I’ve been fascinated by long range hunting from the onset of my hunting career, thanks to the writings of yourself, Ian McMurchy, and others- both on paper and online. I decided that if I wanted to start shooting and hunting at long distances, I’d need a purpose-built long range gun; and with my love of guns and gunsmithing, I decided to try building it myself.
I spent many hours gathering info online on all aspects of my project, from actions and chamberings to twist rates and headspacing, finally settling on the inexpensive and ubiquitous Remington 700 action with a heavy, 1-10″ twist McGowen barrel chambered in .300 Winchester Magnum. Because of its high ballistic coefficient and terminal performance, the bullet of choice would be the 210 grain Berger VLD Hunting. Choosing the stock would prove to be a much more difficult task, with the huge number of options available, but after much deliberation, I settled on an XLR Industries Evolution chassis for the excellent features, adjustability, and reasonable pricetag.
While waiting for my chassis and barrel to arrive, I set out on building my own barrel vise. Thanks to my father being a mechanic I had access to all the tools and metal I needed, and the barrel vise was done in no time.
The barrel from Mystic Precision, and chassis from XLR arrived right on schedule. I stripped the old barrel (with no small amount of cussing) from the used M700 I purchased, and installed and headspaced my beautiful, new McGowen stainless short-chambered #8 contour barrel in short order. Then, I hand-lapped the action, polished the bolt body, and smoothed the cocking cam for absolutely silky bolt movement. A KRG bolt lift kit was also installed for smooth operation in winter gloves.
Fitting the chassis to the action was a bit more of an interesting affair, after finding that the bolt handle slot was machined just a bit too far forward (I’d blame Remington’s gun instead of XLR’s chassis), resulting in the bolt being out of alignment when closed and causing serious horizontal dispersion in groups. A bit of filing and Dremel work cleared that up, though.
I mounted a Vortex Viper 6.5-20X44 for immediate use, although it was later replaced with a Vortex Viper PST 6-24X50 FFP EBR-1 MOA (wow that’s a mouthful!). My old Weaver Picatinny rail was removed in favor of a Badger Ordnance 20 MOA sloped rail, and the scope was mounted in a set of Leupold PRW High rings. Lastly, an Accu-shot monopod and Cladwell pivot bipod were added to the chassis for field use.
Initial group testing was done with the only ammo I had at the time- the cheapest 180 grain Federal Power Shok that Cabela’s had. Nonetheless, it grouped comfortably into 3/4 MOA at 100 yards. Thanks to a shortage of components when I started loading, I began load testing with Hornady 208 grain HPBT’s over IMR 4350 with groups coming in at under 1/2 MOA, but at a standard deviation upwards of 50 feet per second, this was not a good long range load. After a few months, I got my grubby mits on a supply of Retumbo and 210 Berger VLD’s, and groups tightened to under 1/3 MOA with an SD around 7 FPS. Needless to say, I was very pleased.
And that’s the story of how I built this rifle, my pride and joy, at home, at the ripe old age of 18. I hope to take a deer with this rifle in the fall, and I will report back on the results as well as post them on longrangehunting.com
Thanks, Jerry, for the barrel and the information that helped me put it to use!
CONGRATS ON A GREAT BUILD. ALWAYS NICE TO SEE HOME PROJECTS LEAD TO SUCH WONDERFUL PERFORMANCE. ENJOY…. JERRY