December 9th, 2012

Tuning Savage Actions Using Action Screw Torque Settings

This article originally appeared in the SAVAGE ACCURACY Blog

Stan Pate is the Captain of Savage’s National Championship F-TR Team. In this article, Stan explains how to adjust the action-screw tension on a three-screw Savage target action to achieve the best accuracy. The procedure described here can be used for any Savage action, including the two-action-screw models. However, the optimal settings for each particular rifle may vary slightly.

Match shooters need to get that extra accuracy edge from our ammunition and firearm. It is easy to get one of the Savage rifles to shoot accurately — even to match standards. If you are looking for that little bit more from your rifle, then please read a method that I have found that works for me. For those of you that are familiar with tuning a receiver (such as a match rimfire action), this article will be nothing new. For the rest of you, this might be new material. The goal here is to find the “sweet spot” for the rifle in relation to the torque settings used on the receiver screws. The proper torque settings [can vary] from rifle to rifle, but they will usually have a noticeable effect on consistent group sizes. A properly-torqued rifle will optimize the “harmonics” of the barreled action using the receiver screws so that the gun delivers peak consistency.

Here is the process I have found that works for me in tuning a Savage rifle receiver to peak accuracy. To use my process you first must already have a load that shoots accurately and consistently in your rifle, and I always use a fouled barrel like I’d be shooting in a match. This process works for me in both the model 10 (two receiver screws), and the model 12 (three receiver screws).

Seat Recoil Lug and Start with Front Action Screw(s)
On the model 12, I will first ensure that the recoil lug is seated securely against the stock by just lightly tightening up the front receiver screw then gently but firmly bumping the butt pad against the floor. Next I will tighten up the front two receiver screws to 30 inch-pounds starting at 20 inch-pounds and working up to the 30 inch-pounds in 5 inch-pound increments, and always tightening the front screw first and then the second screw. Once the front two receiver screws are torqued to the final torque setting, I will set the rear receiver screw to 5 inch-pounds and shoot a 5-shot group [to evaluate accuracy].

Increase Torque Incrementally on Rear Action Screw
After the group is shot and I am satisfied that I called all of the shots as good shots I will allow the rifle to cool off to about the temperature that the fist group was shot at. I will then add 5 inch-pounds to the rear receiver screw and shoot another five-shot group and allow the rifle to cool again. I repeat this process until I have tightened the rear receiver screw to 40 inch-pounds or have seen the groups get smaller and then start getting larger again. Once you have seen the groups decrease and then start to increase in size then you will have found the area of torque to work in. You can then can fine tune this to the exact inch-pound torque settings.

Tuning a Model 10 with Two Receiver Screws
The Savage model 10 action, which has two receiver screws, uses the same process as the three-screw model 12. Measure your group sizes and place the measurements in front of you so that you can see the bell curve showing where your best groups were achieved. NOTE — there may be a better way of doing this and if you should have one, I’d be very interested in hearing it. Good shooting and I hope to see you all on the range. – Stan Pate

This is on the Palma rifle using the torque settings of 30 inch pounds on the front two reciever screws, and 15 inch pounds on the tang screw, it is approximately 1/2″ center to center.
This is my second torque setting which for this rifle and this load is the optimal setting of 30 inch pounds on the front two reciever screws and 25 inch pounds on the tang screw, this group is approximately .180″ center to center.
This is the third torque setting which for this rifle is moving away from the optimal torque setting towards the heavy side of the scale. This torque setting results shows that you will usually see a “bell curve” of accuracy as you move into the optimal torque setting. This group is almost .7″ and the torque setting was 40 inch pounds.

This article was edited for length to appear in the Daily Bulletin.

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 15 Comments »
December 9th, 2012

TECH TIP: Smooth Powder Dispensing with Modified Straw

RCBS Dispenser strawHere’s a clever, easy modification for your RCBS ChargeMaster electronic powder dispenser. Many folks use a McDonald’s straw to smooth kernel flow out of the dispensing tube. Forum member Mike S. (aka in2deep) found that, even with a straw in place, he sometimes got clumps, which dropped 5-6 kernels at once, throwing off his dispensed weight.

Mike looked at the situation and ingeniously decided to trim the straw into little v-shaped arms or prongs. This helps to break up the clumps, so the kernels flow out the end of the tube more consistently during the dispense cycle. Mike writes:

Soda Straw Modification
This is a further tweak of the popular soda straw modification as the original mod would still allow Varget powder to collect in the straw and dump sometimes as many as 6 or 8 or even more extra kernels in the pan. It would sometimes signal an overcharge, but even when it didn’t there could be as many as 6+ kernels too high or too low (total spread of 12+).

The little arms (prongs) on the straw tend to separate the kernels into groups of 1 or 2 or 3 and prevents piling and many times the throw is now within 1 or 2 kernels of the desired weight.

RCBS Dispenser straw

Straw Cutting Tips — Mike found the shape/angle of the “arms” is very important. If the cuts are too fine or too course it allows the kernels to collect almost like before but the illustrated angle seems to allow an average of only 2 or 3 kernels per trickle input from the machine. This means that more charges are much closer to the actual desired weight and max kernel variances will be cut in less than half and there will be almost no overthrows.

Credit Boyd Allen for sourcing this tip.
Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
December 9th, 2012

Cheap Tricks with 35mm Film Canisters

While many of us now favor digital photography over “old-fashioned” 35mm film, don’t toss those old 35mm film canisters, especially the clear Fuji-type with secure snap-in lids. Small plastic film canisters have a multitude of uses for the shooter and reloader.

Here Are Some of the Things You Can Do with Film Canisters:

1. If you weigh powder charges after throwing them with a manual powder dispenser, throw the charges first into a film canister and then use that to drop the powder into the measuring pan on your scale. The canister will catch every kernel of powder. If you throw charges directly into a weighing pan, powder can sometimes bounce out. Using the film canister will help keep spilled powder off your loading bench and floor.

2. Store extra sets of foam ear-plugs in the canister. You never want to be without ear protection. This editor has four film canisters filled with plugs. Two go in the range kit, one goes in the car’s glove compartment, and a second stays in a lock box I use to transport pistols. This way I never find myself at the range without ear protection.

3. Place your smaller cotton patches in film canisters, marked by caliber. If you use the water-tight Fuji-style canisters, you can even pre-soak the patches with solvent. You can have one canister for wet patches, another for dry patches. That saves time when you’re at the range, and avoids spillage. One caution–some solvents may react with plastic, so test this first before you put a solvent-filled canister in your range kit.

4. Use film canisters to hold your neck bushings, sorted by caliber. With a permanent marking pen, you can mark the side or top of the canister with the bushing sizes, or caliber.

5. Store your favorite Bolt Grease (for rifles) or anti-seize compound (good for pistol slide rails), in the canister. You don’t need to fill it all the way up — a little dab will do ya. We only recommend this with the snap-top Fuji canisters.

6. During transport, Protect your muzzle with canisters. When shipping a rifle or barrel, slip the film canister over the muzzle, then secure it with electrical tape. This will protect the precious crown of a match barrel from dings or damage.

There are countless other uses for 35mm film canisters. We invite readers to respond with their own tips on using these handy containers. If you don’t have some stashed in your workshop already, you can get empties for free at most film processing centers. The clear plastic Fuji canisters are the best — you can see what’s inside and the lids are watertight.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 14 Comments »