Rookie W/ First Rifle seeking advice.

Joined
Mar 5, 2010
Messages
13
Location
Tyler, Texas
Rookie needing advice!
OK guys. I have been hunting 6 times, bagged 2 deer, and this past year, started plinking, at longer and longer distances, just for fun. I am hooked, and on a budget. (I know, bad combo.)

I have always borrowed a gun to hunt with (i know, you can't take an ethical shot with a gun you don't "know" but hey, I'm a rookie).

I started saving for a gun (4 kids under 7 restricts your budget). Before I could buy, I won a Marlin XL-7 scoped combo in .243 at a church raffle for $10. Better than a sharp stick in the eye!

Anyway, I haven't even shot it. I have been reading for the past month about sighting, shooting, cleaning and care.

Here is what I have : .243 Marlin XL-7 with Nikon Buckmasters 4-12X50 *Never Been Shot*

I have my CHL, carry daily, and am very comfortable and familiar with SA handguns, but other than plinking with an old .22 Marlin 60, I have only fired about 10 rounds out of a rifle. Hopefuly I am stepping into this a bit ahead of the average rookie.

Here are my questions:

1. I read an article about cleaning the bore after each of my first 5-10 shots. Do I need to do this, or is this just for high-dollar super-accurate rigs?

2. I was going to sight in and set my zero at 200 yards using 2 boxes of Federal 115g rounds that I won with the gun. Is this a reasonable range for that scope, gun, round (and rookie)? My brother-in-law will be reloading my brass with 80g hunting rounds. Will I need to re-sight with those?

3. The synthetic stock has 2 raised "points" that apply pressure to the barrel at the forward end of the stock. I have been advised to sand these off to fully "free-float" the barrell. Should I do this?

4. I was told that I should fire 3 shots, adjust my sights, then fire another 3 at a fresh target. Is this enough to show where my groups are off?

5. I have also been told to fire around 15 shots, then let the barrell cool before shooting any more. Is this correct? If so, how long should I let it cool.

6. After many-many rounds of practice, What will the efective range of this gun be (when I am no longer a rookie)?

7. If taken well care of, how long will this gun last? How many rounds should the barrel last?

8. Knowing that the XL-7 is of nominal value, Is this going to be something that I can pass on to one of my boys as a "heritage gun" or will it be a worn out piece in a few years?


I have 100 more questions, and am doing this on my own due to budget constraints, so any advice and response is greatly appreciated.
 

royinidaho

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2004
Messages
8,950
Location
Blackfoot, Idaho
I'll reply on what I feel comfortable with.

Embedded in your text:

Here are my questions:

1. I read an article about cleaning the bore after each of my first 5-10 shots. Do I need to do this, or is this just for high-dollar super-accurate rigs?

I'd say for every rifle. See here: Lilja Precision Rifle Barrels - Centerfire Maintenance

2. I was going to sight in and set my zero at 200 yards using 2 boxes of Federal 115g rounds that I won with the gun. Is this a reasonable range for that scope, gun, round (and rookie)?

Do break in and initial zero with the factory fodder. Break in is complete when copper fouling is at its minimum.

200 yard zero may give you a higher 100 yd point of impact than you desire. That will come with experience.

My brother-in-law will be reloading my brass with 80g hunting rounds. Will I need to re-sight with those? Most probably have to rezero. Once tuned and zeroed at you distance of choice then shoot at longer distances, out to your maximum shooting distance to determine bullet drops.

3. The synthetic stock has 2 raised "points" that apply pressure to the barrel at the forward end of the stock. I have been advised to sand these off to fully "free-float" the barrell. Should I do this?
Yep, hawg 'em off. ensure barrel is free floated all the way back to the recoil lug. Use a double thickness business card to measure.

4. I was told that I should fire 3 shots, adjust my sights, then fire another 3 at a fresh target. Is this enough to show where my groups are off? Or mark the first three shoots then adjust.

5. I have also been told to fire around 15 shots, then let the barrell cool before shooting any more. Is this correct? If so, how long should I let it cool. Depends on how fast you shoot the 15 shots. If you shoot three, mark three, return to bench and shoot three more, your barrel should be cool enough.

6. After many-many rounds of practice, What will the efective range of this gun be (when I am no longer a rookie)? On the order of 1000 yards at paper or even a chuck. THere is a post on here, somewhere, where a fella shot a chuck at about that distance with a hornet.

7. If taken well care of, how long will this gun last? How many rounds should the barrel last? Keep it cool. Use it wisely it will out last you. You'll get an itch for something more or different long before you wear it out. You can burn the barrel out in well under an hour if you wish.

8. Knowing that the XL-7 is of nominal value, Is this going to be something that I can pass on to one of my boys as a "heritage gun" or will it be a worn out piece in a few years? Yes. See #7


I have 100 more questions, and am doing this on my own due to budget constraints, so any advice and response is greatly appreciated.


Keep readin' and askin'. It'll all come together.

Also go here:
http://www.longrangehunting.com/forums/f28/load-development-made-easy-44937/
 

Catfish

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2007
Messages
167
Location
Ohio
Roy pretty well said it, but I disagree with him one 1 point. DO NOT file down the presure points untill after you shoot it for accuracy. You can do that at any time, and the gun will probly shoot better with them filed, but some are more accurate with the presure points. Make sure your is not one of these befor you start sanding.
 

roaddog1m

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Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Messages
306
Location
Timber Lake, South Dakota
Roy hit everything but I do have to agree with Catfish. I'd wait and see how it groups before I'd start making any changes. I have factory rifles that shoot my handloads at a 1/2 inch without anything done at all. If it just isn't grouping well, ( 1.5 inch @ 100ys with factory loads) Then I'd start getting after it.

The 115 grain bullets are a bit heavy, if I remember right, you have a 10 twist barrel. I don't think it's going to stabilize that long bullet very well. You're optimum weight will be somewhere around 80 to 90 grains.

Yep 1000yds after you get your feet under you. Living in TX you should have plenty of room to set up targets and log bullet drops.

Make sure that your scope is mounted properly. Even guys who have had a lot of years of shooting seem to have trouble getting that right. Secure your rifle in a rest and make sure that it is level. (use a level) After that you can remount your scope placing a level on the top scope turret. Having a properly mounted scope will become more and more important as you stretch out our legs.

.243 is not a barrel burner it should last a long time. Just don't just blast 15rds off. It's like drinking beer, you can drink all night if you only have one an hour. Like Roy said, fire three then check, tape and record and make corrections.

Good luck,
Tom
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2010
Messages
13
Location
Tyler, Texas
RoyInIdaho and Catfish:
Thanks for the advice. I know that it may seem elementary, but I like to take good care of my "toys" so that they last, and "if it's worth doin', it's worth doin' right."

I have 4 kids. Hunting is a dying art. I hope to be able to develop this as a family pass-time that will go on for generations.

God Bless.
Matt
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2010
Messages
13
Location
Tyler, Texas
Further explanation.
On removing the points and free floating the barrel.
After I break in the barrel with 25-30 rounds, cleaning after every round for the first 10 or so, and after every 3 till I hit 30, how will I know if I need to float the barrel?

At that, what if I float, and the performance drops off?
 

royinidaho

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Joined
Jan 20, 2004
Messages
8,950
Location
Blackfoot, Idaho
At that, what if I float, and the performance drops off?

Load may have to be adjusted as barrel vibes will be different.

Or, wrap the barrel fore and aft of the pressure point with enough masking tape to duplicate the two bumps and rebed it. I'll have only one pressure point but it touches the whole barrel.
 

roaddog1m

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Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Messages
306
Location
Timber Lake, South Dakota
I doubt that it will drop off. Also I should warn you that poor cleaning techniques or equipment is worse than not cleaning at all. Get a good cleaning kit that won't harm your barrel. There are a lot of good bore scrubbers on the market but a lot of the long rangers use Sweats 7.62 solvent. See if you can find a bore guide built for your rifle, if you can't, you may opt for a universal bore guide.

Good luck!

Tom
 

liltank

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Joined
Nov 3, 2008
Messages
4,178
Location
Central Pennsylvania
You've gotten some really good advice so far. As far as your groupings are concerned... I would wait until your brother starts loading for you to see if he can zero something in for your rifle. If you find that groups get larger the more you fire two things can be happening. Just the barrel heating up is causing the groupings to open up or... due to the heating of the barrel it is starting to push on the pressure points causing your point of aim to change or the harmonics in the barrel against the pressure points.

Wait until you try some different loads and see how them work. If you can't get them under and inch, then try filing the pressure points out and start loading again.

Blessings,
Tank

P.S. Have your brother try IMR4064 with either the 87grn Hornady V-max or the 95grn Hornady SST. I have a good load using the IMR 4064 out of a Model 7 Remington and the 95grn SST's.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 5, 2010
Messages
13
Location
Tyler, Texas
Thanks Tank. Funny thing, I just memorized Romans 12-1 this week. Working on the Navigator's Topical Memory System. Goal is 60 verses in 1 year. You might want to check it out.

Thanks for the advice, all. Will be sighting in this week, if the weather holds. I have a note pad full of instructions. If I take to this like I took to my SA handgun, this is gonna be fun!

Please keep the suggestions comming.
 

winmag

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
2,529
Location
LaPine Or.
Rookie needing advice!
OK guys. I have been hunting 6 times, bagged 2 deer, and this past year, started plinking, at longer and longer distances, just for fun. I am hooked, and on a budget. (I know, bad combo.)

I have always borrowed a gun to hunt with (i know, you can't take an ethical shot with a gun you don't "know" but hey, I'm a rookie).

I started saving for a gun (4 kids under 7 restricts your budget). Before I could buy, I won a Marlin XL-7 scoped combo in .243 at a church raffle for $10. Better than a sharp stick in the eye!

Anyway, I haven't even shot it. I have been reading for the past month about sighting, shooting, cleaning and care.

Here is what I have : .243 Marlin XL-7 with Nikon Buckmasters 4-12X50 *Never Been Shot*

I have my CHL, carry daily, and am very comfortable and familiar with SA handguns, but other than plinking with an old .22 Marlin 60, I have only fired about 10 rounds out of a rifle. Hopefuly I am stepping into this a bit ahead of the average rookie.

Here are my questions:

1. I read an article about cleaning the bore after each of my first 5-10 shots. Do I need to do this, or is this just for high-dollar super-accurate rigs?

2. I was going to sight in and set my zero at 200 yards using 2 boxes of Federal 115g rounds that I won with the gun. Is this a reasonable range for that scope, gun, round (and rookie)? My brother-in-law will be reloading my brass with 80g hunting rounds. Will I need to re-sight with those?

3. The synthetic stock has 2 raised "points" that apply pressure to the barrel at the forward end of the stock. I have been advised to sand these off to fully "free-float" the barrell. Should I do this?

4. I was told that I should fire 3 shots, adjust my sights, then fire another 3 at a fresh target. Is this enough to show where my groups are off?

5. I have also been told to fire around 15 shots, then let the barrell cool before shooting any more. Is this correct? If so, how long should I let it cool.

6. After many-many rounds of practice, What will the efective range of this gun be (when I am no longer a rookie)?

7. If taken well care of, how long will this gun last? How many rounds should the barrel last?

8. Knowing that the XL-7 is of nominal value, Is this going to be something that I can pass on to one of my boys as a "heritage gun" or will it be a worn out piece in a few years?


I have 100 more questions, and am doing this on my own due to budget constraints, so any advice and response is greatly appreciated.

Im unfamiliar with the XL-7. However, with any new rifle I own, I take the time to clean it thuroughly BEFORE I ever shoot. Breaking in a bbl is a debatable subject, as each person has his or her own idea how to do it properly. This is what I do;
1.Clean the rifle
2.bore sight the scope, shoot 1 bullet. (leave scope alone for now)
3.clean bbl and shoot again
4.repeat steps 2&3 until my first 10 rounds are gone
5.shoot a group of 3 shots with 1minute minimum between rounds, 2-3 IS BETTER
6.adjust your crosshairs from point of aim to point of impact of your 3 shot group
7.clean bbl and repeat steps 6&7 then adjust your crosshairs to be aproximately 1 1/2'' high at 100 yds. shoot to confirm your 200 yd zero.
As far as re-sighting in, ya probably not gonna be the same, but it should be minor scope adjustment to get you back on 0 again with handloads. One more thing, some bbl's are finniky, and take a while to ''settle''. I dont fully trust my zero untill my bbl has had 50+ rounds thru it to sellte it. (50 is a bit excessive but its a confidence thing). Thats just my way. Other opinions range from more extreme to less than mine.
***Dont ever shoot that many rounds through your bbl one after another*** Cooling your bbl is a MUST if you want it to last! I prefer to keep mine clean as well.(no more than 3-5 rounds before cleaning, but again thats me)
As to the effective range of a .243..............Depends on the accuracy of the rifle, and the personal ability so the shooter, and the game your after. Youll have to answer that on your own.
Keep your bbl cool and clean, and ANY fathers son would be proud to own his dads huntin rifle, no matter the brand. If it was my dads it would have a place of honor with me, cause he used it, and fed the family with it. Besides, youll own 1 and learn real quick how addicting it is and soon have alot more to pass down. Good luck
 

winmag

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
2,529
Location
LaPine Or.
Sorry, I got ahead of myself, and started writing before I looked to see if anyone responded. They did and you got great advise. Sorry again
 

Buffalobob

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Joined
Jun 12, 2001
Messages
5,095
Location
Potomac River
Couple of things

The 85 gr Speer SPBT is a very good whitetail bullet. I have killed a lot of them with it. It is reasonably accurate and reasonably tough.

Secondly, I would tend toward a 300 yard zero but 200 will be OK.

I would not do very much to the rifle until it gave me a reason to do so. Fire your groups slowly letting the barrel cool between shots. I am currently working with a bone stock gun and the last trip to the range to test loads for accuracy saw it shoot two consecutive 0.4 MOA groups. I suspect by playing around with seating depths I can get it a little tighter. But even if that is the best it will do, I now know what my baseline accuracy is before doing any work on the gun itself.

Finally, I would say that you are welcome to come to this forum for advice but I do not think it is wise to get caught up in the quest for long range hunting until you have mastered short range hunting. At long range every thing gets to be very expensive and very difficult. Once you have gained enough knowledge of deer and their habits to believe that each and every year you will be able to kill multiple deer at 100 to 300 yards then you should contemplate increasing the level of difficulty. Being a good rifle shot is no substitute for hunting skill. A couple of years ago I took my daughter who had never hunted big game out west to hunt. I supplied the hunting skill and she supplied the shooting skill. It worked out well because both skills were present.

So, that is my advice. Keep things relatively simple and take things slowly. You do not need to spend much money to be able to load the truck up with deer every year.
 
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