Savage accuracy problem


the naked prophet
July 24, 2006, 06:40 PM
I got a new Savage 111 (.30-06) with the synthetic stock and detachable magazine, and mounted a nice 3-9x Bushnell scope on it. I sighted it in at 100 yards, and can't seem to get groups any better than 5 inches at 100 yards. I'm shooting with the forearm on my hand which is on a cushioned rest, with the stock resting on the shooting bench against my shoulder. The gun has been broken in according to the directions on the Savage website (clean, one shot, clean 5x then 5 shots clean, etc...). The gun was very steady, the trigger has been adjusted according to the instructions to be quite light (maybe around 2 lbs?). It isn't as crisp as it could be, but I've fired worse. I was using factory Remington 180 grain ammunition.

What is wrong? I doubt it's me, since using my Romanian AK I can get 3 inch groups at 100 yards shooting with just the magazine as a monopod (Yugoslavian M67 ammunition). It does have a very smooth TAPCO trigger installed, which feels better than the Savage trigger. Using my wife's 14 inch Bushmaster (with the 2.5 inch compensator pinned and welded on the end - not SBR) I can do better than that with radway green ammo.

I had heard that the Savage rifles were quite accurate. I was expecting 1 MOA from this rifle. Was that too much to expect? I know I'm not an expert rifle shooter, but still.

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July 24, 2006, 06:45 PM
Check all screws in your mounts and bases. One loose base screw can ruin your day.

Check your zero at 25 and 50... are you still spitting a pattern?

Then it might be time for a call to Savage.

July 24, 2006, 06:49 PM
get the but of the gun off of the bench. have it on a shooting pad. The recoil from the gun while on the bench well throw off your shots. Second put the gun on the pad off of your hand also. You could be gripping the forarm tight. the savages don't have very thick forearms. third let somebody else shoot it. fourth it could be the scope or rings.


the naked prophet
July 24, 2006, 07:02 PM
I'll check all those things. I did already check all the screws on the scope - twice. All tight.

I'll check the zero at 25 and 50, adjust the way I'm holding the gun, and have someone else shoot it. Thanks.

July 24, 2006, 07:33 PM
I agree with stolivar that the biggest problem is you're not holding the rifle correctly.

which remington ammo? top of the line or express core-loks?

you can't expect 1MOA with hunting ammo. it usually takes match grade.

also, which model bushnell? trophy, banner, 3200, 4200?

July 24, 2006, 08:04 PM

First thing you do is replace that "nice 3-9x Bushnell scope" with a "known good scope". Eliminate the obvious problem before delving into some less likely causes.


July 24, 2006, 10:03 PM
I don't know, I have an excellent Bushnell Trophy 3-9x ... it's stood up to countless rounds from the .270. I wouldn't cast blame at the feet of the scope just yet, although it could end up there.

The shooting position should be as solid and repeatable as possible. Is your cheek in the same position every shot? Eye relief constant? I agree with getting the butt off the bench. Checking accuracy at 25/50 yards is a good suggestion.

July 24, 2006, 10:44 PM
And most importantly, try some different ammo, yours may not like 150 gr. bullets. I just got a 300 Win sighted in a while back, it was a new in box 1962 manufactured Dumoulin built on a comercial FN Mauser, should have been great.

First 5 rounds of 150 grain ammo had about a 5-6" pattern, I was feeling pretty bad, started thinking of all the possible problems.

The second group with 165 grain ammo came down to about 2 1/4", a little better but still worried.

The third group with 180 grain ammo came in at .95", it's MILLER TIME !!!

There is no rhyme or reason to it, most barrels just seem to have a preference for a specific bullet weight, and some, like this Dumoulin, can be quite dramatic. I have a Ruger 77 RSI that will shoot any factory 150 gr. load into 1 1/4", anything heavier and the groups get ugly.

July 24, 2006, 10:55 PM
I second using a known good scope.

Also, the injection molded plastic stock has a notoriously flexible forend. It will touch the barrel and cause it to shoot to a different point every time you pull the trigger. I've got 4 Savages (all great shooters) and the first thing I do is throw away the cheap injection molded stock. If you must shoot with the lousy stock, don't touch the forend. Put the rest under the forward action screw.

Check the action screws too. The front should be tight. But don't crank down so hard that you deform the cheap plastic stock. The rear screw should be snug.

July 25, 2006, 02:30 AM
does it have bbl sights? if not, i would still shoot it at 50 , using bags both front and rear. if you can get better groups, then it is either your scope is bad, you current hold is no good, or both.
there is no way a savage is not moa capable, unless it is bad from the factory.

the naked prophet
July 25, 2006, 02:25 PM
The scope is a Bushnell Legend. I believe I paid $150 for it - if a $150 scope can't do better than 5 inches at 100 yards...

The rifle does not have any iron sights.

I did check the action screws, they are tight without deforming the stock. I was also conscious not to let the stock touch the barrel. I let the barrel cool for a few minutes between each shot.

What would be a good suggestion for a lightweight stock that would be better than the injection molded stock (and wouldn't break the bank - I just bought a gun safe and need a reloading setup)? I've not owned a bolt action rifle before except for the swiss Schmidt-Rubin 1889-11 that I borrowed from my dad for a few years, and I did pretty well with that rifle (<1 MOA).

The ammo was the Remington Core-Lokt 180 grain ammo. Just because I haven't gotten my reloading setup yet (deciding between a Dillon and a rock chucker). I knew they wouldn't be super-accurage, but I figured better than 5 inches.

How, exactly should I be holding the rifle? The best groups I have ever had were with the Schmidt-Rubin from a sitting position when I was in high school (still had good eyes).

July 25, 2006, 02:47 PM
The scope is a Bushnell Legend. I believe I paid $150 for it - if a $150 scope can't do better than 5 inches at 100 yards...


You don't get it. It doesn't matter what the scope is called or how much you paid for it, it's the most failure-prone part of a LR rifle. Most of my scopes cost over $700, but if I had a rifle that shot 5 MOA, the first thing I would do is put another scope on the rifle and eliminate that possibility.


July 25, 2006, 02:56 PM
The ammo was the Remington Core-Lokt 180 grain ammo. Just because I haven't gotten my reloading setup yet (deciding between a Dillon and a rock chucker). I knew they wouldn't be super-accurage, but I figured better than 5 inches.

Problem solved...I have NEVER had any good results with this crappy ammo.

I love Savages, but they are picky about the ammo they like. Try something DESCENT in the 180 grain range and you'll see dramatic improvement. All my savage rifles love Hornady bullets

Ammo is the cheapest thing to check, then scope MOUNT, then rings then scope then stock.

Good Luck

Red Tornado
July 25, 2006, 03:28 PM
I've got to agree with the ammo camp. It's cheapest thing to try, and can give spectacularly different results. I'd try the cheapest 30-06 you can find, and it 'should' still be better than that. It won't take any time and you'll know whether or not you should start looking at the scope. Let us know the problem when you get it down around MOA, and I'm sure you will eventually.
Good luck,

July 25, 2006, 04:26 PM
Sorry to disagree with you "ammo" guys, but in a rifle capable of 1 MOA or less, d@mn near any store bought ammo should go into 2-3MOA at 100 yards. 5MOA at 100 yards is something more than ammo.


July 25, 2006, 05:09 PM
Factory ammo (other than Wolf) isn't likely the cause of your problem.

I've shot wheelbarrels full of Remington factory ammo out of two Savage rifles with a Tasco 3x9 scope and got .75 and .5 inch groups at 100 yards.

Your rifle and Winchester/Federal/Remington ammo should easily get to 1 inch 3 shot groups if you are up to the task.

Take a dollar bill and wrap it around the barrel and see if the stock is indeed touching the barrel... all Savage rifles are supposed to be free floated from the factory but over-tightening (of the admittedly too-soft stock) can change this.

Red Tornado
July 25, 2006, 05:23 PM
Good point, and I agree that any American made ammo should do better. I've had horrible results with Wolf and cough cough Norinco, but Remington should definitely be better.

However, ammo is still the quickest and easiest to try. I'd never try a new rifle with just one type of ammo anyway.

July 25, 2006, 05:39 PM
Only one of my 4 Savages has shot poor groups on 2 occasions. It is a .223 FP that I bought used. The first bad group was due to a scope failure (Bushnell or Tasco, I can't remember). Swapped scopes and it was back to 0.75" groups.

The second time was because the barrel jam nut cracked causing the barrel to wobble in the receiver. Replaced the nut an it was back to 0.75" groups.

the naked prophet
July 25, 2006, 10:18 PM

You don't get it. It doesn't matter what the scope is called or how much you paid for it, it's the most failure-prone part of a LR rifle. Most of my scopes cost over $700, but if I had a rifle that shot 5 MOA, the first thing I would do is put another scope on the rifle and eliminate that possibility.


No, I don't get it, I don't wanna get it, and don't get any on me! :neener:

With an accurate rifle, using open sights, I can hit clay birds most of the time at 250 yards, shooting from a rest. If I need to spend more than I have ever spent on a rifle (even my $1000+ rifles I paid less for - I have paid more for pistols) in order to shoot that rifle... that's just ridiculous. I don't have a place yet to shoot over 250 yards, and I don't need a scope to do that. I don't have a rifle that could make use of a $700 scope. And I think it's silly to recommend that the first thing I do is the single most expensive thing I could try short of buying another rifle (assuming I don't buy a $700 scope). If nothing else works, I'll try another scope before sending the rifle back to Savage.

Dr Rob, I did that dollar bill trick in the store :)

I will try the other suggestions, including the ammo and shooting rest changes, and see if that helps.

July 26, 2006, 08:15 AM

I've always found this order of variables most helpful in sorting out rifle problems:

1) Operator error. 95-97% of the "problems" I have ever seen or heard originate behind the buttplate. So far, sounds like this is not your issue, so on the the next steps. Your described bench-technique is not perfect, but it should be better than 4-5" at 100.

2) Ammo. Cheapest place to start. Some rifles just plain don't like some ammo/bullet/powder combinations. Case in point: My AR-15 match rifle won't shoot better than about 4 MOA with your standard 55gr FMJ .223 ammo. The ammo might be capable of better, but the rifle sure as snot is! Or my muzzleloader, though a slightly different beast, doesn't like anything without a sabot.
Easiest thing I can think of is to switch to a 150-168gr round for your '06 and try that. I've had very good luck getting .30-caliber rifles to shoot well just by switching to this bullet weight range. Cheap enough to try; only costs a box of ammo.

3) Scope mounts. I'll get flamed, but I feel that as long as the mount holds the scope securely and does not torque the body in any strange way, it will be doing its job fine.

4) Scope. I've seen scopes fail on rifles that should not have killed them. Many manufacturers will look at suspect scopes if you describe the problem to them.

The last items are stock and barrel (on most rifles). Some factory synthetic stocks, especially the Remington and Savage ones I've held, will flex and warp badly with even the slightest pressure applied to them. Lastly, some barrels simply will not shoot straight. I've seen this before too, actually with top-name match barrels on prone rifles. It happens.

Good luck and be methodical. It can be worked out.

Red Tornado
July 26, 2006, 09:54 AM
I checked the Savage sight, and the test ammo for your rifle used 168gr. Sierra Match Kings. I tested my .223 with their test ammo, and it was amazing. I think if you use a cartridge with that bullet, you'll either shoot MOA or definitely eliminate the ammo consideration.

Here's the link to the pdf on their site.


July 26, 2006, 10:45 AM
The recoil from the gun while on the bench well throw off your shots.
Not true, recoil only occurs once the bullet has exited the barrel. you could yank the gun clear into the straight up position once you felt the recoil and not affect the shot placement.
However, getting the stock off of the bench is good advice. If you get used to shooting off the bench, your shooting may never improve.

the naked prophet
July 26, 2006, 11:12 AM
When I start loading (as early as this afternoon, depending on if the store has any powder and bullets in with my Rock Chucker :D ) I'll definitely try the 168 grain Sierra Match King.

BulletFan, the recoil starts the instant the bullet starts moving. Holding the stock in a tighter or looser grip could affect the travel of the bullet. If you're using a very very heavy bullet, the gun could recoil more by the time the bullet exits the barrel, leading to a higher impact point than with a lighter bullet. The way you hold the stock affects how much rise happens before the bullet leaves the barrel - I tried to be consistent.

wanderinwalker, that's the order in which I'm trying to eliminate problems.

July 26, 2006, 11:18 AM

Hear that?? It's the sound of all that incoming your about to get:evil:

And now for something completely different.

Prophet,There is a lot of information on this site:

Don't know if the specific answer you seek is there. But you will probably find it useful.

Good luck with your problem and please keep us informed as to your progress.


July 26, 2006, 11:47 AM
Every Savage I own shoots very well, even with the cheap scopes I have on them and the various loads I've made for them. Based on the information above, I agree the problem is probably with the scope or the stock. You could try shooting groups with the scope set at a lower magnification. See what your groups look like. If they tighen up to what you would expect, I'd bet you have a problem with scope parralax or eye relief. The best way to eliminate the scope is to try a known one.

If a known scope checks out, I'd bet the problem is with the stock. Just because the barrel is free floated, doesn't mean the action is bedded correctly. You could try loosening and tightening the screws in different orders (front first, then rear; rear first, then front, etc.). If one of these works, I'd look into action bedding. It's a do it yourself proposition.


July 26, 2006, 12:03 PM
-Check the scope ring and base screws.
-Check the stock screws.
-Check the crown for any little nicks, dings or scratches.
-Do you have a solid and consitent cheek weld? Close you eyes, shoulder the rifle. Open your eyes. Do you have a good sight picture or do you need to adjust? Figure what adjustments you need to make to get a good cheek weld. Poor cheek weld can shotgun pattern a group.
-Before you shoot next time run two or three dry patches through the bore to clean out any oil.
-Shoot from a solid bench and sit on a solid chair or stool. Wobbly bench and/or chair can shotgun pattern a group.
Sandbags under the forearm and buttstock help, it's much easier to make adjustments to get the rifle on target with sandbags than trying to muscle it over with your hands.
-Sometimes we have bad days at the range and there's no good explanation for why, just take a break and try again later, and magically everything improves.

July 26, 2006, 04:00 PM

This is a guy who using open sights, I can hit clay birds most of the time at 250 yards, shooting from a rest., so I think we can eliminate shooter error at the bench as the problem.


the naked prophet
July 26, 2006, 04:47 PM
This is a guy who
using open sights, I can hit clay birds most of the time at 250 yards, shooting from a rest.

, so I think we can eliminate shooter error at the bench as the problem.

Not necessarily. This is my first scoped rifle, and sometimes I have trouble getting in the right position to use the scope. I try to get a consistent cheek weld, and thought I was doing okay.

Hitting the clay birds was with my wife's Bushmaster, loading one round and ejecting the magazine, and then resting the rifle on a bag. I have fired thousands of rounds through rifles with open sights - less than 20 through scoped centerfire rifles (maybe 50 rounds through scoped .22 rifles borrowed at the range).

I'm perfectly willing to accept advice for my shooting techniques that may differ from iron sights to scoped shooting from a rest.
July 26, 2006, 09:34 PM
Sorry to hear you are having trouble with your rifle. I am one of the countless Savage owners that usually sings the praise of their precision. I'm less likely to suggest that the stock is so much of a problem unless you've monkeyed with it. One point that hasn't been brought up so far is that you might be experiencing a transistionary flinch associated with the Savage having a single stage trigger vs the two stage type common to AR style rifles. I have a friend who shoots considerable better with a slightly heavier trigger pull than my 10fp which is adjusted down to 1.5lbs. I think the model you have adjusts down to a minimum 2.5lbs which is roughly half what many other rifles at the store come with. Another thought that occurs to me is that the ergonomics of the AR are completely different from that of the savage. After trying other types of ammo I'd suggest that you have a friend load the magazine for you with one of the rounds being a snap cap. This will likely lead to diagnosing if you are applying any torque to the rifle or if you've a flinch as I suggested earlier. Final thought. I once read an article written by some kind of master rifle shot who opined that the shooters body must be alligned properly behind the rifle as there is a "natural point of aim" that will work against you until your body AND your sights are working together. I have found this to be significant in seated position primarily, however it stands to reason that similar issues might be in play at the bench.

July 27, 2006, 01:16 PM
I also need to defend the general accuracy of the savage.

I mean there can be a lemon in any group or make of rifle but my 10FP in .308 is a .5 -.75 minute rifle if I'm having a good day.

I will say that it improved drastically after about 200 rounds, well something improved(it may have been me). I can also vouch for the 168 gr matchkings. This thing loves'em, right around 2500 ft/s in a 26 inch barrel.

Not sure if that translates to the 06 cartridge but same caliber same speed?

If this continues without improvement I would tear that thing down! Take it right out of the stock, pulll the scope/base/rings and start over. Loctite everything on re-assembly and head for the range. Check that barrel nut as well, never heard of a loose one but something is definety wrong here.

July 27, 2006, 09:51 PM
Simple accuracy solution: Buy some match ammo loaded with 168gr Sierras, Noslers or Hornadys. Solves that problem easily!

As for recoil vs. bullet impact: Recoil does indeed start at the moment of ignition. We're talking fractions of split seconds here, I'm sure, but it DOES occur. Why would my revolver print to 3 different points of aim with 3 different loads where the only difference is bullet speed? Recoil and dwell time! Slower load = longer dwell time in the barrel = higher exit as the muzzle rises = higher impact.

July 27, 2006, 11:25 PM
mine shot the same way until I had about 60 - 80 rounds through it.
The Savage barrels are a little rough out of the box. Give it time, make sure your scope is secure and be patient. this group is after about 80 rounds, while I shoot about .7 moa now. My 12FV was the same way, took time to get to .3 moa.

July 28, 2006, 03:20 PM
The most likely solution(s) to your problem has already been stated above; you just have to sort it out.

First off, recoil, as has been stated, does affect the impact of the bullet. The rifle begins to recoil the instant the charge is ignited and the muzzle will rise differently, dependant upon how firmly the rifle is held. That is one reason that no one can correctly sight in your rifle for you, as no two people hold a rifle exactly the same. Shooting the national match course of fire calls for shooting offhand (no sling), sitting and prone (w/sling). When firing the 100 yard reduced coarse, using a relatively heavy target rifle (30-06) and same ammo, my sight settings had to be adjusted to compensate for the free recoil (offhand,no sling) to the sitting/prone (restricted recoil w/sling).

Recoil affects even heavy .22 rimfire rifles. I shot prone rimfire matches for years with a 16# rifle w/20X scope and you can see the rifle recoil in the scope with standard velocity rounds every shot.

Proper bench shooting technique (as is the case with any type of accurate shooting) is extremely important in shooting good groups. Some shooters hold the rifle firmly, others let it lay loosely on the bags. Either technique works, but uniformity is the key word, paying particular attention to the following points: (1) Place the front bag under forearm (not barrel) and clear of the sling swivel studs so forearm can recoil freely. Some prefer to rest their hand between the bag and forend; if this works for you that is fine. Shooting the sharp kicking rifles such as 375 h&h and up, this technique helps in holding the rifle down, which I find to reduce group size. Lighter rifles such as the '06, I personally like to let rest on the bags and free recoil. (2) Place a bag under rear of stock, also clear of sling swivel stud, adjust elevation by moving this bag front or rear. The butt resting on the bench is a real no-no. (3) Cheek pressure on the stock must be uniform and placement of your eye must be exactly the same from shot to shot, paying close attention to eye relief and centering the ocular lens. (I wear progressive bifocals and find that one of the biggest problems I encounter in shooting good groups is that the recoil tends to cause my glasses to slip a bit which opens the group lookin through a slightly different prescription. This is especially true on the heavy kickers). (4) Natural aim point. Do not hold the rifle on the target, let it "rest" on the target. As has been previously mentioned, align your sights, then close your eyes a moment; when you open your eyes the rifle should still be perfectly aligned. If not, you are holding the rifle on the target; reposition the bags and repeat until the rifle lays on target. (5) Butt position on shoulder and how firmly butt is against shoulder must be exactly same from shot to shot.

In other words, uniformity of position, etc. is of prime importance.

Good ammo is also extremely important and some rifles are much more finicky than others in this regard. Try a couple of other brands of ammo before trying more exotic/expensive fixes.

While the Savage plastic stocks are not very attractive, unless pressing unevenly on the barrel, are not too likely to be the problem IMHO. I have a 338 WM and an FP 10 in .223; both will shoot sub moa in their tupperware furniture.

If all above fails, then you can delve further into scope, mounts and bedding.

Good luck, let us know what you find.


Red Tornado
July 31, 2006, 09:48 AM
Upate? You've had all weekend and we're dying to know if you solved the problem.

the naked prophet
July 31, 2006, 01:38 PM
This weekend was occupied fixing up storm-ravaged houses in St. Louis. Or, at least one house. Okay, maybe just the mother-in-law's yard. But hey, there was a great barbecue, I got to hang out with my in-laws (who are actually pretty cool) and go to some cool shops near St. Louis, like a Scotch-Irish store and such (I'm a Scottish Cherokee Redneck who married an Irish Cherokee City Girl - a match made in heaven!). I'll probably shoot some time this week with an update.

July 31, 2006, 06:44 PM
I'm also interested in your reply. Last week, our range officer shot sub-MOA with his new 110. He did have a $900 scope and was shooting his own handloads of .308 (39 grains powder). He kept 10 shots within the x-ring at 100 yards. Made me wanna go out and buy one.

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