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Thread: Accuracy Issues

  1. #1
    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    Default Accuracy Issues

    I have a .223 that's giving me fits. After load development, I thought I found a load that shot really well....so I loaded 50 more of them (55gr Nosler w/ Benchmark powder). But, at the range today, the groups were erratic. One group would be 3/4" or so, but the very next group was 2", or something crazy like that. One group at 200 yards was 3/4", but others were terrible.

    The rifle is not bedded (yet), but the barrel is free-floated, and I just had it re-crowned. The crown is perfect. All the screws are tight. All the ammo was virtually the same - prepped cases, hand-weighed powder charges. I brought my cleaning rods to the range, and groups were fired from clean barrels as well as dirty barrels. In addition, I shot groups with everything from a freezing cold barrel to a fairly warm barrel. There didn't seem to be any rhyme nor reason the rifle's accuracy streaks. One group would shoot great, and the next one would suck....so went my day.

    While I certainly don't claim to be perfect, I don't think I am the one to blame this time. I didn't have any troubles shooting sub-MOA groups with my other three rifles today....and they are all much larger than my .223 Rem.

    Anyone got some ideas?

  2. #2
    Member rimfirematt's Avatar
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    well from you shooting on clean barrels, dirty barrel, hot and cold. All those are variables. To really see what your gun groups everything needs to be the same. And some guns, especialy light barreled ones are real finicky with how they will shoot given the conditions.

    Im not real familiar with benchmark powder. Maybe it is really temp sensitive. Some powders are.

    Also, How did your scope picture look. Sometimes On cold days with a warm barrel heat waves interfere with my scope picture. Also, maybe your scope took a dump.

  3. #3
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Have you had this gun for awhile and did it ever shoot well? Have you tried running a box of factory ammo to see how that groups? What is the barrel twist and velocity of your loads? Some .223 ammo historically doesn't work well through certain barrels.
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    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    I have had the gun since July, and no, it has never shot all that well. I have free-floated the barrel....and that helped. I had the rifle re-crowned....and that helped. The next step is bedding it.

    I shot a variety of handloads a couple of weeks ago, and I found a couple of loads that seemed to shoot really well - 1/2" or so. After I loaded more of them, they never shot as well. Maybe the first couple of groups during load development were flukes?

    I shot a lot of rounds yesterday. I shot groups (with the same ammo) in the same situations, but I couldn't get consistent results. I tried hot & cold, dirty & clean as variables to try and get consistant results, but nothing worked. I didn't try to compare different situations to each other.

    I'll get some factory ammo and see what it will do. In the meantime, I think I am done shooting the rifle until I get it bedded. No sense in wasting ammo.

    The scope is a fairly new Leupold VX-II. How can I tell if it's given up on me?

  5. #5

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    I'm assuming the trigger is good and your bench technique is good. The 223 is pretty forgiving, and you shouldn't have to go through all the whoop to get it to shoot, especially if it's already turning out good groups part of the time.

    Have you considered a primer change? I've seen eratic ignition cause symptoms like yours, but I haven't tried Benchmark powder. Does it have a history of eratic ignition?

    I'd also consider bullet runout, depending on your seating die and techniques.

    Also, what's the twist rate of your barrel? If it's one of the new fast twist models, it may be telling you it wants heavier bullets.

    I'd also check seating depth. If the throat is long for heavy bullets, but you're shooting 55's at standard OAL, that could be an important variable.

    More data needed on gun and loads for more guesses.

  6. #6
    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    The rifle is a Rem 700 LVSF, 1-12" twist. I have it in a Ti mountain rifle stock. The trigger is a Jewel, set pretty light.

    I will swap the scope with one from another rifle, to see if it could be a scope issue. I wouldn' t think so, but anything is possible, I guess.

    In my current .223 loads, I am running non-magnum Fed sm rifle primers (I don't remember the number....205's?). I have some Rem 6-1/2's and CCI BR-4's on hand, so I can easily try a primer switch to see if that could be the issue.

    Benchmark is one of the newer "Extreme" powders from Hodgdon, so cold weather isn't supposed to be a problem. It's not a ball powder, but it has a very small grain structure to it, along the lines of H4227. Should I be using a magnum primer for this application? I am using just shy of a 25-grain charge of powder (24.8gr, if I remember correctly).

    I use standard Redding dies - not a benchrest seater die or anything fancy like that. When I seat the bullets, I do it in 3 strokes, rotating 1/3 each time before the bullets are fully seated. The bullets are seated about .010" off the lands. I don't have a dial indicator to check bullet runout, but maybe this is just the excuse I have been looking for.

    Thanks for the suggestions, guys. I appreciate the input.

  7. #7

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    Well, you have me stumped.

    That should be an accurate rifle, and the twist is fine for 55s. Your loading techniques stole all my suggestions, so I don't know where to go.

    I just don't expect bedding to be too much of an issue with the 700 and a little round like the 223, but have you tried retorqueing the action bolts? If they're torqued unevenly or one of them is loose, I'd expect that to cause as much or more problems than sloppy bedding.

    After that, I'd bet a change in primers or bullet brand might help, but it's kinda confusing that one group is fine while the next stinks, rather than seeing groups size go up and down with load changes- but consistently.

  8. #8
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    How do the groups apear, is there any noteable stringing, either verticle or horizontal?

    The three screws that attach the action to the stock should not be all set to the same torque, as it will bind up the action. The forward most screw should be the tightest, the rear screw snug, and the middle screw should be just tight enough to keep it from falling out. I'd recomend skim bedding the action, the forward part of the action and the recoil lug, and the rearword portion of the action, and float the entire length of the barrel.

    My daughter has an LVSF 221 fireball, and it's a good shooter.

    How are you cleaning the barrel? I like a really squeky clean barrel and use barnes CR-10 and JB compound to get all the copper out, then I'll fire about 100 rounds before the next cleaning, or go longer so long as the gun keeps shooting well.

    One other thought would be are your cases all trimmed to the same length? Different length cases will have different neck tension and can cause inconsistancies.

    It almost sounds like an ammo problem, as usually a gun will or won't shoot, not often it alternates between good and bad.

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    Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Funny how each of us think we know what the problem is. If the scope is a Leupold, that would be the first thing I would suspect. I have had and seen more Leupolds go south and cause the problems you relate than any other factor.

    Then the next thing I would guess is the barrel. I'm always surprised at the number of good barrels in small calibers we see from major manufactures.

    A good barrel with everything else right, does not care what you pour down it's throat, it will shoot!
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  10. #10

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    What are you using for cases? Are they new and all from the same lot number? Are your dies standard 223 or small base 223? They should be standard.

    Years ago I had a Remington Sportsman 78 in 223 that was a tack driver in its original walnut stained hard maple stock. This stock had no bedding and was made with a single pressure point at the tip end of the stock. Well since free floating was the new fad I decided to remove the pressure point and glass the action and a couple of inches of the barrel channel. I could slide a dollar bill between the stock and the barrel all the way to the glass with no friction anywhere. However the gun would not shoot worth a tinkers ****. In the end I wrapped a couple of layers of electrical tape around the barrel where the original pressure point in the stock had been and then placed it back in the stock and tightened the screws. The gun was back to shooting little groups. So I glassed in a new pressure point in place of the tape and was basicly back to where I started. So much for the free floating theory!

    Barrel harmonics are a queersome thing! Everytime the powder is ignited little shock waves run down the barrel. The trick is to get the gun stabalized so that these shock waves are both minimized and consistant from shot to shot. Meaning that the bullet is leaving the muzzle in harmony with the vibration that is going on the same from shot to shot.

    Do you know what your standard deviation is as far as muzzle velocity at say 15 feet? Muzzle velocity deviation will be in perportion to changes in chamber pressure from shot to shot. So if you have a wide deviation in fps then I would say maybe its an ammo issue!

    Or as mentioned it could be the scope.

    Keep us informed as to what you figure out!

  11. #11
    Member Big Al's Avatar
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    This is the old time method for figuring out how much up pressure to give a thin barrel. You use cigarette papers to get the thickness for how much thickness you will need for the glass you will need to add to the end of the forearm.

    I've only found this to be needed on thin profile barrels, not standard weight or above.
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tryants." (Thomas Jefferson

  12. #12

    Default Accuracy Issues

    A friend has a Savage varminter that he couldn't get consistant groups with. Out of sheer frustration he sent it back to Savage Arms. They sent it back with two targets measuring 1/4 to 1/3 in groups. The attached letter stated that the bore was fouled and all they had to do was give it a good cleaning.

    Over the years I've bought several rifles with shot out bores and after a good and thorough cleaning got them shooting at least 1 1/2 in groups. One particular .222 rem took so much cleaning that I thought I wore out the bore.
    With a bedding job and good loads it will still put 5 shots in a 1/2 in or less if I do my part.

    Dino

  13. #13
    Member bgreen's Avatar
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    That sounds exactly like the problem I just had with my .243 Sako. Turned out to be the scope. (Leupold VXIII 3.5x10)
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  14. #14
    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    Update....

    Bedded the rifle this week, and I have a plan for the next trip to the range.
    1- Shoot the rifle with more of the same reloads with the same scope....see if the bedding helped.

    2- Try some different loads, with a different primer....see if the primer is to blame.

    3- Try some factory ammo....see if my loads are to blame.

    4- Swap the scope at the range.....see if the scope is to blame.

    5- If all else fails, send action to Pacnor for a new barrel. I wanted a .223 AI anyway.

  15. #15
    Member rimfirematt's Avatar
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    My Dads got a LVSF in 22-250. That gun does not shoot real good either. I have tried developing some loads for it, but Cant do much better than 1.5 groups at 100. Wich is super dissapointing because of the SUPER price on these things.

    I was poking around predator masters and some other websites a bit researching these lvsf rifles. Seems its not to uncommon for these to only have so-so accuracy.

    I wonder if remington screwed up with these barrels

  16. #16

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    A good wat to check the scope is to use a lazer bore-sighter after each round you fire. If it stays true, it isn't the scope. If it is moving around, it is a strong indicator your scope is either loose or something inside came loose.
    Check the mounts and bases both, as some only check the mounts, and the scope is still off, when it actually is the bases have worked loose.
    Now just why in the hell do I have to press "1" for English???

  17. #17
    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    Update #2:

    I took the bedded rifle to the range this weekend and finally had some success...

    The same 55gr Nosler loads still shot lousy. Each group would have a tight 2 or 3 shot cluster and fliers would open them up to 1.5" or more. Different primers did help, but there were still fliers and inconsistent groups with these bullets. The tightest groups were with CCI-BR4 primers, then Rem 7-1/2's and then Federal 205 Match primers.

    Frustrated with what I was seeing, I decided to try some new loads before swapping the scope. A friend's Hornady 55gr V-Max/Varget loads shot well (under an inch), and my 53gr Sierra/Benchmark loads shot really well - one-hole groups........over and over again! What was this? Finally some life out of this rifle!

    I had shot the 55gr V-Max's before, but they didn't shoot all that well the first time I tried them. I guess the bedding job may have had something to do with the improvement in yesterday's V-Max groups. ???

    This was the first time I tried the Sierra's, but I was impressed. I shot 4 or 5 consecutive groups with these bullets, where all five shots were touching. I am definately going to load more of these babies up!

    While I was scratching my head trying to come up with an explanation for what I was seeing, I remembered that ALL of the Nosler bullets were factory seconds. I sure wish I would have remembered that little nugget of information earlier.

    Thinking I found the culprit to all my frustration, I tried these same Nosler 2nds in a friend's .223 rifle. They shot very well. In fact, they shot as good as anything else he's put through the gun. Figures.


    So, after all the frustration, I have come up with the following:
    1 - Recrowning the barrel helped. The groups did get smaller.

    2 - Bedding the action helped. The groups got smaller again.

    3 - Changing the primers showed promise, so I will investigate further with the Sierra bullets.

    4 - Thankfully, the scope is okay.

    5 - This rifle seems to be VERY picky with bullet selection. In fact, this is probably the pickiest rifle I've loaded for. I have tried 40,50,55, and 60gr V-Max's, 55gr NBT's, 53gr TSX's and 53gr Sierra's. Only the Sierra's have been consistently accurate. I will load some more V-Max's, though, in light of the glimpse of hope I saw yesterday with the 55-grainers.

    I would be willing to bet the barrel is probably at fault here, after all, a GOOD barrel should shoot just about everything. The Hart barrel on my .280AI shoots everything I have fed it, including Nosler 2nd's. It's not picky at all. So, even though I finally found an accurate combo for my .223, I might just re-barrel it anyway.....I always did want a .223 AI.

  18. #18

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    Yeah, I'd expect that LVSF to perform well with a wide variety of loads. Heck, I've got a little LH Savage stainless sporterweight (can't remember the model) that still breaks an inch with just about anything you stuff into it. And that's after a documented count of more than 10,000 rounds through it. It used to break half an inch with almost anything, and break a quarter inch with my best handloads, but time and wear will have its way.

    When that little beauty finally quits braking an inch, I'll probably rebarrel to AI as well.

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