Squeezing every ounce of acc. from my 91/30


March 10, 2013, 12:10 AM
(Sorry for the long post. If you stick with it, thank you)

Some of you might know me from my constant MN posts on what is otherwise mostly a modern rifle forum...:D

Basically, it was doing fine before, with modern ammo (Tulammo, Sellier & Bellot), but was shooting horribly with the surplus that I ordered (over 800 rounds!).

I've read all the tips for accurizing mosins that my google-fu could bring to my fingertips, now I just need some advice from experienced "bubba-gunsmiths".

Before anything else...please don't ask "WHY". The "why" is because I covet this gun dearly, and want it to shoot as well as it can. My only other source of Mosins right now is an LGS that I've personally boycotted for their -horrible- customer service.


Anyway, I discovered an issue with the bore that I didn't notice before, and I'm hoping it wasn't caused by me. A borelight shone through the receiver while looking down the barrel showed highly reflective surfaces, a really bright bore. However, shining it -downwards- through the muzzle and viewing with the light, showed heavy rust in the grooves that was undetectable before.

Well, I just finished up applying a treatment of naval jelly, only letting it sit for the recommended 5-10 minutes before washing it out with hot water, and I just got done spending a good 45 minutes with Shooter's Choice, patches, and a brush, and it seems I've gotten about 85-90% of the visible rust out of the bore. All's well there, though I'm worried that I didn't spot that before.

Now...I'm all set up to bed it, except the modeling clay, which I forgot to get while I was at Wally-World earlier.

So, since it will be a couple days before I have time again, I might as well ask:

Because of the Mosin's stock, and the barrel bands...how should I go about this?

Bedding alone seems simple enough...but I also have to take into account any pressure on the barrel further down. I've heard of wrapping a layer of oiled felt around the barrel, and of corking.

Well, the only felt I know of is the craft stuff, which is pretty darn thick, and my stock is spliced at the last 7-8". I'm a little worried about the added presssure either:

A: putting undue stress on the splice, harming it...

or B: nullifying the effect completely, and putting a sideways pressure on the barrel / stock.

If the whole point is to keep two solids from touching each other, could I use oiled cheesecloth instead, which is much thinner?

If I do, should I only put it near the front of the barrel, or in two places corresponding to the barrel bands, where (I assume) the most pressure would be placed on the barrel.

Also...can I cork the barrel -in addition- to the "wrap" or "bedding" or would that negatively affect it? If I were to cork it, would I have to have the cork in place as I bedded the receiver?

Sorry again for the looooong post.:o

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March 10, 2013, 08:17 AM
Yours is a pioneering task, near as I can tell. I say pioneering because while these rifles are quite old, 1891, I haven't seen a whole lot out there on accurizing them.

There was an older gent who used to post here years ago who had some luck with glass bedding the tang of the receiver and corking the barrel. He used to get some really good accuracy, shooting through a current scope. I don't remember whether he mounted it on the rear sight base or what he did. -- I haven't seen him on here in awhile, and I wish him well.

I think initially a little thought into what you are about to do, and perhaps purchase 3 of those stocks from AIM surplus, I know I did.

I would start with shimming the action in the stock. Once you have figured out your shim height, such that the barrel isn't canted or cocked in the barrel channel of the fore end, then comes sanding out that barrel channel and sealing it to (perhaps) resist warpage. Same with the little wooden piece that lies atop the barrel. It seems to me that the best fitment one might get here would be that the upper handguard rests on the wood of the fore end without contacting the steel barrel which lies beneath. In this way you can limit the contact points and get a "fully floated" starting point. This may not be possible, I don't know. --Perhaps you could let us know what worked for you.

I have thought of ways to accomplish this, but I haven't arrived at a method just yet. Sandpaper and patience, I guess, although if I had a worn out barrel from a contemporary to use as a mandrel of sorts, that might help.

Once you have the action shimmed, the barrel "floated" in the fore end, and a way to keep the upper handguard from touching the barrel while being held in place with the stock barrel bands, would come the glass bedding.

In a contemporary firearm such as a Remington 700 or the like, the entire receiver is glass bedded to the stock. This is because of manufacturing features which make this possible. With the M/N action, there are several little bits and pieces that need to be able to move freely in the stock, one which comes to mind is the ejector/interrupter. Too, you don't want the magazine to contact the stock anywhere.

Seems to me to bed the recoil lug and the tang, and perhaps an inch or so of the front of the receiver is all you will be able to do without making it worse, due to the way that this action is/was manufactured.

Once the barrel channel has been opened, and the action bedded as best one can, then comes the "corking" of the barrel. I purchased a sheet of cork several years ago, but haven't actually messed with this. I have read of two basic methods of accomplishing this. The one takes a single piece of cork sheet and wraps it around the barrel, and trims the ends to fit. It is approximately 3" long in the axis parallel to the bore. The other method employs 3, 3" long by approximately 3/4" wide "pads," and places two in the barrel channel, and one in the handguard at approximately the front barrel band.

In theory at least, it seems that if one has accomplished these things in this order, one may notice an improvement in accuracy.

March 10, 2013, 08:25 AM
I've been contemplating the same thing with my 91/30. I've got a Finnish M39 I've bedded the reciever (they are free float barrels) and started handloading rounds. I've had great success with that rifle so far. I can hold 3" groups at 200 yards with the stock iron sights (not on a bench rest).

March 10, 2013, 08:36 AM
You might try to pull the bullets from some of the surplus, sat maybe 10-20 rounds, and weigh and average the powder charges. Take the average and recharge the cases using that weight. Sometimes the pwder charges of that surplus is not too uniform.

I say this because if you are getting pretty good results with the newer ammo, it just might be the old surplus.

March 10, 2013, 09:38 AM
now that you got the barrel clean its time to slug it. having problems with ammo might be the size of the bullet. all my MNs shoot .311 bullets. bores can slug out between .311 to .314 or bigger. most of the ammo you buy are .310 bullets. getting the MN to shoot good from what ive seen is feeding it what it likes. i have 6 of them and not one bore is the same out of all of them. take care of them were not getting any more the way it looks.

March 10, 2013, 09:55 AM
I would start with shimming the action in the stock. Once you have figured out your shim height, such that the barrel isn't canted or cocked in the barrel channel of the fore end, then comes sanding out that barrel channel and sealing it to (perhaps) resist warpage. Same with the little wooden piece that lies atop the barrel. It seems to me that the best fitment one might get here would be that the upper handguard rests on the wood of the fore end without contacting the steel barrel which lies beneath. In this way you can limit the contact points and get a "fully floated" starting point. This may not be possible, I don't know. --Perhaps you could let us know what worked for you.

This is definitely a reasonable starting point. I almost wish I could just leave the upper handguard off completely, though it would ruin the look of the rifle. Guess I'll get some rough sandpaper and squeeze out some elbow grease though.

I haven't seen either of the two corking methods you mentioned. All I've seen people talk about doing is placing a small pad underneath the barrel at the very front of the stock. Wrapping them, as you suggested, seems to achieve about the same thing as a wrap of felt.

I think initially a little thought into what you are about to do, and perhaps purchase 3 of those stocks from AIM surplus, I know I did.

Lol, this is probably the best advice, can't believe I didn't think about it. It would probably be a good thing to practice once or twice, and I might even find a stock that's more solid than mine (with the splices).

(Edit) Wow, just checked Aim and they're SOLD OUT of Mosin Nagant stocks. Unfreakin' believable.

I appreciate the thoughts. I'll give it a think and try and do some more research while I'm at work for the next couple days.

March 10, 2013, 09:58 AM
now that you got the barrel clean its time to slug it. having problems with ammo might be the size of the bullet. all my MNs shoot .311 bullets. bores can slug out between .311 to .314 or bigger. most of the ammo you buy are .310 bullets. getting the MN to shoot good from what ive seen is feeding it what it likes. i have 6 of them and not one bore is the same out of all of them. take care of them were not getting any more the way it looks.
I'm going to slug it, if for no other reason than to know, but I don't think it's going to help me much right now. I don't have a reload setup, all my ammo is steel-cased, and I have a suspicion that reloading for these guns pretty quickly nullifies the "cheap" aspect of shooting them.

I'd be more tempted to buy another couple rifles and hoping one has a tighter bore. Even if it means giving money over to a jerk that shouldn't even be in business, way he treats his customers.:fire:

March 10, 2013, 11:42 AM
I just bought a Finn 91/30. No need to modify it to shoot better. It will shoot one inch groups if I do my part. My Finn M39 is even better....chris3

March 10, 2013, 02:43 PM
There is free floating and pressure bedded barrels/actions; two different schools of thought, and both work well. Bedding needs not take a form of some knid of complete encaspulation. Keep it simple and solid at the recoild lug and attaching point/points where the action attaches to the stock. I would also bed the barrel at the point where the barrel band attaches to it (pressure bedded). I would stop there and shoot the rifle and see if there was any improvement in accuracy.

Personally, I think you are over thinking and old rifle design. I don't believe that you would find any reason to free float that barrel. As a matter of fact, I could see where free floating that barrel would make things worse. If it has a barrel band, it can not possibly be a free floating barrel; the nature of a barrel band is a pressure point.

As a round is shot from a barrel, the barrel acts like a tunning fork and resonates. If the barrel warms up and touches the stock in a different place then when cool, it changes the point of impact of the bullet; it does so because it changes the resonance. The fix is to pressure bed the barrel out at the end of the stock, so the resonance stays consistent from a cold barrel to a hot one.

Heavy or bull barrels are ones you would consider free floating, and not standard or sporting type barrels. Standard or sporting type barrels are best pressure bedded. They are barrels that have the most warp from cold to hot, and resonate more then heavy barrels.


March 10, 2013, 03:02 PM
Thank you chuck, that answered a couple questions. Good information for the future too.

March 10, 2013, 03:29 PM
Accurizing the Mosin Nagant (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=660063&highlight=accuracy+mosin)

LJ-Mosinfreak compiled a pretty good list of the various accurizing measures that have been found to be helpful in the Mosins a while back (probably a good reference for other rifles, too)


March 10, 2013, 03:39 PM
unfortunatly, accuracy comes at a cost. many people can find ammo that will shoot well in their rifles. but to squeeze out all the accuracy, reloading is the best way to go. though reloading used to be a money saver, it is quickly becoming more and more expensive. im hesitatnt to shoot my AR cause I cant find any reloading components, and I dont want to shoot up my small stockpile. :uhoh: holefully things turn around here shortly, but I aint holding my breath...

March 10, 2013, 03:51 PM
I agree with brian. Reloading with the appropriate bullet size is probably going to be the single thing that will make the most difference in accuracy.

It's funny you mention the rust/frosting in the grooves. I have read many posts of guys who say their Mosin bore is "perfect" or "unfired". I, for one, have never seen a "perfect" Mosin bore. Sometimes, on initial inspection, it will look really nice. But a true, CLOSE look will most often reveal frosting.

March 10, 2013, 06:47 PM
I've never read any reports where the surplus ammo was anything better than "poor" for grouping. It simply isn't made to the sort of standards of accuracy to be used for this.

Your own results in going from shooting the modern ammo that gave decent size groups to the poor groups of the surplus ammo is the telling point. You can make the rifle as accurate as you can but it still won't shoot the surplus ammo as well as it does the modern copper jacketed rounds. You simply can't expect it to shoot well if you feed it the surplus garbage.

March 10, 2013, 10:01 PM
I've never read any reports where the surplus ammo was anything better than "poor" for grouping. It simply isn't made to the sort of standards of accuracy to be used for this.

Your own results in going from shooting the modern ammo that gave decent size groups to the poor groups of the surplus ammo is the telling point. You can make the rifle as accurate as you can but it still won't shoot the surplus ammo as well as it does the modern copper jacketed rounds. You simply can't expect it to shoot well if you feed it the surplus garbage.
So, question: will an accurate rifle shoot surplus ammo more accurately than an inaccurate rifle shooting good ammo?

To my way of seeing things, if the rifle isn't properly sorted out, accuracy of any combination of ammo and rifle will be disappointing. Once sorted out, and you know it is capable of great accuracy, then comes ammo choices. Handloading is certainly one way to get great accuracy from a rifle. Some factory ammo is incredible.

I remember one day watching the son of a friend shooting his AK at 400 yards. 8" groups with iron sights. That is pretty respectable, in my book. Kid had great eyes, and his dad is a great instructor. Nonetheless, it was a Romy G build, and it shot very well indeed. I chrono'd some of that ammo, and while I no longer remember the velocities, of 5 rounds over my CED Chronograph, 3 were the exact same velocity. The ammo was "Hot Shot" brand. If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't believe it. In all my years of handloading, I have never seen any of my ammo approach that degree of consistency. --Guess I'm doing something wrong.

So I stand with the initial approach. Accurize your rifle, then accurize your ammo. In this way you will have a rifle that performs as good as can be had.

Good luck!

March 10, 2013, 10:32 PM
Paper Zombie, no disrespect, but I can't fathom the reasoning behind thinking that accurizing the rifle will help with the surplus ammo after saying the new manufactured stuff seemed to shoot fine. Sure some degree of tweaking the gun will help with accuracy but it seems you are relying on the gun, which is only part of the solution to your problem. If your intent is to get all the accuracy out of the rifle you will need to hand load your ammo as well. Pulling the bullets from the surplus, weighing and sorting them and measuring each powder charge for consitancy will be the only way you can get all the accuracy you can, even after tweaking the gun.

Good luck.

March 10, 2013, 11:42 PM
Exactly. You've SEEN what the rifle can do with good factory ammo already. And even if you accurize it you're still going to see the difference between the good stuff and the stuff that comes out of the SPAM cans.

For example, if you were getting 3 inch groups at 100 yards with that Tulla and S&B ammo and you're getting 8 inch groups with the surplus stuff then even if you accurize the rifle down to a 1 inch "one ragged hole" ability for it when shooting that good factory stuff you're still only going to see about a 5 to 6 inch group with the surplus stuff. NOTHING you do is going to close it down any more than that because the ammo itself is variable enough that 5 to 6 inches is as good as it can do.

And how do you measure your accurizing efforts if the ammo is only able to shoot about 5 to 6 inches? WHen you're down to where your changes will be the difference between a 2 inch and 1 inch group the gain will be lost, or at least very difficult to ascertain, simply due to the surplus ammo.

March 11, 2013, 12:45 AM
+1 on the last two comments. That surplus stuff is gonna be real inconsistent, depending on where, when, and how it was loaded. How well can a factory machine measure out a powder charge??? Especially some commie Russian machine from the 70's?? Well I can tell you, my old Redding beam scale can measure out to 1/10th of a grain of powder. Better than ANY factory load. And the modern commercial stuff is real good, but in the end, not THAT good.
Reloading is a lot of work. Working up a load for a rifle takes a lot of time and patience. But, if you want REAL accuracy, this is the way to go. I'll bet, if you slug out that bore and say, it slugs to .3105, loading with .311 bullets will improve things, just by themselves.

March 11, 2013, 05:01 AM
I guess I'm just trying to get the gun going as good as it can, because in the end...I still have 800 rounds of surplus, that either is going to be shot up, or sit around doing nothing.

Now, as for you suggesting I pull the bullets out of it, measure the powder, etc. I was under the assumption that you could not do much with steel cases.

If I could turn 800 rounds of crap into 600 rounds of polished crap, enlighten me. :P

March 11, 2013, 12:22 PM
It might be an investment to get the press, dies, scales, ect but if you have that much surplus and want the accuracy thats the best route to take. Plus you will be half way to being able to load the boxer brass you should haveneen savong from that newammo you have been shhoti.g.

March 11, 2013, 02:10 PM
If I could turn 800 rounds of crap into 600 rounds of polished crap, enlighten me. :P

Ah, now THAT is a whole other interesting topic.

You'll need some form of bullet puller. The hammer style inertia pullers are the cheaper way to go so I'd start there. When the bullet pops out the powder falls into the end of the puller so work in a clean area and have a container with a strainer or collander over top of it so you can dump the bullets and powder in and the powder falls through to the container and the bullets stay in the screened strainer.

From there I'd get a cheap digital scale that measures in grains and weigh the bullets to find out how mixed up they are. Assuming they are up around 180gns I'd want to sort them so all the rounds are within 4 to 5 grains of each other in any given batch. That represents 2 to 3% variation. For a little more control and a higher OCD coefficient :D sort them down to a lower variation.

Once you've unloaded 20 to 50 rounds (count how many) weigh the total powder collected and divide by the amount of cartridges you've pulled to get a figure for the powder charge per cartridge. Along the way it would be interesting to measure the individual charge weights for something like 20 to 30 cartridges to see what sort of variation you get. We know that the surplus stuff is quite variable but is it a case of the bullet weights are widely different, the charge weights or both.

You'll also use the same scale to measure the powder charges during the reloading. A home made scoop or the Lee scoop set or some other powder measuring device is a good start. Start a little light and using some sort of way to trickle the powder bring the charge up to what you're after.

Now it's time to reload them. For myself I'd want to check the casings for consistency by lubing the outside and pushing then into the sizing die that has the de-capping pin removed. If there's a lot of variation this will quickly point it out. You'll want to use a case lube due to the finish on the casings. They SHOULD form up just fine. The steel is a very mild and ductile sort so it's darn near as soft as brass casings if not softer.

From there flare the case mouth to prepare for the bullet seating. Then powder up the casings and double check that you didn't miss any. Then you can seat the bullets back in to match the original depth.

I'd do all this work in batches of 50 at a time. I'd also start with one batch loaded with the original powder and bullets, one batch with a different powder but original bullets, one batch with the original powder and new bullets and finally one batch with new powder and new bullets in the original casings.

The "why" of all this is to find out just how well you CAN polish a turd. It'll also point out where the biggest weakness in the surplus ammo really sits.

Also by comparing these optimized steel jacket loads to the same ammo but with modern copper jacketed bullets you'll learn just how bad or good the copper washed steel jacket stuff really is.

My own pet feeling is that even with the mild steel that there's still some significant blowby which strips the copper wash off the steel and leaves it on the bore. I spent a LOT of time cleaning the bore really well on my two Nagants only to see a great deal of copper fouling after only one range trip and about 20 rounds fired. So I'm not all that impressed with the steel jacket bullets at this point.

I'm also in the same boat as you. I bought 880 rounds figuring that while it wasn't the best stuff going that it would be fine for plinking. Well, turns out that it's really not that great even for plinking. I'm likely going to sell off my second SPAM can that is still sealed. I'll finish off the rest of the 440 open can as shoulder thumpers on days when I'm happy to "spray and pray" or for new shooters that want to see what it was like to shoot an old Russian battle rifle or that simply enjoy having their tooth fillings rattled... :D

I don't have my 54R reloading dies yet but I may just pull 20 rounds apart and check them as noted above to see for myself how bad this ammo is for consistency. It might be fun to compare notes if you do the same thing. Different batches and all that.

Currently from a seated position and bag rested my "old guy eyes" are good with plain notch sights for about 4 inch groups at 100 with good shooting rifles. The Mosins with the surplus consistently print 10 to 12 inch groups when shot in this manner. If I toss out the radical flyers around the edges, which is about 1/4 of the shots, the group size shrinks to around 8 to 9 inches.

How does this compare to your own experience with shooting the good modern ammo compared to the surplus stuff?

March 11, 2013, 02:18 PM
91/30's have long thin barrels, so floating them sometimes doesn't work well. Try it, but be prepared to add cork at the end of the barrel to provide a little bit of upward pressure from the stock. Sometimes that helps lock it down better.

If you want a really accurate Mosin, your best bet is to just buy a Finnish M-39 unaltered. They already did the work for you.

March 12, 2013, 03:30 AM
@ BCRider

Wow...so much info and so many ideas in one post. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to type all of that.

At the very least, I'm going to go ahead and order the Lee Classic Reloader for the 7.62x54r, and while I'm at it, I'll look for an inexpensive bullet-puller.

I'm ready to try that experiment you suggested, now that I know I can do it with the ammo already on hand.

As for my groupings, I will restate what I put in my first post.

With modern ammo, I was getting consistent 4" groups, mostly within 3.

With surplus, it expanded out to 8-10 inches, with at least one flyer that didn't even hit paper. I'm not really including those shots where you know it was bad the second you pull the trigger.

yeah...still working on avoiding those.

P.S. Even with a grouping that will make paper-killers flinch in horror...In a SHTF scenario, I still wouldn't hesitate to climb onto the roof with that bad boy and a can of ammo and keep a neighborhood vigil. I sure as heck wouldn't want to be downrange of that thing, even knowing it was slightly inaccurate. :P

John C
March 12, 2013, 04:04 AM
I was just going to suggest a Lee Classic Loader. I've never used one for rifle, but have used them for pistol and they work. You aren't priming, which is the main deficiency of the Lee loader. You also aren't doing any case prep, so that will save a bunch of time.

I read another, similar, thread, and a poster suggested using a case deburring tool to slightly chamfer the case mouth to prevent shaving the bullet while seating. Case mouth tension should be fine after pulling the bullet.

So the steps will be:

1. Use a bullet puller to pull the bullet.

2. Chamfer the case mouth. This should take 5 seconds with a deburring tool. Lee sells these for $3.99.

3. Re-insert powder. You can do cross level or replace with new powder.

4. Use the Lee Loader to tap the bullet back in place. Be sure the check and make sure the overall length remains the same as loaded in the factory.

If you really wanted to get tricky, you could replace the powder with Varget or similar and use a commercial .310 or .311 bullet for "match" ammo. I think you could really dial this in.

An inertia bullet puller will take a while to pull bullets, but they are cheap. If it ends up taking too long, consider picking up a collet puller off ebay. It will make it very fast, although you'll need a reloading press.

If you need a powder trickler, I will send you one for free, if you cover the postage. PM me.

Good luck!


March 12, 2013, 04:48 AM
Just did a little off-the-cuff test on a 20-ct package of the surp.

I have a pair of Helios calipers, and with a machinists' touch, are accurate to within .0005 or less.

out of 20:

10 measured .3095-.310

8 measured .309-.3085

2 measured .308

I'm thinking of taking the gun out tomorrow (today). Maybe I'll try separating the groups and see if it makes any discernable difference, just with diameter.

All three pass the bullet drop test, though.

March 12, 2013, 06:53 AM
Suggest handloading for mosin nagant Use Lee dies or any other brand. I use Norma brass, much better primer pockets. Sierra .311 diameter 150 Gr spire point. Varget 44 grains.

Recrown end of muzzle, visit YouTube to learn how to do this with a Lee case trimmer. You'll need the large size Lee cutter not the smaller size. This alone reduced my group size from about 4 inches to about 2 inches using a seven power scope at 100 yards with reloaded rounds

I took one MN 9130 gun and cut barrel down to about 20 inches, this rifle seems to be my most accurate at the moment. Some stock work was also needed.

Throat wear is an issue with these older rifles. I used a Hornady device to measure the position of the lands, in a store, to handpick the best rifles. There was a variation of almost 0. 2 inches in contact with the bullet.

If you recrown the muzzle properly after cutting back to good rifling, you should have. Sharp rifling.

Take off the rear sight, mount dovetail rings, glue with JB Weld, use a NCStae *pistol type scope. $40.

You can use JB Weld to bed action. Coat metal parts of underbody receiver with shoe polish wax, generous JB Weld at tang and lug recesses of wooden stock, after thoroughly removing cosmoline. Wax portions of screws that won't be inside screw threads. Adjust the trigger tension prior to bedding. I plan to use mine for hunting, so I adjusted only for 5 pounds. See YouTube videos for how to bend the metal spring.

I'm sure it is overkill, but I actually anneal the neck of Norma brass periodically so that the tension is constant. Set your full length die to do the absolute minimum shoulder pushback, or else only neck size Otherwise you'll have a head separation like I had once. If you add a 3 mm spacer, made from washers, to the bottom of a Lee .308 Win neck sizing die, you will have a neck die for 7.62x54

March 12, 2013, 06:55 AM
The way I re crowned muzzle with Lee trimmer was to use six or 7 mm spindle, surrounded by circular portions of drinking straws as shams. If you get the spindle for say six PPC, or 7 mm 08 it will easily fit in the rifling of the 7.62

March 12, 2013, 07:59 AM
This is a typical group from an off the rack 91/30. This rifle was counterbored. I cut off the counterbored area and recrowned. Sorry for slightly fuzzy photo. This is right after bedding. Far shot I think is flyer but I was rezeroing. From this group at 100 yards, planned to move the scope 1" to the left.

I used a hacksaw to cut off barrel ends, trying hard to cut square, because the recrowning is LOT less work that way. Finally bought $40 6" cutoff circular saw from Harbor Freight and some metal "cutting" (grinding, really) circular blades. This makes it a TON easier to make a reasonably square cut. When placing the muzzle in the saw (out of the stock of course) line the BORE up square, not the edge of the barrel. Use shims to appropriately take care of the conical shape of the barrel.

Note: I prefer to be 1 or 2" high at 100 yards.

March 12, 2013, 08:10 AM
That's actually pretty nice grouping. If mine did that consistently, I'd call it good.

I didn't get to sleep at all due to an earache, and I'm still hoping to get to the range. Not sure how I'll do with sleepy-eyes, lol.

I'll see if I can't save a target or two for pics if I do end up going.

March 12, 2013, 08:12 AM
You want to get the Large lee case trimmer. Lee Case Trimmer Cutter and Lock Stud Large 480 Ruger, 500 S&W Magnum, 50 BMG available at Midway (in stock!)

Attached is a photo of that rifle's muzzle after recrowning and before re-bluing (cold blue).

Notice the now-obvious rifling! Also, even the large case trimmer doesn't make it all the way to the edge of the barrel. Just left it, after cleaning up the outside edge a bit with a file so it wouldn't snag on anything.

It takes me about one or two hours to get that crown to my liking if I cut it with the chop saw reasonably square. That is less than the time I spend on one range trip and boy, is it worth it! I just happen to have 6PPC and 7mm08 case trimming gauge (spindles) available, and if you take plastic straws (McDonalds) and cut sections and cut them lenghtwise and use several, you can make a nice shim that will keep the trimmer cutting square to the BORE. THis is a nice homebrew way to do a nice recrowning. It isn't original with me; I watched several youtube videos.

In order to bevel the sharp edges of the rifling, get a LARGE brass "round-head" single-slot (not Phillips) screw from the hardware store, larger head than the bore. Buy a small tube of valve-lapping paste from auto parts store. Put valve-lapping paste into the the slot on the screw and on the round head also. Chuck screw into variable speed hand drill, hold the drill pretty much inline with the bore, and slowly gently lap just a few seconds, stop and look at your work, decide if you want to do any more or not. Goal is SYMMETRY. Want everything exactly the same in all directions.

March 12, 2013, 08:19 AM
Wow...that is, um...an awful large crown.:eek:

I guess if it works, it works though. I have a couple gunsmiths in the area that won't charge much for a simple recrowning though. Probably less than or equal to what I'd spend on the tooling and shipping costs to do it myself...and then of course, I wouldn't have to worry about messing it up.:D

March 12, 2013, 08:20 AM
$130 rifle. I wanted to see just how good I could get it to shoot for pennies. I did have to buy dies for 7.62x54R. The Lee classic Loader also works very well; I have one and have gotten good results. I have not yet seen any appreciable difference in grouping between 43, 44 and 45 grains.

I did use 174 and 180 grain HP match type bullets in the beginning and got better results with them than with the hunting bullets I'm now using, but since I use this rifle for deer hunting, I figured I needed to work with the hunting bullets even if they are a bit less accurate.

I have not yet proven any difference between using .308 spindles in the dies instead of .310 or so. I have both. Lee advises to just use the .308's. Can't prove it either way yet. Every rifle I have slugged (all of them) that I bought for $130 has been .311 bore. Use very small fishing weight, lubed, small dowel rods.

March 12, 2013, 09:00 AM
Lee large case trimmer / cutter is $8
7mm08 case length gauge is $5. and is available You could also use a 6.8SPC or anything in the 7'ish range. If you can find anyone who will recrown a muzzle accurately for $13, take them up on it!

I have a varmint Savage .223 barrel that has almost exactly this type crown on it (recessed flat center surrounded by raised rim) straight from the factory.

I was just stunned at how simple it is to do this myself, at home. Again, there are multiple youtube videos one it. One of them is from Larry Potterfield. The one I watched did a much more crude job than the Lee cutter.

Use a bit of oil on the plastic straw shims so it all floats well. Wear thin fabric gloves if you have tender hands like I do. Never hurts to learn a new skill!

March 12, 2013, 09:08 AM
Well, while I've never put a crown on a barrel, per se...as a former machinist, I'm familiar with the technique and tooling, and would be much more comfortable with a sharp chamfer tool, vices, and a lathe, lol.

Give me a turret mill, a lathe, and a rotary grinder and I could probably build you a gun. Alas, I do not have a home workshop, and no longer have access to the shop. After working with tolerances of .0002, I simply can't abide shoddy workmanship, even if it's my own. :rolleyes:

Delicate stuff I just prefer to leave to the professionals, lol.

March 12, 2013, 09:29 AM
I can understand that. It may well be the right answer. I just was unwilling to pay half the price of the original rifle, to a gunsmith for the possibility of improving the accuracy, when for $13 I could reduce the error rate by 50%.

I think total error is the square room of the sum of the squares of all the errors, or something like that. My problem is that I don't know which term in that long list of error variances in a rifle is the largest, and which is the next largest, and so on.

Not wishing to spend much $$, I simply attack the ones that I can cheaply, and see what happens! I was looking for a rifle cheap enough that members of the less-than-wealthy church to which I go, could afford it. The MN fits the bill nicely.

I have a couple of evil black rifles that group around an inch, and a benchrest gun that was capable of .375 and probably will do a lot better now that I learned how to anneal and got a 2-oz trigger on it...my hunting 7mm08 groups about 1.25" but had a double-group problem that may be solved by my most recent bedding effort. (It and two mosins on the kitchen table this weekend). What I have noticed about the MNs is that they seem to hold their zeroes well. I have three that I have worked on a fair bit and they are all under 2" at 100 yards, some closer to 1". If I can make them hold zero and group better than 1.5" I think I'll have very capable deer rifles up to 225 yards or so. And WROL rifles good to 400 yards or so, for very little outlay.

At any rate, I would never have been willing to try to learn some of these techniques on one of my expensive rifles!! The MNs added considerably to the skills I've picked up since the presidential election of 2008. Never had a firearm prior to that. Now can handload, headspace, fireform, bed, anneal, crown and simple trigger job. Only tools available were hand drill and hacksaw. Due to a friend dying, I'll be getting a milling machine and lathe for temporary storage soon....may learn how to chamber!

March 12, 2013, 09:34 AM
Mexican Match ammo is really a fun and relatively inexpensive way to accomplish some of your goals. The Lee Loader for a few cartridges is also an enjoyable if not somewhat frustrating and noisy. I have many fond memories of the Lee Loader with x54r at a private range loading the same casing over and again. It was a lot of fun.

March 12, 2013, 09:52 AM
I have a Lee Loader for 7.62x54R. I adjusted the dipper for 44 grains of varget and set the bullet seater to my desired seating distance. Works well.

If you use Norma brass the primers will slide in without going off. I had some unpleasantries with S&B brass; buy a primer pocket uniformer if you are going to use those, as their primer pocket is SHALLOW.

I took a fired casing (i.e. fireformed) and made a fiberglass casting over its outside, and with a bit of work used it to find a way to measure effectively the headspacing of my cases. Found I was way oversizing them in my full length sider set up per manufacturer instructions. A bit of powder blowback from a nearly-separated case convinced me to do all this partiicular research.... One of my mosins has a bit shorter chamber than another.

You can make a headspace checking tool for checking rifles prior to buying by grinding down an appropriately sized washer to I think .074. Cut out a notch for the extractor to fit.

All of my mosins have the lands SO FAR IN FRONT of the case that seating "to the lands" is out of the question,so all I have tried is just a consistent COAL, rather than attempt any fine tuning there.

The NCStart scope was indispensible. I wasn't willing to try and tap the receiver after reading some horror stories of super hard metal....I tried to drill into one piece of Mosin metal and ruined four bits. For others, it has worked well and allowed them to use standard scopes.

The bolt handle can be turned down easily with an acetylene torch and a bit of pulling with pliers; have done this to a couple. Way cheaper than having somone do it for me.

March 12, 2013, 11:35 AM
Your problem is that, accuracy isn't measured in ounces. It is measured in minutes of angle. ;)

March 12, 2013, 12:53 PM
^ ??

March 12, 2013, 02:59 PM
With modern ammo, I was getting consistent 4" groups, mostly within 3.

With surplus, it expanded out to 8-10 inches

PZ, shot using the stock iron sights it sounds like your "old guy eyes" are pretty much on par with my own "old guy eyes" :D Those with keener eyes and nerves can manage slightly better with a good rifle and good ammo. Me? I'll have to be content with these 3 to 4 inch groups on my better days with plain sights. When using a bench rested scoped rifle I manage 1 to 1/5 inch groups fine. I don't do enough rested shooting to see them get tighter. Seems like rested shooting is as much a skill as prone, kneeling and standing. The devil is in the details and I'm still learning.

Those lathe'less muzzle crown tricks are OK for fixing something that broken or badly worn. But I'm with you and to achieve a truly accurate and completely axial crown job it's simply not possible without a lathe.

No offense docsleepy. You've obviously had success with the hand tool options for this but those methods rely too much on the existing crown being at an exact 90 to the bore axis. And as someone that's messed with a lot of things over the years I've found that it's never wise to assume that something is what it should be. I've simply been surprised and dissapointed too often in the past. So for my tastes I'd rather chuck the barrel into my lathe and reform the crown after centering up the bore axis to as good a degree as I can.

March 12, 2013, 04:10 PM
^ ??

My comment was directed at the OP, docsleepy, not you. And it was a pretty lame joke to begin with :D but i couldn't help it. In all seriousness this has been a fun and enlightening thread to read.

John C
March 12, 2013, 07:27 PM
I think your first step should be to segregate a sample of ammo into batches that are the same bullet diameter. Then start with a batch of .310 or .3105 and see how the shoot. Then try the .309 and .308.

If that still doesn't get you what you want, start pulling bullets and refilling the cases with uniform powder charges.

You could pull all the .308 bullets and sell them for probably more than you paid for the whole case of ammo!


March 12, 2013, 08:30 PM
Made it to a 200 yard range today and worked more with two MNs and one rebuilt Savage. I'm attaching a photo of both a 100- and 200- yard target from one MN (the other isn't much different).

4 or 5 inch drop from 100 yards to 200 yards. I shot the 3-shot group at 200 yards first (3.5" 3-shot group) and then the 100-yard group to see where the zero was. These were neck-sized cases previously shot in that same rifle, Varget 44 grains, 150 grain Sierra .311 SP. These cases had been used for 5+ previous shots.

Happy to have you guys blessed with lathes to use them! I just don't have one. And to be clear, I *CUT OFF* between 2 and 9 inches of barrel, so there was no chance of "using the previous square cut"! Used hacksaw for some, chop saw for others after I bought it ($40). The trick is the long spindle of the Lee Trimmer -- THAT is what makes it square. You can see it obviously when you start (it cuts only on the "high" side for a long long time.....you can't stop until it cuts all the way 'round!).

These are very crude techniques to be sure. But they are virtually free, and for $130 to be able to get shots within 3" at 200 yards....with a 70 year old rifle....gratifying. And easily transferrable to others in my church who are dirt poor.

I can always pull out my Shilen barreled 6PPC with the 2 oz trigger, but that isn't going to be much of a hunting gun! Part of the fun of this hobby is learning how to do things myself rather than depend on paid professionals. Since I may end up with a lathe anyway, soon, I'll have lots more options!

March 12, 2013, 09:42 PM
Since I may end up with a lathe anyway, soon, I'll have lots more options!

Lathes are fun fun, but watch out. Machining as a hobby goes far beyond tinkering with guns. Before you know it, you'll be making all kinds of stuff. Neighbors will be coming to you with broken screws, etc. :P

@John C

That was precisely my plan. I didn't make it to the range today (still muddy out from last night's rain), but I did measure and separate about 100 rounds. I had pulled about 60 or so at .3095-.310, and about twenty at .309.

They're waiting for me next time I go out. Hopefully Friday.

March 13, 2013, 02:06 AM
Wow awesome thread! I guess I have to count myself luckier than I thought. I'm getting 2-3" groups at 100yards with my '42 Tula and surplus (147gr I think) ammo. The only explanation I have beyond sheer dumb luck is it had brass end caps of the upper hand guard possibly indicating (from what little I've been able to find out) it was awarded to an officer and therefor potentially of higher quality. Anyway's I have had wonderful luck with trigger shiming and polishing (down to a smooth and crisp(er) 4-4.5lbs), as well as "spot corking". I corked by the action screws (where some use shims) and at each end of the upper hand guard. Also oiled the cork pieces so they don't attract moisture and trap it against the metal.

I pulled two surplus rounds just to check the powder charge weight out of curiosity. I only plan to 'Mexican match' load for some hunting rounds after slugging my barrel to find what bullet size I'll best be served using.

Docsleepy: could you elaborate on making a 7.64x54r neck sizer from a .308?!? I have a .308 neck sizer and would love to avoid purchasing a new die if I can get by with a DIY trick of what I have (as long as its reversible). Also any idea if a .308 bullet seater can be used on 7.62x54r?

Thanks and good luck to the OP with the accurizing!

March 13, 2013, 02:22 AM
Since I may end up with a lathe anyway, soon, I'll have lots more options!

Oh my.... you have NO idea how deep THAT swamp can get.... :D

If you have the time and want to take up the challenge you can make a LOT of your own tooling and have a great time doing so. It'll make you a better machinist AND save a bunch of bucks at the same time.

The morse tapers in this photo were made by me. I used existing arbors to zero out the cutter on the compound rest and an MT3 to MT5 adapter to wring the taper marked with felt pen to fine tune the fit with a lathe file. In the end a few ounces of push required a bunch of pounds of pull to yank the taper free so I'd call them successful. I went on to make a few more for various tooling uses that didn't make it into this picture. The point being that if you think abotu the basics you can do some amazing stuff in the machine shop.


March 13, 2013, 03:06 AM
Bedding alone seems simple enough...but I also have to take into account any pressure on the barrel further down. I've heard of wrapping a layer of oiled felt around the barrel....Well, the only felt I know of is the craft stuff, which is pretty darn thick,

The ammo discussion seems to be well under control, and over my head anyway.

Let me offer this about bedding the action and dampening the barrel harmonics. You're correct that finding the "right" thickness cloth is hard. So don't.

Modern cloth like acrylic wont work because it melts.

Wool works great, and wool roving, basically loose wool fiber, is available at most fabric stores for almost nothing. A half oz of the stuff is more than you'll know what to do with.

You can mat it down with gun oil to "make" your own felt any thickness you need. You can stuff it into cracks in the stock to bed the action, and tightening the screws will make it conform to the contour. Plus it's period correct for the rifle. And it won't be damaged by heat.

March 13, 2013, 05:50 AM
Wow. I don't even know what a Morse Taper is, but those look very difficult to make! I used to run a milling machine for an alphabet agency of the government when I was an engineering student 30 years ago.

The idea to use matted woolen cloth, oiled -- brilliant! Sounds like a very easy way to "bed" an action!

As for the Mosin neck sizer made from a .308 neck sizer -- attached are the photos. (Sorry it has some accumulated grime on it)

This is a standard Lee .308 Winchester Collet Neck Sizer Die, with the breechlock adapter. The primer stem is intentionally broken off because I once wanted to size some cases that I'd already primed. I normally deprime with either a decapper or full length sizer.

If you look at the cartridge specifications, basically the 7.62x54R is 3mm LONGER than the .308 Winchester. You want the "neck" of the case to just fit inside the collet that is inside the Lee collet die. Since the case is 3mm too long, it is going to jam 3mm too far inside the Lee collet die. The fix is to create 3mm worth of "spacing" to accomodate the longer case. You could do this with anything; I chose steel washers. The trick is to ream out the inside large enough to accept the 7.62x54R case, and the OUTSIDE small enough to fit inside the I.D. of the Lee press (or whatever) that you are using, so you can get the die in and out.

It could be done with a "stick on" simpler contraption since it will only be used in compression, if you want it to be "reversible" easier than breaking the glue.

March 13, 2013, 06:00 AM
Centurion22: I am very impressed if you are getting 2-3" out of surplus ammo, but sounds like you have tuned your trigger a bit more than I. Mine are at 5-6 lbs.

From looking back again at the case dimensions of .308Win and 7.62x54R, the case dia just below the neck are very similar. To account for the 3mm longer length of the MN case, you would probably back the die upwards 3mm in the press and re-lock it. At that point, it should seat fine for 7.62 x54R.....but I have never tried it.

I have also used the Lee Classic Loader and as far as I can tell, they work fine. This is not collet neck sizing (which presses the neck onto a carefully machined exact dia. spindle) but is O.D. squeezing -- but it works. For someone who wanted to get into "precision" Mosin reloading on the cheap, that would be an ideal way to go. Using Normal brass in my expedrience results in almost zero primers going off.

Your 1942 officer's piece might have seen less action also,,,,and thus less throat erosion of the rifling there. From my measurements in an accomodative store, there are big variations in throat erosion.

March 13, 2013, 12:26 PM
I was impressed myself. I was even more impressed after setting some unbroken clays (4" I believe) at 75 and 100 yards. With just the stock iron sights, not only was I able to break them relatively consistently, but so could three other people, two of whom had never fired a mosin before. Mine is also dead on at 100 yards. Not the usual 6-12" high that many people encounter.

As for not seeing much use, I'm not so sure. It is counter-bored about an inch and the rifleing isn't the sharpest I've seen. My FIL picked it out as a gift for me (as I was away during an awesome sale at my LGS) having basic used firearm knowledge but knowing nothing about mosins beyond what I told him after a few minutes of online research myself. I often wonder if I would have chosen a different one myself and ended up with poorer results.

Thanks for the tips on the die mod. I'll also have to check availability and price a die set, vs the classic whack a mole kit in the near future. Then try to obtain a couple boxes of the elusive 7.62x54r boxer brass which I will probably only use for hunting and possibly the "Frozen Mosins" shoot they have in Feb up here in Maine. If things are out of stock or more than I want to pay right now I may see just how creative I can get.

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