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September 11, 2007

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Dear Dr. Gun Nut

Recently, I bought a high-grade factory varmint rifle in .204 Ruger. I paid $1,000, which was considerably below list. However, it does not shoot worth a barrel of old hog s**t. I've tried two or three brands of ammo, but nothing prints better than 3 inches. What should I do?
--Dissapointed In New Jersey

Dear Disappointed: A good varmint rifle these days should put 5 shots in 1/2 inch, so you have a real problem. I've shot a number of rifles of the kind you bought, and they all gave fine accuracy, so it's safe to conclude that there is something terribly wrong with that gun. It could be the bedding, or it could be the barrel, or it could be both. However, considering the care with which these rifles are made, I think it's something more sinister--Satan, perhaps.

My advice is to bail out. Sell it, and take your beating like a man. The factory might be able to make it shoot better, but I don't think they'd be able to get it anywhere near it should be. You could spend a bundle on re-bedding and installing a new barrel but that would almost certainly be throwing good money after bad, or something.

Nope, it's time to say aloha, auf weidersehen, au revoir, and adios. Better luck with the next one, and this time, get it in a real varmint caliber like the .223.


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Clay Cooper

Dear Dissapointed In New Jersey, it’s criminal that you got taken that way. If you like to plink allot a 223 would be your ticket. But if you like to really reach out, get a 22-250! Same bullet just 500 fps faster, deadly accurate and has a excellent barrel life!

Dr. Ralph

Disappointed perhaps the reason you paid well below list is that the rifle shoots well below expectations. Try having the barrel re-crowned and if that doesn't work sell and take DEP's advice and stay away from the .204. .223 is usually the cheapest factory varmint round so if you really intend to shoot a lot, go for that. You know if you re-load you can probably experiment for a few months and find a load that will shoot a squirrel's eye at 200 yards. I have seen this done by my brother-in-law with a Browning that could not shoot under three inches with factory ammo. It sounds like a real pain in the rear to me but he actually loves that kind of thing. Every week he would bring me a new target with a tighter group than the week before.

Trae B.

Better yet if you plink alot buy you a good pellet rifle.they are also good for rabbit huntin...and squirrels.but I cant argue with the 22-250 thats a fine gun to have.trust me.

Dr. Ralph

What kind do you have Trae? Pellet rifle I mean... mine is an RWS 34 with a Weaver 3X9 40mm scope. I truly love that gun. I've killed ground hogs, rabbits, hundreds of squirrels and thousands of blackbirds with it. Plus if you can keep on target with an airgun quality trigger you can shoot any gun!


Trae wrote:
Better yet if you plink alot buy you a good pellet rifle.

Ralphie's mom said:

You'll shoot your eye out, you'll shoot your eye out!!!!!

Matt Mallery

Is .204 the latest trendy cartridge? Yet another cartridge to confuse first time gun buyers.


Yet another cartridge that serves no useful purpose other than selling new guns and new ammo.


Clay Cooper

Darn Trae B., I hope your not referring to the 22-250 for squirrel and rabbit hunting? It’ll blow the hell out of them! LOL Air Rifle'YEP!
Dr. Ralph

Plus if you can keep on target with an airgun quality trigger you can shoot any gun?

That’s the reason why back in 85, we wouldn’t let Sandra Worman shoot High Power. If we did, she wouldn’t be trying out for the Olympics in June 86!

I can take an air rifle competitor and make perhaps him/her a master in small bore or high power. But take a high power shooter and make him an expert in air rifle? It will take a lot of rehabilitating and coaching! O’Brother?

About the new rifles that are out like the 204, I am going to stay clear of these rifles for a long long time! I cannot see switching from a 22-250 to a 204 or 25-06 to a 257 WSSM Just flat out not worth it.

About re-crowning, that’s one of the most overlooked accuracy subjects I know. For the most accuracy for a flat base bullet and a boat tail truly require to different cuts of crown.

I agree with you Dr. Ralph suggesting the barrel to be re-crowned

Dr. Ralph

Another thing disappointed... Weatherby makes two Vanguards that are chambered for the .204. The varmint special which is guaranteed to shoot 1 1/2" and the sub moa which will shoot 3/4" or less for probably half what you paid. Matt the .204 Ruger shoots a 32 gr. bullet 4225 fps or a 45 gr. 3625 fps. but just exactly you would shoot with a 20 caliber projectile going so fast and costing so much is beyond me. I think Dave said it was a cartridge looking for a purpose? Maybe he said something like that about the .17 HMR? Maybe I have feelings of inagdiquacy right now and will go with jstreet's quote. It serves no useful purpose other than...etc...

Dr. Ralph

Lots of guns get dropped on their muzzle and the slightest imperfection will ruin accuracy. I have seen two guns re-crowned with absolutely astonishing results, but usually you can run a patch through the barrel and it will catch on any imperfection so you know the problem exists.


How much barrel do you lose on a recrowing job? My Remington 7600 might benefit from that, but I wouldn't want to end up with a carbine.

Dr. Ralph

You can recrown a barrel with no loss in length if the end of the barrel is cut square. If not, you should lose no more than 1/2".

Bad company

3in group at 300 yds sounds pretty good to me?


I bought a Savage 110 in .30-06 that wouldn't shoot 4 inches at 100 yards. Took it back, got a different one, shoots much better than I can!

coach ike

dear disappointed,
you paid $1,000 for a 22 that prints nothing better than 3 inches? sounds to me as if you got ass raped! i paid $140 for a ruger 10/22 and accurately dialed in, that gun is a tack driver at 80 yds! sounds to me that you didnot get what you paid for, sell the gun before a million readers read these blogs and no one wants the damn thing.


No offense Disappointed and I'm sorry for your troubles, but you gave enough information just to keep us all ignorant. I wonder what kind of action you have and the manufacturer. It could be a bad crown or bedding as previously noted. It could also be the barrel wasn’t threaded into the action true.

I’m not familiar with the .204 Ruger. Could this cartridge be fussy? I have had experience with 223’s. The 223 many times takes a bunch of playing to get it to shoot well in individual rifles. Once the load is worked up for the rifle, the cartridge shoots extremely well. If the .204 doesn’t fit this club…then:

The cheapest is to check the bedding by putting shims under the bedding bolts to totally free-float the barrel. If accuracy is still dismal, you got gunsmithing fixes needed instead of bedding work.

Don’t know if this will work since it’s sorta chicken and egg plot IMO, but it is what I would do prior anything dramatic.

Good luck.

PS: I’ve been fortunate never to have bought a lousy rifle. The closest I came was a Savage 340 in 22 Hornet. It had a rough chamber I had to polish: The Fix: one fired brass cartridge, made a flexible shaft, light oil and Dutch Boy Cleanser, plus one electric drill. Learnt this from the late Dutch Volk of Johnson City, NY.

Bernie Kuntz

I sympathize with the gentleman who has the .240 that won't shoot. Is the rifle a M-77 Ruger? I have owned several, still own a .220 Swift and .280 Rem. I have not been inpressed with accuracy from M-77s.

I have owned two .22/250s--a Ruger No. 1 that shot well (3/4" groups at 100 yds.,) and a Sako deluxe grade, which I still own. Also have an "old-fashioned" cartridge (.222 Rem.) in the M700 Classic. I have a 6X Leupold mounted on it, and the rifle will shoot five-shot groups of .5 to .7 inches with three different powders and a half dozen different bullets! That's the cartridge to go to if you want dependability and accuracy! Many of these new cartridges are B.S.--simply a sales gimmick.

I wish you luck.

Ralph the Rifleman


Gerald Keller

Re: Ruger comments.
I have several M77 rifles and don't know what you're talking about!My 300 Win Mag holds consistant 3/8" with 180gr. bullets,my 223 will shoot 1/4"with it's favorite loads and 1/2" with everything else.My 280 will do about an inch,but i've only had it for about a month and only put 60 rounds through it so far and only shot one factory load and one handload,so the potential is there to shoot right along with the other two.Only bad thing I've seen with the Rugers is the triggers.Mine all have new adjustable triggers.Maybe if you work with your rifles a little you'd be more impressed.


I'm disapointed that Dr Gun Nut would advise someone to pass off a rifle with an obvious problem to someone else, then advocates buying something else chambered for the .223. Contact the manufacturer and send it back to be repaired. I'm sure they will take care of it for you. Then go out and enjoy your .204.


All these wiz bang new cartridges and the problems associated with them is the more reason to stay away from them!

Black Rifle Addict

"wiz bang" that's funny!
This type of rifle accuracy totally defines logic. According to some of you here, Wally-Mart sells some kind of sub-standard grade retail weapon while some of you claim to pick off dimes at 300 yards with your Walmart purchased rifle? I guess what I am saying is regardless of price/where you purchase your rifle one can experience both good or bad luck with it.
In this case, the .223 does have a much longer track record then the .204, but that does not excuse the accuracy issue with this man's rifle.I agree with Larry to contact the manufacturer FIRST, then if your expectations are not met look into selling the rifle.
Dave...this is a perfect example of customer service coming into play because if the rifle manufacturer is worth any salt they want to be aware of product problems that's what R&D is all about; product preformance results!

Tom Obuhanych

The smaller the bore, the fussier. Small imperfections will easily ruin accuracy.
I once had a .35 Whelan that shot a 5 shot group, 250 gr. bullets of 0.217". The bench rest guys with their benchrest rifles were all agog seeing my target. I think it was the best group I ever shot.
On the helpful side...it could be bedding, a bad barrel, any number of things. I would get ahold of the manufacturer with the complaint & ask them to replace the rifle. Most big companies are pretty good at this.
Best Regards, Tom

Trae B.

I gave my ol' pellet rifle ayaw a few years ago to one of my younger cousins but it was a daisy.and clay about the 22-250 I dont hunt with it much I just agreed it was a good gun.I hunt rabbits and squirrels with a 22. or my old 410.

WA Mtnhunter

Tom O.

My .35 Whelen is capable of groups under 0.5 inches with .225 gr Trophy Bonded's or 250 gr. SP. It's just that you can't shoot 100 rounds without seeing a chiropractor. lol

The dude that bought a .204 Ruger made two mistakes. One, buying a pea shooter like a .204. Two, buying a Ruger and expecting real accuracy.

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