Building a Precision Rifle on a Rem 700 Platform
This is a step by step approach to building a precision rifle based on the Rem 700 platform whether it be for long range hunting, competition or just target shooting. I get a lot of calls from people that ask, what can I do to my Rem 700 to make is shoot better? So I am going to attempt to go over all of the accuracy improving modifications and try to explain what each modification will enhance and why. I will only cover the barreled action and the work that should be preformed to build a long range, or precision rifle in this article. I will save topics such as stock options or scope mounting and such for a later article. So here we go! First of all, and most important, if you are buying a new or used Rem 700 to build a precision rifle DO NOT buy a real expensive one!!! Do not buy a Sendaro or a 5R Tactical style rifle, unless you plan on shooting it in its original configuration. If you buy one of these tactical styles or models and want to blueprint it?, true it? or accurize it? you will have paid extra money for things or enhancements that cannot be used if you want to build a truly precision rifle. When I build a precision rifle from the ground up, I start with a Rem 700 that I already own or brand new Rem 700 SPS. I try to find the cheapest one I can get. Right now, I or anyone (not dealer pricing) can buy a Rem 700 SPS for about $420.00. For $420 the only thing I will use is the receiver itself, the magazine box, firing pin assembly, screws etc. I DO NOT use the barrel, trigger, stripped bolt (unless I plan to sleeve and true the factory bolt) or stock. So why pay extra for a 5R barrel or tactical model? Take your factory barrel, trigger, stripped bolt and stock and list them for sell on any of the online gun forums and put that money towards the aftermarket parts that I will recommend later in this article. You should be able to get about $200 or more back from the entire Brand New take off parts and bring your total price of your Rem 700 receiver down to about $220!
RECIEVER: No matter what type of rifle I build (Long range hunting, target etc...) I always do the following to the receiver.
Ream the inside diameter of the bolt bore raceway to .705 (this is to have the same and a known diameter in the front and rear bearing surface of the bolt bore raceway). That way I can sleeve my factory bolt or I can buy a one piece PTG bolt with a precision ground diameter of .7045 to .703? depending on what the application of the rifle is to be used. For target and competition rifles I like to keep it tight with a .7045 bolt diameter. For hunting rifles that will be in some dusty and sandy environments I will pick a little looser fit (.704-.703 bolt diameter).
The receiver is then set up and indicated in my lathe so that the newly reamed bolt bore raceway is running perfectly true with the centerline axis of my lathe.
I then re-cut (skim) the threads, lug abutments and face of the action until all of these areas are perfectly true and square with each other.
I also drill and tap the scope base mounting hole to accept the larger 8-40 screws when mounting a scope base. (This can be viewed as accuracy enhancing due to the fact that the 8-40 screws will have a better chance of holding the scope base in place, over the tiny 6-48 factory screws, during heavy recoil to avoid an impact shift on target.) At this point the receiver is DONE!
BOLT: I can sleeve and true your factory bolt and make your rifle shoot just as good as a one piece PTG bolt for almost the same price. But if you are paying me to install sleeves and true the lugs and bolt face on your factory bolt, you are only within a few dollars of purchasing a brand new one piece precision ground bolt from Pacific Tool & Gauge (PTG). And, if you sold your factory bolt like I recommended earlier you will save $50-$100 off of your new PTG bolt making it less expensive in the long run. The bolt diameter and/or clearance between the bolt and bolt bore raceway in the receiver are important. The reason you want a tighter clearance between the two is to eliminate or minimize any movement of the bolt during the firing sequence (Trigger releasing firing pin, firing pin traveling forward, firing pin striking primer, primer igniting powder, powder burning and building gas pressure and gas pressure pushing bullet down and out of barrel). If the clearance is too loose and the bolt is allowed to rattle around during the firing sequence, you can get some inconsistent bullet impacts on target. This one subject can be explained in more detail, but the purpose of this article is to give you the basic idea of why you need to have each modification done to your gun so that it will indeed shoot more precisely than before any of the work was performed.
Recoil Lug: A very important and often over looked item! I make my own brand of recoil lugs that I use with all of the guns I build to insure perfect flatness. But no matter what recoil lug you use, make sure it is ABSOLUTLY flat!! You just paid a highly skilled machinist (hopefully) to true your receiver so that the face of your action is perfectly square with the centerline axis of the bolt bore raceway and to mate perfectly square with an expensive aftermarket barrel with a perfectly square shoulder. So why in the world would you put a non-surface ground, possibly wedged shaped recoil lug, in between all of that time, effort, money and precision? Even if you use a factory recoil lug, make sure you have it surface ground first! I check any recoil lug I use on a precision surface plate with a .0001 indicator. If it is more than about .0002 out of flatness, it goes back to the surface grinder.
Barrel: The barrel is the heart of a precision rifle, this article is not about which barrel is the best on the market, it is about what to do to your Rem 700 to make it shoot better. With that being said, basically, get a good aftermarket barrel. I have used PacNor, Krieger, Schneider and Shilen and they all shoot great. Now, the reason why you didn't want to buy a Rem 700 and pay more for a Sendero or 5R barrel is that once you true the threads in your receiver, the factory thread demisions on the factory barrel will not fit the trued receiver anymore. So you will have to have the thread tenon on the barrel cut off and re-machined to fit the new thread demisions in the receiver. This is ok to do if you already bought a gun that has a 5R barrel on it and you really don't want to buy a new barrel, and as long as there is enough material on the barrel contour to allow for the removal of the thread tenon and re-machine a new one. However you will lose close to 1.5" of barrel length to re-machine and chamber the factory 5R barrel. My opinion is to start with a less expensive Rem 700 model and buy an aftermarket barrel so you can spec it out the barrel based on bullet choice, twist rate for bullet choice and barrel contour. The most important work done to a good barrel, other than the quality of the bore and rifling itself, is how precise the chamber is machined in reference to the bore. It is absolutely essential that the barrel bore run perfectly true in the lathe before the thread tenon and chamber are cut in the barrel. This will insure a very consistent transition of the bullet engaging the rifling in the barrel. If the chamber is not concentric or true with the bore, the bullet will be forced to find the center and cause unwanted barrel vibration. A thick heavy barrel contour will help dampen vibration, but let's try to prevent vibration before it happens. Also, an 11 deg crown is machined on the muzzle to allow for a very even and consistent gas release or dispersion as the bullet exits the barrel.
Trigger: Another very important item when building a precision rifle is the trigger. I use Jewell triggers on all of my builds. Why? Because they are awesome! These triggers have a very crisp clean break without any creep whatsoever. The only bad thing about buying a Jewell trigger is that you will want to buy one for every rifle you own!! Once you use one for a while and then pick up a gun with a factory trigger, you will wonder what the heck is wrong with this darn trigger! I don't know what else to say about the trigger? Get a Jewell!
Ok, let's review again:
Rem 700 Receiver: Reamed and trued with a .705 inside diameter and tap scope base holes to accept 8-40 screws.
Bolt: PTG Bolt with a .7045 - .703 outside diameter or a sleeved and trued factory bolt.
Recoil Lug: Surface ground to .0002 or less flatness.
Barrel: Good quality, caliber and twist rate of desired bullet choice, thread tenon and chamber cut in same set up to absolute centerline of barrel bore.
Trigger: Jewell Model: HVRTSBR-A
If you have these modifications done to your barrel and Rem 700 action by a highly skilled machinist that will take however much time is needed to dial in the receiver/barrel before he makes any cuts, you will have a Remington 700 (barreled action) rifle that is capable of ½ MOA or better accuracy. Choose your stock, scope and scope mounting hardware wisely and enjoy your new precision rifle.
Superior Precision Rifles, LLC