Firearms Talk banner
1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,943 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, it's official. My marksmanship skills are rusty.

Haven't shot a rifle in over ten years. Am now breaking-in a new Savage 12 Long Range Precision in 6.5mm Creedmoor ... but right now it's much more about rediscovering marksmanship fundamentals.

Have been shooting mostly factory ammo. Sellier & Bellot #SB65A 140gr FMJBT, and Hornady #81500 140gr ELD Match. Just recently began reloading, and shot 40 rounds of 130gr Hornady ELD-M, Hodgdon Superformance powder, CCI #450 small rifle magnum primers, in new Lapua cases.

Was out on the range in warmer, blustery wind conditions. Roughly 80ºF, wind variable from 10-20mph and swirling from side to side. Made for some ugly groups.

But, mostly the groups were ranged around the center bullseye with one flier. 5rd groups. Two 5rd groups for a given powder charge, stepping through the whole range of powder charges from minimum to just under max load. ("Ranged around" the bullseye is being kind. Groups were nothing to write home about.)

Issues:

1. Length of Pull on the stock -- LOP is a bit long, for me. So it's a bit less than totally comfortable and natural, when shouldering. Will consider having the butt-end shaved and the butt pad re-seated.

2. Trigger pull weight -- The gun is the Savage target action, with the target AccuTrigger. Pull weight range goes down to 6oz. Have it currently set to ~18oz. It's still a bit stiff for me, though no over-travel and a clean break. I'll get it into the 6-10oz range next time. Should improve accuracy via reducing flinching. (Flinching will gradually disappear as I shake the rust off my shooting skills.)

3. Trigger pull technique -- I still am not as smooth as I should be. Reduced pull weight will help. Nowhere near being "surprised" by the break.

4. Breathing and heartbeat -- Was good at breath control, but being excited about rifle shooting again has been playing a little havoc with my heartrate. The scope's reticle was dancing about, a bit. Couldn't keep that calm. Shooting was at 200yds, so it meant the POA (and thus POI) wasn't as stead as it should have been.

5. Scope -- The scope is an Athlon Cronus BTR 4.5-29x56mm, with decent rings and base. Crisp and clear. Despite the wind, I was fighting a bit of fogging of the glasses, so that impacted sighting some.

6. Stock -- Factory custom bedded to the 12 LRP 6.5CM. Unknown if it's a quality bedding or if it is affecting accuracy. Seems fine.

7. Barrel -- Factory 26" Savage heavy target barrel, fluted. Shot a couple of foulers, then two 5rd strings with a break between. Then shot a 10rd string without much pause, noting the barrel was getting a little hot to the touch. Gave it a 20min break, and it cooled down considerably. The rest of the 40rd set was in 5rd groups with breaks in between, to keep the barrel temperature consistently comfortable to the touch. Don't believe that barrel flex due to heating was a factor.

8. Ammunition -- Reloads today. My own reloads. Shot the 130gr Hornady ELD-M in new unfired Lapua brass, with the first four powder charges from minimum, in 0.3gr increments. Didn't notice any nice accuracy jumps, but then this is less than half-way to the max load; plus my own accuracy issues likely overshadowed any clear accurate load. Next range session I'll focus on factory rounds, to gain trigger time and work on my fundamentals. Save the load development rounds for another time.

I know the rifle can be very accurate. With the same factory S&B 140gr FMJBT rounds, a local gunsmith shot a nice ragged 3rd hole at 100yds with this rifle. That I'm doing ~1.5-2.5" at 200yds isn't surprising, though it's less-accurate than I'd hoped for at this point. Approaching 1MOA, I suppose, but still. I'll get there.

Next steps:

A. Trigger pull weight = 6-10oz.
B. Factory loads for awhile, to get more trigger time.
C. Shoot at 100yds for awhile, until my accuracy "nails it" again.

Rifle's hard-stop zeroed at 200yds, so if nothing else it'll give me a minor opportunity of holdover (er, holdunder) sighting for the next few range sessions. I guess that's something.

Ah, well. Can't win 'em all. I'll get there.

I'll post a few target photos once the accuracy's at least modestly tolerable.


Anyone else fighting the question of rusty fundamentals? Surely there are a few folks here who aren't up to snuff after a long hiatus.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,821 Posts
I'm a bit rusty too. Hadn't shot a rifle in awhile & found out what works standing with a pellet gun shooting a pop can at 15 yards doesn't work when shooting my 6.5 creedmoor (Savage Axis) off a bench at a bullseye at 100 yards. I really wanna blame the gun, ammo, & optics but i'm fairly sure i was the biggest problem.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,943 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Another 30 rounds, today. Still sucks. Sub-MOA, but not by much.

Spent a good couple of hours deeply cleaning the rifle, getting every little crevice. Had a bit of copper fouling, and cleaned that up. The scope's spot-on accurate. Had a few 3rd groups through the same raggedy hole at 100yds. Still need to adjust the trigger to a lighter pull-weight. Need to tighten the bipod nut, so the rifle will keep aligned on the vertical axis better. Had to contend with some gusty wind that was swirling around. Very thankful it was at 100yds only. Getting better. All too slowly, but it's feeling better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
995 Posts
Youll get there. Rifle , heck pistol shooting for pin point accuracy is the same as pin point archery shooting.
Consistently doing the exact same thing witj the exact same equipment every shot.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,943 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah ... practice, practice, practice. Have about 100rds of factory cartridges left, then it's into the reloads. Which I haven't yet nailed for best powder charge or seating depth yet. The 100rds I've created so far seem great, at 0.3gr interval charges from min to max. But I'm simply not accurate enough, with my own technique, to make any valid evaluation on proper powder charge and seating depth.

I'm used to nearly same-raggedy-hole 100yd accuracy, from my last rifles. Not so, anymore. Been doing other things for too long, this past decade.

Time to clean the gun, again, today. Then shoot another 40-50rds at the range this week. And get more reloading done this weekend. Lots more brass to fully prep. A batch of once-fired brass to clean, size and prime.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,943 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
A bit of barrel cleaning, today. Soaking it for awhile to get the last of the copper fouling gone.

Adjustment of the trigger pull-weight down to the minimum. Should help eliminate occasional noob "flinching" that I am doing. Smooth trigger, on this Savage 12 LRP target trigger, but ~1.2lbs is still a bit heavy for me.

Having failure to extract issues, regularly (though not every time). Getting a parts kit that has a stiffer spring, larger detent ball. Relatively common issue that many have apparently resolved this way, to ensure reliable return to the extraction groove on cases. We'll see.

Am sending the bolt out for a "bolt lift kit" to be installed. Light bushing of the firing pin and hole, and different washer/parts configuration on the bolt to reduce the bolt lift effort required (by ~30%).

Minor changes, but I expect each one to do its part to helping improve repeatable accuracy and comfort level as I'm shooting.

Shot a few rounds at 100yds, the other day. All sub-MOA, and several groups through the same raggedy hole. My shouldering is still ending up on a pulsing artery, under there somewhere, so I'm getting a bit of reticle "bounce" when sighting the target. Much prefer to shoulder the rifle directly, instead of relying on tall-eared bags to keep things aligned. So it'll be something I need to work on, to smooth out the "bounce" of the reticle on target.

Improving, slowly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,818 Posts
Savage rifles will always have extraction issues if you don't operate the bolt swiftly. It's just the way they are designed.
If you move the bolt back slowly and watch what happens, you will understand why the case falls out of the extractor. The ejector /spring have constant pressure on the case, and once the case clears the face of the barrel the ejector pushes the case over and the end of the case hits the inside wall of the receiver. That causes the case to come loose from the extractor, and it then falls into the action instead of being ejected out of the receiver.

If you operate the bolt in one rapid movement, this rarely happens until you have a worn extractor.

You can buy a bag of over sized ball bearings on Amazon for $5, and I keep 5 -10 spare extractor's at all times because they are a "wear" item in a Savage.
I've never had a difference in the bolt lift when installing a "Lift Kit" in any Savage bolt. I think I have 4 of them setting in a cabinet out in the shop. I've had better results by removing the sharp edges / burrs on the bolt body where the cocking cam is. Just take the bolt apart and use some small diamond files and a dremil tool.

Unless you are piercing primer's, there's no need to bush your firing pin in a Savage.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,943 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Have had Savage rifles, previously. (Am nobody's gunsmith.) Have had similar extraction issues despite rapid bolt pull. Regularly failing to extract and instead falling onto the top of the magazine is what happens. It doesn't vary by how forcefully or rapidly the pull, not on this one. Has been an issue since first round, out of the box. Strange, as it's at only 100rds and certainly not worn yet.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,943 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
On the range, today. Re-zeroed the scope to 100yd zero.

Getting a bit better. Twenty-seven shots. The first seven were foulers, and to re-zero the scope. The next nine were 3-shot groups, all working on my breathing and trigger technique. Very slow fire, almost meditating. Most of those 3-shot groups were a bit larger than 1" overall. Though I did have one with two bullets through the same hole plus a nasty flier I won't speak of.

Targets were simple circles, 1.5" diameter from outer edge to outer edge of the circle.

Paused about ten minutes to let the barrel cool a little, then fired the final eleven shots:

@ 100yds, 5-shot group, 0.878" (center to center):
244504


@ 100yds, 3-shot group, 0.62":
244505


@ 100yds, 3-shot group, 0.30":
244506



Still not great, I suppose, but it doesn't completely suck anymore. And while I've no intention of heading out to 300yds anytime soon, the thought doesn't appall me nearly so much as it did last month.

Another three or four outings of 25-35rds fired, and we'll see. I suspect things are beginning to come together. Still nowhere near what this gun and scope can achieve, if I do my part. I'd like to eventually see it do the ~0.5" accuracy at 300yds. Time will tell, but I am guessing the trigger's nowhere near light enough for me, to get that consistent with my trigger technique.

Time to scrub-a-dub-dub on the barrel and let it soak. Good-bye Misters C, Pb and Cu.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
982 Posts
Maybe you should go hunting. Shooting a live target is so much different than shooting paper. It gets your heart rate up, and you will learn to focus on the target more, with out messing with your head.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,943 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
No can do, on hunting. Except from a seated bench position. (Old injuries preclude anything else.) BTDT, with hunting. Definitely more challenging, in a number of ways. It's been years, though.

Bench target shooting, from here on out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,818 Posts
If you can't work with a 1# - 1.5# trigger pull on that Savage, you have bigger issues to deal with on shooting technique.
I think you're doing good, but IMO, you change so many different variables at one time when you go shooting to ever know what is working and what isn't.
3 round groups show how a gun can shoot.
5 round groups show how the shooter can shoot.
10 round groups show off how well everything comes together.

If you've found a couple good loads, then load up 25-30 rounds and practice, practice, practice!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,943 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
If you can't work with a 1# - 1.5# trigger pull on that Savage, you have bigger issues to deal with on shooting technique.
Just don't have the feel, yet. I've always shot best at the ~1lb mark, give or take. I get the issue of flinching and "the yips" (whatever one wants to call it). Have more than 30yrs shooting experience, from pistols to rifles of all sorts. Much of the initial couple dozen shots through this new rifle have been getting the feel of the balance, the trigger's characteristics, getting the rifle and trigger set properly for how I think I'd initially like it. Wasn't hardly for purposes, at that point, of squeezing exacting accuracy out of the thing. That'll come later.

I think you're doing good, but IMO, you change so many different variables at one time when you go shooting to ever know what is working and what isn't.
Focus has been on fundamentals and shaking the rust off. Not on accuracy, per se.

I've also only fired 130rds shots, total. Not a lot to go on, no matter what changes are done, when focusing on things other than accuracy.

Variables are fairly controlled actually, I think. Similar temps and humidity, similar low-wind days. Same range, same distances (100yds or 200yds), and same ammunition (almost completely using S&B 140gr FMJBT, though a few Hornady 140gr ELD-M have been fired). Rifle cleaned fully prior to each session, and a couple of dry patches through just prior to firing. Have had the rifle zeroed at 200yds since the second session. Have been shouldering the rifle and going without rear bag since day one (and will probably always do so). Similar "calming" routine prior to each shot, to drop the heart rate, smooth the breathing, focus on the target, and pulling the trigger smoothly and slowly. Did just drop the trigger pull-weight to the minimum setting for this trigger, yes; but in my experience that doesn't alter much other than the ease with which one avoids flinching.

Forty of the rounds have been using the initial load development, which was far too soon to be firing those things, given my rusty fundamentals. Still, even those weren't a complete "waste," as the major benefit was still trigger time and fundamentals, irrespective of the fact that as part of the new load the load accuracy results were meaningless. Wasn't likely to find a good accuracy node within the first half of the powder charge in that load ladder, anyway.

3 round groups show how a gun can shoot.
5 round groups show how the shooter can shoot.
10 round groups show off how well everything comes together.
Yup.

Again, at this point, it's all about fundamentals and gaining essential trigger time. Breathing, shouldering, trigger pull. Indicating the accuracy so far has been an aside, just another aspect of the shooting, not the focus. At this point, it really isn't about the accuracy. Not yet. Too much is in flux, including getting the rifle's essential set-up where it should be.

I've mostly been doing 3-shot groups since inception, knowing that'll best show the rifle's basic ability. The occasional 5-shot groups I've tossed in have been promising, generally under 1MOA, at 100yds or 200yds. Only 130 shots fired so far, so it's still very early days. Haven't touched a rifle in over ten years, so all of the essential "feel" is mostly foreign right now. Building that back is going to take a few more sessions, at least.

Once it is all coming together and accuracy's been good for awhile, I'll do a number of 10rd groups. But that's going to be awhile, yet.

If you've found a couple good loads, then load up 25-30 rounds and practice, practice, practice!
Once ~90% of the 3-shot groups are looking good, I'll get back to finishing firing the remaining cartridges in the first load attempt. The load batch runs from the starting to maximum powder charge, all at the same seating depth, all the same neck tension, all using same-lot components. So it has good potential to show a decent load. Don't want to make additional reloaded cartridges, at this point, as I haven't developed a load fully yet and am not yet sure what a good load is with these components and this rifle. Don't know for certain, yet, whether this combination of components (Lapua brass, CCI 450 SRP, Hornady 130gr ELD-M, Hodgdon Superformance) will be "right" for this rifle. Haven't yet found a sweet spot for accuracy, on the powder charge; and thus haven't yet toyed with the seating depth, to refine.
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Top