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Thread: WHOA! What's wrong with this 1917 (keyholing)

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  1. #11
    Really Senior Member Jim K's Avatar
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    While that is clearly not the case here, it is a good idea to bear in mind that 1917's were once dregs on the market and dirt cheap, so many were rebored, rebarrelled and other wise converted to other calibers. Most of those were also sporterized in other ways, but with the increase in collectability, some have been "restored" without changing the barrel. So finding one in something like .338-06 or .35 Whelan is not impossible. Of course, .30-'06 ammo will not shoot very well in such a gun.

    Jim


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    Senior Member tmark's Avatar
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    Bladeswitcher (keyholing)

    You mentioned seeing a burr in the muzzle. If that burr is the one I see at the end of the muzzle (it looks like a white speck to me in appearance), that could be the problem.

    That burr may be causing enough drag especially on the tail of the exiting bullet to offset its intended plane of flight resulting in a tumbling unstable projectile.

    Just a thought!

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    Really Senior Member BruceV's Avatar
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    This is just a suggestion. But I had a nice Winchester M-1917 that had a sewer pipe of a barrel. It was truly ugly. With any kind of ball ammo it produced groups that looked like buckshot fired from a shotgun. Two thing improved it into a very good shooting rifle. First I cleaned it thoroughly. Then I took two toothpicks and used them as wedges to put upward tension on the barrel. I simply tapped them in below the barrel from the front so that each wedge put light pressure on from the bottom at a slight angle. The result was that the barrel was pushed up and to the middle of the barrel band. I then tried some factory loaded round nose 180 gr. ammo. The result was the rifle when from shooting 6-8 inch boxcar groups to 2 inch five shot groups. Even with the rough bore I could get four to five good five shot groups before having to clean the barrel of fouling. HTH. Sincerely. BruceV.

  6. #14
    Advisory Panel chuckindenver's Avatar
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    id almost bet if you had the muzzle counterbored it would fix the issue, i see a big burr in the picture you have posted.
    might set you back 50.00 to 75.00, but will likely cure the keyhole issue.
    clean it well with sweets first..see if that works, before you cut.

  7. #15
    Really Senior Member Lancebear's Avatar
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    Hey Chuck,

    Can you take the burr off with a little Swissicon file? Got a nick on a crown. Rifle shoots well though.

    LB

  8. #16
    Advisory Panel chuckindenver's Avatar
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    im sure you can,,but yea know, if it aint broke, dont fix it..

  9. #17
    Member snell's Avatar
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    I second the idea of a good cleaning first. Lots of these old soldiers have their bores really crudded up and that may be part of your problem. Take a look at this idea and insure you read the follow up notes from readers for more good ideas:

    Making the Surplus: Homade Electronic Bore Cleaner

    I've used this on some of my more abused rifles and the inprovment has been remarkable.
    Good luck
    Art

  10. #18
    Advisory Panel Patrick Chadwick's Avatar
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    Looking at the photo with the bullet, the muzzle is not worn enough to cause such severe keyholing.

    I have had this problem, not with an M1917 but with an 1891 Mauser Argentineicon Engineer's Carbine. The dealer warned me it was useless, and he was right - for factory ammo. Just like your experience - bad keyholing and just plain missing the target at 50 meters.

    The answer, in my case, was to be found on P. 55 of Ludwig Olson's book "Mauser Bolt Rifes", in the drawing of the 1891 throat. Basically, the M91 had a real freebore before the rifling started.

    So I measured it up. Sierra MatchKing boat tail bullets were 12 mm clear of the rifling before they touched the rifling! In this case, the bullet was being rammed into the throat at an angle (after considerable gas blow-by), and accordingly taking off in an unpredictable direction on leaving the muzzle. 174 gn flat base bullets, as used for the Lee Enfield, were better, and best of all were 180 gn round nose bullets from Hornady, as they offer the longest cylindrical section.

    I think you have the same problem with your rifle. For whatever reason, it probably has a very long (worn??) throat.
    Try the following - it is quite accurate enough for diagnostic purposes, and if you are careful it will give you a good idea of the overall length you will need later for the loaded cartridges.

    Get a 1 meter/yard length of threaded brass rod. Something like 6 x 1 mm or the equivalent. Close the bolt on an empty chamber. The bolt must be cocked, otherwise the tip of the firing pin is going to spoil your measurement.
    Insert the threaded rod into the bore and push it in until it contacts the bolt face. Run a nut up the rod until it just touches the crown (if you hold the rod gently while running the nut, you can feel it lift off when the nut touches the crown).

    Now remove the bolt. Withdraw the rod about 2 1/2" inches. Insert a bullet into the chamber, and use another rod to gently push it up until it touches the threaded rod. Push up gently until you feel the bullet stop on the throat.
    The threaded rod will now have been moved out a good 3 inches. The distance by which the nut has moved is the overall cartridge length you would need to have the bullet just touching the rifling.

    You may well get a surprise, and see that the bullet would in fact be clear of the neck (as was the situation with my Argentine). If so, you have a very worn throat, as a good bore and throat will give a result where the bullet is still well within the neck when it touches the lands.

    According to the measurement you get, you can either use a bullet with a long cylindrical section, or write off the barrel. It's about as simple as that.

    Good luck with your measurement!

    Patrick

  11. #19
    Advisory Panel Patrick Chadwick's Avatar
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    PS. Using the method I have just described, my Argentineicon went from keyholing and missing the target at 50 meters to 3" groups at 100 meters - just by chaning the bullet - give it a try!

    Patrick

  12. #20
    Member Harry's Avatar
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    Harry

    I had the same problem with my P-14, including keyholing at 25 metres. Had it re barrelled. It's now a nice shooter.

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