Liberty: There is No Greater Cause

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Building My First Custom Bolt Action Precision Rifle (Part 2) | Barrel Blank, Caliber, and Reamer Selection: Brux Barrels, 6.5 Creedmoor, Reamer Specs

This is Part Duex in my installment of my Precision Rifle Build series that I started last week. At the time, we went over the thought process of what role the rifle would fill and the selection of an action for the basis of the build. As the day gets closer that the completed rifle will show up on my door step fully assembled and begging for a range trip, I’ll take you a few steps farther along my journey. First up today, caliber selection.

CALIBER SELECTION

This is a tough one for most newbies, including myself. The sheer number of cartridges and wildcats can be mind-boggling, and often causes paralysis by over-analysis. In 6mm alone someone is looking at 243 Win, 243 AI, 6XC, 6BR, 6PPC, 6 Remington, 6/284, 6mm-06, 6mm-06 AI, and on and on and on. Choices can be difficult.

CartridgeComparisonGuide[1]

Continue reading after the break.

The key to this choice, the same as most, is to fall back on your decisions you made while determining the purpose of your rifle and what you want to get out of it when it is complete. I was originally drawn to the 300 Win Mag, probably for no greater reason then it is big and manly. With a little research though, I found it wasn’t the best fit for the rifle I was looking for. It was simply overkill.

I started to look at other calibers that fit the role of a 600-1000 yard paper puncher more closely. The ‘checklist’ to be met for this rifle included: Good to great 1000 yard ballistics, limit wind drift, reduced recoil if possible, lower cost per round. Although I listed it last, for good reason, cost per round is an important factor to consider if you want to keep yourself shooting. Many people scoff at the idea of spending $3000- $5000 on a rifle, but won’t think twice about putting 5000 rounds, over the course of time, down the tube of a $700 gun with $300 optics.  But when you do the math, the $1000 on the rifle/scope combo pales in comparison to the $7500 that will be spent on quality ammo at $30 a box. The math changes some with cheap ammo (but so does your accuracy) and if you reload, but the point remains the same: you will be spending a lot more of your money on ammunition than you will be on the rifle by the time you’ve shot out the barrel.

Cartridges like 308 Win, 243 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 260 Remington, 6.5-284, and others were considered. I, quite snottily, dismissed the 308 Win early as it just didn’t have the uniqueness I desired in this rifle, and, quite frankly, is a bit lacking at 1000 yards. Sure, ‘uniqueness’ is a poor reason to dismiss it, but who wants to build a rifle for this kind of cash that they aren’t excited about anyways?

In finalizing my decision, I came across a great resource on the forums on Sniper’s Hide. It is a ‘stickied’ post titled Tactical Shooter’s Equipment: What the Pros Use. The author gathered information from all the top shooters at a recent precision tactical rifle competition and tallied it all up for the masses to see. Everything from their caliber choice to barrel manufacturer, action brand, bullet choice, rear bag, powder brand, stock choice, scope choice, and so on. This proved to be a great inside look into the minds of those that stake their reputation on their equipment. I was starting to close in on a 6.5mm based short action caliber. I may have looked at the 6mm rounds a bit closer if I didn’t think I might want to use the rifle on big(ger) game at some point in the future. I wanted to keep the option open, and the heavier bullets available in the slightly bigger 6.5mm pills allowed me to do that. In the end, I settled on Hornady’s 6.5 Creedmoor Chambering.

123smk[1]

The 6.5 Creedmoor, 260 Remington, and 6.5×47 Lapua are all very similar cartridges. They all fit in a short action and shoot the same 6.5mm projectiles. The 260 and the Creedmoor have a little more case capacity than the 6.5×47 and allow for slightly higher velocities. The way I saw it, the big decision to make was between the 260 and the 6.5 Creedmoor. The pros and cons of each kinda play out like this.

260 Remington: Tried and true with great Lapua Brass available but there can be issues of rounds being too long for use in box magazines when loaded with certain long, heavy bullets.

6.5 Creedmoor: Newer chambering with good results, only one source of brass (Hornady), slightly more efficient cartridge design since it is ‘shorter and fatter,’ rounds fit in detachable magazines with virtually any loading.

In the end, due to an unexplained draw to Berger VLD bullets, which can cause length issues in certain 260’s, I chose the 6.5 Creedmoor. Heck, I like the name too.

REAMER SPECIFICATIONS

When building a rifle from the ground up, picking a cartridge is only part of the process. You have the ability to customize your reamer specs. Do you want a tight neck that allows (forces?) you to turn necks and results in longer brass life and increased accuracy from consistent neck tension? How do you want the chamber throated? for a specific bullet?

DSC_0305[1]

I decided that I did not want to neck turn brass, this rifle was to have a ‘tactical rifle’ purpose to it and neck turning brass and tight neck chamber fight took a back seat to reliable feeding. The reamer will have minimum SAAMI specs for all dimensions including neck diameter. This should allow all rounds to chamber reliably, without careful checking and without being ‘over-sized’ like factory necks that in turn reduce brass life. I also chose to have the chamber cut with a specific reamer with a shorter freebore designed for optimum seating of Berger VLD’s. I’ll cover the bullet selection in a (much) later installment on my cartridge component selection and load development. Hopefully the Berger’s shoot well and I haven’t limited my bullet choices with this chambering.

BARREL SELECTION

Next up is choosing the barrel for your build. Truth be told, I believe it is hard to go wrong with any match grade barrel manufacturer with a following in the competitive circuit. It is tough to say anyone went wrong with a barrel from Bartlien, Brux, Rock Creek, Krieger, and Benchmark.

Krieger, Bartlien, and Brux were the three most popular barrels in the What the Pros Use segment referenced above. In the end, I bought a Brux because it was in stock in the twist rate and contour I desired.

Brux Barrel

Brux Barrel

In the 6.5mm rounds, an 8.5 Twist barrel is pretty standard for shooting 120 to 140 grain pills. Since this range covers almost all of the match grade bullets used at long-range, I also chose a 1 in 8.5″ twist barrel. As far as contour choice, I went back to the purpose of my rifle. I did not intend to carry this rifle much at all, so I settled on the heavy M24 contour which has a 4″ cylinder at straight tapers to .9″ at the muzzle, which is built to finish at 26″.

If I had planned to carry the rifle much beyond going ‘to the line’ I would have settled on the lighter and very popular Remington Varmint Contour. You can see an array of barrel contours at this link.

The Brux cost $315 from the folks at Southern Precision Rifles, and was in stock, ready to ship. If you are looking for a barrel for a build of your own, I would recommend them for their large and frequently stocked inventory and their customer service. Another place to look is at Grizzly. That is the same Grizzly that makes the shop equipment such as lathes and table saws, apparantly the owner is also a fan of quality rifles and stocks many barrels from Bartlien and others.

Brux Barrel from bugholes.com arrived quickly and well packaged.

Brux Barrel from bugholes.com arrived quickly and well packaged.

NEXT TIME

As you can see the build is starting to come together now. We have  a barreled action pretty much spec’d out. In future posts I’ll dive into my choices for this build in regards to the stock/chassis, trigger, and probably the most important: who will be the gunsmith to trust to put it all together as close to perfectly as possible.

Stay Tuned, and as always, I’d love to hear any comments out there. Let me know what you’d have done differently.

Part 3 is up, Continue reading here!

As always folks, if you enjoyed the read, or have anything else to say, please let me know in the comments, if you would like to read the rest of the series as it is published, on the right hand side of this page, please type in your email to follow the blog, or like the Facebook page for updates as posts become available.

While you are here, check out some of my liberty-centered posts such as Halfway Crooks and Halfway Patriots which was previously featured on thetruthaboutguns.com

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18 thoughts on “Building My First Custom Bolt Action Precision Rifle (Part 2) | Barrel Blank, Caliber, and Reamer Selection: Brux Barrels, 6.5 Creedmoor, Reamer Specs

  1. Pingback: Building My First Custom Bolt Action Precision Rifle (Part 1) | Liberty: There is No Greater Cause

  2. Pingback: My First Build: In details

  3. Pingback: Custom Precision Rifle Build (Part 3) | Liberty: There is No Greater Cause

  4. Pingback: My First Build: In details - Long Range Hunting Online Magazine

  5. In the spirit of spending much moola on a custom build, congratulations! You are accomplishing the mission and then some. I am not well versed on the merits of the 6.5 creedmore so your posts are informative to me. I do know that these proprietary cartridges are expensive and availability should there come a time when markets are shall we say, less than conducive to normal commerce, will be less than optimal. With that said, as a tool that will enable a trained shooter to achieve sub 1 or .5 moa, this build should fit the bill. As a weapon that would be used to provide defense in depth in a SHTF scenario, the choice would probably have to be a different one. In that world, sacrificing a little ballistic coefficient for a heavier round capable of incapacitating hits in degraded atmospherics or being able to penetrate the body of a vehicle would be preferable. The .300 WinMag is my choice for that specialized role as the build is cheaper and cost of manufacturing rounds is less prohibitive. Of course a good tradesman has many tools in his box and there is always room for one more!

  6. Hookster, Thanks for the reply! This rifle project was undertook within the confines of a world that was assumed not to be on the brink of collapse. Perhaps a fallacy, but we all need an escape. The expense of the cartridge is actually low, especially when reloading. But in a true SHTF scenario, it will not be ideal. That being said, A rifle of this type, with 500 rounds made up, will have more than a short term life while in its designated role. This life will expand if it’s pilot can have at his ready a source of powder, pills , and primers and the necessary equipment to reload his own.

    That being said, a 300 WM is an excellent SHTF cartridge. It has excellent terminal energy and ballistics, and ammunition/brass would be [more] readily available in such a scenario.

    On another side note, we are hoping this tool is capable of sub 1/2 moa at 1000 when completed. But that implies competent shooting, which has yet to be identified in my hands.

    • The gun may very well be capable of sub .5 moa at 1000 but there aren’t many non competitive shooters who can get behind the gun and make that happen! Consistently punching holes in a target little more than five inches around at that range would be a lot of fun as long as it didn’t take half a box of ammo to do it! I just read somewhere that the record is something like just under 1.5″ five shot group at 1000 yards. Wow!

      • Yes, I hold no reservations that this rifle will make me a better shooter on it’s own; but hope it will inspire me to make myself a better shot.

        The benchrest boys do some crazy stuff which, although extremely impressive, is all but impossible in practical shooting, with rifles that can be carried by one person, can chamber a factory piece of brass, and shoots real ammunition that you couldn’t pull the bullet out of by hand.

        They also don’t aim at a point and shot for group size only. Makes little sense to me how tight a group is if it isn’t on target.

        Either way though, I’m sure they would out shoot me any day of the week. But I hold guys that compete in this type of event to even higher esteem.

        http://www.itstactical.com/warcom/firearms/gearing-up-for-the-2013-sniper-adventure-challenge/

        They’re not successful without ‘prior work experience’ I would imagine.

  7. Pingback: Custom Bolt Action Precision Rifle Build (Part 4) | Liberty: There is No Greater Cause

  8. Pingback: Custom Bolt Action Precision Rifle Build (Part 5) | Gunsmith Selection: Longrifles, Inc. | Liberty: There is No Greater Cause

  9. Pingback: Custom Bolt Action Precision Rifle Build (Part 6) | Optics: Bushnell Elite Tactical ERS 3.5-21x50mm, Seekins Precision, Accuracy 1st | Liberty: There is No Greater Cause

  10. Pingback: Custom Rifle Project Complete: Photo Gallery | LongRifles, Inc., Stiller, Brux, Manners, Jewell, Bushnell, Seekins, JEC Customs, Atlas | Liberty: There is No Greater Cause

  11. I don’t have much experience with bolt action rifles and certainly never built one. But can anyone help me with how the process goes of chambering a rifle for a specific round? How does it work and is this where the reamer comes into play? After buying an action you pick out based on the cartridge you want, 6.5 Creedmoor (or a round I’m currently looking into–the 6.5 x 284), how do you turn it into an action for that exact cartridge? Is it acceptable/normal to approach a gunsmith with your action (and barrel??) and cartridge choice, and have him do his magic? Sorry for me not knowing these most likely basic questions.

    • Hello Sir, Thanks for checking out my blog.

      As far as “chambering” goes, this, along with barrel fitting, is the process you describe of creating the chamber inside the barrel that the cartridge case is in when firing commences. Check out this link for more info on the barrel fitting and chabering process.

      To answer your second question, some gunsmiths do this work routinely, such as Long Rifles Inc, others do not. Just like mechanics, each gunsmith has its specialty. Some specialize in maintenance, repairs and routine services like bore sighting and scope mounting others specialize in creating their own semi custom builds with limited options, and others are happy to work with customer supplied parts to work up a build to your liking. It is just finding out wat gunsmith offers the service(s) you are looking for.

      Also note that many/most reputable rifle builders will not mount a barrel on an action that hasn’t been trued/blueprinted. This is to ensure the highest accuracy of the completed job.

      A custom rifle is no low cost endeavor, but if you have the cash and the time, it can be very fun and rewarding having something unique built for yourself.

      • Thanks for the reply! Alright I think I understand it a bit better now. So, is it fair to say that a barreled action is the heart of a bolt action rifle? And that if I had an action, barrel, and a willing gunsmith, I’d have a good portion of a custom rifle? And I’m glad you preemptively brought up the trued action bit, as this is something I should have mentioned in my first post.

        Building one of these seems like a fun project, but unfortunately guns to me are like cars. I can use one and I think they’re fun, but I don’t know the inner workings too well or how to build one.

        I think I should probably research as much as I can right now, and if/when I were to start building one, start with the action, correct?

        • The barrelled action is everything. The only thing else,essentially, is a stock and a trigger. Oh, and that thing called a qualified marksman guiding it! All three of those play an important role in the process, but I like to say your ‘inherent’ accuracy is in the barreled action. All a stock, trigger, or poor shooter like me can do is take away from what your barreled action is capable of, it cannot add to it.

          If/when you do build one, if you are going to collect components yourself, my guide here is a good path to follow. I posted each piece/decision in the order I did it. You will want to spend some serious time to determine the exact role you intend the rifle to fill so that each decision in equipment and assembly fits that end goal. You could make very different choices along the way depending on that role. And despite the myth, there is no such thing as a jack of all trades. A weekend F-Class gun is extremely different from a sheep rifle.

          If it is too daunting of a task, there and plenty of gunsmiths that sell custom/semi custom rifles built with care and precision and that may be an easier route.

          If $$$$ is an issue, you can score deals at great discounts in the forums classifieds on snipershide, accurateshooter, and longrangehunting, depending on the intended role of the rifle.Often, and mean daily, you can find full custom builds or barreled actions that are new and unshot for sale for the cost of materials. These are usually for sale given the ADD nature of society when someone contracts a rifle to be built and, by the tie it is complete, is off on another track by the time it arrives, or needs the money for bills/wife/alimony/kids/reality.

          Even better deals can be had on rifles with a few rounds down the tube Just know the inherent barrel-life of the cartridge you are looking at before you go buy a 6.5-284 that already has 1200 rounds down it. You’ll be right up against a re-barrel before you even start shooting.

          If you ever are ready to make the move, stop back here, send me an email from the contact page, and I’ll help you along. All I ask is you share/follow this page if you think it is valuable.

          Heck if you do, maybe we can chronical your build in a followup post so others can see another way to go about the same process with a different end product in mind

          -D

        • Ok, this is good then. I wasn’t too far off. I think for me, I would want a precision rifle to be guaranteed to outperform myself. As in, I want to be the weakest link and want the guarantee that the rifle will perform at least to the level of the marksman behind the scope.

          I’m not near making any purchases yet (still researching) but have scanned various actions and stocks. The toughest part is not knowing which ones to eliminate. I think this goes back to not being 100% certain of the vision for a prospective rifle. Heck, I’m not even sure of a cartridge choice. Like I said, I’m looking into the 6.5×284, but the barrel life does indeed seem to be the biggest complaint. I’d also be open to others like its parent cartridge, 284 Winchester (seems like you’d need to reload), or 6.5 Creedmoor or 6.5×47.

          I think a followup post/series of the same topic only of a different project, would be a cool thing, and would fit nicely here. It’d be even cooler if it was me (and I’ll let you know if I get started on anything), but given the uncertainty of that project in my near future, I’ll settle for drooling over someone else’s project.

          Thanks again. You’ve been a great help.

  12. Pingback: Review: Borka Military Grade Multi Torque Driver | Liberty: There is No Greater Cause

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