09 November 2005
Disclaimer: my grandfather did a lot of gunsmith work on the side. He taught me the skills and confidence to perform my own work as far as headspace and sear engagement are concerned. If you DO NOT know what you are doing, DO NOT perform your own gunsmith work!!! You will end up in dire straits either legally or in a survival situation. If you do have the skills then by all means proceed, but do so at your own risk.
I own possibly the ugliest rifle this side of the Mighty Mississippi! Yes it is the Savage model 10FP. I was able to get one while I was stationed in Alaska in the Military at the PX for $420.00. It is a bull barreled, bolt action, Federal and Police tactical rifle chambered in 7.62 NATO or .308 WINCHESTER. The goal was to build a tactical bolt-action rifle with scope for less than $1,000.00.
The first thing I purchased after the rifle was the scope. A good rule of thumb is that your glass should cost about the same as your gun. My scope only cost $214.00 (shipping and handling included) from MIDWAY USA as a clearance item. This scope retails for $384.00 MSRP. It is a MILLETT 6-25 x 56mm adjustable objective with a Mil Dot Reticle.
For a Tactical rifle, hunting rings and bases are not strong enough. The standard twist in type rings are fine for a rifle that will only be used a couple times a year but not for a rifle that will be dragged through hell. For this reason I chose WARNE MAXIMA rings and bases ($57.00 for the whole set). These use torx type fasteners and are tough as nails. These are the only civilian rings and bases I will recommend. They have served me well and are very exact in initial zero. The screws for the bases are torqued to 25 inch pounds and the rings to 13 inch pounds. This is rock solid with steel-to-steel contact at all points.
The last thing added was the stock. I used a CHOATE ULTIMATE SNIPER stock. I picked this up at a Las Vegas gun show for $160.00. The bolts attaching the action to the stock are torqued to 60 inch pounds. It is heavy and green and ugly! Perfect for my rifle. The space in the pistol grip is perfect for an OTIS cleaning kit. The accessory rail is home to a HARRIS M1A bipod ($68.00 at WALMART). All of this equals one very accurate rifle.
The sling is a $5.00 dollar nylon clearance item from a local sporting goods store.
There are a couple of non-standard modifications to this rifle. The first was to break loose the barrel nut and crush the headspace to SAAMI minimum. An excellent set of instructions is available on the SAVAGE SHOOTERS home page (www.savageshooters.com)
. The second was to take two 5-inch sunshades and bond them together using a polymer adhesive (JB WELD). This serves a two-fold purpose. The first is to reduce sun-flare and scope glint to an absolute minimum. The second benefit is the reduction of heat mirage for long range shooting. The final tweak was to adjust the trigger to 3.2 pounds. This is not an ACCU-TRIGGER rifle and this took some doing to get the trigger where I wanted it. Instructions for this are available on the SNIPER COUNTRY website (www.snipercountry.com)
My first chore was to break-in/shoot-in the barrel. This was accomplished by a good cleaning and shooting 20 rounds. Between each shot was a good cleaning. I used surplus ball ammo during break-in. This was to keep costs low as break-in is not about accuracy. This will extend barrel life and increase accuracy by as much as .125 MOA.
This rifle is happiest with 180grain SIERRA MATCHKING bullets launched by 43.0 grains of IMR 4064
using a new WINCHESTER cases and CCI 200 primers. It regularly shoots less than ½ MOA with this load. They come out of the pointy end of this rig at 2,555 FPS. The full load data for this is available at the RELOADERS NEST website (www.reloadersnest.com)
I used this rifle to shoot a score of 171 out of a possible 200 during the UTAH STATE RIFLE and PISTOL ASSOCIATION 1,000 yard match at Wendover Utah this year. There was during a pretty good wind storm (10-15 knots steady from 3-9 o’clock with some wicked good gusts pushing a thunderstorm towards us).
Cost was a major consideration during this build. I was able to stay well below the $1,000.00 limit I had set and build a very capable ugly rifle.
Cost breakdown is as follows:
Savage 10FP $420.00
Millett scope $214.00
Warne rings $ 57.00
Choate stock $160.00
Harris bipod $ 68.00
Sling $ 5.00
Not bad for a tactical rifle on a shoestring budget. It shoots as good or better than most custom guns costing several times as much. In my opinion SAVAGE is the way to go especially with the new ACCU-TRIGGER. it is user adjustable (unlike my ugly gun)
Here is the link to the article I wrote for alpharubicon