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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I figured I'd start a thread to track my progress on sighting in the harmonic dampener on the Mini-14 target, and perhaps some other folks will find it helpful. I came across the video of "Whacky Paul" on Youtube dialing in the Target for a friend years ago, and after reaching out to him for advice, I spoke with him for an hour on the phone. He's a great guy with a wealth of knowledge, and here he is in action dialing in the Target:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z89nJ5zA4bI


I figured the least I can do is spread the knowledge he gave me to help other folks save some time, and expedite dialing in the your Target. So in a nutshell, here's what you want to do (targets he used attached):

Precursory- for the noob, like me:

A) Make sure your scope is locked down tight per your manufacturer's specs. With my Leupold, you need to attach the rail attachment (3-small allen key bolts), which after test fitting with my one piece mount and scope, I used blue-loctite to secure the rail. I'm pointing to the most rearward one here:



B) Make sure your scope is locked down tight to the rail (or however you attach your scope, via factory Ruger scope rings, etc). Be careful not to tighten the tube down too tightly; again refer to your scope's manual. For my scope, these two bolts are on locked down. Now that I know everything is good, I'm going to take them off, and put some blue loctite on the threads and tighten them back down solid:




Now that everything is locked in place
:

1) At 50 yards (where the bullet is the most squirrely), sight it in roughly with the harmonic dampener in the fully out "flush" position, and tighten down all 4 hex screws firmly. This is flush or "zero turns."



Now Paul told me to do 1/2 to 1/4 turns back (tightening the dampener back down firmly each time of course) from 0 to 3 full turns. Why 0-3? Because he's helped many folks dial in their Mini-14 Targets, and it is usually between 0 and 3 full turns.

I was with the gf at the range, and she hasn't shot in years, so I ran out of time fiddling with the dampener, and it took my 75 (1/4 MAO 'clicks') just to get her started before fiddling with the dampener. So, I only did 12 shots (3 per square) at 0 turns (flush), 1 full turn, 1.5 turns, and 2.0 turns. It was 85F with 64% humidity. Paul said when you're putting 2 or 3 in the same hole, you're getting the dampener dialed.

The best I managed was a couple at 1.0 turns, in the bottom left set of targets here, with a couple through the same hole, or very close:


Then I was running out of time, so I just put 6 in some paper at 50 yards-


Finally I felt compelled to do some shot-gunning at 100 yards with a splatter targets for the last sets of rounds before the range closed. It's definitely not pretty (real ugly, lol), but I'm happy with today's progress, and I learned a few things, and I have a good plan for next time. Plus, I got another 200 rounds of action with her, so I'm sure I'll improve each time out.


Also, wind was about 3-12mph varying direction over 3.5 hours at the range. Did I forget to mention that I had great time?! Cheers!!

EDIT: PDF of rifle target attached
 

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Discussion Starter #2
We're heading back to Markham Park tomorrow for R2 of rifle dampener work. Rifle case and ammo can are packed, along with 16 targets (4x4 of above .pdf) of each of the following harmonic dampener settings: 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1.0, 1.25, and 1.50 turns back from flush. Weather will be 88F, 61% humidity creeping to 73%, with winds @ 11mph ESE. Looking to make some decent progress. I'm not concerned with driving tacks, but finding the best dampener dialing so tack driving is next. It's only my 3rd time out (1st was a failbost), so it may take a few more trips to the range, but progress is progress! Will post results, weather permitting. Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
TEMP: 88F
HUMIDITY: 61% (noon) and 73% (4PM)
WIND: 11 MPH ESE


So, take two at ye old range again today. I ran into the problem of not enough time and too it was too windy to fully take down my used set of 4x4 targets between targets and replace them with the new dampener adjustments, so I could only tape up over the old ones. But I did sneak a pic in of the ones I taped over. All of the following white printed targets (in .pdf in above post) were shot at 50 yards. I welcome any input from folks as always. Again this is for grouping, not bullseye, but that's where I was aiming.

DAMPENER 0.5 TURNS BACK @50 YARDS (from flush):



DAMPENER 0.75 TURNS BACK @50 YARDS (from flush):



DAMPENER 1.0 TURNS BACK @ 50 YARDS (from flush):



DAMPENER 1.25 TURNS BACK @50 YARDS (from flush):





And that's it. I was a bit late and kinda rushing at the range, so I didn't get a chance to review my 0.5 and 0.75 turns back before moving the targets back to 100 yards, and going with 1.25 turns back. My groupings ARE much better on the circular target than my first day out. I also had to make a couple windage and elevation adjustments.



100 YARDS BACK, DAMPENER 1.25 TURNS BACK- 20 shots



On this Square Target, the scraggler shot to the left was me aiming left to make sure I was seeing where I hit properly, lol. After making a couple final scope adjustments and putting some in the center diamond, I attempted one shot at each of the four smaller diamonds. I nailed 3/4, missing the top left one twice as you can see:

100 YARDS BACK, DAMPENER 1.25 TURNS BACK- 20 shots




I think I made some great progress today, even though it's far from fully dialed in. I think I made improvements in trigger control more than anything, and I was sure to tighten down the dampener after each 20-30 shots (as it loosens), which I did not do as frequently last time out. This is fun, but kind of an arduous process!! At the end of the day, I'm very glad I was making much better shots at 100 yards than last time out. I'm still thinking I need to revisit 0.75 and 1.0 Turns back, and then try them at 100 yards. The sweet spot (for this particular American Eagle REM .223) is somewhere between 0.75 turns and 1.25 turns, and I'm hoping to pin it down next time.

I welcome any advice, criticism, etc. This is for all practical purposes my second time using a rifle. Cheers!

EDIT: COMPARISON: 1ST TIME OUT VS. 2ND @ 100 YARDS


 

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Sorry I missed your post earlier but I love the range at Markham park. It's been years since I've been to the rifle and pistol range there. I'm always looking for more shooting buddies to go to the range to. If you ever want to go to the range pm me. I don't have a mini 14 but I have an older mini 30! Would be glad to try and hit a 50 or 100 yrd target! That mini 14 of yours seems to be shooting good!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Sorry I missed your post earlier but I love the range at Markham park. It's been years since I've been to the rifle and pistol range there. I'm always looking for more shooting buddies to go to the range to. If you ever want to go to the range pm me. I don't have a mini 14 but I have an older mini 30! Would be glad to try and hit a 50 or 100 yrd target! That mini 14 of yours seems to be shooting good!
No worries at all, and I would never care what rifle you have! I have a lot of work to do, but I'm getting an idea of what needs to be done. I need a couple more times out solo to get her dialed, and then I'm definitely game for some relaxed shooting at Markham!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The new harmonic dampeners work well.
It does, and should work a lot better! It is 100% due to use-error, but I'm working on it. For some reason this site wouldn't let me reply via multi-quote, but it's all good. Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter #8
So I talked to the guy who's been teaching me the ropes with the Target last night, and told me to pick up a a rear rest to remove my jittery self from the equation altogether, lol. He said ideally I'd have a front rest instead of a bipod up front (for any possible competition shooting down the road, or for dialing her in), but he said if you're using a bipod, make sure to pull a bit back on the rifle (extend the legs a bit forward/more of an angle), as the ones who tend to push the bipod forward never win. But he said to pick up some rear bunny ears, so this is en route:



And from the reviews, they come jammed to the brim with sand, so I'll definitely have to let some out for a proper fit. Also, since the dampener was dialed the same 1.25 Turns Back from flush both times out at 100 yards, the improved grouping may largely be due to me getting better at trigger control, etc.

More importantly, I also chatted with him about an issue I'm having with the American Eagle REM .223 (or a problem with the Target itself). I get about a half-dozen double-feeds per 200 rounds, which is a half dozen too many. My buddy said he's only had one FTF in 10,000 rounds. He said it's highly unusual and I picked up a couple hundred rounds of Winchester white box .223 to see if I still have the problem. I am snapping the slide per the manual. If I still have issues, I'm going to have to send her back to Ruger, because something is wrong with it :/ . I'm hoping that's not the case, as I don't want to send the rifle away for God knows how long.

Got some things to take care of, so I'm hoping to hit the range in a week or so, and I'll have the new gear and ammo well before then.
 

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Nice shooting Tex! That's not bad for a first time rifleman. I'm thinking you got the dampener dialed in, by the looks at most of your targets. You just need to practice being steady and good trigger control and you will be slitting hairs at 100 yards in no time :D
 

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Hm... I like shooting from a standing position to test my skill and the rifle. Though nothing beats just hard core rifle accuracy testing than a good bench rest. Looks good, I lack a bench rest though unfortunately... and a scope for my Mini 30. I'm just using irons for now. Oh I read you were getting double feeds.

1. Are you using Ruger Factory magazines?
2. Are you resting the rifle on the magazines?

Now for the mini 14 there are some good after market mags but I've seen people say to never rest the rifle on the magazine as that can lead to feed failures.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Nice shooting Tex! That's not bad for a first time rifleman. I'm thinking you got the dampener dialed in, by the looks at most of your targets. You just need to practice being steady and good trigger control and you will be slitting hairs at 100 yards in no time :D
Thanks brother! I have a ways to go, but I'm working on it, and making progress, so I'm definitely happy with that, especially for a noob. With the rabbit ears, I should be have quarter-size groups at 100 yards all day. I'm hoping to get that down by next month (pending not having to send the rifle back!).

Hm... I like shooting from a standing position to test my skill and the rifle. Though nothing beats just hard core rifle accuracy testing than a good bench rest. Looks good, I lack a bench rest though unfortunately... and a scope for my Mini 30. I'm just using irons for now. Oh I read you were getting double feeds.

1. Are you using Ruger Factory magazines?
2. Are you resting the rifle on the magazines?

Now for the mini 14 there are some good after market mags but I've seen people say to never rest the rifle on the magazine as that can lead to feed failures.
I would like to do some smaller game (hog) hunting down the road, so I appreciate wanting to shoot standing, or resting against a tree. The only thing that sucks is this thing weighs 10 lbs with the extra gear, which isn't much, but I toasted my left rotator cuff lifting years back, and it's still junk. My right arm & shoulder are strong, and I'm sure I could keep her steady for a few shots, but not the dimes I want to drill at 100, which this thing is capable of. So, I'd like to dial her in at 100 within a quarter-size spread (now she's dialed), then work on standing, etc.

Answers-
1) All are factory Ruger magazines. Two 5-cartridge mags that came with the rifle, and two 20-round mags I purchased, but they are also from Ruger. I read about some issues with other than factory, and went OEM.

2) No. With the bipod up front, there is plenty of clearance between the bottom of the magazine and where the rifle rests. I have never even bumped the 20-cartridge mag on the bottom once.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm thinking the IMS rail mount may be the issue, so I put the stock ring mounts on instead. I also received the rear bag, so I'm going to give her a whirl tomorrow. If I get any double-feeds, I'm sending her back to Ruger. I doubt it, as the clearance for casings is over double using the stock ring mounts:

Old Leupold one-piece scope mount set-up:


New set up with stock Rings:

 

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I'm so glad to see this thread. I watched that video before I even received my mini so I was prepared to get dialing her in when I got it. However, after many hundred rounds down range I am no closer than where you are now. One thing I noticed at the range today is that there is "space" between the damper and the barrel. In fact I can put a piece of paper all the way around the end of the barrel and inside the damper. THIS IS CRITICAL!! I shot a group at that setting then loosened the screws and without turning the damper I held the muzzle end against the top of the barrel as I tightened the bottom screw first to hold it down and then the sides and finally the top. This resulted in a change in impact of multiple inches along with a change in group size. I repeated this with the damper held up and again with it to one side all with different results and NEVER turning the damper. I think I have been fighting this issue for quite some time.
Does anyone know how much "play" or "space" there is supposed to be between the damper and the end of the barrel?

My latest attempt is with Fiocchi 50gr. VMax

P.S. I have tried 2 different scopes and I also loctite and double check my scope mounts for any loose screws.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I'm so glad to see this thread. I watched that video before I even received my mini so I was prepared to get dialing her in when I got it. However, after many hundred rounds down range I am no closer than where you are now. One thing I noticed at the range today is that there is "space" between the damper and the barrel. In fact I can put a piece of paper all the way around the end of the barrel and inside the damper. THIS IS CRITICAL!! I shot a group at that setting then loosened the screws and without turning the damper I held the muzzle end against the top of the barrel as I tightened the bottom screw first to hold it down and then the sides and finally the top. This resulted in a change in impact of multiple inches along with a change in group size. I repeated this with the damper held up and again with it to one side all with different results and NEVER turning the damper. I think I have been fighting this issue for quite some time.
Does anyone know how much "play" or "space" there is supposed to be between the damper and the end of the barrel?

My latest attempt is with Fiocchi 50gr. VMax

P.S. I have tried 2 different scopes and I also loctite and double check my scope mounts for any loose screws.
Right on. I haven't had that exact issue with the dampener, but something very similar I did notice (that I talked to Paul about):

Not only is there play in the dampener, but even if you torque those 4 allen key screws to the the point the are about to break, and the dampener is locked own solid, they will back out after a couple dozen rounds or so. 3 dozen rounds, and your dampener is loosey-goosey. Paul said after he got his dampener dialed in properly, and was putting two or three shots in the same hole, he red-loctited the dampener in for good!

Doing 5-shot sets at each of the four targets is 20 rounds, and enough to require those screws being re-torqued before moving onto the next paper. I'll keep your suggestion in mind as well, thank you and congrats on the Target!!
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Also for a bit of an update, I made a few upgrades to the beast after having the dang flu for a week! I'm all good now.

So I found the stock Ruger scope rings did not fit quite right, and after with speaking with Leupold for quite a bit, I ordered some 77/22 medium (manuf# 52306) black matte rings for $62 on Amazon ($104 from Leupold) found here: Amazon.com : Leupold RM Ruger #1 & 77/22 1-in Medium Ext : Airsoft Gun Scope Mounts : Sports & Outdoors

Also, all the Leupold scope screws come with "Nylox and the Torx drive system," so you don't have to use loctite at all in addition to it, and they not only don't require lapping, but they also say not to lap them. At first I was like, wtf, these screws are used when I saw the blue on the screws! lol. It's just how they come, pics below. The next thing I noticed is how much better they fit than the Ruger rings. With the Ruger ones, you kinda had to "snap" the top ring onto the tube, and it didn't seem to line up well.



The Leupold ones just slide over nicely, and were easier to match up. The front and rear do not look like they are evenly spaced, but they are with respect to each other (L/R of each mount has same space between them). All four screws are torqued to 28 inch-lbs, but the rear mounts appear slightly tighter, but they are the same 28 inch-lbs. The screws holding the mounts to the rifle are 45 in-lbs (all torque measurements are for these particular scope rings of course).

Oh, so to torque things properly, I also picked up a cheap in-lb torque wrench ("Wheeler firearms Tq wrenchfor for $50 on Amazon that actually worked well, so that was good, and now it's only $35! Doh! here: Amazon.com : Wheeler Firearms Accurizing Torque Wrench : Sports & Outdoors. It is easy to make 2 in-lb adjustments with this tool.









I also returned 1,200 rounds of the American Eagle .223 FMJ, and picked up a case of Fiocchi 50gr V-MAX, which Ruger recommended after chatting with them for an hour discussing my prior double-feed issue.


Oh, I also upgraded my glass from the Leupold VX-1 3x9x40mm to the VX-2 4x12x40mm (mounted in pics above, looks identical to the VX-1 I had prior, just a notch up and more zoom). Again, the best price I have found for almost all my accessories is from Amazon (and w/ Prime I get 2 day shipping) and you can find the scope here: Amazon.com : Leupold VX-2 4-12x40mm Rifle Scope, Matte Black, Duplex Reticle 114396 : Sports & Outdoors

That should be plenty of zoom to not only see the holes at 50 yards when dialing in the dampener, but enough to drill tacks at the 200 yard range which is just over an hour away. I also picked up a SightMark laser bore sight, and plan on using that at a 25 yrd indoor range up the street to dial in the new glass and burn up some of the 200 leftover AE rounds I have kicking around I need to burn up.

Then it's off to the 100 yard outdoor range to dial her in at 50, adjust the dampener to 0.5, 0.75, 1.00, and 1.25 turns back with the bipod and the rear rabbit ears, and then try drilling some tacks at 100 yards, and then hopefully 200!
 

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I'm excited to hear your results. I was also thinking that I should also always be consistent in how I torque the screws down so now I will always torque them in this order. Top-Bottom-Left-Right. Hopefully this will help me return to a setting without having completely different results.

One of my scope rings "snaps" over the scope too. Nothing is moving right now but I'm watching it close and will change them out the first time I see any loosening/movement.

I too called Ruger and talked to them about my loose fitting damper. They couldn't tell me specs on how much clearance there is supposed to be between the damper and the barrel. They asked what ammo I was using and I told them Fiocchi 50gr V-MAX and they said not to use that because it's foreign made and not reliable.....Notice anything funny here???? told me that they use Remington 69gr match ammo there and suggested I try that. WOW that stuff is around $30 for 20 shells. That could get expensive fast trying to get it dialed in.

He also told me that it was normal for the damper to come loose after several rounds but if it comes loose after 5-6 rounds then it needs to be serviced. I love this gun and will love it more once I get it dialed in but it's the only gun I've owned or heard of that you have to tighten screws after several rounds. That just sounds like an engineering/design flaw.

I'm looking forward to hearing how you shot. I'll post my results too. Maybe I'll even try to figure out the picture upload thing.
 

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I made it out shooting again and had much better results this time :)
I was still shooting Fiocchi 50gr V-MAX with my shims in the damper and being sure to always tighten the damper in the same order. I started 1/2 turn out from flush and worked my way all the way in. As you can see in these 4 targets I never obtained what I would consider a good group at 50yds. I have spent the all of my time and ammo working between 1 turn out and all the way in since that is where all the reports I've read state they've had the best luck. Since that just wasn't working I went back to 1 turn out from flush and worked my way out from there.

Turning the damper sure can make a HUGE difference on point of impact!

**See next post**
 

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These 3 targets are all working out past the muzzle. I thought I was getting there at 1 3/4 turns out but I couldn't duplicate the results. At 3 full turns out I got acceptable results with 2 different groups and I was pretty much spent for the day so I decided to quit adjusting and move out to 100 yds.
T7---My first group was high and right with a group size of 1.77". I made a scope adjustment and shot at the top right target. After 2 shots I decided I would make another scope adjustment and shoot 4 more at that same target.
I then made one final scope adjustment and shot at the bottom left target to get the group you see there. This is much better than what I had been doing in the past. I can't wait to get back out and continue to adjust all the way out then return to whatever setting gave me the best results and fine tune the damper from there.
 

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I have a target mini 14, but I haven't done much testing with it yet. I think I remember reading some place that most mini 14 rifles don't like boat tail bullets. I handload my own ammo so when I have time I plan on testing a bunch of loads with different bullets and powders. If I remember I'll come back and post my results for what's the best combinations and harmonic dampener settings.

With the limited testing I did already I think I remember the best groups were half way between being flush and all the way out. Which might have been the same 1 3/4 turns out, but I don't remember and I was using factory ammo so I didn't care as much as I will with my handloads.
 

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I got a Hyskore DLX rest for X-Mas and tried it out Saturday. I wasn't able to bolt it down so I just used some large ratchet straps to hold it down to the bench. Not as good but got me by. I switched to a red dot scope for a rabbit hunt and needed to sight it in. My last 4 shot group was about 1.4 inches at 100 yards. I couldn't do that without the rest.
I'm sure it would be tighter if I had the rest bolted down and a regular scope on it so I could verify it's on the bulls-eye before I pull the trigger. The groups seem to be tightening up on this baby :)
 
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