Rem. 788 won't group until about 6 shots fired...Ideas?


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art g
October 24, 2004, 09:29 PM
Was wondering if anyone could offer some advice on how to go about getting my Remington 788 in .308 rifle to group from a cold barrel. Right now it will only hold a group after at least six shoots are run through it and the barrel warms. First shot from a clean, cold barrel hits about 4 inches to the right of point of aim. Successive shots “walk” to the left until the barrel warms. Then it performs great. Clover leaf groups right at point of aim. The stock that came on the gun has been bedded by a previous owner and the action fits nice and tight. The barrel is free floating except for a small area right at the very end of the forearm. Maybe I should try to free float the barrel entirely? Would like to get three shots from a cold barrel to group to point of aim at 100 yards. Any advice would be appreciated. I understood that these rifles had a good reputation for accuracy so I am somewhat perplexed. Never have had this kind of problem with any other rifle I have ever owned. Thanks! Art G.

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GooseGestapo
October 25, 2004, 12:37 AM
Hey Art G!

I've owned three Rem m788's through the years and they are generally good rifles. The first, a .30/30 was an honest 1/2" 3-shot group rifle with certain loads (ONE HOLE GROUPS!), the best being a Speer 130gr HP over 30-something grains of IMR4320. It took a bit of tweaking the stock and trigger to accomplish though. The second was a .243 that was good for ~3/4" to 1" 5-shot groups (@100yds) out of the box favoring 80gr Hornady Spts and H4895. The last was a slightly more problematic late production .223. It was very particular about bullet/powder combinations and seating depths, but when cool with a lightly fouled bore, was occasionally good for 1/2" 5-shot groups.

Good rifles for the money, my .30/30 cost me $69.95 plus tax in 1971, while I was a freshman in highschool

However, they weren't perfect.

There are several possibilities with your rifle;

#1. The bedding issue that you mentioned. I would try taking a 1/2" or 3/4" sanding drum and removing the "hump" on the stock near the forend in the barrel channel. Then, I would glass bed the action around the rear tang guard screw (rear action screw), the front action screw and the first 1.5-2.0" of barrel shank. If this dosen't work, then install a "Bug-hole barrel tuner" (a counter sunk set-screw in a threaded stud that can be progressively tightened to adjust forward barrel pressure- particularily suited to tuning to a specific load, or on rimfire rifles).

#2. You may have a "rough" barrel. In which case you have two alternatives: Lap the barrel you have (either hand or "fire" lapping), or, replace the barrel, which of course may affect the collector value of your rifle. (This would not likely cause the group walking, and then "settling" down you related however.)

3. You have a barrel that is/was "crooked" to begin with and is warping as It heats up. Back in the '60's and early '70's when your rifle was likely made, it was common practice for the barrels to be straightened after drilling/rifling and being heat treated/stress relieved if they weren't straight. Not neccessarily bad barrels, but just "curled" after being drilled and rifled and then heated to relieve "stress risers" that are induced from the cutting processes.
I had a Rem m700 ADL my senior high school year that suffered from this. By waiting 10min between shots it would shoot 3/4" to 7/8" 3-shot groups with a Sierra 168gr BTHP. I won a third year-straight regional science fair contest with my testing, refinements and conclusions with this rifle/project. (Previous years were different projects and subjects, but this was my favorite one, obviously! One of the judges particularily liked my testing of different primers and corresponded with me several times before I went to college- He was a shooter too!)

The only fixes I know of for #3 is either try Cyrogenic treatment of the barrel/action, or again, rebarreling. However, there is a possible but remote possiblility that cutting the barrel down (assuming it's a 22" bbl) and recrowning just might take away any problem areas of the barrel, and has the effect of "stiffening" the barrel too, changing its harmonics.

Also try this FIRST!

Most shots hunting (especially with a .308!) are the first shot, from a cold barrel. Try firing your shots with at least 10min. intervals and see if it groups. I have a Marlin .30/30 that is like this. Second shots are not an issue as:
1) Most shots are close- less than 100yds on deer, and;
2) a second shot if needed, is not critical for accuracy anyway as deer is probably moving, or is a second deer, of course!---- more likely than a deer needing a second shot in my experience)
If not, then try steps #1-3, in that order leaving barrel replacement for very last resort.

Good luck!

dakotasin
October 25, 2004, 01:54 AM
for accuracy testing and hunting, i always shoot from a fouled barrel. clean the barrel out, shoot a half dozen or so shots, then try your testing the next day or week... might be that you just need a few shots for the rifle to settle down.

and no, i don't clean barrels at all until hunting seasons are over. clean them for the last time in late sept, then get them all fouled slightly (2-6 shots depending on the rifle), and then don't mess w/ them again until i'm done hunting.

Badger Arms
October 25, 2004, 02:08 AM
Certainly, you might have a barrel that likes to shoot from a fouled bore, however it seems awful hard to believe that you would get that variance just due to a fouled bore, I'm certain it's a barrel channel/bedding issue.

Just get a cheap bedding kit, follow the instructions, and bed it. Definitely free-float it though. The only reason NOT to free-float is if you don't want to spend the extra time and effort to do it right. If you leave it touching the barrel, you're bound to have problems.

Biff
October 25, 2004, 02:50 AM
Remington didn't put a lot of effort into bedding on the 788s. Mine would put the first 2-3 close together and then start walking up and left. Examined the barrel channel and found that the barrel was contacting the stock on only one side of the channel at the fore-end. Took the stock off and floated the whole barrel channel to about 1 1/2" from the recoil lug, then sealed the wood with marine varnish. Problem solved. A quck check to see if there is enough clearance in the barrel channel is to take a dollar bill and wrap it around the barrel in front of the stock. Slide it down toward the reciever and make sure it slides freely all the way.

critter
October 25, 2004, 07:36 AM
Good advise above. Me, I'm a lazy sucker-try the easy stuff first. Since it is bedded, do as they recommend and float the barrel COMPLETELY. Then shoot it. It MAY not hold quite as tight a group, BUT it MAY not 'wander around' either. Personally, I'll take a larger group if the zero does not change much as it heats. I want to KNNOW where that first one is going!

Then, if it still don't shoot well, go on to the other suggestions.

Good luck.

Al Thompson
October 25, 2004, 08:48 AM
The three B's of rifles are bullets, bedding and barrels. IMHO, I'd be a bit leery of that bedding job. I've had very good experiances with 788s, so your results are unusual, IME. :(

I'd free float the barrel as mentioned and check that the front of your recoil lug is not touching the bedding compound. Some parts should be tight, but not all.

Onmilo
October 25, 2004, 10:07 AM
What everybody else said but I am thinking the bedding wasn't done properly or is just worn out and the action is flexing in the stock until everything heats up.
You probably just need to have the bedding refreshed, it doesn't last forever and if the action has been repeatably removed from the bedded stock the bedding is trashed.
788 rifles usually have very, very good barrels.

art g
October 25, 2004, 11:13 AM
I really appreciate all the time you guys have taken to post here. My 788 has become sort of a project for me as I feel it has potential if I keep at it. The barrel now passes the "dollar bill test" on floating and just a small amount of sanding was needed. Next step is to get back out to the range and see what happens. If things still are not where they should be I will have the rifle re-bedded. Gun was made in 1971 and overall is in great shape. Art G.

Bob C
October 26, 2004, 11:47 AM
As mentioned before, the heat may be a factor, but it also can be the fouling, or the residue from the cleaning products, that is causing the shift.

If the POI shifts after free floating, try letting the barrel cool completely, but don't clean the barrel at all. Then try it again, and see where the rounds hit. If they're OK, you know the cure is to simply not clean the barrel before hunting..

JNewell
October 26, 2004, 01:45 PM
get back out to the range and see what happens

Yes, resist the urge to implement more than one potential fix at a time...I am speaking from experience.:uhoh:

gaven
October 27, 2004, 10:59 PM
I had a 788 that did the same thing in .223 , i free floated the barrel and
after that i could shoot 55gr. rem. factory rounds and it would put all 5
shots in 1 hole at a 100yds. I could still kick myself for trading that rifle.

Gordon
October 28, 2004, 10:59 AM
I can shoot BOXES of .44magnum from my 788 and they all keep landing in same hole at 50 yards!;)

art g
October 30, 2004, 09:01 PM
Thanks for all the advice. The barrel of my 788 was touching at a VERY SMALL spot at the right front of the stock forearm. Earlier this week I relieved the area by very lightly sanding the stock at that spot. The group I shot at the range this morning came in at 1/2" for 3 shots from the bench from a cold clean barrel. Target was at 100 yards. Ammo was 165 gr. Federal (factory hunting ammo). Now I can see for myself why folks really like their 788 rifles! Best regards, Art G.

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