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Custom Rifle Actions

Custom Rifle Actions – What The Pros Use

I recently surveyed the top 100 shooters in the Precision Rifle Series (PRS), and this post reviews the rifle actions those elite shooters were using in 2015. The PRS tracks how top competitors place in major rifle matches across the country. These are the major leagues of sniper-style competitions, with targets typically from 300 to 1200 yards. These world-class shooters represent the best of the best in terms of long-range shooting in field conditions. For more info on the Precision Rifle Series and who these guys are, or to view what other gear they’re running scroll to the bottom of this article.

This is one of several posts based on that gear survey of the top PRS shooters. Want to be the first to know when the next set of results is posted? Sign-up to receive new posts via email.

Custom Rifle Actions

Here is a look at what actions the top 100 rifle shooters were running this year:

Custom Rifle Actions

You can see actions made by Defiance Machine continued to dominate again in 2015, with 82% more actions represented than the nearest competitor. Half of the guys in the top 20 were running Defiance actions!

Defiance is led by Glen Harrison, a well-respected veteran in the industry. Glen’s work began as a dinner table conversation talking about the dramatic improvements he believed the emerging technology of computer-aided design and manufacturing could have if it was applied to rifle actions. Today the Defiance shop features dual Kitamura 5-axis CNC machines, and proprietary software that automates billions of variables. Glen has a background in competitive shooting, and his desire to always improve has kept him continually chasing closer tolerances for two decades. The machining process they’ve developed is well beyond anything I’ve ever seen or heard about.

Keep in mind the numbers for companies like Defiance and Stiller include actions from them directly as well as OEM actions they make for other companies. OEM is a term used when one company makes a part that is used in another company’s end product. For example, if you were a gunsmith that really liked to build rifles on the popular Defiance Deviant action, you could partner with Defiance Machine to have that action made with your logo on it, and you could rename it whatever you thought sounded cool. Here is an example of that:

Defiance Deviant

The past few years I’ve been grouping all those actions together, because many of these actions were identical except for the name on the side. However, in recent years there is starting to be slight variations in those OEM configurations. So if I do this type of survey again next year, I may break these out into more specific models.

The 2nd most popular action was the Surgeon 591SA Repeater action. Almost 1 in 4 guys who finished in the top 100 were using a Surgeon action, including 3 shooters who finished in the top 10 and another 3 in the top 20. The 591 is a legendary action that is trusted to continue to function in the toughest conditions. I’ve heard some of these shooters say one of the big reasons they like running Surgeon actions is because the action is tight, yet designed with enough clearance to allow it to continue to function smoothly through sand and grit that might cause other actions to lock up. They feature an integral rail and integral recoil lug, which many precision shooters prefer.

Surgeon 591 Action

Accuracy International had the next most popular action. AI actions are only available when you buy a full AI rifle build. So unlike the rest of these actions, you can’t just buy an action for your gunsmith to build a custom rifle around. The AI action has an iconic blocky look with a square bottom, instead of a rounded cylindrical bottom like most actions. AI actions allow you to use AIAW magazines, which are true double-stack magazines. These are much more compact than the AICS magazines other custom actions are designed to use.

Accuracy International AI action

Behind those three is the Stiller action. Like Defiance, Stiller makes many OEM actions which are custom branded for the shop that builds the rifle. One of the most popular actions for this type of shooting is the Stiller Spectre action, which includes an integral rail. I’ve heard rumor that Stiller is also working on a new action that will include an integral lug, but they don’t have that feature at the time this post was written.

Stiller Spectre Actions

Rounding out the top 5 is Kelbly’s Atlas Tactical Action. Kelbly’s is best known for the Stolle Panda action, which is popular among the benchrest crowd. But a couple years ago they designed a tactical action, and a few of these shooters were running that action. This action has a pinned rail and recoil lug, where most of the other top actions have integral parts. It does feature a mechanical ejector that can help with chamber pressure and eliminates the need for springs that can get gummed up and stop working.

Kelblys Atlas Tactical Action

Those represent all the actions used by 5+ shooters among the top 100, and they represent the bulk of the actions used among this crowd. But there were several other custom rifle actions used by 1-3 shooters, and those are also very capable actions:

Historical Trends Among Top 50

Here is a look at the historical trends in actions being used by the top 50 shooters since the inception of the PRS in 2012.

Custom Action

Honestly, this is one of the most boring charts I’ve made, because there isn’t a lot of change since last year. Defiance and Surgeon actions continue to represent 65% of the shooters … just like they did last year. Accuracy International made up 10% … just like they did last year. So most of the big numbers on the chart stayed about the same.

There were a couple new actions represented in the top 50, including:

The most interesting data point could be the complete disappearance of Remington 700 actions from the top 50. In the past, there have always been a few trued or blueprinted Remington 700 actions among the top 50 … but there weren’t any in 2015.

Other “What The Pros Use” Articles

This post was one of a series of posts that look at the equipment the top PRS shooters use. Check out these other posts:

Meet The Pros

You know NASCAR? Yes, I’m talking about the racing-cars-in-a-circle NASCAR. Before NASCAR, there were just a bunch of unaffiliated, regional car races. NASCAR brought structure by unifying those races, and created the idea of a season … and an overall champion. NASCAR identified the top races across the country (that were similar in nature), then combined results and ranked competitors. The Precision Rifle Series (PRS) is like NASCAR, but for rifle matches.

Watch PRS In ActionThe PRS is a championship style point series race based on the best precision rifle matches nationwide. PRS matches are recognized as the major league of sniper-style rifle matches. These matches aren’t shot from a bench or even on a square range. They feature practical, real-world field conditions, and even some improvised barricades and obstacles to increase the difficulty from hard to you-have-to-be-kidding-me. You won’t be able to take all shots from a prone position, and time stressors keep you from getting to comfortable. Typical target ranges are from 300 to 1200 yards, but each PRS match has a unique personality with creative stages that challenge different aspects of precision shooting. You might start off the day with a single cold bore shot on a small target at 400 yards, then at the next stage make a 1400 yard shot through 3 distinct winds across a canyon, then try to hit a golf ball on a string at 164 yards with no backstop to help you spot misses (can’t make that up), then see how many times you can ring an small 6” target at 1000 yards in 30 seconds, next shoot off a roof top at 10”, 8”, and 6” targets at 600 yards, followed by a speed drill on 1” targets at 200 yards and repeated at 7 yards … plus 10 other stages, and then come back tomorrow and do some more! Many stages involve some type of gaming strategy, and physical fitness can also come into play. For a shooter to place well in multiple matches, they must be an extremely well-rounded shooter who is capable of getting rounds on target in virtually any circumstance.

There are about 15 national-level PRS matches each year. At the end of the year the match scores are evaluated and the top ranked shooters are invited to compete head-to-head in the PRS Championship Match. We surveyed the shooters who qualified for the championship, asking all kinds of questions about the equipment they ran that season. This is a great set of data, because 100 shooters is a significant sample size, and this particular group are experts among experts. It includes guys like George Gardner (President/Senior Rifle Builder of GA Precision), Wade Stuteville of Stuteville Precision, Jim See of Center Shot Rifles, Matt Parry of Parry Custom Gun, Aaron Roberts of Roberts Precision Rifles, shooters from the US Army Marksmanship Unit, and many other world-class shooters.

Think of the best shooter you know … it’s actually very unlikely that person is good enough to break into the top 100. I know I’m not! I competed against a few of these guys for the first time earlier this year, and I was humbled. It’s incredible what these guys can do with a rifle. For example, the match in Oklahoma I was in had a station that required you to engage 4 steel targets scattered at random distances from 300 to 800 yards, and you only had 15 seconds! I think I hit 2, and rushed my 3rd shot. I didn’t even get the 4th shot off! But, one of these guys cleaned that stage with 4 seconds to spare! Yep, he got 4 rounds on target at distance in 11 seconds. That’s the caliber of shooter we’re talking about. It’s very different from benchrest or F-class competitions, but make no mistake … these guys are serious marksmen.

Thanks to Rich Emmons for allowing me to share this info. To find out more about the PRS, check out What Is The Precision Rifle Series? or watch this video to see it in action.

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. Cal has an engineering background, unique data-driven approach, and the ability to present technical information in an unbiased and straight-forward fashion. For more info, check out PrecisionRifleBlog.com/About.

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35 comments

  1. I had Dixie Precision Rifles build my 300 WM on a defiant action. This was based on your advice and I could not be happier.
    This is the smoothest action I’ve ever handled far outpacing even my tika 300 win short mag.

    Thanks??

    • Hey, that’s great to hear, Jeff. I seriously want to go up to Defiance and document their machining process. Glen told me about it at SHOT Show last year, and it’s ridiculous. They do a lot of things that nobody else does, and I think the end product is top notch. I’m just trying to help people make more informed decisions, so I’m glad you’re happy with what you ended up with. This stuff is too expensive to try everything out or learn things the hard way!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  2. I have a barney lawton lp r eject short action in 6 br unfortunatly. Mr lawton is no longer with us,
    Has anyone ever used his actions that get this blog? I have excellent service out of mine, thanks

    • I’ve never seen any of the top shooters report using it, and I’ve personally never seen one used in competitions … but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good one. If you’re happy with it, I’d stick with it.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  3. Still can’t understand why 3 lug actions are not more popular like the Tempest and the M2013 or AI. They cycle faster and have fewer scope to bolt handle clearance issues. What gives? Does the Mauser 2 lug action shoot that much better?

    Great work again Cal.

    • Chris, I’m with you. I think over time the 3 lug design will become more popular. Remington came out with a new 3 lug action design recently. Many of these actions are Remington 700 clones that have been improved in several ways, so part of this is the traditional popularity of that design. A 60 degree throw isn’t a ton of difference from a 90 degree throw, but if most people prefer it … the market will eventually head in that direction. It just might take some time.

      Thanks,
      Cal

    • I’m one of the 2 shooters running the M2013, and I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s run 100% since I got it and offers lots of features not found elsewhere: 4140 steel which is a better choice than 416 stainless for a rifle action, tons of bedding surface area, 60° throw ideal for AW magazines and rem700 trigger compatibility. Barrels are not custom fit; the Smith need only chamber according to an engineering drawing. All of this, plus it’s about the least expensive suitable action in the market. Love mine and won’t be switching even though I’m not sponsored by BO yet have been offered sponsorship elsewhere.

      • Hey, John! First, thanks for taking the time to fill out the survey. I know you guys are busy people, so I’m very appreciative of the time you take to help the rest of us out. I know a lot of people benefit from this info. … and congrats on being one of the top shooters! 😉

        I’m not as familiar with the M2013 as some of the other actions, so I appreciate you sharing those details. Those all sound like pretty ideal features. It might even be what I wrote down on a wish list for an action.

        I do have one question. When you say that the barrels aren’t custom fit, and the gunsmith only needs to chamber according to the engineering drawing … do you mean that the manufacturing tolerances are so tight that the headspace is identical on every action? That would be pretty amazing, but I just haven’t ever experienced it … even on these high-end actions. It seems crazy to me that the idea of interchangeable parts first became mainstream in the firearms industry, yet we’re still having to chamber barrels to a particular action. So I want to believe it’s possible! But I want to make sure that is what you’re saying here.

        Thanks,
        Cal

      • Cal: Yes, the dimensions of the action and “breeching ring” inside it (part the bolt lugs actually engage) are held tight enough from one action to the next that a barrel that fits one M200x action will fit any other M20xx. I use “M20xx” because it’s not only M2008-to-M2008 and M2013-to-M2013: It’s any Badger M20xx action.

        My practice gun is an M2008 while my match gun is the ’13. Between the two of them I have 5 or 6 barrels and have messed around swapping them with various configurations to include putting a barrel chambered for the ’08 onto the ’13 and checking headspace, then putting the ’08 bolt into the ’13 with the ’08 barrel and it’s the same. I couldn’t find any configuration that varied.

        BO has an engineering drawing for the chambering of these actions: It specifies thread pitch, tenon length, and how far out of the chamber a HS gage should stick when the chamber is at it’s correct depth.

        It’s basically the same as an AI.

      • Sweet! That’s definitely a compelling feature. Thanks for sharing.

        Thanks,
        Cal

  4. These are just what the pros use but there are plenty of competent custom builders out there with plenty of good shooters to fill what the market really uses. These companies up there are the market nichers. They in no way dominate the market. Most people just take a factory action and have it worked up by a competent gunsmith. One action and one customer at a time.

    • Good point. If you could look at what guys were using 10+ years ago, most were probably using Remington 700 actions. Here is an excerpt from RECOIL magazine where Iain Harrison speaks to this, as well as the new custom actions:

      “Remington’s first priority with the 700 was ease of manufacture, with accuracy being a fortunate byproduct — with more than 5-million rifles in circulation, this isn’t a dig at Big Green, which has a hugely successful lineup often used as a base for accurized custom builds. Surgeon, on the other hand, took the outline of the Remington action and transformed it into what it could have been, if the objective were to make a small number of extremely accurate rifles rather than to completely dominate the market.”

      So although a Remington 700 action is a relatively accurate action straight from the factory, the tolerances aren’t in the same league as these custom actions. Gunsmiths have a process of taking a stock Remington 700 and “accurizing” it, which is commonly referred to as truing or blueprinting an action. What this involves can vary slightly by gunsmith, but the goal is trying to correct as many inconsistencies in the Remington 700 as practically possible. That might include squaring the bolt face and recoil lugs, centering the firing pin, deburring and honing the bolt-way, cleaning up and reducing the run-out of the threads, etc. As you can see there is a lot of tedious corrections that need to be made, but there are some highly-skilled gunsmiths out there that have made this into an art. Of course, if you combine tedious labor-intensive operations with “highly-skilled gunsmiths” … that isn’t going to be cheap. Here is what Score Hi Gunsmithing says on the subject:

      “In order to produce an affordable action, tolerances must be compromised and the manufacturing process closely scrutinized to yield marketable product and yet maintain a certain amount of affordability. I believe Remington does a very good job of this by producing a wonderful out of the box rifle. Unfortunately these compromises do not produce perfect actions. In order to achieve extreme accuracy there can be no compromises, it is either perfect or it is wrong. When I blue print an action I make it as perfect as I can measure.”

      Although there are some gunsmiths that are great at this, and the end-product is as accurate as you can make a Remington 700 … it’d be really tough to get all of the tolerances to the same level as what you’d be able to achieve with the OCD computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and electrical discharge machining (EDM) that companies like Defiance and Surgeon use to create their actions. There has just been a lot of leaps into manufacturing technology in the past 10 years, and the tolerances you can achieve are pretty ridiculous. So there aren’t as many guys starting a new precision rifle build by going out and buying a donor factory action that they plan to blueprint. I’m not saying it isn’t a valid option, but it’s obviously not as popular as it once was. I’ve heard one of Stiller’s marketing messages is “Before you go buy a Remington 700 donor action and get it trued by a gunsmith, why not buy one of our actions that is already square, concentric, and made to really tight tolerances? The cost would probably be less than buying a donor rifle and truing the bolt and action.” It’s hard to argue with that, and it’s why none of my personal precision rifles were built on a Remington 700. Now if you already have a Remington 700 rifle that you want to upgrade and try to make a little more accurate … go for it. That’s a great option. But if your starting from scratch and want to build a rifle that will provide extreme accuracy … these days, most guys are starting with one of these custom action.

      Sorry for the long-winded response, but I know this can be a touchy subject for a lot of guys … so I wanted to try to lay out the case and reasoning for this shift in action selection.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  5. Cal, you mentioned that the kelby ejector helped with chamber pressures. I realize that it is not spring loaded like most, but how does that reduce chamber pressure?

    • Sorry if that caused confusion. It doesn’t reduce chamber pressure, but some guys feel like it can “help with chamber pressure.” There isn’t a plunger in the bolt face like the typical Remington 700 clone. If you handload, you’ve probably seen the bright spot on your case head when you start to get into higher pressures. What is happening is the chamber pressure is starting to get so high that it is forcing the brass to flow into that little plunger hole. Honestly, for me that is a sign that I need to back down … but not everyone has that same view. Some guys look at that problem and just wish that plunger wasn’t in the bolt face. They feel like if that is only sign of pressure, a different style of ejector (like the one used by Kelbly’s Atlas Tactical Action or the one used by the American Rifle Company Mausingfield Action) will help them run at that higher pressure without any issues.

      Like I said, I personally am not a guy that likes to run at higher pressures, so I don’t see that as a benefit. I like to run at about 90% of the max load. I feel like if you are trying to push beyond the recommended max load, then you picked the wrong cartridge. There is always a bigger cartridge you could have picked that could provide the same muzzle velocity at safe pressures. Some guys are just velocity feins, and regardless of what they’re running … they always want 50 fps more. So if you’re one of those guys, you might see this feature as a benefit that could help you run at those chamber pressures.

      Hope this makes sense!

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Cal, thanks for clarifying. Yes, I have seen ejector marks on my brass before and like you, that was always an early warning sign I could count on. Just got a new kelby action and am wondering if spotting initial signs beyond flattened primers will be possible with the kelby action. Jim Kelby said I’ll still be able to see up to about two thousandths of a depression where the ejector is but I’m wondering how that would happen since the ejector does not ride on the case head. The build won’t be done for awhile so I’ll just have to wait and see I guess! Thanks again for the reply.

      • That’s interesting. If Jim said that, maybe I am misunderstanding what they mean. On their the Atlas product details page on their website, they say “One of the key features of this action is the TG ejector, it is a mechanical ejector that does not put any chamber pressure on the round. It is also a ‘never fail’ setup, meaning that there are no springs to get gummed up and stop working.” I figured the only way to make that claim was if they moved the ejector away from the bolt face, but what Jim is saying seems to be in conflict with that. So I’m confused at this point! I guess let me know what you find out.

        Thanks,
        Cal

  6. Interesting, Tactical actions most used so different than what is used in Benchrest or F/Class, in those areas we get each competitors equipment run down after each match, and Bat leads in long range 1000 yards and short range score shooting Kelby leads there.

    • Yes, sir! It’s a different world. It seems like there would be more transfer than there is, but it really is a different game. The environment you shoot in is much different. In benchrest and F-class you are on a square range. In the tactical world, you’re in the field and have to deal with dirt and grit build-up. You can also have time constraints that cause the shooting to be much faster, and the action running reliably in tough conditions is far more important. On that same note, these are also all magazine-fed repeater actions, and not single-shot benchrest actions.

      But, we aren’t trying to achieve benchrest precision. I’d bet all of the rifles in the top 100 are capable of consistently firing sub-1/2 MOA 5-shot groups, and it’s likely that many group under 0.25 MOA. There may be a few capable of consistently going into the 1’s (i.e. 0.10-0.19 MOA). I’m not a benchrest and F-class guy, but I believe in those worlds it’s not unusual for a rifle to go into the 0’s. You’d probably know better than me! So it’s just a different game. In the tactical world, it’s more about smooth operation in the toughest conditions possible, while still providing enough precision to strike small steel targets at distance.

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Cal, you got it 1/4 moa and better.

      • Yes sir! I’m not saying there aren’t a pile of these rifles that can do that with handloads. But is it required to be competitive in this game? Probably not. I was talking to Bryan Litz recently about something related, and he and I have a similar philosophy. Once we find a load that consistently groups under 1/2 MOA … we stop tweaking and just load a ton of it and go shoot it. Sometimes constantly making little tweaks to a load can erode your familiarity and confidence in your D.O.P.E. … it might even end up hurting for than it helps, at least in this game. Just a different game! 😉

        Thanks,
        Cal

  7. Cal

    What is your take on the Mausingfield Action compared to the Defiance Action,do you think Mausingfield will over take all other actions in time for their design or will actions like Defiance always be the main stream type action being used? Does the Mausingfield innovations really make that much of a difference compared to all the rest ?

    • It’s hard to say. I think it might be a stretch to think that everyone will move to the Mausingfield, but I’d bet you see it on this list at some point. It does cost about 25% more than most of the rest of these actions, and even more than that for a few. It has a lot of features that are attractive to a particular type of shooter. But the Defiance action is smoother, and has more traditional features. I don’t see them going away anytime soon. They’re machining process really is ridiculously OCD. There may be others that are that way, but I was blown away when I heard about it. So blown away that I want to fly up to Montana to see it in person, and write a story about it. That is all out-of-pocket, so that is how much I think about their manufacturing processes. I think there are smart guys on both side of that fence, so it’s not one of those comparisons that has an obvious right answer. Great question though! It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  8. Just want to add a little comment about tolerances, interchangeable parts and precision. European companies like Blaser, Sauer, Mauser and Schults & Larsen have been doing this for many years. They have built their rifles with interchangeable parts…for the end user to change. If you buy a Blaser R8…feed it with cases from Lapua or Norma…use a good match bullet…the rifle will shoot ½ MOA every day of the week. Take that barrel and move it to the next Blaser R8, and that rifle will shoot just as good as the first one. And the fun thing is that the barrel change takes less than 60 seconds, and the user do it himself. When your first barrel is worn out, you throw it away and go to the gun dealer and buy a new one. Mount that new barrel on the rifle, and keep on shooting ½ MOA with that new barrel. No head spacing, no chambering no nothing… just mount it and shoot. Those Blaser barrels are that good. And the same goes for just about every European rifle.

    • Yep, that is the way AI works … and the other actions are close, but there is enough variation that you still need to measure the specific action you’re using to set the correct headspace. I’ve heard good things about the Blasers. I know the guys at EuroOptic.com sell the crap out of those rifles. There is a lot of innovative features in those guns. Unfortunately, this might be like optics and brass … the Europeans just do it at a different level. It’s hard for a die-hard American to say that, but I sure like my Schmidt & Bender, Leica, Swarovski, Lapua, and Norma products. Hard to argue with those names.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  9. I wouldn’t have thought Defiance would have such a large share at 40%

    • It kind of surprised me too. Any company having that much of the market for any component is pretty surprising. But, if you’ve ever handled one … you know it’s a great product. The fit and finish are world-class.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  10. Cal is the possibility of “freebie” from different manufactures or “sponsors” driving the most / best numbers and ratings ? Just a question …. stay safe !!

    • Hey, great question, Caylen! Sponsorship may influence some choices, but I know a few of these guys personally … and they’re fierce competitors. You won’t land in the top 100 of the 1000+ competitors who shot in PRS-style matches this year if you aren’t really competitive. The guys I know couldn’t force themselves to use a product if they thought it somehow handicapped their chances. They’re too competitive to do that. In fact, I’ve heard one shooter in the top 10 turned down a sponsorship because of that. And while some of these guys are sponsored, many of the guys in the top 100 aren’t sponsored. That’s why I was excited to get results for the top 100 this year and not just the top 50. I’d bet the top 20 have some sponsors and it probably starts to taper pretty quickly beyond that.

      Last year, I had a survey question that asked what equipment guys paid out of pocket for, and that turned out to be a very offensive question to a few guys, or at the very least very politically charged. In fact, some guys refused to take the survey because of that. I honestly didn’t think it’d offend anyone … but it was clearly struck a nerve. So I deleted the question within a few minutes of it being sent out, and I’ll never ask that question again.

      All that to say that there probably is some influence of sponsorships in the data, so that is healthy to keep in mind … however, it’d probably be short-sided to think these guys aren’t running what they believe is the best equipment for the most part, especially over the entire 100 shooters.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  11. Aaron
    Cal, thanks for the timely reply to my stocks question.
    I’m not sure if this belongs in the actions or stocks section: Did Accuracy International or Desert Tech not gain more ground because, to my knowledge, they don’t offer a 6mm conversion yet?
    I suspect many are drawn to how easy it is to change barrels/calibers on these rifles and, thereby, eliminate the gunsmith altogether.
    Curious to see how things play out over the next few years.
    Thanks again.

    • Hey, Aaron. It looks like last year there were 5 shooters in the top 50 that said they were using an Accuracy International receiver, and this year there were 5 shooters again in the top 50 reporting AI receivers. Last year there were 3 shooters using Desert Tech receivers, and this year there were 2. So really, it looks like they stayed even. All these guys are running custom barrels, so the fact that they don’t make conversion kits for them probably doesn’t matter to these guys. I’m not sure how much bypassing a gunsmith matters to these guys. Some are likely sponsored shooters who may not have to pay for the gunsmithing service and may get priority treatment (i.e. they don’t have to wait 6 months for their spot in line to come up).

      Now for us normal folk, it matters! If I had a crystal ball, I’d bet we see the standardization and swap-ability of barrels becoming mainstream for precision rifles in the next 5-10 years. There was a time when only a handful of the premier shotguns had interchangeable choke tubes. Today I can swap out choke tubes on my $175 Remington 870! The whole idea of having to chamber a barrel to a specific action is just a broken system. Right now I’m in the middle of a huge barrel field test, and I can’t tell you how big of a pain in the butt that has been. It’s just taken more energy and time to coordinate all that than it should have. I’ve NEVER been more attracted to the Savage-style barrel nut headspace system or actions & bolts that are made to such exact tolerances that a barrel can be made to match the blueprint specs and it headspaces perfectly. Those systems do exist, but it just isn’t the norm yet. I’m using one of the most expensive actions available, and you can’t do that with it. But my prediction is times are changing!

      So I’m curious how this pans out too. Now that these comments are saved on the internets, we can come back in 5-10 years and see if this prediction came true … or I can come back and delete my comments! 😉

      Thanks,
      Cal

  12. Ha, Indeed. Who knows what’s to come?

    I do think your crystal ball may be prescient about swap-ability being the new norm. It just makes so much sense.

    The Desert Tech looks like a great rifle. Having the bolt lock up in the barrel extension, like an AR-15, is a strong selling point. That really opens up the range of caliber/cartridge options. You can go from 223 Rem. all the way to 338 Lapua with one chassis.

    That being said, I would go with a rifle with a more conventional stock like the AI AXMC or the promising American Rifle Company M2. Otherwise, if you have a face made of Legos, you can remove a few blocks and The Desert Tech will fit just fine.

    Great work, Cal! Look forward to future installments.

  13. Hi. I just have to make a comment on this. As I wrote in an earlier post you should get to know European rifles a little better. Rifles like Blaser, Sauer, Mauser and Schultz & Larsen you don’t have to check or adjust headspace. There isn’t even possible to adjust headspace on those rifles. The bolt locks directly into the barrel and the headspace is always correct. That’s why you pay the extra money for a Blaser so that you don’t have to mess around with things like that. The Blaser doesn’t even have a receiver. Its just a bolt sliding on rails on top of the magazine. When the bolt enters the chamber/barrel it expands and locks with the barrel. The scope is mounted directly on the barrel with Blasers own mount. By changing the barrel, bolthead, scope and magazine insert you can go from 222 Rem all the way up to 338 Lapua or 500 Jeffrey in the same rifle.

    I have three different Blaser stocks and four different barrels. I can shoot a ½ inch group with my 6XC barrel. Change that barrel with my 308 Win barrel in 45 seconds and shoot a ½ inch group with that barrel the next minute. The quick detachable mount from Blaser is so precise that I can remove the scope and put it back on without any change in POI. That gives me the possibility to have a Kahles K312 pre sighted for my long range load with Berger 168 Hybrid. I have my Swarovski Z6i 3-18 pre sighted for my Barnes TTSX hunting load and a not so good Zeiss FL 4-16 as a back up sight for my hunting load.

    So high tolerances and true interchangeable rifle parts does exist. You just have to pay a little extra for that kind of quality. The only downside is once you have started to spoil your self with high quality rifles and optic there’s no going back. When used to a strait pull action or a high quality action with three locking lugs…those old fashions Remington lookalikes with two locking lugs does not have the same appeal.

    • Thanks for the insight, Vidar. The Blaser rifles are pretty amazing. I’m familiar with how they work, but they seem to be more focused on the hunting crowd. They seem to be missing a few features that the precision rifle community prefers like an adjustable stock and detachable magazine. But it sounds like you’re more of a hunter, so that could be the perfect rig for that.

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Hi. That is correct. I do both, and most of the Blaser rifles that are sold are sold as a hunting rifle. BUT…just about every R8 comes with detachable magazine. If you buy a R8 Proffesional Success and put on a stock pack, you have a highly ergonomic, precise and extremely fast shooting rifle. It does not look very tactical, but it’s an extremely effective long-range shooting machine. It both shoots and carries well. You can even get it with an integrated mount for Blasers own carbon fiber bipod.

        If you want to go a little more tactical, you go for the R8 GRS. In addition to detachable magazine, you get a fully adjustable stock. Without any tool you can adjust both LOP and height of comb on the fly. A little more heavy and bulky than the Success, but still plenty mobile and offhand shooter friendly.

        If you want to go all the way tactical and YouTube-cool, there is the Blaser R93 Tactical 2 or the LRS 2. Those are rifles made for and used by military and police all over the world. They are often sold as Sig Sauer, but they are indeed Blaser rifles. These rifles are fully adjustable. You can even have them with a folding stock, and they all come with detachable magazine.

        And as always…interchangeable parts. Do your training with 223, and competition with what ever caliber you desire. All with the same rifle, same trigger, same ergonomics and same trust in the rifle… And you don’t have to visit the gunsmith. Only downside is that you get addicted. Once you have gone the Blaser way, its hard to go back. Try it and you will see 😉

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