intended for.


  1. Taking the same attitude toward your EDC is not a bad idea, the first time I tried my Smith 442 from a sandbag rest I made 2 hits out of 5 at 100 yards on a 12″ gong using full wadcutters.
    Even the snubbies are surprisingly accurate at longer ranges, a long slide 10MM or a 6″ revolver in several Calibers can be deadly out to 200 yards or so in the hands of an average shooter who puts in some practice.
    If you want your ego deflated after ringing that gong you can watch either of the 2 Youtube videos where Jerry Miculek pops balloons at 1,000 yards with a revolver.

    • I’ve seen them and I dont know why they would deflate anyone’s ego. You give a decent shot the time and free ammo Jerry get’s and I promise you within a month I would be doing the same thing

  2. Maybe I’m wrong but to me I was always under the impression that the .30-06 could do more that the .308. Everyone calls it a fudd round these days saying the .308 is exactly the same as the .30-06 but I seems like the .308 is a bit limited. Plus if you reload you could get even more creative. At least whenever I see data on the two side by side the 06 always seemed to have a slight edge. Maybe I’m off base but it just always seemed like there was more possibilities and options with .30-06.

    • Im confused by your comment. I never said the 30-06 would not outperform the 308 in the article nor anywhere else in my life.

      • Not you just what people always seem to say now days. Or they treat the caliber like a meme. “How do I know he’s a Fudd? He bought a .30-06 instead of a .308.”
        To me this shows that the 06 did outperform the 308 even if slightly. (The keyholing not the accuracy since I think it’s safe to blame the gun for that one)
        Sorry, busy day and I’m not the best at getting what’s in my head into words.

  3. So I carried the Aussie SLR (aka FN FAL) for 10 years and thought it was a great weapon. The M14 is a similar battle rifle in .308 from a similar vintage. I’ve never fired one, but as a development of the Garand it would seem like it should be a useful piece. What are the deficiencies that cause your ermm…lack of love for the gun?

  4. I really need some more of that Colt 11.5 Commando in my life. Have you written about it before? Im hoping Brownells will get their 11.5 XM177E2 uppers back in stock so I can get one together.


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