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My finished 1898 Krag hunting rifle project.

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by someguy2800, Mar 21, 2018.

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  1. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    Before I start I want to note that I did not sporterize this rifle, I bought it with that already done to it so put away your pitchforks :eek:

    I had been lusting after this 1898 krag in the local pawn shop for I believe 3 years. When I originally saw it on the rack it was listed for $775. I go in there a couple times a year to browse and he has been dropping the price as time went by. This spring it was marked $625 and when I went in December it was $525. I confronted him with the fact that he had had it for longer than I've had my dog and offered him $450 and he agreed without argument. The original barrel has been shortened to 22", a set of Williams sights were on it, and it had of course been restocked and reblued.

    this is how it came to me

    image.jpg

    image.jpg

    I fell in love with the rifle but the sights were a problem and it needed stock work. Its such a beautiful and smooth action it just begs to be taken hunting. My goal for this rifle is to make a fully functional deer rifle out of it that is just as usable and accurate as a modern scoped bolt rifle. I want to go hunting with this 119 year old rifle with no compromises. So on to fixing it.

    The issue with the stock was that a krag only has two action screws in the trigger guard and they rely on barrel bands to hold the rifle in the stock forward of the receiver. That combined with the mag cutout in the stock meant that the forearm flopped around like a sandal.

    image.jpg

    The fix to this was to add another action screw forward of the receiver. I considered several options such as drilling and tapping the bottom of the front receiver ring for another screw but I wanted the attachment point to be further forward so as to offer more strength to the stock. I considered adding a barrel band toward the front of the forend and tying it into a sling swivel stud and also thought about cutting a dovetail into the bottom of the barrel to add a lug. Ultimately I decided to make a lug to attach to the bottom of the barrel just forward of the receiver out of a section of tubing with the right radius.

    [​IMG]

    To keep things somewhat authentic I wanted to use the correct Krag action screw for this so they would all match. I found that a Krag uses a 1/4-25 thread pitch screw, which no longer exists, but fortunately Brownells sells reproduction screws as well as the correct size tap. For the screw attachment point I tig welded a stainless steel nut to the plate and drilled a relief hold in the back to allow full thread engagement. I believe the nut was an M6x1.0, which is fairly close in pitch but smaller diameter than 1/4-25, and then chased it out with the 1/4-25 tap. I attached this to the barrel by roughing it up with a file and epoxying it in place with Devcon Titanium Putty, which is an extremely tough industrial epoxy. I have used this epoxy for several application at work and it seams to be just about impervious to solvents and heat cycling. It should take many thousands of lbs of force to break the epoxy bond.

    082319F3-A69B-4FA2-8C45-91EFC18D2ACF.jpg

    The stock of course had to be inletted for this lug. I whittled it out with an endmill in my drill press and then sunk a blind hole with a forstner bit for the aluminum pillar. When I get around to it I will glass in this recess.

    F27FF96B-E10B-4ABB-86F4-09610F263713.jpg

    Third action screw from below. It is extremely solid now and I floated the forend about .080" while I was at it.

    8EFA025A-FCA3-40AC-8F5F-840FF0B2A364.jpg

    Now with the stock taken care of, on to the sights. The problem with the sights is that they were to low for me to be able to get a sight picture with the monte carlo stock that is on it. I waffled back and forth on just getting taller sight inserts from Williams or trying to figure out a scope mounting solution. Iron sights for me though are not really a viable option. I am very near sighted and can't really shoot iron sights past 75 yards or so without the aid of a steady rest to adjust my sight picture and focus. I could have taken it hunting and limited myself to short range shots but I want to be able to hunt with no compromises and for me that means I need optics.

    The problem with a Krag is that the rear of the receiver is split at the back for the extractor which rides at the top, so there is nowhere to put a rear scope mount. Also due to the way the bolt comes out of a krag if you put a scope in the normal position we are used to you can't get the bolt out. There is a company that makes an offset scope mount that clamps on and offsets the scope to the left but frankly they are quite homely and the clamp on attachment is janky. I could not find any scope mount available that fit what I wanted. I thought long and hard about a scout scope arrangement but poo pood that after mocking up a spare pistol scope. The scout scopes just don't have the field of view I want for a timber rifle.

    My ideal scope mount would mount the scope in the normal centered position, be removable to allow the bolt to come out for occasional cleaning, not cover the roll stamps on the side of the receiver, use standard dovetail rings so as to allow swapping out rings of different height, not use a weaver style rail for aesthetic reasons, leave the action opening unobstructed in the center, and I wanted to be able to make it in my shop with my tools.

    I looked for an off the shelf dovetail base to put on the front receiver bridge but all the ones I found had too wide of screw spacing to fit on the narrow krag bridge. I had a spare redfield contender mount in my drawer and realized that the screw spacing wa close enough to work and could be made to fit with some reshaping. I cut the rear section off and filed the curve on the bottom with a large curved file to match the radius of the receiver. Once it was close I wrapped a piece of sandpaper around a pipe and profiled it till it was right. I drilled and tapped the receiver for two 6-40 star drive screws.

    9CF26059-9FAE-470D-8DF5-0B9429333EF0.jpg

    For the rear mount I gut the front off the same contender mount and trimmed it down till it was basically just a square with the dovetail centered. To attach to the side of the reciever I made a small piece from a tube with the same inside diameter as the receiver radius. I drilled and tapped the side of the receiver for two 8/32 taper head screws and countersunk the mount to flush mount the screws.

    499186C4-8947-4AA8-9F96-99D24DB8610E.jpg

    With the scope mounted by just the front mount and ring I centered the scope reticle and bore sighted across the shop to get the scope alignment right. This took taking it apart and grinding and adjusting about a half dozen times. Once I had the scope lined up right I covered the scope in aluminum foil and tacked the pieces together with the tig welder.

    04871B92-E431-47A8-B7F7-62ADA9C68D14.jpg

    I think that redfield base was cast because it was all sorts of unhappy about being welded on. As soon as the Tig arc would hit it, it would start to bubble and pit. After grinding it out and filling it back in a few times I was finally able to get it to look decent with no surface pitting. It would have worked much better to use stainless filler but that won't take a blue. My intent was to file and sand the weld down to make it look like one smooth piece but I'm not going to mess with it now for fear of uncovering the horror show underneath, so it will have to stay as a raw weld. I did put it in the vice and torque on it with a wrench and its solid, it will pull the screws out before that mount gives.

    After that I polished everything up and blued the mounts with this kit from blue wonder. I highly recomend this for anyone needing to cold blue a part. It works pretty much like any other cold bluing solution except it has a "developer" that you put on after the bluing solution which smells like toilet bowl cleaner. The moment you put the developer on it turns the part a nice deep gloss black. While I was at it I did a touch up blue on the rest of the action and was extremely impressed with the results. The finish is much deeper and tougher than other bluing products I have used.

    https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1006363070/blue-wonder-gun-blue-cold-blue-2-oz-kit

    Here is the final result. The scope is an older Bausch and Lomb 3-9x40 Elite 3000 I got on ebay for this build.

    AE349D39-EF39-49C2-B3F3-94DDC7879F15.jpg

    EAD74B6C-7448-4196-AC4E-C53A0E8EE9D7.jpg

    C580D205-1B55-46E5-B96A-6483473B8EFD.jpg

    17633FCC-46BF-47F1-A43B-71342D8F248D.jpg

    There is a tang on the top of the bolt that the extractor pivots in that the mount had to be made to clear

    3C4ECF5A-D256-4AAB-83E4-DFEE9163E2B0.jpg

    I also needed to clearance the bottom of the mount to allow the extractor room to ride up over its detent at the rear of bolt travel.

    3B07B280-2B53-46AA-A1CD-A9EEC2B0CBDF.jpg

    I happened to have found this new old stock safety lever on ebay to clear the scope. The factory safety pivots all the way over and would have hit the scope if not shortened. Its pretty chincy quality but it does function. Guessing it was made in the late 40's or 50's?

    8BB40FF2-4941-4B06-971D-D647F69F7A80.jpg

    And here is the important part, by taking the two rear mount screws out the whole thing can pivot around on the front dovetail to allow the bolt to be removed. As you can see when the bolt is removed on a krag the extractor pivots up and would hit any scope mounted in the conventional position.

    1434AAFE-5D51-4BE7-AF16-41797A317CE7.jpg

    Now to shoot it! I have 50 rounds of brass and 5 or 6 kinds of .308 bullets to try. Will start with IMR4350 and 180 grain ballistic tips. If anyone has any 30-40 brass they want to send me I can put it to good use! :D
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
  2. LoonWulf
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    LoonWulf Contributing Member

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    Very cool rifle, and nice work!
     
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  3. Poper

    Poper Member

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    Well done! I didn't know a .30-40 Krag could look that good!
    (Daddy like!)
     
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  4. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    Well done!

    I always wanted a Krag.

    For whatever reason the magazine design is just fascinating to me.

    The fact that they are a smooth bolt gun is awesome too.
     
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  5. horsey300

    horsey300 Member

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    Someone put a weaver one inch detachable side mount on the krag I shoot (used to be my grandfathers but Idk where he got it from).
    I like how this project came out! Thanks for sharing the pics too!
     
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  6. doubleh

    doubleh Member

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    That's a very nice rifle. Don't apoligise for it being sporterized even if you did or didn't do it . It's your property and that gives you the right to do what you wish with it. It's really no one else's concern.

    Many years ago I built a very nice walnut stock for a Krag that had been sort of sporterized but retained a cobbled factory stock. The first thing the owner did was slap it down on a large boulder with nothing between the stock and rock for padding which resulted in a rather large scratch on the bottom of the stock. I growled at him because I had put a lot of work into it. He apologised but that didn't do a lot to mollify me. He was a good friend and has passed on now but I still get annoyed at him when it comes to mind.
     
  7. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    Thats awesome, it makes me want a Krag.
    Well done.
    Nice write-up and pics too.
     
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  8. db_tanker

    db_tanker Member

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    I am jealous over the scope mount.
    Mine is going to the lease this weekend with me.
    20 rounds of 180 gr Speer rn
    20 rounds of 180 gr Hornady spire point
    10 rounds of 110 gr LRN with trail boss.
     
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  9. Geno

    Geno Member

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    Gotta love it when a plan comes together that nicely! Kudos!

    Geno
     
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  10. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    You did some nice work. You gave me an idea on how to fix my scope mount issue.
    Hornady sells brass. I'm on my 5th reload with them and they're still good.
     
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  11. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    Thanks guys. It was a fun project and these krag’s are just such fine guns. They just work like they are covered in melted butter.

    I think I may have found my collectable, sporterized military rifles. Last week I bought a sporterized 1944 type 99 Arisaka that I am tuning up in similar fashion. For many collectors a sporterized or refinished gun greatly detracts from the value but I do not hold such prejudices. There are tons of these rifles out there for less than the price of an axis. They still hold the same historical value to me.
     
  12. horsemen61

    horsemen61 Member

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    Op nice work looks good!
     
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  13. Blacksmoke

    Blacksmoke Member

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    Fond of Krags. Owned two. Would like another. The .30-40 with modern pointy bullets is good enough for just about everything in North America. Remembering the largest Boone and Crockett elk was taken with a Krag. I like the side box magazine for topping up.

    Yours is a thing of beauty, OP.
     
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  14. LoonWulf
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    LoonWulf Contributing Member

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    I'm in the same boat. I have 3 arisakas, and am looking at another. As well as a few other sporterized ww1-2 era rifles. All to be had for less than my last barrel cost me.
     
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  15. tark

    tark Member

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    Mighty fine gunsmithing you did there! I'm one of the pitchfork people, but I can't fault a finished product that good looking. And you stole it at that price!
     
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  16. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    Range report, the rifle is shooting within my expectations for its first loads. I got out to the shed this afternoon and loaded up 30 rounds to start seeing what it wants. It shot everything I put in it accurately but the POI changes alot with different bullets. I loaded everything with new Hornady brass, IMR4350 and S&B large rifle primers. The max OAL in my books is 3.089 and I found that is about the maximum that will fit effectively through the magazine so I loaded everything to this length. I attempted to find the lands but the throat is so long the lands are like 1/4" away at max length. The 5 bullets used were

    Hornady 150gr SP interlock
    Hornady 165gr BTSP interlock
    Hornady 168gr BTHP match
    Federal Fusion 180gr BTSP pulled bullets
    Nolser 180gr ballistic tips

    All my books say that due to the long throat best accuracy is usually found with 180 grain bullets so I bought the two 180's just for this, the others were left over from my 308. For load data, Nosler, Hodgdon, Speer #10, and Lyman all list the same starts and maximums for IMR4350. Due to the somewhat delicate nature of Krag's I decided to start conservitively and loaded the starting load for each of 46 grains for the 150, 44 grains for the 168's, and 42 grains for the 180's. Here are the results at 100 yards. Wind was about 15 mph gusting from 8 o'clock.

    D7BE0646-7DD9-4C44-B42F-8D8E04EE7283.jpg

    picture of the loaded rounds

    609CBC37-641D-4D4B-9FD7-750C693FBF20.jpg

    I would say that for a 119 year old rifle they all shot very well. I was hoping for 2 moa or better and it looks like it should not be a problem to exceed that. Note that the one low shot on the lower right target was the first shot at 100 so I moved the scope 3 moa up after the first shot to get it on target. I drew a dot 3 inches above it approximately where it would have hit if the scope had been zero'd. I would say they all show promise, especially the hornady HP which would have been about a 1.25" group. All the others shot pretty much the same so I think I will load up another batch in the middle of the load range and shoot them all again. I think I will also go get some 150 ballistic tips to add to the mix. It would be nice to get it to shoot 150's to get some velocity out of this old cartridge. I have about 500 of the 150 gr SP so it would be nice to use them up.

    The gun was great to shoot and was very soft shooting. I did notice a few issue that I will address. I tried to build a little bit of elevation into the scope mounts but it looks like I overdid it just a tad. The elevation turret was just a few moa from bottoming out to zero it at 100. I may need to tweak the mounts or put a shim under the front base. Also the ejector does not clear brass from the receiver even with a pretty stiff pull of the bolt. This is not really much of an issue for me and how I use a rifle but I may tweak on this a bit. Bigger problem is you cannot get any of these pointed tip bullets to feed from the magazine. There is a sharp edge at the back of the chamber and the tips of all the bullets hits it and stops it cold. I will play with this and see what I can do. Might need to make a little ramp to deflect the bullet tips past this edge as they feed out of the mags.
     
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  17. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    You might use some of that epoxy and reshape the side plate so the shoulder pushes it to the right instead of the bullet.
    I'm thankful my feeds anything except the Berry's plated 30-30 bullet. I also found good accuracy with IMR 4064 and 15 gr of bluedot which gives me 1560 fps.
    Be to update us if you change anything with your scope. If you get it all sorted I'm going to follow your lead.
     
  18. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    Yep, that’s exactly what I was thinking, just a little ramp to kick the shoulder over and get it started in the barrel. I won’t be making any major changes to the scope mount other than mabey doing some shimming to better align the scope. I don’t like having the elevation turret bottomed out like it is. I just checked and it’s only 4 moa from bottomed out. The rings are spaced about 5” apart so a .010” shim would raise it another 7 moa. Good news is if I ever want to shoot 1000 yards with my Krag I’ll have enough elevation to zero it. ;)
     
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  19. shoobe01

    shoobe01 Member

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    Maynard P Buehler made a lot of parts like that, funny scope mounts, replacement safeties, etc. to meet special needs, mostly as far as I can tell first for guns like this: sporterized military arms, but later did a lot of work for big bore game rifles as used in Alaska and Africa and had a notable reference collection of them.

    First low-scope safety was in the late 30s, so the design goes way on back there, and I assume it spread from whatever the first gun was to others. You can find similar designs to yours for other actions still on auction sites.

    Not sure when he shut down the business, but pre-internet, so there's not too much out there about him except for bad old reprints of the few gun magazines that bothered to digitize before going under. Interesting guy from the little I can recall reading. Wish there was a major retrospective in Small Arms Review or something on his work, bet it would be worth it.
     
  20. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    Well I am home with the kid today so I took the gun apart on the kitchen table to come up with a plan to make it feed. The bullets come in from the left side of the action up a feed ramp and where the bullet tips hit is the back edge of the chamber where the case headspaces on. After studying it a bit a solution presented itself. Because these guns have a rimmed cartridge they have a fully supported chamber, meaning the chamber extends uninterrupted all the way to the rim which it headspaces on. There is a small cutout at the top for the extractor just like a 22 rifle. The chamber does not need to be supported all the way to the rim since the head of the case is solid. So I simply used a long carbide bit in a drill and put a chamfer on the edge of the chamber where the rounds feed in. This will still leave about 70% of the rim intact to headspace on and will be completely safe since as I mentioned this part of the case is solid.

    D9369157-02E6-40FC-810A-AFE542451D49.jpg

    You can't make a cartridge hang up now even pushing it side to side with a pencil.

    DBCBD42F-7DE1-4D42-8A07-613BCCA1537B.jpg

    Here is a case in the chamber to show it headspacing on the edge of the chamber.

    15E4516B-A005-46D4-AAB6-65BAEC00E461.jpg

    While I had the sideplate off testing the feeding I pulled the ejector out and bent it to give it some authority when ejecting. I have learned my lesson before that modern steels will let you bend and tweak around on them but the steel in anything this old will be brittle and will break rather than bend so I put it in the vice and heated it up with a map gas torch till it was blue and then tapped on it with a brass hammer to bend it.

    9766D551-2B1F-4B1C-AB98-D5C805F414BE.jpg

    With the scope off it ejects great but it still will not eject with the scope on. With the extractor being on the top of the bolt the case comes up and hits the scope and will not clear the extractor. No bid deal.

    E68CB85D-8489-4D30-9230-A701F940D35E.jpg

    I made a shim for the front scope base from a piece of .010" aluminum flashing. After cutting it out I blackened the edges with a sharpie to blend it in before installing

    B563585E-4B22-4F58-BF40-58A23E1BBD99.jpg

    You can't see it unless your really looking for it. I have some .014" aluminum shim stock too so I might take it back off and put that in instead. By my calcs a .010" shim should raise it almost 7 moa and a .014" shim would be 10 moa. When I was shooting the other day to zero it at 100 I only had 1 minute left of turret with the 150's and 4 minutes left with the 168's. Ideally I would like to get it to shoot 150's as a deer load.

    17BBB180-F2E9-4256-B616-AEB1887FA955.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018
  21. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    Your making progress. It will be interesting to see what accuracy and velocity you get from 4350.
     
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  22. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    someguy2800

    Great work and thanks for all of the ongoing updates! Many years ago I toyed with the idea of cutting my Krag down to convert it into a carbine configuration but wisely decided against it. I like it fine just the way it is.

    2tg6G8L.jpg
     
  23. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    I have an older speer #10 manual that has 30-40 data shot in a 21" barrel 1898. Mine is a 22" barrel so I expect very similar results. I believe there data said 2450 fps with a 150 grain and 50 grains of IMR4350. With a nosler ballistic tip this should put it 1" high at 100 and 3" low at 200 with a 150 yard zero. This will be more than sufficient for my needs.

    I’m glad you didn’t! That’s a beautiful rifle you have and there are so many fake carbines and sporters our there already.

    If anybody is interested in these rifle keep an eye out on gunbroker and armslist. I’ve seen nice sporters and carbines sell for as little $200. I think they are one of the best deals going on an 1800’s rifle. They are still perfectly safe and functional to shoot and ammo and brass is available.
     
  24. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    update

    I've been shooting all sorts of stuff through the gun and this is definitely the most fickle gun I've ever worked with. The point of impact moves dramatically with different bullets and loads and its prone to crazy wild flyers. It will put 4 shots in a 2 moa group and then throw one like 6 inches high or low. The cold bore shot is sometimes good and sometimes its miles off. In addition to the bullets above I've also tried a 150 SST and a Hornady .312" 174 gr RN for a 303 brit. I slugged the bore last week and the bore size is about .311" at the tightest point. The middle third of the barrel is really loose and the slug will push through very easily. The 8" or so at the bore and the last couple inches in front of the chamber are tight. It was made in the 1800's so I guess you can't expect much. I thought the .312" bullets might be the ticket but they didn't shoot any better than other bullets and showed pressure signs early, which you really don't want to mess with on a Krag so I abandoned that idea.

    The most accurate bullet I've tried is the hornady 168 bthp match. This consistantly groups about 1.5 MOA with no fliers, but I am out of them. The most accurate hunting bullet so far is a 180 grain ballistic tip over 46 grains of IMR 4350, but it is prone to flyers that I can't explain. I think I will try doing some bedding at the front of the action and see what happens, and I also want to try a 168 ballistic tip. Below is a group shot this afternoon at 100 yards with the 180 ballistic tip, if not for the fliers I would call this done.

    53C38C58-40BD-4273-B01D-0E6D34B2EF20.jpg
     
  25. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    How long are you seating them? I start as long as possible while keeping aa least .308" in the neck for a 30 cal. Second option is mag length.
    I also spent a lot of time with Mother's mag polish and patches swabbing the bore till it shined.
     
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