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Old 11-09-2012, 08:09 AM
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Finicky New .308

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I just bought my first Savage and am having some issues with it so I thought someone here may have some insight. I purchased a Savage Trophy Hunter XP in .308 with a Nikon 3x9 BDC. I took it to the range to sight it in, before which I thourougly cleaned it, and took my first shot at 100 yards. The first shot landed 7in low 3in right. I then adjusted up 28 clicks left 12 clicks the next shot was four inches left and 8in low. I thought how in the heck is that possible? Im a fairly experienced shooter and was shooting from a sled. The best group I could get with 2 types of ammo (remmington core lokt 150gr and federal fusion 165gr) was probably 4moa. Furious I left the range and returned yesterday with Hornady SST 150gr. They instantly were grouping <1moa. The scope adjustments I made still had me confused though. I shot a 3 shot group a bit high (1/2in) then took it down two clicks at which point the following 3 shots were 3in low. I took it one click back up and it was tearing up the xring punching out the bulls eye. First of all is it possible that the ammunition made that much of a difference in grouping? Also is it possible that part of my problem is a finicky scope where the adjustments i was making werent reading true? Ive never had a gun that particular on ammo. Thoughts?
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Old 11-09-2012, 09:12 AM
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Make sure your scope bases and rings are tight, and the bedding screws as well. I'd check that first. Seems odds that you got groups more than 4 times as large by switching ammo but stranger things have happened.

The scope adjustments sound a little suspect, as well.

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Old 11-09-2012, 11:03 AM
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sighting in new rifle

Here is what i do the first time. Make sure every thing is tight on rifle. Set target at 25 yds.Fire 3 shots groups see were they hit and adjust sigths so your hitting 1" high at 25yds dead center. Now take target out to 100yds , fire 3shot gruops again( i clean rifle bore lightly after every 3 shots) dont let bbl get hot. See were your hitting and adjust accodingly. try this set up. it works. I shoot savages and there one of the most accurate rifles i have. bar human error. I just sigthed in my late fathers savage 110 he bought in 1961, rifle is in great shape and shoots 1/4 inch groups at 100yds , shes a 3006.

Last edited by hunter1; 11-09-2012 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 11-09-2012, 11:28 AM
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Remount the scope, make sure the bases are tight. Many of the Savage packages come "assembled", but rarely are the screws tight.
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Old 11-09-2012, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Mainspring View Post
Remount the scope, make sure the bases are tight. Many of the Savage packages come "assembled", but rarely are the screws tight.
This is true. I've seen many at our shop that needed to be tightened down.

It is pretty rare to have a .308 that is so finicky regarding ammo, but I suppose it COULD happen. I'd eye that scope and mount, first, though.

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." - Mark Twain
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Old 11-09-2012, 10:55 PM
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There can be a definite difference from one ammo to the other, not necessarily groups as big as yours but guns are finicky as you said where ammo is concerned. I always try 4-5 different types of ammo at least when I get a new gun and keep trying different ones if I need to until I find the one that shoots the best. Your gun like all others will shoot some types better than others no doubt. Also the other guys have given good idea's to try. One more thing, I know this might sound silly, but when I make an adjustment to the scope I gently tap the scope on top and on the right side right next to the turrets to make sure the cross hairs have moved all the way in place. Just a light tap, nothing hard !
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Old 11-10-2012, 08:29 AM
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My Savage 110 270 Winchester flat out refuses to shoot ANY!?? 130grn load into less than 3", however it'll put factory Federal 150grn Partitions into a sub MOA group!?, so yours doesn't surprise me at all with it acting that way, your scope does sound a little fruity?
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:15 AM
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fred243 beat me to it, but yes, every time you make an adjustment on ANY scope, even those vastly overpriced european things, give them a sharp but not violent tap either side of the adjustment turret. I was given this advice by Finn Aagaard many moons ago. You all must know of his background. I take a newly assembled rifle to the range and zero firstly spot on at 50yrds and then move to 100 where it should be around 1 1/2 inches high. Doubt very much the cartridge is the problem. Always allow a couple of shots after cleaning for the barrel to 'fowl' before making adjustments or you could start chasing hits.
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Old 11-10-2012, 09:41 AM
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It sounds like you have two issues going at the same time.

Finicky rifles is no surprise. My old push feed M70 right out of the box would tumble 168gr SMKs no mater how handloaded. My 03-A3 simply loves them. Just keep trying to find the factory ammo that works best for that rifle.

As for the scope, I perceive a problem many shooters have. You rifle shoots high 4moa and to the right 2moa. So you spin the elevation and windage knobs 4 down and 2 to the left. WHAM, you are now shooting 2 or 3moa low and 1 to 1 left.

I see shooters fighting their scopes all the time at the range. Good scopes too. The reason? You are not adjusting the scope to the true center of the group. If your group is 4moa and its high, then your true adjustment down is 1 to 3moa depending on the flier. The same is true for windage. So my rule of thumb is always make half the adjustment you think you need when sighting in based on a group. Unless you are real seasoned shooter and can call your shots, knowing which bullet/s are the true flier/s is fruitless. You will just end up spinning your knobs all over the place.

As for me... I bed all my bases and lap all my rings. Its fun and makes even the cheapest Chinese knock off sight in well. I bore sight my rifle at 100 yards by pulling the bolt and inserting a spent case with no primer. I site the rifle to see through the bore (primer hole) to center 12 o'clock on the black. I then spin the elevation and windage knobs to the center x ring. That method has always worked for me. With a good eye you don't even need the spent case. But the spent case method works great with big bores.
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Old 11-10-2012, 10:12 AM
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Shoot one shot and then adjust your scope? That ain't gonna work. As Mr. Glo points out, you'll wear out your thumb, spinning knobs.

I would suspect that your groups with the other ammo might not be so bad, if you are patient about how you adjust the scope and how you shoot after making an adjustment. Never take the first 2-3 rounds after a scope adjustment seriously. The next 3-5 shots AFTER those first 2 or 3 will tell you where the new POI is.

Keep at it, with a little more patience, and you'll be all set. I do have to ask, though...why are you dialed in with a 100 yard zero? Adjust your scope to hit 2-3" high at 100, so you get the most effective range out of those SST's.
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Old 11-15-2012, 03:49 PM
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I was helping my 2nd cousin last week with a Remington 788 model in 308, it liked (1.5" groups)winchester 150gr silver box, and absolutely hates remington 150gr corelokts. 7"-9" groups, everywhere. I have never seen that much difference. So all I will say, is that anything is possible. If the rifle will CONSISTENTLY shoot <1moa, your set up is not loose.

I do what Mrglo does but without the primerless brass. I have been on paper at 100 yd, every time I have tried it. I had a guy at a range show me that once, and I have not had a rifle bore sighted since.

Broom_jm hits on one of the most advisable aspects to sighting in that there is. I haven't personally set any of my rifle 3" high at 100yds, but most of my rifles are set at almost 2" high at 100yd. The slowest rifle I have is a 308 and I am just starting to work up a load for it, so that is liable to change any day.

Last edited by smokinfz1; 11-15-2012 at 04:03 PM.
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Old 11-15-2012, 04:48 PM
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Before going back to the range, I would take the scope off and check the base to insure it's properly torqued. Then put the scope back on and make sure all the screws are properly torqued on the rings. Once I get this done, I put a small drop of clear nail polish on the front and back of each ring where they touch the scope. This will give you a visual indicator if the scope moves in the rings because you can see the break in the nail polish.

As for bumping the scope after making an adjustment, that's the way we had to do them in the old days, and you might have to do that with some of these el cheapo scopes today but most quality scopes, I wouldn't have it if I had to do that. I'm not going to pay well into the hundreds and even over $1K for a scope with target or tac turrents on it so I can dial in my settings and then turn around and give it a bump, that ain't gonna happen.
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Old 11-16-2012, 04:14 AM
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I've seen and had some wierd stuff happen with the first few shots out of a new barrel / scope setup myself.
When you mount your scope, make sure your base fits the top of the reciver the way it's supposed to. No burrs in the bottom of the base from the screw holes, no gaps between the base and the receiver, ect. Take a close look at the fit because there are some slight differences bewteen receiver models and the correct base for each model, and the difference is sometimes small. (Loctight the screws after the initial trial fit and tourque them to spec).
When using a picatinny type rail base or weaver slot type basses, make sure ring bottoms are pushed forward in the slots before tighnening the bottom ring to the base. (That first and or second shot recoil can move the ring froward in the base slot if there is a gap there. That is one reason why the first few shots can be wierd, and then all the sudden she will settle down.)
New barrels are full of crap from the factory and sometimes and a cursory cleaning may not come close to getting them cleaned up. Some barrels have been siting around for a while the the crud is really in there.
New rifleings are sometimes full of burrs and rough spots that will need to be dealt with. (You can sometimes feel the tight spots in the barrel when you push a patch through it. Those spots can cause bullet distortions and variances in velocity, all of which affect accuracy.
I clean the barrels as best I can before the first shots, then brush with copper solvent and run patches with powder solvent at least one rep of each after each shot fired for the fist 10 rounds, ( I get my rough sight in done at the same time) After than, I brush with coper solvent and patch with powder solvent after each five shot group till i've gone through 50 rounds. (I use a brush one size bigger than the caliber to get a good scrub).

I just setup a Savage/Stevens 200 in .308 that really was starting to bum me out at first with big groups at 100 yards (and I just did a ton of trigger work on it the night before). After about 40 rounds using my above method, the thing started to settle down.
I was thinking about hunting deer this year with somethng else due to the inconsistant performance. I was shooting 150 grain-ers and 165's with various charges and bullet seating and nothing was shooting well.
Finnally after about 40 or so rounds, and some searious brushing and cleannig (allways breach to muzzle by the way), It started to shoot groups. After about 65 rounds and some final sight adjustments it would shoot both bullet weights to minuet of angle or so at 100 yards. (first shot after a cleaning was a filyer and the next shots would group. After time even the first shot out of a just cleaned barrel got better, but you cold stil tell the difference compared to the following shots.
I made a final sight ajustment for the 165 grain load, and shot a 5 shot group with no cleaning at 200 yards that was 3".
I'm gonna use that gun tomorrow morning for the Wisconsin deer opener. (just because of the extra work I put into it).
New gun barrels are not as nice a finish on the inside as the guns of yesterday were IMO, so we need to take more time with them when there new these days.

There are fixes for really tough barrel burs such as the "Tubs Barrel Lapping System that can work very well.
I won't get into detail here, but you shoot sets of cartiges that progressivly lap rough spots from the barrel using progressivly coated bullets (you can buy the loadded shells or just the bullets for your own hand loads). Follow the instructions and the system will improve rough and or sometimes throat eroded barrels.
My next thing with this guin is to try some neck sized casses using a collet neck sizer die and see what happens. I think the more I shoot this gun, and play with loads, the better it will get. Some guns are stubborn that way, and sometimes, in the end, they trun out to be the best shooter's.
This is just my observation, and I buy and setup at least one new gun a year, and sometimes one like this will give me more trouble than others.
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Old 11-16-2012, 05:29 AM
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New scopes can have thier own set of issues.
New cheap scopes can have elivation and windage turrets that can stick as mensioned eralyer in this thread.
If you wind up having to tap or bang on the scope to get them to move it better be a temporary situation or you might want to think about a new scope, because it may be just the beginning of scope issues. Scopes should adjust coreectly and accuratley without having to bang on them to move turret adjustment, and the reticales should be square with the scope body. they should pass a box test with reasonable repeatability and accuracy, and return to a zero setting.
There should be no debris folating around in the scope tube / sight picture. Once the ocular lens is adjusted for paralax (adjusted so the retical is clear as soon as you pull up the gun and look through the scope), this adjustment should stay put, otherwise you may have issues with the internal lens alighnments and it's probbably only gonna get worse.
Scopes should hold zero unless there is a definate cause like vastly different loads.
If they start to loose zero it's probbably going to get worse.

Cheap scopes are a tricky endeavour. Some are pretty good, then in time they start to fail.
Some are good and stay that way. Some have issues right out out the box, get retuned for repair or replacement, and the replacement is fine. Some never get straightened out.
You get what you pay for with scopes, and occasionally exspensive ones have issues also.

I hav three Pro Staffs. the first two were great, the third was not so good. After replacement the third one is fine.
I have a couple Vortec vipers on tacticals that are great, very tough, very clear and accurated in thier adjustments.
I have a couple economy grade Swifts that have been very good for the money (wife will not let me change out her swift on her deer rifle for anything else includding Lupolds,( she has some cornea issues and is a special case).
The thing I learned about cheap scopes is to buy better ones. If you cant afford better ones make sure the warrenty is iron clad because there is a good chance you may need it sooner or later.
I have sent more than a few scopes of various cheap and exspensive brands back for repair and or replacment, and l knock on wood, I have never had an issue that didn't get resolved.
Scopes never fail at a good time, so it's not a bad idea to have a backup scope even a cheap one, or better yet, a complete backup rifle (yea, more guns).
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Old 11-16-2012, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by broom_jm View Post

Keep at it, with a little more patience, and you'll be all set. I do have to ask, though...why are you dialed in with a 100 yard zero? Adjust your scope to hit 2-3" high at 100, so you get the most effective range out of those SST's.
It's a BDC scope so he wants to sight the main crosshairs to zero at 100 so the bullet drop compensator marks would be accurate at farther ranges.

I have a few scope with those reticles, but I don't like to use them. Most of the time I'm not using max magnification and don't want to change at last minute. My shots are almost always less than 200 yards anyway, so sighting for PBR works for me.
It's not rocket surgery, for crying outside!

Last edited by Jakeway; 11-16-2012 at 06:00 AM.
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Old 11-16-2012, 07:22 PM
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Glad for your question. After reading following posts I learned a couple of things I didn't know my own self. Shooting is always fun until you start to talk to yourself. Fred243 idea about tapping the scope was taught to me by a former range instructor from the USMC years ago. He carried a little yellow plastic handeled screwdriver. Looking back, probably the best rockchuck shooter I ever seen.

Last edited by attaloss; 11-16-2012 at 07:33 PM.
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Old 11-17-2012, 02:58 AM
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I've had two Nikon Monarch's with the BDC recticle. One is on a Tikka 243, the other I sent off and had the recticle and turrent's changed. Since the one on the 243 is only 3-9x with the BDC 600 recticle, I just leave it zero'd at 200yds, that's about the furthest this rifle would be used and as far as the scope is really useful. I know what they advertise but I'm yet to find the rifle they are calibrated for. I've tried one on a 22-250, 6mm Remington, 243, 260, 6.5 -284, 270 and 7mm Mag and regardless of the zero point, none of the BDC points were anywhere near what I considered close enough for an accurate shot. To my notion, it's just a lot of clutter in the middle of the scope.

Last edited by BKeith; 11-17-2012 at 03:19 AM.
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:42 PM
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I couldn't agree with you more, Bkeith. The various "compensator" scopes may be fine for target shooting at known distances or even for truly long-range shooting of big game animals, (notice I didn't say "hunting") but when it comes to taking game at typical hunting distances, there isn't a reason in the world to have more than a fine wire or duplex reticle. I know some guys like 'em, but when it comes to scopes I like BRIGHT and simple. Anything else, including the amount of magnification, is secondary.
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:20 PM
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Take the scope off and tighten the bases!!! I have the exact same gun and it did the exact same thing. When I first got it, I made sure to tighten what I could reach. I didn't take the scope off then because I felt no movement. I probably shot $100 worth of ammo before I decided to start over from scratch. And even then I almost didn't take the scope off because I found a loose ring screw. But when I did, I found the bases very loose.

Then what I found in trying to determine how it went unnoticed, is that with a loose base but everything else tight, it would lock it all together where it felt solid. But in watching it when I tried to move the scope assembly, I could see some slight movement at the base.
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Old 11-22-2012, 05:32 PM
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Welcome to the forum!
I agree with those whom have said check the scope mount and rings.
Personally, I start at 50yds for the long range rifles to find groups and zero.....then move out to 100yds. Usually this will save you on ammo and frustration.
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