I have finally taken delivery of my first semi - custom rifle. Almost a year in the making – most of that down to firearms licensing here in NI, and at least two years in the “thinking”.
I had been contemplating the “ultimate" UK and Ireland deer rifle for lowland hunting where the ranges rarely exceed 200m. Most of my stalking is Sika and Fallow, we don’t have Roe, so to be Sika capable in my opinion rules out the 243win. However, I wanted near 243 levels of noise and recoil, with near 270 killing power, the 260 Rem seemed on paper to fit the bill. I also wanted all this in a short, handy, moderated and weatherproof package – have you seen where Sika hang out in Ireland?
I was influenced a lot over the past two or three years by various internet forums, particularly the style of rifles favoured by some of the guys on 24hourcampfire, and the rifles used by “1894” on AR. To cut a lot of pondering short I came up with a McMillan marbled stock, a Sako 75 action with Sako trigger and bottom metal and a Lothar Walther barrel as the components.
After some telephone conversations, Chris Blackburn at UKgunworks was chosen to build the rifle. There were many phonecalls about barrel length – 22”, it can always be shortened in the future, chamber dimensions – saami minimum spec, and trigger pulls.
The rifle turned up last week, and load development commenced on my “home range”:
I want to shoot a bullet which will come close to the killing power of the classic 130gr in the 270, with similar SD and BC numbers. So, I initially played with H4831 and 120gr Sierra Prohunter’s and 129gr SST’s – this round does not need premium bullets for deer. Velocity was good but I could not get these load combo’s to group consistently. The only other suitable powder I had was Benchmark, a much faster powder. So I switched to that. The rifle immediately started to group at the 0.5” mark. I am pleasantly surprised by the velocity I am achieving. Hodgdon’s suggest 2950fps for a 120gr bullet with 40grs of Benchmark and a 24” test barrel, and we all know “book” velocities are optimistic. This rifle with a 22” barrel is clocking 2940 fps with 39grs and no pressure signs. I also noticed a lower level of report through the ASE Jet-Z with the lighter charge of faster powder.
The new rifle looks and handles great. I don’t know if I will ever love a synthetic and stainless rifle compared to walnut and blue steel, but it should resist our climate much more successfully than my Sauer.
I knocked up 20 rounds to this recipe to hunt with next weekend, but I know it will do better once I start tweaking OAL: