My shiny new light .338 Norma Magnum build thread!!

Discussion in 'Rifles, Bullets, Barrels & Ballistics' started by codyadams, Nov 30, 2019.


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  1. codyadams

    codyadams Well-Known Member

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    Some of you may have seen bits and pieces of this in other threads, but I like having threads dedicated to each rifle build I do (more for my reference later so I can document and review why I did what I did ha ha) so this is for my most recent build, and so far my favorite I have done yet!!!

    I have hunted for quite a while with a 13.5 lb .260 AI with a 29"+ brake barrel, and while it has served me well, and taken over 50 animals ranging from doe pronghorn to bull elk for myself, family and friends, I wanted something more manageable and better suited for elk, so brainstorming began.

    Whatever I built, I wanted it to be 8-9 lbs, much lighter and rifles can get somewhat challenging for longer shots, and didn't want it any heavier for back country pack in hunts. As far as chambering, I wanted something big elk worthy, and also considering I hunt in Wyoming where Grizzly encounters are possible, I was led to either a .308 or .338 cal. I also had a Rem 700 long action to run on, and after extensive research, decided on a .338 Norma.

    I know it's not a .750 bolt, and they can be prone to lug set-back, but after reading a thorough write up by Kirby Allen, who stated essentially that the reason .588 bolt face cartridges can cause lug set-back on 700 actions is that with tough brass such as Lapua and Peterson, you generally don't see the pressure signs on this brass until you are well above standard pressures. So, if you do a standard pressure work up until you see your regular pressure signs, you are likely at least 65,000 psi and very likely higher than that. Peterson even states on their site that they torture tested their .300 and 338 norma brass at 70,000+ psi without primer pocket loosening or other pressure signs. In Kirby Allen's opinion, the 700 Action is strong enough to handle the .588 bolt face, IF loaded to actual proper pressures and not overloaded. Also, Remington is making .338 Lapua's in standard 700 actions, so they are confident in them, at least with factory ammo. Kirby Allen did say that the chrome moly receivers tend to do better than stainless ones, but again, he stated if loaded properly both with handle it fine. So on my load workup, instead of loading until I see pressure signs on my Peterson brass, I will watch my velocities instead and make sure not to go over what the cartridge should be doing at standard pressure according to quick load, and try to give myself a little wiggle room as well. This also means my brass will likely last a very long time.

    So then I had to carefully figure out how to meet my weight requirements, and also have the rifle be shootable as far as recoil is concerned. So for a Brake, I decided on MBM 5 port Beast Titanium. I wanted the lightest contour that I could still thread 5/8x24, pretty much the smallest thread that you want to do in a .338 bore. That turned out to be about a #5 contour (Krieger/Lilja #5) and I wanted to save as much weight as possible, so fluting was in order, and spiral fluting takes the most weight. Lilja offered spiral fluting, so they are who I went with. According to Lilja's weight calculator, spiral fluting in the length I wanted it to run would save me about .6 lbs off the barrel, and when weighing it, that was right on, so over half a point from spiral fluting that Lilja did. I had the fluting set up to where If I had the shank cut to extend 1" in front of the recoil lug, the barrel length would be 24". This gave me just enough meat at the muzzle to thread 5/8x24 and still have enough shoulder to seat the brake.

    For a stock, I wanted light, but that didn't really narrow it down a ton, as there are several good carbon shelled stocks out there. However, I saw the Manners Elite Arctic camo, and thought it would look fantastic with the spiral fluting and stainless action, so an EH-1 was ordered.

    I then sent off the bolt to be fluted by LRI to save some weight, but mainly for looks to match the barrel. They did fantastic, had quick turn around with a VERY fair price.

    In another .338 NM I load for, the OAL with 300 Bergers is just under 3.7" OAL seated .020" off the lands, so I wanted a little more than the standard rem mag box. Wyatt's filled that gap with their 3.850" extended box.

    For the bottom metal, PTG offers a BDL type aluminum guard that weighs almost nothing, so they got my business.

    For the rings, I wanted something solid and 1 piece but light, so after research, that lead me to DNZ mounts. However this one was tricky, most of their mounts are right handed only due to the positioning of their crossbar, and I wanted it to have 20 MOA of cant and a 30mm tube. Their 4 screw tactical mount however, has the bar in the center, has 4 screw ring caps, and has 21.5 MOA of cant. Only issue....they only have it in black!!! Well, one phone call to them, and they custom made me one anodized in silver. Awesome!!

    Had my smith put it all together, and then the wait started for the stock. Well, 7 months and 2 weeks later I had it, and here it is!!! 77114856_409480809934534_4717375444070957056_n.jpg 78322338_2456526877969232_8990094981276368896_n.jpg 78275920_566492954180655_2934490092359647232_n.jpg 78060006_666672440529740_8246081103715106816_n.jpg 76996770_588352151706980_8787280990562156544_n.jpg 78179122_579014426165797_3390848028465168384_n.jpg 78749875_443083476604398_2031668003732455424_n.jpg 77230196_3162353603780582_773611880177467392_n.jpg

    The scope is on loan from a very generous friend, I will likely end up putting a Sightron SIII 6-24 on it sometime after the holidays. That scope is about 2-3 oz lighter than the March that is currently on it. The weight is without bedding and pillars, so should end up about the same.

    This rifle came out very handy, and feels light in the hands, the balance point is at or just behind the front action screw. Can't wait to get out and shoot it, I will post up more photos as I bed it and get it shooting!!
     
  2. North Idaho Hunter

    North Idaho Hunter Well-Known Member

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    That’s a beauty! I did the same w/ a 338 RUM. I just couldn’t shoot that gun as accurate as my smaller calibers so she went down the road. What bullet do you intend to run?
     
  3. Mram10us

    Mram10us Well-Known Member LRH Team Member

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    Shoot the thing already!
    The Rem 700 has handled the 338 edge and other variants just fine. I’m guessing you’ll be good
     
    Earnhardt likes this.
  4. PNWGator

    PNWGator Well-Known Member

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    Looks great and sounds well thought out!
     
  5. codyadams

    codyadams Well-Known Member

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    300 Bergers and 285 Hammers. I may try some others, but that is what I have to start out with
     
    rfurman24 likes this.
  6. rfurman24

    rfurman24 Well-Known Member

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    The .588 head cartridges apply much higher thrust to the bolt.

    Nice setup Cody!
     
    bigngreen and codyadams like this.
  7. Rum Man

    Rum Man Well-Known Member

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    Beautiful Set up !
    This Forum is Killing me ..
    One New Build at a time !!

    Rum Man
     
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  8. Rum Man

    Rum Man Well-Known Member

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    Now I'm going to dig up your 260 ai build Post !

    Rum Man
     
  9. memtb

    memtb Well-Known Member

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    Beautiful package, and at a good,manageable weight! You really thought it out well. I could learn to like that, a lot.......though, without the “weed burner”! ;) memtb
     
  10. jrock

    jrock Well-Known Member

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    How deep was the fluting and was your barrel stainless or chromoly?
     
  11. bigbulls

    bigbulls Well-Known Member

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    Very nice build, great looking rifle. Only issue I see is the bolt handle is on the wrong side.:)
     
    T3ninja and memtb like this.
  12. codyadams

    codyadams Well-Known Member

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    Standard depth that Lilja does, .219 wide, .125 deep. Ya, its stainless
     
  13. codyadams

    codyadams Well-Known Member

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    That weed burner is going to keep my shoulder in it's socket ha ha!!!
     
    memtb likes this.
  14. codyadams

    codyadams Well-Known Member

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    Thank you sir. I'm really eager to put some rounds downrange, but bedding first!!
     
    rfurman24 likes this.