.338 Sherman Short Mag build

El Matavenados

Active Member
Joined
Mar 5, 2015
Messages
38
There have been hints that a 338 SS build was in the works, and it is true. Rich and I spoke recently, and he committed to having a reamer built, and I committed to building the rifle. I am extremely excited about the build, and can't wait to get it in my hands.

Now for the underwhelming part. ;-)

This will be my first wildcat, ever. Beginning my wildcat cartridge experience with a chambering that has never been cut before is a little unnerving, but I'm excited about what I'll learn along the way. I have a lot of reloading experience with various rifle cartridges, but I usually stick to the well-trodden paths. I have converted brass from 308 to 260 Rem before, but I've never fireformed a case. I certainly have never developed load data that others might use to develope their own. The good thing is that so much work has been done with the other Sherman cases that we're not exactly going into this blindly.

This will be my second bolt rifle build (the first being the 260), so I'm confident that the process will go well. The end result should but fun to shoot, and, I hope, an elk killing machine!

Now to the build. When I first started dreaming of this project, I thought I would build it on the first rifle I ever purchased: a Ruger M77 mkii 30-06 that I bought as a teenager. And, I originally intended to chamber it in the longer, .270 Win-based, proven 338 Sherman. I already own the rifle. Over the years, I have upgraded it with a RifleBasix trigger, and a Boyd's laminate stock. I pillar bedded that stock myself with Devcon. I had a decent Vortex Viper HS-T 4-16x44 scope on it. So I would just need to have it re-barreled. However, I ran into some snags. The magazine box is only 3.44" long, and the 338 Sherman with 250gr Berger needs like 3.6" or so. Even single-fed, mods would have to be made to the bolt stop and ejector to be able to eject unfired rounds. So I thought I would try the 338 SS instead. Just one little problem: Ruger won't sell me a bolt with a magnum face, because it originally left the factory as a 30-06. Maybe the bolt face could be opened up (I haven't explored that option, so I don't know), but I had some issues with light primer strikes with the existing bolt, and wanted to start the project out with a new one. Since Ruger wouldn't help me, I decided to do something else.

I found a Stevens 200 in 30-06 for sale in the next county over for $250. So I contacted the seller and bought it. The magazine length on the Savage 110/Stevens 200 is still too short to run the Sherman, so I decided to contact Rich about the SS. And thus, the project was conceived.

I fired the donor rifle to see what it would do before any mods were made. It had been a safe queen, by all appearances, and hardly even fired. It came with several scope rails, too. In the Tupperware, unbedded stock, and a trigger weight around 3 lbs, it shot a little over an inch. Not too shabby for a $250 gun! I ordered and installed a magnum bolt head to accommodate the SAUM-based case head.

I sent the action off to Fred Moreo at Sharp Shooters Supply to have him do his True and Timing service on it, as well as supply a precision ground recoil lug. I have read good things about his work. Does it need those things? Probably not, but that Savage bolt lift is pretty stiff. People talk about bolt lift kits and such, but I decided to go with the timing job.

Meanwhile, I ordered a barrel from Brux. They were out of chrome-moly .338 bore, so I went with stainless, 11" twist (Berger recommends this for the 250 Elite Hunter), #4 contour, finished length of 24". Guess what arrived in the mail today????
:-D

I received a set of dies from Rich this week as well. I have brass on hand (300 SAUM by Norma), as well as some bullets, so as soon as I receive a couple other items I will be nearly ready to begin prepping brass for fire forming.

I have a 4-port Lil' Beast brake on order from Brakes and More, and hope to receive that soon.

The stock...well , it's not as bad as some other plastic stocks. Actually the flex wasn't any worse than the original wood stock on my old Ruger after free floating, or the original fiberglass stock on my Howa. WAY better than the plastic on my brother's Ruger American. So I decided to try reinforcing it, and if I'm not satisfied, I will order a Stockade stock. I want this to be a lightweight build, and I want it to be as inexpensive as possible, so I'm trying to do as much work myself as I can. So I put the original stock into my hobby mill, and cut 1/2" slots down each side of the forearm. Using epoxy, I laid in strips of 1/2x1/8" aluminum bar, then finished it off with Bondo. Since the action is still out being improved, I can't throw it into the modified stock to see how much less it flexes. But i think it is much improved. I have decided to not use the original barrel nut system. Instead, I will have it installed with a shoulder, like a Remington. Not that I don't have faith in the barrel nut system, I just don't intend to swap barrels back and forth. The cost of installation is the same, and the shoulder looks a little better. Because of the heavier contour of the new barrel, and not using the barrel nut, I will need to do some inletting on the barrel channel.

I'm still deciding on who will build the gun. I have contacted AxisWorks in Tempe, AZ, but they are pretty busy. A local shop wants the business, and they have done some good work, but they want a lot more $$$ for the work. Might need to try to work out a better deal with them.

Once the barrel and brake are mounted, I will blast and paint them with KG GunKoteflat dark earth. This will protect the receiver better than the original bluing. I will likely do a full length bedding job. The forearm will be filled with an epoxy mixed with fillers to keep it as light as possible. I will use Marine-Tex for the action. The barrel will be free floated (does that mean that it won't actually be a "full length" bedding??). The stock will be rattle can painted with a camo that goes with the FDE of the barrel: tan, brown, and olive.

The trigger...I'm going to attempt to modify the existing trigger by shimming it to remove some creep, and replacing the spring with a lighter wire. If I screw it up, or if it becomes unsafe, I have this crazy idea of forming my own fully adjustable trigger from scratch (using my mill), and heat treating and stoning it myself. And if I utterly fail at that, then I'll get a Timney or RifleBasix.

I will be using the previously mentioned Vortex Viper HS-T scope on this build, in Vortex rings, which I already own.

I don't like the idea of a blind magazine, which the rifle came with. My elk hunt this season involved a lot of driving and glassing, loading and unloading. I do, however like that a blind mag is about the lightest magazine possible. The factory dbm systems seem to be for centerfeed rifles, and mine is stagger feed. CDI makes one that will fit mine, but I don't like the location and size of the AI mag release. I also don't like the weight and cost of the AI mags. I don't favor the added weight of the CDI bottom metal, or having to send them the rifle to do the inletting, or how far the AI mags extend below the stock. Some people hate plastic bottom "metal" and trigger guards. I like how light they are, and I've never broken one yet. So I will probably stick with the blind mag for now.

But I have this crazy idea: what if I designed and made my own bottom metal out of aluminum, making it as minimalistic/light as possible, and designed to accept Tikka mags? Those mags are light, only hold 3 magnum rounds, wouldn't extend far below the stock, and cost less than $40 each. Hmmmmm.........

I think I will use the original butt pad, unless I determine that it is insufficient, in which case I will upgrade.

But other than these few changes, this rig will be totally "stock"!!! ;-)
 

ruby76

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2016
Messages
261
Location
BC, Canada
I’ll be watching close as I already have the parts to build a 338 SS as well. I’ll be waiting for the reamer so get on it ;)
 

phorwath

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2005
Messages
6,476
Location
Alaska
Wow Dan! And you're concerned about the wildcat part:D. I think you have it covered!
Hah hah... LOL...
That was my first thought also. Only things missing were the powder, primer, and bullet manufacturer’s Lot numbers! :)

I read the first half last night, and the 2nd half this morning! :D
 

TG-5150

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Joined
Nov 8, 2017
Messages
593
Location
Wyoming
Wow Dan! And you're concerned about the wildcat part:D. I think you have it covered!
And he is worried about not doing his own mounting ? ;)
Seems to me, if one were to get some Go-NO Go's it would be a cinch to mount ones own barrel. But i have not been that far myself so this is just conjecture:cool:
I have done alot of reading and thinking and absorbing in the last few months and am thinking i can do almost all my ow work to the Savage 200 morph i have. It's only a lil' 7-08 AI though. lol
Think i may replicate the stock stiffening idea though.Thanks
 

El Matavenados

Active Member
Joined
Mar 5, 2015
Messages
38
I'm not afraid to mount a barrel on a Savage/Stevens, LOL! With a few wrenches and gauges, it's pretty simple (at least, the concepts are simple). It's chambering and threading and muzzle threading that I can't do. Now, if I had a suitable lathe, tooling, 3-phase power, and room in the garage, I would LOVE to learn to chamber my own barrels! Maybe someday.

With this build, I don't intend to swap barrels, so I'll eliminate one extra component from the system (barrel nut). If the barrel nut is not a precision component, and it's being used to mate a precision barrel to a precision lug and trued action, then eliminating it seems like a good idea.

Thanks for the encouraging words, guys! I'll update as the project progresses.
 

TG-5150

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2017
Messages
593
Location
Wyoming
I didn't fully grasp the "level" to which you were subbin' out the smith work. My bad:D
I like the barrel nut-but then again, i may be a lil' too frugal.
Good luck and i'll be anxious to see this come along........
 

El Matavenados

Active Member
Joined
Mar 5, 2015
Messages
38
I like the barrel nut, too, and of I were going the prefit route, or if I thought that I might want multiple barrels for this rifle, I would certainly go that route. I, too, lean toward the frugal side! Hence my choice of a $250 donor rifle.
 

El Matavenados

Active Member
Joined
Mar 5, 2015
Messages
38
Muzzle brake arrived today. Just need to get my action back from SSS, and a reamer from the mfr, and we will be ready to cut some steel!
 

El Matavenados

Active Member
Joined
Mar 5, 2015
Messages
38
The man in the big brown truck brought some more goodies today. Just little stuff like cartridge boxes, and Lee case holders. But the best thing was the set of Hornady 300 SAUM dies. My brother and I took the full length sizer and chucked it into a drill, and went after it with the Dremel, grinding it down a bunch (in order to set back the shoulders on my Norma cases). Well, since the die was ready to go, why not take it for a spin??? I trimmed a case down, lubed it up, and we carefully adjusted ithe die until it was setting the shoulder back .084", per Elkaholic's instructions. Easy peasy! Well, if you're going to do one, you might as well keep going, right??!? So I did all 21 cases. 21, you say? Why the odd number? Well, it seems that when someone counted out the casings, they miscounted. Bank error in my favor, collect 1 free casing. The mouth on one was a little dinged up, so maybe they just threw in an extra to make up for it. After trimming and sizing, you can't even tell.

I intend to ream the necks out using my mill and a reamer purchased for the occasion, once it arrives. Once that's done, I'll be a hop, skip, and a jump away from being able to load up some fireforming loads. Of course, the fireforming will have to wait until I get the rifle built....

As I pondered the best way to ream the necks, there were several routes I could have taken. But I decided to go with my mill, which required me to make a special fixture, which required me to get some extra tooling. I thought I would also do the outside neck turning at the same time as the reaming, but that would have required another $125 of tools, so I'll just do that in a separate setup.
 

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