Strap in, guys. This is a long and bumpy ride down the bunny hole of rifle loony-ism.
It all started back in 2013. SuperCore was cleaning out his gun safes and I picked up his K98 Mauser in 8X57. He’d been having trouble getting it to shoot. He’d taken it to two local gunsmiths. The first had hosed it up and the second had gone to jail on charges he’d willingly sold guns to known felons before mucking it up further.
I picked up some 8X57 dies and some 8mm bullets, and went to work on a load, figuring I might have a new deer rifle by the time the season opened. That was 2013. I may be approaching that goal now. I was optimistic. Someone had placed it in a very nice stock with a decent bedding job, and the workmanship appeared to be exquisite.
Trouble reared its head at the first trip to the range. The rifle was shooting minute of bushel basket. We’re talking a 30″ spread. Something was definately wrong. The original trigger was about as poor a hunting trigger as you could want. It had everything going wrong. I had Hibberds put a new Timney trigger on it. That got me into the deal another $100. I also mounted a new scope. The orginal was a cheap Tasco. That didn’t help anything. It finally dawned on me the backside of the scope mount, a Leupold STD 1-piece was loose. When I got it home and got the scope off, it was obvious what was wrong.
SuperCore had sent the rifle out to the first ‘smith to get the scope mount fixed. The first ‘smith ovalled the rear scope mount hole. The second ‘smith jammed a larger screw in and manage to catch a few threads. My test firings had nocked it loose.
In taking off the Leupold scope mount, I found out someone had over-tightened the gross windage adjustment screw, the head of which sheared off as I went to loosen it. There was no one locally that I knew would be able to fix all this, so I just waited with the Mauser From Hell in the safe, waiting for a gunsmith on a white horse.
Back in this spring, I got the idea it was time to start working on the project again. I found a gunsmith in Pennsylvania on the 24hourcampfire.com that was retiring. Mine was going to be his last project. While I was out turkey hunting, the Mauser came back. The smith said he had been unwilling to weld the screw hole shut, fearing the receiver would lose its tempering. Instead, he used a variety of gunsmith tricks, including liberal applications of epoxy to permanently affix the Leupold STD mount to the receiver. He sent it back with a cheap scope already mounted and collimated. He’d beat on it every which way and the scope had not come off zero.
My first test firings were this fall, using the bullets I had acquired in 2013. I used H4895 under some PRVI Partisan 170 grain bullets. Overall, the load performed well, but it was a bit stiff for what I want, and most important, one round in every 4 or so was flying off 2 feet high and 2 feet to either the right or left.
I contacted the rifle loonies at 24hourcampfire.com in the Ask the Gunwriters Section and asked them if they had seen this.
The consensus was there was something wrong with the scope or the mount. I already had a new scope on order for another project that I could swap on to test the scope idea, but in looking everything over I noticed the bag that held the bullets read “.322” and not “.323″ Now when you think about things logically, there is no good way to explain a single round here and there going awry if the scope or the mount is what’s wrong. How does the scope or the mount know how to get back to the original setting after it’s moved? Rifle loonies left and right were telling me it could happen. However, the idea that bad bullets would be to blame sounded more plausible. Just about everything else was discussed– everything from a damaged crown to bad bedding in the tang.
I had some 170 grain Hornady Interlock Round Nosed bullets on hand. This had been my original intention in 2013, but there was a bullet shortage back then, and the PRVI’s were the only similar ones available. I loaded up some of the Hornady’s and kept everything else the same took the rifle back to the farm. Shazam! I now had a very respectable 4” group instead of 4-inches with a 2-foot flyer every 4 rounds.
4-inch groups are about what I consider the minimum for a deer rifle. At 4 inches, you can hit a deer at 100 yards fairly reliably. However, a 4 MOA rifle is much harder to sight-in for an accurate shot beyond that. You’re kind of guessing at 200 yards. At the Midway blind, a maximum range of 250 is required. I have not yet had to take one of those shots, but it has to be considered. I shimmed the front screw and loaded 20 more rounds and knocked a grain or so off the previous helping of H4895. I got what appears to be about a 2-inch group, although you need to interpolate a lot, because there was a 13 MPH crosswind when I was shooting. All in all, it appears now the Mauser From Hell has been exorcised.