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Long time shooter, new member... got some questions!

1182 Views 13 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  matterhorn762
I've had my NM "loaded" M1A for about 7 or 8 years now. I've been deployed with the military or otherwise disposed of for for most of the last 3 years, and have just recently had the time to get into precision shooting with my personal weapons. Previously I had just taken my M1A hunting a few times, banging it up pretty good in the weeds, so to speak. I took my M1A to the range this past week and was only getting about 4" groups at 100m. So I was extremely dissapointed. Let's assume there was no user error because I consistanly shoot much better at much longer ranges with much less accurate weapons. And this was even benched.

The barrel is my first suspect. I cleaned it out extra thoroughly the night before with a strong J&B lead remover, Hoppes #9, etc. for quite a while before shooting to make sure the barrel was as clean as humanly possible. The barrel is a steel barrel, and has probably had around 1000 rounds put through it. The stock is walnut and not bedded.

When I bought the rifle I was a lot less educated on the matter and didn't know about different barrel types. I'm thinking of replacing the barrel with a chrome lined NM barrel from Fulton Armory. I'm interested in the chrome line because as I understand it, there aren't the same copper and lead deposit issues as a regular steel barrel. I'm willing to accept a very minor loss in accuracy because I don't plan on shooting past 700 yards. This is not a match rifle, and I want a rifle I can drag around with field clean and still expect the same performance.

So my bottom line questions are... do I understand the advantages of chrome lined barrels correctly? Is there any reason for me not to get a chrome lined barrel given the rifle's objective? Will a SS barrel give the same results? Is there anything else I should check first?

Thanks!!! I'm glad I found this forum.

By the way, I was shooting 150g Nosler ballistic tip, so it shouldn't have been the ammo causing the problem.
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I wouldn't blame it on the barrel just yet. I see you're shooting the ballistic tips. Have you tried any other bullets? I'm assuming that you're shooting factory stuff. That's probably worth an extra two inches or so right there. You said that you cleaned the barrel extra good so that may add to the group size a bit also. In my match rifles (Supermatch and CLE upper AR) when I clean the barrels really good (especially with the Supermatch) it won't shoot good at all. Once I've shot 20 shots or so then it will settle in and start putting them where they should go.
As for the stainless vs chromed lined vs chrome moly, here's the rundown: Stainless is popular in the match scene because there's a claim that they last a bit longer than the chrome moly barrels. The accuracy of the chrome moly barrels will start to drop off gradually and you'll be able to see it go over the course of a few hundred rounds. The stainless barrels will drop off very quickly. You'll see it drop off over the course of a few dozen rounds. In a match, that's not good. Chrome lined barrels are the absolute best for durability but not the best for accuracy. It's not going to be terrible but should still be good. A G.I barrel should do no more than three inches at 100 yards. A G.I. chrome lined barrel should last well over 10K rounds of "ordinary" firing.
If I were you I'd go with a chrome lined G.I. barrel. They're going for a premium nowadays but for your application that seems to be the best choice in my opinion. Good luck, Simp
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Thanks Simp. I edited my original message to say I was shooting 150g Nosler ballistic tips. I had also shot about 80 rounds, so it wasn't a problem of being too clean.

So you're saying that SS barrels will start to lose accuracy after a few dozen rounds due to fouling?? Why would anybody get a SS barrel unless they lived on a boat or something?

And chrome moly require chemical cleaning after a few hundred rounds else they lose accuracy too, right?

How much less accurate will a chrome lined barrel be than a chrome moly barrel? Can I expect sub-MOA accuracy with a chrome lined barrel if bedded in a McMillan stock?
matterhorn762 said:
I'm thinking of replacing the barrel with a chrome lined NM barrel from Fulton Armory.
i did'nt think that national match barrels came with chrome lining. :roll:

Cry-N-Brian said:
i did'nt think that national match barrels came with chrome lining. :roll:
I didn't think so either, but Fulton Armory says:

"Barrel, Fulton Armory Standard Weight, GI Contour, NM Quality"

Has anybody had any experience with these?
No No. Sorry, I should have said "barrel life". I'm talking about losing accuracy from a match rifle perspective. I'm talking about a few thousand rounds. Over 5 thousand. It's been my experience that a new barrel will not shoot as good as it can shoot, early in its life. You may not see it come in until you put a couple of hundred rounds (or more) down it.
Cleaning the barrel will depend on how much you shoot and how you clean it. Again, talking from a match rifle perspective, I'll clean my barrels after I shoot them with something to get just the fouling out of them, nothing more. After a few hundred rounds (500 or so) I'll run some JB in them to get the copper out. I think that If you were to remove the copper out of the barrel every time you shot them your barrel wouldn't settle in.
As far as chrome lined vs chrome moly bedded in a McMillan stock...all else being equal the chrome moly will be more accurate. If I was going to bed the rifle though I'd get the chrome moly barrel to complement the bedding job, meaning: why would one want to bed the least accurate (so to speak) barrel in the best stock. Go with the chrome moly. It's cheaper that the GI chrome lined barrel and more accurate to boot. Simp
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Thanks for all the good replies.

All else being equal.. with a good bedding job in a McMillan stock, how much more accurate in MOA terms would a CM barrel be compared to a good chrome lined job? And how many rounds would it take until the fouling of the CM barrel cause it to be less accurate than a simple chrome lined barrel, given no chemical cleaning besides CLP?

Also, is taking a bedded stock to the field and banging it up cause significant damage to the bedding? Or if done properly will it last a good while?
I would be willing to say that the CM barrel will/should shoot between 1 to 2 MOA. The chrome lined barrel will/should shoot between 2 to 3 MOA. 9 times out of 10 the CM barrel will outshoot the chrome lined one. As far as cleaning with only CLP...You're probably not going to see a big difference in the two barrels. You'd REALLY have to shoot a ton af ammo through a CM barrel to see it drop off. There's only so much copper that is going to get deposited in the barrel. Once the barrel get broken in the fouling will drop off. I wouldn't recommend banging a bedded rifle around in the field. I would rather have a M1A with a CM barrel that was NOT bedded than have a M1A with the best Kreiger barrel that had a cracked bedding job. Cracked bedding won't be accurate no matter what kind of barrel you have. Simp

For the use you desribed for your m1a, I would agree with Simp on a chrome lined barrel.

You mentioned you had around 1000 rounds thru the current barrel. Did it group better than 4" before? Before assuming it's a barrel problem, try different ammo. Also check your rifle for other accuracy robbing problems such as loose gas cylinder, loose flash hider, loose handguard, etc.

I have 2 m1a/m14's, each having a chrome lined barrel and each will consistantly stay well under 2's at 100 yards. While considering my 2nd m14, I really wanted a match grade medium weigth barrel. But after considering the use I have for the rifles, I decided to go with another chrome lined barrel and haven't regretted. The new rifle barrel is a commerical chrome lined barrel from Lou at LRB and so far it seems to be a shooter. Check the prices and the commerical barrels are less expensive than GI barrels.

Check this forum for other posts concerning problems that may be causing your 4in. groups. There's a ton of information here.

Joe A.
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matterhorn762 said:
Cry-N-Brian said:
i did'nt think that national match barrels came with chrome lining. :roll:
I didn't think so either, but Fulton Armory says:

"Barrel, Fulton Armory Standard Weight, GI Contour, NM Quality"

Has anybody had any experience with these?
These barrels from Fulton described as "Fulton Armory Standard Weight GI Contour NM Quality" is nothing more than a Wilson std. GI contoured non chrome lined barrel.

If ya want a match barrel, I suggest getting a Barnett Douglas barrel.

The accuracy problem you have could be due to many factors.
Stock fit
Loose sights
Ill fitted or damaged parts

These are only a few of the possible causes.

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Couple of comments...

1. If you're not shooting 168HPBT Match ammo, we don't really have a good reference. Any M1A/M14 will shoot pretty close to it's best with this stuff. Everything else can be questionable.

2. Do you have a scope mounted? If so, how does it shoot with iron sights? Have you done a lot of iron sight shooting before? If you are not focussing on the front sight and the front sight only, you simply aren't going to shoot a group better than 4".

3. The loaded model is a standard M1A assembled with a match barrel. It doesn't have any of the additional work needed to make the rifle shoot consistantly to match standards. Bedding, and a unitized gas system are almost certainly required if you are going to see the fraction of the potential of any barrel, whether it be a standard GI chrome lined tube or a Kreiger heavyweight match barrel. The limiting factor for accuracy on an M14 is not the quality of the barrel--it's the fit of all the stuff that you hang off of the barrel, the fit of the receiver in the stock and the fit of the sight or scope components.

Unless you've beaten your muzzle crown into submission with careless cleaning, I very much doubt that the barrel is causing your 4" groups.

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Just thought I'd add one more thing.

If you don't have it, pick up a copy of Duff's "M14 Owner's Guide." It has a well written section on match conditioning. I think this would be worth you time and would give you a better understanding on what it takes to make these rifles really shoot. Most of the work is fairly uncomplicated, takes just a few everyday tools and is pretty cheap to do.

The Kuhnhuasen shop manual is also super good--extremely detailed, but it is overkill in some respects and assumes that you have an entire shop full of tools and parts. It's definitely a good reference for the professional gasgun plumber.

make sure your sights are tight.

if the rifle is scoped, remove the scope. that's at least four variables right there (mount, rings, scope, cheekweld).

shoot it from sandbags, very consistently.

let someone else shoot it.

I have guns I can't shoot as well as my friends can, and I can outshoot some of my friends with their own guns.

agreed that a loaded is supposed to better than 4 MOA.
I really appreciate all the replies. It's been a steep learning curve on this board for the last couple of days. I've concluded what I need. I had to clarify what my objective was, because I was pulling my M1A in two directions - both accuracy as well as field durability. What I really need is two M1As! The first is going to be my field only M1A. As durable and light as possible, but also as accurate as possible given those specs.

So what I'm going to do is have Law483 (spoke with him on the phone today - great man!) custom build a wood laminate stock with an adjustable saddle cheek piece, and no bedding. This way I keep the wood look I like, get the fiberglass characteristics I want, plus maintain both iron sites and ACOG capabilities. Meanwhile, I will send my receiver group to get tuned. I'll have a chrome lined barrel installed, plus NM parts where they don't already exist, such as flash suppressor and gas system. Plus making sure that everything is in tightly as it's supposed to be. Together, the new receiver group and the custom stock will be exactly what I want.... hopefully! Hopefully it will be a tougher than nails M1A capable of 2MOA. If not, at least it will be as tough and light as I can get it. My future M1A will be an LRB receiver with built in rail mounts (no iron sites), Krieger Barrel/McMillan M3A stock configuration with a Nightforce scope.... where weight is not an issue. But that is way down the road ($$$).

Thanks for all the help... and comments on my ideas are welcomed!!
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