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Accurizing a Model 70, in stages. Best bets?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Snakum, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. Snakum

    Snakum Well-Known Member

    I have a model 70 Black Shadow in 7mm mag that I bought as a beater, but found that it shoots around 1 MOA with factory ammo all the way to about 350 yards. Since it's so accurate bone stock with some loads, I thought I'd incerementally have some work done to bring it in a little more and make it a little more consistent across various loads. I want to keep the sporter barrel because I hunt with it and don't want to tote a heavy barrel. Here's what I'm entertaining, in order. Any suggestions pro or con?

    I'mn doing the trigger myself, then ...

    1st Square and true the action (square bolt face, check headspace, etc.)
    2nd Crown job
    3rd Bed the action and pillar bed the barrel (I have read the model 70s prefer not to be freefloated. Will do last in case I change out stock completely.

    Anyone tried this kind of work on your model 70? How much did it improve overall accuracy and consistency? Anything else to consider?
  2. Horsemany

    Horsemany Well-Known Member

    I've had all of the above done on M70's and M700's. IMO you'd be better off not trueing the action if you intend to keep the factory barrel. Most gunsmiths will tell you it's not worth paying for them to true and action and reinstall the factory barrel. As long as they're doing it you may as well spend another $250-$350 and buy a great barrel. Here's what will probably make the most sense in order of importance.

    2.Bed the action.
    3.Float the barrel(this is risky and could make things worse. you can always pour a pressure pad if it goes backwards in accuracy)

    Of course handloads would likely make a bigger improvement than all of the above. IMO if you're getting 1moa with factory loads your gun needs no improvement and would likely be a tackdriver with handloads shooting good bullets. For example I have some factory rifles I can get down in the .5's and .6s @100yds that won't shoot under 1moa with factory ammo.
  3. Snakum

    Snakum Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info. So getting the lugs lapped really doesn't gain me anything with the stock barrel? That's good to know.

    On the barrel issue, I have always read that the synthetic stocked Model 70s shot better with full bedding or with bedded action and piller-bedded barrel - that they generally did better that way than with free-floating. What's you opinion on pillar bedding the sporter barrel?
  4. Geno

    Geno Well-Known Member

    I will preface my post by asking that you take my comments as nothing more, and nothing less than the sum of 25+ years of ranting-reflections by a self-diagnosed, and proudly admitted obsessive-compulsive perfectionist. (Stops to tap the keyboard 3 times). Yeah...I have issues! Got a couch anyone?! My name is Geno. I am a perfectionhaulic. (Taps the keyboard 3 times for good luck).

    The best example of a rifle that I "tweaked" was my M700V in 6mm Rem. With factory loads, and a Tasco fixed-power 10X scope, I was able to bench groups of 0.75ish all day with factory ammo.

    One day as I was at my Uncle Dave's 1,000 yard range, he was working up some hand loads with me. He thought we could easily hit 0.5 groups at 100 yards. We worked up some 95 grain Nosler Partitian loads at well over max-load, and seated the projectiles into the lands. We switched out the scope for my Redfield 6-18 Accu-Trac, mounted it in dual-dovetail Leupolds bases and rings, and expoxied them on. Can you say secure?! We (he) also set the trigger much lower…around 2.5 pounds…not creep, nice and crisp.

    The first handloads printed 3/8 inch at 100 yards! My uncle was floored and commenced to nag me about selling him the rifle! As we continued to sight the rifles in for the pending deer season, he told me that most rifles can hold reasonably the same size group at 300 yards as what it prints at 100 yards, but that most fellas just don't have enough magnification for the job. Sure enough, the rifle was grouping consistent 3/8" groups to 300 yards (so long as I did my part). My uncles factory stock, Wea Mark V in .300 Wea Mag was holding consistent groups of 0.25" at 100 yards, and out to 300 yards (when he did his part). He was using a Leupold 6.5-20 Vari-X III.

    What I learned from that day, and from tinkering obsessively for the next 25 years is that the barrel weight means not a whole lot. The trigger, the glass and good handloads are where one gets the most bang for the buck. Now I don't know what power scope you are using, but I bet you can cut those factory load groups by 25% or more if you tried a 36X scope for the day just for "testing" purposes (not for hunting). Borrow one from someone you know.

    Over the past 25+ years, I have had an informal competition between me and Weathery, Inc. Any Weatherby rifle that I bought, I made a photocopy of the factory target, then set about setting the trigger lighter and more crisp, and working up the rifle's best load. Of course I always used custom dies. Once I achieve that goal of beating Weatherby's machine-tested target, I would send the target and a thank-you letter to Mr. Weatherby. He always took the time to thank me in writing and to congratulate me.

    My thoughts for accuracy always turn to getting up close and personal with my target. If the trigger ain't good, it ain't a trigger; it’s just a metal stick. A factory trigger on a hunting rifle is sufficient if lowered and tuned. Have the bore checked. The critical area is the first about 3 or 4 inches of barrel (rifling and lands). If the barrel is rough there, (and carbon steel barrels can take hundreds of round to break-in), you loose a lot of accuracy. If it's rough, have it lapped. I lap my own.

    Get some custom dies. Fire 3 factory rounds, and send the empty brass to Lyman, or Lee and have a custom set of collet dies made (neck resize only). Use the best powders, projectiles, brass and primers you can find. Weigh and separate all of these. Mark the cartridges' weight on them with a Sharpie. I even checked by projectiles for irregularities. I use Match grade primers. Get the best, most stable rings and bases you can, and epoxy them on and you will have zero shift potential.

    In sum, you have a factory set rifle that is at 1 MOA. I'd bet it's a lot better than that without anything more than a trigger job, custom dies, hand load and check the barrel's smoothness. The balance (IMHO) goes to tuning the hand loads to that barrel for its preferred load. Anyhow, that's one obsessive-compulsive reloader's very humble opinion.

    To me, point-of-rationality is key. I want the most for the least money. Save the fancy stuff (action blue printing, etc) for when you eventually have to re-barrel. Good luck and let us know what you decide. By the way, if 1 MOA isn’t good enough for you, you too might be obsessive-compulsive. (Taps the keyboard three more times for good luck).

    Edit to add, a couple of other tricks I have used with my bigger magnum rifles with synthetic stocks (they are slippery) is to apply skateboard tape to the grip area on the stock for consistent grip and better trigger pulls. I also have applied foam rubber pipe insulation to the stock's comb where I rest my cheek to facilitate a really solid and consistent cheek-weld. Lastly, consider a Williams' muzzle brake to reduce recoil and enhance controllability. The sky is the limit on hunting rifles-tried-to-become target rifles. IMHO, 1 MOA is more than sufficient for hunting to 500 yards. But hey, tinkering is fun! (Taps 3 keyboard more times).

    Last edited: Jan 2, 2010
  5. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Well-Known Member

    I just shot my new 70 today for the first time (Extreme Weather SS). It has a free-floated barrel. After an initial break-in of 20-25 rounds, when it didn't shoot as well as I'd like, I started getting 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" groups at 200 yards off a bipod. I wasn't holding it all that steady, and these were loads I'd developed for a different rifle. That's the first day out, without optimizing the loads for the gun. That suggests that there's nothing wrong with a free-floated barrel on a Model 70.

    DRYHUMOR Well-Known Member

    First. Trigger adjustment
    Second. Everything else is up in the air....

    I'm partial to HS Precision stocks with the full length bed rails. I'd probably go that route if I was needing more accuracy. And, may even go as far as having the action fitted to the stock and bedded.

    If your crown has no damage (and it is shooting 1 moa) I wouldn't redo it.

    Ammo is the key.
  7. USSR

    USSR Well-Known Member

    +1. Good Advice. Simply lighten the trigger and bed it, as long as you're going to keep that factory barrel.


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