We have a number of rifles available to use here at GnZ. The calibres are the tried and tested old favourites.. .308, .223, .303, 30-06.. I thought it about time we got into something a little different. I decided to run a series of articles featuring a Precision rifle build. Precision/Practical rifle is growing in poularity and it is something we do as a team here multiple times a year at the fantastic Orion firearms training range in Wales.
Engaging multiple steel targets from a barricade at Orion, Wales.
Practical rifle – what is it?
In America it is often referred to as Precision rifle in the UK it tends to be called “practical”. Practical rifle usually involves shooting multiple targets at mixed distance in a variety of positions. Competitions and courses often involve unusual platforms and shooting positions. Targets are predominantly reactive steel plates but may often be other objects which give immediate visual or audible evidence of a hit. Targetry ranges from small to large and at distances out to 1200+ yards. In some events participants are timed and required to move rapidly between stages or even a prolonged hike between stages (America mainly as the UK lacks ranges with enough space for such events). The rifles for this type of discipline need to be accurate at distance, consistent, light enough to carry and maneuver and rugged enough to take the odd knock. The choices made regarding components are therefore crucial. In this first article we will take a look at our central concepts and components – The calibre, chassis and the action.
Before we get to the exciting stuff the matter of finance must be discussed. In a perfect world we would all have an unlimited budget and build an amazing rifle. We certainly do not have a big budget and we realise many of the readers are in the same boat. We will be attempting to keep costs for the build (not including optics and mounts) to around £1500. In dollars that runs about $2400 but do bear in mind components tend to be more expensive in the UK so dollar wise the budget is approx $2000.
I agree that is still a lot of money but I think it would be incredibly tough to do it much cheaper. We will try but we also want seriously accurate results with this build – sub .5moa out to 1400yds and maybe further.
One of the first and foremost choices must be calibre. On first consideration one would simply input different calibres into a ballistic calculator and choose the best one. That is pie in the sky thinking Im afraid. The reality is we must consider budget, availability, recoil, weight, size..
We certainly have an idea of what our finished rifle needs to do – be light enough to carry and move with, maneuverable enough to shoot in multiple positions, reach out to 1400yds with accuracy and remain affordable. Straight away we can cross off all the big boy calibres such as .50BMG, .416, 408CT, .375CT, and even 338Lap (too expensive). We can also cross off calibres whose performance precludes them from 1400yd territory..
In the end budget reared its ugly head.. Actions cost a lot of money. The cheapest custom action I could source in the UK was £725. Quite a substantial part of the budget. I then began to look on the second hand market at complete rifles. As we all know the Remington 700 action is reliable and has a significant ammount of aftermarket kit available to fit it. Complete Remington 700s can also be found at bargain basement prices.
One of the GnZ Remington 700 rifles.
One of the calibres that has become popular with precision rifle shooters is the .260rem. The .308 action and bolt face require no modification to run the .260rem, all that is required is a barrel change to accomodate the 6.5mm bullets. The case is based upon the venerable .308 so for those that have .308 AI mags (I have several) laying around they can also save a few pounds by sharing the mags between rifles.
The ballistics of the .260rem are superb and have been likened to the .300winmag (minus some of the hitting power..) not bad for a round that fits a short action.
We will delve deeper into ballistics when we come to load test. For now all we need to do is settle on a calibre. With .260rem selected I sourced a used Remington 700 ADL in .308. I found one for the bargain price of £350.. Not bad at all. The rifle had been test fired as shooting well (1moa) which was all I needed to know.
There are a multitude of chassis and stock options for the Remington 700 action. A few can be dismissed for this build straight away, the heavy target orientated stocks for F class and TR are often cumbersome and many are single shot. A practical rifle really needs to be magazine fed to keep up the pace when engaging multiple targets. Next we considered stocks such as Manners and Mcmillan but these are also fairly hefty and generally require you purchase a mini chassis or bottom metal to house the magazine – more expense.
Modular driven technologies are a Canadian company which specialize in rifle chassis’ which give AR15 type ergonomics. They have been around since 2009 but in that short time have inspired praise for their innovative designs..
The HS3 is the latest in their lineup of chassis’ and is available for a number of actions including the Remington 700.
The rear end with fitting for an AR15 type buttstock.
All of MDTs chassis systems require you to add an AR15 type hand grip and buttstock. This gives the user a variety of options regarding style/function/weight and budget. We will be selecting and fitting those parts in one of the forthcoming articles.
The HS3 is precision machined from high grade Aluminium. This makes for a very stiff, light chassis. In fact weight is a real plus at only 2.2lbs. Of course choice of buttstock and grip must be added to final chassis weight.
The V shaped bedding block.
The sides of the chassis are fitted with polymer inserts which is a real benefit for those who shoot in winter. Clutching onto freezing metal is never fun. The action sits in a solid V block. The trigger channel looks to be wide enough to accept any common triggers such as Timneys popular 510. The recoil lug recess is also able to accept some after market larger recoil lugs but not all so do check this before you try to mate the action and stock or you might be left slightly frustrated.
The magazine latch is slightly recessed to avoid it bumping on platforms and obstacles.
The front end of the chassis is long which addresses some complaints regarding the shorter forend of their LSS Chassis. Some shooters did not like the bipod mount options on such a short forend. The HS3 has holes pre drilled to accept picatinny (Magpul L3 and L5 according to the manual) or you could mount a bipod onto the sling stud which is supplied/fitted.
Pre drilled for picatinny at the bottom and sides.
Being as this is a chassis there is no need to purchase seperate bottom metal. The magazine well and latch are all part of the HS3 system. The latch is firm and while easy to operate is far enough back to prevent obstacles from catching it and dropping your mag out.
The engineering on the chassis is clearly first class and it feels tremendously robust and well put together. The barrel sits proud of the front end meaning the barrel is free floating and only touches at the action. Even large heavy barrels should remain clear as there is plenty of room available. I would also say the chassis looks superb. The polymer sides are available in black and FDE (flat dark earth). We went with FDE as it looked awesome!
In the UK the HS3 can be found for £475.. And in the U.S.A. $499. Very good price in my opinion. Many of the common stocks are priced around £500 but will still need bottom metal which can be £250-£400 dependant on brand. The value is a little like the weight – the final value will be dependant on grip and buttstock. The really price conscious could source both for under $40 which would give you an excellent sub $550 chassis system. Pretty good deal.
So far we love everything the MDT HS3 can offer as the basis to the this build. We have our calibre chosen and we have selected an action which from my experience (and many others) is capable of great accuracy and endurance (Remington 700).
In the next article we will look at barrel choice and begin fitting the chassis out with buttstock and grip.
Orion firearms training – http://www.orionfirearmstraining.co.uk/index.html
MDT HS3 Chassis – http://mdttac.ca/hs3-chassis-system.html