Refinished my stock, now rifle won't shoot right

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by NZer, Aug 12, 2019 at 4:22 AM.


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  1. NZer

    NZer Member

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    Oct 21, 2006
    Hi all,
    Looking for some advice here. I have an older model ruger M77 in .308. It's been around the block a few times, but up till recently it still shot ok with groups around MOA, not a tack driver, but good enough for my purposes. I took off the stock to give it a much needed refinish as the old varnish was cracking off, it looked horrible and would absorb water when I was hunting in the rain.

    I sanded the stock back, then applied Tung oil to finish, I followed the method used in one of tibersaurus Rex's videos (he used boiled linseed oil, similar to Tung oil), with repeated coats, wet sanding for the first five and the rubbing in the last five.
    I also applied about 4 coats to the inside of the stock, where the receiver goes, I did this to stop it absorbing water and warping the stock when hunting in the wet. I did not sand or rub the coats inside the receiver, and I kept the oil off the bedding compound.

    Stock looked good, I patted myself on the back, put it back together, and took it out to check zero with the same loads as what I used to get MOA. This is where it went bad for me, with a 4 shot 2 1/2" group at 100m, the closest 2 shots where an inch apart.
    I guessed I must have got some grit or sanding debris between the stock and action that was causing it to not sit properly in the bedding, so I removed the action and scraped around gently with a screwdriver, being careful not to damage the wood. I cleaned out a lot of dried Tung oil and sanding dust, then I put the action back in and screwed it back down good and tight, then fired another 3 shot group, I didn't bother firing a 4th shot because it had already sprayed out to 2".
    Whew, stick with me folks, allmost at the end of my tale of woe.
    So, what I figure is that the stock has absorbed some oil and warped slightly, causing it to not engage in the bedding properly, or swelled an area of wood that is preventing it from being able to screw down tight against the bedding.
    My question is, what do I do now? How can I diagnose exactly what the problem is? How do I fix it? Can I scrape away the problem area, or do I need to re-bed?
    I realise this post is long winded so any thoughts and constructive advice will be well received, I would like to get this fixed quick as spring is fast approaching and I need this thing shooting right. Thanks in advance
     
  2. manitou

    manitou Well-Known Member

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    Mar 14, 2018
    1) You applied enough finish that the stock is touching the barrel.
    2) Your action screws are torqued wrong.
    3) You were in a hurry when shooting.
    4) or the rounds/ powder is/ are heat sensitive.
     
  3. Hairtrigger

    Hairtrigger Well-Known Member

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    I vote #2. With #1 a close second
     
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  4. aushunter1

    aushunter1 Well-Known Member

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    How many other times had you removed the stock from the barreled action to say clean & lube it then replaced it & had the same problem?
     
  5. tierradelmundo

    tierradelmundo Active Member

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  6. MallardAddict

    MallardAddict Well-Known Member

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    Start with #1 and confirm it is t touching anywhere new, as well as apply some dykem blue or even cheap lipstick to the barreled action and see where all it touches. proceed to #2 and shoot it again
     
  7. NZer

    NZer Member

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    Oct 21, 2006
    1) unlikely, when bedded, the barrel channel was cut back a couple of mm and finished with bedding compound, so no need to apply the oil there
    2) I am starting to think this might be the issue, will have a look tonight after work
    3)unlikely, sand baggged up, all the time in the world between shots
    4) 44.5 grains of ADI AR2208 with a hornady 165gr SST, WLR primed, shots loaded individually by hand, shot on a mild winters day.
    Thanks for reply
     
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  8. NZer

    NZer Member

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  9. NZer

    NZer Member

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    Will look in my makeup bag and see what I have. Thanks
     
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  10. Frog4aday

    Frog4aday Well-Known Member

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    If I'm reading the post and follow-up posts correctly, your barrel is FREE-FLOATING?
    If that's the case, then I vote for #2 (action screw torque) as most likely culprit.

    Guns are touchy about this. Get a torque wrench (most use a FAT WRENCH from Wheeler Engineering) and take it with you to the range. Start with the front screw at 45 in/lbs (forget Ruger's 90 or 95 in/lb recommendation!) Set the rear screw at 15 in/lbs. The middle screw? Put just a small amount of 'medium' loctite on it and screw it in very gently until it is 'in', then stop. No 'torque' on it.

    Now shoot the gun. Does it shoot good? Yea! You are all done.

    Still not good? Tighten the rear screw five more inch/lbs. Try again. Don't go over 40 in/lbs in the back. If you get to that point and it is still not 'good', back off to 20 in/lbs again in back, and try 50 in/lbs up front, and repeat the process. At some point, you are going to find what YOUR GUN likes. Write it down. Now you know for the future.

    I'd love to see a picture of the stock. I have a couple of Ruger 77s (tang safety models) and would like to see an oil finish on the OEM stock. Thanks!
     
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  11. NZer

    NZer Member

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    Ok, so I got the gun on the workbench tonight. I undid the middle screw an sure enough, there was plenty of tension on there. Front screw now torqued to 45 in/lb. unfortunately my torque wrench only goes down to 40 in/lb so I will have to figure something out for the back screw (me to wife "but I NEED to buy this!") and no more Dutch apprentice on the middle screw (Ja guten tite). Couldn't rustle up any lipstick, and failed to come up with a satisfactory reason why I needed some from the better half, so I will buy some in town tomorrow. Thanks guys, you have been more than helpful, fingers crossed for a test fire this weekend.
     
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  12. NZer

    NZer Member

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    Would it be a silly idea just to leave the middle screw out? Seems to me like it is just there for decoration if it has no torque.
    On a side note, while turning out the middle screw last night I had a glimmer of a memory of the gun smith who bedded this rifle telling me not to over torque that screw...maybe the better half is right about me never listening.
     
  13. NZer

    NZer Member

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    Yes, barrel is free floating with a bedded chamber area.
     
  14. Frog4aday

    Frog4aday Well-Known Member

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    I didn't realize the chamber area was bedded, too. Seems like just a matter of getting the action screws torqued to the 'right' point to make the gun happy, now. Keep us posted. It's tedious working this out, but once you know the torque values, you won't have to do it again for that gun (unless you change something in the bedding.)