A few years many years ago, the old Marlin had its wood stock refinished and the trigger modified slightly. Proving to be a consistently accurate small game rifle, it has accounted for untold numbers of squirrels and rabbits. Almost boringly easy to shoot from a bench, it has also been used to instruct several young shooters in safe handling and trigger control.
For this test, I’d just like the ammunition to be on trial and not the rifle. To my way of thinking, meaning I needed to go over the rifle and smooth any rough edges accumulated through the years. We all know what that means Off to the work bench we go!
The first step was to strip down the rifle and evaluate it. While it has been well treated, it certainly has been used. Things wear, bedding changes, and dirt accumulates.
The barreled action was dismounted from the stock, the bolt removed, and the scope dismounted. After a quick wipe down of any obvious grime, the barreled action was refitted to the stock and the bedding checked. The action portion was still fine however the barrel channel needed attention. The walnut stock had warped upwards slightly over the decades, and this was applying pressure to the barrel in an uneven fashion.
Snugging the stock right into a cleaning fixture, I carefully removed wood from the channel using a specialty rasp made just for this job. Refitting and testing every few minutes, it took about thirty minutes to relieve the errant channel. I finished the job with some 600 grit paper wrapped around an aluminum shaft slightly under barrel diameter, smoothing the channel to almost a gloss finish.
Next, I turned to the trigger. Years ago I had fitted the trigger guard with an over-travel screw, and the trigger itself with new springs. Shims were installed between the trigger and its mounting to remove slop. At the moment it was also polished on the contact points. Inspecting the trigger now revealed it to be in good shape, needing nothing greater than a great cleaning. After some Q-tip cleaning action involving Ballistol, it was greased with Molybdenum lube.
From one end of the rifle to the opposite, now the muzzle came under study. Knowing that a proper crown is required for decent accuracy, many folks re-cut and shape their muzzles accordingly. Not being able to consider a good reason why this rifle shouldn’t have an eleven degree target crown, I proceeded to chop it so.
Using a crown cutting and chamfering tool kit from Brownells, I arrange a cutting tool with an eleven degree cutter head and a .22 caliber pilot. Heavily lubed with cutting oil, I carefully made one turn at a time by hand, cleaning chips every rotation. In only ten minutes of labor I had reshaped the roll crown into a sharp target crown exactly in keeping with the bore.
The Marlin Microgroove rifling does look unusual when viewed at a freshly crowned muzzle. I’ll likely re-cut a slight forty five degree indent to protect the fine rifling edges.
All significant changes being done, the barrel was given a good scrubbing with
Ballistol. Following this the bolt was field stripped and cleaned, and then the entire assembly was lightly lubed and reassembled.
Once assembled, I used my RCBS trigger gauge to check the trigger pull. A reliable two pounds, tested a dozen times. Surprisingly crisp for such an inexpensive rifle, it will more than suit for small game hunting and bench shooting.
The scope was reinstalled with fresh drops of loctite on the mounting screws. A number of sighter shots at approximately sixty feet found each round widening a single whole in the metal burn barrel I was firing at, only an inch or so from point of aim. I’ll save final sighting for the bench on the range, where I’ll be running my rim fire ammunition testing. In reality, it might get sighted in today!
I will let ya’ll know the way it seems!
(Update with a warning…..)
Please bear in mind… just because I chose to hog out the barrel channel on this rifle and give it clearance doesn’t mean every rifle shoots better that way. The truth is, many rifles only shoot well with some upward pressure on the muzzle. I’m even aware of 1 military Mauser that may only shoot well with some downward pressure at the muzzle (I own the strange beast).
For this .22 Marlin, range time today demonstrated this rifle requires upward pressure to shoot well. I had to shim it with four thicknesses of card stock between the stock and barrel to get the pressure excellent. Having done the experiment and figured this out, I am going to now inlet a brass shim to use that much pressure.
Once the bedding issue was diagnosed the rifle settled down and began shooting well. I used to be only sighting it in this afternoon, however it quickly started shooting quarter sized groups at fifty yards with cheap ammunition.
I have decided I will need a higher magnification scope to do real accuracy testing at any sort of range. The four power generic Deerfield scope on it now has cross hairs that cover a one inch group at that range. Hard to really get fine accuracy that way…