The last several range trips have been working up hunting loads for my Savage 7mm Rem Mag.
The first patterns out of my new rifle from factory loads were 2.5 inches for 5 shots, 1.5 for 3 shot groups.
My hand loads were 1.5-2.0 inches for 5 shots, .75-1.5 inches for 3. Then I got it dialed in shooting .6-1.25 inch groups. I am putting the final touches of tweaking the scope just where I want it, when suddenly the patterns jump to 5 inches. Thinking it was my handloads, I shoot a 5 shot group of 10inches with the factory loads.
Paying very close attention to everything, I inspect the hand load cases, cleaned the barrel, inspect the factory ammo and the patterns didn't seem to be walking or doing things that were consistant with a scope problem nothing seems odd other than the patterns. So, thinking that maybe it was me and not the gun, I note what I was doing differently than before. In all the other range sessions I had used the provided rest, and this time I had brought my own. I noted that the patterns got much worse if I leaned on the stock to put it on target( NOT the BARREL, and the pressure was about 5 inches in front of the trigger guard). Not hard, but say 5-10lbs of pressure, the pattern doubled or trippled. So I took 5 factory Winchester Super Xs, put no pressure on the stock, held the rifle with just enough pressure to keep it snug in the rest and then pulled the trigger. The factory load pattern was 1.35 for 5, 1.00 for a three shot group with two shots eclipsed. So I did it again and got almost virtually the same results with factory loads.
What do you think? Is it bad form to lean on the stock at all when trying to shoot precision, or is it the stock? Never had this problem with any woodstocked firearm, nor my AR. But I don't use a rest except when messing with a scope so I can hold really still.