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Thread: My First "Custom" Rifle

  1. #1

    My First "Custom" Rifle

    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:

  2. #2
    nice piece of kit 8)

  3. #3
    Nice looking rifle.
    But don't like the look of your backstop! Hopefully you had just set this up for a photo op.

  4. #4
    Looks like a nice piece of kit, were you not tempted to go 260AI?

    I must say that since I had a rifle put together on my old Sako 75 action I find it hard to reach for the factory stick anymore.

    I too went for a Lothar barrel, and a Mcmillan stock and I see you changed the bolt shroud too to get rid of the key concept. One thing I would consider doing is having the barrel vapour blasted to a matt finish.

    Here's my .270;

    Happy hunting with it, I'm sure it won't be long before your thinking about the next project.

    I'm going to put a 6.5x47 lapua together next.


  5. #5
    Nice Rifle, CD! Shoots, too.~Muir

  6. #6
    Very nice rig! groups just about usable!! , does it cut barbed wire as well? Steve.

  7. #7
    That looks great Brian, well worth the wait. If that don't bring a smile and a Sika or two I don't know what will.


  8. #8
    Thanks lads. I was tempted to go AI, or x284 or even 6.5x47L, but thought for a practical stalking tool, the feeding characteristics of the standard '08 case was the way to go. I am also pleased by the velocity, didn't think I would get that.

    I am not sure she will remain as is. I might get it vapour blasted or even duracoated. I am not entirely convinced either by the Jet-Z. I might take another inch off the barrel and have a PES scout fitted instead.

    Moses, I saw your rifle before and liked it a lot. The bolt shroud was supplied that way, Chris Blackburn had a bunch of unused Sako 75 actions he bought, this was not built of a donor.

  9. #9
    Duracoat does look nice and there are some good finishes availible from parker is a particularly good one but, it is only paint and will not take any hard knocks.
    I have some bits on the .270 duracoated like the optilok rings and the bolt knob as they were a blued finish before and I wanted matte it's perfect for that.

    If you can live with the barrel and action being different colours then a process like vapour blasting or bead blast is the way to go.

    I totally understand what you're saying about the jetZ, I think eveyone is hung up on the size of them i/e because they are small they must be the best.

    I dont think they do anything for the balance of the rifle thats why I use the T12 scout as I think they distribute the weight better being an over barrel job.

    What colour mix is the stock by the way? looks great.

  10. #10
    Moses, I actually like the contrasting action and barrel, I think I will get it blasted at some point.

    The trigger when it arrived was too light for my tastes, I had to back it off some.

    The stock is a black/olive/tan mix, 50/25/25 I think, I picked it off Jackson Rifles website. The McMillan stock is very stiff, it is light years ahead of the factory synthetics I have seen, I just have not got used to the feel of it in my hands yet.

    I really want to shoot 120gr BT's but have not been able to lay hands on any yet.

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