Saturday 9/29 Lessons Learned

At the beginning of September, I got a call from Uncle D about heading out to the secret spot at my grandfather’s place.  I don’t think we have been shooting together once this year, we usually make it a few times per year.  My oldest had literally mentioned getting together with Uncle D just a few days earlier, so it appeared fate was with us.  Uncle D mentioned that he had a friend with an unfired EDM rifle, which has a (CA registered, for those will ill intentions among us) .50 BMG barrel & bolt, as well as .408 Cheytac and .338 Lapua barrels & bolt- if I recall correctly, the .408 & .338 share bolts.  Bring him on out!

The day comes, and true to form, I’m running around like a headless chicken the morning of.  I was digging through boxes, trying to find a few different sizes of my various shirts to put in a display out at  This put me behind schedule, which resulted in no breakfast.  I grabbed a few hard boiled eggs, my SS canteen, an extra bottle of water, and hit the road, with the family in tow.  Of course, I promptly left box of shirts that cost me breakfast on the living room floor.

As we were headed out of the vicinity of Ballistic HQ, the wife asked if I was really going to try and peel my boiled eggs and drive.  Hmmm, now that you mention it, NOPE.  She was tasked with peeling them.  Intimating that that wasn’t quite the intention of her comment, I told her she should have kept her mouth shut, in a mockingly harsh tone.  I thought it was pretty funny. She peeled the eggs.

We were just about to the secret spot, and I got a call that Uncle D had to attend to some sort of water emergency (later found out he was trying to turn off his neighbor’s water, they had a broken 1″ pipe that was washing the neighborhood away, they were not home).

Once they made it out, there was much setup needed.  I’d heard that they had a new thrower,  I should have realized that this wasn’t going to be one of those spring loaded deals.

Clay machine

Once they figured out the breaking clays issue, all went well.  Shotguns are always fun. Even though my experience with them is pretty limited, I always enjoy shooting clays.

In fact, shotguns seem to generate smiles universally-



M bringing the heat with her surgically repaired knee:Shotgun

The girls taking a break.  Notice how M has repurposed her knee brace as a shell holder?

Good times

Throughout the morning, R was breaking in the .50 BMG.  Shot, patch, shot, patch, etc. Notice the dust rising from the concussion.


A couple shots of the rifle:

EDM .50

EDM .50

After perhaps 7 or 8 shots, as I was trying to capture the moment of ignition, something rather unfortunate happened:


We checked the window and surrounding area for signs of perhaps a copper jacket, but there wasn’t a trace of anything wrong.  A quick examination of the rifle didn’t turn up anything either.  The idea that the concussion alone would cause the window to shatter seemed pretty far fetched, however, initially, that’s what appeared to have happened.  There was a spot on the interior of the battered SUV that looked like something impacted it, but we just weren’t sure what.

After a bit of investigating, it was back to shooting.  R did think it expedient to move his vehicle.  D didn’t seem to think the EDM was a threat to the black beast.

The girls had to get going, but before they left, R offered them a chance to shoot the EDM.  H was absolutely giddy after shooting.  It is pretty cool to watch someone experience this stuff for the first time, and H seemed to enjoy it all quite a bit.  Again, you can see in the left picture the dust rising in response to the concussion of the earth-shaking .50 BMG.

H .50 Love

I included this one just because it illustrates how ridiculous it is trying to fit my 6’4” (and 5/8″) frame into things designed for normal people.  I was practically falling off the chair.  Of course, this doesn’t show that the seat cushion was precariously held on with tape.  If I could have scooted back a few inches, things would have been much less cramped.

Cramped on the .50

At this point, we’d been out there a few hours.  I’d downed my 24 oz SS bottle with flavored water, and the regular 16.9 oz spare I’d grabbed, long ago.  I was feeling pretty thirsty, and while it wasn’t as brutal as the previous couple weeks, it was still pretty warm, right around 90 degrees.  K had taken off for a while, and when she returned, brought some soda and water. I shared a water, and drank a soda, but I could tell it wasn’t enough.  However, there were pictures that needed to be taken, and guns that needed to be shot.

D showing the girls how it’s done with his bull barreled AR-15.  It’s an uncommon setup these days, but man, is it accurate.


M with the AR-15.


Once again, H is pretty thrilled about the results.

H AR-15

Ballistic covergirl K slinging lead with my dissipator AR-15, keeping it under control with a nice, aggressive stance.

K AR-15

Going over the basics with E, 10 years old.  He was out there with us all day, seemed to enjoy himself.E Discipline

It occurred to me at this point that I’d better get some eye pro for him, and then it occurred to me that I had never found my glasses that morning.

Doing a pretty good of holding the dissy up.  It is obviously a compromised stance as he compensates for the weight of the rifle, but he is doing much better than his older siblings were at 10 y/o.  He loves rock climbing and parkour type activities, so I think that has built some strength that others his age and size might not have.  Also, he is cross eye dominant, so he has to struggle a bit to keep the right open.  At this point, both eyes doesn’t work for him yet.

E AR-15 DIssipator

Wait, what is M doing here still, didn’t they need to get going?  The girls couldn’t pull themselves away.  She was slowly removing things from her to-do list that she wanted to accomplish before the going to the concert. Pretty sure showering was iffy at this point.

We were taking a break, I was starting to feel the effects of the long, overheated day.  I had not done a good job of staying hydrated, and I really needed food, not in a “Gee I’m hungry” way, but an “I’m not feeling so swell” way.  I figured I’d push on through.  Keep in mind, this wasn’t a carbine class, I wasn’t running around, or dropping to the ground and jumping back up repeatedly, contorting my body in awkward shooting positions.  This was a fairly low impact family range day.

As we were hanging in the shade, D came over and told K she needed to be his nurse.  He hadn’t really noticed when it happened, because you really feel the 50 BMG in your feet and legs, there is a very noticeable shockwave when it is fired.  He assumed that was what he felt.  After some additional discomfort, however, D decided to go through the arduous processes of pulling up his pant leg to check if something was wrong.  Sure enough, he had a gash in his shin.  Standing at about 7:30 from the rifle, and several yards away, he was still within the (cue Sterling Archer) danger zone.  He only complained once, as she pressed on the wound, checking for shrapnel.  It was becoming clear the there wasn’t anything in the wound, but there was a definite entry hole in his jeans, and no exit hole.  I posited that it may have entered through the front, then ricocheted off the leg, and due to the impact, lost the velocity to allow an exit, getting caught in the pant leg.  I assumed that whatever it was would have fallen out of his pants and be gone forever. However, a quick search revealed the shrapnel, and it was definitely black metal.


Now that we knew what we were looking for, the missing port vent was obvious,  Here is a comparison between the damaged .50 and the unfired .408.

Muzzle device comparison

Upon reflection, this could have been much worse.  D was at about 7:30, and it hit him in the leg, but the first impact on R’s SUV was at a much higher level, easily could have hit someone in the face.  We really need to improve on the eye pro situation.  On the one hand, it’s easy to insist my 10 year old wear eye pro, but I’m not a fan of telling other grown adults what to do.  D has probably fired hundreds of thousands of rounds in his lifetime, most of them created with his own hands.  On the other hand, there was real danger here, and I have to at make sure that at least my wife, children, and I are always wearing adequate safety gear, and it wouldn’t hurt to at least remind those I’m shooting with that eye pro is a good idea.  Especially considering this was an unknown rifle, firing some of the first rounds of its existence, in a caliber that is simply too powerful to trifle with.  Really, when the safety of your family is involved, any round is too powerful to trifle with.

Once the magic number for the day had been reached on the .50, the .408 was swapped in.  The swap is pretty simple, there is a big knurled barrel nut that holds it in place.  I think there were some kind of keepers to lock the barrel nut, but no tools required. You can see how the barrel is indexed to the receiver in this picture. There is a 180 degree relief that is filled with the barrel extension to maintain precise alignment.

EDM barrel swap

Uncle K said the only way you’ll really catch him smiling is with a gun in his hand.


E is a burgeoning lead farmer.  I told him to make sure he washes his hands before dinner.

Lead Farmer


It was nearing evening at this point, I think around 5pm.  I was starting to feel pretty strange.  I knew that I needed to rehydrate and eat something, but it wouldn’t be long before we were on our way.

D busted out his brand new 300 Ultra Mag to do some barrel break in.  Between the .50, the lever action .45-70, and this beast, the shoulder was feeling a bit sore.  I think the brake and massive butt-pad on the .50 actually evened it out with the other two.  The .45-70 seemed particularly sharp.  Anyway, we quickly ran through the initial break in for this one.  I made Uncle K do most of it, though.

300 Ultra Mag

All packed up and ready to go.  ATS Raid II backpack, MaxPed Active Shooter Bag with BFG Ten Speed pouch, and most importantly, the GGT COWITNESS sticker on the toolbox.



So we were packed up and on our way home.  We stopped to refuel.  I was really feeling the effects.  I was dizzy, lightheaded, had a hard time focusing.  I am surprised I was able to muddle through the order in the Carl’s drive through.  I immediately ate my Western Bacon Cheeseburger, but somehow had failed to address the fluid situation.  A few miles down the road, my wife asked if I would like her to drive.  The idea of relinquishing the wheel is not something I take lightly, but obviously I realized I was not at 100%.  Or probably even 50%.  Getting to the far right lane seemed like something that simply could not be accomplished.  I was almost hopeless that I would ever make it all the way over there. I finally managed to negotiate the lane change, and gave up the wheel.  I dozed in a semi-conscious state the rest of the way home.

Once home, and the sensitive items were secured, I grabbed a protein shake,  a couple water bottles, and collapsed in the tub.  It took a couple hours to feel a bit recovered, but I was still having spells of dizziness when I stood up.  In fact, the next day I was still out of sorts.  I managed to execute my Sunday responsibilities, but barely, and Monday I still wasn’t 100%.

Lessons Learned:

-Part of the problem was I had not properly planned for the day.  At all.  I hadn’t really considered that we would probably be out there all day, and the thought of getting home at 7:30 or 8 (I have no idea, it was darkish, I was in a bad way) did not even cross my mind.  In the future, I will over prepare in the hydration and food dept.  What good is having enough ammo if you can’t see straight to shoot it? Again, this was not a particularly physically challenging day, and I’m still a little surprised at how poorly my body handled it.

-I will make sure I have enough eye protection for the family at all times, you don’t have to be shooting to have a serious malfunction impact you.  We probably got off lucky with only a window and leg injury.  It could have been worse.  Much worse.

Stay safe out there, happy shooting!