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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Up until recently my reloading experience has been mostly high volume 223 and 9mm and my COAL has been the same for each for thousands of rounds. However, I decided to start working up a load for my Savage 308 and was out yesterday morning to test some loads when the issue came up.

168s fed and shot great but 175s will not chamber (bolt wont close without forcing) and when I extracted the round, the bullet shows scratches all the way around (length of scratch about 0.10").Both are loaded to an OAL of 2.80. I confirmed with a bullet from another person that was at the range that the issue was my rifle and not the bullet (could not close the bolt on his round either). When I got home I measured the seating depth using a dummy round (case resized, bullet colored with marker and started in case, chambered the round and noted the depth based on the scratch mark on the bullet).

175 SMKs measured 2.68 and 168 SMKs measured 2.71.

My question is...is it safe to load them this short? If so, would you recommend that I reduce the charge weight or stick with my same starting charge ? Loading with Varget.

These are photos of the 175 gr round that I struggled to close and open the bolt on and the dummy round (175 smk)

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I would definitely reduce the powder charge more and then work your way up. It's better to be safe than sorry. You also shouldn't have a problem loading them and shooting them that short. You can only load them as long as the throat allows. I would start .005"-.010" off the lands and try grouping them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I would definitely reduce the powder charge more and then work your way up. It's better to be safe than sorry. You also shouldn't have a problem loading them and shooting them that short. You can only load them as long as the throat allows. I would start .005"-.010" off the lands and try grouping them.
Thanks. I'm going to pull the 175s that I have loaded and start over. I'll probably start in the 40-41 grain range to play is safe (loading with Varget).
 

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Just load them up where it allows, and do a pressure ladder.

This has been a pretty common issue with Savages I've been around, (short throats) and I've seen some blown up guns because of it when factory ammo was a bit on the hot side.


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How many scratches? When I push a bullet into the lands there are usually two "scratches" (marks) close together which show the width of the land(s) and the number of pairs matches with the number of lands. 5 pairs if you have a "5-R barrel" and 6 with a standard barrel.

There's the possibility you have something in the chamber so I'd give it a good cleaning. Since design length of a .308 round is 2.800", and SMK's are really common, there SHOULD be no problem. Headspace is off the shoulder and since you had no issues with other ammo I seriously doubt that the barrel is screwed in too far.


Before totally condemning the rifle, make sure the throat area is clean and you have uniform markings on the bullet you used to check, not just ONE scratch.


Just curious, how does a factory loaded round using the same bullet do?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
How many scratches? When I push a bullet into the lands there are usually two "scratches" (marks) close together which show the width of the land(s) and the number of pairs matches with the number of lands. 5 pairs if you have a "5-R barrel" and 6 with a standard barrel.

There's the possibility you have something in the chamber so I'd give it a good cleaning. Since design length of a .308 round is 2.800", and SMK's are really common, there SHOULD be no problem. Headspace is off the shoulder and since you had no issues with other ammo I seriously doubt that the barrel is screwed in too far.


Before totally condemning the rifle, make sure the throat area is clean and you have uniform markings on the bullet you used to check, not just ONE scratch.


Just curious, how does a factory loaded round using the same bullet do?
Good question....You can see the scratches in the photo above. Length is about 0.10" and goes all the way around. I inspected the chamber and there arent any obstructions. When i first bought the rifle I shot a box of 175s, 168s, and 147s through it and had a sticky bolt for about half of the rounds but no issues with chambering the rounds. All were reloads from Freedom Munitions. It's possible the sticky bolt was caused by a pressure increase from the bullet being jammed into the rifling. I'm going to stick with my plan of starting over with my load workup using the 2.67" seating depth for 175 smks and 2.695" seating depth for the 168s.
 

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Good question....You can see the scratches in the photo above. Length is about 0.10" and goes all the way around.
It appears to me that the bullet is not encountering the lands but the walls of the freebore. That dimension is fairly tight on some rifles which is a good thing. It holds the bearing surface of the bullet nice and straight so it enters the lands straight.

Have you used a micrometer on the bullet bearing surface. Micrometer, not Caliper. The Mic will be far more accurate. It doesn't take much to make scratches like this.

Another factor to eliminate. Could be slightly oversized bullets and in some rifles it doesn't take much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It appears to me that the bullet is not encountering the lands but the walls of the freebore. That dimension is fairly tight on some rifles which is a good thing. It holds the bearing surface of the bullet nice and straight so it enters the lands straight.

Have you used a micrometer on the bullet bearing surface. Micrometer, not Caliper. The Mic will be far more accurate. It doesn't take much to make scratches like this.

Another factor to eliminate. Could be slightly oversized bullets and in some rifles it doesn't take much.
I dont have a mic but had the same issue and same marks when I tried to chamber another guys pet load when I discovered this issue at the range the other day. I think it was a 178 a-max. Nearly exact same scratches. I'm going to see how it shoots with the bullets seated deeper before taking it to a gunsmith to see if the free bore needs to be opened up. Assuming I measured correctly, it does seem like it just might have a short throat.
 

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I dont have a mic but had the same issue and same marks when I tried to chamber another guys pet load when I discovered this issue at the range the other day. I think it was a 178 a-max. Nearly exact same scratches. I'm going to see how it shoots with the bullets seated deeper before taking it to a gunsmith to see if the free bore needs to be opened up. Assuming I measured correctly, it does seem like it just might have a short throat.
A short throat won't leave that kind of marking. It will engrave marks in the ogive of the bullet from where it engages the lands.

BisleyPrint-1.jpg

I highly doubt your have a "short throat" but do what you wish with seating depths. Me? I'd get someone to mic the bullets, especially since you didn't have issues with other ammo. A .308 bullet can, according to SAAMI spec for bullet diameter is .308" -.0030 which means a bullet can measure (with a micrometer) as small as .305 and as large as .309 and larger bullets engage various parts of the freebore earlier than smaller (or exact size) bullets.

Have you done any cleaning in the throat area to make sure you don't have some copper build up? With my rifles I like to use some J-B Bore Brite (red lettered container) to make sure the throat area is free of any copper or hard carbon fouling. Savage barrels are a little rough compared to others and I notice that my 6.5 Creedmoor barrel is extremely prone to copper fouling. I'll be curing that soon with a new Benchmark barrel but in the interim a regular cleaning with the Bore Brite yields great results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A short throat won't leave that kind of marking. It will engrave marks in the ogive of the bullet from where it engages the lands.

View attachment 16234

I highly doubt your have a "short throat" but do what you wish with seating depths. Me? I'd get someone to mic the bullets, especially since you didn't have issues with other ammo.
Thanks for sharing this. I learn a ton on these forums and greatly appreciate the insight of folks with much more experience than I have! It's probably important to point out that I think I was having pressure issues with other ammo just not issues with chambering a round. Sticky bolt with about 1/2 of the rounds fired but didnt raise any flags for me because it was happening with factory ammo.

I just took a look at some of the fired cases and they may show pressure signs on the primer (slight primer crater and some gas leakage). See photos. The Lapua brass was my load (168 smk over 44gr varget). The Hornady was factory loaded 165gr. The other case was a reload from Freedom Munitions. Not sure which bullet.

I also just chamber and extracted a factory 147gr bullet and although not all the way around and not as deep, it also has the scratch that's on the 175. If it's just a short throat, I'm fine with working up a load for it. But, if it's the free bore, I assume it would need to see a gunsmith. I'm going to use a 2nd method to measure seating depth again to see if I can confirm that I might be dealing with a short throat. Probably wont get back to this project until sometime this weekend but will update once I figure something out.

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Before I sent the rifle off to a gunsmith I'd do some serious cleaning of the end of the chamber in the lead area and throat. Give it a good soak in your favorite bore cleaner (just soak a patch and push it into this area and leave it for an hour or two then push it back out with a rod inserted from the muzzle. When you think you have it clean then get some J-B Bore Bright or "Chameleon Gel" and work a patch covered with it back and forth in this area. Clean well with a patch wrapped on a bore brush and twist it in this area, just before the lands become full height. (Look at chamber diagram to gauge how far in that is).


Then check with Magazine Length rounds and try again. You may not need to make that trip to the gunsmith. Do you have a friend with a bore scope or "Bore Cam"? It would tell you a whole lot about what's happening there. Again, remember that the amount of fouling necessary to cause the marking (if that's the problem) is a mere FRACTION of a thousandth of an inch.

Out of curiosity, how many rounds down this barrel in total?
 

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For me, I wouldn't even mess with a gunsmith. If you feel the barrel has issues, just upgrade to a custom pre-fit barrel. Not only will it fix your freebore issue, it will be of much better quality.
 
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For me, I wouldn't even mess with a gunsmith. If you feel the barrel has issues, just upgrade to a custom pre-fit barrel. Not only will it fix your freebore issue, it will be of much better quality.
Even just a Criterion Savage Match Grade barrel will run $285-$350, depending on length and whether it's SS or C/M. Compare that with the cost of a visit to the Gunsmith and after it's "fixed", it will still be a "Factory Barrel".
 

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Up until recently my reloading experience has been mostly high volume 223 and 9mm and my COAL has been the same for each for thousands of rounds. However, I decided to start working up a load for my Savage 308 and was out yesterday morning to test some loads when the issue came up.

168s fed and shot great but 175s will not chamber (bolt wont close without forcing) and when I extracted the round, the bullet shows scratches all the way around (length of scratch about 0.10").Both are loaded to an OAL of 2.80. I confirmed with a bullet from another person that was at the range that the issue was my rifle and not the bullet (could not close the bolt on his round either). When I got home I measured the seating depth using a dummy round (case resized, bullet colored with marker and started in case, chambered the round and noted the depth based on the scratch mark on the bullet).

175 SMKs measured 2.68 and 168 SMKs measured 2.71.

My question is...is it safe to load them this short? If so, would you recommend that I reduce the charge weight or stick with my same starting charge ? Loading with Varget.

These are photos of the 175 gr round that I struggled to close and open the bolt on and the dummy round (175 smk)

View attachment 16194
View attachment 16202
Hello, I seem to have a short throat problem on my Savage .308 model 110. Using federal .308 168 Gr hpbt . Been to two gunsmiths. Last said he cleared metal debris and ‘test fired’. Brought rifle home and cycled a live round via magazine. Open bolt and attempted to extract live round only to end up with powder all over Chamber and an primed but empty brass. Running out a gunsmiths, what other options do I have? Another barrel, another gun smith? Please advice. Regards, Armando
 
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