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I have to admit that I’ve become a bit of a junkie when it comes to firearms. A year ago, I owned exactly zero guns. Today, I own six pistols and two revolvers. Technically, I still own three additional pistols, but those are up for sale at Gunbroker, so I won’t count them for now. Yes, I know it’s a sickness, but I also seem to have developed a fondness for rifles. I have a couple historical rifles (a Mosin Nagant and a Garand), a Winchester Lever Action in .357, and a couple of ARs. My newest project, however, is the one I’m currently most excited about – piecing together a precision rifle . . .

Now, if I had any really rich relatives, I’d probably own a sweet Blazer rifles or, in keeping with my namesake, a Barrett. Unfortunately, the madness has to stop somewhere, so my precision rifle had to be done on the cheap. Well sort of. Rather than blowing a wad of cash all at one time, I decided to see what I could do assembling a rifle from various parts, spending a little bit here, and a bit more there.

I decided to try and build something around the 300 Winchester Magnum cartridge. I initially chose the 300 WinMag for a very simple reason: it’s the cartridge around which the U.S. Army is building their XM2010 weapon system. While I don’t know very much about precisions ballistics, I figured the Army does and what’s good for them is probably a good place to start.

I considered the .338 Lapua, but at nearly $4 a bullet (unless you reload, which I don’t at present), it gets a bit costly to shoot a lot. I also considered the .50 BMG, but I was, well,  shot down by the same concerns around bullet cost. Besides, most of the ranges around me ban .50 cal rifles.

As I’ve learned more since getting into this project, the 300 WinMag isn’t prohibitively expensive. It also has a very flat trajectory, meaning that I don’t have to do serious compensation for bullet drop until I start getting a good ways away from my target.

After looking around and considering a number of systems, I decided to base my rifle on the Remington 700 platform. While there are cheaper options, the U.S. Army also uses the 700 action. If it’s good enough for government work, it’s good enough for me. So I got the project started by picking up a used Remington 700 SPS – no frills, just your basic rifle – for $500.

Of course, I wasn’t used to shooting powerful rifles and it had been a while since I’d last fired a 12 gauge. So I was rather unpleasantly surprised by the Remington 700’s kick. You do get used to it, but dump 20-30 rounds down range in a single session and you walk away with a sore shoulder.

At the end of last year, I decided to give myself a little Christmas present and replaced the stock with one made by Accuracy International. AI makes some serious sniper rifles with equally serious prices, but for just $800 you can purchase their AICS “chassis system” stock upgrade for the 700.

The stock couldn’t be easier to install. Simply remove two screws from the bottom of the rifle, pull the old stock off and drop the action and barrel into the AICS. The stock’s designed to self-bed, so none of that work is necessary. Additionally, it’s designed to permit a floating barrel, so you get that advantage over the stock Remington design as well.

Doing this sort of conversion really changes the “mission profile” of this rifle. Equipped with the basic Remington stock, the 700 is very much a multipurpose rifle. You can always attach a bipod for some precision shooting, but it’s also relatively easy to sling one over your shoulder if hunting is your thing. The AICS stock, though, adds length and 5.75 pounds. That’s really not something you’ll want to lug over hill and dale chasing Bambi.

But the extra weight and grip positioning, along with a more substantial recoil pad, make for much lower felt recoil. Now, the only place that hurts after dumping three dozen rounds down range is the wallet. A $1,300 rifle can hardly be considered cheap, but it’s still half the price of many of equivalent alternatives and it has elevated my humble Remington 700 SPS into something else entirely in both the performance and appearance departments.

To economize a little, I’ve chosen a Simmons Whitetail Classic Rifle Scope with a 6.5 – 20x zoom that I picked up for less than $110 in one of Midway USA’s sales. Normally, this scope sells for about $250, still a relative bargain compared to some of the bigger names. I also added an Atlas Accuracy International Spigot and AAIS Bottom Rail, both from B&T Industries. What this does is to make use of the quick release bipod mount on the bottom of the AICS stock. The bottom rail is attached to the spigot and it enables the use of any bipod with a Picatinny mount. I’m using a cheap bipod right now, but will invest in a better one down the road.

I’ve started working with this rifle at my local range and hope to be able to get it to shoot very accurately out to 300 yards (the limit at my main range). Then I plan to take a class at the Sig Sauer Academy that will let me get out to 1,000 yards. A barrel replacement may be in the cards at that point, but we’ll see what the stock Remington can do first.  I suspect that it will be a while before my marksmanship skills exceed the capabilities of this rifle as it currently stands.

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  1. That’s one sweet-looking stock. What’s the total weight of the rifle as it now stands, including the bipod and scope?

  2. A $900 AICS stock and a $125 Simmons scope? I would have split the difference: a used $300-500 HS or B&C stock and a $500 new/used scope. You could then have used any left over money for quality rings and base. I would certainly not invest the money/ammo/time/energy in the SIG academy class until you change the barrel and optics.

    But that’s just me and I’m curious to see how this turns out. I have 2 Remington’s “in project” now – the AAC-SD which has turned into Project Budget Precision and the XCR TLR which has been dubbed Project T2LR (Tactical-Squared Long Range). Unfortunately, I wish I ordered my AICS when you did. I’m still waiting for mine to come back into stock at Brownell’s. I did just order my Atlas bipod and Monopod for the AICS. Good luck to you and depending on when you take the SIG course, perhaps we can schedule together!

    • The cheap scope is a placeholder. I was going to drop $1500-$2000 on a Leupold similar to what is speced out for the XM2010 Army Sniper rifle project, but then I started reading about Nightforces and other alternatives and got confused fast. This cheapo scope has gotten some decent reviews on MidwayUSA’s website even from people who mount it onto bigger calibers, so it should be adequate for the time being until I have time to do more research on a better scope. As for the barrel, I want to see how well a stock Remington does before dropping the bucks on a new one. I can always borrow a Blazer rifle from Sig when I take the class if this gun is not up to it.

      • Jim, I have the same Simmons Whitetail. Out to a minimum of 300 yards, you will not be at a disadvantage against scopes costing three times as much. More expensive scopes will shine (literally) in low-light conditions and will be a bit more clear due to superior resolution at longer ranges.

        The Whitetail easily holds its own in typical shooting conditions, where extraordinary resolution and light transmission is not a make-or-break issue.

      • @Jim – if you’re looking in the $1500-2000 range, I’d skip the Leupold. Since I’ve gotten back into rifle shooting, I’ve done lots of testing, borrowing, reviewing, etc. In that price range, I’d go with a NF in the magnification that you want/need. The Mark IV is that standard, the metaphorical yardstick that others are compared to, but that doesn’t mean that other scopes don’t surpass the Mark IV in design, quality, and ease of use. The NF scopes, particularly with the Zero-Stop feature are great and are on my radar should I find another rifle to purchase (I’m thinking about a .338 Lapua myself now that I reload). If you happen to run into some more cash, I’d get into a Schmidt & Bender – the only OEM scope manufacturer that gets an OEM rifle makers recommendation (by AI actually).

        • I would also check out US Optics scopes. There are several models with an excellent 3.2x – 17x magnification, although you can get 25x models as well. The reticles are customizable, or you can choose one of their stock configurations. These scopes also exceed the benchmark Leupold Mark 4’s.

          My 700 is wearing US Optics rings (which are adjustable for windage), US Optics 20 MOA base, and a US Optics scope level. The only reason I didn’t pick up one of their scopes was for the price, although I’m getting a few good 1/2 MOA groups at 100 yards from my 700 .308 with my Burris XTR 312.

          Part of the fun building a precision rifle is the research, the next part is the 1000 yard hits!

      • Jim I hope you realise that your “Place holder scope” cost about $30 to mfg and deliver to the US. You are now $100 poorer. You could ahve skimped on the stock and bought a beutiful Leupold that will last a lifetime.

    • Yeah, I’m figuring that. Anyone have some good suggestions for who to send this rifle to for re-barreling? Ideally, I’d prefer to just ship the action and barrel off as one unit and have someone put on the new barrel and get it properly fitted.

      • I would just ditch the Remington 700 altogether and get a Blaser LRS-2 or an Accuracy International, etc. Pimping out a 700 is like buying a Honda Civic and adding 30K in aftermarket parts / smith work. Just get the Porsche and be done with it.

        • @Joe – I disagree… I know many a factory Remington 700 and Sako Precision Rifle that is nothing more than an off-the-shelf rifle with some basic upgrades and gunsmithing work. You’d be surprised at how well these can shoot. No, they aren’t 6.5mm BR guns, but for tactical/precision work they do amazingly well. Remember, most of these aftermarket rifles are nothing more than a precisely built M700 action (sometimes with a few do-dads and upgrades).

        • @ Patrick: Have you shot a Blaser LRS-2 yet? Come up to Portland and I’ll let you shoot mine. It will make you a believer. Chris Dumm shot a .2 MOA 100 yard group with mine the first time he shot it – with factory match ammo. To me there is no point in spending a lot of time and money tuning a 700 so that it shoots 1/4 MOA (on a good day), when you can just go out an buy a sub-1/4 MOA rifle for about the same amount of money. I really dislike the 90 degree bolt throw on the 700, and I dislike the fact that you can’t adjust the trigger forward or backward to suit you hand size. And you can switch out barrels and bolt heads on the Blaser – go from shooting .308 to .223 in about 2 minutes.

        • Have not had the chance to shoot any Blaser bolt gun. I did shoot a S2 .375H&H and I wanted to buy one, right up to the point when I heard about its $9k price tag 🙂

          The LRS is a great weapon, there is no denying that. At $5k, it had better be. I don’t know how often I would change the barrel/caliber or adjust the trigger location (although LOP adjustment is fantastic… still waiting on my AICS!). I have yet to shoot a rifle (o/u shotguns need not apply) that I’ve wanted to, or felt that I needed to change the trigger location. Perhaps I need to try it out someday…

          For the record, my TLR shot a 0.32″ and 0.65″ group in my first outing. I have since eclipsed that with some basic OCW work, getting as low as 0.19″ @ 100-yards, 0.32″ @ 200-yards, and 0.65″ @ 300-yards (3-shot groups).

          I must confess though, my next long-gun will either be a Sako TRG-42 or AIAX… maybe even a GAP in .338 Lapua.

      • GA Precision can true your action and rebarrel it.

        For the best value in optics I highly recommend the SWFA Super Sniper scopes with the Mil-Quad reticle, either the fixed 10 power or the 3x-9x (I’ve used both and the 5x-20x too but it is now $1500). The Weaver 3x-15x Tactical model with the EMDR reticle looks to be a great value as well, although I haven’t used one yet.

  3. It seems like one day ttag is lamenting the downhill slide in quality of Remington products, the next you guys are building a 700. There are other companies that make bolt action rifles you know.

    • @Murdoc – there is a difference between buying an OEM Remington and building a custom 700… Remington’s are the Chevy-350cid of the gun world. The mid-80’s Corvettes had more problems than positives, but that didn’t stop people from buying them and modifying them from the start.

  4. Note when it comes to marksmanship and accuracy the US Army used to test their riflemen by shooting groups with open sighted 1903 springfields at 1,000 yards a little before WW1…

    Oh how marksmanship has fallen (and craftsmanship and a lot more for that matter).

    (Source Hatchers Handbook)

  5. You already know this, but a basic reloading setup would add significantly to your project both in terms of accuracy potential and cost per shot. A single stage press, set of dies, scale, and a few other goodies can still be had for around $200. That setup will do all you need to get started and allow you to tailor a load specifically for your rifle. And though a progressive press is quicker, you can turn out hundreds of rounds of pistol ammo in an afternoon on the single stage as well.
    In the mean time, save that brass!


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