So we had some fun with the rifle and its standard Remington .308 barrel which was to be fair suprisingly accurate. Now it is time to rebarrel the gun in our chosen caliber (.260Rem).
I spoke with a very informative gent at Trueflite barrels in NZ who really helped us out and put me in contact with their main distributor in the UK, Dolphin Gun Company.
Mik is a superb engineer and sucessful competitive shooter.. In simple terms he knows a thing or two!
If you are a serious shooter and you live in Europe you have probably heard of Dolphin Gun. Mik Maksimovic is the founder and premier gunsmith and is regarded as one of the best gunsmiths in Europe when it comes to accurate fullbore rifles. His rifles, stocks, bipods and rests have taken many trophies on the International F class circuit. We have an interview and tour of Dolphin gun coming in the next few weeks as I think Miks wisdom as both shooter and gunsmith will be of great interest to many of you.
Dolphin keep a huge stock of barrels, probably the widest selection in the U.K.
Trueflite are based in NZ but provide barrels to distributors in Europe and the U.S. They are reguarly used by top level shooters and have a very good reputation. Trueflite use American 416R stainless steel for the majority of their barrels. They take steel selection incredibly seriously and offer a full chemical analysis and certification of tests to any customer that might be interested. The manufacturing process is equally attentive to detail –
“Our gundrills, bore reamers and rifling buttons are made in the USA by companies acknowledged as the best in the business. Combined with our own system of micro-honing, this technology results in extremely straight, round bores and a very fine surface finish. True-Flite barrels are stress relieved at least twice in a Brainchild BTC-9300 microprocessor-controlled furnace to ensure dimensional integrity. No True-Flite barrel ever requires straightening.”
A barrel from Trueflite run at around £400 which makes them a viable option for the average shooter. Trueflite were kind enough to donate a barrel for this project which we are very greatful for. The barrel came from stock so there should be no bias involved i.e. they didn’t hand select a special one for review. The barrel required would be chambered for .260Rem and I reckoned on a 26″ 1-8 twist in a match profile as the rifle would be used from supported firing positions only. Mik at Dolphin confirmed he had such a barrel in his considerable stock and a date was set for the job to be done.
I headed up North to Dolphin Gun with one of our regulars Sam who was also keen to see Mik in action. We had to set off at 3 in the morning with an aim to arrive around 8am.. This was on a Saturday and when we arrived Mik was already busy working. His lovely wife bought us a much appreciated coffee while Mik chatted to us about his work. He has a huge complex of buildings which he shares with a business partner. There doesn’t appear to be much that Mik cannot do when it comes to firearms. He has high tech CNC machines, professional painting areas and ovens, lathes, bead blasters and more handtools than I have ever seen in one place.
A few of the items made at Dolphin gun waiting for the finishing touches…
Mik is a retired engineer so he has vast experience regards working with metal and fine levels of tolerance. He is also a competitive top level open F class shooter and after he retired the progression to working with rifles came fairly naturally. “It just grew from there” Mik told us as we marvelled at his huge levels of stock and the size and tech of his workshops and machinery.
The barrel fitting.
The base for this build, a Remington 700ADL.
Mik removed the old Remington factory .308 barrel and placed it on the scrap pile. He then checked over the Remington action and measured it to check how true it was. Remember the action came from a second hand 700 ADL which we bought for £350. This could have been the moment we found out the Remington action was a bad one. The Remington 700 is turned out in Huge numbers and has been for many years. The possibility of getting a bum action or barrel is higher than you get with a custom built gun (hence the big price difference). The cheapest custom action I could have sourced would have been in the £1000+ category which would be out of our price range and the scope of many other hobbyist shooters.
Luckily Mik confirmed this action to be good. He cleaned the threads up and then doused the action in a product which would smooth the action. We then moved over to the lathe and watched as Mik carefully set the barrel up. After fine adjustment and checking of micrometers he begins the machining process. The first stage is threading the barrel which Mik does a little at a time. “You can cut more off but you can’t put it back on” is the mantra of all good engineers..
Threading the barrel on the lathe.
First stage complete..
Mik explains that he does not cut corners when he works. Having the correct tools for the job when working to precise levels of tolerance is a nessecity if you want unrivalled accuracy. He shows us the tooling he has for pretty much every calibre I could imagine using. When Mik cuts the chamber he uses a roughing reamer to begin. Many Gunsmiths would use a finishing reamer only but as I said this guy cuts no corners.
The right tools to do the job properly.
Flushing the barrel through after the first roughing reamer to remove any bit of metal which could effect the finishing reamers precision. The oil is filtered and pumped back around.
After the chamber was complete Mik threaded the end of the barrel and sorted the muzzle crown. The end result is a sight to behold. A capping piece screws on when no supressor is in use which is so precise it is hard to tell there is any cap on there.
Attention to detail….
The new barrel is considerably heavier than the old Remington sporter that came off. The weight of that barrel sits directly onto the recoil lug which mates with the MDT HS3 chassis. Mik recommended that he replace the recoil lug with one of his own. He makes the oversized lugs himself along with complete stocks, muzzle brakes, bipods and a variety of custom work. The recoil lug he made mated up beautifully and would handle the extra weight of the barrel with no problem.
You can see how the barrel would put a lot of stress on the recoil lug. Miks enlarged lug is much stronger and gives a snugger fit.
The final part of the process was the finish. Mik suggested a bead blasting to give a matt finish to the stainless barrel. The bead blasting machine is a little larger than expected! After a few minutes the machine has worked its magic and the barrel and cap come out looking fantastic.
The bead blasting machine.
While the barrel was being sorted the action had been soaking in a compound to smooth it up and clean it. Mik had me run the bolt which lacked the gritty feel it had previously. The final task was to torque the barrel onto the action.
Torqueing the barrel and action.
Mik explained that if the threads are cut correctly then you should get a really good lock up without using any thread locking compound. Precision cuts mean that surfaces mate perfectly together. Mik checked everything over before reinstalling the old Remington trigger. Finally the barreled action was set back onto the HS3 chassis where we dry fired it several times. The bolt ran as smooth as butter and the rifle felt superb.
The trigger going back on.
We then went on a tour around Dolphin Gun with Mik followed by more coffee. At this point Mik mentioned he would donate his hard work on the build to help us out. A fabulous and generous gesture for which I am tremendously greatful as will some of the GnZ non gun owners who will get to use it on future outings. The barreled action went off to proof and came back to Mik within the week. Once I got it home it was on with the scope. Unfortunately the DNZ medium Gamereaper mounts were a tiny bit low with the new barrel contour and the Vortex PST. I had a brain wave and moved a 20moa pic rail and rings from the other GnZ Remington 700 onto the .260Rem which proved to be just right. The DNZ mount went onto the older rifle and proved to be a perfect fit with the scope over the Remington Varmint barrel.
A quick swap of the mounts and we are good to go. The new build is really starting to look good.
As mentioned we will be bringing you a full run down of Dolphin Gun and an interview with Mik in the next couple of weeks. In the next article in this series I will be loading some .260Rem ammunition and running a quick barrel break in followed by some load testing and velocity measurements. I can hardly wait to see the results. I have a feeling accuracy will be seriously impressive..
Dolphin Gun Company – www.dolphinguncompany.co.uk/
Trueflite barrels – www.truefliteriflebarrels.co.nz/
DNZ mounts – www.dnzproducts.com/
Vortex Optics – www.vortexoptics.com/