Frequently Asked Questions

What do you do to true an action?

I use a method that is similar to the method that Greg Tannel has developed and markets commercially.  I do use his piloted reamer, but mostly I use it as a mandrel for indicating the receiver in the lathe.  In practice, it’s used with two tight fitting bushings that fit into each end of the bolt raceway in the receiver.  I then use two dial indicators with a special indicating fixture that I developed to “dial in” the receiver true to the lathe axis.

At this point, all truing cuts are done to the receiver.  The receiver is faced with a truing cut across the front of the receiver ring.  The receiver lugs are faced with a truing cut across the lugs and then the receiver threads are re-cut with a single point threading tool.  All truing cuts to the receiver are made on one setup and are made true to the receiver centerline.

The bolt also needs to be trued and I use two dial indicators to ensure that the bolt is running true to the lathe axis before truing cuts are made on the bolt lugs and bolt face.

The last steps to truing are to either surface grind the original recoil lug or substitute an aftermarket trued recoil lug.  Regardless, of which lug is used, I check the lug with measuring instruments for flatness.

Why do you single point re-cut threads instead of using a tap?

The main advantage of using a single point tool over running a tap into the threads is that the tap will follow the existing threads.  If they aren’t centered in the receiver, they still won’t be centered after they are tapped. The tap will remove any taper in the threads, but won’t do anything about whether the thread is centered in the receiver.  Single point cutting the threads will make the threads centered in the receiver and also remove any taper in the threads.

I have not used the Manson piloted tap and can’t comment on how well it works.  I was set up to single point re-cut threads before the piloted tap was brought to market and have not seen the necessity of purchasing the Manson truing system.  Since I have not used it, I am not qualified to voice an opinion on how well it works.

I can and do use it as a reamer that opens up the receiver bore to .705″.  However, this requires that the bolt be sleeved front and rear to tighten up clearances on the bolt raceway.  I don’t normally use the reamer as a reamer when truing an action, but will do so at the customer’s request.  It does add extra expense to the truing operation.  An extra step that I’m not sure is needed.

It depends upon what level of accuracy you are wanting out of your rifle.  It’s pretty hard to say how much, if any, truing an action will help improve the accuracy level of the rifle.  Improvements from truing will be more easily seen when the action is farther from being true than one that is pretty close.  Truing an action will only help improve the accuracy level of the rifle.  I’ve never seen the accuracy level decreased by properly done truing.  Remember that truing is only a one-time expense and doesn’t have to be re-done the next time that the action is barreled as long as it’s done right the first time.  I probably true about 75% or more of the factory actions that I re-barrel and recommend that it be done if you want peak accuracy out of your rifle.

The thing about truing is that you better know what you are getting when you have it done.  There is no standard on what constitutes a trued action.  One smith may chuck the receiver in the lathe, make a facing cut across the receiver face and lap the lugs and call the action true.  He does less and consequently charges less for “truing”.   Be aware that his method may not necessarily be true.  That’s not the way I do things.  I’m not out to make a lot of money on building rifles, but believe that I charge a fair price for the work that I do.

I’ll true most factory made actions such as the Winchester 70, Sako’s, and others.  I no longer will do truing work on Ruger 77’s and 77 MK II’s.

It takes too long to set them up in the lathe for truing to justify what I would have to charge to true the actions.  Rather than charge what I would deem to be an excessive price, I choose not to do them.

There are too many good commercial actions available to use an antique action with uncertain heat- treating and history as the basis for a custom rifle. The action is the heart of the rifle and it’s not the place to scrimp when building a rifle. The Mauser’s will make an excellent classic style hunting rifle, but so will other commercially made actions and you won’t have to worry about whether the heat treat is right on the action.

The pre-64 Winchester model 70 would be my first choice for a classic style hunting rifle.  However, they are hard to find and are pretty expensive when you do.  A good replacement for them would be the new classic style Winchester 70 action.  They are very similar to the pre-64 action.

The Remington 700 is my first choice of varmint and hunting rifle actions.  I don’t hunt with a classic style hunting rifle and, as of now, hunt with Remington 700’s chambered for the 7mm STW and 7mm –300 WSM.  Both of these rifles are built on trued Remingtons and are made with McMillan stocks and custom made stainless barrels.  Both rifles have been black Teflon coated to be non glare hunting rifles.  They are pretty distant from the classic style hunting rifle with the fancy walnut stocks and high polish blue jobs.  The Remington 700 can be likened to the hot rodder’s small block chevy.  There are more stocks, more triggers and other aftermarket parts available for the 700 than practically any other rifle action.

It depends pretty much on the purpose that you will be using your rifle.  Its pretty hard to beat a good custom action as the basis for a long range varmint rifle or for a competition rifle.  The custom actions are pretty expensive, but they will do a good job in their place.  Whether you choose a custom action or a trued factory action depends to a large part on your budget and on your needs.  When you pay to have a 700 action trued, depending upon what all you have done to the action such as bushing the firing pin, fixing extraction camming issues, sako extractor installs, action truing, external bolt stops,etc, you are approaching the cost of some of the many custom 700 clone actions (Defiance Tenacity, Borden Alpine or Timberline, Zermatt Origin, etc.).  After doing all the work on a 700 to make it equivalent to a good custom clone action, if you decide to sell it, you never recover the cost that you put into all the work on a 700. Whereas, you will get your cost back on the custom clone actions.   The benchrest custom actions are typically built to very tight tolerances with a bolt fit as close as .001″ or less.  This can cause problems when used in a dirty hunting environment.  The custom clone actions are not built to as tight of tolerances as those made for benchrest competition.  The last thing you want is to not be able to operate the bolt because of dirt in the raceways.  In benchrest competition, this isn’t a problem as the rifles are typically cleaned after every match.  Its pretty hard to clean a rifle when you’re hunting at 10,000 ft elevation.

I have a very detailed explanation of the method that I use to chamber a rifle barrel listed under “Articles” on my web site.  To make it short, I chamber most barrels in the headstock with the barrel indicated at both ends of the headstock.  Then, I drill and bore out most of the chamber and finish the chamber with the finish reamer.

It’s pretty hard to say for sure, but probably no more than a .1 or .2″ in group size depending upon caliber and the uniformity of the brass that you are using.

It all depends upon how you will be using your rifle.  For benchrest competition, that tenth of an inch gain may be all that it would take to have a winning rifle or a losing rifle.  For most varmint hunting, the tenth of an inch won’t make any difference except at extreme ranges.  A tight-necked chamber does require that you neck turn your brass to fit in the chamber.  This will mean more work before you can do your loading.  You won’t be able to use factory- loaded ammunition in a tight necked chamber. Also, if you are going to load large quantities of ammunition, you may not want to use a tight chamber.  Most benchrest rifles will use 20 rounds of brass for the life of the barrel unless you push the velocity to maximum levels.

The main barrels that I use are Bartlein, Brux, Hart, Krieger, Lilja and Shilen.  I used them all on my own personal benchrest  and hunting rifles and have no preference of one over the other.  They are all good, top grade barrel makers and make excellent barrels. For the most part, I use more barrels from the companies where I personally know the people who work and own the barrel manufacturer.

I’ve had good experience with these makers and see no reason to use other makes of barrels.  There are lots of barrel makers out there.  There are too many makers to try them all. I do try some other barrel makers and presently have a North Manufacturing Broughton barrel on one of my benchrest rifles.

Typically, the gilt edge of a benchrest barrel will last for about 1500 rounds.  It may still shoot well after that, but the agg’s will be increasing slightly.  It seems that the best accuracy is found the closer the barrel is to being new.  A benchrest shooters take off barrel may still be capable of agg’ing in the high .2’s and pretty typically will agg in the .3’s in good conditions.

As to hunting barrels, barrel life will depend upon the capacity of the cartridge and the accuracy level needed for what the intended use is for the barrel.  A large capacity magnum may have a barrel life of 500 rounds if shot fast and hot, while a .223 that is shot at moderate velocities may last as long as 10,000 rounds.  As a rule of thumb, the larger the capacity of the case and the hotter it’s shot, the shorter the barrel life will be.

Maybe.  A good test to see if it’s needed, is to stand the rifle vertically, lightly place your finger between the barrel and forend, and loosen off the front guard screw.  If you can feel movement between the barrel and forend, then the stock needs to be bedded to the action.  A better test is to use a dial indicator between the barrel and forend.  When the front guard screw is loosened, the indicator should move no more than .002″.  If it moves more than that, then the stock needs to be bedded to the rifle. This test will only work if the barrel is free floated.  If it has a pressure point at the forend, the test won’t work.

I normally use the eleven degree target crown on my benchrest rifles and a fifteen degree crown on lighter weight hunting barrels.  I don’t believe that it is a better crown than any other.  And I don’t believe that any other crown is better than it.  The main thing on a crown is that the bore needs to be centered in the crown and the crown needs to be free of any burrs.  I’ve been unable to see any accuracy difference between a flat crown, eleven degree, fifteen degree or recessed target crown as long as each one is properly done.  I will use whatever kind of crown the customer wants.

The Sako extractor is a good extractor, but does have some drawbacks.  The only time that I would recommend using a Sako style extractor is when changing bolt face sizes, ie. going from a .223 to a .308 or a magnum size.  The Sako extractor has been known to be blown out of the action in the event of a case failure.  If you choose to have a Sako style extractor installed, don’t load to maximum or excess pressures as you don’t want the extractor to become a flying object.  If at all possible, keep the original Remington extractor and use an action with the appropriate size bolt face or use another make of action with the correct bolt face.  I will only install Sako extractors in Remington actions and will not be responsible for maximum or excess loadings or any other cause of a case failure in the rifle.  If you have a Sako extractor installed, remember YOU MUST NOT LOAD to maximum or excessive loads for that rifle.

N0.  There are too many things beside the rifle that contribute to the accuracy level of the rifle.  Chief among these is the shooter, quality of  ammuntion, quality of optics, etc.  I do guarantee that every thing I build is done to my same high standards.  It makes no difference whether the rifle is a deer rifle or whether it’s a competition benchrest rifle.  It’s still built the same way to the same technical standard.  If I did guarantee an accuracy level, the price of the rifle would probably be doubled or more.  If you notice on most rifle builders that guarantee the accuracy level of their rifles, the pricing is significantly higher than those who don’t.  That way if they need to replace a barrel that won’t shoot, they can do it as you’ve already paid for it to be done again.  There’s no sense paying for something that you won’t be getting.  Their bet is that they won’t need to re-barrel it.

When I do a full rifle build whether its done with all customer supplied components or whether I furnish some of the parts, it is invoiced as a package hunting rifle or competition rifle build.  If it’s putting a barreled action into a chassis stock where the action just bolts into the chassis without any modification to the chassis, then I’ll itemize the barreling, brakes, etc. and charge it out that way.  There is a lot more to building a rifle than just barreling an action and bedding it into a stock.  You can spend hours and hours inletting detachable bottom metal into stocks that weren’t designed to use that bottom metal to get it to fit and feed properly from the magazine. It’s all based upon the time to do the build as to how it’s priced out for the build.

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