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Old January 8, 2009, 12:27 AM   #1
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Need info on target problem

OK-----I have had a problem that I just know someone out there has had before.

My issue is that I get a 100 yd. target that has the first shot where ever but the next 4 shots will be about 1 1/2 inches higher and slightly to the right.

I know that I am not very good at bench rest shooting but the problem has gone on for some time now and I am lost as to what can be the cure.

I have had a dozen targets from several trips to the range that replicate the similar pattern. One low and several higher and slightly right. I have tried 14 different bullets with a combination 4 different powders. I have used a tri-pod, sand bags and a "Lead Sled" w/ 75 lbs of weight with my little 223. All have produced a similar "pattern"????????????

A little info is the rifle is a Mini-14 but now has a Krieger barrel and is function free of any problems. If the pattern was scattered, I would say the crown or something else was the cause but I get that first shot, then on several other targets the next 4 are touching or close to it. Now don't get me wrong, I have had several groups in the 3/4 to 1 inch range but have the "pattern" problem too. Really looking for some nickel size targets here.

The only thing that comes to mind is that I installed a 10-40 x 50mm scope, not an expensive one but new. My next trip to the range will be back to my old Leupold VX-II 6-18 AO to see if the new scope was the problem. Even though California has nice weather, I really am a fair weather shooter so am waiting for things to warm up a little.

If anyone has had similar target feedback and has had success in curing it, please let me know what you found to be the problem and what was the cure if any or what was tried and the results.

Thanks to all who read and any who respond with ideas.

Ed Roberts
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Old January 8, 2009, 02:37 AM   #2
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Not an expert but are you cleaning the rifles bore after each range trip? Then the next trip to the range are you shooting the 1st shot through a clean bore that might be oiled also. A clean oiled bore will throw the 1st shot off and some rifles takes more than a few rounds before things settle down. Velocity of the 1st round can be higher going thru a clean oiled barrel and would cause an impact slightly lower. Some match shooters I know do not clean the barrel until their groups open up or accuracy starts to fall off.
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Old January 8, 2009, 07:42 AM   #3
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I have the same problem at times as well. There are sooo many variables that only you can figure it out through testing. It could be a heated barrel, it could be a clean barrel (I always run at least 3 foulers through before I start looking for accuracy). As you suspect, it could be scope issues (I had that, scope was loose and didn't catch it until I got home and was inspecting everything because I couldn't get a pattern). Could be trigger issues (my 14 has a heavy trigger compared to my other guns which can cause hand rotation on the pull). Could be a technique problem (your first shot, adrenaline overcomes improper finger placement or mechanics). I have gone out before and wasn't able to put the bullets where I wanted them to go, and the next time out, (without fiddling with the scope) put them tight and dead center.

I had a friend who was a counter sniper in the military and he taught me so much about the mechanics and technique of the actual trigger pull, that even though it felt right, it wasn't. Hand placement, finger placement on the trigger, breath control, etc... all factor in to where the bullet will end up. Shots 2-5 were good grouping, just off from shot 1, again, maybe shot 1 was the problem and not 2-5.
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Old January 8, 2009, 08:11 AM   #4
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My guess is Bedding

Sounds like you have a fouling problem, Bedding issues or a shooters error. I will explain because it happened to me also. With a powerful scope like you have you are looking at the first bullet hole. I know that sounds dumb but it happens. I have my target guns set up to shoot 3" high and right so i am not looking at the bullet holes. I am focusing on the target. Aim Small shoot small.

The other thing it could be is a settling problem or a bedding issue. If you clean and disassemble the gun every time you come back from the range when you go to shoot again the rifle has to settle down into its bed.

Try this. Next time to the range shoot the gun about 10 times. Clean it but don't take it apart. Wait for it too cool down about 30 min or so. Take a 22 with you and mess around at the range and then shoot it again. If it does it bingo the bedding is off. Then you may need to take it to a gunsmith(If they are still in CA) and get it bedded. You can do it yourself but a Mini 14 is a little more tricky than a bolt gun.

The Mini's were know for erratic behavior a long time ago. I had one and the trigger group would fall out when shooting every once in a while(This was 20 years ago). I liked the gun but sold it for something that I probably don't have anymore either

If it was a scope issue it would be shooting all over the place and not be as consistent in its inconsistency as it has been(Does that make sense??) I hope so. A scope problem would have bullet holes moving around more.
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Old January 8, 2009, 07:48 PM   #5
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Zero Shift

Hi Calif,

You need to eliminate the possible causes one at a time in order to solve your zero shift problem. Start with the scope, then move onto other items. You did not mention the distance that the first shot is from the group of four, nor did you mention the range that these groups were fired at. This information alone is very important to understand the magnitude of the problem.

I trust that this information will help you.
Matt Dardas
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Old January 8, 2009, 10:20 PM   #6
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it really sounds like that first shot is from a clean/oily bore. 3-5 foulers should help.

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Old January 9, 2009, 12:01 AM   #7
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I will make a few assumptions since you didn't mention it. I assume you load the mag with the number of rounds you want to shoot in a single group and shoot. Therefore the first round is fed by operating the bolt by hand and the rest are self fed by the rifle's action. Your first shot is the one that hits outside the group.

So once you release the bolt on your first round, push hard on the closed bolt handle to try to copy the force of the action when it slams forward to seat each additional cartridge.

Or you can load one round at a time into the mag and release the bolt by hand for each shot.

Another trick you can try is to push a patch with a couple drops of oil through the bore before your first shot.

If none of the nonsense above makes a difference, ask someone with a lot of experience making minis shoot:

If nothing else watch his videos on mini trigger jobs and bedding. I had him work over my mini-30 trigger. It was well worth the money.

Good luck
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Old January 9, 2009, 06:48 PM   #8
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Need info on target problem

First I must say thanks for all the replies posted here to a situation that was beginning to make me feel alone and isolated with this ???????? problem.

Lets take these a little at a time:

I am aware of the oiler/fouler and always shoot several rounds that sometimes are also initial sighting shots or combo warm up-fouler or just a few before setting up my real targets to start my testing.

First see above then know that I have never noticed any looseness with the scope and am going to try my old 6-18 Leupold next time out to eliminate or confirm scope issues.
Next my trigger is a smooth 2.5 lbs so am not thinking there is a lot to be the cause of the issue mentioned.
Now as for myself, I will be the first to say that my "style" sucks at the least. Because of my inconsistent hold, bench awareness etc. I have used sand bags, tried a tri-pod and have a lead-sled that I installed a windage adjustment on all to remove me form the mix. I even used a bungy cord to steady the rifle to the lead sled for consistency. The crosshairs are very still and I try to be smooth on the break. There must be a little more here to improve on and my next range excursion may tell more.

First fouling is covered above and although I did it myself, I believe the bedding will not turn out to be of issue now as I previously had some bedding done and recently redid it all with the addition of reforming the receiver to a almost square surface, as opposed to the semi round surface on an original Mini, with the intention to create a recoil surface that is more stable and in the same direction of actual recoil. Not like a Rem 700 but in that sort of idea. I do agree that scope problem could have a more diverse pattern.

One thing at a time. I realize this is the best way to sort something out. It was only after several trips to the range did I notice this pattern and then looked back to old targets that I still had. Didn't keep them all. All targets shot at 100 yards and the pattern has been first shot on target and then 4 following about 1 1/2" up and slightly to the right. All sighting was at center of target. Haven't been concerned to hit crosshair but for group only. The tightness of the group varied due to the many different loads I was trying but the pattern was seen over and again.

I know it does sound this way but on some days I shot over 125 rounds and the pattern was there too.

I wondered the same thing too. I even hand fed rounds one at a time and didn't use the magazine thinking the different action recoil was the culprit. Same thing again.


I will sort this out and will post the cure.......

Ed Roberts
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Old November 6, 2010, 12:45 PM   #9
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Need info on target problem

Thanks again for all who posted.

Update is I did try different scopes ..... same result.

Finally I heard about "Cryo treating" the barrel and gave it a try.

WOW........... no more first shot off.

I have been able to get a few targets under 5/8" and a couple at 1/2" all at 100 yards.

I think this is fantastic as I know I do not have a good handle on my technique at the bench.

Overall, I need to shoot more with this rifle but have moved on to other projects.

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Old November 6, 2010, 02:23 PM   #10
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It may not be the gun. It could be you.

You are just settling in to shoot with the first shot.

It sounds like you have eliminated several of the most common problems. So try this. Shoot, get up and walk a little bit, shoot and repeat. See what that does to your patterns.

I usually throw the first shot off the bulls-eye by an inch or two on my first shot and then can settle down and shoot very well.

If this does not work, I really do not know what else the problem could be, as the guys have pointed out above, it seems you have everything covered.
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