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Old October 5, 2009, 08:41 PM   #1
silent_warrior
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.243 inconsistent accuracy

Hello everyone. I'm new to the forum and I have a problem with my .243 rifle. Hopefully someone can help me out with some advice.

Rifle: Remington 700 SPS (synthetic stock, X-mark trigger, 24" light contour bbl.)
Ammunition tested: Winchester Super X 100gr SP, Hornady Light Magnum 95gr. SST

I bought this rifle new a year ago and it has had 60 rounds through it so far, 2 boxes of Super X, and one box of the Hornady Light Magnums. The rifle has been cleaned after each range session, and I've never gone through even a full box between cleanings. It's wearing a Nikon Monarch 4-16x42 AO SF scope.

Here's the issue. The rifles accuracy is acceptable and what I would expect for a factory rifle with a light barrel and synthetic stock shooting factory loads, so long as the target is within 150 meters. When I push the target out to 200meters (where I would like to sight it in) the groups become large and erratic. From my testing so far, 50 meter grouping is within 1 inch; 100 meter grouping is within 2 inches; 150 meter grouping is within 2 inches; but at 200 meters groups vary from 3 to over 5 inches, with some "flyers" completely missing the 9x12" target. There is a distinct change in both group size and pattern from 150 to 200 meters, more noticeable with the Hornady loads.

At first, I was assuming it was operator error. But in my latest session I paid close attention that I wasn't flinching and made sure each shot was "squeezed" not "pulled". I can consistently shoot 2MOA groups with my .22WMR, with some groups sub MOA. I also get good, consistent grouping with my AR15, 1-2MOA out to 250 meters (and it still has the terrible factory trigger). Does anyone have any ideas as to what may be causing the shift in accuracy at 200 meters? I'm beginning to wonder if the bullets are too heavy to stabilize properly? (rifling twist is 1 in 9.25") Should I try lighter grain bullets or try to get my hands on some hand loads to rule out the ammunition as the problem? Or do you think something is amiss with my gun?

I just can't justify taking this rifle out on a hunt knowing any shots taken over 150 meters can't be counted on... and it irks me even more not knowing why.
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Old October 5, 2009, 08:51 PM   #2
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I would do as you suggested and try other bullet weights. good luck.
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Old October 5, 2009, 09:08 PM   #3
ZeSpectre
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I would start by checking the scope mounts, then the scope to see if they are holding zero. I almost went out of my mind with a .30-30 that had a mount that was just barely loose. At close range it was fine but really messed things up past 150 yards.

Then I would examine the crown on the barrel to make sure nothing got dinged at some point.

Then I would try some other ammo.

My .243 likes the heavier weights of Remington and Federal (90-100gr), doesn't like Hornady at all, but really comes into it's prime if I'm shooting Winchester Super-X in any weight.

It always amazes me how certain guns just prefer certain ammo.

(EDIT: Oh I thought I should mention my .243 is a Remington 7600, not the same model as yours)
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Last edited by ZeSpectre; October 6, 2009 at 06:05 AM.
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Old October 5, 2009, 09:18 PM   #4
Uncle Mike
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The SPS's are not entirely accurate machines. The accuracy your experiancing is pretty much nominal for that model.

You will hear of the guy with the SPS that will 'sub-MOA, MOA at 1000y and the such...take it all with a grain of salt.

There are the occasional unit that will group, but this isn't the norm for the majority of them.

Our sales have steadily slowed with these rifles due to exactly what you are experiencing...shoddy accuracy.

The best bet you have is to tailor a load for the rifle, but if your like so many other riflemen, you don't want to 'have' to roll up a special load just to get your rifle to shoot well.

Try some different bullet weights, you'll probably find the weight that your particular rifle likes. Go lighter and see, you have tried the heavy stuff, right?

As always, check, and re-check the mount, bases and your scope for problems.
When you shoot, try to keep 'everything' as close to 'same' as possible, ammo, temperature, wind, hold, humidity, ect.
Good luck.
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Old October 5, 2009, 09:19 PM   #5
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You have been given some good advise all-ready, you may also want to check and see if the BBL is free floated, and screws are all adjusted at the same inch-lbs., so you dont warp the action. In closing, small BBL's heat up fast, and need a little cool off at times.
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Old October 5, 2009, 09:31 PM   #6
rickyjames
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a good 243 should shoot sub moa at 100 yds, longer range shots might spread out a bit but should not be erratic. check your ammo, some guns prefer certain brands or certain bullet weights. ask a friend to shoot your gun, if it works for him then maybe it's you. if not check your scope and mounts, if everything looks good but still shoots bad mount a different scope to compare, maybe your scope is bad. a 243 rifle should be very, very accurate and a joy to shoot. if all fails tape some straw to the stock and use it as a broom and go buy yourself a weatherby vangard.
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Old October 5, 2009, 09:59 PM   #7
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I feel your pain with inconsistent shots. There is one thing that I have found that stops most of that, reload! I recently bought a 1974 6mm Remington 700 BDL with a bull barrel. Rifle was close to mint condition and bore looked like new. After the first time out shooting factory ammo I was a whipped and discouraged pup. I took those shells and reloaded them and the gun shot the way I dreamed it would. I shoot with a couple of older fellows and they told me that 6MM or .243 love 75 grain bullets. After a couple boxes of various loads I hate to admit that the were correct. The magic load so far is CCI-200 primer, 38grains of 3031 and 75 grain Hornady Hollow Points. If I want to use factory ammo I just think about my dicouragement from using them to sight in my scope and I stop and pick up a handful of rocks and throw them at the target.
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Old October 6, 2009, 05:31 AM   #8
ac700wildcat
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The factory SPS stocks are flimsy. If you change your grip or the pressure that you put on the cheek piece your groups will open up. I have one in 25-06 and couldn't figure out why the heck my groups were so inconsistent. Turned out to be a combination of my technique being inconsistent and the flimsy stock. I changed the stock to a B&C Medalist and my groups shrunk from sometimes being 3-4 inches down to consistent 1.-1.25" groups at 100yds. I have now been able to work up a load that will shoot 5 shot .5" groups.
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Old October 6, 2009, 10:39 PM   #9
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.243

I traded for a Mod.70 Win. a couple of years ago and it wouldn't hit the broad side of a barn , ( from inside no less ) It is such a nice gun and in terrific shape I deceided to tinker with it a bit . The first thing I did was float the barrel , and it started to put 75Gr. Hornady V-Max bullets through the same hole at 100Yds. My next move was going to be glass bedding the action but I quit while I was ahead , didn't figure it would help much if at all . I'm from the if it ain't broke don't fix it school
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Old October 7, 2009, 09:25 AM   #10
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243

Once you have checked your scope ,also check the forearm touching the barrel,by sliding a dollar bill between the forearm and barrel,if it won't go .thats most of your issues....also check trigger pull ...3 lbs should be good,but don't be surprised if it is 9 pounds.....also being a light weight gun,you need to let the barrel cool between shots for a good group to form ....start there and check back with us....Jim
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Old October 7, 2009, 02:24 PM   #11
silent_warrior
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Thanks for the advice guys. I'll double check the scope but I don't think that's the problem. Doesn't hurt to check though. I'll try to find some lighter ammo to try and see what it does. How long should I wait between shots for the barrel to cool?

I don't really like the trigger, but I don't know how to adjust it (or if X-Marks are even adjustable) and I don't want to buy an aftermarket just yet. I know its heavier than the Accutrigger on my Savage 93FVSS (~2.5lbs) and quite a bit lighter than the factory trigger on my DPMS LPC16 (which I've heard are set between 6 and 9 pounds), so I'd guess it's between 3 and 5 pounds.

I had planned to ditch the flimsy synthetic stock and make my own wooden stock, probably from maple? Looks like this project will get moved up the list. I've never made my own stock before, any pointers?

I think this gun should shoot at least 2MOA, maybe 1-1.5MOA on a good day. Is this unrealistic with a light barrel?

Thanks again for all the advice.
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Old October 7, 2009, 04:20 PM   #12
Bud Helms
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I suspect cockpit problems.

Quote:
At first, I was assuming it was operator error. But in my latest session I paid close attention that I wasn't flinching and made sure each shot was "squeezed" not "pulled".
No insult intended here, but some simple things can open up a group. Consistency in everything is critical. Your position, how you hold the rifle, where the rifle rests on the bag (You are shooting off a bag or rest, aren't you?).

The rifle must experience the same sequence of events and physical environment on each shot.

The only other things that explain how a group can open up with distance is bullets that are not stabilized, or trajectory winds down range.
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Old October 7, 2009, 11:37 PM   #13
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Quote:
The SPS's are not entirely accurate machines. The accuracy your experiancing is pretty much nominal for that model.

You will hear of the guy with the SPS that will 'sub-MOA, MOA at 1000y and the such...take it all with a grain of salt.
Hmmm... Well,
This is my 700 SPS:

And this is what I now consider a couple of just "okay" 100 yd. groups with my SPS:

This is my range report for my 700SPS from last January (same pics): http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/...hlight=700+sps

I bought my 700 SPS because of numerous reports of accuracy from fellow shooters, never mind these quotes from snipercentral when they reviewed an SPS tactical and said, "So, this particular rifle, even with the front of the rubber stock touching the barrel slightly, is clearly sub .5 MOA rifle out of the box." And when they reviewed the 700 SPS Varmint they reported, "Out of the box, this Remington is a sub .75 MOA rifle, and if you remove shooter error, I'm sure the rifle is probably a bit better than that."

For me, finding the right ammo was a key step. But also, once you've rechecked your mounts, etc., I'd suggest picking up a snap cap like these, http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct...tnumber=375325, and dry firing your gun on a target hundreds of times. Shooting at targets without the bang will give you a whole new perspective on every part of your technique.

You have a good gun. Even with the light barrel, I'd be surprised if it didn't have MOA built into it.
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Old October 8, 2009, 11:49 AM   #14
Art Eatman
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My .243 has 1:10 twist. I have found that it does 3/4 MOA with 55-grain bullets, 1/2 MOA with 70-grain, and 5/8 MOA with 85-grain.

Not worth a hoot with 100-grain bullets.
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Old October 8, 2009, 04:22 PM   #15
silent_warrior
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Quote:
No insult intended here, but some simple things can open up a group. Consistency in everything is critical. Your position, how you hold the rifle, where the rifle rests on the bag (You are shooting off a bag or rest, aren't you?).

The rifle must experience the same sequence of events and physical environment on each shot.

The only other things that explain how a group can open up with distance is bullets that are not stabilized, or trajectory winds down range.
Yes, I'm shooting from a makeshift bench. The front of the rifle is supported on a stack of gun socks folded over and I place them right underneath the front swivel stud. I rest the rear of the gun on the bench with a single gun sock underneath the bottom of the grip of the stock. I also grip the forearm of the stock, behind the stack of socks, to keep the gun from jumping too much when I fire. Do you see anything wrong with how I go about this?

I'm shooting down a lane of trees that would block wind, but on the particular day of my last test wind was almost zero. I couldn't even hear any movement in the surrounding trees, still as death.

This may be a stupid question, but why can't I dry fire the gun? (I haven't done it, just wondering exactly why it's bad...)
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Old October 8, 2009, 07:35 PM   #16
LateNightFlight
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Quote:
why can't I dry fire the gun? (I haven't done it, just wondering exactly why it's bad...)
Actually, a very good question. This was something drummed into me over 40 years ago after breaking a firing pin in a 16 ga single shot. Dry firing didn't break the pin, but the repeated over-travel of the pin eventually caused wear on the shoulder of the pin because of a weak spring that allowed it to peen the opening. Eventually, the pin would hang and wouldn't retract without help, but the day I forgot to check after dry firing and closed the action on a protruding firing pin, it snapped off. The smith showed me the shoulder of the pin and said he could tell the gun had been excessively dry fired and inadequately cleaned. The point has stuck with me ever since.

Because you asked, I decided to Google the question to see what I could come up with beyond my own ancient experience. I was a little surprised.

If I believe the consensus in Yahoo answers, there is nothing wrong with dry firing our modern center fire rifles. Their discussion is here: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...3034015AA5J39B

I do dry fire guns, but not repeatedly over long sessions of dry fire practice. I don't know if I'm being too old school or not, but if you think about it, even snap caps wear out. It might take a thousand plus thumps on a snap cap to do it in, but what is handling the load of that dry firing without a snap cap, if not the gun?
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Old October 9, 2009, 04:08 AM   #17
Bud Helms
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Quote:
I also grip the forearm of the stock, behind the stack of socks, to keep the gun from jumping too much when I fire. Do you see anything wrong with how I go about this?
The way you describe it, no. Just a couple of small things to try ... don't grab the forearm to try and prevent it from jumping when you fire it. Let it "jump". Just keep it up snugly against your shoulder. Reposition it to exactly the same position for each shot. Make sure the stack of gun socks isn't spongy. You need a firm rest.

I'd pay more attention to the advice here about bullet weight. It sounds like you have a bullet stabilization problem.
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Old October 9, 2009, 10:34 AM   #18
Art Eatman
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As far as the shooting position, I've always tried to take myself as much out of the equation as possible. I don't hold the forearm. I try for consistency in how I hold the butt end from shot to shot. Same for the location of the front sandbag under the forearm, even for a free-floating forearm.

I've made sandbags from the little zipper bank bags as well as other common items such as old shirt sleeves or pants legs. I want enough bags to set a rifle in place so the crosshairs are aligned almost exactly on the target without my holding it. All I have to do for proper sight alignment is to squeeze the rear bag a little bit.

Groups with horizontal dispersion come from canting the rifle or from a varying cross wind. Vertical dispersion usually comes from forearm pressure, with the impact points rising with each shot.
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Old October 9, 2009, 11:10 AM   #19
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Here's how you make yourself look smart ...

What Art said.
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Old October 10, 2009, 01:31 PM   #20
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Your 1:9.25" twist should be able to stabilize those bullets. But... might not be.

Try something in the 65-80gr range. (80 grain would be my first choice. It is the 'optimum' weight many barrels were designed around.)
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Old October 10, 2009, 03:46 PM   #21
silent_warrior
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I tried not holding the forearm of the gun the first few times I fired it after I got it... The scope got a little to close to my eye for comfort. I'm looking at getting one of those bench rest gun vise things, that should eliminate any operator error I may be experiencing. And next time out I'm looking at using some 55gr, 75gr, and 85gr ammo. Hopefully my rifle will like one or more of those weights.

Thanks to everyone for the advice. I guess I just have two questions yet...
How long should I allow the barrel to cool between shots?
Does anyone have any pointers for making my own wooden stock? (type of wood to use, things I should know, etc...)

Thanks again!
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Old October 10, 2009, 04:10 PM   #22
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Just a thought

Screw out the front swivel stud before the next range session. It worked for me. Jim
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Old October 10, 2009, 09:33 PM   #23
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It's been mentioned, but I recently had a bit of personal experience with scope mounts, a rifle I knew to be a good shooter (Ruger 10/22) was giving me fits, I swapped scopes out several times and still got 3" groups at 50yds. When I put a different set of rings and bases on, it went back to .75" groups (bulk ammo, bone stock rifle). Lesson learned, you get what you pay for in scope mounts.

Quote:
Thanks to everyone for the advice. I guess I just have two questions yet...
How long should I allow the barrel to cool between shots?
Does anyone have any pointers for making my own wooden stock? (type of wood to use, things I should know, etc...)
Depending on ambiant temperature, I usually give it 5mins or until I can't wait any longer. Some guys do go longer, but I haven't seen an improvement.

Making your own wooden stock? If you aren't already into woodworking, or want to be, you're setting yourself up for frustration. A good set of woodworking tools will cost you more than a nice stock.

An alternative may be to find a stock already inleted for your action and go to work on that. An even better suggestion would be to purchase a used rifle cheap somewhere and practice refinishing that stock.

Last edited by Dr. Strangelove; October 10, 2009 at 09:45 PM.
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Old October 11, 2009, 12:28 PM   #24
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If somebody already mentioned this and I missed it, then please forgive me, but I'd make sure that trigger isn't pulling at much over 2.5#-or-so; certainly no more than 3#. Probably came from the factory @ between 6-8#. I've never shot a 100 gr. bullet through my 700 VLS, so I can't offer an opinion on bullets that heavy. My choice of .243 bullet weights are more in line with Art's.
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Old October 11, 2009, 02:29 PM   #25
Art Eatman
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If I'm load testing or sighting in, I shoot three-shot groups. I don't hurry, but I don't really take long between shots.

If I'm really testing for the rifle's capability for minimum group size, my guess is that I take about thirty seconds to a minute between shots. Sort of an "I dunno", really. But I'd figure no more than a minute.

That's worked pretty well for me since 1950.
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