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An update on the Krag - how I made a handguard, and how this 120 year-old fossil showed up my Mini-14. Login/Join 
Prepared for the Worst, Providing the Best
Picture of 92fstech
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Well, I've been spending some more time with the Krag lately. I decided that it really needs a handguard, but wasn't willing to pay the going price for one, so I decided to make my own.

Woodworking has never really been my thing, but I've made some rudimentary stuff in the past, and I've always wanted a router a table, so I decided this was the time. I hit up Menards and bought a router, table, and associated tooling. I played around with it a bit on some scrap 2x4s, then got a nice piece of walnut from a friend and set to work. I have way more hours into it than I should with all the routing, sanding, fitting, sanding some more, and then oiling...it's not perfect, but I'm happy with it. It's functional, and makes the gun look a lot more finished IMO. I used copper pipe hangers from Lowes that I dremeled, hammered, and filed to fit for the barrel clips. They're bedded to the handguard with JB-Weld rather than the proper rivets...mainly because I was having trouble finding the right rivets, once I did I wasn't sure if there would be enough clearance for them inside the handguard, and I was scared of screwing everything up after all that work by taking a drill to it. If the JB Weld doesn't hold, I may have to risk it, but so far so good.

After my Menards trip, I'm probably 75% into the cost of just buying a real handguard, but now I have more tools and learned some new stuff, so it was worth it.





For handloads, I've found it really likes my 187gr home-cast and powdercoated gas checked bullets over 9.0gr of Unique sized to .312. It's a nice light load, easy on the gun and the shooter, and as a bonus is the same bullet I'm loading in .303 for my son's SMLE. I'm also using the same Lee .303 collet neck sizing die to re-size my Krag cases...it works fine, which is good since they don't appear to make one for the .30-40 Krag.

This gun is rapidly becoming my favorite milsurp to shoot. The goofy magazine is just fun, and the ladder sight is amazing. It shoots better than it has any business doing considering the visibly rusted grooves in the bore.

Another weirdly connected outcome is now developing as a result of my mil-surping and KSGM's recent thread about AR-15 weight. In that thread we talked some about handy, lightweight rifles. I brought up my Mini-14, and I got to thinking that I've never really shot it much out past 50 yards, and since I've been doing a lot of shooting at 100 or 200 with the milsurps, I ought to bring the Mini along and give it a go at a bit more distance. I figured no way a modern rifle in relatively flat-shooting .223 can be worse than a 120 year-old gun shooting cast bullets out of a fuzzy bore.

Wrong. My first outing was a disaster. I could barely get the Mini on paper at 100 yards. It's a 187-series ranch rifle, with the little folding rear sight, and even with the rear sight all the way down, it was still hitting very high at 100, and all over the place. I ended up buying an M1 Carbine rear sight and mounting it to the Mini, which actually provides a much nicer sight picture and gives me a lot more adjustability. I took it back out the other day and shot it at 100 yards alongside the Krag, and the results are pictured below. Better than the factory sights, but still quite bad (and this was one of the better Mini targets from the day).



I've been doing a lot of reading, and found something about filling the rear cam lug of the Mini's op-rod with RTV silicone to get it to stop it's forward travel against the bolt rather than against the gas block. Supposedly this will help with barrel harmonics and reduce barrel whip. I've got my op-rod gooped up and am currently waiting for the incessant rain to stop so I can get the Mini back out to the range and give it a try. A accu-strut or other such device may be in my future.

So that's how milsurping started me down the possibly futile and expensive rabbit hole of Mini-14 accurization. I know it's never going to be a benchrest rifle, but it ought to be able to do better than 4-5+ MOA. Updates to follow.
 
Posts: 5805 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by 92fstech:
So that's how milsurping started me down the possibly futile and expensive rabbit hole of Mini-14 accurization. I know it's never going to be a benchrest rifle, but it ought to be able to do better than 4-5+ MOA.

Aw yes, the Mini-14. The poster child of poor rifle accuracy. The secret sauce for making a Mini-14 accurate:
- Install an accu-strut.
- Clean, lube, and polish the mini-14, so it looks great.
- Sell the mini-14 for high dollars to someone from a state that prohibits AR15s.
- Use the mini-14 proceeds to buy just about any AR15 that has a reasonable trigger and barrel.
- Shoot just about any load with Vmax 55 or SMK 69 bullets.
 
Posts: 7276 | Location: Colorado | Registered: January 26, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Lol, you know, I know you're right, but the crazy thing is, I really like the Mini. It's handy and fun to shoot, and I like the mechanics of the Garand style action. Plus, I already have ARs (I'm reminded of that fact every time I try to shoehorn another rifle into the safe around all their obnoxious plastic lumps and protrusions!), and this is something different.

I don't expect it to be a target rifle, but I'd like to be able to shoot it at 8" steel at 200 yards and know that if I don't hear a ding, it's because I screwed up, not because the rifle can't hit it!
 
Posts: 5805 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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8" steel at 200 yards is a 22lr game.
8" steel for a 223 should be 400+ yards.
It's like owning a car that doesn't steer for shit.
 
Posts: 7276 | Location: Colorado | Registered: January 26, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by fritz:
8" steel at 200 yards is a 22lr game.
8" steel for a 223 should be 400+ yards.
It's like owning a car that doesn't steer for shit.


I drove an ancient, worn out Fiat tractor on the dairy farm like that, back around 1975.
You had to turn the wheel 1 1/2 revolutions to start the front wheels in the other direction.


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Posts: 13788 | Location: Florida | Registered: June 23, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by fritz:
8" steel at 200 yards is a 22lr game.
8" steel for a 223 should be 400+ yards.
It's like owning a car that doesn't steer for shit.


My mower resembles that...there's about 1/8 turn of play in the steering wheel before the front wheels actually start moving, lol!

As to distances and calibers, around here all I've got is 200, and while I do have a 5" plate, I can barely see it that far out!

I took the stupid Mini back out just now and shot it with the RTV in the Op rod cam channel. Groups still suck, but they shifted POI by about a foot, which frankly is what I expected. I didn't see how taking the contact off of the gas block would cure barrel whip, but it makes sense that it would change the POI.

I'm now debating if it's worth sinking more money into it or if maybe the time has come to sell it and spend the money on something I want more, like an M1917.

I am gonna shoot it alongside my AR for the postal match this week and see how that goes on paper and on the clock. It'll be up close, so that's supposed to be right in the Mini's wheelhouse and should give it more than a fair shake.
 
Posts: 5805 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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92fstech, I meant to type "That is a really nice Krag handguard."

Damned autocorrect.


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Posts: 13788 | Location: Florida | Registered: June 23, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by RichardC:
92fstech, I meant to type "That is a really nice Krag handguard."

Damned autocorrect.


Thanks! I fight with autocorrect all the time! Big Grin
 
Posts: 5805 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Sweet rifle!


---------------------------
My hovercraft is full of eels.
 
Posts: 2899 | Registered: February 27, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well, I did a little test with the Mini and compared it to an AR-15 today. I used the course of fire from this week's postal match ( https://sigforum.com/eve/forum...760052194#3760052194), which involved shooting 2"x4" targets from various (relatively close) distances on a timer. I figured that this would cater to the strengths of the Mini with it's light weight and minimal sight-to-boe offset. Also pinpoint accuracy wouldn't be much of a factor ( already know it won't hit crap at 100!).

I did 3 rounds with each rifle, turning off the optic on the AR and using the irons just so it would be a fair comparison. The first round wen to the Mini, as I dropped two rounds off target with the AR due to not properly calculating the sight offset.

After that, it was pretty much a tossup, and I jerked one shot with the Mini in the 3rd round and threw it off target.



The Mini is still lighter and nimbler than the AR with the light and optic hangining off of it, but it doesn't seem to be a significant factor on the target or the clock. Also, the higher sights of the AR allowed me to wrap my thumb across the top of the handguard for a stronger grip and more positive transitions. This interfered with the sight picture when I tried it on the Mini.

Finally, I shot a round with the Red Dot on the AR. It was clean, and average times were Right: 1.27, Left 2.04. At over a half second improvement, that blows the iron-sighted Mini out of the water.

While a huge part of me really wants to love this rifle, it's hard to argue with the clock and the paper. The AR is on par up close with irons, better with the dot, and substantially better at distance.

 
Posts: 5805 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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92fstech, nicely done!
 
Posts: 1245 | Registered: October 30, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Sadly, the Mini is no longer with us. It got traded yesterday on a Beretta...partly as a result of this experiment. Should give me more time to focus on the AR, though.
 
Posts: 5805 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by 92fstech:
Sadly, the Mini is no longer with us. It got traded yesterday on a Beretta

A reasonable trade. I've shot Berettas here and there, but see no real need to own one. But I'd take a Beretta every day and twice on Sunday over a Mini 14.
 
Posts: 7276 | Location: Colorado | Registered: January 26, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I hope you're right. So far I think it was the right call.
 
Posts: 5805 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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nice write up,
and nice looking Mini


I have a 180 series that was my first rifle, given to me by Dad, so I will likely never sell it,

it is good for about minute of man at 100, using M193 ball,


better if I take my time and get in position,


my AR's, (20" guns) will eat up a quarter, sometimes less, at 100, prone



https://www.chesterfieldarmament.com/

 
Posts: 9550 | Location: Beach VA,not VA Beach | Registered: July 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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