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Savage model 12 Varminter

Discussion in 'Long Guns' started by CaddmannQ, Jan 7, 2017.

  1. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Well today was not the greatest day at the range. My buddy Bobby could not make it this morning. I encountered a washed-out road a few hundred yards from the shooting range turn off. This required me to take a 20 mile detour through the Hills to come at the Rifle Club from the opposite direction.

    By the time I got there the breeze had come up a bit and there were gusting winds from 5 to 10 miles an hour for most of my session. Temperatures were in the low sixties and the weather was sunny with a low barometric pressure and rain expected tonight.

    Still I was pretty excited about shooting because I had several new formula loads to try and no idea at all how they were going to work.

    Round 24: 50 yds.
    I shot five rounds of 75 grain BTHP over 25 grns of Varget, 50 yards, for about a 5/8" pattern. This was my best load from the last session and so I made a bunch more of them to try but as it turned out I only shot a few.

    Round 24 was actually shot by mistake on club member Luis's target. He shot this with a nine-millimeter service pistol from 50 yards and I thought he was pretty good so I posted some pictures of it.


    Round 25: 100 yds.
    5 rounds of Nosler competition grade 77 grain bthp over 23 grains of Varget. These bullets were just way too slow to be accurate and I wish I had started out a grain or so higher.

    Round 26: 100 yds, same loads as round 25 except 24 grains of Varget. These were faster and they came a little closer to the mark.

    Round 27: 100 yds
    Same as round 26 except 24.5 grains of Varget. The wind had picked up a little by this time & my pattern was getting more random. I should have started out with 25 grams of Varget and worked up from there because these bullets just did not have enough power behind them.
    That's not terrible shooting but I have certainly done better with this rifle.

    Round 28:
    Round 28 did not exactly come off. I got a round, stuck in the chamber.

    I think this cartridge had a case which had been shot once through my AR, and only been neck-sized. I could not get the bolt closed, nor would it open.

    I tapped the bolt handle backwards and eventually the case pulled out of the chamber. Unfortunately it left the slug stuck in the throat, And without a good rod to tap it out, that gun was done for the day.

    I put 12 mags through my 9mm pistol without doing anything noteworthy, and moved on to the shotgun alley.

    I ran 20 rounds of re-loaded 16 gauge through my side by side. These were my used birdshot shells that I reloaded with 1oz number 4 buckshot & 13 grains Hodgdon Clays, with Ballistic Products "Sporting 16" wads.

    There are 2 steel targets, at about 20 and 50 yds. I managed to ring both with perfect regularity from the shoulder, but was only half as effective shooting from the hip.
    They also have a clay tosser, but I wasn't quite up for that yet.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
    Rossignol likes this.
  2. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    (EDIT... ALL 200yd targets were actually shot at 240. My error folks.)

    Well I got back out to the range today with the Savage .223. I also took my XDS 9 my .357 revolver and the Henry .357 lever rifle.

    Everything I shot today was hand loaded and it all went well.

    I decided to work the Savage up with some Spitzer's that my buddy Bobby had loaded. These were 52 grain Sierra match king hollow points over 25.5 grains of IMR 3031.

    His rounds clock at about 3400 feet per second. I shot four on this target at 100 yards.

    Then I put the fifth one here on the 200 240-yard target without a scope adjustment.


    I shot the same Spitzer's at 200 240 yards and this pattern of 3 inches. I'm showing the back of the target because I had put a sticky on the front.

    Then I switched to the 75 grain Hornady Match, boat tail hollow points, on 25 grains of Varget. All the rest of the targets were shot with that same load.

    The wind had picked up quite a bit by this point I was kind of all over the map.

    I was able to shoot some patterns at 200 240 yards about two and a half to 3"

    Finally it calmed down, and right before I left I shot this pattern, which would have been a great pattern with four shots inside of 1.3 inches, except the last shot was a flinch. BOO!!!
    I thought I had missed the target completely on two of the five shots but when I got closer I saw the flyer way on the left and the stretched hole in the middle on the right.

    I gotta tell you I'm real proud of that stretched hole at 200 240 yards. :D
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2017
    Rossignol likes this.
  3. John A.

    John A. Unconstitutional laws are not laws. Staff Member Administrator Global Moderator

    Looks like the gun, your bullets and load data are working out really well.
  4. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    John, I feel very lucky at how it's all working out. I also feel lucky because I got to go to the range again today.

    Unfortunately, I was trying to set up my buddies chrono on a new tripod and we spent a lot of time fiddling around, but could not get it to work. I think we pinched a wire in the cable.

    I shot the 357 Henry lever gun again and all my wad-cutters shot fine. I need a better scope on that gun, and it needs to be aligned better. Right now it's got my Kmart variety Tasco on there & it is just not good enough for my crappy old eyes.

    I didn't keep all the targets today but I will post up one. I let my buddy Bobby shoot my .223 rifle and the first two targets were his, shot at 200 240 yards.

    He was shooting his own loads, which were 55 grain Sierra matchking BTHP over 23 grains H322.

    We over adjusted the scope and then he shot this with my 75 grain loads.
    It started out to be a very tight group!

    These two were mine and I was shooting my loads which were the 75 grain Hornady Match BTHP over 25 grains of Varget, 2.333" COAL.

    The last target has only four rounds because I had one stick in the throat and separate. The crimp was not tight enough and it came apart when I tried to eject the round and check it for engraving marks.

    I adjusted my scope between the group of five and the group of four, as you can see I was a good four inches off the mark.

    Eventually I put a round at the bullseye at 200 240 yards WooHoo!

    Well I nicked it at least ;)

    These were the only groups I shot today at 200 240 yards, and I was a bit disappointed in myself (mostly about the poor crimping) but the next time I get out I know I will do better.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2017
    John A. likes this.
  5. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    I just found out at dinner last night that my 200 yard targets were all actually at 240 yards. The 200 yard target bases were evidently lost in a minor mudslide a month ago.

    Not having a rangefinder I couldn't tell.

    Now I have to fix my book.
  6. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Well I went back to the range today and they have been working to dig out the missing Target bases and regrade the path up the hill to the 200yd plus targets.

    I chrono'd 20 rounds successfully, to test the chrono, but knocked over the tripod on the last hot range and could not chrono my own loads. Oh the anguish! I may have to go shooting again tomorrow!

    These were my loads shot at 240 yards. It was a bit windy and I took a couple shots to judge windage. The wind swirls, and changes 90° from the bench to the target.

    I took one shot to judge the windage (landed at 3 oclock) made my correction, and put 5 on the black.
    This was exactly the same 75 gn formula I have been shooting.

    I shot this pattern of 10 from 240 yards with Federal white box bulk .223 ammunition.

    Those were only 55 grains but they pattern pretty well just the same.
    These actually clocked about 3400 feet per second.
    Rossignol likes this.
  7. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    This retirement businesses is terrific. I went to the range for the third time in a week yesterday. :D

    Unfortunately the calm weather I was hoping for did not materialize. The wind was actually stronger than the last time and my groups showed this up.

    These were my best groups at 240 yards. Unfortunately these were five shot groups, and as you can see there were 3 flyers (out of 10 shots) that did not hit these little target scraps.

    Although I hit the bull's-eye several times my best group was really over two and a half inches. I shot several groups not shown here that were between 2 1/2 and 6 inches.

    I can hardly believe I hit the farking Bullseye at 240 yards, using the windage reticle.

    I can't say enough about this rifle. This is the best shooting I have ever done.

    I did the trigonometry last night, based on Google Earth, and if I set up my own target and use the last bench on the range, I can get 250 yards exactly, horizontal distance. (We have a Gong at 300 yards but you cannot set up a paper target there.)

    Also I got to chronograph a lot of rounds yesterday including 10 of my own .223 loads and dozens of my .38s. My homemade 75 grain rounds we're hitting almost exactly 3000 fps. With 25 grns of Varget.

    This is me lobbing wad-cutters with a pistol, at a 50-yard silhouette. All the ones in the 8 Ring or better were shot from 7 yards. All the tiny headshots were with the 223 rifle, through the chronograph. I was aiming for his schnozzola (my chewing gum) and was generally hitting him in the nose and the right eye. That's still a 1-inch pattern at 50 yards in the wind, trying to shoot through the chronograph and so leaning over the bench funny, so it counted as pretty good shooting.

    With the .38 I did pretty miserable until I brought it into 7 yards. And started aiming the pistol with my left eye. My right eye is just too screwed up to see those iron sights.

    The 38 wad-cutters were hitting between 650 and 800fps depending on the powder charge. I had one .38 FTF, & one that was poorly constructed and did not chamber, but otherwise everything fired well.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2017
  8. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Looking at my log book today I realized that yesterday was the fifth time in 10 days that I had gone to the shooting range.

    I shot the .223 Savage first and then my cheapo .22LR Savage. I was hoping for a calmer day, and the winds were light, but highly variable. They would swirl in one direction and the next, driving me nuts trying to figure the windage.

    I would get 2 shots out and then the wind would change and the next two shots will be somewhere completely off.

    Somehow this photo got rotated but the black area of the target should be on the top.


    This was my best pattern of the day at 225 yd, out of 50 rounds.


    Those were shot with 75 grain Hornady match and 25 grains of Varget, at 225 yards. These are hot loads!

    I chrono'd 30 loads and these were all running about 2995 fps at 2.346" COAL & 3065 fps at 2.333" at 65°~70°F.

    DO NOT COMPRESS ANY OF MY LOADS TO SAMI COAL! Just 0.013" extra compression resulted in another 70 feet per second in some brass! If you make them short enough to feed in an AR, one will surely blow up. They are already mildly compressed & I'm already noticing the classic signs of very high pressure loads.

    Anyhow, with 77 grain or 55 grain loads (in either flavor) my patterns opened up unacceptably. Most of my patterns were disappointingly large, going 3 and 4 inches at 225 yards.

    I had not taken the .22 Savage target rifle out in six months, and I had just put a new scope on it. I never could get it sighted in properly and I will need to shave a ring base slightly or do some shimming.

    Anyhow this is my best pattern with the .22, shooting cheapo bulk Remington Thunderbolts, 10 shots at 50 yards.

    20170311_060711.jpg The new scope was shooting about 18 inches high at full adjustment, and to shoot this I was aiming at a rock considerably below my target. After 3 shots ranging, I shot it up pretty good. :)
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2017
  9. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    The Savage has 350 rounds through it now, and what a wonderful time I've had making that happen. :)

    I had a less wonderful time cleaning the bolt but once you figure out how to do it correctly it is far from impossible.

    It IS however possible to put the head or handle or both, on the bolt indexed 180 degrees out, which will screw you up totally.:mad:

    You also have to set the firing pin protrusion and check the free play.

    0.035 pin protrusion was set. Lots of free-play (overtravel) available.

    I feel that 0.035" may be a little shy, but I didn't measure it before taking the bolt apart. It looks about the same. I've always thought this gun had light strikes. I was intending to increase the protrusion 0.005" but in order to do so you must increase/decrease it 0.009" min or dress it off.

    Anyhow I'll try it like this and if I need to increase the protrusion I will take it apart again. Once you've done it correctly there are no Mysteries or difficulties, but you need to make a little spring compressor so you can put it together correctly.

    Here's the Savage bolt and firing pin assembly torn down, except for the extractor which I had disassembled & cleaned previously to this run, & the spring loaded ejector, which I did not disassemble.


    I've seen a little more cratering on my primers that I consider proper and I'm thinking maybe a little more protrusion of the firing pin will help prevent that. I've also had a few fail to fire but mostly with Factory ammo & one where perhaps I had not set the primer correctly, as it did fire on the 2nd click.
    Rossignol likes this.
  10. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ 12g Supporter

    Due to several rainy and windy days, and a bad spell with my mom, I haven't been out to shoot in 4 weeks.

    I am behind the 8-ball on so many things now, that I wasn't planning to go this week, but my wife is on spring break and finally asked me to take her to the range after almost 12 weeks. I still hadn't sighted in my new scope for the .22 Savage either. Also I discovered some .223 test loads I had not shot, so off we went.

    Unfortunately the wind came up, plus I spent lots of time helping my mrs with her pistol work, so I never shot my .22 at all.

    I put 40 rounds through the .223 varminter.

    20 were box Federal 55grn Spitzers, shot at 100 yds. I was all over the paper, shooting nearly a 5" circle of 20. Much worse than I have previously shot with these rounds.

    10 were 69grn Noslers on 25grns of Varget. 10 were 75grn Hornaday Match on the same charge. I shot all those at 225 yards.

    The Hornadays made a 3" pattern of 10 while 10 Noslers ran to nearly 6".

    Increasing and variable winds ruined any chance of a good pattern, so we packed it up after 3 hours.
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