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I own and shoot a Contender in several different calibers. My 7-30 Waters, 30-40 Krag and 358 JDJ will all shoot just over one inch groups about anytime I take them out. My 223 on the other hand is driving me crazy. I have tried a number of hand loads with bullets ranging in weight from 40 to 55 grains as well as factory loads in the same weight range. The best I can do with the 223 barrel is three to four inch groups despite having a higher power scope on the varmit round.

Since I have good luck with other calibers, what should I check out in problem solving the 22 caliber?
 

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358jdj,

I had a 223 barrel many years ago that did the exact same thing. No matter what I tried, the groups were discouraging—to the point that I took the ‘scope off and literally threw the barrel into the corner of my garage!!! (Yep, the marks are still on the barrel from impact on the concrete wall and floor!!!)

BUT, that barrel shoots sub-M.O.A. today despite the superficial blemishes!

What I found was that the barrel was extremely rough and was copper fouling dreadfully with the Hornady bullets I was using (other bullets were used, but Hornady’s were predominately the brand of choice). I was also using ball powders and I think this added to the fouling. I read somewhere during those times that ball powders do cause fouling. My barrel would actually get a copper colored sheen to it that stayed visable even after a normal cleaning. As are many of the T/C barrels, this barrel had tool chatter marks (?) perpendicular to the rifling and it was as rough as the proverbial corn cob.

Now to finish the story. Thinking I had nothing to loose, I cleaned, and I mean cleaned, that bore severely. I used J&B Bore cleaner, Sweet’s 7.62 and steel brushes. I also used very abrasive rubbing compounds that aren’t made for cleaning gun barrels! I think these abrasive materials removed some of the roughness. This I would do after every shooting session, regardless of the number of rounds. The barrel finally “settled down” and is now a very good shooter—go figure.

I think many of the barrels, especially the 223 barrels that are on the market as used may be suffering the same problems. Maybe other calibers also. The strange thing is that I purchased a frame with at 16” 223 barrel on it (I didn’t want the barrel, but the seller indicated that was the only way to get the frame), and it shoots even better than the Super 14” barrel I just described! I never had an accuracy problem with it.

So, if it is not optics or something of that nature causing your problems, I would clean thouroughly (unmercifully!) and then do it again. Really, what do you have to loose if the barrel is a 3-4” shooter? Good-luck…BCB
 

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BCB,

Timely reply as I too have a 223 handgun barrel that needs the workup you describe. I discovered a similar approach was needed on my 7mm-08 and 270 rifle barrels. I too was about to stick them in the ground as tomato plant stakes. But after a thorough "cleaning" similar to what you describe and also using the David Tubb's bore conditioning bullets they both shoot 1-inch groups. Fortunately, I do not have the blemishes from an encounter with the garage concrete floor!
 

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My first barrel was a 7-30 and it shot OK (1.5"), but not great. It was fine for deer.

I later got a .223 barrel and started seeing 3/8" groups. This started me on the road to being a paper puncher (you can only hunt deer for a couple of weeks here). So I went back to the 7-30 and started trying powders and bullets. I tried 748, Varget, and 4895 with 120gr 130gr and 140 gr. I managed to shrink the groups to 1.25" - whoopee. I gave up on the 7-30 - it was fine for deer.

I just bought some Reloader 15 for a .204 project and just for grins, tried it in the 7-30 and got a .5" group.

What I am trying to say, is that it may just be another combination of bullet, powder, OAL, and primer, that will be magic. Or not. It may be a cleaning or smoothing problem. It may be hopeless. This is what makes shooting/reloading an interesting hobby.

good luck,
mike
 

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Mike,


Quoting you:

"What I am trying to say, is that it may just be another combination of bullet, powder, OAL, and primer, that will be magic. Or not. It may be a cleaning or smoothing problem. It may be hopeless. This is what makes shooting/reloading an interesting hobby."

An excellent summary of why I like this hobby...thanks!
 

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Seating depth (cartridge overall length) can have a dramatic impact on accuracy. I like to seat them as close to the lands as practical and then start tuning by reducing the overall length in 0.010" increments. It has worked "wonders" for me several times. A friend of mine bought a famous maker, bolt action, heavy barrel 25-06 because the previous owner said it wouldn't shoot. The gun was bought at almost scrap prices because the previous owner was convinced it needed a new barrel. The gun came with several hundred loaded rounds. We started seating the bullets deeper and test firing. The change was quite apparent in group size. The groups got smaller and smaller as the bullet was seated deeper and deeper. After a few adjustments the groups started getting larger again. That gun went from a 1.5-2.0 MOA to a 0.75 MOA shooter just by adjusting seating depth.
 
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