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Building My First Custom Bolt Action Precision Rifle (Part 1) | Rifle’s Purpose, Platform Choice: Remington 700 Clone: Stiller Tac30 A/W Action

A few months ago, for no particular reason I decided I wanted to try my hand at true marksmanship. I have never been what I would consider “a good shot” but I get by. But I have missed enough times, that I have reduced confidence and assume a miss with every pull of the trigger. Sure, the ‘right’ way to go about this is to grab a quality 22 LR and head to the range testing and building your skills, but let’s be honest, we live in a NOW society and I want some instant gratification. This led me down the road of spending more money then I imagined on building a custom precision rifle.

The draw of building the rifle, selecting the goal, the intended purpose, the parts, the gunsmith, intrigues me as much as the rifle itself and the shooting to come later. I just simply love diving into a project like this with obsession-like motivation and learning as much as one possibly can while attempting to maximize the performance of each selection. In this post, I will outline some of those selections I made and my rationale for doing so. This doesn’t mean I did anything the way you should, or that my way is correct in any manner. It’s just my anecdote.

In no way to I believe this rifle itself will make me a better shooter, only proper practice and instruction will do that. But it is an excuse to let out my inner ‘gear junkie’ and spend some hard earned cash. Once complete, with no possible way to blame my equipment, we’ll see if I can build my marksmanship skills into something to be proud of, or not.

Interested?

THE PURPOSE OF THE RIFLE

It is important to first determine ‘how’ you will use any tool, rifle included, to guide your decision making processes. Is this to be a rifle for a specific type of match shooting? F-Class or otherwise? Is it a hunting rifle or a plinking rifle? I intended to use this rifle to learn and to shoot at extended ranges up to and including 1000 yards. I do not plan to carry this rifle much farther then to the shooting line or maybe a short walk to a hilltop deer blind. Weight was therefore not much of a factor in this build, and whatever it tips the scales at when it is complete, will be a hefty number for sure. I wanted quality components with proven track records in accuracy and durability within the circles that know these kinds of things. The forums at snipershide.com became a wealth of information during this build at all stages and aided me in this endeavor. I set out to build a tactical style blot rifle that could meet my list of wants.

It is also important to jump back and see if a factory rifle could meet those needs. For example, in my case, A Remington 5R 308 Win would probably have fit my bill pretty closely for a lot less dollar. Or maybe a factory offering from Savage in another chambering. Either way, on this adventure, the money didn’t matter to me, and I really really like gear and doing the research about what fits my needs best, that the process of building the rifle would be a very enjoyable one to me, regardless whether or not I ever was able to shoot it well.

THE ACTION

I had to decide what base rifle platform to create the build upon. What manufacturers would fit my goals? I have owned and shot savage rifles in the past and looked closely at these. But in the end, the venerable Remington 700 platform won out. The Rem 700 platform is the cornerstone of nearly all custom precision rifle builds, and is the platform (or one of it’s custom variants) of choice for nearly every competitive tactical shooter. After looking at the options of purchasing a new or used Remington Factory action and having it completely overhauled, or blueprinted, by a reputable gun builder, I chose the route of the custom action for simplicity and to speed up my process a bit. Factory Remington actions can be machined to match the tolerances of custom actions by  slew of processes that cleanup, square and true all the surfaces to one another. They also can be upgraded with pinned recoil lugs, tactical bolt knobs, bolt fluting, enlarged scope mounting holes among other things. These all just come stock on about all custom actions. I considered actions built by Surgeon Rifles, Stiller Precision, Defiance Machine and Pierce Engineering. After a close battle between the Pierce and the Stiller, I settled on a Stiller TAC-30 A/W action, which was in stock at Southern Precision Rifles. I placed my order and after getting the appropriate FFL paperwork from my local dealer to them, it was on the way quickly via UPS.

The action arrived from Southern Precision Rifles quickly and was well protected in the factory box from Stiller Precision.

The action arrived from Southern Precision Rifles quickly and was well protected in the factory box from Stiller Precision.

The Stiller Tac30 AW comes with a 20 MOA scope base that is double pinned and is drilled for larger 8-40 screws, one-piece PTG bolt, and a pinned recoil lug.

The Stiller Tac30 AW comes with a 20 MOA scope base that is double pinned and is drilled for larger 8-40 screws, one-piece, fluted PTG bolt with a modified M16 style extractor, and a pinned recoil lug.

Photo Courtesy of accurateshooter.net

Photo Courtesy of accurateshooter.net

The Stiller was available (unlike the Surgeon or Defiance), priced right (just over $1000), and had a good reputation among shooters.  It is also built here in Texas on the outskirts of Dallas in Wylie. The Stiller is also a “Rem 700 clone” meaning it has the same footprint allowing it to be mated with any stock inletted for a standard Rem 700 action. Stiller’s Tactical line of actions include a laundry list of features that are provided on most custom actions but the receiver cut out for A/W style Accuracy International magazines was a plus to me. Most actions have a standard opening on the bottom originally designed to feed for the ADL/BDL style internal magazines, but can also be fed from standard “AICS” magazines. A/W magazines are a double stack/double feed platform, the AICS is a single feed magazine with a slight stagger in the stack. This allows the A/W magazines to be much shorter. Just a convenience thing, but one that intrigued me. AW magazines also allow for slightly longer loaded rounds, which is often of benefit while loading heavier, longer bullets to take advantage of their ballistic coefficients.

AICS 10-rounders in the middle, AW 10-rounders on the sides. Note the double feed and compact size of the AW magazines.

AICS 10-rounders in the middle, AW 10-rounders on the sides. Note the double feed and compact size of the AW magazines.

As you can see in the pictures above, the A/W magazines are more compact and are double feed, much like an AR10 magazine, while the AICS is more along the lines of a single stack magazine, with room for just a bit of stagger in the rounds. Both magazines shown are for he 308 family of cartridges, this is the only size AW magazines available, AICS magazines are also available for long action cartridges, such as too 300 Winchester Magnum. To learn more about the difference in the types of magazines built by Accuracy International, check out this excellent comparison put together in the forums over at Sniper’s Hide, it is where I grabbed the above images from as well.

In the next installment of this series, we’ll explore the decisions regarding caliber choice, and barrel specifications.

Remember this is just one man’s adventure, and a newbie at that. Let me know what you think of my decisions.

Thanks for visiting!

See Part 2 of this Series Here!

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16 thoughts on “Building My First Custom Bolt Action Precision Rifle (Part 1) | Rifle’s Purpose, Platform Choice: Remington 700 Clone: Stiller Tac30 A/W Action

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