Shooting Them First
Date: Jul 31 2006
Handloading for rifles or handguns can sometimes be a tricky proposition: When our finely crafted loads don't shoot all that well, is the problem the loads or the firearm? In my experience there are indeed certain loads that should shoot at least reasonably well in any decently made firearm. For instance, it's almost unheard of for a .257 Roberts not to shoot well with a 100-grain bullet and 46.0 grains of IMR-4350, and the same can be said for a .45 "Long" Colt and a 255- grain cast bullet and about 16.0 grains of Alliant 2400.
Too many truly enthusiastic handloaders, however, assume that just about any factory firearm will not shoot up to their fine handloads. I have known guys who, upon purchase of a factory rifle with a longstanding reputation for fine accuracy, send it immediately to a custom gunsmith for "accurizing." Many gunsmiths advertise for such work, but beware. One in Idaho recently claimed that any barrel shot without extremely anal breaking-in techniques – which he could provide – would be irreparably ruined. This is incredibly thickly sliced baloney.
Most such gunsmiths, however, do a good, honest job. The tricks can include a long list of things, such as rebidding the stock (both in the action area and barrel channel), touching up the crown on the barrel, lapping the bolt lugs and truing the front of the action, machining scope bases or rings so that there's no strain on the scope, etc., etc.
Does it work? If the owner never fired the rifle extensively before the job, who knows? It may have shot tiny groups right out of the box. I've fired a number of factory rifles that did exactly that, and no, they were not hand-picked by the PR guy for gun-writer use, since many were purchased down at the local gun store.