My very first bolt action rifle was a Ruger M77 Mark II chambered in .243 Win. I love that gun very much, and even though TTAG affords me a certain level of access when it comes to rifles, each hunting season, that gun is in the blind with me. That said, it’s not a very good rifle. For starters, the stock is terrible. Like most polymer factory stocks, it flexes more than Arnold in front of a mirror, and it lacks a certain ergonomic style. I spent years not knowing this until I got behind a McMillan stocked rifle, and then I knew . . .
Since then, I’ve been jonesing for a rifle nestled comfortably in a McMillan A5. Recently, I picked one up. Within a week of getting that rifle, I got a very nice email from McMillan asking if they could send me their new stock measuring kit. It isn’t the weirdest request I’ve ever received, but it’s the very definition of baiting a gullible gun writer. Once you have the kit, then you have to order a stock. They’re tricky over there at McMillan.
The premise of the kit is simple. You want a McMillan stock. You want that stock to fit your gun perfectly. You don’t want to send it off somewhere to be custom fitted. McMillan has the solution. Give them $29.95, and they’ll send you a kit that includes the following items.
- tape measure
- dial caliper
- dry erase pen
- DVD with instructions
- laminated template
Pop the barreled action out of its current stock, pop the DVD in your player of choice, pop a bag of popcorn, and follow along. I chose to tape my template to my MDF topped workbench for ease of use as it wanted to roll up on itself. Feel free to do the same. Following the instructions on the DVD, I was able to quickly and accurately measure the barreled action that came out of the Ugly Duckling Rifle and before long I had a complete data set to send off to McMillan.
Now I know what you’re thinking. That gun already has a McMillan stock! You’re right, it does. Unfortunately, it was the only barreled action I had hanging around, and I didn’t want to make McMillan wait around while I sourced an action, barrel, and a gunsmith to put it all together. I sent the data I captured off to the fine folks at McMillan, and within one business day they assured me that if I wanted a stock based on those numbers, they looked accurate.
I’m biding my time until the right Savage short action comes along, but once it does, I’m going to pounce on it, and build up a short bolt action hunting rifle that might replace my long in the tooth Ruger. Once that day comes, I’ll break out ye ole measuring kit, send the data off, and have McMillan make up a stock for me. Watch this space for updates to come.
Rating (out of five stars):
Overall Rating * * * *
You can barely buy a decent dial caliper for less than $30, so if you’re looking for one, this kit has it and then some. From a tool standpoint alone, it’s a great value. If you’re in the market for a custom inletted McMillan stock, it’s an even better deal. The only knock: the use of a DVD as a means of distributing the information. I had to resurrect an old laptop from the dead to find something in my house with an optical drive. Other than that, it’s a nice little kit, that ensures the custom stock you’ve built for your rifle will fit perfectly from the factory.
A DVD? Do they provide something to play it with? Or are we just supposed to shine lasers against it and try to read the bits individually?
So true. I’m not sure I have anything that I could play a DVD on.
You guys obviously don’t have grandkids.
I had to go buy a VCR/DVD combo unit to play the old tapes and dvd’s.
Hey Tyler, What stock is on your M77 MKII? I remember them making a simple one, but the Skeleton Stocks, boat paddle,whatever people choose to call them were tough as nails!!!(and very rigid) But I am very Interested to see the accuracy Improvement, Ive been contemplating a while on getting a McMillian stock. I have an all Stainless M77 MkII VT chambered in .260 REM, but also have the skeleton stock and im torn on the inside.
What’s a DVD??
Y’all are weird. I’ve got at least seven players that will play DVDs.
Besides the cinema-quality Blu-Ray, and the SACD player, plus all the desktops and the full size laptops… What devices _don’t_ have DVD capability?
Kids. They think that the cloud is a secure place, and that there’s no need for actual physical backups. They’ll learn.
Can that DVD be played on a Betamax machine?
There were Betamax kids and VHS kids in my old neighborhood. I recall some of the the Beta kids acting superior to us VHS commoners.
In time, their shrinking shelf space at Erol’s Video Store vindicated our choice and crowned us the victors in the great format war.
If Dyspeptic happens to read this, I’m curious of his opinion on the inexpensive China-made calipers, micrometers, and other measuring whatnot being sold today…
ChiCom measurement tools. They’re a plague upon the land for the most part. They’re the tools I use when I’m doing measurements in the middle of muck, rust, mud, water, etc. If they get damaged or wrecked as a result, I can throw them away without blinking an eye.
Some of the ChiCom measurement instruments work OK – until they get damaged, and then they cannot be repaired. A good quality measurement instrument is harder to damage and can be repaired. The cheap crap will have glue-in bezels and crystals made of cheap plastic, cheap metal (the ChiComs will probably discover how to make quality steel just about 10 minutes before the earth dies from a sun gone supernova) and once damaged, will not repeat.
Accuracy is about being able to repeat a measurement and get the same result. Accuracy in a precision measurement instrument usually comes at some real expense and skill of assembly. The very best measurement tools in several categories are made by the Swiss, and come with “Made by Magical Swiss Gnomes” prices attached to them. There’s real reasons why they are worth it in a machine shop, which I won’t belabor here.
If you really want to accumulate cheap measurement instruments, then pop for a set of cheap gage blocks, so you can calibrate your cheap instruments, or at least discover that your cheap instruments are no longer reading correctly. A set of cheap, ChiCom gage blocks of class 0 accuracy might be $250.
My Mitutoyos, Starretts, Brown & Sharpes, Interrapid, Compac, Mauser (vernier calipers) and other quality measurement tools that cost bucks stay in the shop.
Everyone should NB that using a set of calipers, regardless of the price, requires some skill. Press the jaws shut too hard, and you can under-size your reading by up to 0.004 (typically). Learn to take multiple readings of the same issue, and write each one down. Take the most predominate reading after a dozen or so readings if you’re trying to be accurate.
The few Chinese tools I have owned seemed to be made out of piss poor steel, if thats even what it was. The last one I bought was an impulse buy at Home Depot, because who can resist an 89 cent screwdriver. It didn’t last long until part of the blade cracked off when I tried to pry something with it.
On the other hand, I have a couple of Japanese Saws that have proven to be well made and have come in very handy on a number of occasions. They cut on the pull stroke instead of the push stroke and tend to bind less than some western saws when cutting. They also look like some kind of martial arts weapon which adds to their charm a bit.
Most PCs will play DVDs. Windows 7 will play DVDs natively through Windows Media Player. Otherwise install VLC player.
Not if there is no DVD device there to put the DVD in, they won’t! They’ll no doubt read floppy disks, too, but good luck finding the physical device.
Ditto for Playstation 3 and 4.
Dial calipers? If I was going to drop $1000+ on a McMillan custom stock, I think I just pony up for the plane ticket and go see them if my rifle smith couldn’t do it.
HI, this is Zev Nadler, Project Manager for this kit. We hear you and will make the Tutorial available to anybody who purchases the kit. They will receive an Unlisted YouTube Link. If you have purchased the kit, please call 877.365.6148 and let themknow you would like the “Barrel Measuring Kit Tutorial URL” and they’ll forward your email address to me.
I hope this solves the problem.