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Getting interested in the idea of building a precision bolt rifle, but I'm not a machinist or gunsmith. That said, it seems there is increasing opportunity for people to build a rifle without those skills. Or not. That's the question, are those machinist and/or gunsmithing skills still an absolute necessity? Especially when you have barrels prefit to specific actions for headspacing (and verified by go/no-go gauges), it does seem more doable. Maybe "build" is the wrong word now, perhaps "assemble" is more fitting. I hadn't thought much of the idea until seeing this video, and this guy makes the case you can do it on your own without special tools. Thoughts? Have you done this?
 
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I’ve been highly tempted to bolt one together.

Brands like KAK make prefit barrels for 700 actions. They use a Savage style barrel nut. Headspacing can virtually been done using a set of go no-go gauges.


Id love for KAK to make a prefit 24” 6mm ARC barrel!
 
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Only thing I keep stalling on is prices.

Back when Remington 700s could be had for $300. You could buy one just for the action and sell all the rest and probably make a profit.

Nowadays actions aren’t cheap, therefore, if I was going to spend $1000 or more on an action alone. I’d leave it to a smith to put a barrel on. As the barrel wouldn’t be cheap either.
 

3MTA3

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I went with Savage for my last two rifles just because it's design makes it the AR-15 of bolt guns. If I shoot out a barrel or eff one up somehow I can do the work myself. Ruger American is Ruger's version of the same system including the accutrigger. Savage, however, has a TON of aftermarket support.

Due to the floating bolt head design the action is not as slippery smooth but there are ways to reduce the drag.

My suggestion - buy a Savage 110 Tactical in the bolt head size and action length for the round you are looking for. For about $650 street you get a rifle with a fine reputation for accuracy that comes with the outstanding accutrigger and a fully adjustable accustock.

From there you can rebarrel it to whatever cartridge and barrel you desire. Equally nice is that you can change bolt heads if you change directions. Heck, if you buy one in a chamber I like I'll gladly take the factory one off your hands. You can also swap the accustock with whatever stock or chassis you desire, but IMO the factory stock is pretty nifty.

I replaced the factory supplied EGW 20 MOA rail with a Warne 20 MOA rail that has more contact area for a better rail to ring fit.

IMO this is the most cost effective way to go and you can spend the savings on more ammo and better glass, though you need to take a careful look at Arken, before you get that Steiner, IOR or Razer.

Also there is a very healthy and knowledgeable forum just for Savage heads - https://www.savageshooters.com

Don't forget a Savage barrel nut wrench. This kit also comes with a hand held barrel vice: https://www.eabco.net/savage-barrel-nut-wrench-kit-also-fits-remage-nuts.html
 
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One detail item that I think makes a difference, and that is whether you need to use a recoil lug and barrel nut when installing a prefit barrel onto a pre-qualified action. For example, installing a Proof #129982 barrel (for 300 PRC) onto a Terminus Kratos action. At least for that Proof/Terminus combination, the answer is no, you do not need either a barrel nut or recoil lug with that setup. Terminus and Proof have already worked together on exact dimensions to ensure perfect headspacing using just the shoulder of the barrel. This was confirmed by contacting Proof directly. Needless to say, this makes the "doability" of assembling your own precision rifle even easier, although checking the final result with go/no-go gauges is still something you should absolutely do.
 

Mark W.

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Just buy a Savage model 12 in your favorite variety and if you can out shoot that rifle then worry about it. I equate this to Photography. In Photography for more then 100 years photographers have thought that if they could just buy a better camera they would become a better photographer. When in fact its how you use your camera and eye not the camera that makes you a better photograph. That said I have seen a bunch of people who think buying/building a better rifle will improve their accuracy. When in fact they are no where the limit of what rifle they are currently using is capable of. All that said if you just want a new toy carry on.
 
Just buy a Savage model 12 in your favorite variety and if you can out shoot that rifle then worry about it. I equate this to Photography. In Photography for more then 100 years photographers have thought that if they could just buy a better camera they would become a better photographer. When in fact its how you use your camera and eye not the camera that makes you a better photograph. That said I have seen a bunch of people who think buying/building a better rifle will improve their accuracy. When in fact they are no where the limit of what rifle they are currently using is capable of. All that said if you just want a new toy carry on.
Kind of true re: photography. I still shoot film, always buy bodies used…I will never forget the time I was taking photos in an ice cave in Iceland struggling with a 5Dmk2 and 50 f/1.2 - struggling to work the stupid slow shutter speeds with the lowest iso I could get away with for clean (ish) 11x14’s.

A Chinese tourist asked me if I could take his and his wife’s picture. I said sure. He hands me his brand new 5Dmk4 paired with a 24-70 f/2.8. I figured he had his settings already done so I just snapped. Holy. Wow. The 100% crop was cleeeeeeeean and bright. Dude’s iso was 12k and it looked great for those conditions.

My point is: could I get that shot with older tech? Yea, with A LOT of skill and practice. But, the newer gear makes it so, so much easier.

Moving this to a shooting comparison, an excellent shooter can do wonders with, let’s say, any of the WW2 bolt actions. A less experienced shooter could easily get a leg up using a new production savage/rem700/etc.

No, you can’t buy skills…at the same time, starting with decent gear doesn’t hurt the training.

OP - its very doable to part together an accurate bolty, or semi for that matter. If you enjoy the process of building it, go for it. Anything you scrap together will likely outshoot you for years to come. When you get good enough to know it’s holding you back, you’ll have the knowledge or skills to build better…hopefully.
 
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Just a comment. I totally agree that modern low-cost rifles can be tack drivers. Heck, I own several cheapie plastics that are great shooters, including Savage Model 16, Winchester XPR, Mauser M18, Ruger American, etc., all bought on sale. But just looking at it from a cost perspective is staying in the shallow end of the pool. There is a lot more going on when you build a rifle. It becomes a project, and a personal project at that. Anytime you do something on your own you will naturally be more invested in it, both literally and emotionally. I can buy cheapie furniture at IKEA that will function just fine, but I won't plan on my grandchildren inheriting IKEA furniture as a family heirloom. The furniture I build myself with high quality wood and materials, that's a whole different story. Same with rifles. Some I will be proud to leave for future generations, the cheapie plastics not so much. A personal rifle I build to my standards will definitely hold value for me personally, but also be worth passing along to kids/grandkids.
 

3MTA3

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Just a comment. I totally agree that modern low-cost rifles can be tack drivers. Heck, I own several cheapie plastics that are great shooters, including Savage Model 16, Winchester XPR, Mauser M18, Ruger American, etc., all bought on sale. But just looking at it from a cost perspective is staying in the shallow end of the pool. There is a lot more going on when you build a rifle. It becomes a project, and a personal project at that. Anytime you do something on your own you will naturally be more invested in it, both literally and emotionally. I can buy cheapie furniture at IKEA that will function just fine, but I won't plan on my grandchildren inheriting IKEA furniture as a family heirloom. The furniture I build myself with high quality wood and materials, that's a whole different story. Same with rifles. Some I will be proud to leave for future generations, the cheapie plastics not so much. A personal rifle I build to my standards will definitely hold value for me personally, but also be worth passing along to kids/grandkids.
If the intrinsic value is that meaningful then you should build and not simply assemble the rifle. This means traditional gunsmithing to a high art in order to gain the precision you also desire. That journey in and of itself will be meaningful.

Here is a small taste:

Plan to spend as much on tools as you will the rifle and optic

Me? I'm all about utility value. I appreciate fine things, but do not necessarily want to own them. The things I own just need to serve their intended purpose.
 
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