I thought I would take a little time and write about my trip to Shilen Barrels in Ennis, Texas.
A buddy of mine had a Weatherby MK V Shilen barreled 338-378 that had put about 2000 rounds through and accuracy was defiantly falling off. He decided he wanted to take it back to Shilen and have them re-barrel it for him. He asked if I wanted to go along, and being the young precision shooting squire that I am, I of course said "Heck yeah!"
It was about a 2 hour drive from Round Rock, Texas but we made good time. When we got to Ennis I realized that it's kind of weird a world class barrel maker was located in such a small town, with a car dealership being probably the biggest attraction. I guess in my mind I had built Ed and Doug Shilen up so much that I figured they probably just traveled in Limo's and had the red carpet treatment at all the shooting establishments. This was defiantly not the case.
We arrived at Shilen which was out in the middle of no where in Ennis which in itself is in the middle of nowhere. It's a simple shop. We were greeted by a large man who was obviously a local of the place. He was quite a nice guy, and was the person in charge of running the front office, the website, and answering all the customer emails. He came out, talked with my buddy over what he wanted, and we shot the s*** for a while.
During our conversation my buddy mentioned that he had met Doug and Ed when he had his Weatherby re-barreled in 1997 and wanted to see them. Apparently Ed and Doug are out of the business now and have sold the operation to a former employee of Shilen Rifles.
We told the owner who we worked for (high tech company) as he was looking to buy some storage equipment from our company and we answered a few questions about some products he was interested in.
We were then invited to take a tour of the shop. It was quite a neat experience for me, as I’m a pretty young guy and this was my first time in a barrel manufacture shop. We basically got to see exactly how it starts from bar stock to the reamed/chambered/threaded product at the end. We also got to see some of the quality testing, as well as check out the reloading bench/testing facility. (They were playing with .204's and .17 Rems for new AR barrels)
We were then lead to a room that was next to the entrance. It had maybe 50 or so target rifles just sitting on the wall collecting dust. Some had various one hole groups framed below or above them. It was quite a site to see. Most were Shilen DGA actions, and I am assuming they were probably Ed's guns from when he shot in competitions. It was just very neat to see such a down to earth operation and to get to touch/feel/hold some record setting rifles, that really helped found long range shooting.
We were about to leave when we inquired about their .22 cal bullets that we have been unable to get on Midway due to them being backordered all the time. The owner promptly came back up to us with a few boxes and some free T-Shirts. It was an all around great experience.
A bonus to all this is that those bullets are REALLY good shooters in my 22-250, in fact the best so far, and the t-shirt, well I like it [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]
I have seen their barrels in action, and I have now seen the company first hand, and I must say these are truly a great bunch of guys, just doing what they love. It really was good to see.
Anyway I know it's been slow here recently so I figured I would share.
*I don't work for Shilen.