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Thread: Accuracy and the 336



  1. #1
    Gun Wizard
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    Accuracy and the 336

    I have seen a few posts here where shooters are questioning the accuracy (or their shooting ability) when it comes to their 336's. Most of the old time shooters know this stuff, but, I thought I would bring up a few basic points that have helped me over the years obtain good accuracy from my rifles.

    Accuracy is checked off of the bench. Nothing can substitute for a good solid rest.

    The shooter needs to choose the type of shooting he is going to do and follow that format through the testing process. Most here are hunters, so that is what I will dwell on.

    First off you need to be realistic about your shooting prowess.....if your mediocre that's ok, you just need to know where you stand and be truthful about it. I was a competitive shooter for a good part of my life. I am older now, and my eyesight has gone south. You need to see what you are shooting at before you can hit it...I dont see well anymore, and I use that fact in judging my rifles accuracy and my shooting skills. Dont be hard on yourself (or your rifle) just accept your abilities as they are and do the best you can. If in doubt about accuracy, or if you perceive that your rifle is having issues, do not be afraid to let an experienced shooter test your gun, and see if the results match yours....this is one of the easiest things you can do to try to locate a problem with a load or a rifle. Make sure that your rifle is range ready, that all the mounting screws are snug, and that your sights/scope, etc, are mounted properly and in good working condition..............now to the range.

    Start your load development and initial sight adjustments up close....get on paper before you start any serious work. Shoot groups first to determine the most accurate handload or factory ammunition for your rifle...the pinpoint sighting of the rifle can come later.....and, use a target that gives you a clear and precise aiming point (ya cant hit, what ya cant see!).

    1. Work up your loads or do your testing under the temperature conditions that you will hunt under. For my conditions I like to use 40 degrees as the median point. Working up loads, or sighting a gun in when the temps are in the 90's, will not work out well if you hunt in 30 degree temperatures. Powders produce different pressures as the temperature changes, and therefore the velocity of your bullets can change. This could affect accuracy, and point of aim.

    2. As hunter's, we rarely fire more than one or two shots, and those shots are from a clean, cold barrel. This is where we want supreme accuracy. When working up loads, or checking point of aim, I always do it from a clean cold barrel...3 shots on target is all it should take. Then, I clean the bore, and set the rifle aside to let the barrel go stone cold again. Then, I fire another 3 shot group and repeat the process until my load is developed or my sights have been adjusted to my liking. Reason for doing this is that as a barrel heats up it tends to change...the metal expands, and the barrel actually will move in relation to the receiver and the sights, so, we want everything to be as stable and repeatable as possible when working up loads or sighting in. Always let your ammunition and your rifle acclimate to the outside temperatures before you start any testing or sighting in.

    3. The dreaded Marlin forend issue: If you feel that your forend is giving you problems, an easy way to check that out is to remove the forend and magazine from the rifle. Shoot what you feel is the most accurate ammo you have been working with and see if things improve. I have done this on a few occasions and made the necessary changes to the forend/magazine (those directions are located on this forum). These simple "fixes" will improve the accuracy of your rifle.... dramatically in some cases. Before you start your range work, make sure that your forend screws, barrel band screws, and/or magazine hangar screw, etc, is snug....but not overly tight. This is probably the easiest thing you can do to assure decent accuracy....its a good place to start.

    4. A real accuracy test: Once you have a decent load that you are happy with, your three shot groups are as small as they can get, you are sighted in, and you feel that any gun related issues have been sorted out, try this test for "overall" accuracy....its a day long process, but it will give you an excellent idea of how accurate your rifle is under the varying conditions of a day long hunt. Fire your first shot on target at "shooting time"....in most states that is at daybreak. Clean the barrel and set the gun aside. Every hour on the hour, take one shot at that target, to the same point of aim, until dusk.....again, cleaning and cooling between shots. During the course of the day "conditions" change. The wind may come up, the angle of light changes (which does affect sighting), the temperature increases and decreases, as does humidity, barometric pressure, and visual perception of the target. By the end of the process you may be amazed at the results, but, you will understand more about your rifle, its load/accuracy, its sighting abilities (and your shooting abilities) than you can imagine.

    I hope that others will chime in here and offer up their suggestions that will help you get the most out of your 336. These are fine rifles, and can be quite capable of excellent accuracy.....and I hope that the above may help somebody here achieve that.
    Seamus20 likes this.
    "You should not use a rifle that will kill an animal when everything goes right; you should use one that will do the job when everything goes wrong."
    - Bob Hagel

    ...."any achievement is directly proportional to the degree of difficulty, the degree of danger you have to go through". Jeremy Wade 2012

  2. #2
    Team 35 Remington Co-Capt'n Contributing Member
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    Re: Accuracy and the 336

    I think that is all very good information, and there are bits & pieces of it that are probably applicable to most everyone. But I'll tell you, that is way more in depth than I get with my hunting guns.

    I have a very realistic expectation of how I shoot and what I expect of my hunting rifles vs my shooting ability. That is a 2" 3-shot group at 100 yards. If I can do better than that, I'm happy, if I'm in the 2" - 3" range, then I'll work on the gun with a different bullet and load until I get those 3 shots under 2".

    If it's worse than 3", and I have only ever had one gun that shot that poorly, I'm probably not going to spend a whole lot of time on it.

    Guns are inherently accurate enough for hunting purposes, or they wouldn't be on the market. MOST firearms companies are not going to let a gun out of the factory that doesn't shoot reasonable groups. If your gun is patterning like a shotgun, something is wrong with it, and in most cases I'm not going to spend my time on an inaccurate gun.

    One thing I never see anyone mention is a bent or misaligned barrel. They happen, I've seen them. People do a lot of dumb things with guns, and can cause a gun to malfunction in a myriad of ways. Those are guns I'm not interested in.
    Seamus20 likes this.
    The Older I Get...The Better I was...
    Team 444 Member #175
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    338 MX...It's not your father's lever action!

  3. #3
    Really Short Fuse Administrator
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    Re: Accuracy and the 336

    Flattop!!!

    What an outstanding bit of wisdom sir. That post will likely make Sticky status or end up in our Reference Library.

    Thank you for taking the time to write it. I guess if I were to follow your advice to the letter I surely would have to take say a 5'4" redhead with me for entertainment between shots.
    http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v354/vtdw1/
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  4. #4
    Sidewinder
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    Re: Accuracy and the 336

    Well...first thing is break-in. I shoot a few rounds, clean the barrel. Lather rinse, repeat for about 40 rounds (I use this to site in the gun and break in the barrel). Then shoot for accuracy.

    Then shooting. I disagree with the clean barrel, then shoot a group comment. As soon as you shoot a round or two, then your gun will not shoot the same. When I go to the range, I shoot two or three fouling rounds with what I want to test. Then I shoot my groups. Gun should not be hot (your hunting shots will be from a cold gun). If I have a clean gun and know I am going hunting, I go to the range and shoot some fouling rounds again prior to the day of the hunt.. I think a dirty gun zero makes more sense...because if you are in a stand and shoot and miss...your next shots are not going to be in the same spot. My first fouling shot normally hits high. I think this is from increased pressure created by products left behind from cleaning (oil?).

    If you bought a used gun that looks like it has never been fired, guess what? It may have never been fired.... Break in the barrel, then try again.

    And DON'T adjust your scope/sites after every round. Shoot a cluster first, then adjust for center of the cluster.

    Personally, I can shoot sub MOA (less than an inch at 100 yards) 3 shot groups with my .308 and my 336XLR. I was never able to with my 336W, but accepted 2 inch groups as being MOP (minute of pig....heh) .

    Always have to wonder about pawn shop finds. The person that sold it might have had a reason he got rid of it. Buddy of mine just bought a .270 w/scope from a pawn shop. It can't hold sub 4 inch groups at a 100 yards. I am betting the seller knew this. Pretty sure we will be able to fix this with some new glass...but that really isn't my point. If you bought a used gun, it might need some work to make it accurate. Folks here have said they won't mess with an inaccurate gun, where do you think those inaccurate guns go? I am 100% sure some very nice shooters are bought used, but I always wonder why the guns are there, and if I can't get it for an "I wonder...." price, I pass on it. By the time my buddy buys a new scope for his gun, he could have got the gun new for $70 more (the point I was trying to make earlier).


  5. #5
    Gunfighter
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    Re: Accuracy and the 336

    Where she at

  6. #6
    Gun Wizard
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    Re: Accuracy and the 336

    Awhile back Swany told about his minute-of-paper-plate standard for hunting accuracy. I think he is correct. At any range for which you can keep all of your shots on the paper plate from hunting positions (sit, kneel, rest agains a post or tree trunk, standing, etc.) you are absolutely good to go at that distance. When shots start to leak out and off the plate you are shooting at a range beyond your hunting competence. For some of us that is 75 yards and for some it hovers around 125, 150, and maybe even upwards of 200 yards with a Marlin .30-30. Whatever it is for me or for any one of us we need to limit our shots at game to that maximum.

    Maybe I can shoot tiny groups off the bench with a scope and sandbags but I will admit that 100 yards is my maximum range for ethical shots with iron sights because I start to miss the paper plate ever so often beyond that distance.
    "Hunt close, then get closer."
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  7. #7
    Gun Wizard
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    Re: Accuracy and the 336

    halwg; Per Col Townsend Whelan: " only an accurate rifle... is an interesting rifle" (or something to that effect). I think as hunters we need to be rational about accuracy. For us its a "balance" of power to get the job done, and the size of the group (accuracy) we need to do it. For squirrels, I do not need a whole lot of power, but, my .22 needs to be deadly accurate. On the other hand, my Safari Grade 444 needs to have gobs of power, but, considering the size of the game that it would need to stop, the accuracy factor could be a bit more relaxed. Distance also plays a part in the accuracy factor. Here, most shots at deer are a close range affair for the woods hunter.....100 yards is a real stretch.....and, I hunt down on the river, back in sloughs where a shot might be in feet, not yards, and the foliage is so thick that a bullet has to bulldoze its way through to get to the game. I varmint hunt open fields on occasion, and a super accurate, flat shooting rifle serves that purpose, especially when shots can exceed 300 yards. So, I guess that accuracy requirements are going to be different depending on where and what you hunt.....but, you must admit, when it all comes together, the power, with supreme accuracy, sure does add to ones confidence! Your "the older I get, the better I was" really applies here, and with a superbly accurate rifle in hand at least I "feel" that some of my inadequacies, that are due to the aging process, are being off-set by the abilities of an accurate rifle.
    "You should not use a rifle that will kill an animal when everything goes right; you should use one that will do the job when everything goes wrong."
    - Bob Hagel

    ...."any achievement is directly proportional to the degree of difficulty, the degree of danger you have to go through". Jeremy Wade 2012

  8. #8
    Gun Wizard
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    Re: Accuracy and the 336

    VTDW; Nothing that I "invented" for sure, just stuff that I had picked up years ago, and one thing I learned from some very "accuracy minded" folks when I was a Benchrest shooter.....the "little things" can make a big difference in accuracy. I guess that I have been lucky.....I have four Marlins, and three of them, even with high powered hunting loads are all "one holers". Yes, it took some work to get them there, but, it was well worth it. The fourth is my old Texan, and I have a shipment of Beartooth 180's on the way.....should be here tomorrow. I have done nothing with this rifle other than clean it, and loosen up the forend and barrel bands. By weeks end we shall see how it does, but I will follow the same program as I stated above, and am hoping for the best.

    As far as a sticky....I think that when this post runs its course, and if everyone chimes in, there will be many good ideas to add to the subject.

    Thanks!
    FT
    "You should not use a rifle that will kill an animal when everything goes right; you should use one that will do the job when everything goes wrong."
    - Bob Hagel

    ...."any achievement is directly proportional to the degree of difficulty, the degree of danger you have to go through". Jeremy Wade 2012

  9. #9
    Marlin Marksman
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    Re: Accuracy and the 336

    If your rifle shoots 6" groups at 100 yds.-----no shot will be more thasn 3" from the point of aim.
    Plenty accurate for even the smallest deer or and other BIG GAME animal.

    Hip

    P.S. Of course if it was MY RIFLE I would sell it !

  10. #10
    Gun Wizard
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    Re: Accuracy and the 336

    Sean; As part of my cleaning process, I always do a final wipe with a denatured alcohol patch followed by a few dry patches. All my barrels except for the Texan, are lapped and polished stainless, and I treat them the same way that I cared for my stainless bench gun barrels. The first shot goes exactly where its intended to go...each and every time. Probably too much work for the average hunter, but old habits are hard to break.....................On the other hand, I had a buddy that NEVER cleaned his lead gun barrels and those rifles were the most accurate lead shooters I had ever seen. I think we should both just keep doing what were doing....if it aint broke, dont fix it!
    "You should not use a rifle that will kill an animal when everything goes right; you should use one that will do the job when everything goes wrong."
    - Bob Hagel

    ...."any achievement is directly proportional to the degree of difficulty, the degree of danger you have to go through". Jeremy Wade 2012


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