Here's the deal. I had H&H transfer my Leupold Boone & Crocket scope to my 7 mag from a 243 and switch the barrel out on my Encore. New barrel. I had no issues with the 243, but the 7 has issues. Shot nine rounds thru it on a very hot day, but didn't rush it. The second shot was low and to the left about 4 inches of first shot which was high right. I figured cold bore difference so I adjusted and it hit where I adjusted it to, but I had figured my adjustment wrong so I shot and adjusted a couple more times eventually getting it 1 in high and 1/2 inch left on the 7th shot. So I figured that was good enough to get an idea of grouping before adjusting anymore. I then shot the 8th and 9th without adjusting and it again dropped about 4 inches low and left. These 8th & 9th shots were within 1/2 inch of each other though. I was shooting 100 yd target. I was cleaning between shots, but not thoroughly by any means. I'm not an expert, but have been shooting in some fashion for 40+ years and never had a gun shoot this erratic. Is this just a case of the barrel not being(run-in) yet or something else? Oh and I was shooting from a lead sled. I'm generally a pretty good shot and this dropping 4 inches on two different occasions has me confused
The tc rifles are also relatively sensitive as to the hinge pin being snug. With the different bbl. you may need a oversized pin or adjustable pin.
I'd actually guess the load isn't up to snuff in that bbl.. I had something similar happed with factory loads in a buddy's 300 roy a couple of years back. I thought the scope wasn't tracking worth a damn when I was sighting it in for him, but the roy wasn't liking the 150 grain factories; she didn't calm down until she was fed some 180 grain slugs. He's to scared to reload for me to help him get started so I can't get him off of the factory ammo.
Stop cleaning between shots, at least for grouping purposes.
If you're "breaking in" the barrel, then don't worry about grouping.
I had a MGM barrel that would spray like a shotgun if I tried any sort of grouping while cleaning between shots (I was trying to break in the barrel and do load development at the same time). I wasted a few bullets before I figured out what was going on.
That barrel turned out to be a good shooter after I stopped cleaning between shots.
I used that same barrel to take an antelope at 287 yds (T/C Encore handgun 30-280 AI 15" bbl).
It's also possible your barrel doesn't like the load (bullet, powder or both).
T/C Encores can be real finicky like that at times.
Some barrels do shoot a little better when fouled but considering the large group sizes mentioned, I doubt a really clean barrel would make that much of a difference. In the dozens of Encore barrels I've had, a clean barrel usually shoots just as well as a fouled one.
If you think the hinge pin needs to be tightened, go with an adjustable hinge pin and not an oversized one. I also doubt that a hinge pin being a little loose in an Encore would make groups as bad as described.
Like has been said "quit cleaning between shots". It has been my experience that MOST new barrels in factory made rifles need to be shot around 50 times before they start shooting their best. Most shoot best on a fouled barrel also. Many people really don't know how accurate their barrel is because they clean it too often. Pay attention to what the barrel is telling you. Shoot it enough without cleaning to see if your groups tighten up and when they do shoot it enough to see when you start to loose that accuracy. When you start loosing the best accuracy THEN IT IS TIME TO CLEAN IT. I have seen much more damage done to firearms by cleaning them too often and incorrectly than I ever have by just shooting them.
Before you start shooting for groups you need to find an accurate load. I once had a Rem 700 in 7 Rem. mag. and worked up it's most accurate load all the time using new cases. I could not get that rifle to shoot under 2" groups no matter what I did to it. Then one day I loaded up some of the same load with cases that had been fired once in that rifle and just part sized the case with a FL sizing die. Just bumping the shoulder. Went to the range and fired three shots and it formed one bullet hole. That was one of the most accurate rifles I ever saw with most any bullet and a case full of AA3100 as long as you used a case that had been fired before and part sized it. Just goes to show you that even the little things make a BIG difference.
Thanks for all the replies. I've been through many of these threads on grouping, but hadn't found one that seemed to fit my situation, so I thought I'd ask. I got some new ideas on this one though. Seems like it could be any number of things. One of the things also mentioned on other threads was the barrel tight at places on the forend and I checked that last night. It does have a place before you get to the screws that is pinched to tight to slide paper through it. Is that something I should worry about with the Encore?
At this point I'm thinking I'll run several more rounds through it before I start tinkering.
Speaking of ammo though. Is there a particular one these guns tend to like? I'll be Elk hunting in New Mexico in early October.