Contemplating First Custom Rifle

Discussion in 'Varmint Hunting' started by BlackAndChrome, Nov 29, 2010.

  1. BlackAndChrome

    BlackAndChrome Member

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    I've been contemplating building a rifle for several years now and it appears that the time has actually come to make it happen. I'm pretty tight on money and a good portion of the parts are going to be outsourced to family members for holiday and birthday gifts. I can't justify spending any more than $500 upfront plus what I say I want for christmas (1 gift from everyone ~$300 max), plus my birthday in march (~$200 value) so $1000 total without scope. I feel that it is crucial that I mention the fact that I am not a 12 year old, I am in fact an 18 year old college student. Any advice is greatly appreciated and recommendations for alternate suppliers/methods/calibers would also be great.

    My family owns a 7mm rem mag that I use for deer and a 22-250 that I use for PDs but I was looking to build a gun that splits the line in between for knockdown power, ammo cost, and recoil, but accuracy that is better than both. I've done a good amount of research into calibers and I like the looks of the 25-06 cartridge since it is a little bit stronger than a .243 with very manageable recoil and reloading costs. Naturally research is trumped by experience so I am still up for suggestions.

    For an action I was looking at the Savage target actions since they are affordable, stainless, comes with a decent trigger, and from what I understand is well respected for entry level and also easy to install barrels on for a novice without a professional gunsmith's assistance. Although sourcing this action seems to be a little difficult, older auctions show them sold for $350 while few stores sell them and they are $500+. I've called a few local shops to see if they can get it for somewhere in between.

    Barrel I am not quite sure about for a manufacture. Is there a barrel maker that offers significantly more "bang for your buck"? I'm looking for a 1" Diameter straight cylinder barrel 28"-30" long. I don't know much about how the number of grooves effects trajectory, so is there anything better that a 5 groove 1:10" if I reload my own ammunition? PAC-NOR looks like about $400 for a 28" barrel prefit to choice caliber. Although I'm confused whether or not "prefitting" includes threading to choice action of if that is extra. Threading is not mentioned separately while the only other option is "fit to your action" which requires you ship them the action.

    For the stock I was looking to do something really unique, that is if the price range is viable. Otherwise a cheap stock until I raise my funds up a bit. For the long term goal I was considering having a custom stock made. I've looked at a few rifles sporting Joel Russo custom thumbhole stocks and really like the looks of them. I also happen to have a large supply of antique black walnut planks that were cut off of my families property long before my time. I think most of the planks are rough cut 2" thick and 10' long with width between 6-12". Worst case laminate 2-3 planks together, maybe with another lighter hardwood in between for a nice laminated effect. Now if that doesn't create a family heirloom I don't know what does. Any ballpark prices on that sorta custom stock with wood supplied by customer?

    I'll keep an eye out for optics... Got awhile to think about that one :cool:

    Thanks for the help,
    -Nick
     
  2. tulku

    tulku Well-Known Member

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    Nick , even though I'm not a Savage guy , I think your research is darn good . The Savage is probably the most accurate out-of-the box Rifle out there today . I've also heard very good reports on the Pacnor Barrels . The one inch straight Barrel will add quite a bit of weight to a deer Rifle , but what the heck ....you're young and strong . The 25-06 would not be my first choice in the Pdog Fields , but I would use it there for some over 500 yard shooting and not rapid fire . Stick to your 22-250 for the bulk of your Pdogging . You might look for a used Savage to save a few Bucks . I think there were some single shot Savages which were very rigid , but dont know if they were available in a Long Action .....hope some Savage guys chime in . I've had some Rem 700s customized years ago , but today , I think you're further ahead ( dollar wise ) to just buy a hunting/ varmint Custom type action like a Borden or Stiller . Stock work is expensive unless you can do it yourself . I would go the cheap "what it came with " Stock until you can afford something nicer . That way , you can just open up the barrel channel for your one inch straight tube . You just missed out on two very nice Variable Scopes ( I think they are gone ) ...anyway hard to beat a Weaver made Nitrex or Vortex Viper for just under $300 ! I think they were 6-20X and 44MM or 50MM Objectives . Maybe one of the Suppliers will offer more in the future ? Half the fun is in the planning .....good Luck !
     

  3. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

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    It looks like you've kinda spec'ed out a heavy target rifle, single shot. I like 25 cal stuff but you might find something in a 6.5 a little more sexy in the ballistics and component department. Anything built by Russo is excellent! I do know a few stockers that will trade work for wood if that wood you have laying around would be something they would be interested in.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2010
  4. BlackAndChrome

    BlackAndChrome Member

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    Yeah I'm definitely looking at a rather heavy gun. As expected I'm really not too worried about it. Chances are it will be just as much a target rifle as a hunting rifle. Plus the more accurate the gun the shorter distance you have to walk to get an acceptable shot, that's the whole point right? :rolleyes:

    As far as the single shot action goes I actually intentionally chose the Savage target over the more common magazine capable actions. I've never really liked magazines in centerfire bolt rifles, I always have more trouble getting rounds to feed in our guns via the magazine than if I had just pulled the round out of a vest or stock cartridge holder. It also seems like a lot of unnecessary metal on metal contact denting the brass and deforming softnose bullets. Plus a single shot gives me more of a reason to smirk at the people that insist on using semi-auto rifles to deer hunt so they can spray their target from 50 yards. Then again this may just be my individual thoughts, anyway, I don't mind a single shot action to say the least.

    As for the 6.5mm though I've noticed that it's funny how cartridge selection threads work. Propose a .223, get a .243 suggestion. Propose a .243, be suggested a .257. Propose a .257 be suggested a 6.5mm. Propose a 6.5mm be suggested a .270 etc. etc... Not to say that your input isn't appreciated, but does it ever end??? Are we talking like a 6.5mm rem mag or a .264 win mag. The win mag shoots the same weight bullet I use for deer hunting and has the same recoil as my 7mm. I suppose the rem mag has a somewhat significantly higher BC and shoots 120s at 300fps more with a marginal increase in recoil but what is the thought on a belted magnum for accuracy shooting? Is barrel installation significantly different? (that was all based on ChuckHawks trajectory and recoil tables BTW)

    By any chance know of a good stock maker in the Kansas City/Topeka area to avoid shipping costs?

    -Nick
     
  5. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

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    Actually the 6.5 that came to mind was the 6.5-06AI, mainly cause my old man is putting one together.
    That should make a slick rig though, anything on a Savage target action is slick IMO. Pac-nor has a fairly good rep and their prices seem reasonable for the Savage prefits, which will come threaded and ready to rock and roll, just make sure they are clear what shank size you need it in, I believe target actions are all large shank but just make sure everyone is on the same page on shank size!! Make sure to put that together with a ground recoil lug, the one the action comes with is crap!
    There aren't as many cheap stock options for the target action as it is the three screw, all the reasonable ones are for the varmint action. The best place that comes to mind is Stockade gunstocks, you can get an unfinished stock for really reasonable then do some minor finishing, that would get a guy shooting till you get someone to cut you a wood one. Joel Russo really is the king when it comes to custom wood!!
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2010
  6. BlackAndChrome

    BlackAndChrome Member

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    I can hardly find much mention of a 6.5-06AI yet alone ballistics data for the round. I assume brass prices go up significantly for custom factory brass versus going through the trouble of forming it yourself? Belted magnum in the 6.5 rem mag seems like a bad idea due to belted magnum case lifespan and full length resizing. Same problem with the 7mm that I would like to avoid. Any 6.5s that are a little more common and economical?

    -Nick
     
  7. azgutpile

    azgutpile Well-Known Member

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    If your going to reload yourself, try the 6.5-284 norma with a1-8 twist 28" schneider polygon rifled barrel. Stick with your Savage actiona and look on Stockysstocks.com for your stock.

    At least thats what my next build will be.
     
  8. BlackAndChrome

    BlackAndChrome Member

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    Certainly looks like a good round but barrel life is a pretty big setback. 1000 rounds out of a $400 barrel pains me, roughly 500 less than a 25-06, although I suppose there are always drawbacks. 6.5 284 also lacks cheap brass availability... Hmm but you can't argue with a 1k winning cartridge...

    -Nick
     
  9. tulku

    tulku Well-Known Member

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    If you want a 25-06 , then go with a 25-06 . However the 6.5-06AI has way more good Bullets to pick from . The Case is easy to Form from 25-06 Brass or way more selection from 06 Brass ( like Lapua , RWS , Norma , IMI ,etc . ) . You Neck up or Neck Down and Fireform . My 30 inch Barrel gives 3150 FPS with 140 Gr. Bullets which is 264 Mag . territory . Bought it used and it will be used only for Looooong Range Varmints . Some reports indicate Barrel life of about 2500 Rounds if you take your time and don't try for a rapid fire Record !
     
  10. BlackAndChrome

    BlackAndChrome Member

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    What's your choice load for that kind of velocity out of the AI? That bullet has more kinetic energy with 140s than my 7mm that I'm trying to get away from due to recoil. I don't really plan on using bullets over 100gr regardless of what rifle I'm shooting so is there still a significant advantage in the AI? How much more recoil are we talking about irking that much more velocity out of a 100-120g from a 6.5AI versus the 25-06? Reloading die prices for any of the improved rounds looks pretty harsh on my budget too. I'm still interested, just need convincing it's worth it/feasable/economical/etc. I could drop the additional money I just want to make sure I'm not spending money on a decision I may later regret (I have issues with that).

    Problem with the target action... Looks like it's only available in short action according to their website. I called a local gun specialty store and asked for the target action and wound up with a SKU# for a long sporter action not in stainless... Varmint and target are apparently not available in long and sporter actions are not available in stainless... Bummer. What's the max OAL that a savage short action will take?

    The other option is a stainless Savage axis for ~$400 but it doesn't come with a accutrigger and I understand a new trigger has to be installed by a decent gunsmith?

    Thanks,
    -Nick
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2010
  11. tulku

    tulku Well-Known Member

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    Nick , my 6.5 was built HEAVY for 1000 Yd . Competition using 140-142 Sierra Mks , GTBs , Cauteruccios ,etc . It is a tight Neck and I had a muzzle Brake put on . It's heavy and Recoil is not a problem . However , I can't get it to shoot any 140s into small groups at 100 Yards like the previous owner said . I know the 1000 Yard BenchRest Shooters don't worry about 100 yard Groups and wait for the bullet to "go to sleep " long range . Anyway , this 1:8.5 twist Barrel Groups light Bullets into pretty small Groups at 100 yards , and I'm still getting the hang of shooting a 2 Oz. trigger . Sierra 142s went into 0.64 inches ( 4 shots ) , 140 Gr. Amax into 0.47 inches , 128 Gr. Cauteruccios into 0.34 inches , Sierra 120 Mk into 0.31 inches and Sierra 107 Mk into 0.16 inches . Prevoius owner used a Max . Load of about 56 Gr. of Rl-22 or H4831 SC with 140s which he chronod . Warning : This load should not be used without going lower and working up to whatever is SAFE in your Rifle . I have not tried this Rifle at long range but hope to next Summer .
     
  12. BlackAndChrome

    BlackAndChrome Member

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    Is it possible to "three point turn" an '06 cartridge into a savage short action? If it's single shot magazine is irrelevant if the mag holds the rounds and I had read somewhere that savage did not have a true short action anyway, in that it was slightly longer than standard short action anyway. If .308 is 2.8" OAL and 25-06 is 3.25" OAL with 2.5" case length (assuming there is some room for play in .308) it should have no problem edging in and ejecting as an empty case. Is there merit in this thought or am I talking stupid?

    Savage edge/axis actions are apparently junk so that leaves a used donor weather warrior or varmint rifle if the target action wont work.

    -Nick