Ever since I was a kid, I geeked out on precision rifles. I would take my Marlin 880 SS .22LR out almost every day and focus on tight groups and crazy shooting positions.
I got pretty good considering it had a terrible trigger and I shot the cheapest ammo available. I remember getting frustrated when I had perfect sight alignment, trigger control and breathing, but still didn’t hit the point of aim because the equipment itself wasn’t designed for precision.
Not much has changed since those days, other than now I can afford to buy equipment that’s designed for precision and if I miss the shot, I know it’s my fault.
Let’s dig into the components and the hands that went into creating the perfect .223 bolt action rifle for my given application and modest budget.
Alamo Precision Rifles Ranger chambered in .223 with a Grayboe Renegade stock, X-Caliber barrel, and US Optics MR10.
I met the guys from Alamo Precision Rifles at a media event and was immediately sold on their product. What initially sold me was the passion and knowledge of the owners Jason Davidson and Robert Waggoner.
There are a lot of quality rifle smiths out there, but I chose to work with Alamo Precision because of the people behind the brand and the value they bring to the market. Now 3 rifles deep I’m glad I made the decision to work with Alamo from the beginning.
Trued Factory Remington 700 Action
Alamo took this factory Remington 700 action and gave it a full overhaul. Trued, fluted bolt, cleaned up the raceway, and bushed the firing pin. This action is almost as smooth as a higher-end custom action. No binding, grinding, or hang-ups on this thing in a couple of years of use.
Since I had this built, Alamo since released their G2 custom action as a true Remington 700 clone that comes in under $900. The intention was to create a basic action that included all off the features that that Alamo was adding to a factory Remington 700 action and bring it to market for a similar, all-in price point.
My next build will absolutely be based on the Alamo G2.
The Grayboe Renegade Stock
I selected a Grayboe Renegade stock for a number of reasons. First, I’ve always loved the classic A5 profile and the Grayboe Renegade is an exact A5 clone. The build quality on the Grayboe is excellent with its aluminum pillar bedding, solid fiberglass/epoxy construction, and textured paint finish.
This stock weights and feels just like a traditional fiberglass stock, but is half the price and Alamo Precision had one in stock. Performance in the field is just as expected for a fiberglass epoxy stock with minimal flex and a great natural feel.
20-inch fluted X-Caliber Barrel
Up until ordering this rifle I’d ever heard of X-Caliber barrels, but the guys at Alamo Precision swear by them and I trust their judgment. Since then I’ve come to find out that X-Caliber is a relatively new company but they’re a stacked deck in relation to equipment and experienced personnel.
X-Caliber is located in a hot bed of high quality barrel manufactures in northern Montana which includes Proof Research, McGowen Precision, Montana rifleman, and Dracos barrels. When Montana Riflemen has relocated to Huntsville, Alabama, a lot of their experienced talent stayed behind to complete the X-Caliber team.
I’m not sure what their secret sauce is but this barrel shoots. During load development, a majority of my groups were sub .5 inch with the sweet spot being .30 on 5-shot groups.
The Timney Calvin Elite Trigger
Prior to building this rifle built, I had the opportunity to tour the Timney facility in Pheonix. I’ve been to a lot of machine shops and this facility was hands down the cleanest I’ve ever been in.
State of the art machinery, super-friendly staff, organized production, and I actually got to meet Calvin himself. Over the past couple years of use, this trigger consistently breaks at 2 lbs. and has never left me wanting for anything else.
The US Optics MR-10
The US Optics MR-10 with a 1.8-10x power (the current model of this scope is the B-10) provides a great balance of field of view and magnification for the medium ranges I’m playing in. The clear glass, reliable adjustments in the knobs, and robust construction is a win for this build.
This is not an inexpensive scope and there are a lot of high quality optics out there. But I like that US Optics is based here in the US and that it just works, every time I take it out.
The Final Product
Gathering all of the best components that fit the budget is half the battle. All in, I have about $3800 in this rifle. That includes an $1800 optic of glass and the bipod.
The other half is using a quality gunsmith to make sure everything comes together with perfect tolerances and attention to detail. When I first met Robert from Alamo Precision I knew I had a win.
Robert has a deep passion for what he’s doing and a healthy case of OCD when it comes to precision. That’s exactly what I want in a rifle builder. Looking closely at this build you will see the quality inside and out.
It’s one thing to have a good looking rifle and another to have something that is a real performer in the field. The key is to have both. This rifle has been a shooter from day one. 3/8 inch 5 shot groups are the standard with hand loads and military surplus shoots the great as well. I probably shoot more military surplus then I should but it’s inexpensive and gets me hitting 600 yards without much thought.
This .223 “trainer” is the rifle I take to the range more than any other. It’s cheap to shoot, extremely precise, has low recoil, and is kid-friendly. Whenever I press the trigger, I know it’s my fault if I miss and I really couldn’t ask for anything more.