Iíve had a few people ask me about our custom built rifles, build quality, turn around time, etc. The usual questions a person has on their mind when deciding which shop will build their next rifle. It is difficult to explain some answers so what Iíll do is discuss the rifle that Snowy Mountain Rifles built for me to use in competition this year.
Of course I work for SMR as a sales rep but Iím also a very honest person. Part of our agreement is that since Iím a rep for SMR, it would make sense to use an SMR built rifle in competition. It just so happened that I was gathering pieces for another rifle and was only waiting on a barrel to show up from Bartlein.
What I had on hand was a McMillan A3 stock configured how I like, a Surgeon 591 SA action and their mag system as well as a Timney trigger. Like I said, I was only waiting on the barrel. SMR had no problems using a Surgeon action or a McMillan stock even though our signature actions are produced for us by Defiance Machine and we tend to use a lot of Manners stocks and Benchmark barrels. Jason was easy to work with and again, had no problems building my rifle how I asked for it to be configured.
Where I started running into a problem was the wait on the barrel. My first competition was a month away at the Midwest Masters Benefit match in MO. So, I found a Brux barrel with the twist rate I wanted and an acceptable contour. I had that shipped directly to SMR. When I picked up the barreled action, Jason had just finished fluting the barrel and was putting it back together. At this time, I had two weeks until the match and the stock still had to be bedded and I had to find a load that would shoot accurate enough to compete with. I would return the barreled action after the match for Cerakote.
Thankfully, Iím confident enough in my stock bedding that I decided to do this portion myself after I got home. I used Devcon steel putty and Iíve not had any problems. Iím not going to detail my process for bedding as this post is about the rifle.
I used a grand total of 100 rounds to find an accurate load to use at the match. What I settled on was Lapua brass, 45.5 gr. H4831SC, CCI BR-2 primers, Hornady 105 AMAX, chambered in .243 Win. This was below my max pressure charge and accuracy was outstanding. I was getting close to .25 MOA group at 100 yards for 5 rounds and under an inch at 300 yds. I didnít take any pictures, so my word will have to do for that. By the time I had my load figured out, it was Monday before the match and I was leaving on Thursday. I had a total of 122 rounds fired through the rifle. Iíll say that the rifle performed very well at the match and my performance, as best I could tell, was a result of how I handled the rifle, nothing with the rifle itself. I was flat out missing shots I shouldnít have and not making proper corrections. I finished 13th out of 60 at the match with a brand new rifle and no data other than a velocity for my bullets. With these circumstances, Iíll say Iím quite happy with the rifle and I think this says a lot about how well SMR puts a rifle together.
Now on to the details of how I have this rifle set up. As said earlier, I used a Surgeon action with no modifications. Iím sticking with the standard Rem style extractor. The stock is a McMillan A3, 34% medium tan, 33% OD green, and 33% dark brown which I call ďprairie grass marble.Ē I had the KMW loggerhead cheek piece hardware installed and a spacer system LOP. I use one bipod stud up front, and five flush cups so I can put the sling where I want it. I am using my first Timney trigger on this rifle, the one with a straight trigger and safety. I love it! The Surgeon mag system is very smooth and drops the mag free easily without having to pull it out. I had the Brux barrel fluted at SMR, finished at 22Ē and also had them thread the muzzle for suppressor and provide a thread protector. One note about my barrel, there seem to be a couple rough spots in the bore when pushing a patch through, so Iím hoping these smooth out with use. Iíve discussed this with another shooter that has used many more barrels than I have, and he has had this problem with various makes of barrels as well but says they should eventually get better. Accuracy doesnít seem to be affected so Iím alright with it so far. The rifle weighs right at 16 pounds without ammo.
These pictures are obviously after Cerakote. I also sent the bolt off to Robar for their excellent NP3 finish on the bolt and internals. I requested the bolt knob and shroud Cerakoted Black for a bit of contrast. SMR did a very nice job with the application of Cerakote. I havenít found any overspray, or light coated areas. Everything is nice and even as it should be.
I hope this post explains a bit and provides some confidence in our custom built rifles. This is the first rifle I have had from Snowy Mountain Rifles and I can confidently say that Jason and Jim (the gunsmiths) are very dedicated to making a superb product and are always willing to ensure the customer is 100% happy with their purchase.
My next match will be at the Sage Flats match in Jordan MT April 27th and 28th. My wife will also be attending so weíll shoot the team portion on the 27th and weíll shoot individually the 28th. This will be sort of our ďtrain-upĒ for the upcoming SnipersHide Cup in May. I expect the rifle to continue performing very well and Iíll make better corrections to my shots when needed. Iím sure the rifle is fully capable, now it is up to me to put the bullets on target.