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Old October 27, 2017, 15:56   #1
Clonehead
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Hunting STG58 Project

Haven't post anything in a very long time so figured this project would be worthy of a post.

My previous deer rifle is an HK 91 with a Nightforce 2.5-10 scope, which when loaded with a five round magazine tips the scale at 12.5 lbs...made me respect everyone who carried/carries one of these rifles for a living! As much as I like the HK series I really wanted to put together an FAL to use for hunting.

For years I have had an early DSA STG58 sitting in my safe that I had rebuilt as an R1 clone, which never left the safe, making it the perfect foundation for my hunting rifle project. After deconstructing the R1 clone, I rebuilt my STG58 with the original Steyr STG58 barrel that I had cut down to 18" years ago for another project, topped off with a DSA muzzle brake. A Falcon Trigger Pull Reduction kit marginally improved the trigger pull weight but did make for a cleaner pull in general. Originally this STG58 wore an old Zeiss Diavari-DA 1.5-6x scope with BDC (the scope orginally found on the HK G3 SG1) but changed it out for a Meopta Artemis 2-8x with the #4A ranging reticle.



I didn't end up saving much in terms of weight as this rifle weighs 11.8 lbs with a loaded 5 round magazine, in part is due to the Meopta, which is built like a tank with a steel tube, but it has amazingly clear glass so I can live with the weight of the scope. I also gave up a really good trigger pull as I have the PSG1/MSG90 trigger installed in my HK91. I considered moving a JARD trigger over from a different FAL but in the end just went with the Falcon kit.

What surprised me is how temperamental the STG58 barrel is with different ammunition loads. The selection of ammunition tested:



The results:





In the first target photo, the lower target is surplus 147gr fired at 100 yds as a benchmark, which the STG58 barrel really likes. All the other holes in the backing and upper target where various commercial brands with bullet weights ranging from 150gr to 175gr. The surprising part of this is that the point of aim is the center of the lower target.

The second target photo shows the two commercial rounds that this STG58 barrel actually likes - The lower right target is from sighting in with the Nosler 125gr Ballistic Tips and the upper left target is from shooting the Hornady Whitetail 150gr Interlocks using the same scope setting as for the Nosler's. Once again, every other hole in the backing and other two targets are from the other various commercial loads, using the lower right target as point of aim.

The Hornady Black 155gr SST load actually printed a decent group of about 2.5" but not as good as the Nosler 125gr BT or Hornady 150gr Interlocks. One issue that I ran into with the Nosler 125gr BT is that it will only reliably function if the gas system is completely closed, and even then it just barely cycles the bolt carrier with the brass usually being ejected a couple of inches instead of 20-30', and still has the random stove-pipe malfunction. The Hornady 150gr Interlocks run perfectly with the gas system set on 4 with very positive ejection, I might even see how some better tuning of the gas system works out with this load.

I did measure the head of the gas piston, along with two other gas pistons I havew on hand, and put the largest of the three into this STG58 to ensure I was getting the most gas acting on the piston, but the biggest difference in width of the three different gas pistons turned out to be only 0.002". I also changed out the gas plug to see if any of these resulted in better reliability when using the Nosler's but the result was a marginal improvement (although due to a limited number of Nosler rounds I couldn't shoot as many as I would've liked for testing).

I ended up sighting in the Meopta with the Hornady 150gr Interlocks for my hunt due to the reliability over the Nosler's, at least until I can get a bit more time shooting the Nosler's to feel comfortable with their reliability.

Carrying an almost 12 lb rifle up and down the mountains looking for deer seriously made me question my sanity. Carrying an STG58 made me appreciate the vastly better ergonomics of an FAL type rifle over an HK. I still have an issue to sort out with the bolt hold open but am not too worried...after all, if you are firing more than five rounds to put down a deer you probably have bigger issues than a non-functioning bolt hold open. I also need to redo the barrel shim I made to get the STG58 barrel to time/torque correctly on the DSA receiver as it was so thin that it ripped during barrel torquing. Be a nice winter project to work on after deer season.

Last edited by Clonehead; October 27, 2017 at 16:14. Reason: Photo links
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Old October 27, 2017, 16:45   #2
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They can kill deer even with M80 ball. I would use a blocked 20 round mag. It is surprising how much having the standard mag helps in handling the rifle on a hike. I've used the original sling type just to check out how it would have been. Has a 3x8 Minox long eye relief scope on an ARMS mount. Belgian HGs.

The problem with scopes and mounts is they add weight to an FAL. Just saying


Nice thing about an FAL in the woods with a real deal mag is it may keep you safe should you walk up into a nest of Deliverence types. Hell you could wander into juanni land and be castigated and fat shamed for a 25+ bmi. Then you'll understand

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Last edited by meltblown; October 27, 2017 at 16:55.
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Old October 27, 2017, 17:22   #3
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Originally Posted by meltblown View Post
They can kill deer even with M80 ball. I would use a blocked 20 round mag. It is surprising how much having the standard mag helps in handling the rifle on a hike. I've used the original sling type just to check out how it would have been. Has a 3x8 Minox long eye relief scope on an ARMS mount. Belgian HGs.

The problem with scopes and mounts is they add weight to an FAL. Just saying


Nice thing about an FAL in the woods with a real deal mag is it may keep you safe should you walk up into a nest of Deliverence types. Hell you could wander into juanni land and be castigated and fat shamed for a 25+ bmi. Then you'll understand

I'm in Idaho, there are no magazine restrictions for hunting
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Old October 28, 2017, 13:30   #4
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I hunt with mine bone stock.
Shot a deer at about 100' last year.
No luck this year yet.
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Old October 28, 2017, 13:41   #5
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I hunt with mine bone stock.
Shot a deer at about 100' last year.
No luck this year yet.
Best of luck to you! What load are you hunting with? I got one this season using the Hornady 150gr Interlocks at about 150 yds, bullet did its job and the buck dropped in its tracks...and then rolled almost 500 vertical feet down the mountain.
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Old October 29, 2017, 07:02   #6
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You better hold on to that FAL brother. Keep up the good work and thanks for that excellent post.

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Old October 29, 2017, 08:04   #7
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About any time you change the ammo type the POI will shift. Hell I took the flash hider off and the thing left the paper at 100 yds.

I've shot the same Hornady SST 165 gr and it wasn't any better that M80.
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Old October 29, 2017, 08:46   #8
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Deliverance Types ?

Thought they all moved to the cities in the early '90s.
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Old October 29, 2017, 08:57   #9
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Great field report and nice stick
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Old October 29, 2017, 21:45   #10
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I dig that setup, it's clean.
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Old October 30, 2017, 10:28   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clonehead View Post
Best of luck to you! What load are you hunting with? I got one this season using the Hornady 150gr Interlocks at about 150 yds, bullet did its job and the buck dropped in its tracks...and then rolled almost 500 vertical feet down the mountain.
Well it should have been the most tender venison you ever had!
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Old October 31, 2017, 22:58   #12
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I don't see Hornady Black 155 gr SST in your stack but I do see A-Max. Hornady does not recommend A-Max for Hunting.

Nice report. Thanks.

I occasionally hunt with an FAL. I use the Superformance 155 gr SST s. FALs are picky eaters.
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Old November 02, 2017, 12:29   #13
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Originally Posted by STG_58_guy View Post
I don't see Hornady Black 155 gr SST in your stack but I do see A-Max. Hornady does not recommend A-Max for Hunting.

Nice report. Thanks.

I occasionally hunt with an FAL. I use the Superformance 155 gr SST s. FALs are picky eaters.
Nothing I've used shooting the Superformance ammo has liked the round.

As a follow up I went out to try my luck with the Nosler 125gr BT. It ran reliably as long as the gas was set on 2 or lower. Might've been the cold, windy weather but nothing I shot out of the above ammo selection from the OP did very well.
The Nosler's required 19 clicks of elevation and 3-4 clicks of windage (1 click = 1 cm @ 100M) to bring it to the same POI as the 150gr ammo.
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Old November 03, 2017, 17:28   #14
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Question Barrel Torque vs accuracy

Yesterday I redid the barrel shim as the original shim I had made was very thin, tore when I torqued the barrel and was probably too thin as the barrel timed with torque ~75 ft/lbs. When I disassembled the barrel from receiver I could not actually find any sign of the shim.

Probably went too far the opposite direction as the replacement shim I made required ~135 ft/lbs to time but did not tear. Head space was still good so today I went out to see how it shot.



First thing I noticed was group size almost doubled from what is was prior to replacing the shim and every 5 rd string had one flier. The photo shows three 5 rd strings, each with a flier and what looks like two separate groups - all three strings put one out of every two shots in the upper grouping and the rest (minus flier) into the lower grouping. This is with Federal Fusion 150gr MSR.

I tried most of the loads from from the OP plus a few extras - Lapua 178gr HPBT, Horandy 125gr light (reduced recoil) and Hornady 168gr TAP. There was an interesting change in loads that shot well out of this rifle with the retorque - the Nosler 125gr BT had about the same POI shift but the groups opened up by an inch or two. The Hornady Whitetail 150gr InterLock had the same increase in group size. The Federal 175gr Sierra Matchking BTHP did marginally better than before as did the Federal 150gr Trophy Copper. The Lapua match ammo, which shoots extremely well out of my other 308's, only managed two shots out of five into a 6" target. The Hornady 125gr had such a huge POI shift, even when compared to the Nosler 125gr, that the group barely made it on the target backing board.

My question to those of you who have a lot of experience building FAL's is: have you noticed a trend in better accuracy with barrel torque at the low or high end of recommended torque value? I am considering replacing the barrel shim yet again, going back to a thinner shim and lower barrel torque to see if accuracy improves to what it was before. Yes, I realize that the FAL is not a tac-driver, but accuracy was far better than it is now when the barrel was lightly torqued.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated! Been an interesting learning experience tweaking this STG 58 and in the end might still end up with a rifle that barely shoots 2.5" at 100 yds.

Last edited by Clonehead; November 21, 2017 at 12:26.
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Old November 21, 2017, 13:03   #15
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Another update...

This might be bordering on "Gunsmith" section material at this point but will continue plugging along here unless it gets moved.

Update: Redid the barrel shim yet again, and ended up with a much better shim that did not tear during installation and resulted in the barrel timing with 80 ft/lbs of torque. Also seems like this new shim has much better consistency with regard to contact between the barrel and receiver.

Did all of this work improve accuracy (which so far has been the unanswered question from my previous post)? Cannot say definitively that accuracy improved dramatically, but there were noticeably fewer flyers and overall groups were much more consistent.

The various loads from the OP still turned in similar performances, and preference for specific loads remained mostly unchanged (more on this below), but all the issues of inconsistent groups from my previous post disappeared. The Nosler 125gr BT and 147gr milsurp are the best shooting rounds out of this STG58 barrel, with the Nosler turning in 4 shot group of an inch with the 5th shot opening things up to about 2 inches. A 10 round group with the 147gr milsurp fell within 2.5-3 inches. Nosler POI was still shifting about 19 clicks of elevation and 4 clicks of windage at 100 yds (1 click = 1 CM on my scope) from the other ammo, but at least remained consistent with previous range trips.

One surprising change from the previous outings is that the Hornady 150gr InterLock grouping got worse - not sure if this ammo is more temperature sensitive than the rest because there was a big temperature drop from the previous two range sessions to this outing, 20-30 degree difference.

Really the only thing I can say from these results, with this particular rifle, is that a lower barrel torque and more consistent barrel/shim/receiver contact did result in more consistent groups than the higher barrel torque - this is probably where I should throw in a YMMV caveat.

Now that I've burned thru $300-400 worth of ammo, and hunting season is over, I can put this project on the back burner until next Fall.
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Old November 21, 2017, 13:11   #16
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Almost forgot

To post a photo:



I decided to play around with DuraCoat Aerosol FDE, which turned out pretty good despite spraying it in a very cold garage.
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Old November 21, 2017, 15:12   #17
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Oh that's beautiful.
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Old November 22, 2017, 10:26   #18
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Use an StG58 muzzle device. I can't tell you why, but StG58 barrels seem to shoot better with an original device installed.
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Old November 23, 2017, 12:31   #19
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Use an StG58 muzzle device. I can't tell you why, but StG58 barrels seem to shoot better with an original device installed.
I still have one in my parts box to try but the barrel harmonics have probably changed quite a bit going from 21" to 18". Easy enough to test. Thanks for the suggestion HBR.
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Old December 04, 2017, 13:49   #20
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POI shift with various muzzle attachments

At HBR's suggestion I tried an STG58 Stoli flash hider, but figured as long as I was testing a different muzzle device, might as well test several more.

Testing conditions were cold and windy at 100 yds with military surplus ammo:



Muzzle devices tested:



#2 is a short Belgian flash hider (unfortunately I did not have a standard Belgian flash hider to test)

#3 is a short Steyr Stoli flash hider

#4 is an FS2000 style flash hider

#5 is a standard Steyr Stoli flash hider

#6 is an DSA muzzle brake

The target:



The red boxes correspond to the numbered muzzle device listed above, the red outlined target dot is point of aim. Group number one is the test group fired without any muzzle device. After the first group was fired I adjusted the scope to center the group on the target dot and fired the remaining groups with each of the muzzle devices attached. The target dot is 1" so you have some idea of the POI shift and group size.

What surprised me the most about the results is the almost zero POI shift with the short Stoli, and the well defined vertical stringing with the FS2000 and standard Stoli.

None of the muzzle devices, or even a lack of a muzzle device, appears to have greatly affected the average group size, but shape of the group and POI shift are affected to a much greater extent.
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Old December 04, 2017, 16:40   #21
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Hmmm, your groups don't look all that consistent, how are you supporting the rifle? Resting the barrel way out at the gas block is going to open up your groups more than resting it right at the front of the magwell. Also.. how tight is the top cover and scope? How is the crown? Seems like you should be able to get way tighter groups than that with an StG barrel. I can consistently get 2 or just under 2 MOA with most of my FALs/L1A1s and surplus ammo using iron sights at 100 yds.
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Old December 04, 2017, 18:32   #22
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Hmmm, your groups don't look all that consistent, how are you supporting the rifle? Resting the barrel way out at the gas block is going to open up your groups more than resting it right at the front of the magwell. Also.. how tight is the top cover and scope? How is the crown? Seems like you should be able to get way tighter groups than that with an StG barrel. I can consistently get 2 or just under 2 MOA with most of my FALs/L1A1s and surplus ammo using iron sights at 100 yds.
See above attached photo. Top cover and scope rings are tight. Crown was done by ADCO, they do nice work. With the right ammo this rifle will do 1.5", but it is very picky.
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Old December 04, 2017, 20:04   #23
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Awesome thread bro...

I certainly appreciate the time & $$$ you spent to gather this information.

FAL accuracy seems to be more luck than science, i too hunt with an StG. Itís very low mileage build up from a hand picked new condition kit on a very early T2 DSA. No real accuracy mods, just a trigger job (0 rake sear, .020 hammer engagement height, welded selector, etc) tuned ejector & a few small mods to tighten things up. HS is a tight 1.630. DSA scope mount, Bushnell Elite scope & slo cat CH filler.

Like yours mine is a very picky eater, some of the best groups Iíve shot out of it have been with 147gr Milsurp
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Old December 05, 2017, 14:35   #24
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Awesome thread bro...

I certainly appreciate the time & $$$ you spent to gather this information.

FAL accuracy seems to be more luck than science, i too hunt with an StG. It’s very low mileage build up from a hand picked new condition kit on a very early T2 DSA. No real accuracy mods, just a trigger job (0 rake sear, .020 hammer engagement height, welded selector, etc) tuned ejector & a few small mods to tighten things up. HS is a tight 1.630. DSA scope mount, Bushnell Elite scope & slo cat CH filler.

Like yours mine is a very picky eater, some of the best groups I’ve shot out of it have been with 147gr Milsurp
Thanks Ironworker! An educational experience if nothing else! My head space is very close to yours, if I remember correctly it is 1.650. Do you have a specific hunting round that works best in your STG58?

Last edited by Clonehead; December 05, 2017 at 14:42.
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Old December 12, 2017, 12:58   #25
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Great report! I was especially interested in the different flash hiders and wonder if I should have left the original on my Rhodie. I ended up cutting the threads off and re-crowning to get the best groups I could. I shoot the 150 grain Nosler solid base boat tails over H4895 in FC cases. DSA mount with a Redfield 2.5X post reticle. Not a good benchrest setup but is nice in the woods. Replaced the bolt knob with the L1A1 folder and the safety from the same. I think it really improves the ergonomics. Especially the safety which I can now reach with my thumb without shifting my grip.

Thanks again for the info and pics.
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Old December 18, 2017, 12:45   #26
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Great report! I was especially interested in the different flash hiders and wonder if I should have left the original on my Rhodie. I ended up cutting the threads off and re-crowning to get the best groups I could. I shoot the 150 grain Nosler solid base boat tails over H4895 in FC cases. DSA mount with a Redfield 2.5X post reticle. Not a good benchrest setup but is nice in the woods. Replaced the bolt knob with the L1A1 folder and the safety from the same. I think it really improves the ergonomics. Especially the safety which I can now reach with my thumb without shifting my grip.

Thanks again for the info and pics.
Thanks elchunkogrande. If your Rhodie shoots fine without a muzzle devise I wouldn't worry about it. Thanks for your load info, always looking for ideas on a better load, although I currently do not load my own ammo.
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Old December 19, 2017, 22:18   #27
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Thanks to the OP for all of this information.

I have deer hunted for years with a FAL G1 kit I built on an Imbel receiver. I shoot it without a muzzle device and just use the naked barrel. I also use an inexpensive 1x red dot scope.. First thing I did after the first weekend was to shed the metal hand guards and put on a pair of wooden laminate set on the rifle. My hands were freezing cold in that Minnesota November weather all the way through mittens using those metal G1 handguards. When I moved to Texas I use that same rifle to shoot a 250-pound hog. I just use 180 grain Remington 308 ammo. I've never had a hiccup with it and would trust my life with that gun.
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