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inaccurate howa

30 Sep 2012
@ 04:28 pm (GMT)

kyle h

I thought I would share my journey with the Howa m1500 7mm-08 I purchased earlier in the year and seek some suggestions to make the accuracy better.
I got it with a package hogue stock and nighteater scope which felt okay. I followed the instructions for breaking in the barrel to the letter ie shoot, cool, clean and so on for the first 12 or so shots. I used factory Remington corelokt ammo which fouled the barrel wickedly for the first 25 or so shots.
The rifle would not group at all, +10 inch groups. I took it back to the store they sent it to the importer who determined that the scope was faulty and replaced it after shooting a packet or two of ammo through it. The new scope seemed to be no better, 16 clicks at 100m didn’t change the point of impact until I gave it a tap then it moved. At this point I abandoned the nikko stirling scope because I had no confidence left in it and borrowed a friends leupold, epoxy bedded the rifle, stabilized the fore end following Nathans instructions and I was pleased with the result. I changed ammo to privi 120gn as well and the next 3 shot group went to 2 inches. I then bought a zeiss conquest 3-9 x 40 as the permanent replacement and OK problem solved right? Not really.

When I sighted in the zeiss things started off ok with the first 3 shot group 2” at 100m from a clean barrel then I dialed the scope to change the point of impact and the more shots I had the worse the flyers became until it was no better than when I first bought it.

A few observations, when I back off the front action screw the action moves up a tiny bit, maybe 1mm or so, is this significant? If so does the bedding need to be sanded down further and where? Also it is a 20’ light sporter barrel, will a warm barrel affect accuracy? My friend reckons that because it is threaded and there is bugger all barrel thickness left at the muzzle end that it has expanded at the muzzle and it will never shoot properly and should be shortened and re crowned.

I have an OK rifle now for bush hunting but for the time and money I’ve spent I had hoped it would be better.

BTW thanks Nathan for your excellent site

Replies

01 Oct 2012
@ 05:26 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: inaccurate howa
Hi Kyle, since the earthquakes hit Japan in 2011, Howa barrel quality has dropped to an all time low. The bores are full of machine marks, pits and burrs on both stainless and blued model rifles. It is a very sad situation. There is a possibility that your rifle will never shoot straight, its as simple as that.

Ok, so lets do a damage control check. You have stabilized and bedded the cheap Hogue stock. When you do your barrel climb check, make sure you drop the floor plate and mag spring otherwise the mag spring will push the barreled action out to that 1mm you quoted. If you chave done the check properly and the barrel still tries to climb out of the stock during your check, it means that the action or stock was stressed (bent) during bedding. The only remedy is a rebed.

The barrel is a tough one. If its still fouling at a fairly high rate, it will need lapping. You can use my barrel break in article for this. You may have to consider fire lapping to knock the machine marks down. But here is the kicker, on a poor quality bore, there is a risk that by the time you have partially smoothed out the machine marks, the bore tolerances will be loose. So you have to play this by ear. Lap the bore, test it, monitor fouling. If you get to a point where fouling is low and accuracy is still poor, then you may have to consider rebarreling. Sometimes you simply can't stop a bad barrel fouling.

As for optics, ironically I have banned both Nikko Storling and Zeiss from being used during tutorial long range hunts. The cheap scopes fall apart while Zeiss scopes often give my clients cut eyebrows (in magnum chamberings) due to poor eye relief. I think its a piss take to charge people several thousand dollars for a punch in the eye. I wouldn't give a damn if there were 100,000 positive reviews placed in front of me. The cm calibration on the Zeiss scopes are also a right pain to work with when making drop charts. My service, my call. I've drawn my line and thats all there is to it.

Your scope will work well on your .308, I just want to make sure that you don't run into the extremes game where you go from a budget rifle that gives you problems to the opposite mind set and end up with the emperors new clothes.

If you have a very thin barrel, cutting a thread on the muzzle is not the best idea, nor is trapping heat in the thin barrel via the use of an over barrel suppressor. I am seeing cooked bores on a week to week basis now, too much trapped heat, continued shooting, bores expanding, bore then swelling from successive shots, then cooling and once cooled, are over sized. If you want to kill a light weight barrel, put a suppressor on it and fire 12 shots in 9 minutes. Off it comes, into the steel scrap bin it goes, another one bites the dust on my work bench.

The Highland ammo will sometimes produce excellent accuracy, other times accuracy is poor. As always, it depends on the bore, not the ammo. You will probably need to try a few brands of ammunition to get the full picture. This is the usual process for testing. That said, I have seen enough faulty Howa barrels this year to be able to say with confidence that ammunition is just one variable and that the bore needs to be addressed first.

As you can see, you have a few factors at play. The bore and the bedding need attention first. Work through these issues slowly and patiently. You have a good rifle action which at the end of the day, is all that matters. The action is the heart of your platform, barrels come and go, stocks come and go.
03 Oct 2012
@ 02:27 am (GMT)

kyle h

Re: inaccurate howa
Hi Nathan,

Thanks for your insights.

After roughly 60 rounds I've found that the fouling issue has gone so that's one positive. Whether is was due to changing ammo or if the barrel was worn in I'm not sure though. I tried the same exercise of backing off the action screw with the magazine floorplate out and there's no movement now so I'm satisfied that the bedding job is OK.

I'm quite happy with the zeiss, it is really clear, i can see the bullet holes in the target at 100m which i couldn't do before. It also has 1/4 " graduations as it is an american model. The eye relief is much better than the nikko too. Only time and hard use will tell whether it is a good scope or not but so far so good for me.

I guess I'll try out some different brands of ammo to see whether that helps and if all else fails I'll send it your way.

Cheers
 

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