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Thread: Looking for tips : Bench resting Marlin 1894

  1. #1
    Boolit Lady Range Gypsy's Avatar
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    Question Looking for tips : Bench resting Marlin 1894

    I started tinkering with a couple of Marlin 94s on my rack . Both in 44/40 One made 1997 the other in late 1890's both have excellent bores . I have gotten lots of 2"-3" groups at 100 from both rifles . But now I want to improve my bench rest technique to try to shrink the groups further .
    I have been shooting over sand bags rested back by the action . I lay my thumb beside the stock ( don't grip the wrist)
    Looking for feed back and your experiences .

    Thanks
    Range Gypsy

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
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    Range Tipsy -

    Howdy !

    What worked for me was use of a " barrel block/barrel clamp ", that served as a bi-pod attach point.

    You'd likely want to use one that is removable, especially for any collectable/valuable rifle, and a rear bag.

    Bench rest brass prep techniques help put your best foot fwd.

    Use a proven temp stable powder, and make a good choice on your boolit.


    With regards,
    357Mag
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  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master popper's Avatar
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    LOL. Light loads aren't o hard but full speed gets rougher. Try something slippery between the bags and gun. Single load. High drop stock is the problem, don't let the butt move and she bounces high. Let it slide and the stock lets it slide high. I did find placing my off hand fingers on top of the barrel in front of the receiver helped a tad.
    Whatever!

  4. #4
    Boolit Lady Range Gypsy's Avatar
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    Don't mean to ask silly questions but where would you put the barrel block (position on the barrel ) I forgot to mention they have full length magazines .
    Rounds are loaded one at a time and using open sights. Both guns have very respectable trigger pulls .
    Last edited by Range Gypsy; 02-22-2018 at 12:26 PM.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master pietro's Avatar
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    .

    Given it's pointless to benchrest a hunting, non-target rifle, for those times when checking a load for accuracy, I've a technique that lets me achieve maximum accuracy from rifles with 2-piece stocks.

    To wit:

    1) I don't allow ANY portion of the rifle to thouch anything except a portion of my body while firing it.

    2) I grasp the forend with my off hand between the forend and the front rest, at the same time forcibly pulling the forend down & towards the rear.

    3) I grasp the wrist of the stock tightly with my trigger hand, with the trigger finger held free, and at the same time pulling the buttstock as hard as I can against my shoulder - also ensuring that the toe of the buttstock never touches the bench top.

    4) Once locked-in, the trigger finger fires the rifle, following through until after the boolit's left the muzzle.


    .
    Experience is a wonderful thing - It lets you recognize a mistake, when you make it again.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master


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    2-3" groups at 100 yards with cast bullets in a 94 using iron sights could be as good as you can get. Maybe I should say as good as I can get.

    On my 94's, all made the after 2000, I mount a scope for load testing. Once I get a load I revert back to iron and sight in.

    I use both a front and rear bag. Position the front bag at the same point every time, just behind the barrel band. Use the off hand to grip the butt of the stock and pull the gun back into my shoulder and to adjust POA. A light grip and squeeze trigger straight back. Then follow through.
    Last edited by dverna; 02-22-2018 at 01:53 PM.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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ID:	214809Range Gypsy -

    Howdy !

    What I did was not for everybody. I more-fully integrated the M-336 XLR's magazine tube and barrel by casting the " barrel block " in-place.... using casting resin. This included encasement of the fwd factory fixture that attached the fwd mag tube to the barrel. This pretty much took care of any questions about undue pressure being applied to the fore end.

    For a removable barrel / magazine tube " clamp ", I'm thinking something akin to the adapter plates seen on pump shotguns, that are used to mate extended magazine tubes to the barrel. A similar design for use on a lever gun that bolts in-place and
    can accommodate a bi-pod ( if so desired ) might work ?

    Perhaps use of " mirrored " ( one above, one below ) plumbing repair clamps, or something similar.
    I used one on my accuracy 6mm varmint/target rifle. It works.


    Just some thoughts....


    With regards,
    357Mag

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I use the above mentioned technique for a lot of rifles. I put a soft towel over the front rest bag and rest the back of my hand into the bag and shoulder the rifle with elbows on the bench. This has several benefits for me. 1) it makes a consistant position easier than the skinny forearm or magazine tube. 2) It allows me to control recoil easier than other wise. 3) I can maintain this postion easier shot to shot. I use this for a lot of rifles with tubular mags, 2 piece stocks, and light rifles or rifles with very light recoil.

    I have read and seen pics of Holland and Hollands set up for zeroing regulating their big double rifles. They use a shooting post not a bench. The shooter stands be hind the post and rest back of his hand into it leaning into it. And with a good position fires the rounds. The post is 6 X6 and well padded on top at a height for the shooter. This technique takes the issues of flex from the rifle. Rifle recoils closer to the same as regular hunting conditions and allows for better recoil management with these rifles.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    That's the way I found best with leverguns.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I would be happy with three inch groups at 100 yards for a hunting rifle. But that's just me.

    I have found that repeatability is the key for me. Doing the same thing every time.

    I rest the forearm of the rifle in the palm of my hand and then the back of my hand lays on a pad or support, just like I was shooting over a log or the hood of my truck.

    To improve my 1894C I added a set of Skinner sights. But I also added a rubber recoil pad. I took some ribbing about a rubber pad on a 357 mag rifle but it's not about recoil.

    I like to pull the rifle in tight as I squeeze the trigger. I found that in the summer months when I would sweat through my T shirt that the buttstock would sometimes slip at the wrong time and give me fliers.

    With the rubber pad I get a better anchor.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    Range Gypsy -

    I DK whether you are wanting to determine ultimate accuracy that might be possible, or you already have a pre-determined ( group size ) goal in mind ? If going for the best possible accuracy, your loads might end up being useful for target work, but not practical for field application.

    IMHO - If you are trying to prove the ultimate accuracy capability of your rifle/reloads, you'll probably stand a better chance if you scope the rifle, for say.... 100yd range cessions. That might be something more easily done on the newer rifle, but not desirable for the older one.

    You might also try non-standard things for pure accuracy loads:
    - single loading cartridges in the gun, then firing them.
    - not using a crimp, since you are not going for a game load

    There's play room in the case expander/dies area, where you can vary " bullet tension "; to go along w/ the changes you make in your boolit ( or bullet ) diameters.


    With regards,
    357Mag

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Get a pair of buck shin gloves and put one on your off hand.
    Put the back of your off hand on top of the front rest. Hold your rifle forend with the off hand and rest the butt on a rear sand bag or rest.

    Monitor how much pressure your face puts on the butt stock with your off hand. You only want your face to touch with approximately the same pressure as shooting off hand.

    You DO NOT want your face pushing down on the stock with 20 to 30 lbs pressure. Do not try to anchor the rifle with your face. Work on the technique because it takes a little practice. It is a good way to shoot any hard recoiling rifle. The soft leather glove gets a good grip and helps slow down recoil.
    EDG

  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    With all due respect if you are getting 2-3" groups from a 44-40 at 100 yards with iron sights; you don't need any advice. With that said, like others here I put my forward hand on the forearm then on the front bag and tuck it in tight against my shoulder. As close as you can get to field position is what you want.

  14. #14
    Boolit Lady Range Gypsy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 357Mag View Post
    Range Gypsy -

    I DK whether you are wanting to determine ultimate accuracy that might be possible, or you already have a pre-determined ( group size ) goal in mind ? If going for the best possible accuracy, your loads might end up being useful for target work, but not practical for field application.

    IMHO - If you are trying to prove the ultimate accuracy capability of your rifle/reloads, you'll probably stand a better chance if you scope the rifle, for say.... 100yd range cessions. That might be something more easily done on the newer rifle, but not desirable for the older one.

    You might also try non-standard things for pure accuracy loads:
    - single loading cartridges in the gun, then firing them.
    - not using a crimp, since you are not going for a game load

    There's play room in the case expander/dies area, where you can vary " bullet tension "; to go along w/ the changes you make in your boolit ( or bullet ) diameters.


    With regards,
    357Mag
    357 Mag ,
    Thanks for all your tips , My initial reason for this stemmed from a local BPC match allowing a "special category for cowboy lever guns " I was trying to decide which rifle to take .... The accuracy I am getting surprised me . Either is shooting well enough to hit a 4 "-6" plate at 100 if I do my part .

    Now I am inspired to see what I can squeeze out of them with further load development . The rounds I have been shooting are 5.5gr of Trail Boss and a 200 gr .429 out of and RCBS mold . They are a little harder than I would like at around 20 BHN and these rounds were crimped ( this is my standard 44-40 load ). These are loaded in the chamber one at a time . I would like to try a load of Black Powder and softer bullets with SPG. at which point I will do away with the crimp also.

    I am better at offhand shooting than bench as I only do that for testing and I believe you are good at what you practice . I have heard several theories about benching a gun , from don't touch it in any more places as possible to hold it like you were shooting offhand ( which I believe is helpful to set sights for offhand shooting ) But .. levers behave somewhat different than a bolt rifle as they have much more to interfere with the resonation of the barrel like mag tubes and fore end caps and wood , Not to mention some are takedowns .

    This is purely to satisfy my own curiousity I am going for minimum group size not necessarily placement. I am not sure if I should be trying to hold the forend , or let it recoil as it wants . Also not sure where it would rather be rested , on the wood or front of the receiver . ( When I shoot offhand at a target my hand is on the receiver ahead of the trigger guard in a tucked target stance )

  15. #15
    Boolit Lady Range Gypsy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Texas by God View Post
    With all due respect if you are getting 2-3" groups from a 44-40 at 100 yards with iron sights; you don't need any advice. With that said, like others here I put my forward hand on the forearm then on the front bag and tuck it in tight against my shoulder. As close as you can get to field position is what you want.
    Sir , thank you
    But there is always room for learning and improvement

  16. #16
    Boolit Master


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    If your rifle has sling swivel studs remove them for bench shooting or make sure they do not touch the bags during recoil.

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy Jedman's Avatar
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    Range Gypsy,

    A friend played with a Marlin 1894 in 44-40 and found that Marlin used the same barrel blanks for the 44-40 as they did for the 44 mag.
    He found that if he used .430 jacketed bullets he had much improved accuracy but the chamber would not allow a cartridge loaded with a .432 cast Boolits to chamber as the neck was to tight.
    Your accuracy may be due to bullet diameter more than your shooting technique.
    Have you ever slugged your bore ?

    Jedman

  18. #18
    Boolit Lady Range Gypsy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedman View Post
    Range Gypsy,

    A friend played with a Marlin 1894 in 44-40 and found that Marlin used the same barrel blanks for the 44-40 as they did for the 44 mag.
    He found that if he used .430 jacketed bullets he had much improved accuracy but the chamber would not allow a cartridge loaded with a .432 cast Boolits to chamber as the neck was to tight.
    Your accuracy may be due to bullet diameter more than your shooting technique.
    Have you ever slugged your bore ?

    Jedman
    Jedman ,

    Thank you for your comments . I am playing with 2 rifles one was made in 1997 the other one hundred years earlier . The new one has a larger bore measured at .429 .( The old gun measures .428 . While the new one I am sure was intended to shoot jacketed bullets . The old one has the correct twist for the 200 gr cast bullet . Now the old gun is a little bigger than some of the originals I have measured but the bore is very good . I am playing with different loads as I am intrigued by the fact that the old gun shoots this well. I just want to do my part in this test and give the guns their best chance

  19. #19
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    3-4” with iron sights is fantastic. With my scoped 1895, I can regularly get 2” groups if I do my part. With my 1886 Brownings with irons, I’m very pleased with 3” at 100.

    I think that playing with the usual factors is about all you can do. Bullet selection, sizing and powder being the biggest things for a lever gun.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master northmn's Avatar
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    I like to quote or at least a paraphrase of Frank Marshall an early cast boolit guru. "When working up loads, you need to ask yourself if you are going to hunt deer or try shooting cock roaches at 100 yards". We can sometimes get a bit carried away with the whole accuracy thing, which is measured by measurement of a 5 shot group. That standard has become ingrained so much as some see it as Gospel. I have an old 35 Remington Marlin that wanted to walk to the right after a couple of shots. I took it apart, loosened up the forestock fit and got it so it was not as bad. So far it has been good for 5 total shots at 5 deer. It still may walk a bit over 5 shots but it is accurate for one.
    Those original 94's in 44-40 were sighted in till they hit the target and then generally shot once or twice at game.
    There was that old saying. "One shot we eat, two shots maybe we eat, three shots nothing". I remember talking to some older men that went through the Depression who claimed a box of cartridges was good for 18-20 deer. Ed Harris tested a few of the old stand by rifles from those times and claimed that 4" groups were about the best one could do with them.
    Maybe I am an old retired guy rambling now, but I see so many that agonize to get that magical 5 shot group that is not practical for anything but shooting 5 shots into a small group. There are many factors with a lever beyond just technique to start shrinking groups. A few mentioned. First thing is to look at each shot and see if the variations have a pattern such as the one my old 35 had of walking.

    DEP

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check