So how does this rifle shoot? Using the 80gr VLD Bergers, Varget, CCI 450 primers and prepped Win brass, this rifle is grouping in the ½” to 3/4" at 200yds if the winds don't get me. That is 1/4 to 1/3 minute accuracy from a box stock action and a simple swap to a Shilen barrel. Not bad, not bad at all.
I have been plagued by shooting on windy days and that has chased me for 5 weeks now. I have tried to shoot under similar conditions to try and get my tightest groups. Using a 16X scope does allow for some aiming error at 200yds. I feel that I am losing up to 1/8" in aiming repeatability versus a very high mag scope.
This target started off great with rds 1 and 2 snuggling close together. Unfortunately, I got caught with a condition shift and a strong gust blowing shot 3 off. Waiting a bit for the winds to settle down, I put 4 and 5 into the group. The cluster of 4rds is 1/2"
The second is a three rds group showing the potential of this rig when the moons align and the winds die. Certainly not the normal group size but it looks great on the wall.
One obvious benefit of using a properly stress relieved match barrel, besides superb accuracy, is how consistent it shoots even when it gets hot. The third target was for rds 13 to 17, shot under 10mins. The Shilen barrel was hot but the group still stayed stable at just 1" at 200yds. I would not recommend shooting a barrel hot all the time, but it is nice to know that your accuracy will stay when defending against a horde of approaching prairie dogs. I fired this group as the winds had finally calmed, and I wanted to see how stable the Shilen barrel would be when hot. Works just fine.
The final pic is of a nice 3 round group at 800 yds while we were pounding gongs in more gusty strong winds. I was able to get some light but steady air and fired this 3 round group. The closest two are at 2 1/16". The furthest is 2 1/2". The vertical was close to 1 5/8". Not bad, not bad at all.
I didn't bother with a barrel break in having found no real benefit after testing many barrels over the years. After the first 30 rds were fired, I did a complete barrel clean of the Shilen barrel, and there was ZERO copper fouling.
I have since gone as long as 150 rds without cleaning the Shilen barrel with zero copper and minimal powder fouling with no loss in accuracy. I just cleaned ‘cause I was feeling guilty. The Shilen is a very smooth barrel indeed.
Total outlay for parts and materials (minus optics and bipod) is under $800, which is a steal given its performance and 'custom' looks. Of course, if you had someone do all this work, the labour cost would go up.
I hope that this article will inspire you to go out and build your own custom rifle. It really is quite an easy project to complete. I look forward to seeing pictures of your project rifles. Enjoy...
Jerry shoots regularly out to one mile and also competes in F class. His current cartridges are 223, 6.5 Mystic, 7 Mystic, 308, 300RUM and 338 Mystic. He enjoys experimenting with gear and wildcatting in order to increase accuracy performance and to debunk accuracy myths.
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