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Sorting a Savage Part 1 By Laurie Holland


produce a ‘three’ at five or six o’clock. The second form was most marked in the 800 yard matches which started both days’ competition and saw an early shot (score shots 3 and 4 respectively) drop down, these equating to the 9th or 10th round through a clean barrel, taking ‘blow-offs’ into account.


F Class targets are small! This is the 2011 short-range (600yd) model, only 18 inches total diameter. The Five-ring is six inches across.


Nevertheless, the best shooter in the world cannot be competitive in national/international level long- range F Class and F/TR, if the rifle and ammunition don’t perform superbly and consistently. Rifle and ammunition precision standards that just let a skilled shooter score a possible in Target Rifle matches, albeit with a reduced V count, produce hopelessly uncompetitive results in F Class, thanks to the smaller scoring rings.


A common misconception is that the F Class target’s rings are half the size of those on the standard NRA prone target – that’s true of their diameter but, halving a circle’s radius reduces its area by no less than 75%. So, discovering that your barrel is on its last legs, the ‘scope is acting up, or that there is some other underlying rifle or ammunition problem after you’ve started shooting in an F Class event is seriously bad news, so much so that afflicted competitors often retire after one or two stages.


In my case, the European meeting’s problem was poor elevations that showed up in two forms – poor overall consistency throughout a match, or just about acceptable elevations for 14 out of 15 score shots with one odd man out dropping around 1½-MOA to


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I was largely convinced during the meeting and, in its immediate aftermath, that this was a bedding problem, hence the interest in tuning the rifle’s action’s rear screw tension, the Savage PTA (Precision-Target Action) being very sensitive to its torque setting. However, as I reviewed the rifle’s performance throughout the season, I became increasingly convinced that there was more to the issue and that an ammunition combination that had initially worked well had ‘gone off’ for some reason. When I say ‘worked well’, that includes 12 shots at 1233 yards range at Blair Atholl that put all bar a couple inside the 1000 yard modified Palma target’s ‘Four’ ring (equivalent to 1.7-MOA at this distance) and held consistent elevation as recently as July 2011.


Blankety-Blank!


To explain what might have happened, I need to go back to the rifle’s early days. When I started out with the Mouse Gun (Target Shooter August to December 2010 issues), I found a load after a fair bit of experimentation that really worked, and some! This was 25.2gn of Reloder 15 that shot quarter-MOA groups and gave a stunning 2900 fps with the 90gn Berger VLD. There was a fly in the ointment though – this load produced enough pressure to see primer extrusion into the bolt’s firing pin hole, producing a very occasional ‘blanking’ or piercing episode where a little brass disk of primer metal detaches and is blown back into the bolt-head.


At the very least, this disrupts the shooting rhythm while the bolt is removed and manually de/re-cocked to (hopefully) eject the disk safely onto the shooting


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