I’ve been shooting a 308 for quite a while now and wanted to get it rechambered in 260 Remington for it’s superior ability to buck the wind once my factory barrel wore out. But my 308’s barrel just keeps stacking 175 SMK’s with no end in sight* so I couldn’t in good conscience pull the barrel. Plus I really like the idea of having a 308 around since ammo and dies are typically available anywhere. So back in December I set the new precision rifle plan in motion and bought a Savage 10FCP-K with the intent of getting a new Shilen barrel that I could instal myself chambered in 260 Remington and pitching the factory stock in lieu of a Mcree Precision chassis system. Well, like most grand plans, the chassis system wasn’t available for the new receiver and it didn’t look like it was going to materialize anytime soon so I sold off the Magpul PRS stock that I bought for the version of the Mcree I ordered and sold off the Savage and decided to stick with the Remington 700 line since it’s about the easiest rifle to get parts for and picked up a 700 short action receiver from Brownelles. I also found a 6.5mm 1 in 8 twist Sendero profile Bartlein barrel blank which I snatched up as well. In addition to the receiver and barrel I picked up a Timney trigger and a Ross Schuler muzzle brake and handed off all of the parts to Northwest Action Works for the custom rifle build. At the time I hadn’t heard of North West Action Works and I was a little hesitant to hand off all of my parts to a smith that didn’t have a ton of history in the custom rifle circle, but after quite a bit of research on them and talking with some people that I trust implicitly who vetted them out, I gave them a call and we spoke about options and put a plan together for what I would be using it for and the best way to proceed.
*As “luck” would have it, a borescope on my 308’s barrel recently revealed that it has significant fire cracking in the first couple of inches in front of the chamber. I guess all of those over max Scenars just cooked the throat of that barrel.
The plan was to have Northwest Action Works blueprint and true the action, cut the barrel down to 24″, cut off the bolt handle and have a new one TIG welded on with the same Bager bolt knob that I’m used to on my 308, thread the barrel and install/time the muzzle brake. After it was all finished being built and some test firing validated it was shooting well, it was to be sent out for salt bath nitriding. Lucky for me the guys live just a few miles from me and after a little back and forth about whether or not we were going to flute the barrel and what size to cut it down to from the massive Bartlein blank, they actually swung by my house and picked all of my stuff up for the build.
The biggest precision match of the year for me is Carl Taylor’s Steel Challenge which happens in May, so I figured with the timelines that NWAW gave me I’d have a month to get it all dialed in, new load developed, DOPE card proved out, and a fair amount of time behind the rifle to get an idea of how the new chassis felt and any adjustments made to the cheek height and length of pull. Well, Murphy being who he is, the timeline didn’t really work out the way I had envisioned it. I had to be out of town most of the month before the match with just a couple of days here and there in town so even though the rifle was back from nitriding I had still didn’t have it in my possession or any of the other items that needed to be done.
NWAW knew I was struggling with timing to make the match and actually delivered the rifle to me one evening that I happened to be home which was darn nice of them and I got it mounted up in the chassis.
So, first impressions here of the action that I received back from NWAW. It was really satisfying to hand off a box of parts in different color and sizes and have it reappear as a sleek black piece of target destroying perfection. The salt bath nitriding had the entire thing uniformly colored in a sleek mat dark black finish that was a thing of beauty. The process of SBN was done with the intention of preventing corrosion and increasing barrel life, but ascetically it was stunning.
True to their name, Northwest Action Works’ trued actions are impressive. The bolt slide like two pieces of glass on top of each other and the locking lugs had been machined to perfection causing the bolt to meet with some increased resistance as it was being locked into battery. My guess is that since the entire surface of the locking lugs were making contact in the receiver (which is typically NOT the case with Remington 700 receivers) you get that kink of drag. Not gritty at all, in fact it had the same glass on glass kind of feel. Very positive, smooth and impressive. After the amazing results of lapping my 308’s locking lugs I knew that anything that feels like this receiver did was going to be a tac driver.
When I had given NWAW my parts I had also given them a few pieces of the Lapua brass that I would be using with this rifle. They cut the chamber with these in mind and let me tell you, I may never have to full length resize a case again in my life. After firing the cases drop right back into the chamber gauge without fail. Perfection.
Unfortunately I wouldn’t get to shoot it since I had to catch a flight, but knowing time wasn’t on my side and we only had days at this point until we flew out to the Steel Challenge, my teammat picked up my rifle to test fire it and start the load work up process. I was expecting a call about how wonderful the thing shot and he called me with some concerning new about how lousy it was shooting. The panic begins.
I call NWAW who could have said tough luck, but instead drove out to my house again after hours to pick up the rifle for inspection. Long story short, they found that the action was not sitting in the chassis well and made some adjustments to triaged the problem so we could get the rifle online and took it out to the range to verify it was shooting as expected. As a side note they put it in a Manners chassis and with factory ammo it was shooting as expected. They even offered to let me use the Manners chassis for the match! Since I’m not a big gorilla type I really need a smaller length of pull so I was determined to use my Mcree which was going to have to be bedded but time wasn’t on our side, so we’d have to settle for a MOA accuracy (I know that sounds funny since 1 MOA is pretty darn nice in most cases).
Cutting to the chase, the load did get developed in time (thanks KA for all of the work!) and due to the great customer service from Northwest Action Works I had my new 260 just in time for the match.
As a follow up, the Mcree chassis was skim bedded around the recoil lug and front and rear tangs and as expected, dramatic results ensued. I’ll post picture of the process soon. I was giddy with the results of getting it squared away and seeing what the custom action and Bartlein barrel could do. My 5 shot test group at 100 yards is just a hair over .25 MOA. Im-freaking-pressive. The thing now shoots as good as it looks and I couldn’t be happier with the final product or the service I received.