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Nucleus Bolt Action from American Rifle Company ARC

SHOT Show 2018: Nucleus Action from American Rifle Company

Over the next few posts, I’ll share the top few precision rifle products that caught my attention at SHOT Show 2018. As always, it’s impossible to see everything at the show, but these are some of the items I noticed that I thought my readers might like to know about.

The first product I’ll highlight is the Nucleus bolt action from American Rifle Company. ARC caught my attention at SHOT 2014 with their Mausingfield action (see full review). While most high-end actions are simply improved versions of the Remington 700, the Mausingfield was a refreshing design combining a couple of novel ideas with some of the best ideas from the past. But the uncompromising design came at a hefty price tag of $1,600, which is a couple hundred dollars above most other custom actions.

Ted Karagias and the crew from American Rifle Company introduced their new Nucleus action at SHOT Show 2018, which has many of the same features as the Mausingfield … but at a much more affordable price point. In fact, through tomorrow (Jan 28, 2018) you can pre-order the Nucleus action for just $850!!! Beyond that, the action will sell for $1,000, which is still $200-300 less than other popular custom actions.

Here is the product flyer I picked up at the show, which itemizes the features:

ARC Nucleus Action Product Flyer

Here is a video of Ted giving an overview of the new Nucleus action:

I was told the first actions will ship in April, but I saw several people pre-ordering them just in the few minutes I was standing in the booth. In fact, the American Rifle Company booth may have been the most crowded booth I saw the entire show. They were getting so many orders that they said the wait time could vary by weeks based on what hour you put the order in! So if you want to see one of these anytime soon, you might put in your order ASAP.

Order A Nucleus Action from American Rifle Company

New John Hancock Rifle with Nucleus Action

While in the booth, I also learned about the $1,999 complete rifle built on the Nucleus that Patriot Valley Arms is now offering. This rifle is designed to be match-ready out of the box, while still meeting all the requirements of the “Production Class” in the Precision Rifle Series. The engineer/gunsmith behind it, Josh Kunz, said the rifle was capable of 1/4 MOA groups with handloads. Josh is trying to give a shooter the most he possibly can while still staying under that $2k price point, and the Nucleus action is a big part of how he’s able to deliver on that.

Here is a breakdown of the components included in what they’ve named the “John Hancock Rifle”:

John Hancock Rifle from Patriot Valley Arms

100% of the chambering and fitting work is performed using a full CNC process, and every barrel is gaged and inspected for threading, headspace and chamber profiles. This rifle is available in several of the most popular cartridges used in competitions:

  • 6mm Creedmoor
  • 6.5 Creedmoor
  • 6mm BR Norma
  • 6mm Dasher (optimized for either Lapua or Norma brass)
  • 6.5 SAUM
  • 308 Win

The 6mm Dasher made a huge leap in popularity among the top shooters in the PRS this year, and I believe this is the first production rifle to offer that as a standard chambering.

Another plus with this setup is after you burn out that first barrel, you can order a new one from Patriot Valley Arms without having to send in your action. That means you won’t be waiting months on a gunsmith to keep your rifle match-ready. Josh said he’ll be offering those replacement barrels for $500, which is a good deal for a chambered, match-grade barrel with a threaded muzzle.

View John Hancock Rifle at Patriot Valley Arms

If you’re looking for bang for your buck, the Nucleus action and the John Hancock rifle seem to pack a punch.

… stay tuned for a few more posts on new products I saw at SHOT Show 2018!

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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60 comments

  1. Thanks Cal, will be nice to see the new rifles and what the manufactures have made for us.

    • What A BRAINIAC !

      Now, you need to get it all in an 8 lb rifle.. Like a Christiansen Arms Carbon Fiber for example..

      Awesome work !

      • Well, I don’t know much about the Christiansen Arms stocks, but I know you could put it in a Manners carbon fiber stock. That action in their Elite Hunter stock would be pretty lightweight. I don’t know about 8 lbs, but it’s be light.

        Thanks,
        Cal

  2. Cut your dam hair !!!😜

  3. Action looks like a winner, but time will tell.

    • I hope so, I’ve got a pair of Nuclei on the way.

      Good to see you posting again, Cal.

      • I think they’ll be great. It’s a cool design, and has a lot of merit … especially at that price point. It’s a huge value.

        Thanks,
        Cal

    • Cal, Ted is the genius behind his product, and the next bolt gun i build will be his action and rings, i already have his rings on my IOR-VALDADA SCOPE and they are will made and never have a problem with them. I have watched his videos and his command of detail, all in all Great Product.

      • You’re right. Most guys are just trying to incrementally improve on existing designs, but Ted is one of the few truly innovating. His scope rings are another great example of that. It’s a novel design (at least I’ve never seen anything like them). When you tighten them down, they are putting more even pressure around the entire scope tube than traditional ring designs. Pretty clever, but elegantly simple at the same time. What is even more impressive is that Ted can not only come up with the ideas, but get them to market. It’s rare to do the first part of that, but exceptionally rare that the same person can do both.

        I think a big part of his innovation comes from the fact that he isn’t doing this for the money. Ted left a very high-paying engineering position to design gun parts, because he’s passionate about it. He doesn’t care if he makes a fortune doing this or not, because he’s doing what he loves. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you love what you do every day.

        Thanks,
        Cal

  4. It’s an exciting action for sure, but as a PVA customer (still awaiting a barrel after 6 months), I wouldn’t feel confident in the whole “spin you up a barrel” thing. Josh is a leader in the industry, as is Ted of ARC. But I’ve moved on from PVA until he can set up appropriate infrastructure to run a company.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Jimmy. The idea of offering pre-chambered barrels in some standardized contour/length/twists … seems like it’d be easy to always have some on the shelf ready to ship. It’s just 7 different variations of chambers, and I’m sure a few of those will be far more popular than others. Josh did tell me he plans to expand to a new facility in the near future, so it sounds like he may be investing in the infrastructure you’re talking about. I do know he invested a lot of time setting up the CNC processes that do all the barrel work. Even some of the large manufacturers are still struggling to make the switch from a skilled worker on a manual lathe to a fully-automated CNC process. That up-front investment should help us keep up with demand, because I think he said he should be able to turn out a 2-3 barrels an hour.

      But, I don’t say all that to dismiss your experience … just thought I’d share what Josh told me that I didn’t already include in the post. I personally bought a pre-chambered barrel from Patriot Valley Arms for a Ruger Precision Rifle 12-18 months ago, and I got it in a couple weeks. So while anecdotal, that’s my experience with them. I appreciate you sharing your’s.

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Cal, i was impressed when i watched the 40 minute video on the Nucleus Action, i was looking at the Mausingfield Action for my next rifle down the road, but when Ted went to length to show us the Nucleus, i just had to order one, the introductory offer was the clincher, it will be on its way soon.
        Now i have to rethink the 308 change to the 6.5×47 ?

      • Yes sir. The Nucleus seems like it gives you the majority of the benefit for the Mausingfield, at a fraction of the price. It’d be hard to deny the value it offers.

        As far changing from 308 to 6.5×47 … there are lots of opinions out there on that! If you don’t need the energy downrange that the 308 provides (i.e. you are shooting steel or paper targets and not animals or people), then you are probably on the right track. A 6.5mm or even a 6mm would reduce recoil and also provide improved ballistics. Here are a couple articles that might help with that decision:

        Best of luck to you!
        Cal

    • Heinz Henke
      I bought about 300 Atlas actions from Kelbly for selling them in Europe. We ordered chambered and threaded barrels later and gave Kelbly the serial number of the action. The fit was always perfect. The tolerance of the headspace in Germany (CIP) between go and no go is 0,0039″. If a barreled action is not within this tolerance it is rejected from the proof house. Most if not all work was done by Greg Walley at Kelbly. This is proof enough that prefit barrels can work even with non CNC equipment. German gunsmiths are called Master Rifle makers but most of the american gunsmiths that build rifls are far ahead. Building top quality rifles is an art of itself. I like to shoot rifles that outperform my abilities.
      Thanks
      Heinz Henke

      • Amen to that! I also like to shoot rifles that outperform my abilities! I like the weakest link in the chain to be the nut behind the rifle … that leaves me more margin for error … and unfortunately I can use all the help I can get!

        Thanks,
        Cal

  5. Ted obviously thinks through every detail on these actions. The price on the Mausingfield is a little hard to swallow but the Nucleus brings almost everything to the table at about half the cost. I’m going to pre-order and figure out what I want to build by next fall. This action has basically every feature I could think of wanting in a custom action – they are clearly listening to customers and potential ones like myself.

    • You’re right, Steve. Ted is meticulous about every detail. And this action does offer just about everything. I actually heard a couple guys at the booth say they were concerned that the Nucleus design might even be better than the Mausingfield in some ways. It seems like it provides 95% of the features at 60% of the cost … which is pretty amazing. Ted said he had 5 new patents filed based on different elements of the Nucleus design, so there is still some new ideas in there that even the Mausingfield didn’t have. They seem to have brought a pretty compelling product to the market.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  6. The new action looks great. I’m sure it will be a great improvement to the push feed actions.
    But, it does have a rotating extractor. Course it is a bigger and much more solid design I guess it’s a balancing act.

    • Yes sir. It is a balancing act. The Nucleus is a control feed action, not a push feed. But you’re right, unlike the Mausingfield, the extractor does rotate with the bolt. But how it grips the cartridge seems like a neat idea. Ted did a little demo in the booth where he slipped a cartridge in the bolt face, and then shook the bolt around. They even put pressure on the cartridge against the table, and were able to bend the neck of the case 90 degrees without the bolt turning loose of it. That’s crazy!

      They show that in the overview video at the 20 minute mark. I know the video is long, so you can click on this link and it will take you straight to that part: https://youtu.be/wro5WuprNwE?t=19m59s.

      But you’re right … it’s a balancing act. Ted still thinks the Mausingfield extractor design is superior, but this is still a really cool design. Ted said they spent far more time designing the extractor than any other part of the action. It seems pretty solid.

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • With the reduced bolt handle lift it will be easier cycling from prone. Or really any position. Great addition to the Mausingfield.
        Thanks for putting this up.
        Some guys don’t like the bolt knob. I think it’s perfect. !

      • You bet, Glen. Lots of guys prefer that shorter bolt rotation a 3 lug action can provide. … and I also liked the bolt knob. I actually liked it a lot. That is one of those things that just comes down to personal preference, so there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” answer there. But I was only in the booth playing with it for 30 minutes or so, and I remember specifically commenting that I liked the bolt knob.

        Glad you found it helpful!
        Cal

  7. Cal
    Thanks for the post. Ted seems to be a pretty good guy. I can now better comprehend the initial fuss made over the Mausingfield action. As a shooter, tradesman (carpenter), former range manager, qualified firearms instructor and former TF Royal New Zealand Engineer, I can relate to his desire for surety of safety, no matter what the ‘nut behind the butt’ manages to do.

    • Yeah, Ted is a nut when it comes to safety. He likely is guilty of “over-engineering” things … but that’s what engineers do, right?! But it’s better to have that approach, rather than safety as an afterthought.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  8. Funny thing that the designer very carefully avoids the name of Karl Mauser whose’s bolt design is the basis of all the bolt designs he mentions. Mausingfield? what strange name to chose!

    • Well, I don’t think Ted was trying to leave out the name on purpose. He has immense respect for Mauser, and I’ve heard him say that multiple times. That’s also why he honored Mauser by giving him a nod in the “Mausingfield” product name. That action incorporates a Mauser 98 extractor and an ’03 Springfield ejector … hence the name. I explain all that in my full review of the Mausingfield action.

      … but I thought his name was Paul Mauser, not Karl. I could be wrong though. Either way, I don’t think Ted was trying to deny where his extractor ideas came from. He loves the guy.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  9. looks ok,,,,like the 6mm dasher and 6.5 saum,,more accurate than the cheesy designed creedmores,,,,,,and its still in the great 308,,,,,,

    • Not sure I agree, Kerry. I personally use “the cheesy designed” 6mm Creedmoor and 6.5 Creedmoor. Those became my cartridges of choice once Lapua released brass for the 6.5 Creedmoor. I’m very happy with them, and actually have 10 barrels chambered in Creedmoors.

      I’ve become a student of cartridge design over the past few years, and have been fortunate enough to have in-depth conversations with a few of the guys who designed the most popular precision rifle cartridges. I don’t claim to be an expert like those other guys, but I think the Creedmoor’s have a lot going for them.

      All 7 of those cartridges he’s offering are very popular choices among the best shooters, and which is “the best” comes down to the specific application and personal preference. None of those are a dumb choice or inferior design.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  10. Ordered my John Hancock today. Thanks so much for your blog! Blessings.

    • That’s awesome, Scott. I have a close friend who has been looking into buying a precision rifle. I plan to suggest this setup to him, so obviously I believe it’s a winner. It’s hard to buy all the components for that price, so it seems like a steal of a deal! I bet you’ll love it. There is nothing like shooting behind a high-quality, precision bolt action.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  11. Cal:

    Happy New Year. Safari, which means journey in Swahli, great way to start.

    I have joined the ranks of precision rifle owners. Not competitors, too old and too slow. I wanted a set of paired rifles, a small caliber rimfire and the other 223 Rem. By paired rifles, I mean two rifles whose ergonomics are as close to identical as possible. The RimTac is for live fire, and the CenTac for dry fire at the moment, amusingly making the CenTac the training rifle. Tim Roberts of Crescent Custom built the RimTac and is building the CenTac. Highly recommended gunsmith.

    Since your post included a receiver, my question comes from “Rifle Accuracy Facts”. Chapter 6 is titled “Barrel-Receiver Threaded Joint Motion.” HV was dissatisfied with the Standard National Form V Thread and advocated using SpiralLock Ramp Threads instead to reduce barrel-joint motion. He stated barrel-joint motion can cause 1.0“or more flyers in a group, presumably at 100 yards. Has HV’s recommendation been adopted?

    The specs for the NUCLEUS state the barrel thread is 1.063-20 UN 2B. Does not seem to be what HV advocated but I am not a MechE.

    Thanks for any intel and good shooting at PRS matches.

    Rick

    • That’s a great question, Rick. In fact, I’d say that’s a Level 5 question. I LOVE that book! It’s still one of the best books I’ve ever read related to technical, research-based rifle accuracy. It is now out of print, but I’ve suggested to a friend that we try to get it republished. It’s such a rich resource. Luckily I bought a copy a few years ago while Amazon still had them.

      To catch everyone else up (who isn’t lucky enough to own the book), here are a few excerpts I scanned in showing what Harold Vaughn suggested in the book:

      Rifle Accuray Facts Excerpts on Barrel Thread

      As far as I know, no production action that has adopted what Harold Vaughan suggested. I’m not a machinist, but I’d expect that to be more complex to machine than a traditional V thread. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a good idea. Someone should do it! (If any other reader knows of someone who has, please chime in!)

      It’s similar to the “Recoil Isolator” idea Vaughn suggested on page 46. It seems like an idea with merit, but it just hasn’t ever made it into a production rifle.

      Great question, Rick! It got me thinking about all that stuff again! 😉

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Going back and looking at the diagram again, it appears Harold was suggesting that you change the thread on the barrel (labeled as the lower part on the diagram) and not the action. He shows the receiver threads as having standard V threads. For some reason, I had that switched in my head earlier. So I guess to run this experiment like he suggested, it wouldn’t need to be the action manufacturer who would change … but the gunsmith threading the barrel. Honestly, you might could do it either way, but it just looks like he’s suggesting changing the thread on the barrel side of the equation (if I’m understanding it correctly).

        Thanks,
        Cal

      • It seems that a “ramped” thread as described by Vaughn would be relatively easy to test.

      • Missed Cal’s reply when posting my previous reply.

        The change in receiver threads was suggested when Vaughn was discussing variable depth threading as an alternative to the ramp threading of the barrel shank.

  12. Cal, I’ve been following your blog for years and have referred PRB to people interested in precision shooting. I heed your advice/research, and have used it as the basis for many of my decisions related to my own shooting. In fact, I placed an order for the ARC Nucleus action last night based upon the update email I received from PRB. I’ve never built, nor have I had a custom rifle built in the bolt action arena. I’ve built a number of AR rifles, though (I know they’re apples/oranges). Because of this fact, I’m not well educated in the arena of bolt rifle builds. With the Nucleus action I also purchased the Barloc Quick Change Barrel device (my thinking was so I can change between 308 and 6.5 – if that’s even possible on a bolt gun). Because the Nucleus uses Savage small shank pre-fit compatible barrel threading and nut, is it possible to buy off the shelf barrels and install them myself? Or, is this still something a gunsmith must do? I’ve done upgrades on all my Remington rifles, but nothing with barrels/head space requirements. Ultimately, does the Nucleus allow “plug-and-play” capability without the need of a gunsmith? Oh, and nothing against gunsmiths! In one of the previous comments you mentioned the John Hancock rifle from PVA being a great deal, and I’m wondering if I’ve made a mistake because you stated the cost savings going that route is better than buying individual pieces. Budgetary constraints prevent dolling out $2000 in short order… $850 was easier to swallow!

    • Hey, Charles. You are exactly the type of guy I’m trying to serve with this blog. When you eventually get behind a high-quality bolt action rifle, you’re going to love it! It’s an amazing experience, which is just hard to put into words. I’m excited for you!

      You’re absolutely right. Because the action is threaded for Savage small shank barrels, you’d just need to buy a Savage barrel nut, go/no-go gauges for whatever cartridge you are using, a barrel vise, and action wrench. Then you could change out your barrels yourself. I’m not real familiar with the Barloc Quick Change device, but it looks to work similar to a product I am more familiar with. Essentially it allows you to swap a barrel without needing the barrel vise and action wrench … or the Savage barrel nut. You spin a barrel on, set the headspace using the go/no-go gauges, and then tighten down the Barloc with a 5/32″ hex key (instead of torquing the barrel on with a action wrench and barrel vise). That makes it a lot easier, because you can do it in the field or in a hotel room, instead of needing a barrel vise that is attached to a heavy workbench and a proprietary barrel wrench.

      That’s the way this industry is going. We’re moving from rifles that are custom made from a gunsmith (i.e. bedded stocks, barrels gunsmithed to fit a particular action) to more of a commodity market where interchangeable products can be bought and assembled by the end-user. That’s not new to a guy coming from the AR world, but it’s new to the bolt-action game where we’re not satisfied unless a rifle shoots under 1/2 MOA. New/improved designs and tighter manufacturing tolerances are the disruptive forces that are helping to usher in this new era.

      … and like you, I still value a good gunsmith. It’s just their value primarily comes from the barrel work (chambering, threading, etc.), and less from fitting.

      Honestly, the John Hancock rifle is about the minimal amount you’ll spend. He really chose the highest value parts for each component (i.e. most bang for the buck), and isn’t charing much for his gunsmithing work. Here is a breakdown of what the street prices are for those individual components:

      • Nucleus Action: $1,000
      • KRG BRAVO Chassis: $379
      • Timney 510 Trigger: $145
      • Rock Creek Barrel Blank: $335
      • Barrel Cap/Thread Protector: $15
      • Total Parts: $1874 … plus tax & shipping & gunsmithing

      Now, it sounds like you got the introductory pricing on the Nucleus, which is $850 instead of $1000 … so you’re ahead of the game. But I still don’t know if you’ll get it all done for less than $2k. That chassis is about the lowest cost stock/chassis I think you can get that would provide the level of precision we’re talking about. That trigger is about the lowest cost trigger you can buy that I’d consider a match-ready trigger. You’re probably not going to find a cut-rifled, match-grade barrel for less than $335.

      I recently had 3 barrels chambered in 6mm Creedmoor, and that cost me $350 each … plus another $175 each to thread the muzzle ($525 total). I provided the barrels myself, so that is just the gunsmithing labor without materials. I’d say those amounts probably represent what you could expect from a well-respected gunsmith. So if you add on that as the gunsmithing cost for the barrel, along with all of the components above … you’d be all in at $2,399. Since you got $150 off the Nucleus action … you’d still be at $2,249.

      I’m not trying to sell you here. I definitely don’t get any kick-back or commission from Josh. It’s just simple math. That John Hancock rifle really seems to be a killer deal. It’s hard to believe, honestly. Josh probably has a bulk discount for the actions and chassis, and maybe on the barrels … so that lowers his costs some. Then he isn’t charging much for the gunsmithing work, because he’s already put in the work upfront to have it all done by automated CNC processes. His margins still aren’t as high as most places, but I suspect he’s hoping to make that up in volume. To be clear, he didn’t tell me any of this … but I’m a business guy, and that’s just my hunch. Regardless of how he’s getting there … it’s a killer deal.

      The one benefit from buying the action like you’ve done is that you can choose ALL the components and details. Patriot Valley Arms (PVA) is only offering 7 cartridge choices, but you could choose from anything. PVA is only offering the rifle in a KRG BRAVO chassis, but you could choose any stock or chassi you want. PVA is only offering the rifle in the Timney 510 trigger, but you could choose any trigger. PVA is only offering barrels in a set contour/twist/length, but you could choose anything. All of that comes at a premium though, because I’d bet there is no way you’ll spend less than $2,000 by the time it’s all said and done. Just the tax and shipping might have you there for the components alone.

      Sorry for the long-winded response, but you really are the guy I’m trying to help with this website … so I wanted to make sure I shared with you as much good info as I could to help you make the decision. I’m not saying you should return the Nucleus action. Just trying to give you the pros and the cons for both approaches. Either way, you are well on your way to a sweet bolt action that will probably shoot just as good as anything out there. Starting off with a $850 action (instead of a $1300-1600), already has you a long way toward building a really high-value rifle where you are making your dollars stretch.

      Best of luck to you!
      Cal

      • Small correction that doesn’t change your larger point – the Rock Creek barrel in the John Hancock is button rifled.

      • My bad. Thanks for the correction. I didn’t realize they did anything but cut-rifled barrels. Honestly, world-records have been set with both button-rifled and cut-rifled barrels, so it’s hard to argue that one is superior.

        Thanks,
        Cal

      • Cal, I replied to the email I received from PRB. I’m not sure if that finds its way back to you. Nevertheless, thank you for your response. You’re very gracious with your time and attention to detail. Your humility is manifest in your writing.

      • Wow, Charles. I appreciate your kind words. That means a lot.

        Thanks,
        Cal

      • I did the same math but with the introductory price on the action, ARC’s $50 Barlock special (when I ordered) and a PVA Savage pre-fit barrel (which seemingly uses the same Rock Creek blank).

        I forget the exact number but it was within $100 and I think piecing it together might have been cheaper. The Barlock gives me the ability to assemble and headspace it myself with the slight added cost of Go No-Go gauges and an inch-lb torque wrench which is also nice for action screws and scope rings.

        I’ll probably go for a Calvin Elite Custom trigger so I won’t have to replace the 510 and that makes it an almost free upgrade.

        I don’t feel bad about buying it like that because it allows me to spread out the purchase over time, the money is still going to the same places and I’m getting extra features.

      • Yep. Those are good points. I don’t think either way is the “wrong” decision. Honestly, it’s crazy to think that you can build a high-quality, custom bolt action rifle for that price. This industry has come A LONG way in the past several years. The value you get for your dollar is just a lot higher than it used to be. Honestly to get a rifle that is capable of that kind of precision, you used to have to pay at least double that price. What an awesome time to be a precision rifle shooter! 😉

        Thanks,
        Cal

  13. Cal:

    Easier to ask interesting questions than to answer them.

    I wonder about how many of HV’s recommendations have been superseded by technological advances in such as materials science and manufacturing processes such as CNC?

    Thinking about these issues gives intellectual satisfaction and pleasure but how important are they in a practical sense? One issue can be answered by WEZ analysis, as you have so clearly presented, given you have a well defined accuracy goal.

    One component of a WEZ analysis is the intrinsic precision of the rifle-ammo-shooter which can be more or less easily obtained operationally from a statistical analysis of appropriate groups on targets. Rifle Accuracy Facts is concerned with enumerating and quantifying the causes of dispersion from the rifle and ammunition, actually not the precision dispersion but the accuracy dispersion.

    It occurred to me the hard but fundamental method to obtain the intrinsic precision of the rifle-ammo component would be to repeat HV’s research. Not an endeavor to be undertaken lightly.

    Rick

    • That’s a great point. The manufacturing equipment is very different from the time that Harold Vaughn did his tests. I’d suspect the value from a few of his ideas might have been eroded from tighter manufacturing tolerances, but there are probably still a lot in that book that are just as valuable today as they were when he first wrote about them. For example, that recoil isolator I mentioned … nobody has taken any steps towards addressing that problem. It still exists in the custom rifles I just built. A couple years ago, I pitched that idea to a product manager of one of the largest rifle manufacturers, but the idea never made it past a conversation. While the idea has merit, it would be hard to convince the mainstream consumers of that. Most of the ideas were about eeking out that last bit of precision from a rifle platform. In practical application, it might be removing one flier from a 5 shot group … and tightening the overall group size by 0.1 MOA or less, on average. Most consumers buying rifles can’t hold anywhere near that, so the value would be “in the noise.” What would be interesting is if someone would make a production benchrest rifle that included most of his suggestions. I wonder if you did that if those improvements would “stack” and give you something that was competitive, but could still be manufactured in a production environment. That’s probably more of an academic idea than a business idea. I’m not sure I’d invest in that, but it’d be cool if someone else did! 😉

      … and I’m with you. It would be VERY difficult to repeat Harold’s research. Because he was a long-term (and highly respected) researcher at Sandia National Labs, and continued to live in the area after he retired … he still had access to much of their equipment and the other brilliant minds that worked there. It’d be hard for a civilian to compete with government lab equipment. But more than that, Harold was an exceptional, out-of-the-box researcher and thinker. He was one of the minds NASA sought out to predict what would happen when the space shutter came back into the atmosphere. That’s the kind of guy Harold was. It just so happened that he was also very interested in why some rifles shoot and others didn’t … so we’re fortunate that he spent the twilight of his career trying to gain insight into that area. Thanks again for reminding me about his research. It was fun to get his book back out today and remember all the studies he did.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  14. Ordered my Nucleus on the 20th and was happy to see ARC include the Southpaw customers. Also Cal you may want to give Peterson SRP 6.5 Creedmoor Brass a shot. I have had great results with it and is very uniform. Hold up as well as my Lapua Brass. Thanks for the above write up.

    • You bet, Jay. I actually noticed Peterson at SHOT Show this year, and had another guy this week mention them to me. They’re actually offering 6mm Creedmoor brass now, and about to release a few other niche cartridges like that. I will say I didn’t love necking down and doing all the brass prep to go from Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor brass to the 6mm Creedmoor. In terms of “wildcatting” … it wasn’t much work (might not even count as “wildcatting”). But compared to just taking a case out of the box and loading it, it was a lot of work. After doing 500 pieces of brass, I was wondering if it was worth going 6mm instead of just the standard 6.5 Creedmoor.

      I may have to give Peterson a shot after I shoot out this Lapua brass. Of course the good thing about Lapua brass is that will be a while! 😉 Either way, I appreciate the heads up. You’re the second guy to mention them to me this week, which peeked my interest.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  15. Fantastic Article and review. I look forward to seeing this in the wild.

    Hal can you do a shoot out with Dies some time to see if the expensive dies really are worth the money?

    • Thanks. Glad you found it interesting. The die shootout is intriguing. It may come down to what kind precision you’re after … but I also suspect that some dies give you more bang for your buck than others. It might have be two parts: 1) how much does uniformity vary between various dies, and 2) how much does that matter?

      You’ve definitely got me thinking!

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Since we were talking about Vaughn earlier, go ahead and test one of his rifled sizing dies while you’re at it. 🙂

        (I’m only somewhat joking…)

      • I’d love to test it all!!! … it’s just the whole time thing. 😉

        Thanks,
        Cal

      • I love the very scientific approach you take, and you are correct there are a lot of variables involved. That is what kind of makes it so interesting. Every one has to decide are they getting a good ROI for the money they put out, it is just how much of the info out there is hype or just not willing to admit that the 200 die works as well as 50 die ect. Again thanks for taking all the time to put this blog together.

        Matt

  16. Cal:

    I calculated the number of combinations of rifle and cartridges are possible assuming complete interchangeability/availability. I used numbers from your “What the Pros Use.”

    Actions 10 Makers
    Barrels 11 Makers
    Scope Mounts 11 Makers
    Chassis and Stocks 14 Makers
    Triggers 10 Makers
    Cartridges 16 types in three calibers, 7mm, 6.5mm and 6mm

    Total combinations = 5,420,800

    If you tested one per day it would take 14,851.5 years to complete evaluation assuming 365 days in a year.

    Rick

  17. I’m curious what you thought of the feel of the action you handled. On paper it looks pretty great obviously. The in depth description on the website indicates some detentes that make the action a bit more stiff (I thought I read that, I was a bit distracted). Was this noticeable? Is the action as nice feeling as other $1000 actions put there?

    Also, nice blog. I contemplating getting into some long range shooting and find this site to be of great help.

    • TJ, I think the action was definitely as smooth as other actions in the $1000 range. I can’t say it was as smooth as the Impact Precision Action, but that is 35% more expensive at $1,350 … so it’s not quite apples to apples. But I have a Stiller action that was close to the same price, and I can say with full confidence that the Nucleus action I handled was more smooth than it. I don’t know what you’re referring to about it being stiff. Maybe that means the action/bolt is very stiff and doesn’t warp under recoil … but, the operation of the action and sliding of the bolt was very smooth compared to my Stiller.

      I’ll glad you found this helpful. I know when I was trying to get into this sport it was confusing and I struggled to find good info, so I’m just trying to make it easier on the next guy.

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • I went back to read the site. “The locking pin obviates the need for detents at the aft end of the bolt which adversely affect the smoothness of the bolt cycle.”
        I guess I missed the “obviates” the first time reading through.

        I’ll probably be looking at production class, which makes that complete rifle very attractive.

      • “Obviates” … I admit I had to look that one up! 😉

  18. Cal:

    One of the great attractions for high-end German switch-barrel rifles is the ability to switch barrels, da.

    Is my impression correct that barrel switching on custom precision rifles is becoming easier and easier? Something the person without gunsmiith skills could do with the proper equipment and training? And something that could be done in the field?

    Rick

    • You’re right, Rick. … there are lots of DIY barrel switch options that are coming onto the market. In fact, I might be hoping to do a post on that in the near future. 😉 Stay tuned.

      Thanks,
      Cal