Dealing with a contrary rifle

By Bill Wade December 1998

In the August issue I discussed Recoil. That article came about because of an ongoing problem with my dad and his 30-06.

A little history is probably in order.

My dad purchased the 06 new in 1968 $65, wish he would have bought a truck load. It was a beautiful Remington 700 ADL. He was 35 years old and not a small man at 6' and 220#.

He loved the gun but I can recall the portrayal of a gun that would knock trees down either with the bullet or if you strapped the gun to the tree and fired it.

I was 7 years old and I feared the gun. I finally got to shoot it at 14 and my fears where confirmed. It was a fire breathing dragon with the 180 grain loads dad insisted that it took to kill Missouri deer.

Anyway, long story short, he is still shooting it. He has taken some deer with it but he has never been a good shot with that rifle.

As I discussed in the recoil article, I had finally convinced him that 180's were not necessary and we switched him to 150's. He shot better but still not good.

This summer, I worked with the gun and some 130 grain pills. I tried a different powder and got no dramatic change in accuracy. I can make the gun group about 2" at 100 yards. His groups are more like 3-4". Ok, I guess, considering he is now 65 years old.

I watched him shoot, he was blinking but I detected no other muscle jerk.

Then I handed him my 700 in .243 with 100 grainers in it. He shot a 1" group at 100 yards.


We both stood there confused, talked about it all the way home and several times during the week.

The only obvious difference in the 2 guns is trigger pull. I jumped on our friendly neighborhood Internet and promptly found complete and thorough instructions for adjusting the trigger on a model 700.

Following those directions I found his trigger to be over 5 pounds. My 243 is 3 pounds.

I adjusted his trigger to 3 3/4 pounds and called it good and sealed everything back up. He stopped by one day shortly after and we got to messing with the scope. We ended up moving it back a little bit but not much.

Sitting here at my desk, I was struggling to come up with a reason for the guns consistent inaccuracy. I was confident that trigger pull could be part of it but something did not add up. The accuracy seems to have gotten worse over the years. It surely had not gotten any better.

It occurred to me that maybe it had a copper build up in the barrel in spite of its regular cleanings with the handy dandy "normal" solvents.

I ran a rag soaked with Sweets down the barrel, once through from breech to muzzle. Bingo, blue rag. It took JB to cut it all loose and finally get a rag to come out with no blue from the copper.

Both Sweets and JB are fairly new to me and I have read concerns on both products. Even though both products have been around for years, I am in the experimenting stages with them and had avoided using such to clean firearms other than my own.

3 days later we made it to the range. Using the same 130 grains loads from the previous weekend, Dad's final 3 shot group was under an inch, here is the target Dads target

My group was not as good, the adjusted trigger caught me off guard on the first shot but I don't know which hole it was. It was pouring down rain so I did not check with a spotting scope between shots. Here is the target anyway My target

I think we found the problem(s). I am confident that the trigger pull was a large part of the problem, but I am also certain that the barrel fouling had gotten progressively worse over the years.

Except for adding a scope in the seventies, a recoil pad and new scope in the early nineties, the gun has never seen a smith.

As far as we knew, everything was fine. Just when you think it is safe to say your barrel is clean.


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Last Modified: January 3, 2012