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Discussion Starter #1
I bought my first rifle *used* in Oct 2010. Its a Savage model 11 wood stock .223 bolt action. I purchased a Bushnell bone collector scope and it was mounted and boresighted at the shop.

I got this rifle for target and ground hogs. The problem I am having is group size. Ive shot from a bench at the range, 100 yards, and managed one group that was about 2 inches with 55 gr PMC bronze.

Others were all over. Now, I'm sitting there trying my best with using the right technique/breathing/trigger squeeze - and I see the crosshairs right where I want them when the shot goes off.

I usually set up sand bags on my car though. So anyway - I cant figure out why the groups are so erratic. Am I supposed to be really squeezing the stock into my shoulder and have a real tight cheek weld so the rifle moves as little as possible? Or is it more of a relaxed thing?

So, Ive tried Winchesters white box FMJ, PMC, Hornady Vmax and TAP as well as Rem UMC 45gr HP. Ive never tried above 55 gr.

I guess my main question is, should I be trying something like black hills or prvi partizan wit hthe 68 gr bullets for my 1/9 twist? Or should I be able to hold a tight group with this ammo?

Also, something else that seems to be tied into this- my scope seems off. Bushnell would like me to send it in to them for a look.

Basically, the windage is so far off when I adjust for different ranges that its not even hitting the 23 x 35" targets I use.

Today I shot at 200 yards and my shots were a few inches to the right. No wind. So I adjusted the windage knob and no change. I actually ran out of windage adjustment. At 100 yards I hardly have the elevation adjustment to bring my shot down onto the paper.

I took it back to the store and the re-mounted the scope and all, said it was mounted ok - they boresighted it again. Still the same story. When its boresighted, its 8 inches high at 100 yards and far right...

Sorry for the rambling. Its been a confusing ordeal for me. I do what mentors tell me as far as how to shoot and all, but I rarely can get anything resembling precision. Also, with the thin barrel I pause for a minute or so between shots. Still doesnt help.
 

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To be honest sounds like scope or mount problem or forgive me operater error. Have you let someone else shoot it?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
No problem about the operator error - its very possible. Thats why Im hoping someone has thoughts on what I might be doing wrong without knowing it.

Similar results from anyone else who shoots. I just shoot it alot more than the other folks.
 

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All I can say is I have he exact same model and caliber Savage, but with a Swift Premier 4.5-14 scope and it consistently shoots under an inch at 100 yards with 55, 60, and 69 grain hand loads. In fact, with 55 and 60 grain Nosler BT or Hornady Vmax bullets, I am usually under a half inch. But the best I can get with inexpensive FMJ ammo is about 2 inches. Given your description of how your gun shoots and how scope adjustments don't seem to be consistent, I would tend to agree that it is probably the scope. But there could be other possibilities. You don't mention anything about consistency of your groups. Do your first groups start out pretty tight, and only after shooting a bit they open up? Or are they just bad from the start? The action could be loose in the stock or the stock could be bearing on the barrel. The first Savage bolt I had shot loose from the stock after just a few range sessions. A little lock-tite fixed that.

And then there is the possibility or shooter error. With the .223, recoil shouldn't be a problem, but you may have developed a trigger jerk or other unconscious movement at the time of the shot. Maybe start at say 25 yards and see what happens. Don't worry about hitting the bullseye, just try to get a good group without any scope adjustment. Let someone else shoot the gun to see if they have the same problem.

All I have ever heard about recent Savage bolt guns is good, and my experience with two of them bears this out. Look for the most obvious problem and only after that is proven wrong, go to the less obvious.
 

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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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A lot of small things go into shooting small groups. Individually, may not make much difference, but added together mean a lot.

First thing - a good, clean scrubbing of the bore to remove ALL the accumulated crud that you may not think is there, but is. This means down to shiny, bright metal so that after cleaning you run a dry patch down the bore and absolutely no stain shows on the patch.

Next - go over the firearm for loose screws - action, scope mount and rings. Wooden stocks need around 40 lbs/in torque for proper seating. Don't need the screws squeaky tight, just firm. Always alternate tightening first the receiver screw and then the rear tang screw until tight. Take the rifle and on a carpeted floor, bump (not hit) the buttpad sorta firmly, then check the screws for any further looseness.

Some rifles respond to a bit of forearm pressure between stock and barrel. You can do this by loosening the stock screws and inserting a thin shim of pop can or plastic (paper compresses) and re tighten to see it that helps any. If not, remove shim(s) and:

See if you can run a dollar bill down the barrel channel and the barrel. If not, you may want to remove the action from the stock and relieve the barrel channel. A gunsmith can do this if you feel intimidated by it. What you're trying to effect is a "free-floating barrel" to allow the barrel to vibrate naturally with no hindrance to the harmonics when a bullet travels down bore.

When bench shooting (or off the truck hood) don't put the forward support under the barrel. Move the support as far back toward the trigger guard as possible and still have adequate control. Be sure all supports are solid and comfortable to the shooter. As you're aware, proper sight picture, breathing and trigger squeezing are paramount. If the trigger pull is heavy and/or gritty, there's lots of aftermarket triggers that are pretty much "drop-in" that may be installed, or have the 'smith work the present one over.

Lastly - no one is able to consistently shoot itty bitty groups day after day, no matter what the internet sharpshooters will tell you. Some days go well, others not so well - all with the same ammo and shooting conditions.

Reloading and tweaking loads for a particular rifle is rewarding. Factory ammo is quite accurate today compared to yesteryear, but good handloads are not only bragging rights, but soul satisfying. Ought to give it a try sometime.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
"You don't mention anything about consistency of your groups. Do your first groups start out pretty tight, and only after shooting a bit they open up? Or are they just bad from the start? The action could be loose in the stock or the stock could be bearing on the barrel. The first Savage bolt I had shot loose from the stock after just a few range sessions"

Thanks for the replies, guys. They usually start off awful. I randomly get a good group sometimes.

One thing that was odd today when I shot was that the target I started out on I at least hit. Actually the first couple targets. Then I moved to a target that was about 2 feet higher than the first ones, adjusted bags and all, and didnt even hit that one in three shots.

The groups are probably 2 MOA or higher.

I usually tighten it back down pretty good. Heres one issue with that though. The action seems to want to fit a couple different ways in the stock. The way it "wants" to fit as I hold it firmly in the stock per the Savage manual, leaves the trigger side rubbing against the trigger guard. Its pretty far over to the side. So the trigger creeps and grinds that way. So I usually work with it until I get it center. Maybe its not in the right place then?

Thanks for the tips in that message. Thats very good information for me as a newb.

Here is a HUGE problem I have had ever since I bought this rifle. I think the bore is in not great condition. The stock is 2004 so it might have been shot a while.

Anyway, I have gone through Butches bore shine, Montana Xtreme, Boretech eliminator, wipeout, etc. I CAN NOT get this barrel clean. It has plenty of tooling marks it seems. Anyway, I have scrubbed until I wanted to never see a gun ever again, and with a flashlight the bore doesnt look like it has a shine to it. I really dont know the deal there.

Wipeout does the best job getting copper and all that out, but recently when using the UMC 45 gr HP, I have way more powder than copper to deal with. There must be some in the throat or chamber Icannot get. Ive tried to scrub in there too, and just cant get it.

Evidence that the chamber might have an issue is that sometimes when chambering a round the bolt is pretty sticky feeling on the last downward movement. I guess that could be headspacing too?

I tighten the forward most screw down all the way though, so maybe I should alternate it.

I absolutely love the Accutrigger on this rifle though. When set in the middle, I can feel zero creep, and it is so crisp and fairly light.

Am I maybe taking too long to pull the trigger? When people told me to slowly squeeze it until it goes, I go REAL slow. Are you supposed to maybe go slow but steady and kind of fluid? I am not sure.

I will try adjusting screws. I checked with the dollar bill once and it was free floating from what I could tell...

Maybe I will pick up some 55 gr vmax and try again for a cold barrel group.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Not sure what a stock savage bbl costs. Would it be more worth it to step up to a Shilhen varmint or bull bbl?
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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If you think the barrel is toast, it wouldn't hurt anything to try firelapping it. That's what I would do.
 

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There are quite a few manufactures of Savage replacement barrells. Savage Shooters.com has a forum that you could get more info.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for the info, guys.

Well - for the time being I can at least get it lined up for 200 yards. Today I was able to hold groups. I shot a bunch of UMC FMJ through it and it wasnt so good but I was also sighting and messing with scope clicks. I switched to some Federal soft point power shock 55 grain, and it held something that much more resembled a group.

Heres where I went all crazy though - I though to myself, self, you havent tried anything above 55 grain in this rifle and it has a 1 in 9 twist. So I bought some Hornady TAP 75 grain. I only got to shoot 8 rounds through it, but none keyholed at 200 yards and held a decent three shot group each time. About 2.5 inches, maybe 3. As good as my Federal group.

I also cleaned the bore really well before I shot today and retightened the stock. So it might have been a combination of all of those things. So anyway, I think the grouping has improved. I will now stretch it out and adjust the elevation and see if it changes my windage at all.

If it was a fouling issue, I really dont dig this barrel, because it took an hour of wipeout, then a good scrubbing of bore tech eliminator, then montana extreme, then butches bore shine, which by the time i got to butches, it was finally clean. After all that, the patches finally came out clean.
 

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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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Don't fret the cleaning job. I use a bore solvent to clean most of the soft crud from the bore upon return from the range and do this several times or more over a period of the remaining day. Then, I hit it with Wipe Out and let it sit overnight. Repeat the Wipe-Out morning and evening for several days (sometimes more for a rough bore) and when the patches tend toward just carbon with no green or blue color, continue with bore solvent until they show no trace of anything other than solvent. A patch lightly oiled goes down the bore and the rifle set muzzle down in a cloth padded box and leaning against a shelf for several more days to allow excess oil to wick down the bore, if any.
 
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