What makes a barrel do this...
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  1. #1
    Gun Wizard
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    What makes a barrel do this...

    Like many of you, I own a few rifles. I have two guns that for some reason are "cold shooters". By this I mean the 1st shot or two is always DEAD ON target. The more you shoot, the more "fliers" I seem to get. I'll get two rounds touching, then the third will be a flier. Seen it over and over with these two guns. I do NOT reload, but I was thinking of maybe changing ammo brands, but that doesn't make sense to me either, but i wanted your opinions....

    Both guns (centerfire) can touch holes at 100 yards with the ammo I use in them (two different brands), but then you get the flier.... can't imagine.... being able to touch holes, it being the ammo as the issue. The barrels are NOT being shot hot, one is even a bull barrel...2 perfect shots, then a flier....

    Are some barrels just "that way"? Is it fixable?

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    My guess is bedding. Barrel oscillations move the barrel,or the recoil stress moves the receiver slightly,and the barrel/action settles into a different place. Only a few .0001's of an inch will move the hits. Of course,it could be ammo,since you don't reload. Another firearm mystery to be solved. You are talking bolt action rifle here?
    I've bedded every bolt gun I own with Acraglas Gel. That includes the triggerguard and floorplate,but the magazine box is a teeny bit loose,so as not to stress the receiver.



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    Hard to say but ammo would be suspect.
    rclint and drinva like this.

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    What makes a barrel do this...

    How many times have you seen this happen?
    A few I would say coincide. Five or more it’s probably a barrel issue. Look at getting the barrel fully free floated. That is You want space all the way around the barrel for the entire length it is close to the forearm. It should only touch the stock at the action.

    How thin is the barrel? If it’s a pencil thin barrel they can get whipy ,when they get hot. My dad has a weatherby vanguard mountain rifle with a pencil barrel that is good for 3/4 Moa for 2 shots the third shot is 1.5 moa and the next ten or so take it to 2 MOA. But it can be smoking hot and once it cools down shoots like a laser again.


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    If you are getting vertical dispersion it could be bedding, whether bolt or lever gun. Fastener tension is another but to check mount screws the scope and rings have to come off I bed all my guns too, lever and bolt. It becomes an absorbing hobby after a while
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  7. #6
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    You say the barrels are not being shot hot. Maybe, but unless you take a full 30 minutes to shoot the third round the barrel is definitely being shot warm. Take one of the rifles out and fire the first shot. Wait fifteen minutes and fire the second shot. Wait another fifteen minutes before you fire the third shot, and so on. I think the expanding groups are simply the barrel warming up but shooting in accordance with the above procedure will confirm or deny that.

  8. #7
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    What you describe is actually pretty common with many guns, and more so with guns that have barrel bands & magazine tubes. It's heat causing movement and stresses. I know you said you don't shoot these guns hot, but it doesn't take much heat to start making things move.

    You have more or less confirmed this already. Do both guns shoot two rounds accurately each time you visit the range where you shoot? That's because they are both "cold" just as you described. You can also confirm this by shooting two rounds out of each & waiting 1/2 hour before shooting the 3rd & 4th round. If round 3 & 4 are accurate after a 1/2 hour delay from shots 1 & 2, heat is the cause.

    The solution to this has been mentioned in other replies; barrel bedding, floating, barrel band tightness,any and all of which could be the cause.

    If these are hunting guns, you are actually in good shape if the first couple shots are always accurate. Some guns sling the first shot from a clean, oily barrel & then settle in to shooting where they are sighted-in. Those type guns have to be cleaned, shot, and then left uncleaned for the first day of season.....
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    Floating can help, but also what the others said about heat. But I don't have the patience to shoot that slowly, nope nope nope.

    I know what you mean though, this was with my Rem 700/.30-06. Floated barrel and bipod. Five in the X then they started spreading out. 8 rounds @ 100 yards.

    I gotta say, I was tickled with this target. I've never put 5 in a row in the X at 100 yds with ANYTHING before! Well, maybe my AR, but that's still a stretch. This 1980 dated 700 was my Dad's elk rifle, I'm sure he'd be as tickled as me. Dad hunted elk every fall and quail hunting too, but he rarely shot targets for fun, probably a Depression-era thing he went through. I never shot it well until I floated the barrel and put a bipod on it.
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    cant argue with anything anyone has already posted, and pretty much agree across the board. and without knowing all the specifics, rifle type, ammo, outside conditions, it can be really hard to narrow down, but I'm leaning to bedding, and or Barrel harmonics and temp changes.

    I see the dramatic temperature changes out here in Arizona climate very fast.. basically out here if you set a rifle on the bench in the direct sun in 110degree heat out here for 10 minutes, its so hot you darn near cant touch it, without even firing it.. and there's big differences in bolt actions in wood stocks v/s Ar's. its practically impossible to "let it cool" for followup shots out here.. unless you put them in the truck with the AC on..

    barrel harmonics do change as the temperature increases, that's a very common factor for groups to open up.
    drinva and Gareth Holland like this.
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    That's a million dollar question, others have touched on several ways to help eliminate fliers or the group opening up. Bedding the action, and floating the barrel is a good place to start, and it's also very easy to learn to do this yourself with plenty of info on the web as well as videos on youtube etc. Next up is ammo I have had only a few guns that I could depend on using factory ammo to shoot as well as my handloads... that's something you will also have to decide on, loading your own ammo does allow you to have more control, with a lot of choices...

    The barrel/steel being heat treated/stress relieved correctly during manufacture, is the chamber cut out of round or not in line with the bore.

    Accuracy can get expensive, but by doing what you can such as bedding, cleaning, handloading etc to get all the accuracy possible out of a firearm most people can come to a an acceptable accuracy without getting into rebarreling, or setting a barrel back to rechamber...


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