I Think it I Fixed It
About two years ago I had an 1896 Swedish Mauser “sporterized.” I know some of you purists just winced at the thought, but this was a $100 rifle, no bluing, surface pitting on the barrel, considerable wear and tear – certainly not a collector piece. I had the action rebarreled with a medium-weight chromoly Shilen tube, 1-in-8″ twist, cut to 24″. I had the ‘smith turn down the bolt handle, narrow the trigger guard, then polish and blue the barreled action and install a two-piece scope base. I then installed a Timney trigger and glass bedded the action into a Fajen thumbhole stock, making sure the barrel was free-floated.
I then proceeded over the next two years to try just about every combination of 140-grain bullet and powder to see what it would shoot well. The answer? Nothing. I tried 155 grain bullets. No good. I tried 120 grain bullets. A bit better, but still no great shakes. The gun simply would not group better than 2.5 to 3 MOA, and that only if I was lucky. Since I had built the rifle in order to shoot Metallic Silhouette, which requires you to shoot offhand up to 500 meters, that wasn’t going to be good enough.
Finally, I decided I’d try preloading the barrel. I took an old expired credit card and cut it into strips, then stacked the strips in the barrel channel of the stock, and reinstalled the action. The plastic strips, located about 1/3rd of the way down the barrel channel from the forend, put an upward pressure on the barrel and change its natural vibration frequency.
I loaded up some test ammo last night – 139 grain Lapua boattail hollowpoints over Reloder 19. Here’s my best group of the day, but not by much:
If you can’t read the micrometer, it shows 1.016″ outside to outside. Subtract one bullet diameter of .264″, and the group size is 0.752″
I think I fixed it.