Hello GRFA readers! I want to start this post by thanking all of you for your unprecedented support for our site, our cause, and our staff. It’s because of you that we are continuing to grow at an astounding rate! This article is the beginning of a series where we discuss Building a Precision Rifle from Scratch.
Now, on to the good stuff! I am currently in the middle of my first, but hopefully not my last precision bolt action rifle build. There are many reasons why I chose this particular build. From the caliber to the muzzle brake, every detail is personal. It’s like building a home for the first time. You choose Everything! First and foremost you must decide what you will be using your rifle for. There are different classifications of competition that allow the modern shooter to try, and ultimately decide what’s best for him/her. There is “F” class competition, open “F”, palma, tactical, benchrest, and so on. Our recommendation is to visit your local range, or talk to friends who currently compete in one of the classes to see if it’s a fit for you. Next and one of the most important is budget. Which we will discuss in this article as well.
This build I’m currently in to is a “multi-purpose” build. In other words, I want to be able to compete in different competitions, and even hunt occasionally with this platform. Once a caliber was decided upon, then the business end, or “action” should be the first consideration. I went with a Remington action for many reasons. The Remington 700 bolt action is the most widely used platform to build a custom rig that’s available today. Even the custom actions that you can start with are modeled after the time tested Remington. Your caliber choice will determine whether or not you’ll need a “short” action, or a “long” action. The difference being the overall size of the cartridge in question. For example, a Remington 7mm Magnum is built around a long action, while a .308 cal. is built around a short action. You can basically build the same platform with either, but you need to know which you have when it comes to adding a stock or chassis, a scope mount, etc. I personally decided on the .308 cartridge for my build. Why? Well there are many reasons. This cartridge has proven itself to be very versatile. It’s an outstanding long range round, as well as a good medium to shorter range cartridge as well. There are many different bullet shapes and sizes to choose from with the .308 as well. Bullet selection needs to be considered because your favorite hunting cartridge may not have a good selection of bullets to choose from. Thereby limiting your load possibilities. A good example of this is one of my favorite hunting cartridges, the .270. This round is my favorite hunting bullet by far, but when it comes to bullet variety, the .270 ranks very low on the selection scale. Now that we’ve discussed bullets and actions, let’s move on shall we?
Next to the action, the barrel is probably the most important decision you’ll make when it comes to a custom rifle. There are many choices and sizes to choose from. We won’t go too deep in to barrel selection today, simply because barrel choice could be a long article within itself. My suggestion would be to do some research on barrels before you start deciding on one for your build. There are many considerations, from contour (or barrel taper), to rifling twist rate, overall length, barrel material (such as stainless, blued steel, etc…), barrel weight, etc……. So, as you can tell, there is some study required before deciding on a barrel. My build is a 26″ Bartlein barrel in a Medium Heavy contour. I chose to go with Stainless Steel for it’s corrosion resistance, and a 11.25″ to 1′ twist rate. Twist rate is how many revolutions a bullet will make over a specified distance. In barrel terms it’s “X number of inches= 1 revolution of travel”. In my case, the bullet will make one full 360 degree revolution of twist for each 11.25 inches of travel in the barrel. Considering the barrel is only 26 inches long, my bullet will make roughly 2.3 revolutions before leaving the muzzle. Spinning the bullet in the barrel equates to accuracy. Without rifling, the bullet will fly like a knuckle ball, making it much less accurate.
From here we move on to the stock, or chassis. This is a personal preference that will determine your position behind the rifle before firing. There are also many choices to look at when it comes to a stock. There are a multitude of sizes, shapes, and weights to look at here. You want a platform that’s going to mate perfectly to your action, while allowing your barrel to “float”, or come very close to the stock channel that the barrel sets in without touching. There are many reasons why you don’t want your barrel touching. Just think of it like a tuning fork. When the bullet is fired through the barrel there is a certain amount of vibration as a result. In order to allow the barrel to perform properly, this vibration should not be interfered with. Otherwise you risk changing the harmonics of the barrel, impacting accuracy.
There are optics, and optic mounting to consider as well, which we will cover in the next segment of this article. Thanks for tuning in! Shoot more, and shoot more often!