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With advancements in modern factory ammunition and to a degree, rifles, is it probable that any bolt action rifle with any given factory load should shoot decent groups? Say for the sake of argument, two inches or better for three shots?
 

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in my experience most modern bolt actions with good ammunition will shoot those kind of groups if the shooter is up to it. you didnt mention what firearm/caliber you were interested in, but as far as out of the box accuracy goes, savages are hard to beat.
 

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My rifle shoots as good now as it did in 1980...Newer ammo has nothing to do with it...Maybe we have more selection, some ammo never has shot good in my gun, didn't 25 years ago and doesn't now...
 

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What prompted this post is my attempt to get my Savage 16FLSS .308 to do a decent group with one of the many factory loads I've tried. I've tried all the "big three" ammunition makers in all practical hunting weight bullets with, for lack of better term, less than stellar results. I'm beginning to think I'm going to be forced to reload just to know whether this rifle has a defect or not. So far the best groups have been over two inches, this with Federal Premium ammunition, most others have been three inches or better. I begin to lose any confidence I had in this rifle and have started to think about buying another rifle of a different brand.
 

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demented said:
What prompted this post is my attempt to get my Savage 16FLSS .308 to do a decent group with one of the many factory loads I've tried. I've tried all the "big three" ammunition makers in all practical hunting weight bullets with, for lack of better term, less than stellar results. I'm beginning to think I'm going to be forced to reload just to know whether this rifle has a defect or not. So far the best groups have been over two inches, this with Federal Premium ammunition, most others have been three inches or better. I begin to lose any confidence I had in this rifle and have started to think about buying another rifle of a different brand.
Before you sell your rifle lets look at this a bit differently.
So far the best groups have been over two inches,
Don't take this wrong but have YOU been able to shoot any rifle more accurately than that previously? The reason I say this is it takes a lot of practice and skill to be able to shoot tiny little groups on a regular basis even off the bench. It may take a lot of trigger time before you develop a technique that'll give you the results your looking for.

When I started I was doing good and rather pleased to print 2.5" three shot groups now a few years later I'm disappointed when my 5 shot groups measure larger than one inch.
 

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Yes, I can (Most of the time! ;D) do a bit better. My Browning will do 1/2" on demand, even my Remington 7400 with its semi action and bad trigger will do under two inches with factory loads. I just can't figure this .308. Some have suggested a new stock plus some tuning but I hate to end up with a seven or eight hundred dollar Savage that still might not shoot. Confidence in a rifle, one shaken, is difficult to reestablish. Thanks for all the replies.
 

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Are two of the shots relatively close with one 'flyer'?

First, I would take the scope off and re-tighten all the scope mounting screws. Then I would mount a different scope that you know is working properly.

After that, there a quite a few things you can do at home without making it a $900 rifle (like slipping a dollar bill between the barrel and stock to make sure nothing is rubbing). Obviously, this is going to come down to either the Scope or the Rifle. You have basically eliminated an ammo problem.

Also, 2 or 2½" groups are Industry Standard. Some Manufacturers will not address a conceived grouping problem under 2½ inches. Savage, on the other hand, has the reputation of tight shooting.
 

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Well I have noticed that some factory ammo just does not suit some barrels, for instance I have a bolt action rifle chambered in 30-30 yet with Winchester 150 rain ammunition in either HP or Silver Tip it's only barely accurate enough for hunting at 100 yards :( being only capable of grouping around 3 1/2" inches using a 6x42 scope. Yet feed it handloads using a 130 grain Spitzer at around 2800fps and it will easily shoot under MOA.

I have also tried factory ammo in a couple of .270 rifles I have and was dissapointed with their accuracy, again handloads shoot much better. Not all factory ammo performs poorly though I happen to like the way RWS 173 grain H-Mantel shoots in my 7x57 but don't like the cost :'( and S&B 196 grain SPCE 8mm Mauser shoots quite well in the P-h 1200 Super as does Privi Partisen 196 grain spitzer ammo. The 180 grain SP Winchester .303 ammo shoots OK as well but not as good as some handloads.

The thing is that every barrel and every rifle is different and it's that which makes Handloading so much fun ;D as well as satisfying. If you don't want the handload for your savage I suggest you talk to them over your concerns an see what they say or suggest.
 

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I agree with you that we are blest with our modern store bought ammo. The only thing lacking is consistancy. by that I mean a box of ammo that you buy this year might not shoot to the same point as the box you bought last year due to changes in components. Things you can avoid by reloading. Or, if you find a commercial loading that does well for you, buying several boxes with the same lot number can avoid that.
To your problem. First off, what size bullseye are you shooting at? You should be shooting at the smallest bull you can discern at the distance you're shooting.
You've pretty well eliminated ammo if you've tried the several different brands with uniformly bad results. You've also said your bench technique is up to better results than what you're getting. IMO that leaves three things: 1.Scope/mounting. Take the scope and mounts all the way off and remount it. Using a little lock tite or finger nail polish as you go. Make sure everything is snug. What size scope do you have? If it is one of the large objective ones, it's very easy to cant those types because you can't lock your cheek against the stock for a consistant sight picture. You might also try the scope on another rifle with a known track record. 2.Bedding. Take the action out of the stock and make sure there isn't any unusual pressure on the action. If the barrel is supposed to be free floating, make sure it is free floating all the way out. Do the dollar bill thing. If there is supposed to be a pressure point near the front of the stock, add a business card to the pressure point between the barrel and the pressure pad and see if that helps. (don't go hacking on the barrel just yet) Make sure the action is snugly in the stock. 3. Crown. What with the recessed rifling, I have never had a problem with a crown but it seems to be the latest buzz word. You'll have to have a smith check it out and he, of course, will probably find something wrong with it and want to redo it. The neat thing is he can quote you a price and turn time over the phone. I don't think it's too expensive.
If you do the first two things and the rifle won't shoot at least 3 165gr Rem Core Lokt bullets into 1.5" at 100 yards I believe I'd let it be someone else's rifle.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I've checked the stock as well as my ability allows, it is free floating and seems to be snug in its bedding. I've changed mounts and sent the Leupold Vari-X-2 in for service, nothing has worked. Unless there is some magic load that will shoot well in this rifle, its going back to Savage or somewhere else very soon. Thanks to all who have taken the time to offer advice. PS: I've been fighting with this rifle over two years now, patience has been exhausted for some while!
 

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Did you know that you can cause your problem by overtightening the Lug Screw?

If you don't have an in/lb Torque Wrench, back the screw out until out is relatively loose. Then turn it in until it is snug and give it no more than an additional 1/4 turn tight.

I believe you may have stress on the barrel when it starts getting warm, and having a Lug cranked in too tight can lead to big accuracy problems.

I have the in/lb specs written down on a piece of paper here somewhere and I can't find it. But if I remember correctly, it is somewhere between 13 and 17 in/lb for a Lug screw. The gunsmith forum here in GBO may be able to tell you better.
 

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I have been the butt of my friend's jokes for ages for the guns I hunt with. Now I'm a big man 6'5" 260lbs but I get teased anyway. I hear "30-30, now that's a woman's rifle!" or "The 30-30, man I thought only kids used those." My favorite is "Will the 30-30 actually kill deer past 50 yards?" They claim that I hunt with a pellet gun but I just smile and keep hunting. I have many guns but only hunt with the 30-30 mainly because it is what I shoot best.

This may or may not apply to you but I've never had this problem...He He He He
Many people who claim their rifles are not capable of hunting accuracy have developed bad habits. EX flinching, pullling This is mostly form the expected recoil. What good is a 7mm or 300 win mag if you can't take the recoil without flinching? Two ways to know for sure is get a vise with a trigger activator/expensive. This takes you out of the picture. Another way is to get one of your friends to load your rifle for you each shot. Make sure they sometimes leave the chamber empty. Then film yourself or have the buddy watch you. Most rifles are more capable than we are right out of the box.. The ammo thing doesn't hold water either. Most ammo is made better than anything our fathers had or could roll themselves. Many of us he-man types would never admit to anyone that recoil is what makes us inaccurate with our rifles but it is more often than not the true cause.

There are some exceptions and bad guns, I had a Remington 742 that I absolutely hated. Never could get it to group and I'm glad the thing is in pieces now. It was parted out by my gunsmith.
 

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I have shot at least a dozen factory loadings in my .243, of those, there are 4 that I can think of that group very well...I could hunt with any of these and be very happy...There are 2-3 more that group OK, under 2 inches at 100 yards....The others group 3-4 inches at 100 yards....Now, there is nothing wrong with my gun, it just has it's preferences...

The interesting thing is, I used to shoot CoreLokts, for about 15 years, a few years back I started trying different ammo on deer, last year I had one factory loading that was giving me flyers...I reached in my ammo box and pulled out a box of CoreLokts that I bought in 1987, shot 3 rounds that you could cover with a quarter...The next day, I went out and bought 2 boxes of the same lot number....Guys they shot to the same point of aim as the old ammo...That's pretty good consistency from some cheap factory ammo...

If you have tried 5-6 different brands of ammo and you know your scope is OK and bedding seems OK, I'd say send it back to the factory and let them figure it out....It's dang hard to trouble shoot on this end of the phone line, been there, done that....
 
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