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Improvement at the Range

Posted: Sat Oct 02, 2021 6:22 pm
by Olpeddler
I recently had some encouraging range results with my 1899 Krag carbine. In a post a few weeks ago I noted I was switching from Varget and R/L 15 to AA 2520 powder for reloading 2 distinct Hornady Interlock bullets. The brass is also Hornady, reloaded 6X, trimmed, chamfered, polished, and primed with Win. LR primers. All cartridges were fired at 75 yds. from a bench rest Breeze was directly from behind at 3 - 7 mph ant the temperature was 60 F. Results were as follows: 165 gr. BTSP, 40 grs of AA2520 (.303 British reduced by 14%) and a COL 3.025". I fired only 8 rounds and they did not group very well... a 10" group circling the bulls eye. When I reload this brass I plan to increase the COL by .020 - .040" and reduce the powder by 2 grs.
Comparatively, when I switched to the 180 gr RN bullets the results were significantly better. I loaded those bullets atop 36 grs of AA 2520 (.303 British reduced by 16%) with a COL of 3.080" I placed 5 rounds into the capsule magazine, closed the gate and racked a round into the chamber. Then I topped this off by placing another round into the magazine. I then got very comfortable at the bench and squeezed off the 6 rounds. The 4th shot was a "flyer" at 3:00 o'clock, 5" east of the bull. (I probably yanked that shot.) The remaining 5 rounds hit the bull forming a 1.75" group. That afternoon (9/29/2021) I do not think any other shooter of 78 years would have been as excited as I was, and still am.
I then got greedy with the 8 rounds I had remaining in my ammo box. I let the rifle cool off a bit, and fired off the 8 remaining 180 gr rounds. Disappointingly, the bullets began to drift up, and to the left towards 11:00 o'clock. I ended up with a 6"group, with the nearest shot 3" to the left of the bull.
I humbly seek the perspective and opinion of the skilled and expert Krag riflemen on this forum as to reason(s) that might have caused this. I have an '03 Springfield manufactured in 1918. With it, after 6 - 7 shots in a couple of minute span, the bullets always being to drift up and to the right towards 1 o'clock. Back in the late 90's at a range in Florida, I was complaining about this drift, and the range officer who was a World War II Marine Vet, told me the "up to the right drift" was characteristic of early '03's made at the SA. I wonder if the Krags' accuracy erodes in a similar way to '03's, i.e., as the barrel expands with continual firing, does the bedding of the barrel to fore stock become compressed and cause the "drift". I certainly will appreciated any thoughts you have on this.

Many Thanks

Re: Improvement at the Range

Posted: Sat Oct 02, 2021 8:08 pm
by butlersrangers
IMHO - You are using propellants that may not give optimal results in the .30-40.
Some barrels don't shoot boat-tail bullets well.

I have not found Krag and 1903 Springfield rifles to be overly persnickety, if action and barrel fit nicely into stock wood. I think assembly and trigger-screw tension is very important.

FWIW - I test 'fit' by holding barreled/action in the stock, by hand at the receiver-ring, without screws or barrel-bands.
I make sure the action 'bottoms' in its stock recess and that there is no 'rocking' on high spots. The stock 'tip' should be contacting the bottom of the barrel with a few pounds of pressure.

There should be a slight clearance of the stock wood around the rear 'tab' of the left side-plate. (Some times, this area has wood in contact with the side-plate, which causes uneven pressure, stock cracks and chipping). - See Photo

When assembling a carbine, I put the rear barrel-band on, then install the front guard-screw, tight, while firmly gripping the action and stock.
The rear guard-screw is just made snug, to avoid 'elevating' the barrel off the stock forearm channel.

With rifles, I put the rear barrel-band on loose, grip the action and stock together, while firmly tightening the front guard screw. Then, I tighten the rear barrel-band.
When I install the front barrel-band. I sight down the top of the barrel, making sure there is a little 'day-light' between the top of the barrel and the inside-top of the front band.
Again, I install the rear guard-screw, just 'snug'.
Sight along the top of the barrel to make sure the rear guard-screw has not torqued the barrel upward from the stock and that the 'day-light' is still present at the front band.

Re: Improvement at the Range

Posted: Sun Oct 03, 2021 5:52 pm
by Olpeddler
Butlersrangers, Thanks for your detailed response. I think the good results 1 had with the 180 gr Hornady RN bullets confirms your point about some rifles not liking boat tail bullets. The 165 grainers were boat tail rounds, and the 180 grainers are flat based. I will save the 165 gr BTSP's for my .30-06's, and will order a box of 165 gr flat based when they become available. No problem with Hornady's 220 gr RN because it is already a flat based bullet.
Also, you wrote that the propellants I am using (AA 2520) may not be optimum for the .30-40 Krag carbine. I have a lot of confidence with your and Parashooter's opinions on powders and bullets. What powders would you use with the 3 bullet weights, i.e., 165 gr. flat based spitzer, 180 gr. RN, and 220 gr. RN ?
The detail you have provided on proper bedding on the rifle's barrel is very helpful, and I suspect the rifle needs work done on that area. However, I have never done bedding work on any of my rifles, but there is a barrel bedding specialist about a hour away in New Hampshire. After this year's deer season, I will bring the rifle up to him to have the barrel re-bedded. Thanks again for your counsel and advice.

Re: Improvement at the Range

Posted: Mon Oct 04, 2021 3:39 am
by butlersrangers
I have not done very much experimenting with 220 grain projectiles in the .30-40 Krag.
I don't see a great need for the heavy projectiles, when target shooting at paper.
Only a relatively few number of propellants are appropriate for use with the 'heavies'.

I prefer shooting jacketed projectiles in the 152 grain to 180 grain weight range in my U.S. Krags.
They offer accuracy, with higher velocity, lower pressure and less recoil.
I like using IMR-3031 and IMR-4895 in my reloads. There is lots of printed and well tested data for these powders.

Recently, I have had some promising success using reduced loads of IMR-4198 to power 110 grain projectiles in a couple of .30-40 Krag carbines.
These projectiles are short and intended for the M-1 Carbine, so the .30-40 rounds were single-loaded directly into the Krag chamber.

IMHO - A rewarding thing about the .30-40 Krag is that a lot of loads shoot well.

In regard to Krag 'stock bedding', my intention was just to suggest careful inspection and assembly, in order to eliminate unusual wood pressure and binding as hot barrel 'stretches'.

Re: Improvement at the Range

Posted: Tue Oct 05, 2021 8:03 pm
by Olpeddler
Butlersrangers, Mighty fine shooting with the 110 gr and 152 gr loads. I have plenty of IMR 4198 on hand. I have a severe problem with woodchucks in my vegetable garden; I will get some 110 gr bullets when they become available, and try them on those ravenous varmints. Also, because of the success I enjoyed with the 180 gr Hornady RN atop 36 grs of AA 2520, that round will become my deer cartridge. I just received a shipment off 220 gr Hornady RN bullets from Mid-South Shooters' Supply. Using both AA 2520 and Reloader 15, I want to work up a load that delivers 3-4" groups at 200 yards. That load will be for Maine moose if I am lucky enough to get a moose permit through the annual Maine lottery.