I finally went to the shooting range, to sight in my M-44 with my new red dot sight. I had also added a nice custom- look recoil pad. The setup looks great, but does it really do the job or not, was the question. The first time I took the rifle out to the range was right after I bought it. I had cleaned up the stock a little, but that was about it. Shooting this rifle at the range was not very pleasant, as it had the original metal butt plate. Firing it was very hard on my shoulder, and each round needed a mallet to open the bolt. Kinda thought I had made a bad purchase. The bullets hit the 25 yd. target way high to the left. I guess I needed the bayonet extended, but just didn’t want to draw too many stares from other shooters. Anyway I lasted about 5 shots. With a slight headache and bruised shoulder I packed up and went home.
After a thorough cleaning, including using a 20gauge wire brush to clean and polish the chamber, I decided to add a red dot sight which replaces the elevation sight, to give it a scoutish look. To help in the heavy recoil, I added a rubber butt pad. With these in place the rifle sat in the gun cabinet for several months. Then I finally decided to go to the range, to see if these add-ons made any difference. I brought with me some Silver Bear 203g soft point ammo. I was a little recoil shy as I chambered the first round. I planted the stock firmly in my shoulder, aimed at the center of the target and pulled the trigger. WOW. Recoil felt, was very acceptable. About like my dad’s 30-06 Remington Woodsmaster. Ok, now for opening the chamber and putting in another round. To my surprise, the casing extracted easily and another round chambered with minimal effort. So far, so good. The shot landed about the same place as the first time I shot this rifle, but this time I knew I could adjust it, with the new scope. I fired a few more times just to get used to the recoil and make sure the action worked fine. Then I adjusted the scope and tried some more rounds. They got closer to the center of the target, but didn’t group that tightly. I fired 15 rounds in all with the M-44 and that was about enough to start feeling it in the shoulder. I didn’t bring any more 7.52×54 than the 15 rounds, so the shooting of that rifle was over. I was pleased with how the rifle felt holding it. Adding a couple inches in length with the new butt pad, gave it a better feel overall. I was worried about the inexpensive sight coming loose, but it seemed to survive the 15 rounds ok. I think with a little more steadiness in the shot and a little more tweaking of the scope, I think I will be in the black, and have tighter groups. Also I want to try different ammo to see if that helps the grouping any. Oh by the way, the other shots were from my sks sporter-D and the real tight group was from my Saiga .308!