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Frustrating, Embarrassing and Expensive; OVER

This is a discussion on Frustrating, Embarrassing and Expensive; OVER within the Accuracy forums, part of the M14 M1A Forum category; My ownership of an M14 clone (Socom 16) has taught me more about myself than just about anything else. During my nine year ownership of ...


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Old March 17th, 2017, 10:30 PM   #1
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Thumbs up Frustrating, Embarrassing and Expensive; OVER

My ownership of an M14 clone (Socom 16) has taught me more about myself than just about anything else. During my nine year ownership of this rifle everything else in the safe pretty much just sits. Occasionally I'll shoot my STI 2011 or even pull out my TRS, and following the buying craze and scarcity of ammunition's following Newtown I stopped shooting my .45's and spent a lot of time shooting the ever popular Smith Model 41 this greatly improved my handgun shooting for a fact.

But first and foremost all along I ended up wearing out the barrel on the Socom and had it rebarreled last December, in spite of winter, and a late one at that I've managed to log over 900 rounds on a new Criterion U.S.G.I. profile 1/10 twist, 16.25 match grade. I spoke with the smith/armorer this evening and told him I thought I'd need his services again come this fall, lol.

From time to time I've posted pictures of groups I was proud of, and rarely shared publicly some incredibly frustrating range trips I've had since re-barrel. I'm hoping somebody who might find themselves in my shoes can benefit from this. Up front I'll tell you now the root cause of the problems were not only difficult for me to find or discover but also embarrassing to confess to you guys, because this is some very basic stuff here.

First issue; see pics below, I had gotten my rifle home and started shooting like a mad man (still do, it's a daily occurrence) I had an OK grouping here or there but the harder I tried the worse the rifle shot, so bad that I thought for sure something was drastically wrong, I've numbered the shots so you can see what was happening. Two targets, two range trips.


WTH? I called Craig and tactfully tried to elicit something "he may have overlooked" These conversations would last 30-40 minutes and covered everything I guarantee you. My last conversation regarding my first issue ended like this;

Craig: "It sounds to me like the rifle is slipping on your shoulder"
Me: "I'm not really conscious of it"
Craig: "How tight are you holding it to your shoulder?"
Me: "Tight? am I supposed to hold it tight?!, I've been using a technique a buddy who went to 'sniper school' showed me last spring...."
Craig: HEAVY sigh....(now I laugh about it)
At this point the conversation deteriorated because I am sure Craig was having a hard time not calling me out for some idiot, seriously.

Here is where I had been led astray; a buddy (same one described sniper dude) had demonstrated with his Rem 700 how to hold the grip like a queer and just press the trigger, he was smacking gongs out to 600 with a sub-sonic load suppressed, and boy was I impressed! So much so that I developed an extremely bad habit that eventually led to allowing the rifle to "free recoil" and as I am sure you all know, this is not how to shoot the M14. Ironically, sometimes it had paid off in the few months I had been doing this so I had never pegged it as the root cause of the two shot strings above.

Man I can tell you the next day after talking with Craig I was a born again "hard holder" and heck yeah, groups tightened up, but there was still some weird stuff going on affecting predictability which is really all I wanted. I would have been happy with a 3 moa rifle at that point just something consistent. Following items caused some frustration along the way;
1. Loose gas plug (had loosened up, caused errant POI)
2. Overtighted gas plug, I believe I actually was pulling my barrel down, sorted this out real quick.
3. Dirty bore and gas system, this rifle likes a clean shiny bore and shuns fouling, I am now cleaning the bore more regular than I did my last barrel. about a third of the 900 rounds fired have been handloads, and frankly some of the powders I've tried are flat out dirty. (following powders used TAC, X-terminator, IMR 4895 and 3031)

During the last few months since Craig's work I've detailed everything I've done in a shooters log; changing pistons (SAI, Sadlak NM grooved and non-grooved) Barrel cleanings, gas system cleanings, scope changes, pulling scope off and trying irons, shooting positions, atmospheric conditions, how much coffee, time of day, you name it. What I had noted but not paid a lot of attention to while trying to toubleshoot targets that started looking like below was how many times I'd taken off Sadlak mount, I was however getting concerned I'd maybe pulled it out of stock one time too many. I'll interject here, Craig "match tuned" my rifle and guaranteed I'd be shooting 1.25" moa, so knowing that he had skim bedded my McMillan stock (a folder)I was seriously thinking I'd screwed something up, along the way I was playing around with Art's adjustable trigger so I'd had trigger group out several times plus I wanted to see if I had a bent op rod or rubbing somewhere (nope) I was so disgusted with this target I didn't make any notes. Handloads? Don't have a date on it so don't know..


Which winds this down to the second issue here, the one that cost me and had plagued me ever since I lost ability to focus on front post (which I'd TIG welded and filed down to .072") and had installed Sadlak and 1.25x4 Leupold Patrol. Originally I had called Roger at Sadlak and of course like everybody there he's super helpful (actually every gun pro on this forum from Tony to Jon and many others I've sent private mail to have been super. It's humbling) Well, wanting to leave action in stock I had re-installed mount, this did not allow me to see the mount to receiver fit, especially the back end, I instead focused on torque settings, the way the mount rode up on dovetailed ramp, and front screw, plus I tried to consistently get the tab on cam to tighten up in the 1:00 position. Last week I'd finally had it, was going to send the scope back to Leupold, and overthinking it was going to send my mount back to Sadlak for custom milling/fit. When I took stock off (I was going to put it back into USGI wood for attempted iron shooting, sadly this didn't work out, Socom barrel too short for focus on front post for these days) I noticed a very slight gap between receiver and mount, approximately .005", fit was tight in front however, and all fasteners were tight and had not moved as all witness marks made with silver marker were unchanged.

Taking mount off I tried a 'dry fit' and found that I had full contact on ramp, both above and below key, plus mount fit to receiver was much tighter, no gap. I thought what the heck, maybe this has been my problem all along (do ya think?) so now with stock off I focused on cam and receiver bolt without tightening to where tab was "1:00" position, it tightened at 11:00 instead without "riding up" the ramp, receiver fit measured before and after showed I had tightened up fit exactly .005".

I could hardly wait to get to the range the next morning hoping against hope I had found the main problem which had caused me to come home one day a few weeks ago and getting on a local classified was going to list my rifle taking a huge loss. Thankfully the site was down and I woke the next morning with a clear mind...

Here's what's happened since; first picture what target looks like through a 4 power scope


Oh yeah found this picture too, this was 25 yards. You can see a tight little group then major shift in POI


Back to it, below target, I tried a proven load in my rifle, Hornady 168 gr BTHP, started by ending my first shooting session after re-installing mount by coming up 1.7 MIL to smack the 8" 300 yard gong, then dropping back to 100 yd zero to shoot shot's number 1 and 2 (numbered) I was very pleased as before scope would not return to zero.

The next day my cold bore shot and second shot (numbers 3 and 4) as well held same POI. This had never happened before! whoo hooo!

The third day, same ammo of course, I pinned target up again and fired shot number five, then day four shot number 6 (today). Never before had I had consistency or predictability. Feel like I'm getting somewhere now.


The 168 was shooting so well I decided to try the same kind of experiment with Hornady 155 OTM, a good round before barrel change out. Seriously, in my excitement I "threw" shots 5/7, but you can see shots 1 and 2 (first day) were approx 2 MOA, no big deal there but the big deal is the next day (my birthday March 16) shots 3, 4 and 6 were right in there..., today shot number 8 (cold bore) punched shot number 4.


The remarkable thing here for me is not so much the group sizes but the predictability and consistency, both are which something I've never had before, now I'm pretty sure it had EVERYTHING to do with my mount installations. A special thanks to cmshoot and TONY BEN

This post would be remiss without a picture of the subject, the only clean spot in my office.


This was a ridiculous long post if it's confusing sorry and just ask for clarification.

Bottom line; I had developed a very poor shooting habit, compounded by a poor installation of my scope mount, which I could not see because I installed it without removing action from stock.

Good night all.

Thanks from mike_f, 2336USMC, drbub22 and 12 others

Last edited by gettinolder; March 18th, 2017 at 05:01 AM. Reason: Forgot a pic
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Old March 17th, 2017, 10:38 PM   #2
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Aye, but it was interesting! Sounds like you are making headway. BTW, I see a number of titles in your library that also reside in mine. Good taste. Rifle is kind of cool too for a shorty that is!

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Old March 18th, 2017, 02:53 AM   #3
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Well done gettinolder. Thank you for the great thread.
This should be made a sticky for all of us to read upon occasion.
Bad habits can happen over a period of time, especially when technique from another part of the hobby is applied to the M-14.
What a great way to start the day.
Now to check out a few of my toys.

Semper Fi
Art

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Old March 18th, 2017, 06:17 AM   #4
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Very thorough report and shows you definitely have persistence/patience in what you are doing and that is a huge plus factor in the shooting sports. You sought good advise and as opposed to some, you put it to good use. Noted that you replaced your barrel for it was deemed "shot out" and find that interesting for it takes a lot of shots to actually shoot a barrel out but it does happen. Well done.

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Old March 18th, 2017, 06:33 AM   #5
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Watch this:


Read this:

https://archive.org/stream/FM23-71#page/n0/mode/2up

Keep in mind that unless your rifle is properly bedded or sitting in a Sage/JAE stock, it is 2-3 moa with quality ammunition.

Pick up a box of Federal M1A OTM ammunition. It will give you a baseline to see what your rifle is capable of.

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Old March 18th, 2017, 06:35 AM   #6
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Frustrating ...embarrassing ...expensive!
YEP!
Those words just about sum up many shooters' experience with the M14 platform in a nutshell.

BUT
when you do finally get them dialed in properly,
the adjectives can change to ...
RELIABLE ...HARD HITTI NG ...and usually ...
ACCURATE ENOUGH!

At this time, after owning too many guns to count, I have only ONE rifle, a shorty (18.6" barreled) Chinese/GI hybrid M14 in a side folding stock. This is a close as I have ever come to that elusive " one rifle that does it all".

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Old March 18th, 2017, 06:44 AM   #7
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Great report! I'm glad you got it sorted out and that we could help along the way. Persistence pays off and that's a great rifle you have there!

Well done!

Tony.

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Old March 18th, 2017, 06:57 AM   #8
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Your insights, hard work and persistence have paid big dividends for you and give us hope we can get over our “bugs”. They keys to what you did to discovering the root cause of the rifles problems were your shooters log and testing. The one thing you might do now is define in writing in your shooters log all of the new/modified rifle components that gave you this current benchmark. That way going forward if you make any changes to the rifle you can go back to the bench mark to determine all that has changed since, when problems arise.

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Old March 18th, 2017, 07:01 AM   #9
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Any idea what prevented the mount from not fully seating in the first place? (Other than human error).

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Old March 18th, 2017, 07:47 AM   #10
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I read it and it was informative and humbling. We've all experience self-sabotage in our own way. Whether I'm working on the house fixing something I messed up or a poorly installed scope... I've done it to myself several times. Thanks for posting it's a good read for anyone wanting to do maintenance on the M14 type rifles!

Russ

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Old March 18th, 2017, 07:50 AM   #11
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My guess is improper camming of the mount? You really need to follow the instructions line by line on the Sadlak mount. I've installed mine once and have never taken it off since.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redneck Yankee View Post
Any idea what prevented the mount from not fully seating in the first place? (Other than human error).

Thanks from gettinolder
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Old March 18th, 2017, 07:56 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redneck Yankee View Post
Any idea what prevented the mount from not fully seating in the first place? (Other than human error).
Yes, it was stuck in my mind that the tab hadto be in the 1 o'clock position, I was paying so much attention to forcing the mount to ride up higher than it needed to be on the ramp that it forced the mount away from the receiver, eventually.

I wish I'd taken a picture of it, but the wear marks on the mount were not even, showing positive contact against the ramp, around the receiver bolt and just in front of it, but not behind it. There was wear there from past mounting however.

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Old March 18th, 2017, 08:00 AM   #13
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Is that your scope and rear sight dope on your stock?


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Old March 18th, 2017, 08:11 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by russmerle View Post
I read it and it was informative and humbling. We've all experience self-sabotage in our own way. Whether I'm working on the house fixing something I messed up or a poorly installed scope... I've done it to myself several times. Thanks for posting it's a good read for anyone wanting to do maintenance on the M14 type rifles!

Russ
Self sabotage, good description.

I used reading glasses, a flashlight and a magnifying glass to make sure I got it right.

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Old March 18th, 2017, 08:13 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buckxo01 View Post
Is that your scope and rear sight dope on your stock?


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Yes. I chrono'd the loads and used Hornady's excellent ballistic calculator, then confirmed on the 300, 400 and 600 yard gongs. We have no 500 yard gong.

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