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Rifle assembly

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Unread 12-29-2006, 10:54 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 27
Rifle assembly

I'm in the process of obtaining a 338 Lapua for long range lead delivery.

I love the Sako TRG 42 but have a hard time with the cost.
In researching this it seems like it would not be to hard to assemble some well made parts and have an equivalent gun for significantly less.

I'm thinking of an AI stock, the new Predator XP action, Shilen select barrel, Jewel trigger and the misc minor components all based on the Rem 700 parts.

The action comes ready to go, the barrel can be ordered chambered and threaded on both ends, trigger is drop in as is the stock.

So what am I missing, where does the gunsmiths artful ability come in that adds a considerable expense to an already accurate gun?

Clearly I will need to develop loads, but is there something else that would make this hard?

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Unread 12-30-2006, 12:06 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Sutter Buttes, Ca.
Posts: 57
Re: Rifle assembly


There are a few smiths on this board that could probably answer your question much better than I, but I'll take a stab. A rifle is a precision instrument and every piece has to fit and function precisely for safetys sake, let alone accuracy. I am a machinist by trade and still to this day have never built my own gun. Like any trade, there are techniques and knowledge that are only acquired by years of hard work, love and dedication for the task at hand and rifle smithing is definately one of those trades. It may seem expensive to have a top notch smith like the few here on the forum build you a shooting stick, but piece of mind knowing it's done right in the end is all I need. By all means you could probably do it yourself, there's no better experience than just plain getting your hands dirty and doing it, but remember safety should be your #1 priority. Accuracy would be #2.

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Unread 12-30-2006, 01:03 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Fort Shaw, Montana
Posts: 6,848
Re: Rifle assembly


I have built a few rifles that are working pretty well at long range and will tell you there is no rocket science to doing it. BUT, what it does take is fine attention to detail to make everything absolutely as near perfect as we can get them to get the most consistancy at long range.

I have never seen a Shilen barrel set up for a Rem 700 that was prechambered and threaded in the 338 Lapua chambering. That aside, a properly built full custom rifle shoots so well simply because every part of that rifle is hand machined and fitted for perfect fit and alignemt. Again, not rocket science but every custom rifle is built with one goal in mind from the time you get the componants in shop until you tighten that last receiver screw on the finished rifle, perfection!!

Now, your receiver choice is a good one and from what I hear yes they are ready to build on right out of the box.

From there though, I would have to steer you away from a pre fit Shilen. Spend some extra money and get a world class barrel, Lilja, Rock, Krieger, Lawton, Broughton, Hart. Any of these will get you world class performance if fitted properly.

Fitting properly means that when your cutting the receiver threads, you go from the barrel threading into the receiver in a 1/2 thou cut pass. Before the cut it will not fit, after the 1/2 thou cut pass it will.

That takes time and the desire to make it as quality as you can.

Then the desire to strive for perfection also comes in the tooling used to machine the barrel from live piloted center cutters to set up the barrel for machining to live piloted chambering reamers and crowning tools and the vast selection of varying bushing sizes to get that perfect bushing to bore fit, not just close enough.

These tools are expensive but the only way to do it right, I suspect the prefit shilen will not be machined with these tools and there is no way the threads will be as quality fit as they should be for extreme accuracy in a finished rifle.

The larger the chambering the more stress is applied to the rifle system when fired. The more stree, the more the flaws in the rifle will show up down range. A big rifle like a 338 Lapua need the best componants and fit to get extreme accuracy.

Its easy to build a 308 Win to shoot 1/2 moa or less. YOu need as close to perfection to get a 338 Lapua to shoot to this level of consistancy or better.

Mainly what you are missing in your project is the desire and experience to built that "perfect" rifle. No rifle is perfect but for me and many other smiths on this board, that is our goal everytime we start a rifle project.

Thats what you get for your considerable expense.

Ya ever heard the phrase "been there done that" Well, you may well get all your componants and assemble them and you may well get a fine shooting rifle but it is at least as likely you will get a rifle that will shoot no better then most factory rifles. Its a crap shoot. If it shoots great, if not, you spent all this money and will have to spend alot more to really get what you want and in the end you may well end up spending much more then you would have if you just ordered a full custom rifle from an experienced smith that knew how to build a rifle to meet your goals.

Good Shooting!!

Kirby Allen(50)
Kirby Allen(50)

Allen Precision Shooting
Home of the Allen Magnum, Allen Xpress and Allen Tactical Wildcats and the Painkiller Muzzle brakes.

Farther, Faster and Flatter then ever before.

Web Page: www.apsrifles.com

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Unread 12-30-2006, 09:23 AM
Junior Member
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 27
Re: Rifle assembly

Thanks Kirby and Murf,

I kinda live in my shop and have been fabricating for 30 years, hence my abundant confidence. On the other hand I have spent thousands to make a hundred dollar part along with the huge time investment.

If I'm reading correctly, setting up the barrel is the art. I guess I thought that threads were threads and that as long as they were square allowed full seating, you were there. That was the reason I chose Shilen, they were willing to chamber and thread both ends. I suspect other barrel makers would also do that if given a few rounds to properly headspace, but as you say it would not likely be done with extreme care.

I read about using a longer thread area, e.g. instead of approx 1" of thread machining up to 1.5" of thread contact to insure proper alignment, would that make up for less than custom threading?

Thank you both for your kind response, I suspect this hits a bit close to home, truly there is no intent to offend on my part.
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Unread 03-31-2007, 04:27 PM
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: Windham, CT - in Moo-Cow country
Posts: 1,033
Re: Rifle assembly

The action comes ready to go, the barrel can be ordered chambered and threaded on both ends, trigger is drop in as is the stock.

So what am I missing, where does the gunsmiths artful ability come in that adds a considerable expense to an already accurate gun?

[/ QUOTE ]

The Shilen barrel still has to be fitted to a headspace gauge - it is NOT ready to screw in - you will need a barrel vise, an action wrench, and headspace gauges, and a lathe with a bore size that will take the barrel.

The rest you can do if you are skilled.

Get the pieces parts, and have a good smith put the barrel on, and do the rest yourself - fitting should cost between $100 and $150, depending on who does the work.

Don't take it to a pipe fitter at the local gun shoppe!!

Spring has sprung, da' creek has riz, I wonder where dem kitties is? Here, kitty kitty kitty.

LRH member #23

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Unread 04-02-2007, 08:38 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 164
Re: Rifle assembly

Fifty (and anybody else that knows the answers)

I'm trying to learn something here......

Can you explain why the precise threading you described above makes a big difference in accuracy????

I guess I'm thinking like Ross......if the barrel/receiver faces are square and screwed together tightly, I don't understand why such precision threads would make any difference???

Does the barrel shank have to be threaded for the combination to be accurate??? What if the inside of the front of the receiver wasn't threaded at all, and the barrel shank had no threads either......could you machine each so that barrel to receiver assembly was a press fit, held in place by pins, and still be accurate??? Wouldn't that remove ALL clearance issues if you have no clearance???

What if we machined the barrel shank and the receiver so that the receiver had to be heated slightly to expand and allow the barrel to be press fitted??? I'm thinking about how connecting rods in an engine are sometimes heated in a fixture until they expand enough that the piston pin can be installed.....why couldn't a barrel be installed the same way and remove ALL clearance issues???

Educate me please! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
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Unread 04-02-2007, 02:47 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Nebraska
Posts: 810
Re: Rifle assembly

There are things called harmonics in barrels, if your thread fit is not "almost perfect" varing vibrations will develop, one wants the rifle to vibrate the same all the time. Even if the face of the reciever and bbl shank are square, there will or could be underlying vibrations. Not to mention if the threads are cut to about 50% contact, there can be some mis alinement in chamber to action bore, this can cause loss in accuracy, hence the reason for blue printing, remember we are talking very minor adjustments. We are also talking about serious stresses being imposed on the threads and the locking lug abutments from the chamber pressures, 60,000# will have a big effect on the threads, the better the contact in threaded area will reduce bad vibrations. The only way to achieve good thread contact is have a action that is threaded perfectly and match the bbl to the threads. No prethreaded bbl will perfectly match a action, unless you get lucky, its never happened to me.

Pinned barrels, maybe on a low pressure case???? High pressure rounds, most everything will shoot is a high pressure case, 45,000# and on up. Eventully the bbl will start to move or shear off the pins, leaving a very dangerous situation.

Heated and pressed on, how would you know if its pressed on straight? With an interferance fit, there is still metal to metal contact. We measure bbl to action alignment in the "tens of thousands" or tenths...if would work, it would of allready been done. A quality set of threads is the way to go, you need a good gunsmith to achieve this, he has to have patience along the way. You cant rush putting on a bbl.

Just my .02


"Let the good times roll"
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