American Rifleman - August 2017 - 74

RIFLE ACCURACY
LOAD UP!

No barrel shoots the same with all loads. Here is where
your search for accuracy needs to be truly exhaustive.
Some barrels are finicky, some are not, and that's one
reason the handloader has a huge advantage. Components
can be varied endlessly-as can seating depths, neck sizing, sorting components and so many other tricks. Factory
ammunition, though better than ever, is more limiting
because any factory load is just one possible assembly of
components. At a minimum, it is really essential to try
several different brands and bullet weights and styles.
"Match" ammunition is likely to be more accurate than
"hunting" ammunition-but there are no guarantees-
and also no predicting what load might enable a given
rifle to produce its tightest groups.
I recall a .30-'06 Sprg.-chambered rifle that was just
terrible with everything except the near-obsolete 220-gr.
round-nose. Go figure. I had a Remington Mountain rifle
in .280 Rem. that shot patterns-not groups-with all
factory loads then available, but with handloaded 140-gr.
Nosler AccuBonds it was instantly a tack driver. Be exhaustive in your search for the right loads. As with most things

Although a very old photo, this remains a classic illustration
of load variation. The rifle is an inexpensive Savage Model 116
"package" rifle with an inexpensive scope. These groups varied
from more than 2" to less than 1/2" depending on the load.

in accuracy, improvements are usually incremental and
rarely exponential. But sometimes the difference in loads is
dramatic. One more thing: Homogenous alloy bullets are very
popular today and are required in "lead-free zones." These
are "hard bullets." My experience is that some rifles shoot
these bullets really well, better than lead-core bullets, and
other rifles are just the reverse. So you may not always be
able to use the bullets that shoot best in your rifle.

SHIMS AND CROWNS

As the search for accuracy becomes frustrating, we are
inclined to implement radical solutions, such as changing
the bedding. Sometimes this is warranted, and sometimes
it works. But it's also possible that you're stuck with a bad
barrel, and nothing will make it shoot. The search for loads
the rifle likes best never really ends, but before hacking on
the bedding-and certainly before giving up-there are a
couple of little tricks you should try.
When accuracy is erratic-and especially if shots are
stringing vertically-the first thing I try is shimming the
barrel. Free-floating is the most common factory bedding
because it's the cheapest. It works well on many barrels, but
it is actually the absence of bedding; the barrel is allowed
to vibrate as it will. For many years, Winchester Model 70s
and Remington Model 700s were commonly bedded with a
bit of upward pressure on the barrel near the fore-end tip,
which seems to make vibration more consistent. It is easy
to replicate and easy to undo if it doesn't work. Loosen the
action screws enough so that you can slide a business card
between the barrel and fore-end just behind the tip, and
then retighten the action screws. Depending on the space
between barrel and fore-end, it may take a couple of thicknesses, but the idea is to create a small amount of upward
pressure on the barrel. It is amazing how often this produces
instant improvement in accuracy.
You can increase the pressure with more cardboard,
reduce it with less, and move the shim slightly forward and
back to find the "sweet spot." If it works you can replace
the card with a thin piece of metal cut to fit, or simply
soak the cardboard in oil so it won't draw moisture and
cause rust-but it leaves no marks and costs nothing, and
often reaps accuracy dividends.

74

AUGUST 2017

The muzzle's crown is the last thing that touches the bullet, and it
must be concentric (l.). Sloppy crowns aren't uncommon, and in
used rifles, damaged crowns are even more common. Careful inspection will often reveal flaws, and these could be the entire accuracy
problem. With action screws loosened, a business card "shim" can be
placed between fore-end tip and barrel (r.). The idea is to place a bit
of upward pressure on the barrel at the fore-end tip, which seems to
often smooth the barrel's natural vibration and tighten groups.

Another small trick is to check the crown. The crown is the
last thing that touches the bullet, so it must be concentric.
Factory crowns are often sloppy, and on used rifles crowns are
often damaged, usually by the muzzle having been put down
in a vehicle, where it grinds against grit. Checking the crown
is another simple test that costs nothing. Paint the muzzle
with typewriter correction fluid and fire a shot. The white
paint will show blast marks adjacent to the rifling grooves,
where gas escaped as the bullet exited. If the blast marks
appear consistent all the way around the crown, it is probably
fine, but if some blast marks are more prominent you may
have a damaged or off-center crown, which is likely the cause
of your accuracy woes. Re-cutting a crown is an inexpensive
gunsmithing job, but if you have a lot of rifles you should
probably check brownells.com and get a crown refacing kit.
AMERICAN RIFLEMAN


http://www.brownells.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - August 2017

Contents
American Rifleman - August 2017 - CW1
American Rifleman - August 2017 - CW2
American Rifleman - August 2017 - Cover1
American Rifleman - August 2017 - Cover2
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 1
American Rifleman - August 2017 - Contents
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 3
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 4
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 5
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 6
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 7
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 8
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 9
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 10
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 11
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 12
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 13
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 14
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American Rifleman - August 2017 - 16
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 17
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 18
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 19
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 20
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 21
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American Rifleman - August 2017 - 23
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 24
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 25
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 26
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 27
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 28
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 29
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 30
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 31
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American Rifleman - August 2017 - 33
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 34
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 35
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 36
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 37
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 38
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American Rifleman - August 2017 - 40
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American Rifleman - August 2017 - 43
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American Rifleman - August 2017 - 85
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 86
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 87
American Rifleman - August 2017 - C1
American Rifleman - August 2017 - C2
American Rifleman - August 2017 - E1
American Rifleman - August 2017 - E2
American Rifleman - August 2017 - MW1
American Rifleman - August 2017 - MW2
American Rifleman - August 2017 - S1
American Rifleman - August 2017 - S2
American Rifleman - August 2017 - SW1
American Rifleman - August 2017 - SW2
American Rifleman - August 2017 - W1
American Rifleman - August 2017 - W2
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American Rifleman - August 2017 - 100
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 101
American Rifleman - August 2017 - 102
American Rifleman - August 2017 - Cover3
American Rifleman - August 2017 - Cover4
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