I hunt Arkansas Flooded Timber exclusively. Losing a bolt charging handle in knee deep water is not a good deal in that venue. Today, I lost my charging handle at the gun range.
The good news is I found finally found the Flooded Timber Load-Choke Combinations for 25-35 yard shots and it is 3” 1-1/4 oz. #2 Steel Shot with a Carlson’s Cremator Mid Range Non-Ported Tube (.707”). With Winchester Xpert 3” 1-1/4 oz. #2’s, the average shot count is around 150. I am putting 135 shot in a 30” circle at 25 yards (90%) and 130 shot in a 30” circle at 30 yards (87%). I’ll take that.
I will add that today I was taking single shots doing the pattern work and the bolt would come all the way back but the hull would hang up almost as if the hull swelled up too much. This occurred about three times so I loaded three in the shotgun and it happened again causing a jam. So out of the box of 25 I shot, 4 or 5 shells hung up. I had this happen the first time I shot this M2 American with the new style Federal Black Cloud #2, 5 to 7 of the initial 25 shells hung up.
The other thing that happened today is after the first 10 shells or so, the, bolt charging handle fell out. I am not sure if the hulls hanging up is related or not. I am also suspect of the Winchester XPert and want to try Kent Fasteel 2.0 and Winchester DryLok. I have never had issues with DryLok.
When I got home, I field stripped the shotgun, cleaned it and checked the extractor for chips or debris in the bolt and saw none. I will add I run a bore snake and do a cursory light oil wipe down after every firing and for the record, grease the choke after every third hunt so I maintain my equipment.
I have concerns. This past season was the third Duck Season with this M2 and during the last one, I didn’t fire over a box of shells due to terrible Duck numbers on Arkansas WMA’s. It has been babied. I did notice the interior of the chamber was bone dry. I may need to make sure there is a light film of oil between the mating surfaces of the bolt and chamber.
Any help or insight into the stuck hulls and the charging handle that flew out is greatly appreciated. I am hoping I don’t hear 1400 FPS or below is not optimal for this platform. Anything above 1400 FPS with this particular shotgun in multiple choke and steel shot load combinations does not pattern well.