27 Feb

Sampson Star-C Rail Installation, Range Day with Prototype Optics Testing, and HS Precision

Steven K. Ledin,

I've been testing and using so many different types of optics and night vision units that I really need a dedicated full rail on my main small bore semi auto test gun, a Colt Competition H-Bar. I installed a Hogue free floated foreend many years ago, and besides trigger work and cryogenic barrel and receiver treatment, it contributed to this gun shooting sub half inch groups with Federal Gold Medal Match with the excellent 69 grain Sierra Match Kings. I received a Sampson Star-C 7" free float handguard and installed it this weekend.

The handguard is superb quality, like all Sampson products. This particular part has a removable lower part so you don't have to remove the fixed front sight if you don't want to. I had to anyway to remove the Hogue float tube and barrel nut. The front sight pins are hard to get out without the proper tools. A front sight block should prove to be an important piece of equipment, but I've always gotten by fine with my old hockey puck with a couple of holes drilled in it. Go slow, use a big hammer and appropriate punches to get the tapered pins started, then go to smaller hammers and punches to remove the pins. The Weaver hammer and punch kit is excellent. Some front sights and gas blocks use Allen screws instead.

I've had this Hogue foreend on there for many years, and the darn thing was really locked on. The tube itself came off easily enough, but the barrel nut was a bear. My strap wrenches wouldn't work, so I had to resort to a pipe wrench with a leather wrap. Got it.

There's a lot of forum threads about gas tube cleaning. I wouldn't worry about it at all, generally, but I have a .22 Ceiner conversion kit that I've used in this gun quite a bit, and the tube was caked with lead and filthy. I wasn't going to use the gas tube that came with the Hogue kit again, but I couldn't put it away dirty. Soak with the solvent of your choice, then scrub with a long pipe cleaner. I couldn't find my long pipe cleaners, so I used a standard sized one for as much at it would reach, then found a couple of long wire ties in the garage that worked perfectly and used them to clean the inside of both tubes. At this time, don't forget to clean the holes in your front sight or gas block, also.

I really love the Hoppes M-Pro 7 cleaners, and I highly recommend them. In a closed space like my gun room you don't have to worry about hazardous vapors igniting or getting you goofy. I've used and tested about every gun cleaning and maintenance product made in the last few decades, and the biodegradable and non-hazardous liquids have become my favorites. I still use Hoppes #9 and Birchwood Casey Gun Scrubber, but you have to be a bit more cautious about their use. Hoppes #9 makes my gun room smell great, and I still use it on my vintage guns, since that's what they were born with. Gun Scrubber burns your eyes and finger cuts, and just this weekend I melted a bandage into a nasty little gouge in my hand that my new schizophrenic dog made me put there when she needed a smack. Good times. I also use a crazy variety of cleaning rods, but Tipton makes them as good as anyone.

After lubing the completely clean gun I installed the barrel nut to about 35 foot pounds, then tightened it just until the next hole lined up for my gas tube. I then installed the Sampson foreend, and finished by lubing the taper pins and reinstalling the front sight with the use of my hockey puck. I actually played hockey with this exact puck as a kid. I keep stuff.

I was tasked to evaluate a new series of scopes, so I mounted a 6.5-20×40 version of it in an Armalite one piece mount and boresighted it with a Sightmark Triple Duty Universal Laser Boresight. You need to own one of these. It works on everything except my 10 gauge. I slipped the gun into one of our superb OPMOD Hybrid gun cases, then filled our OPMOD Professional Range Bag with all the necessities needed for testing and evaluation and sighting in at the range. This is simply the best and most voluminous range bag I have ever used, with every feature you can thing of. I wanted to shoot a box with the 6.5-20 scope, then test a new secret prototype reflex sight by a company that you know, then resight in my OPMOD MPOII sight that I normally keep on this gun for normal daily use. I also needed to shoot my new HS Precision Sporter Lightweight in 300 WSM for the first time.

It snowed a few inches during the week and my range hadn't been open yet. The snow was clear of footprints except for deer down to the 100 yard range, and it was just above freezing. Winds weren't friendly, gusting to almost 30 MPH.

I shot a few boxes and the scope performed exactly like I thought it would. 'Nuff said there. The prototype reflex worked okay, then I resighted in my OPMOD EOTech EXPS3 with the G23 magnifier (known together as the MPOII). Done.

Then I took the HS Precision out of my superb SKB single rifle case. It was wearing a few year old Leupold 4.5-14×40 Tactical with a mildot reticle. My uncle Bill, who ordered this gun, bought everything from HS and had them install it. Bill's been gone for some time now, and he really knew his guns and was a pretty severe hunter. The gun then passed to his brother, my uncle John, who gave it to me. I must say, I do not own another gun of this impeccable quality. It is absolutely superb. The paperwork that comes with the gun leaves nothing to chance. Everything is checked and rechecked. My first shot was a little off and I adjusted it. The next three shots grouped into well under a half inch. I didn't measure it, but a 3 or 4 hundredths group in the wind is great by anyone's standard in a hunting gun. I used Federal Premium 300 WSM 180 grain Trophy Bonded Tip cartridges. It's a light gun with a solid recoil pad, and it's not something I'd want to shoot all day. It's a spanky little bitch. I couldn't be more satisfied. I may install a better recoil pad at some time.

Our dog Tinker is coming along fine, and food is good at our place. Valentine's day lobster was great, as was My Shirley. A shout out today to Mom, who passed away a few years ago today, and also to deceased brother Chris, who's birthday is today.


About Steven K. Ledin

Steve has never not known guns. Before motorcycles, money, or girls, they have always been part of his life. He was tenured as General Manager of one of the country’s largest gun stores and ranges, a buyer in a big box sporting goods store, and is currently OpticsPlanet’s Director of Product Intelligence. He was a US Navy gunners mate, and is an NRA certified instructor in ten categories, as well as an Illinois CCW instructor. He shoots competitively and has hunted from Alaska to Africa. He thoroughly loves life with his beloved wife, Shirley, and their three wildish dogs Tinker, TranRek (pronounced “Train Wreck”), and Crash Almighty. He is a stubborn stage 4 cancer survivor not yet ready to cash in his chips.

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