Custom stock for Remington 700 SPS "Varmint" .243 -- amazing accuracy

This is a discussion on Custom stock for Remington 700 SPS "Varmint" .243 -- amazing accuracy within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Last year, I acquired a Remington 700 SPS Varmint in .243 Winchester, with left-handed action and a 26" heavy barrel. To this, I fitted a ...

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Thread: Custom stock for Remington 700 SPS "Varmint" .243 -- amazing accuracy

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Custom stock for Remington 700 SPS "Varmint" .243 -- amazing accuracy

    Last year, I acquired a Remington 700 SPS Varmint in .243 Winchester, with left-handed action and a 26" heavy barrel. To this, I fitted a Jewell HVR trigger, set to 2 lbs (since dialed down to nearer 1.25 lbs). The scope is a Vortex Crossfire 8-32x50mm scope. A few weeks ago, I had a custom stock made up and fitted to the rifle.

    All I can say is: Wow!

    My original goal was to be fairly accurate from 100yds to 1000yds, for a weekend shooter. Adding the Jewell trigger smoothed things out immediately, resulting in a dramatic improvement in consistency and reliably smaller groups than before. But replacing the floppy plastic stock with this new, custom-fitted gem has again caused the size of groupings to plummet.

    I suppose what they say is true: A well-fitted stock can make a tremendous difference.

    MPI Stocks in Portland, Oregon, is the shop that did the work. Mating a thumbhole rear half to a foreend reminiscent of the Lee Six benchrest style stock. It has been custom weighted to be much heavier than normal, to be well balanced to handle recoil smoothly. The LOP fits me, as does the grip. It has a 1" LimbSaver pad on the butt. The stock was pillar/glass bedded and the barrel free-floated to 50 thousandths of an inch.

    The results? A four-shot group at 100yds of 0.26":



    Note that the grid is of 1" squares.

    I certainly can't claim to do this often, but group size has shrunk to very small numbers. At 300yds, I am starting to see 4-shot groups in the 0.5" to 0.75" range, occasionally. At 100yds, these groups in a single hole are occurring with fair frequency.

    In short, so long as I do my part it's clear that this rifle is capable of very good accuracy. For a non-competitive rifle, I couldn't be more pleased.

    Thanks to Doc, Lisa and the crew at MPI Stocks for a fairly amazing improvement in what was a basic Remington 700 rifle.


    EDIT: Here are a few photos showing the rifle stock itself.


    This is the thumbhole grip area:





    These are the finger grooves on the grip in a bit more detail:





    This is the foreend. It's about 20" long and 2.5" wide, flat and smooth on the underside to ride on the bags without jumping around so much.





    This is the underside of the foreend, with an attachment point for a bipod to allow taking the gun into the field for varminting.

    Last edited by ccw9mm; August 16th, 2010 at 12:45 AM. Reason: added photos of stock
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
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    Senior Member Array stanislaskasava's Avatar
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    Yes wow. Under an inch at 300 yards! Do you have a picture of your rifle with the custom stock? Are you loading your own ammo to dial in those groups or is that with factory rounds?

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    Member Array gilliland87's Avatar
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    That is a good shooting rifle. How long have you been shooting the .243 and what is your round count. The only reason I ask is I have wondered about actual throat erosion numbers in the .243

    As far as that gun being a non competitive rifle, well in my mind your toeing the line on that one. Sure it is a stock action and stock barrel but with the trigger and stock work even if you are not shooting it for a competitive purpose it is still a custom tuned rifle. There have been more than one shooter to break into benchrest shooting with a trigger job and a new stock. I don't mean to take away from your rifle holding .75 four shot groups @ 300 is very respectable performance, I have seen some custom barreled guns that won't do that.

  5. #4
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gilliland87 View Post
    How long have you been shooting the .243 and what is your round count. The only reason I ask is I have wondered about actual throat erosion numbers in the .243
    I've shot .243 only for the past year. Nearly all of my prior experience with rifles had been with .223 Rem, other than a few shots here and there with various different calibers. On this barrel/chamber, the round count is just north of 1350, now. The past 300-400 rounds have gotten more and more accurate. I generally shoot fairly slowly and deliberately, allowing the barrel to avoid getting roasty hot. I also keep it fairly clean, clearing the bore crud ever 35-40 rounds or so. Yes, the .243 is known for throat erosion. The length-to-shoulder now isn't markedly different than it was the first 500 rounds, and the accuracy keeps improving; so, at the 1300 round mark, I don't believe that erosion has begun to impact accuracy or performance. By 2000 rounds, I will start watching more closely for that. The stock was built-up with the next barrel in mind (allowing for a longer, wider one).

    As far as that gun being a non competitive rifle, well in my mind your toeing the line on that one. Sure it is a stock action and stock barrel but with the trigger and stock work even if you are not shooting it for a competitive purpose it is still a custom tuned rifle.
    I appreciate that. My intention was to improve the heavy XMark Pro trigger. Though it broke clean as "glass," I simply found it too heavy for my tastes. The Jewell HVR trigger is a peach. It has an exceptionally clean break, and it adjusts to a good range of pull weights, for customizing. This was planned with the purchase of the rifle.

    As for the stock, once I saw what a bad match the flimsy plastic stock was to the heavy-barrel setup, it was clear the gun required a different stock. The goal was to be able to do range shooting with the occasional field varminting trip. Given the heavy barrel and flat-bottomed fore, it's not going to be going on any hunting trips.


    I don't mean to take away from your rifle holding .75 four shot groups @ 300 is very respectable performance, I have seen some custom barreled guns that won't do that.
    So have I. MPI did the stock fitting very well, I think. While I'm no expert in custom-fitted stocks and rifle builds, the stock and rifle seem to be acting as one tight, balanced, effective unit. The materials and bedding were top-notch. It was fun to head over to the shop every couple of weeks to see the progression from initial layup to the final unit.

    It surely doesn't do 0.50" to 0.75" four-shot groups every outing, but I am getting these tight groups so often that it's apparent the gun is quite capable of performing. Of course, the weak link is the nut behind the wheel, so to speak. I'm workin' on it.

    As for competition shooting, I didn't build up this one with that in mind. I am simply not a sufficiently competent marksman yet. As well, it's entirely likely that the combo fails to conform to all sorts of elements in the rules, with respect to weight and whatnot. I have no idea, actually.

    The next appropriate step is reloading. Currently, I do not reload. However, since acquiring the .243, I have been collecting all of the brass that I've shot through it. So, I have a good 1300 rounds of (mostly) high-quality fire-formed brass just waiting to be reloaded. I've taken a reloading class, from a local guy who teaches small groups. I just haven't purchased the equipment and started testing.

    Thanks for the tips and comments. I'm all ears, with any suggestions that folks might have.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
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    Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
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    8 clicks up and 6 to the left ought to get you centered up.

    That is good shooting. Unless you get a target scope with an 1/8 minute dot rather than a crosshair, I doubt you'll see much improvement as you are limited by the scope.

    When you start reloading, most of the accuracy gain will come from loading the rifle bullets either right on the lands or right up to it to decrease bullet "jump". It also serves to make pressure more consistent but you may need to download a bit to keep the pressure where it needs to be. Trim your cases to consistent length, neck size only and you might even get tighter.

    In reality though, it dosent get just a whole lot better than that. That rifle is a shooter.
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    8 clicks up and 6 to the left ought to get you centered up.
    No, that first one was my fault (a slight flinch due to not having caught the 'dip' in breathing just right). The other three, I centered on the first one. For the past 8-10 groups, the aim had been right on the money. And it was right on for the last three shots in that group, aiming at the first shot's hole.


    That is good shooting. Unless you get a target scope with an 1/8 minute dot rather than a crosshair, I doubt you'll see much improvement as you are limited by the scope.
    You're right, though even out to 300yds the size of the crosshairs don't get in the way much. While the crosshairs on this scope are fairly decent, they are not quite as slim as those on the Nikon "Fine Crosshair" reticle, let alone the NightForce CH-3 or CH-2 reticles. Or going without crosshairs, as with the NightForce NP-2DD. This scope has 1/8 min. adjustments, which allows dialing in nicely out to 300yds. But, yes, the crosshairs start to get a bit large out there. At 600yds, it's a little in the way.


    Vortex "Fine V-Plex Wide" reticle:





    Going out to 600yds or 1000yds, I had always imagined I would be on a NightForce scope, but that's a year or two down the road. On the NightForce scopes, the CH-3 Benchrest (illuminated center dot) reticle, or the NP-2DD 1000yd benchrest reticle, would do just nicely. The NP-2DD has crosshairs that stop 4 MOA from a tiny center dot, effectively avoiding the "cover-up" that the larger crosshairs do on "lesser" reticles.


    NightForce NP-2DD 1000yd benchrest reticle:




    It's a matter of time and money, though. I figure I can avoid the expenditure while I improve my basic marksmanship, scope skills, and learn reloading. By the time I've tuned things up and am ready for better glass, it will be a year or two out and a nice NightForce 12-42x56mm scope with the NP-2DD reticle will do just fine, thank you very much.


    When you start reloading, most of the accuracy gain will come from loading the rifle bullets either right on the lands or right up to it to decrease bullet "jump". It also serves to make pressure more consistent but you may need to download a bit to keep the pressure where it needs to be. Trim your cases to consistent length, neck size only and you might even get tighter.
    I have noticed variation in the various "high quality" factory rounds that I have been shooting. None of them seem to be able to duplicate settings across a half-dozen boxes of various lots. Ensuring consistency from lot to lot, as well as tuning to my gun's chamber and barrel length, should result in a noticeable improvement in reliable repeating of aim. It'll be fun!
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
    Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
    NRA, GOA, OFF, ACLDN.

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    Nice shooting. I have a '75 700 ADL in .30-06 that I glass bedded and free floated years ago. BIG difference in groups. under 1" at 100 yds is no problem with all else as produced. I too reload and have the bullets extended to the lands. They barely clear the mag well and won't fit other makes (too long). I used to shoot 130 HPs in it for varmits until I figured out that was overkill. Bought a 788 in .223. Very accurate rifle for the cheap price. Too bad they dropped it for fancier models.

    I used to weight individual loads down to the last granule of powder. I had a lot of time on my hands! I found that mid-range loads were most accurate for me. Faster wasn't better.

    On a side note, at the time I bought the 700, the hot thing in the gun rags was lightening rifles. This was prior to synthetic stocks, etc. I shaved wood here and there,removed metal, etc., just like the gun pundits reccomended. First time out proved the fallacy of their wisdom. Made it thru one box of ammo. After a week of bed rest to soothe the sore shoulder and a trip to the dentist to replace loose fillings, I glassed the stock and added the weight back. After that, it was 3-4 boxes of rounds with no problems. A joy to shoot.
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    An impressive rifle and really great shooting. You would likely be pleased with tinkering with handloads for that rifle. They'd just make a good thing better. Remington 700s can really stack 'em in there. It isn't surprising at all to read of yours and OldVets good shooting with a Model 700. I have a friend who has an early Remington 700 Varmint Special in .308 that he's owned since at least the late 1970s that is capable indeed. He's rebedded the stock and fiddled with the trigger.

    I love tinkering with accuracy handloads and shooting for group off the bench. It's more fun than handgunning to me. I've never done that well before though. I can't remember the measurement of the smallest group I've saved around here but it was a 5-shot group that may be completely covered with the case mouth of a .38 Special. It was shot with a Ruger Model 77V .220 Swift at 100 yards.
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    Senior Member Array Beans's Avatar
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    The Remington 700 is my favorite rifle. I purchased a Remington 700 varmint in .308. I am using the factory stock that has been bedded with Marine Tex.

    What surprised me is that the rifle loves the 190 Gr Sierra Match bullets. I can get 1 1/2 inch 5 shot groups at 300 yards and 5 shot 4 inch groups at 600 yards off a bench. This is on demand,, when I do my part. I have a Badger 20 MOA scope base and a 3-12 power scope mounted on it.

    For some reason it doesn't shoot the 168 Gr or the 175 gr Sierra match bullets as well.
    The 168 Gr bullets shoot about 1 MOA ( 6 inches at 600 yards) and the 175 Gr bullets shoot about .8 MOA. ( 5 inches at 600 yards)

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