A Data-Driven Approach To Precision Rifles, Optics & Gear

Custom 7mm Rem Mag

I recently had a custom rifle built that was chambered as a 7mm Remington Magnum. I plan to use it as a dual-purpose rifle:

  1. Precision rifle matches (target shooting out to 1000 yards)
  2. Hunting (primarily whitetail & mule deer and the occasional wild hog)

Custom Long Range Rifle 7mm Rem Mag with callouts

Custom 7mm Rem Mag

Custom 7mm Rem Mag

I did a ridiculous, almost embarrassing amount of research before landing on the 7mm Rem Mag cartridge. After losing a deer last year, I wanted to make sure it had enough energy to put an animal down quickly. There is no such thing as overkill. With that mindset, I actually started by looking at the 300 Win Mag, and after pouring over ballistic tables I started thinking about a 7mm STW or even a 300 Win Mag necked down to a 7mm (like the 7mm Practical) instead. To get a high BC bullet in 30 caliber you need to go up to a 200gr bullet … which is way heavier than I needed for hunting, and you have to put a lot of gun powder behind that to get the same ballistics you can with a 7mm.  All of that adds up to a lot more recoil, and I didn’t want to develop a flinch. There are a ton of great, high BC bullets offered in 7mm that were closer to the optimal bullet weight for the game I had in mind. The thinner diameter of the bullets (7.0mm vs. 7.62mm for the 30 caliber) seems to naturally lead to more aerodynamic bullet design. Here are a few specific bullets I thought might work:

BulletG7 BC*G1 BC*
Berger 168gr VLD0.3160.617
Berger 180gr VLD0.3370.659
Hornady 162gr A-Max0.3070.599
Cauterucio 177gr VLD0.3490.683

*All BCs are from Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting by Brian Litz (2nd Edition)

I selected Clayton Smith with West Texas Ordnance as my gunsmith, and here are the specs of what we ended up building:

PartDescription
ActionStiller Predator Long Action Stainless (.534” bolt face, .300” tapered recoil lug) with Stiller 30 MOA forward cant 1913 picatinny rail, fluted bolt, and oversized tactical-style bolt knob.  Stiller Precision Firearms manufactures custom bolt action recievers using the latest CNC technology.  They are a primary supplier for many OEM manufacturers including Les Baer, Gunwerks, and the U.S. Miliary.  The Predator action is a drop-in replacement for the Remington 700, so it can fit in any stock the Remington 700 can.  The top is full round and uses two front bases rather then the stepped down one on the rear of a Remington. This allows for better scope alignment. The magazine-fed actions use a 0.15″ extended cutout to allow for longer cartridges and H-S Precision or Wyatt boxes. The port has been opened a little for the same reasons. The bolt is a little looser than benchrest actions to avoid problems with grit and particles. It has 0.004″ clearance, which is much less than a Remington, but a little more than BR actions. Jerry Stiller says: “If you are going out to buy a Remington donor rifle, STOP, give us a call. The Predator may cost less by the time that Rem action is trued and blue-printed.”
Stiller Predator Action
Barrel27″ Krieger fluted stainless steel cut-rifle barrel in #19 hunter contour with 1:9 twist.  There are lots of good custom barrel makers out there, but I went with Krieger because they use a single-point, cut-rifling process. Although this process is significantly slow than button-rifling (and therefore more expensive), it produces almost perfect concentricity between the bore and groove, a very uniform twist rate, and introduces no stress into the steel.  I went with a 27″ barrel to give me plenty of room to set the barrel back an inch and re-chamber after the throat starts to erode.  Even after the set-back, I’ll still have a 26″ barrel, which should still give me the velocities I’m looking for.  According to Berger’s new reloading manual, you can expect the 7mm Rem Mag to have 31 fps difference per inch of barrel.
TriggerTimney #510 adjustable from 1.5 to 4 lbs.  Mine is set to 1.9 lbs.  I thought about going with a Jewel, but the Timney has less open ports on the bottom of it that sand and grime can get into.  Since I will be using this in very sandy conditions in the field, I didn’t want to introduce a chance of trigger failure.  Timney triggers are built to tolerances less than .0005”, and are made from a solid block of heat treated steel so there’s no “connector bar” to come loose.  The 510 also comes with a safety that blocks the trigger, not the sear.  That means there’s no way to move the trigger when it’s on safe, and when you take it off safe the trigger stays in the exact same position.
Bottom MetalWyatt’s Outdoor long action detachable box magazine (DBM) system with 5 round & 10 round magazines.  This setup gave me a tenth of an inch more clearance than the AI mags would have.  Wyatt’s Outdoor magazines aren’t any cheaper than AI magazines, but the build quality is in the same class.
StockMcMillan Adjustable A3-5 in Desert Camo with integral cheekpiece adjustments, spacer system for adjustable length of pull, 2 flush cups, 1 forend stud for a bipod.  This is a combination of McMillan’s A5 and A3 stocks.  The A5 is the bestselling stock to civilians and has a lot of great new features (see diagram below).  The A3 is “the most widely used field sniper stock available”, and is made to be less bulky and lighter weight for field use.  The A3-5 is a hybrid between the two.  It essentially brings in all the new features of the A5 (like the butt hook, which is great when using a rear bag), but maintains the more streamlined profile of the A3 so it is easier to maneuver in the field … and it shaves a full pound of weight off the A5.
McMillan-A5-Features
FinishCerakote in Coyote Tan – Cerakote is an extremely durable, weather- and corrosion-proof, ceramic-based protective finish that resists scratching, chipping, and abrasive cleaning solvents.  It is spray-on and ovencured.  Hardener and paint chemically bond into an ultra-thin coating that adheres to almost any surface for a clean, professional finish.  There are similar products out there, but none compare to the how tough Cerakote is.  To see the difference, the results from a labrotory abrasion test for several popular types of firearms coatings is provided below.  To see more test results, visit http://www.cerakoteguncoatings.com/testing/.
Cerakote Taber Abrasion Test Results
Muzzle BrakeOPS Inc R3E2C muzzle brake, 5/8-24TPI thread with interchangeable thread protector/barrel cap.  I was considering a Holland brake, but went with the OPS so I could keep a more standard barrel thread pattern.  I plan to add a suppressor at some point, and didn’t want to have to add some type of custom adapter.  OPS is the exclusive supplier to U.S. elite forces.  Originally developed for the military, the OPS Muzzle Brake is the result of extensive research into muzzle gases and the effects of redirecting them for recoil reduction and accuracy enhancement. A single, large expansion chamber followed by a baffle traps redirects gases 90 degrees from the barrel to eliminate dust printing, muzzle rise, and back blast.  This design also eliminates a great deal of the sound that would be directed back towards the shooter with traditional muzzle brakes (although it is still loud).  OPS claims recoil reduction of up to 70% with virtually no “puff” back at the shooter.  I’ve now shot it with and without the muzzle brake and it feels like it reduces the recoil 30-40% on my rifle.  Don’t want to take my word of it, check out their stellar reviews on Brownell’s.
ScopeNightforce NXS 5.5-22×50 with ZeroStop & MOAR Reticle – I love this scope for its ruggedness, high quality glass, broad magnification range, high-speed turrets, 4″ eye releif, and 100 MOA of elevation travel.  Combined with the 30 MOA of cant from my rail, this gives me 76 MOA of drop adjustment in my scope which means I have more than enough to push beyond 1 mile without having to “hold” for drop … yet even when I’m shooting at 100 yards I’m still within the “sweet spot of the scope” (i.e. not on the extreme edges of elevation adjustment, which Bryan Litz says can impact accuracy).  The “high-speed turrets” provide 20 MOA of adjustment per revolution which is more than most scopes, so it takes less full revolutions to get to my adjustment.  The ZeroStop option is also amazing for tactical or hunting situations, and well worth the extra money.  Overall the Nightforce scopes are just a great bang for the buck.  I was considering the Schmidt & Bender 5-25×56 PM II/LP/MTC/LT, but the price is twice as much ($4k instead of $2k) and ultimately it’s not twice as good of a scope.  But, the #1 reason I went with overall the ridiculous durability and ruggedness.  To show the extent to which this is true, read this story about a U.S. soldier’s Nightforce scope that was shot straight through and continued to function.
Scope MountSpuhr Ideal Scope Mount SP-3001 – You may not have heard of this mount (yet), but it’s amazing and honestly lives up to it’s name … it is completely ideal.  The engineering and thought behind this mount puts it in a class of it’s own.  My favorite features are the 45 degree split ring design which is ultra-compact, and allows you to see your turret adjustments with minimal head movement.  The included wedge is brilliant for quickly leveling your scope in the mount, and a bubble level is conveniently built into the rear of the mount and therefore always protected and never at risk of being broken off or accidently re-adjusted in any way.  It also provides 8 interface points where virtually any accessory can be attached without the weight and added bulk of having 3 feet of picatinny rail all over the mount. The built-in attachment points allow the user to mount a variety of interfaces for reflex sights, nightvision equipment, thermal attachments, lasers, illuminators, cosine indicators, picatinny rails, etc. There are really no limitations to what can be attached.  I went with a model with no built-in cant, because my rail already had 30 MOA of cant built into it.  I think this makes hte mount more flexible, because I could move it rifle to rifle if needed as long as each rifle had the appropriate amount of cant for that specific cartridge built into the rail.  For example, I’d probably want a rail with 43 MOA of cant for a 338 Lapua and by putting the cant into the rail it is specific to the gun … but a 0 cant scope mount isn’t specific to any gun.
Spuhr-Ideal-Scope-Mount-System
45-Degree-Split-Rings

It ended up weighing in at 11 lbs 4 oz before optics, and is 51 3/4″ long with all of the length of pull spacers on the stock and the muzzle brake attached.  Fully loaded it weighs 15 lbs 0.2 oz, which includes 5 rounds, Harris 6-9″ bipod, scope & mount.  (Update 6/19/2013:  After carrying it at many matches (including the Steel Safari where you had to hike miles in rugged terrain for 3 days straight), I am still totally comfortable with the weight of the rifle.  It is heavier than a sporter, but I actually think I could take slightly more weight without it becoming a real problem.  The right weight is subjective, but to me this is a great balance of portability and accuracy.)

With less than 100 rounds down the barrel, I’m already ecstatic about the accuracy of this rifle.  My FIRST 3 shot group with match grade handloads had an extreme spread of 0.188″ … that is ridiculously good any rifle, but even more so for a non-benchrest rifle under 15 lbs.

I ended up taking it to a precision rifle match this past weekend, although I had only fired 50 rounds out of it (and none past 100 yards).  I had fired over a chronograph and done a quick Audette Ladder Test to get a rough idea for a potentially accurate handload for Berger 168gr VLD, and plugged my muzzle velocity and Litz’s G7 BC into JBM’s ballistic calculator to work up some completely theroetical dope.  To my surprise, I had amazing results.  The competition had 36 targets mostly from 300-650 yards, and you were only allowed to fire one round at each target (no sighters).  I ended up hitting 29 targets in a row before my first miss.  I couldn’t be more pleased with the rifle.

Update 12/28/2012 – I’ve stretched this rifle out to some pretty far distances while target shooting. IPSC sized targets are a chip shot at 1000 yards, and I can still get 50% hits at 1,400 yards. We also set up a 1 mile target a couple weeks ago at the range where I shoot, and with the help of this rifle I became the inaugural member of the 1 mile hit club (witnesses present).

About Cal

Cal Zant is the shooter/author behind PrecisionRifleBlog.com. Cal is a life-long learner, and loves to help others get into this sport he's so passionate about. His engineering background, unique data-driven approach, and ability to present technical and complex information in a unbiased and straight-forward fashion has quickly caught the attention of the industry. For more info on Cal, check out PrecisionRifleBlog.com/About.

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26 comments

  1. Did you chrony your loads or verify how fast your 168 load is going?

    • I’ve shot over a chronograph a lot (in fact a couple different units, including an Oheler 35P) and here are some of the velocities I found with the Berger 168gr VLDs, Retumbo powder, & Federal 210M primers (note those aren’t magnum primers, but thought they would give more consistent velocities and an overall lower SD). These were taken at 3,200 ft elevation, 70 degrees, and around 50% humidity. I already corrected the values below to indicate the velocity at the muzzle (not at the chronograph).

      • 69.0gr Retumbo = 2,770 fps
      • 69.4gr Retumbo = 2,875 fps
      • 69.8gr Retumbo = 2,910 fps
      • 70.2gr Retumbo = 2,940 fps
      • 70.6gr Retumbo = 3,020 fps

      All of the loads above showed absolutely no signs of excess pressure in my rifle. My gunsmith actually told me he was able to get 3,213 fps with Berger 168gr VLDs out of a different 7mm Rem Mag he built that had a 26″ barrel without signs of excess pressure. In fact, he said he was able to get an extreme spread of 13 fps with that load, which is pretty ridiculous. He did try to add a few more grains of powder to it, and did find signs of too much pressure … so be careful! That seems like it would be a pretty hot load (maybe too hot), but I know you can definitely push it beyond what I did. He expected me to be able to get around 3,250 fps out of my barrel if I wanted to load it all the way up, but I don’t have plans to go that far up at this point.

      I actually decided to load it down some, just because there isn’t a ton of ballistic advantage you acheive by going to the max load. I’d personally prefer to have a little less recoil and maybe a little more barrel life (at least theoretically) than the extra bump a little more velocity would add … and I can always load hotter if I decide I need too later on. I used the Creighton Audette Ladder Test followed by Dan Newberry’s Optimal Charge Weight Load Development method to fine tune into a load 69.4gr of Retumbo. I was able to get 5 shot groups with load that had an average distance to center (ADC) of 0.176″, which is a great metric to look at to gauge the grouping capbility of a load. I shot 10 rounds of this load over an Oheler 35P at 4,000 ft elevation this past weekend and got a 2950 fps average with the chronograph 8 ft from the muzzle, which would roughly translate to 2960 fps at the muzzle. I shot all the way out to 1,350 yards and the actual bullet impact confirmed my dope based on that muzzle velocity. The conditions were 67 degrees F, 73% humidity, and 30.05 in for barometric pressure.

  2. I am starting to build a custom rifle and have settled on this cartridge. Having heard of WTO and also a few other gunsmiths how would you rate the service? Also the turn around time and what would my budget need to be less scope?

    Thank you and good luck with this rig!

    Joe

    • I couldn’t say enough good things about Clayton and the guys at West Texas Ordnance. Clayton has been building high-end rifles since he was a teenager, through his career in the marine corp, and I think he has even taken his game up a notch in the past several years as a private gunsmith. Almost all of his business comes from the referrals of ecstatic customers like me, so that tells you a lot. One of my best friends just got a new build this past week from WTO chambered in 300 Norma. We took it out to the range this weekend, and even though we were in a canyon with winds gusting up to almost 20 mph … he was able to shoot a 1 minute group at 1,435 yards. I also know he also built a 6-284 (yes, 6mm bullet) for a guy who uses it to consistently win regional rifle matches I attend with targets 300-800 yards. You probably saw the photo of the 0.18″ group I got with my 7mm Rem Mag. Everything has to be perfect for a magnum to acheive that type of accuracy, but Clayton can pull it off … and does consistently.

      The only down side is that great gunsmiths are in high demand. Right now I believe his wait time is a few months, but if you’re doing a new build that might not be a big deal because it would likely take that long to get all the components in (e.g. barrel, stock, action), even if he ordered all them for you today. The lead time for manufacturers like McMillan, Krieger, and others are at least that long, as they too struggle to meet demand. What I appreciate about those companies, and WTO as well, is that they are absolutely unwilling to sacrifice quality to speed up the process or turn out a few more rifles. That discipline is what seperates the good from the great in this industry, especially at this point in time with unprecedented demand.

      The budget is really up to you. Clayton’s rifles start around $2,200 and that is a nice build on the Howa 1500 action. If you want to build on a Stiller action, they start around $2,800. The components you choose can either leave that price there, or swing it up as high as you’re wanting to go. My build here was just under $4,000 before optics. All of his rifles are gauranteed to shoot groups under 3/4″ at 100 yards, and the ones I’ve seen are well below that. So even that base price rifle is a shooter. They will also do barrel break-in and load development on your specific rifle, and provide all that information to you at delivery. He has some additional pricing info posted on the West Texas Ordnance website: http://westtexordnance.com/rifles/custom_rifles

  3. I really enjoy your blog and am looking to adopt some of the things you implemented into your 7mm rem mag build for my own rifle. I’ve read in a few different places that when mounting a scope you should consider lapping the scope rings to aid in better alignment and thus better accuracy and rigidity. Do you end up doing that with your Spuhr scope rings??

    • Thanks for the encouragement Kyle, its good to hear that you find this helpful. I know a lot of people are passionate about lapping scope rings, but I did not do that with my Spuhr mount. One of the benefits of buying a modern, precision-engineered, one-piece scope mount is the lapping has already been done for you. The rings should already be in perfect alignment with one another.

      I did end up using Brownell’s Rosin inside the scope rings, because I noticed the scope had some movement over time due to the magnum recoil. That seemed to stop the slipping problem. Sphuhr actually recommends doing that in their manual, but originally they had it worded in a way that made it seem like you only needed to do that if the rifle would be exposed to “extreme vibrations.” Here is how they have it worded in the latest manual: “For normal use (including mostly military, law enforcement and civilian use) we strongly recommend the use of small amount of rosin between the scope and the rings. Rosin is a very good gripping agent that prevents slipping.” (Source: Spuhr Manual)

      I’m friends with shooters that have several Spuhr mounts on all kinds of guns (from 6.5 Creedmoor to 338 Lapua) and they’ve never experienced the slipping problem … but I certainly did with my 7mm Rem Mag. It actually moved twice before I tried the rosin, and the second time I was 10% over their recommended torque settings. It sounds like there are a few shooters that noticed this same issue on the hide: http://forum.snipershide.com/s4-sniper%92s-hide%AE-equipment/191257-does-spuhr-mount-need-lapping.html. Hope this helps.

      • Thanks for the reply, I’ll take a look at the Rosin. Would you consider your rifle to be too heavy for hunting in the mountains of Montana or Colorado? I know a lot of people make a big deal about the weight of their gun when most can afford to lose some around their midsection. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter as I’m trying to decide on the A3-5 stock or a Manners Elite Hunter series.

      • Well, I personally don’t think it’s too heavy, but that is completely subjective. I’d personally rather pack a heavy, 15 lb rifle that I knew was a 1/4 MOA tack-driver, than a featherweight rifle that I didn’t have 100% confidence in. I carry this rifle mule deer hunting, and there is a lot of spot and stalk on those. I also used this rifle in the 2013 Steel Safari, which is a grueling hike and shoot competition over some tough terrain. I hiked 3+ miles per day in 90+ degree summer weather with this rifle plus a 25 pound pack (Eberlestock Just One Pack with rifle scabbard), and it was very manageable.

        I actually bought a biathlon sling, because that essentially allows you to carry the rifle like a backpack … but I’ve honestly never used it. The biathlon sling is comfortable, but I just haven’t found the weight to be a problem with a regular sling. I am fairly fit, and exercise somewhat regularly … so I’m sure some people might think it is too much weight.

        I do love the Manner’s 100% carbon fiber stocks like the Elite Hunter. They actually just released a new product at SHOT Show a couple weeks ago that brings that same “Elite” series of ultralight stocks to their tactical line. I think they said those would start just under 2 lbs, which is ridiculously light. They have one hunter stock that you can get as light as 22 ounces! They have a folding version similar to the A3-5, which is 3.4 lbs. My bare McMillan A3-5 stock weighs exactly 3.25 lbs.

        I’m personally building a new rifle right now, and I’ll likely end up putting it in a Manner Elite Tactical stock. I personally would like the stock as light as possible, so that I can put as much weight as I can in the barrel.

        I love my 7mm Rem Mag setup just as its shown here, but if I could change one thing about it … I’d get a shorter, thicker barrel. The 27″ gives me more velocity than I really need. As my barrel wore in more, I was eventually getting 168gr bullets at 3140 fps out of the muzzle. As long as I’m over about 3000 fps, I think the ballistics are still great (just my opinion though). I’ve shot just under 1,400 rounds through the barrel, so I’m actually getting it set back right now and decided to take 2″ off of it. So my new barrel will be 25″, and I’m anxious to see what velocities I will see out of it. If I was ordering a new barrel for this rifle today, it would be a 24″ Medium Palma unfluted.

  4. Great information, i really appreciate your insight. Are you finding better results with Retumbo or h1000??

    • I found better results with Retumbo and that’s what my gunsmith said he found for 7mm RM too … But I know a lot of really thorough guys that got better results with H1000. I think as long as you stay with a Hodgdon Extreme Series powder you really can’t go wrong. I’d say try both with a quick Audette Ladder test and see which looks more promising (ie has the best flat, stable section). Here is a post where I explain that stuff in case someone isn’t familiar with it: http://precisionrifleblog.com/2012/10/19/7mm-rem-mag-ladder-test-results/

      • Will this rifle setup be suitable to aladeen foxes and roos etc and maybe pigs too?

      • It will certainly be able to handle any of those animals. I’ve used it to kill wild hogs up to 300 lbs (on left in photo below), and some trophy mule deer as well (the one pictured below dropped straight down in 1 shot). One Alaskan guide I know of uses a 7mm Rem Mag for all his hunting, including elk, moose and bear. I personally might opt for a 338 caliber or larger for dangerous animals like moose or grizzly, but it will definitely handle anything smaller without a problem.

        300 lb hog on the left, just under 200 on the right

        2013 Mule Deer

  5. Thanks for the article and a great blog too! What do you think is the “useful” barrel life expectancy with loads like you have listed? I have started using a Rem 700 Sendero in 7mm RM in local matches. While I love the round, it can be a handful after shooting it all day. The last match was about 75 rounds and I didn’t have the hits on the last stage like I did early in the day. I’m wondering if I got beat up too much and am considering dropping back a little to a more manageable cartridge. I hate to give up the flat trajectory I have now, but longer barrel life, less costly per round to shoot, faster follow up shots, and less recoil abuse are hard to ignore. Thanks for all the great info on here.

    • I hear you, Lee. I used my 7mm Rem Mags in competitions for a little over a year before building a 6XC competition rifle. I had fired 1400 rounds out of that rifle, so I was accustomed to the recoil. I definitely didn’t have a flinch, but I did dry fire drills often to help with that. I really didn’t feel like a magnum was handicapping me much in competitions, if any. A few veteran shooters tried to convince me otherwise, but I’m pretty head-strong (read stubborn).

      Now that I’m shooting a mid-sized cartridge, I see what those guys were saying … and why NONE of the top PRS competitors use magnums (much less 7mm, they’re all 6 & 6.5mm). The biggest difference to me is that I can spot my shots. With my magnum, the recoil caused the rifle to jump significantly. With proper body position, the rifle should return to approximately the same position … that just isn’t immediately. In reality, I can’t spot shots under 600 yards very easily with my magnum. However, with my heavy 6XC target rifle with a brake or suppressor … My sight picture literally never changes. That means I can see if I hit slightly towards one side of the plate or the other on those closer shots, and correct my wind call before I get out to those farther targets where it might result in a miss.

      The mid-sized cartridge also doesn’t beat me up, although I could shoot 100+ rounds per day out of my 7 mag and not feel too fatigued. There are a few matches where I’d do that 3 days in a row with my magnum … and it would feel a little punishing by the end of it.

      I was going to replace the barrel on my 7mm Rem Mag around 1200-1400 rounds, but after looking at it through a borescope at that point … there wasn’t much wear at all. My gunsmith said he’d have guessed I’d shot 700 rounds out of it if I hadn’t told him otherwise. I don’t typically fire long strings where the barrel just gets smoking hot, and I think that has a lot to do with it. Plus my loads are about 90-95% max pressure, and I think that extra 5% costs you a lot more barrel. But that’s just my theory.

      My brass lasts longer with a mid-sized cartridge, which isn’t a small thing. I put a lot of work into brass prep, so it’s nice to be able to leverage that over a longer period. David Tubb says he’s used some of his 6XC brass 20+ times. I’m not near that yet. My Norma 7mm RM brass made it to 10 reloads before I rechambered, and I started using new brass at that point. It seemed near the end of its life, and Norma told me the magnum cases are designed to take 10 reloads.

      Did my scores skyrocket? Not really. I was roughly a top 25% shooter with my 7mm Rem Mag, and I might be top 15-20% now. Honestly that extra 15% can only come with practice. My gear can do it, and now I just need to work on the nut behind the gun!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  6. Hi, great write up!

    One point of concern, I was recently told that “Lilja barrels” do not use a single-point, cut-rifling process. I was told they are button cut. Also, there are more companies out there that use a single cut rifling process. Bartlein is one for starters, but there are others.

    G

    • Thanks for the correction. Honestly, I wrote that post a long time ago, and have learned a lot since then. You’re totally right. Sorry for the confusion. I got the post updated. I appreciate the feedback!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  7. Hi. First, great side!
    My question: the nightforce is SFP, right? Why didnt you take a FFP-scope? My friends say, even if you ignore the rangingproblem, there is a precision loss when you shoot with different magnification in sfp. Whats your take on that? ( i think about also taking a sfp-scope for hunting)

    • I agree, Kurt. I actually don’t own that Nightforce scope anymore. I’ve converted over to all FFP scopes. But, that doesn’t mean the Nightforce isn’t a viable option. That is a compromise, but it is still a great scope for the money. FFP scopes are harder to make for several reasons (too many to cover in these comments), which means the price tag is going to be higher. So if price is no object, I feel like you should get a FFP scope if you are going to be shooting at multiple magnifications and holding for wind. But most people are on a budget, and that means FFP is one of those things that you need to weigh the importance of (for your intended application) with respect to the cost. Everyone uses a scope a little differently, so there is no one right answer. I think the Nightforce scope served me well at the time, but the SFP design was a limitation and just one more thing I had to keep in mind when I was behind the rifle. I try to minimize those things, because you’ll eventually forget one of them and miss a shot because of it. With FFP scopes, the magnification level just doesn’t matter. The hash marks are always valid 1 mil or 1 MOA increments. That means the zoom level can be freely used to give you the appropriate field of view for the scenario, and you aren’t locked into using max magnification or carefully set it to the 1/2 power magnification … which could have some error in it. I’m not sure it would be enough to make you miss a shot (especially with Nightforce’s quality control), but your friends are right … there could theoretically be a precision loss, and I’d bet there is on cheaper brands.

      Great question, Kurt! Hope this helps.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  8. LMAO! A 15lb deer rifle! You must not walk too far from the truck!

    • I’ve stalked with this rifle all day. If you’re looking to cut weight, I’d suggest starting with your mid-section … not the rifle. This setup seems to work for me.

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Hello! First off this is a great website! Really enjoying it!
        Any advice for a newbie getting into precision shooting regarding calibers? Was looking at getting a 7mm Rem mag and wanted an all around rifle i.e. Elk hunting and matches.
        Thank You very much for your time!

      • Kirk, I think you landed on the perfect page! That is exactly what I had in mind when I built this rifle. Now I’ve learned a lot since I built this, but honestly … I’d still go with a 7mm Rem Mag. There are some excellent bullet choices in 7mm, and the energy downrange is ideal for deer/elk/hog sized game. The only thing in North America I might want a larger caliber for is dangerous game like Grizzly and moose, although I know guys use 7 mags on those. Honestly, I’m thinking about selling this rifle, because at this point I’ve lost confidence in Stiller actions after some bad experience with this one. I prefer Surgeon actions, which feature an integral rail. I just know they’ll never, ever be the source of error. So if I do build a new rifle, I could obviously change to whatever cartridge I want … but I’m 100% going back with the 7mm Rem Mag. The balance of ballistics, bullet selection, recoil, downrange energy, and availability of great brass and factory ammo options just makes the rifle ideal for a hunting and long-range target shooting. Best of luck to you!

        Thanks,
        Cal