Hey guys, new member to the site though I have been reading for several years.
I wanted some feedback on a custom rifle build I was about to get started on. I have been an avid big game hunter for about 20 years, mostly archery and rifle out to 300 yards, (where I can hold over instead of dialing a scope). A lot of moose, black bear, elk and deer. I was a typical MPBR rifle hunter, 20 rounds a year to site in my rifle in the fall, then hunting season, then clean the rifle and store it for 8 months.
That kind of changed four years ago as I sat at 650 yards watching the largest bear I had ever seen feed for an hour, and had no way of getting closer due to the terrain, so I didn't try the shot as it was way out of my comfort zone. I started looking into what it would take to shoot 650, and four years later I find myself turned into a bit of a shooting nut. I started reloading, went from 2 rifles to 13 (love new toys), and now shoot an average of 250 rounds a month. I have also upgraded most of my hunting gear over the last three years, and have the ever increasing gadget pile on my reloading bench.
The longer range shooting has been coming along, but is a tough challenge I am methodically getting better at. I spent two years to get reliably sub MOA at 200, and I am currently shooting the gong at 400 at our DIY range in the mountains, and 300 prone at the local range, (longest lane they have). I moved my max range for hunting out to 400 yards 2 seasons ago, doesn't sound like much but it was a lot of work and I am very conscious of ethical killing. The longest hunting shot I have tried was a black bear at 369 yards the year before last, took him with a double lung.
I was shooting stock rifles, trying out different manufacturers for accuracy and personality so I have a lot of different makes. I happened across a fairly inexpensive .223 Varmit gun, 1500 Howa with a 24" heavy barrel on a Knoxx Axiom stock, and a Monarch 5-20x44, (I added a Timney trigger). Strange looking creature that I really enjoy shooting, though with the 1/12 twist it doesn't like anything over 55 grains, but with a 52 grain Berger I have got it dialed into .75" @ 200 yards from the bench.
That rifle really got me interested in heavy barrels, so about a year after I bought it I jumped of the ledge and bought my first custom rifle, (lightly used), a 30-378 Wby Mag, 28" Douglas premium barrel, Timney trigger, Mcmillan Stock, pillar bedded, Vortex 6.5-21X50, and BBK-2 Mauser Magnum action.
It was a long haul getting a pet load for that one, and some serious upgrades to my reloading bench, both gadgets and learning new techniques, but I have it shooting 0.6" at 100, and 2" at 300 with a berger 185 grain, gong to try the 210 grain next. Still have some work to do but I am absolutely addicted to shooting this rifle. A lot of recoil as I don't have a break on it, but it is a 13 lbs rifle so I am getting used to it. It really makes you work on technique, but I think if you can shoot that thing well anything else feels like a .22.
It has ruined me for stock rifles, so I have decided to do my first custom build. I am thinking low recoil, but I need something with a little more punch and a better BC than the .223. Since I really enjoy my .223 varmit gun I was planning on starting with the Knoxx Axiom stock again, which limits me to Howa 1500/Wby Vanguard, or Remington 700 actions.
I am thinking .308 for the caliber, mainly for recoil and the fact I don't have a .308 so it is a new cartridge to play with. Since I have a Howa 1500 already I am thinking a Remington 700 for the donor action, and I am looking for one now.
I need to figure out the trigger and barrel, optics will probably be Vortex or Sightron, I really like those two for the price. Scope rail I am thinking custom, I am having one made by Murphy Precision now for my 30-378, and I will see how they do for the next one.
I like Timney triggers and I have a couple, but I have also been reading about Jewel and Shilen if I want to go up or down in cost, any other obvious high quality ones I should look into.
Barrel I am struggling with as I only have experience with 1 custom barrel, the Douglas on my 30-378. I want to have the action blue printed and barrel installed by the manufacturer so I am a little limited, but I have looked at Heart, Pac Nor, and Douglas. All seem to be pretty popular and in the same ballpark price wise.
I am also thinking 24" as I am not sure I will gain much in .308 with going longer, and it is a lot easier to hump a rifle up the mountain with a 24" barrel for a little LR Coyote hunting. The Knox Stock already make sit a little unwieldy as it is.
I was hoping to get some feedback on my plan for the stock, action and caliber, as well as some suggestions on potential barrels and triggers that I am not looking at yet.
...well it sounds like you have it figured out already. I like the 308. Easy to shoot, reload, and with practice and a good rifle it could be a 1000 yard rifle. I got my 308 out to 750 and that's my absolute max for it. I would also recommend the 260 since it will have a higher BC with 140 grainers. It will also have a little les recoil. The rem 700 is a great base, but by the time you true it, re thread it, and lap the bolt you're already in the custom action price range. The stiller predator would be your best bet. With a trigger jewel is the best, but I also use timey as well. No issue with timey jewel is just a cleaner, lighter breaking trigger. With barrels, any major custom barrel manufacturer will do you well; broughton, benchmark, hart, lija. Stock is a matter of opinion. Mcmillian is extremely nice as you know, I have a couple of BC M40 stocks that are cheap and still have the heft, extra material to open up for barrels and metal, and it has the aluminum bedding block. I used weaver, leupold, seekins, and badger ordinance rails. I would recommend a 20 MOA to add elevation to your scope. My nikon 5x20x44 is maxed out on elevation with A 0 MOA rail so I'm stuck at 750 yards. Don't know much about scopes so I can't help you too much there. A 30mm tube will aid in added elevation. Hope I could help! Good luck!
If you are stuck on a .308 bullet for long range, the 185 berger is good and the 210 even better. I think you will need to use it in a longer .30-06 case for more powder capacity. Then once you master 600-650 yards you going want to shoot farther out , which makes the .30-06 a better choice .
Either sightron or vortex are good scopes I would base my choice on the reticle, one that can be used to hold for windage, in that case the vortex has better choices.
as said above any quality brand is a good choice and they all have .308 or .30-06 readily available, 24" is the perfect length. Keep the profile thin like a sporter that will cut the most weight off. Think about you will be firing only 1-3 shots at a time and that's only if you miss
stock is personal preference, if you like McMillan use that, I suggest you keep the rifle weight down as much as possible because you will be carrying it a lot more than shooting.
Thanks guys, I appreciate the feedback, exciting project to build exactly what I want. I had a look at that action, looks pretty nice, and $900 isn't bad.
Interesting question on the 30-06 vs .308, this might be a big deal as I have access to a few different 30-06 donor actions, where I haven't found a .308 for the right price.
I already have a 30-06, it was actually my first rifle in an old Remington Woodsmaster, pretty much a wall hanger, but I did dig it out once last year. Fun gun but not really a good reflection of the caliber since it shoots 3 MOA on a good day.
I focused on the .308 mainly for the short action, not really thinking about weight but more so feeling a short action would inherently be more accurate and there would be less recoil and similar ballistics.
Without reigniting the old 30-06 vs. .308 debate, am I worrying too much about the short action vs long action thing?
no not at all, the practical accuracy at distance is no different, the deer doesn't know you shot him with long or short action LOL
if you limit the range to 600-650 the .308 will be fine, my suggestion for .30-06 is based on using heavier 210+ bullets with a higher bc to resist wind. Using the heavy bullets you will need more case capacity to get good velocity 2600+ on the heavy bullets in order to hit hard at long range.
No don't worry about it. Either the .308 or .30-06 will be excellent rounds. If you're worried about an action you can always get a wal mart rem 700 ADL or SPS special for literally 375 dollars. You sell the barrel, stock, and trigger and use the recouped money to true up the action to start your build. They are at the academy in round rock texas for that much and at my wal mart in central Missouri. Also, if you check the classifieds there are a bunch for sale in the parts section. I think bobcat sniper has some for like 375 or 400 for sale. Also with barrel weight I have to disagree. If you want long range performance the heavier the barrel the better. I would go no less than a 22-24" inch long, remington varmint contour. It should finish right at .800 at the muzzle +/-. The heavy/shorter barrel keeps harmonics in sync so the vibrations do not affect the bullet as much as its traveling down the barrel. Not saying a sporter contour won't shoot bc they will. Just saying if you want reliable down range performance heavier is better.
Here is a semi custom 308 that I have to give you idea. I post this rifle a lot cause I love it a lot. It's a Rem 700 SPS tactical in 308, 20 inch rem varmint barrel, BC M40 stock, jewel trigger, harried bipod, and nikon monarch. This is just a bolt together rifle that does .25 at 100 yards with 168 and 180 grn SMK. Reliable 750 performer off a bipod (Max range for my abilities).