tuning my new .308


August 16, 2010, 07:50 PM
I recently posted this thread (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=531575) about having issues getting my new rifle on track. You kind folks suggested several things and I finally tried some new bullets. Thanks again for your advice.

I shot 7 more groups (of three) yesterday at 100 yards off a nice sturdy rest. I'm still not very pleased. I thought maybe some of you pros could look at my targets and tell me your thoughts. I know it is a hunting rifle, and I feel it is deer-ready. But I really want it to shoot sub- inch groups. I think it ought to.









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August 16, 2010, 09:56 PM
pics don't work for me...

what kind of ammo? what is the rifle doing? what has been done? what are your expectations?

August 16, 2010, 10:50 PM
I have very limited experience with .308s, but I've been spending some time working up loads my self. Rifles are like people. All are different and each will have it's preferences. Based on what I've seen and heard from other shooters, few rifles don't like Sierra bullets over Varget or Reloader 15.

August 17, 2010, 01:18 AM
What bullets did you try? For what it is worth, my 308 shot factory 150grn fmj into 3"-4" groups at 100. Reloads with 150 grn Nosler BT bested around 2". Factory 168 match loads from Hornady, Georgia Arms, and Black hills never did worse than 1.5". Reloads with the 165 Sierras usually stay around 1". It might sound odd, but I have heard of many stories of people getting great accuracy when they use Remington Core-lokt bullets as part of their loads.

There are so many bullet choices for .308, that it will make your head spin. There will be some that shoot better than others. You just have to find the right one for your gun and the game you intend on shooting. It is up to you when decide if it is "good enough". At a point though, you have to realize that a 114 classic is a hunting gun. I've had to stop myself several times from fiddling with my loads. Once again, Good luck!

August 17, 2010, 07:57 AM
how were these specific loads determined to be the ones you wanted to test?

when you are shooting, is your form consistent? if you are really bearing down on the gun to force it onto the target you're likely going to scatter your groups.

August 17, 2010, 09:11 AM
R*P brass stinks. combined with a hunting rifle and a hunting bullet, i think the groups you've got aren't bad.

they seemed to have tightened up a good bit when you switched to higher quality brass and match bullets.

August 17, 2010, 12:22 PM
What I find interesting is that in almost each photo 2 shots are closer together and there is one further away.

I understand there are many nuances that go into it all, but have you tried moving in to 50 yards and seeing the results?

I could be off on the scale, but for that kind of rifle I would think it would be closer than what it is. The Varget groups look really good for a first time out.

After reading your previous threads I'm inclined to think it may be mechanical error or shooter error.

I dunno. How does a group of factory loads look from 100 yards?

You're plenty accurate enough for deer, but what you can do is select a load you want to always use, and then sight your rifle in to that loading. i.e., adjust the scope for that load. Get it to group consistently, then "walk" the group to the bullseye.

August 17, 2010, 12:46 PM
I'm not a big rifle guy but, I'd stick to premium components, work your load up in .5 grain increments, try different powders, trim and process all your brass exactly the same, weigh components and do a little more experimenting with your OAL. Then post pics of tiny little groups...

August 17, 2010, 01:48 PM
I didn't read the previous thread but here's what will fix it:
1. Clean the rifle barrel carefully and thoroughly
2. Take the barreled action out of the stock and reassemble making sure that there are no bedding issues, making sure the mag box doesn't bind up on the wood before the action is tight in the stock. Make sure the barrel is centered in the barrel channel as you tighten the screws and make sure the action is all the way to the rear of its inletting. Bring the action screws down equally finally torqueing the front one first then the rear.
3. Shoot the rifle. If it is still doing that, you need to either free float the barrel or if it is already free floated, add a pressure point. Since its a Savage I am assuming the trigger is already light (accutrigger.) If you are a handloader select a good quality bullet and seat your rounds out to be .007" into the lands and start with the lowest listed powder charge. Never hurts to try a different scope and make sure the mounts are torqued even and right. If all of that fails to get the rifle to shoot, trade it off because there are way too many good 308's out there and life is short.
Edit: I am not seeing anything in those groups that looks like the rifle won't shoot well with a different load. Try some various handloads ranging from .050" off the lands to .005" or -007 into the lands to find the rifle's preference. Try some faster powders staying within the realm of reason.

August 17, 2010, 02:29 PM
If you truly are not happy, you could always try contacting Savage, I have heard they are very good about helping people with accuracy issues.

X hunter
August 17, 2010, 03:31 PM
Did you check the screws on your scope mounts? Kinda obvious but worth checking.

August 17, 2010, 09:42 PM
What is the rate of twist of your barrel?
Your OAL looks way short..

August 17, 2010, 11:21 PM
Your Varget loads seem light to me. I load my 168 match projectiles with 47 grains of Varget, and the 155 grain projectiles with 48 grains of Varget. JMHO. I have always achieved best accuracy with high-end velocity. FWIW, I am grouping 0.75" at 300 yards with that 168 match grade load.


August 17, 2010, 11:38 PM
Your Varget loads seem light to me. I load my 168 match projectiles with 47 grains of Varget, and the 155 grain projectiles with 48 grains of Varget. JMHO. I have always achieved best accuracy with high-end velocity. FWIW, I am grouping 0.75" at 300 yards with that 168 match grade load.

I have been working up a load for Hornady 168gr SST pills and I found 42 grain seemed to be best. Isn't 47gr pretty far over the max load for a 168gr with Varget? (I am not an expert, just asking)

August 17, 2010, 11:43 PM
My reloading manual lists 46 as a compressed load. They usually are conservative today compared to 20 to 30 years back. I am not getting any signs of pressure in my Winchester M70 Stealth, and only very minimal pressure signs in the M700 Police.


August 18, 2010, 02:16 AM
that looks to be a newer model savage. i had a ruger that wouldent shoot under 3 inches if its life depened on it! the fix for mine was free floating the barrel, bedding the action helped after the fact, but with just fee floating and proper torqure of the action screws, it shooting way sub moa. best group so far was a 3 shot string at 100y at .544. im not shure but ive ben reading alot about barrel harmonics while the shot is being fired and some factory rifles need a pressure point some dont in my case the ol m77 needed floated. its easy to do just time consuming to make it look nice and even.

hope this helps some

August 18, 2010, 05:59 AM
I would try some 165 gr Sierra Matchkings BTHPs. I would keep the OAL at 2.800 and see if that makes a difference. Also work on 5 shot groups once you are able to tighten things up. If your twist rate is faster try a lighter bullet.
Hope that helps.

August 18, 2010, 09:13 PM
Listed on the Savage website is 1:10" twist with 22" bbl.

August 19, 2010, 07:53 AM

I see a couple of things.

First, with a 1-10 twist rate, you're good to go with any weight projectile from 150 to 180 with no issues whatsoever.

Second, as you stated, it is a factory barrel, and a hunting weight. It's not a target rifle.

Third, if you really want to try reducing group size, get rid of the square target aiming point, and replace it with a 0.25" dot. That will give you a better repeat of the POA.

Fourth, handloads do usually perform better than factory loads. Select one established powder, say Varget, and stick with it through some reloads. Select one projectile, say a Sierra 165, and stick with it. Find a good starting charge of say 45 grains, and test handloads increasing the charge by 1/10th grain per three shot group. That is what I do. Use the same manufacturer of brass each, say Winchester.

Fifth, before you start your handloads, I would do some serious cleaning on that barrel. Check out Krieger's website about barrel break-in and cleaning.

Sixth, check the barreled action in terms of the action's screws: are they properly torqued? Are the scope base and rings properly torqued? Is your shooting rest solid, and consistent?

In the end, you have a hunting weight barrel. You may or may not get down to the 1 MOA, but is it needed in a hunting weight rifle? If a rifle groups 1.5" at 100 yards, it will hold that same 1.5" to about 300 yards. In my experience, the group size does not open to 4.5" at 300 yards.


August 19, 2010, 12:19 PM
Couple things that come to mind:

-In this quest to find the bullet, i recently purchased some 125 grain Sierra bullets. They had a nice BC and got great reviews on Midway. Are you saying the twist rate is not good for the 125 grain bullets?

-I have a tool on the way that will allow me to measure the torque on the stock screws. About a year ago, I read an article something like "Tuning the Stock" where the author talked about tightening the stock screws in five inch-pound increments. But I can't find the article again nor do I know the starting torque and limit torque.

August 19, 2010, 12:24 PM
Why only 3 shot groups?

How's it do with 5-10 shot groups?

August 19, 2010, 01:02 PM
1. With light weight hunting barrels sub MOA is quite sensitive and of course not entirely impossible.

2. Try moving to 50 yds and then 100 and 150.

3. Trying 5 bullet groups will also help you better understand your rifle.

4. I hope with your ambition of sub MOA you must have checked that the action is properly bedded and the barrel floats free.

5.Try giving ample break between shots each time you fire.

Happy Shooting:p

August 19, 2010, 01:57 PM
Was there any wind? A lot of shots to the right.

August 19, 2010, 02:51 PM
Just looking at the groups, I find it a little odd that if you threw the fliers out of most of them, you had some pretty nice two shot groups. I really don't believe in coincidence and I'm thinking that it has to be something other than the ammo.

How much time are you taking between shots? It seems that you are either throwing the first shot due to excitement or you are throwing the last shot due to fatigue.

I understand that your rifle is "just" a hunting rifle and doesn't have a heavy target barrel, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't shoot MOA groups. Accuracy has nothing to do with how heavy a barrel is. Well, maybe a bit, but there's no reason why a lighter barrel can't be very accurate.

I believe you should try shooting groups larger than 3 three rounds and see if any patterns emerge. I mean it might narrow things down a bit if you're shooting groups with 3 or 4 rounds being MOA and then having a flier or two. I generally try to shoot 10 round groups. It gives me a good idea of how consistent my rifle/ammo combo will be in use.

Lloyd Smale
August 20, 2010, 08:23 AM
My go to load in the 308 is 51 grains of 414 a ww primer and a 150 sierra flat based spitzer. Ive yet to find a 308 that wouldnt shoot that load well. Bottom line is if it wont shoot that it probably wont shoot. 51 grains will fill the case right to the top so it is a compressed load.

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