View Full Version : Fire lapping a marlin 1895GS?

December 26, 2010, 10:22 AM
Read these things needed it to make it a MOA rifle. Right now mine is like a 6 moa rifle. I know that shooting it a lot will eventually do the same thing, but since I don't plan on shooting 1,000 a month through it, time might be an issue. I also know that fire lapping shortens barrel life, but with the way I shoot that should be a problem in my lifetime.

So anyone done it? Any horror stories? Done it a couple times and reccommend a certain kit? Will the bullets mess up my reloading die?

ohen cepel
December 26, 2010, 10:48 AM
6moa sounds bad. Have you tried a variety of bullets? Improved sights? I have never fire lapped anything myself but would look at other options before I went that route.

Is yours ballard cut or micro cut? May impact fire lapping it.

December 27, 2010, 06:12 PM
I've been reading up on it and fire lapping has good reviews, especially on this type of rifle. Its hard to find a variety of bullets for this thing, being the 45-70 isn't really NEEDED in mississippi, and the only 2 types of bullets I've found are 325 grain leverution (sp?) and some 300 grain half jacketed hollow points. There might be some 405 grain rounds some where, but even because of the bullets it shouldn't be this bad. I've read because of the barrel stamping and such theres usually at least 3 pressure points along the barrel. The sights do suck, and as soon as the sights I want are being made again I'll get me a ladder sight for this thing, but I even shot it from a lead sled and this thing was all over the paper. Not a great start for a $600 gun. :mad: I wasn't expecting a tack driver, but at least for all the bullets to be inside the circles. The safest place with this gun is where I'm aiming right now!:eek:

December 28, 2010, 01:28 AM
Are you using hand loads?

December 28, 2010, 03:17 AM
A whole lot of magazine articles are written to sell product.
If I may ask,what process have you used to identify the root cause of the inaccuracy,and what will fire lapping do to correct the problem?
I am not trying to be critical or disrespectful.I am trying to suggest its not always good to fix something that is not broke.
Is your group round,vertical string?,Lateral string?Is this off bench/bags?
Lever guns do not have ideal stock geometry for bench shooting,and that bullet spends a long time in the barrel while the rifle is getteng ready to buck.
You are shooting fairly light bullets,I might consider a 405 for the baseline.
Buy or make a dummy round and let a buddy load your rifle and slip it in on you.Fire lapping won't fix recoil anticipation.
Rifle empty,action wide open,in good light,look in the muzzle with a loupe.Is the bore particularly rough?Is it metal fouled?If so,first try removing the metal fouling,if copper,use copper solvent per directions.Take the time to shoot 10 rounds,one round at a time.Each round,use copper remover,wait 10 minutes,pull a bore snake through a few times.
Then do 5 sets shooting 3 rds,then clean.
Then try a group.
Sometimes the mag tube and bbl bands have some influence,and for that stuff,other folks know better than I do.
I'd put fire lapping a little farther out on the schedule.

December 28, 2010, 09:40 AM
It is a Marlin. You are getting about what the gun is capable of. Unlikely anything other than trading for another brand in a different action will improve accuracy.

December 28, 2010, 11:47 AM
Wow, talk about a bad group of answers.

Lets see, the articles I read were on a forum like this, not anyone selling anything. Its usually cheaper to firelap for accuracy than anything else, so why try fixing 50 different things before going to a common problem? I'm not sure if you read what was written before replying, but I shot this thing from a lead sled as well, which pretty much stopped the recoil and most of my involvement with the rifle. I put a box of leverution rounds through it, one at a time, bore snaking after ever 5 shots. There is no fouling in the barrel.

And if your only response is marlin is a bad rifle, deal with it or trade it, why reply at all? You're absolutely no help. And marlin is a very good rifle, but like everything that isn't hand made theres going to be problems and quirks. And there are lots of people with moa and sub moa marlins. Its a lever gun, I understand that, its a 45-70, I understand that. So its not a laser and its got a bit of kick.

It doesn't happen often, but enough to give you a bitter taste when some....person who has no clue at all throws their 2 cents in I'm guessing just for the sake of reading their own words. Now, if you've never owned a marlin lever, or you've never fire lapped a barrel, don't reply. Thanks.

December 28, 2010, 11:52 AM
6" groups is a "very good rifle"? You standards are a lot different than mine. My Marlin experience can only be described in words not permitted here.
With the testing you have done the barrel is pretty well fire lapped already.
You have a right to not like my answer. I still believe your only solution is to trade for another brand rifle. Good luck.

December 28, 2010, 11:55 AM
Oh yeah, it wasn't breathing or trigger pull, because I was USING A LEAd SLED and the rounds were all over the paper. No I'm not handloading for this gun yet, though I was using rounds made for a marlin lever gun. I'm not sure how 325 grains could ever be considered a light bullet. All things considered it might be light for the gun, but in this part of the country its hard to find heavier bullets. This ain't bear and moose country.

December 28, 2010, 12:00 PM
No 6 inch groups are not acceptable. But the rifles themselves are good. And not everyone has this problem. Like everything else mass produced theres going to be problems. Obviously you don't know what fire lapping is. And its not just that I don't like your answer, but its also a useless answer. Doesn't help one iota. Thanks for replying again though.

December 28, 2010, 12:16 PM
You should be able to get 1.5" groups from a Marlin . That's a long way from 6". If after trying various types of ammo and still not able to improve it , send it back to Marlin.

December 28, 2010, 12:41 PM
I actually have shot several Marlins,and I agree they should shoot better than 6 in.About any rifle in good shape ought to do 3 in,and I'd expect 2 in with proper handloads at 100 yds with a Marlin.
I,myself,have no reason to trash Marlin,and actually called a good friend last night to tell him of a Marlin on a rack in a gunstore.(Model 1881,38-55 rifle,made in 1886)
And,actually,I have firelapped a barrel,with success.I did not condemn firelapping entirely.David Tubbs uses fire lapping to advantage.
You do whatever makes you happy,I don't care.
I firelapped a cheap barrel that wouldn't shoot.As I was trying to break it in,I noticed the copper fouling was horrible.I insapected with magnification,and the lands looked like smeared velveeta cheese.
Howvever,as a Moldmaker with 30 years in the shop,I was not going to blow some 320 grit valve grinding product through my bore.
I used cast 30-30 bullets,this was a 30-06.I used some 5 micron diamond polishing compound on the bullets.One grit,probably finer than whatever is in the kitsI did greatly improve the barrel..Hint,large grit cuts more clearance,so working coarse to fine ,what will happen?
Hint,when polishing or sanding large to small grit,you cross the direction of travel of the previous coarser grit.Coarse to fine polishing ,all in the same direction,polishes the bottom of the scratches,too,Then the coarse grits do more to round the rifling,not good.
If you are getting no metal fouling,the surface finish in the bore is fine.Can you explain how lapping will improve your accuracy?
If you want to ask a question,I take the time to give you a sincere answer.If it is not what you want to hear,you get huffy.You are a waste of my time.
Do whatever makes you happy.
Forget I answered.Learn your own way.Why ask for help,then argue with the answer?

December 29, 2010, 02:11 PM
Like I said, I was asking about fire lapping, not a diagnosis of my shooting. I've read that there could be pressure points along the barrel where the barrel narrows and then widens again. I haven't slugged my barrel to see if this is going on, nor do I have a fiber optic snake to peer down the barrel. Really all I can do is open the chamber up for light and look down the bang-end. The fire lapping is supposed to uniform the barrel diameter down the barrel, opening up those tight spots. Thats how its supposed to help. I know it also polishes the inside of the barrel, cleaning up grooves and marks made when the barrel is created.

And oh yeah, if you respond to a question by not answering it at all, what do you expect? Deep gratitude? Well thank you for being no help at all.

December 29, 2010, 06:01 PM
I've read that there could be pressure points along the barrel where the barrel narrows and then widens again

Have you noticed areas of varying resistance when cleaning the barrel with a tight patch?

December 29, 2010, 08:59 PM
6" groups is a "very good rifle"?

I own a Marlin 1895G. I handload for it and cast for it. I had some 6" loads too at first. It is a very good rifle. You handload for it, go buy some Reloader 7 and any cast boolits that you can find sized to .460 and your groups will shrink.

So you might have to try a few different loads until you find one the rifle likes, so what? Suddenly the rifle will come alive for you, and you will know not to listen to people who set thier standards aside Marketing hype. Anyone who says Marlins are no good are no rifleman.

Stick with it and remember to size fat for that Marlin. My Guide gun absolutely loves Lymans 400 gr FP sized to .460 and already paid for itself by putting two deer on the table so far.

December 30, 2010, 01:48 AM
I had my 1895SBL at the range yesteday to sight in a scope. It had about 45 rounds through it over a two-month period before I started today. Iā€™m shooting 300 gr. JHP over 37 gr. H 4198. After a 5 shot sight in it shot a 1ā€ hole at 50 yards and 1 1/2ā€ hole 4ā€ low center and 100 yards. No fire lap, shaky hands and bad eyes off Wal-Mart sand bag rests. Either I got an exceptionally good one or they are pretty darn accurate in general.

December 30, 2010, 12:21 PM
I think you would be better off to lap the barrel with lead lap.
I have firelapped a few guns and and it is 50/50 on improvement.
Try it if you want but keep the grit out of locking lug raceway
and off locking block.

December 30, 2010, 04:21 PM
Lots of confusion about firelapping, I think.

The process will improve cleaning.

It often improves accuracy, but not always. On rare occasions it worsens accuracy. In a paper delivered to the National Defense Preparedness Association, NECO was able to show an average of 15% reduction in group size for 27 .22 rimfire rifles belonging to a college shooting team. That's a typical result for a commercial barrel with no overt defects, like constrictions.

Simply shooting regular ammo or hand loads will not do the same thing firelapping does. I had a good 1000 rounds through my first Garand's military barrel and despite two break-in series it still fouled so badly that it began losing accuracy between rounds 30 and 50 and would take all night to clean afterward with Sweets. After firelapping it never lost accuracy during a match due to fouling again, and cleaning became a breeze.

David Tubbs Final Finish system is not firelapping, it is fire polishing. The former will remove constrictions in the bore, the latter does some, but not efficiently. Tubb is interested in re-polishing shot-out throats and resurfacing bores. His method does that. But his loads use jacketed bullets that are too springy and fire at pressures that add to that springiness in keeping the bullets upset against the bore. This happens whether they are in a tight area or not, so they tend to act on the whole bore surface equally, wide spots included. Firelapping, done properly and at very low pressure will, like a lead lap, cut the constrictions but do a lot less to the wide spots after passing through a constriction which narrows the lapping bullet.

In general, firelapping is done with lead bullets at about BHN 10-12. That is not hard enough to be very springy, but not so soft the light lapping charges upset them or that they can't keep the gas sealed well enough to prevent excessive fouling. Wheel weight metal bullets with a couple of percent tin added will usually work, but you want a really light load of something that doesn't bump the base up. Trail Boss is great for this.

The reason for coarse abrasive in the graded firelapping kits is to speed cutting away of constrictions. You can use fine abrasives exclusively if you have the time to fire enough shots to to do the job. At least one custom rifle maker I read comments from long ago didn't want to see anything either finer or coarser than around 320-400 grit, claiming you need a certain amount of fouling pick up to get a barrel to settle. I'm not convinced of this, but I thought the opinion ought to be included in the discussion. It explains why single grade methods are still popular.

The abrasive loaded bullet encounters the same rough spots a plain bullet will by moving in the bore the same way a plain bullet does. While it is true there is no cross-cutting to remove the abrasive scratch marks, it is also true bullets only travel in the direction of the abrasive scratch marks and don't benefit particularly from a polished surface free of marks in either perpendicular direction. Nonetheless, in stepping through finer grades when firelapping my above-mentioned Garand, the number of patches needed to clean it after each five rounds steadily decreased, and the surface appearance became smoother, so the finer grades contributed a positive difference. I suspect they don't fill the valleys left by coarser abrasive grit quite as well as they attack the peaks. You could exaggerate that effect by using harder bullets, like the Tubbs bullets, for polishing after removing constrictions with the softer ones.

Firelapping does not wear a barrel out. It changes its geometry some, and you start the wear from there. Done properly, at low pressure it will move the throat forward a thousandth or so (that's what my Garand's throat wear gauge showed). My borescope shows it does take the circumferential reamer tool marks out of the throat by exchanging them for longitudinal smoother abrasive marks that don't tend to foul. Unlike a high pressure and temperature load, rapid erosion does not occur. The effect is much more controlled.

Should you firelap or hand lap? It depends on what you are going to shoot through your gun. For cast bullets, firelapping tapers the bore down slightly from breech to muzzle which is supposed to help them shoot. A third to a half thousandth taper is typical. Hand lapping straightens the bore. Frankly, I can't tell any consistent real difference between tapered-down and straight bores. Both seem to work. Tapering wider from breech to muzzle, though, is ruinous to lead bullet accuracy. If found in a factory gun, it must be corrected, same as a constriction, before lead bullets will shoot. Ether lapping method will correct a reverse taper.

Hand lapping probably removes the least total amount of metal since it lets you feel exactly when you are done. If you want the best of both worlds, do both. Hand lap the constrictions out, then shoot finer polishing rounds to clean tool marks out of the throat and smooth the bore surface. Using a bore scope helps see the effects and know when to stop.

How to tell if you need to do either? Slugging is your friend. Pure lead (cast bullet alloy is too elastic) slugs at each end of the bore and pushed right out to let you measure their diameters, and slugs pushed all the way through an oiled bore, one from each end, will tell you exactly where the problems are. It lets you pretty clearly feel any constrictions. NECO has you check firelapping progress with another pure lead slug every five lapping rounds. I found that effective.

The lever rifles have relatively thin barrel walls and dull dovetail cutters or cutters fed too fast tend to indent the bore under the cuts for sights or magazine tube hangers. These can be bad enough to interfere with jacketed bullet shooting and are commonly bad enough to mess with lead bullet shooting. They are the most likely you are to encounter for lapping.

If you don't find a constriction when slugging your 1895, be aware that a deflective or bent magazine tube can also open groups up by how it bears on the hanger. The stock fit can be an issue, especially the front. Have that checked by an accuracy smith if it's a problem, or send the rifle to Marlin factory service with an accuracy complaint. They are used to finding and dealing with this kind of problem. You might want to read M.L. McPherson's stuff on accurizing the Marlins. Some is in past issues of Precision Shooting and some is in his book, Accurizing The Factory Rifle.

I see reports from guys getting sub-moa from the Marlins on occasion, but I think under 2 moa is a reasonable expectation for a factory gun when you get the basic ducks in a row. There is no end of possible fiddling after that.

December 30, 2010, 05:30 PM
Thank you! I knew it wasn't going to have the same accuracy as my 10x scoped, bolt action .308. But I also knew that a shotgun pattern wasn't quite right either. I just got a set of dies for the 45-70 and I'm looking at beartooth for some lead to push down the barrel. I use a boresnake, not patches and rods. And I've only shot the 325 and 300 grn rounds through it. I'll get some of the .460 diameter bullets and try out some heavier ones too. I have H4198 that I picked up way before I got the 45-70, so I'm going to try that until I get some reloader 7. If all that doesn't work I'll try to find a gunsmith and see what he reccomends before I try firelapping.

April 14, 2011, 04:40 PM
I have 14 marlins and 6" groups mean a defective gun...all my guns in 30-30,35 rem,45-70 and 450 fire 1 to 1.5" groups at 100 yards...mostly open sited!.........Marlin has most recently realizeed major quality control issues...and FYI a 45-70 lays down trendous amounts of lead and copper...I used bore snakes for awhile until I realized how much fouling was left in the barrell.......Snakes are great for field cleaning but not at the bench....try a OTIS type system and at least learn how to strip out the bolt/extractor and lever....It's really easy...all you need is a screw driver...have someone show you how........It's worth it and you will be amazed how a truly clean barrell willl tighten groups.......until then try a good brand of bore foam...let rest 1 hour then repeat process at least 2 more times the first time you use it....thats all.......:)

April 15, 2011, 09:39 AM
This post is old now, but if there is a leading issue, I've been trying out Sharp Shoot-R's No-Lead (http://www.sharpshootr.com/no-lead.htm) product and found it very effective. It's the first true lead solvent that doesn't involve chemicals dangerous to the steel. Turns lead to a sort black crusty stuff that patches out. No brushes needed.

I agree the Otis system is better than a Bore Snake. I've seen too many stories of people sticking the latter tool in a barrel and having to go through quite a lot of trouble to get them out. Now that I have a borescope, I pretty much try to avoid brushes altogether. You often can see marks, particularly in softer steel like .22 rimfire barrels. Sharp Shoot-R, who makes the lead cleaner, specializes in cleaners that let you patch everything out. They make Wipe Out (http://www.sharpshootr.com/wipeout.htm), which is available as a foam that works well on copper fouling.

Boretech Eliminator is also very, very good. It's not a foam, but it's a water-based chemistry that attacks copper and carbon very effectively and even gets the tin in lead alloys, weakening them. It attacks copper so fast you will blue your patch if you use a brass jag, so a stainless, nickel-plated, plastic, or special alloy (Boretech sells them) is required that won't react with it. Eliminator is non-toxic and the first nearly truly odorless cleaner that works on everything. Absolutely no trace of ammonia. That it is water-based makes it perfect when you inadvertently acquire corrosive primers. It has corrosion inhibitors so that you can let it dry out in a bore without causing rust.

I also like Gunzilla as a CLP. I always have it or some Ed's Red with me at the range these days. I use a patch in the Otis kit for Ed's Red or I use the small pump spray dispenser of Gunzilla to wet a bore at the end of the range session. When I get home, the carbon has been kept soft rather than allowed to harden, so cleaning is quick with whatever other product I might use. Gunzilla is vegetable oil-based and is also non-toxic and the odor isn't strong or offensive. It dries to leave a lubricating varnish-like layer behind that dust doesn't stick to. Apparently our troops have found it very effective in the sandbox at preventing guns from jamming. It turns carbon into sludge that just patches out.

April 15, 2011, 09:54 AM
I have the same rifle and shoot mostly 405g lead in the 1750fps range and I get 2.5 inch groups off bags with factory sights. Your 6inch groups indicate a problem, but it might respond to different brands of bullets - I would try that before polishing the bore.

I use mine for 150 yds and under - really more for stalking here in Al - I use a bolt gun with optics over a field from a stand.

I wish you well - they are excellent rifles and yours can do much better.

May 1, 2011, 12:20 AM
I have 2 Marlin 444's, a Guide model and the standard 22 inch barrel model, both have 'ballard' rifling, and both shoot under 2 inches with handloads. The std 22 inch barrel model went from an average of 1.5-2 MOA to under 1.5 MOA after using Tubbs firelapping kit. The Guide gun shoots most handloads well under 1.5 MOA and some at 1 MOA and has done so from the 1st day at the range with no break in, firelapping or anything.

A Marlin 336 or 1895 should group at least 3 MOA with decent ammo. I agree with other posts that there is something wrong with your rifle that will not likely be resolved by firelapping the barrel.