I just finished a project for a customer that I have really been happy to be involved with.
There is nothing overly unusual about the project itself. Here are the list of componants in the rifle:
Lawton M7000 receiver
20 moa Lawton rail base
Lawton recoil lug
Rifles Basix 1.5-3 lb trigger set at 2 lbs
Rem 700 SS BDL floorplate
Wyatt extended mag box
Lilja #6 contour 28" standard fluted barrel
Defensive Edge small diameter muzzle brake
McMillan BDL stock
The chambering of the rifle is in my 270 Allen Magnum. Again, nothing overly unusual about the rifle.
The unusual part is that my customer called me up at the end of last summer and asked me a bunch of questions about getting a custom rifle built. We decided on the above listed componants for what he wanted in the rifle and soon after that a deposit check arrived to start rolling on things.
It was soon after that that I found out that my customer was only I believe 15 years of age!!! When I learned this and a bit more about this kid I really got to liking what I have learned. Most would assume Daddy is buying the rifle for him, not the case, he works for his money and he buys his own toys!!!
For his age, Hell for any age, I have been very impressed with him and really wanted to make him a special rifle.
Not that I put any more attention to detail into this rifle but I was just really hoping this would be one of those speical rifles. You can put everything you have into a rifle using the best componants and building it correctly and they all will be shooters, but some are just speical for some reason, even among custom rifles, there are those that just stand out and I was hoping this rifle would be one of them.
I finished the rifle up last week and headed out to the range to test the rifle with my standard accuracy load for the 270 AM, 102.0 grains WC872 under the 169.5 gr ULD RBBT seated just to the lands with an OAL of 3.810".
First three, 3 shot groups out of the rifle averaged a misserable 1.221" ctc!!! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]
I was not happy and figured may my test cases were just getting old and that for some reason this was causing the problem. Got some new cases and shot them with 90.0 gr WC872 with the same bullet which is my standard live fire fireforming load which is generally a 3/4 moa or better shooting load even fireforming.
Again, same level of group size, right at 1 1/4 moa. I was getting a bit sick to my stomach!!! I told myself that it must be the virgin cases and loaded them back up again and tried then again for accuracy, same results.
I was a bit upset and totally baffled as to why I was getting these results, the rifle went together extremely well with no reason to expect anything but tight consistant groups even though the rifle is a relatively light 9.5 lbs scoped up ready to shoot.
I set the rifle on the rack for a couple days just trying to mentally figure out what the problem was. I wanted this magical rifle for this young hunter and the rifle I had was a stinker that most factory rifles would compete with!!! This was no good.
I lost sleep over the rifle for a couple nights and then decided to disassemble the entire rifle and recheck the measurements to make sure things were as they should be.
They were right on the money in every area, there was no reason why this rifle was not shooting to my 1/2 moa accuracy requirement!!!
The 169.5 gr ULD RBBT has always shot extremely well in all the 270 AMs I have owned or made for customers but I decided that it was possible that this Lilja barrel simply did not care for them. I do not know why this would be as it is the standard spec barrel I am using on all my 270 Allen Magnums but I figured what the hell and loaded up some 140 gr Accubonds over my standard 106.0 gr WC872 and headed out to the range.
First two shots at 100 yards cut each other in half and the third shot opened the group up to just over 0.3" of an inch ctc. I was all alone but I am sure that I had a relieved look on my face.
I let the barrel cool because in this contour barrel with 106 grains of powder she gets pretty warm by the third shot in the 75 degree temps.
After 20 minutes of testing other rifles I came back to the youngsters 270 AM and shot another three shot string. First two shots, again, cut each other in half and the third again opened the group up slightly to the 0.35" range. Still well under my 1/2 moa requirement.
I was very relieved at this point but still a bit spooked. My customer really wanted to use the 169.5 gr ULD RBBT but obviously this Lilja barrel simply did not agree with that bullet which brings me to an important tip, never build a rifle for a specific bullet if there are no other bullet options that can be used as well. Even if it is a proven system, there is still the chance that a give barrel will not care for a specific bullet by no fault of the barrel maker, bullet maker or rifle maker.
Custom rifles will on average shoot most bullets very well but they will not shoot EVERY bullet great. Just something to keep in mind. You personal gunsmith can not guarantee what bullets will and will not shoot in their custom rifles in spite of really wanting a rifle to shoot a specific bullet and actually building the rifle for that purpose.
Anyway, I wanted to check the performance of this sporter rifle at some decent range so I headed back to the shop, loaded up three rounds of the same 106.0 gr WC872 under the 140 gr Accubond and shot them over the chrono.
Out of the 28" barrel, they clocked 3606 fps, 3611 fps and 3604 fps!!! Not to bad I figured.
I got on the computer and printed out a projected ballistic drop chart and packed up and headed out to my long range shooting range. I set the gong up and drove back to the rims and took some range measurements. The average range on the 20" gong was 797 yards.
I looked up on the drop chart which listed a hold over of -2.9 mils from the center crosshair. The wind was pretty mild, 1-2 mph from my 6:00 location so I did not hold for wind.
The first shot landed dead center but just inches low of the steel. Second shot looked to hit the same exact spot so I figured that actual bullet drop was running around .3 mils lower then the drop chart predicted. I was using 0.46 for a BC for the bullet which Nolser lists at 0.456.
I let the barrel cool as I had already learned that the third shot of a three shot string was opening up a bit from barrel heat and I wanted things as close as possible. The first two shots looked to land within inches of each other and wanted three on steel the same way.
After 15 minutes of sitting the rifle in the shade I set her back up and held the -3.0 mil reference point on the Mk4 TMR reticle right near the top on the round steel gong and tripped the RB trigger.
Almost instantly the bullet was on steel splattering lead in all directions with a very impressive gong coming back from the impact.
The shot landed just above center and a bit to the right. I raked in shot #2 and sent it off before the conditions could change at all, The lead smear on the white surface of the gong simply seemed to get a bit larger!!! I worked the bolt and sent the last of the three shots down range as quickly as possible and watched and the bullet impacted just to the right of the first two.
I was a bit disappointed that the third shot opened things up a bit but this has been the personality of the rifle, first two shots into 1/4 to 1/5 moa and then the third opening things up to slightly less then 1/2 moa. I suppose for this weight barrel that can be accepted!!!
I drove up to the gong and was very happy with what I saw close up. The three shot group measured right at 4" ctc for a perfect 1/2 moa group at 800 yards. Not to bad for a 9.5 lb rifle with a relatively low BC bullet.
I was a bit curious why the bullets had dropped more then expected and when I looked at my Kestrel 4000 I realized the problem, the humidity was 87% and I shot for 25%. For some reason we have been really humid this spring???
As you can see the first two are roughly 1.5" apart with the third shot opening the group to 4".
With an accurate drop chart, this rifle will be easily up to 1/2 mile deer hunting. I was feeling much better now as my young customer wanted to be able to reach out 600 yards with the rifle, something that should be a chip shot with a bit of practice.
Also was retaught a valuable lesson, even though 99% of all my 270 AMs simply love the 169.5 gr ULD RBBT, this one did not particularly care for the bullet but that does not mean that there are not other bullets that will not work extremely well. Do not give up if your first bullet choice does not shoot up to what you want. I had to remind myself that a 140 gr Accubond at +3600 fps average velocity was not to damn bad!!! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
From the group on the gong, vertical variation is pretty much non existant so velocites must be staying pretty consistant!!
More reports will come when this youngster gets out shooting this rifle. I guess to many of you I am pretty much a youngster so its a rare thing when I get to build a rifle for someone a bit less then 1/2 my age. I am very happy with the end result. WOuld have perferred the rifle to have a love affair with the 169.5 gr bullet but like a fine woman, a fine rifle tells you what they want, we just have to listen when they talk!!! OR be unhappy all the time!! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]