124gr9mm

Starting a budget bolt gun build

45 posts in this topic

I've mentioned in a few threads that I've been considering buying a budget bolt gun for precision/distance shooting, but I was nervous about buying "cheap" used rifles and equipment without knowing much about their history.  For regular plinking or fun at the range I wouldn't care so much, but it could get very frustrating very quickly if the rifle was the weak link instead of the shooter.

With that in mind I decided that I'd put together a decent budget setup myself.  This way I know the equipment is good, so the shooter has to work to make things accurate.

Components are on order, but most are scheduled to arrive in the next week or so.

So far l have coming:

Howa 1500 short action with a 24" heavy barrel chambered in .308 (got a GREAT deal at Brownells when it was on sale+free shipping+coupon+gift card)

Bell and Carlson Varmint/Tactical stock.  It has full aluminum bedding and the Howa drops in. 

Primary Arms 4-14X44mm FFP scope.  Yes, it's a $225 scope, but I'm on a budget and it's getting very good reviews from online reviewers who have been really good in the past.

Scope mount and scope rings

Inexpensive UTG bi-pod (I already have it)

 

I reload so I'm considering adding a single stage press and dies, but I'll wait a bit to see how things go.  I'd rather start with the basics and then ramp up as I get more interested

That's it for now.  I can post some pictures/observations as I go if anyone is interested.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm interested...

I kinda love the Howa's.  They seem like a great action with not a lot of aftermarket but still great actions.  I'm very tempted to buy one simply to re-barrel/barrel it.  Mostly I like the mini actions.  Just so cool to have an appropriately sized action for the caliber.  

The build sounds great.  

Which B&C stock is it exactly?  The M40 style or the A5 style?  

Post pics as soon as you can.  If you need anything that I can help with don't hesitate to reach out.  I have a Borka torque wrench set-up if you want to torque bolts.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Bully.  I already have a torque driver, but I'll definitely ask for help when I start to stumble.

First stupid question actually.  When I mount the scope rail mounts, do I use blue loktite to keep them in place, or do I just find the manufacturer specs and torque to that?

 

Here's the stock I'm getting (in black) - http://www.bellandcarlson.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_ID=1078

I was VERY close to getting a KRG Bravo stock - https://kineticresearchgroup.com/product/bravo-chassis/

but they're $200 more than the B&C stock, AND I'll be sharing range time with my teenage daughter, so I want to make sure we both get proficient on a more traditional stock as we build fundamentals.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would add just a touch of blue locktite to the screws, at recommended torque.  Once you're on final assembly.  

Assemble/shoot/re-assemble/locktite

I've had that stock for a Remington.  It's one of the most comfortable and versatile stocks out there.  Nice choice.  The Bravo is one I want as well.  Just need to sell a few things first.  

My offer to shoot stands.  As does my offer to help.  I don't know much but I'm always down to figure shit out.  

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, 124gr9mm said:

Thanks Bully.  I already have a torque driver, but I'll definitely ask for help when I start to stumble.

First stupid question actually.  When I mount the scope rail mounts, do I use blue loktite to keep them in place, or do I just find the manufacturer specs and torque to that?

 

Here's the stock I'm getting (in black) - http://www.bellandcarlson.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_ID=1078

I was VERY close to getting a KRG Bravo stock - https://kineticresearchgroup.com/product/bravo-chassis/

but they're $200 more than the B&C stock, AND I'll be sharing range time with my teenage daughter, so I want to make sure we both get proficient on a more traditional stock as we build fundamentals.

@Pizza Bob recommended purple?

@High Exposure and myself put blue on everything! I prefer the gel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stock, Scope, scope rings, and scope ring mounts all came in today

The bolt action was delivered to my FFL, but I won't be able to get there until Tuesday!!!!!

Hope to find time after work next week to get everything together and then hit the range to break it in.

I'll order some ammo tonight as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/15/2018 at 9:22 AM, 124gr9mm said:

Thanks Zeke.

I frequently use blue, but I've never really looked into purple.

You can mix the red and blue to make purple :)

 

Just kidding - DO NOT DO THIS!!!!

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, NJSigfan said:

Sounds like a nice build!

I’m still piecing together funds for my Howa so hopefully you have some good feedback to share soon.

With any luck I'll be able to give an initial range report next weekend.

If you want to get a part of the build now, Brownells has a 20" heavy barrel in .308 on sale for $239 - https://www.brownells.com/rifle-parts/receiver-parts/receivers/barreled-receivers/1500-308-win-20-heavy-barreled-action-prod94606.aspx

Look for coupons for free shipping (and sometimes $25 off orders off $200 or more) and put it in your safe untile the rest of the money comes in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That’s awesome. I cannot wait to see this together. I’m stoked for you. 

If the minis were on sale for that price I would have to buy one. Thankfully they are not. I have a new barrel on the way so my $$$ is tied up anyway. 

Good luck and be sure to post pics. I will be checking in from my vacay hideaway. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had some time off this morning so I started building.
 

 
Jl0BylX.jpg



I think things went well, HOWEVER once everything was cleaned, assembled, and oiled, the action was VERY stiff. Stiff as in it reminded me of my Mosin.

Is this normal for a new gun and I just have to cycle the action a million times, or should I look closer before taking it to the range this weekend.

I initially had some trouble lining up the magazine so I took everything apart and put it back together, but it's still really stiff.

Any thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Figured it out.

After taking everything apart...again...it turns out that the problem was with the stock.  There's a little channel behind the bolt that's supposed to allow it to travel freely back and forth, but the channel wasn't deep enough so the bolt was rubbing against it.  So each time the guide part on the bolt passed it, it made a bit of a ramp, so the line of travel wasn't straight and there was friction against the metal frame.

 

I used a light tough with my dremmel tool to make the channel big enough for the bolt, and now the action is smooth as silk.

 

Before:

oaY4JxCl.jpg

After:

do23ynfl.jpg

 

I took some step by step pictures so I'll post them in a bit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just got back from the range, so here's an update.  I had a great time and the gun functioned with zero issues.
 

zd1rOBQl.jpg

 


I joined a bunch of long range/sniper forums and some recommended "breaking in" a new barrel, so I cleaned the barrel between the first 10 shots and allowed the barrel to cool before each shot.  Probably a waste of time, but it couldn't hurt, so i did it.

After the 10 break-in shots I tried some 3 shot groups at 100 yards.  I was using Federal Lake City 149 grain 7.62 NATO ammo and there were no issues at all feeding or ejecting.  I have some 168 grain .308 ammo on order that MAY be here later today, so I'll try to get to the range tomorrow to see if that makes a difference.


This is my first precision gun, and my first time trying for groups, so I considered just hitting the paper as a success.  I labeled the order of the groups as well as my point of aim.

 

ausYDBal.jpg

 


I was hoping that the gun would magically make me a 1 MOA shooter, but honestly I built it this way so I could do a lot of practice and learn how to shoot, so I think it will work well.

 

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Better ammo will net you better groups. 

If it’s a 10 twist, the 168 and 175 will work well. 

Learn to handload and really make that puppy shoot. 

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finding the right ammo will make a difference. Obviously technique is critical, but an expert shooter will be hampered by sub-optimal ammo. Bulk .223 gets me at best 2.5-3+" groups at 100yds. My gun liked 75gr hornady match ammo enough to shrink that to 1" groups. Moved to FGMM 69gr, down to sub .75". Give my rifle to someone who is really skilled, and I would love to see what it is capable of. I do these groups, then manage to screw up one shot and turn a .3" group into a 1.3" group or something equally annoying and embarassing.

Make sure you load that bipod, make sure you are getting to the same spot on the gun consistently, and remember to focus on breathing; combine that with better ammo and youll see groups that make target 4s group look bad.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Bully said:

@124gr9mm I shot you a PM.  I'm heading to CR tomorrow morning most likely.  Let me know if you'd like to meet up.

Thanks Bully.  Family will be around tomorrow so I'll have to catch you next time!

I was alone for a while today so i hit the range again.  Marginally better, but I was still very rough on the trigger:

npc7Kfml.jpg

 

 

Thanks Malice4you.  I'm making a list of tips so we'll see how things go next time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, 124gr9mm said:

Thanks Bully.  Family will be around tomorrow so I'll have to catch you next time!

I was alone for a while today so i hit the range again.  Marginally better, but I was still very rough on the trigger:

npc7Kfml.jpg

 

 

Thanks Malice4you.  I'm making a list of tips so we'll see how things go next time.

As @GRIZ would say” that guy is still not having a good day”

We can be our own worst critics 

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Significantly better shooting.  You need to get used to the rifle and not be afraid of it.  Take a look at these:

I don't know what trigger you have but if it's heavy, that won't help.  

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/24/2018 at 2:36 PM, 124gr9mm said:

Just got back from the range, so here's an update.  I had a great time and the gun functioned with zero issues.
 

zd1rOBQl.jpg

 


I joined a bunch of long range/sniper forums and some recommended "breaking in" a new barrel, so I cleaned the barrel between the first 10 shots and allowed the barrel to cool before each shot.  Probably a waste of time, but it couldn't hurt, so i did it.

After the 10 break-in shots I tried some 3 shot groups at 100 yards.  I was using Federal Lake City 149 grain 7.62 NATO ammo and there were no issues at all feeding or ejecting.  I have some 168 grain .308 ammo on order that MAY be here later today, so I'll try to get to the range tomorrow to see if that makes a difference.


This is my first precision gun, and my first time trying for groups, so I considered just hitting the paper as a success.  I labeled the order of the groups as well as my point of aim.

 

ausYDBal.jpg

 


I was hoping that the gun would magically make me a 1 MOA shooter, but honestly I built it this way so I could do a lot of practice and learn how to shoot, so I think it will work well.

 

Okay you've got good equipment.  Don't waste your money on "match ammo".  Shooting just about any NATO spec ball ammo my Savage PC or Scout will shoot about an inch at 100.  Your gun should do just as well.  When you get to that point then try some match ammo.

I'm not going to talk about torque drivers, loctite or spending more money.

First point is take your time.  You're never going to shoot well in a hurry.  Don't get your barrel too hot as that will shift your POI.  

Second, make yourself comfortable.  If you find yourself stretching or feeling awkward adjust your rest, bipod, body position.  You should be so comfortable you should be able to just about take a nap 

Many say they don't zero from a bench or prone because their POI changes from standing or kneeling.  It might but it shouldn't make much of a difference.  Groups will of course be larger standing or kneeling.  Prone you can do anywhere.  Use a bench if available.  That shows you what your rifle will do under ideal conditions.  That's what I want to know.

Third, MAYBE THE MOST IMPORTANT!!!! Don't try to see where you hit with every shot.  You can find yourself disappointed but worse yet is you disturb your hold, cheek weld, eye relief, and make it harder to duplicate that last shot. You shoot for a group first then adjust your sights or scope once you are shooting a consistent group. You should teach yourself not to take the rifle off your shoulder when you operate the bolt. You can practice this at home 

Action feels stiff?  I would think something''s wrong but I'm not going to guess without having the rifle in front of me.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, GRIZ said:

 

Action feels stiff?  I would think something''s wrong but I'm not going to guess without having the rifle in front of me.

He diagnosed and fixed this issue already.  

Great advice on the post @GRIZ.  Especially the part about not trying to see where one hits.  Concentrate on maintaining a consistent sight picture for every shot.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last update on this thread for me.


Gun still functions great, so I just have to lean how to shoot it.

 

Went out this morning for a while and did a bit better than the first time:

 

KqK468Ll.jpg

 

Group 5 was a hair under an inch and group 3 was a hair over.  Group 4 was .68 so in the 2 weeks I've been shooting with a bolt gun that's the best one.

 

I tried to write down a lot of things I was doing so I can remember for next time.  Goal is to regular improvement.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, 124gr9mm said:

Last update on this thread for me.


Gun still functions great, so I just have to lean how to shoot it.

 

Went out this morning for a while and did a bit better than the first time:

 

KqK468Ll.jpg

 

Group 5 was a hair under an inch and group 3 was a hair over.  Group 4 was .68 so in the 2 weeks I've been shooting with a bolt gun that's the best one.

 

I tried to write down a lot of things I was doing so I can remember for next time.  Goal is to regular improvement.

Like everything else it takes time to learn.  Practice makes perfect. Watch your breathing.

What ammo were you using?

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, 124gr9mm said:

Last update on this thread for me.


Gun still functions great, so I just have to lean how to shoot it.

 

Went out this morning for a while and did a bit better than the first time:

 

KqK468Ll.jpg

 

Group 5 was a hair under an inch and group 3 was a hair over.  Group 4 was .68 so in the 2 weeks I've been shooting with a bolt gun that's the best one.

 

I tried to write down a lot of things I was doing so I can remember for next time.  Goal is to regular improvement.

I saw in the picture that it looks like you're using a bipod on a table - try swapping the bipod out with a sandbag or shooting bag and see if that helps tighten the group up a little by helping you to control the "bounce" a little. I normally don't use a bipod unless I'm shooting prone. If I'm shooting from a bench I use a front and rear bag combo. Keep it up though, the more you practice (and focus on the fundamentals) the more you'll improve. 

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now