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Discussion Starter #1
How can we get the best accuracy out of our lever guns ?? In my case Marlin.

What steps can "Joe" shooter take to improve his groups out of his lever gun ?

We are always seeing adverts for bolt actions such as glass bedding! tuning! accurising !

What can be done with lever guns?

Englander
 

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Englander,

If you ask me the most important thing you can do is to perfect your bench technique with the lever rifle.
Canting and controlling recoil (muzzle rise) are the two most critical factors in shooting lever gun groups from the bench.
When using a scope of low power use larger targets. I use big (4" X 4") black squares and align the crosshairs up one side and across the bottom (or top). This helps to control canting. The rifle is straight every time the trigger releases.
For recoil control you need to be careful about the sandbags you rest the butt on. I now prefer those that have very little give. My father is using a wood block cut at an angle with a rounded groove cut in it. He can slide this up and down the stock. It is made of pine and soft. He can shoot very small and round groups with this block.
After you get the canting and recoil situation inder control then worry about trigger pull and magazine tension on the barrel etc.
All of the other tricks of the bolt rifle still apply. Keep your cheek off the stock. Very little contact between you shoulder and the butt stock. With big loads this can cause a little flinching! A leaning bench or standing rest to you UK guys helps but is not the end all. This is shown in Greeners book.
You are using home cast bullets which puts another factor into the equation. But I still say practice you bench work and you will shoot small groups. Now, if I could only follow my own advice!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Slim~


Yes agreed technique,stance and consistency will all make a difference, as well as familiarity with the fire arm.

And of course some of the biggest improvements in groups can be achieved by hand loading ammo to suit your particular lever rifle rather then using factory loads.

But further to this what else can be done to "improve" our lever groups ? By this im reffering to possible gun smithing ? How accurate can a lever gun be ??

After all if you have 100 % confidence in the rifle accuracy this in its self will help.

For example i have a .177 pre-charged air-rifle fired prone from a sand bag it will give "one hole groups" at 15-20 yards ! And its capable of head shooting a dove at 40 yards !
This kind of performance gives such confidence, its as if the pellets lazer guided !

The point im trying to make is i know the gun can do the job ,if i miss a Rabbit at 25 yards it ME to blame !


Englander
 

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Leverguns are "take 'em as they come" guns. They aren't "fine," though given their 200yd and less role (cartridges, sights, and general design all balanced around that distance) they are more accurate than they should be.

New rifles, unless you get a dog, appear to be remarkably accurate -- capable of bolt gun accuracy at the cartridges' useful distances. With the right loads, many new leverguns seem to be capable of 1" to 1.5" groups, consistently (with a scope).

The biggest thing needing improvement to take advantage of these rifles are the sights and the trigger job. For fine work a Williams or Lyman 66 will bolt right on your .444 and the AO is a sturdier, if coarser rig. You should be able to do 2-3" groups (minute of bunny) with one of these.
 

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Englander,
It took me awhile to find this article. I remember when it came out it caused a lot of discussion around the hot stoves in New Mexico where I was raised.
The article is from the 1965 Gun Digest, it is entitled "Lever Action Rifles" by C.H. Helbig and P.B. Cain. These two gents took a Savage 99, a Winchester 88, a Marlin 336 and a M-94 and shot them for accuracy. They then worked them lightly to try to improve the performance.
The most significant adjustment appears to have been a good trigger job. The Model 88 was bedded with two 1/2" squares on either side of the forend screw. The tube magazine guns had the bands and magazine tubes relieved to let the barrels heat up with less interferance.
The Marlin 336 shot 2.31" groups out of the box with factory loads. 1.89" groups with handloads. 1.65" groups with handloads after being worked on. The best Marlin 336 5 shot group was 1.35"
The Winchester M-94 shot 3.35" groups out of the box with factory loads. 3.10" groups with handloads. 2.21" groups with handloads after being worked on. The best M-94 5 shot groups was 1.55".
Both rifles were scoped with a 10X Unertl. Not bad shooting for new guns, all new guns require some form of a breakin-in.
Of interest the Savage M-99 in .308 shot a 1.60" group out of the box with factory loads. 1.46" with handloads. 1.40" with handloads after being worked on. The best 5 shot group with the M-99 was 1.00". The M-99 was rebarrled with a heavier barrel and shot a .77" 5 shot group.
The Winchester 88 shot a 5 shot group of 0.90" after being worked on.
 

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William,
Interesting that you rememberd that old article. I have that issue and it caused me to perform a 1/2 magazine job on one of my 94's and my 336 Marlin (to avoid magazine/barrel interference) I used Marlin cap plugs (winchester and marlin in 30/30 and 35 rem. use magazine tubes with the same I.D.) I also bought 2 magazine "studs" again a Marlin part and dovetailed them into the barrel. Accuraccy improved dramatically as well as creating a carbine that "hangs" just right. The other improvement was a Lyman receiver sight. Those semi-buckhorns simply have to go!
Englander, if you can find that old Gun Digest in your area, it makes for very good reading.
Take care,
Scott
 

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Scott,
Interesting that you should say that! We are playing with a pair of .30-30 AI's right now. One is a Winchester M-94AE and after conversion we left the magazine tube off for awhile. The forend and rear band were re-installed. We believe that this alone caused the groups to shrink 1/2". And, as you said, the rifle did feel handier and quicker to the shoulder along with having a good follow through, probably because it was "muzzle heavy."
Back to the '65 digest, this being just after the "post '64" mess at Winchester the new gun section by Pete Kuhlhoff has some discussion on the new Model 94 and it's improved steel and stronger reciever. Also the prediction of more powerful cartridges for the M-94. Ken Waters had both predicted and urged Winchester to do this in the '58 Digest! Sure took them a long time to get there!
 

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William,
If you or anyone else is interested in doing a 1/2 or 2/3rd magazine job on a full length magazine lever gun, the parts can be bought from Brownell's listed in the Marlin parts category. I have forgotten exactly which barrel magazine stud i used. I believe it may have been the 1894CL?. The entire line of Marlin 1/2 magazine guns appear to use the same mounting "system" although the actual parts differ from some calibers to the next. Barrels are easily dovetailed using a miniature file, just take your time and go slow and easy. The best part is that it eliminates the front barrel band altogethor and the cold barrel "fliers" disappear.
Scott
 

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Scott,
I'll look into that. Its not really a part of this thread but when we rechambered the Winchester and the Marlin to Ackley Improved we noticed that the Winchester's barrel steel was hard and required moderate pressure on the reamer to cut . The chips were small. The Marlin barrel was considerably softer and the reamer almost fed itself. the chips were larger. I am talking about the initial cuts here not as we got to the bottom and were moving the shoulder forward, that was pretty slow going for both rifles. Anyway, both rifles are amply strong, they are just made of noticeably different material.
 

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William,
The 2 rifles that I had modified had barrels of soft steel. One was a pre-64 model 94 and the other was a 336 in 35 rem about 25 years old. I just went to the basement to peruse a Brownells catalogue and low and behold could not find the parts listing for the 1894CL. Middle age has a way of fogging memory. Anyway, I did the work about ten-twelve years ago. I was in a local gun shop and noticed a new Marlin with 1/2 magazine. It was either a 1894CL in 25-20 or a model 1895 in .444. Anyway iI borrowed a pair of vernier calipers and determined through outside measurements that the Marlin tube was the same as the o.d. of the 94 winchesters. I took a gamble and ordered the parts through Marlin and the cap plug fit the winchester tube nicely. I also looked at my Numrich Arms catalogue #22 and found listings for the 1894CL (these parts are not illustrated). It may take a little research to find the exact parts needed (barrel/cap stud, cap and cap screw) At the time I bought parts to modify 2 guns, thinking that current production parts would be available for some time. In closing, (it would be bad if i steered you or anyone else in the wrong direction) be sure to take measurements in order to get the right cap etc. before ordering parts. I have another pre-64 gun that i was thinking of re-blueing and performing another 1/2 magazine job on......I just hope that I order the right parts!
Take care,
Scott
 

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Scott,
Brownells new parts catalog supplement changes every year. As the manufacturers change.
It may be that Gun Parts Corp is the place for us to start looking.
 

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William,
Curiosity got the best of me. I just e-mailed Gun Parts with specific questions regarding the Marlin Cap plugs. If i hear back from them with part #s i'll post it on this thread for all who may be interested.
Scott
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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I went to the range today to check the zero on my Marlin 336/.35 Rem. 20" microgroove barrel, full length mag tube.

First two shots weren't where I expected, nor anywhere near each other, then 3 shots in a nice cluster. Wrote it off to shooting out of a clean barrel.

Adjusted the scope, then 5 more. First three in a nice cluster, last two touching, but not near the first three. What the....?

Shot it some more, all sorts of strange groups. Got to thinking about this discussion, so for kicks I loosened up the barrel band screws till they were barely finger tight. Lucky to hit a gallon jug like this! Shots all over the place.

The front of the magazine tube appears to be touching the barrel, at least when the front band isn't tight. Wonder if some hunter ran out of ammo and had to dispatch a deer by whacking it over the head? I'm tempted to bend the tube back from the barrel, and leave the front band off alltogether. Can't see that it's doing much. Or find a shorter magazine, don't know yet.

Well, quite a difference from my usual "free float / glass bed and done" procedure with bolt action guns! This should be interesting... at times it acts like it really wants to shoot.
 

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Hey Mike,

I think you are lucky to get 3 before cooling down the barrel. I only get two and then I have to let her cool. some folks report that you can get a consistant hot barrel group by playing with the barrel band screws. I have not got this yet, well I haven't tried yet.
 

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I dont know how much acuracy you realy need. personaly i practice out in the woods in a real world situation.
i place a couple dozen or so clay pigons thruout the woods, go back to the truck then walk back thru the woods shooting them. i try to spot them from as far away as posable, then shoot off hand, kneeling etc. my usual distances are about 75-125 yards in an "open" area to 25-75 in heavyer areas. i have found that doing it this way helps me stalk better and gives a visual indication of weather i hit my target or not. i dont think i have ever had my 1895gs out to the range to punch holes in paper, but then again im not mad enough at the paper to have to hunt it. to me its a good place to get your sights dialed in if they were to far off out of the box for you to figure out.

i dont hunt in ideal conditions, so why practice in them?

as far as groups, i have a 20 gal propane tank that i put about 10 rounds into one afternoon at 75yards. it has one hole about an inch and a half in dia in the front, and a bunch of holes in the back where bullits came out from shooting at diferent angles/locations. good enough for me
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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An old thread, but I just completed a few modifications to my Marlin 336 / .35 Rem that I feel are relevant.

First, on the advice of James Gates, I adjusted the mag tube so it did not bear hard against the receiver. When the barrel expands, you don't have some shots with the tube hard against the receiver and some not. I can think of three ways to do this: 1.) file the end of the tube, just a few thousandths, 2.) file the screw slots in the tube a little wider so it can be adjusted farther out, or 3.) there might possibly be enough 'slack' in the fit of all the parts that it can be assembled without bearing hard against the receiver.

Now, this would only work if the tube fits loosly into the receiver, which is does in the Marlin. I have no idea how this would apply to Winchesters or any other design.

The other thing that I did was file on the top of the mag tube where it was very close to the barrel. I can't say for sure that it had been touching the barrel, but I did this, and the wild shots that I was getting disappeared. It was almost touching at the muzzle, you could see daylight through the gap but not much. I think that sometimes the barrel vibrations caused the tube and muzzle to touch and throw shots.

OK.... with a 2x7 scope, and Federal 200gr. RN ammo, at 100 yards:
 

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The first thing I do is replace the factory sights with Williams or Lyman receiver sights. Without doing anything else to the gun, a peep sight works for me to improve accuracy, but that might just be a function of my aging eyes.
 

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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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Ya got that right!

After replacing the plastic butt plate on my 1895LTD 45-70, installing a good Burris scope using Ashley Scout scope mount and working up some fantastically accurate loads with 350 gr Hornady RN's and VV N133 powder, I'm as happy as a pig in slop!
 
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