Custom Advice

Discussion in 'Rifles, Bullets, Barrels & Ballistics' started by Randy Dunn, Dec 30, 2004.

  1. Randy Dunn

    Randy Dunn Active Member

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    I need some advice on building a gun.
    I am looking to purchase or have built a custom hunting rifle that weights 7 to 8 lbs, is stainless, has a muzzle brake, synthetic stock, detachable magazine, has a fluted match grade barrel, I would like it teflon coated, push feed, the magazine needs to hold at least three, have a three position safety and I would like this gun to shoot 1/2 moa. The gun is going to be used for Alaskan moose and brown bear so I'm wanting to have the gun chambered in .358 STA. There are quite a few reasons I would like to go with the STA but if I were to run into concernes with accuracy I would probably consider one of the fast 38's. Accuracy and dependibility are very important to me. This will be a gun that I do 90% of my hunting with over the next 25 years. I was looking at buying a gun from H-S Precision but I have found a few articles were people are saying that you should expect more than 1 moa from a $2500 gun and that you can build the same gun for less. Hill Country sells a comparable gun and they have the same accuracy garantee; I'm thinking the reason might be the weight of the gun and then maybe they are just giving them selves a little room to move. Well, I've been looking into mach grade barrels from Lilja, Black Star, Rock Creek, and Shilen. I haven't found much on actions, Nesika and Montana Rifleman; I'm sure there are alot more. What I have come up with so far is that Shilen will install a muzzle brake and match the barrel to the action and Mcmillan will install the barrelled action in the stock and add the teflon coating. When you get this far you are at $1800 and that doesn't leave a whole lot for the action and still save money. As you can tell by reading this I am not a gun smith and I don't know of any at the moment that I would feel confident with. Is a 7-8 lbs hunting rifle chambered in 358 sta that shoots 1/2 moa an unrealistic goal for $2000-2500? Thanks for any replies.
     
  2. 5Redman8

    5Redman8 Well-Known Member

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    Give Kirby allen.....aka Fiftydriver a shout.

    Kirby Allen
    Allen Precision Shooting
    kballen@3rivers.net

    He is currently building a rifle for me, tell him Kyle Holcomb sent you.
     

  3. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver <strong>Official LRH Sponsor</strong>

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    Radunn,

    First off welcome to LRH!

    Well, here is my opinion, take it for what you will. If your talking about a 7 to 8 lb bare rifle I would say this is certainly doable. If your talking about a rifle that is ready to hunt that will weight this much, you are cutting things pretty tight.

    Lets look at your rifle specs. If you are not wedded to the 358 STA, I feel there are other rounds that offer much more and that are much easier on you financially. I personally feel the best caliber for Alaska is a big 338 Magnum. The 338 RUM is one of the most potent 338s on the market that will fit in a conventional action with three rounds in the mag. I am also nto a fan of box magazines, just another thing to looks or have fail when you need them.

    Again, these are just my opinions and I am not tryign to talk you out of anything.

    While the 358 STA is a hell of a thumper at close to moderate range, it really is not a round designed for +300 yards shooting at big game. If you will be using this rifle for nearly all of your future hunting, a 338 will offer much flatter trajectory, plenty of energy and bullet weight for even the big bears and it also has the option for bullets designed for lighter game such as deer or extreme range bullets as well.

    The short answer is that it is certainly possible to build a light weight big game rifle capable of 1/2 moa grouping. Personally I would want to build around a Rem 700 action if this level of accuracy was desired in a big bore.

    Any stainless steel receiver is going to cost a little money. Again Rem 700 stainless actions are about the lowest price for the quality(after tuning) youcan get and they still run around $580 for just the new unfired action.

    TO get everything you want I feel will run you in the $2000 range but for that amount of money, I would certainly expect groups substantially smaller then 1 moa.

    The box magazine for the big long rounds will be the only problem unless you go to a custom action and then over 1/2 your cost will be in the receiver alone.

    Good Shooting!!!

    Kirby Allen(50)
     
  4. Randy Dunn

    Randy Dunn Active Member

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    Thank you for the reply,
    I should have been more clear, a 7-8 lb gun would be bare. I think you are probably correct about the magazine; a person would more that likely have to spend a lot of money to get a reliable one.
    I don't think I'm wedd to the STA just yet but I have wanted one for a long time. I agree with John Taylor's theory of "knock out" value that he wrote about in his book "African Rifles and Cartridges". A bigger diameter bullet with the same speed and weight as one with a smaller diameter will use up more of it's available energy passing through the animal. Is the difference between a 338 and a 358 going to be noticable; I don't know. I'm not too worried about the smaller bullets, I have a sheep and caribou gun. If I were to have a 358 made I don't see anything smaller than a 225gr bullet coming out of it.
    It's interesting that you bring up the RUM, I have been doing some reading on that one also. A person does have more options with the 338. Most people I've called don't have a reamer for the STA.
    I don't understand why you said the 358 is not a round designed for +300 yards shooting at big game? At 400 yards with a 225 gr bullet the 358 will drop almost an inch less that a 340 Weatherby and with a 250 gr bullet the 358 will drop more that 2 inches less that the 340. It is faster than the Lapua with a 250gr bullet, 50-80 fps faster than the 338 RUM shooting a 225gr bullet, and about 90 fps faster shooting a 250gr. What am I missing? Also, what did you mean by extreme rang bullets?
     
  5. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver <strong>Official LRH Sponsor</strong>

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    Radunn,

    With this rifle weight I would say you could certainly reach the performance levels you want.

    I to am a believer in the TKO ideals. Being a big bore handgun hunter I have seen the results of heavy, big bore bullets traveling at relatively slow velocities. They are impressive for sure.

    Still in small bore rifles, anything under 375, I much prefer Sectional Density over shear frontal area.

    My comments about the ranging ability of the 358 STA were based on bullets which I feel are appropriate for that round and the game this size of round is best suited for, that being 250 gr at the minimum and up to the 300 to 310 gr pills. This is where I feel the 358 really begins to shine in performance, rivaling and exceeding the 375 H&amp;H by a fair margin.

    It is true the lighter bullets can be driven quite fast in the STA. They have relatively small baring surfaces which combined with the large bore size, allows the use of heavy charges of faster burning powder which will create some impressive velocities.

    My concern with the 225 gr .358" bullets is that they have a relatively low S.D. value at .251. For thin skinned game this is certainly more then enough but for heavy game such as elk and moose and any dangerous game, I feel this is to low.

    Comparing this to a 225 gr .338" bullet with a S.D. of .281 given similiar velocity and bullet construction, the 338 will far out penetrate the 358 everytime, especially on tough angles and with shots though heavy bone are required.

    I personally like S.D. values in the .280 or higher range for heavy game or dangerous game, the 250 gr .358" bullet meets this level but the same bullet weight in the 338 has a S.D. of .313.

    The TKO formula is for non expanding bullets so it really is not ovely useful for expanding soft nose designs. It can be somewhat useful when comparing bullets of similar design but it does not take in the huge variable of bullet expansion.

    Again, the 358 is a great caliber, it is just best served with bullets in the 250 to 300 gr range then the lighter 225 gr bullets, especially in a round that can produce this level of velocity.

    As for bullets, for extreme range shooting the 338 has several bullets designed for shooting out to 1000 yards ranging from 250 to 350 gr in weight.

    The 358 does not have any bullets designed for this type of shooting. This may not be a concern to you at all if you do not intend to do this type of shooting.

    Still, the 338 family of bullets has received vastly more testing and research as far as accuracy and consistancy goes. This generally shows up in the average accuracy a roudn will produce. It will only shoot as well as the bullets used and on average, I would say 338 bullets are more consistant then 358 bullets.

    Again, for strictly big game hunting, this is a moot point.

    Good Shooting!!!!

    Kirby Allen(50)
     
  6. Randy Dunn

    Randy Dunn Active Member

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    Kirby,
    Thank you for the reply, that makes sense and gives me something to think about. It does make more sense to go with a more accurate and versitile round if a person is going to have a gun built that will shoot 1/2 moa. I suppose it depends on what I plan to use the gun for. Any thoughts as to why they didn't blow the case out on the 7mm STW as was done with the STA? Looks like that would have been a real screemer and the cases would have been about the same.
     
  7. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver <strong>Official LRH Sponsor</strong>

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    Radunn,

    When Mr. Simpson was pushing the STW in Shooting Times, this was that largest accepted case for use with the 7mm bore.

    Personally I feel that he thought this case was already to large for a commercial round because of barrel life and this was his goal, to get his round legitimized.

    Interestingly enough, Remington bought up the rights to the 7mm STW and made it a factory option, then just a few short years later they basically threw it in the garbage in favor of their new huge 7mm RUM.

    The 7mm STW Improved will certainly add some case capacity and a bit of performance but not all that much. In a factory round, I do not feel the big factories would even have considered a round with extreme minimum taper. THe reason is that the chambers need to be polished to a mirror finish or tight extractions will occur with top loads and they want no part of that.

    This only takes a few extra minutes and paying some attention to the chamber polishing. I have found this to be true with my Allen Magnum rounds.Most of the rifle I build, you can get by with a chamber polished to a 600 grit finish. With the AM rounds, you have to go to at least an 800 grit finish and then it is wise to get out some crocus cloth and give it a final shine. The reason is because of the 0.007" taper over the length of the body of the AM rounds, very little.

    With the 358 STA, I believe Mr. Simpson never intended to get this round into production. I also feel he wanted more of a shoulder so he sharpened it up and blew out the diameter as such.

    Even think of a 358 RUM???

    Good Shooting!!

    Kirby Allen(50)
     
  8. Randy Dunn

    Randy Dunn Active Member

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    No, I have not. I have come to the conclusion that if I am going to get a 358 and run 250-300gr bullets in it, taking into acount what you had to say about sectional density, and just shoot moose and bear then the STA would be a real killer and it would shoot flat at that. I really haven't given a 358 RUM any thought because I have a pile of 375 H&amp;H brass. Although fire forming every case doesn't sound all that economical or fun, and buying STA brass from someone like A-Square can't be all that cheep either. What would you have to do to the RUM to make it a 358, just neck it up? If that's the case that sounds alot better. I can really see the benefits of a 338, the decision would be alot easier if I hadn't spent the last 5 yrs wanting a 358 STA. I've also wanted a tacticle type rifle that was made just for shooting very long distances, something that I wasn't worried about weight on; a 7mm of some kind. So I don't know how much I want to base this gun around shooting off of a bench. I'm not sure if I want to be doing a lot of adjusting to the scope on a gun used for hunting; because of different loads, bullets and shooting distances that is. How bad is the Rum brass to buy? If the Rum was necked up to 358 it would then probably be slower than both the 338 RUM and the 358 STA, and that is one of the things I liked about it. There's not a lot of cartridges that shoot a 250 gr bullet flatter except for the 338-378 and some fancy stuff.
     
  9. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver <strong>Official LRH Sponsor</strong>

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    Radunn,

    Really all you would need for a 358 RUM is a magnum bolt face Rem 700, an RUM action would be the easiest but any mag or full length would do for that matter.

    A new Mag box would be needed if not a RUM action and a little work on the feed rails again if not a RUM.

    Of course the reamer would need to be made.

    As far as brass goes, I would go with a 358-375 RUM is you will because of the longer case. .358" bullets are not overly long so you would have a bit more case capacity with the longer 375 RUM case.

    Midway lists 375 RUM brass at $46.11 per 100 so it is very affordable for the performance you get.

    A 358 RUM does have some disadvantages, namely having the reamer built and getting dies, would be spendier then the 358 STA which is a custom listed die with most makers.

    Performance wise, in a 26" barrel, all the RUM calibers on teh full length case will run within 100 fps of the much larger 378 Wby class cases.

    What ever the STA would produce, add another 100 to 150 fps onto that for a given bullet weight and barrel length.

    Good Shooting!!

    Kirby Allen(50)
     
  10. Randy Dunn

    Randy Dunn Active Member

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    Kirby,
    That's interesting. What do you think the difference in price would be between the STA reemer and having one made for a 358 RUM? Most people have wanted me to buy the reemer anyway. What do custom dies generaly cost? How would you go about working up reloading data for a cartridge like that? So someone can have about any cartridge they want, all they have to do is have a reemer and dies made? You still have me thinking heavily on the accuracy and different options of the 338 bullets.
     
  11. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver <strong>Official LRH Sponsor</strong>

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    Radunn,

    If you can think it, it can be built, within reason of course.

    Reamers are not to bad. A full blown custom reamer from JGS, the only reamer I use, would run in the $200 dollar range including shipping. I cover 1/2 the cost of a custom reamer to help out my customers as well as add to my inventory of reamers.

    Redding does not list the 358 RUM on their custom list of rounds but if you went with the standard case configuration of the RUM with the caliber being the only difference I would not think there would be any additional tooling costs.

    Dies would probably be in the $100 to $120 range just guessing.

    Basically one could use top end load data forthe 358 STA for starting loads for the 358 RUM and work up from there looking for the usual pressure signs.

    Accuracy wise, the 338 family of bullets is vastly superior to the 358 for true match quality or extreme range shooting. For traditional big game hunting ranges, 400 yards or so, you will not see a huge difference between the two. There is just a much larger selection of bullets for the 338.

    For an easy to build, easy to load for heavy hitter that will serve you well at 10 yards or as far as you choose to shoot, the 338 RUM would be hard to beat. Just measured the case volume difference between the 338 RUM and the 338 Lapua, its 3 grains difference only, nothing really at all.

    It is a serious howerhouse that can be loaded up to higher levels then Rem loads their factory ammo to. 2850 fps with a 250 gr pill in a 26" barrel is a pretty mild load.

    Good Shooting!!!

    Kirby Allen(50)
     
  12. Randy Dunn

    Randy Dunn Active Member

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    Kirby,
    Do you have the difference in case capacity between the 358 STA and the 375 RUM?
     
  13. Randy Dunn

    Randy Dunn Active Member

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    Kirby,
    Are there any disadvantages to having teflon installed on a rifle? The advantages being weather resistance, non glare,and I've also heard it makes the action smoother. There must be different methods to this, I've seen guns that have had this done and look like hell and then those that don't look so bad. Is there much point in doing this to a stainless gun that has a non glare finish?
    What are the advantages to a 3 position safety?
    I've heard rumors of a gel recoil pad, is there such a thing?
    Is a blind magazine hard to clean or keep clean and do they make a noticable difference in accuracy?
    Do the mercury style recoil reducers work well and how much weight do they add to the gun?
    It seems a lot of people are unhappy with the extractor in the remington 700; adding sako extractors and m-16 extractors. What would you recomend.
    Thank you for your help with this stuff.
     
  14. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver <strong>Official LRH Sponsor</strong>

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    Radunn,

    I do not have the exact capacities but hte RUM case has roughly 15% more case capacity then the standard belted magnum case. Pretty much splits the difference between the standard belted magnum like the 358 STA and the big Wby class cases.

    I am not a huge fan of the topical metal surface finishes but there are many out there that swear by them. I guess that I am a bit more traditional wanting to see the metal in the rifle.

    I will say that they will be a bit more weather resistant at least as long as the finish does not wear through. In my opinion the greatest advantage is low visibility but in typical hunting situations this is hardly a concern. I do not see a great need for these finishes on a big game rifle but there are others that do so take that for what you will, personal preference I suppose.

    As far as making an action smoother, I do not know. I properly polished action is pretty damn smooth so is it better to teflon coat, in this aspect if the rifle is properly polished up, I do not see much advantage.

    Teflon does reduce friction but it also wears faster then properly polished and lubed metal to metal contact. Again, personal preference and I do not see the need in a big game rifle.

    The best feature about the 3 position safeties is that they positively lock the striker assembly in the bolt as well as the bolt handle down in the fully rear position.

    While Rem triggers have gotten a bad rapp over the years, a properly adjusted Rem 700 safety is very secure and safe. If you are relying on your safety to keep a loaded rifle from discaharging under extreme use you are asking for trouble.

    A rifle should be loaded when its ready to be fired and unloaded , at least an empty chamber all other times. While a three position safety is very useful it is not foolproof by any means.

    Like any safety, if fitted incorrectly, they are very dangerous. Fitted correctly, like any modern safety, they are quite safe and reliable.

    I do not know of any "gel" recoil pad. I use kick Eez pads and they are about as soft as I have seen. They do absord alot of recoil energy on heavy recoiling rifles, very nice pad.

    I do not find Blind Mags all that hard to keep clean but I take pretty good care of my gear in the field. I have never seen a problem with these mags.

    In a varmint or target style rifle, you will see an increase in stability and consistancy with a stock designed with a solid bottom blind mag.

    In a heavy recoiling big game rifle, the difference in accuracy will probably not be as great as the increase in strength in the stock. Solid bottom stocks are vastly more rigid then an open bottom design. Rarely will you see a blind mag stock crack that has been fitted properly to start with.

    With open bottom stocks and heavy recoiling rifles, this is not always the case simple because of the stock walls bowing between the action screws under the strains of recoil.

    Mercury reducers do work but I feel they work as much by jus the added weight as anything. The best dampener of recoil besides a muzzle brake is weight.

    These systems will vary from a few ounces to 1/2 a pound or so depending on model.

    I certainly like to check out and test a Rem 700 extractor before I send them to a customer. A properly fitted Rem 700 extractor will perform very well with total reliablility with safe loads.

    The Sako and M-16 extractors do offer a larger "bite" on the case rim for added support but each have their disadvantages as well. If there is a problem with the factory extractor then it is time to replace it and either of those mentioned will work. The M-16 design is perhaps the most secure as it is pinned in place but a tightly fitted Sako extractor is also very reliable and safe.

    Good Shooting!!!

    Kirby Allen(50)