My Evil Black Sniper Rifle project and range report (Savage 10FP-SR)


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skypirate7
February 3, 2013, 03:52 AM
Hello friends! Thanks for all of your help on guiding me into the world of precision rifles for the first time. It's been a long journey up until this point with lots of Q&A and research here and across the web. For my previous threads here, see:

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=696520
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=697721
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=696465

Well I'm back from my 1st range trip and it was a success. For others who are new and wishing to follow in my footsteps, I'll summarize my process and what I've learned...

Choosing the Rifle

My experience with precision rifles up until this point was non-existant. I was into assault rifles, military surplus rifles, and pistols. Every time I read up on precision rifles with serious interest, I quickly realized that it would be time-consuming, complicated, and expensive. Many years passed and then a month ago I finally made the decision to go for it.

I wanted a "tactical" rifle that could be good on the bench as well as in the field (ex: hunting) so I was looking for a barrel length somewhere between 20 minimum and 24 inches maximum. It was a no-brainer to go with .308 Winchester given that it is the jack-of-all-trades caliber with medium recoil, very capable out to 1000 yards, and widely available.

I wanted to do it right and get the best bang for my buck with a target budget for a complete precision rifle package of around $1500. I started looking at the Remington 700 5R which had some very good online reviews but there would be no way for me to hit my budget if I blew $1200 on the rifle alone. The more I researched, the more I realized that I would essentially be paying a $500-600 premium for a potential fraction of MOA improvement (an improvement of 0.2 MOA by my unscientific survey of online reviews). I could see how competition shooters would see this as worthwhile but for me, I'd be happy to be sub-MOA. So my search honed in on the Remington 700 PSS and the Savage 10FP. The reviews on the Savage were very positive, particularly about its out-of-the-box accuracy and excellent Accutrigger. The Remington 700 PSS was more expensive and had a trigger that would need adjustment or replacement to be on-par with the Accutrigger. The Remington 700 SPS was at a price range that could compete with the Savage 10FP, however, these "civilian-grade" Remington 700's suffered from a mediocre "bead blasted" finish prone which is prone to rusting. I know this because I have a Remington 870 and I have to really baby it wiping it down with oil after handling it because it is indeed sensitive to rust.

I searched for a Savage 10FP but apparently Savage stopped making this rifle without threaded barrels. Now, the current production rifles are the 10FP-SR which have threaded barrels. I bought a Savage 10FP-SR in .308 Winchester with a 22 inch barrel at my local gun store for $639.99 ($678.39 out the door).

Base, Rings, Scope, and Bipod

The more I read, the more I realized how little I knew and how much more I needed to read. Fortunately there is a wealth of information out there on the internet. I can't imagine how people made educated purchases before the internet.

Because I want this rifle to be able to reach out to 1000 yards or more, I decided to get a 20 MOA base. Everything I read on this subject seemed to say that there was no disadvantage to a 20 MOA base but if you got a 0 MOA base you may run out of clicks for your scope to compensate for bullet drop at long ranges (beyond 800 yards depending on the scope). As for the type, the consensus was that a single picatinny rail was the way to go. It was also recommended to match the base with the scope rings from a single manufacturer. In this way you could guarantee that the fit would be exactly-to-spec and the metal would be the same alloy for both base and rings. In theory, you wouldn't have to worry about one metal being significantly harder than the other (potentially leaving marks or impressions) or thermal expansion. So I bought a TPS XP Tactical 1 Piece Aluminum 20 MOA Base ($67.19 shipped) and TPS 30mm TSR "Super Low" Picatinny-Style Rings for $79.99 ($82.31 shipped). I should point out that the "super low" rings from TPS are actually the same height as the "lows" from other ring manufacturers... so make sure to do your own measurements and don't go by the description.

I bedded the TPS base with JB-Weld from Home Depot (about $5) and white lithium grease ($3) to prevent the JB-Weld from joining to the receiver. Initially I was intimidated about the whole idea of bedding but it was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. I followed the instructions here: http://youtu.be/aoW5bHQqgis For those who don't know, the basic concept behind bedding the scope base is to get both ends of the scope base flat against the receiver. One end will be flat while the other end will usually have a tiny bit of a gap. If you screw down both ends like that, what will happen is that the base will flex. When you then mount your scope rings, they will have some misalignment which could cause problems. So you'll want to identify the side of the base that has a gap and "fill" that gap with the bedding material to eliminate any flex.

I did a ton of reading on scopes. Leupold was thrown around a lot as a great scope but they were quite pricey. I got the feeling that it was a top-tier scope but like the Remington 700 5R, I would be paying a large premium for small improvements. I wanted a scope that would be durable, reliable, and good enough. The scope I decided on was the Vortex Viper HS Tactical Rifle Scope 30mm Tube 5-15x 44mm 1/10 MIL Adjustments Mil-Dot Reticle for $447.74 shipped. It has both a mil-dot reticle and mil-dot adjustments, the optical quality is good, and the eye relief was superior to everything else I could find in the same price range. Vortex also has a great customer service reputation and the scope came with an "unlimited lifetime warranty" - if anything went wrong (even an accidental screw-up), they'd fix or replace the scope.

As for screwing it all in - if you want to be safe you should probably get a torque wrench so that you tighten your screws the right amount. Not tight enough and they'll come loose. Too tight and you'll strip the threading and/or damage your equipment. The most popular torque wrenches for scope mounting purposes are the Wheeler Fat Wrench, the Borka Torque Driver, and the Weaver Gunsmithing Torque Wrench. I went with the Weaver for $54.69 ($65.77 with expedited shipping).

The TSR base was torqued to the receiver at 20 inch-pounds (note: you'll need a T-10 Torx screw bit which the Weaver doesn't come with), the TSR rings had the 7/16th inch hex nut torqued to the base at 65 inch-pounds, and the top and bottom halves of the TSR rings (T-15 Torx screws) were torqued down after the scope was in place to 15 inch-pounds. WARNING: DON'T GET A TORQUE WRENCH IN FOOT-POUNDS OR YOU WILL DAMAGE YOUR EQUIPMENT.

As for the bipod, I got the Harris S-BRM 6-9 inch for $99.99 ($110.87 shipped). This has notched legs (easy to set equal heights for both legs), the swivel mount (easy to keep both legs on the ground when shooting on an uneven surface), and a length of 6 to 9 inches which was the most recommended height. Installation was simple and straight forward.

Sighting In

The first thing I did was try to get the targeting reticle as level as possible. I didn't have a level so I just had to eyeball it. I think I got it very close and given the bipod's swivel, it is pretty much a non-issue anyway. I confirmed my eye relief was good and then I used my Weaver torque wrench (set to 15 inch pounds) to lock down the scope ring screws.

The next step was to bore sight it. I removed the bolt and lined up the rifle on my target at 100 yards while looking through the barrel. Then, doing my best not to change the position of the rifle, I looked through the scope and used the adjustment turrets to move the center of the reticle onto my target.

Now it was time to begin firing. Unfortunately I wasn't on paper. After a couple shots without a single visible bullet hole, I asked the neighboring shooter if he could use his spotter scope to see where I was hitting. Another 4 shots. Nothing. The spotter said he saw spatter on the left side of the target and another guy thought I was shooting low but wasn't sure. It was raining heavily and it was hard to see any dust kicked up. They were kind enough to let me take a shot at one of their targets at 50 yards. Bang. I was now on paper. 6 inches low, 2 inches left. I was probably barely missing my paper at 100 yards. The bullets were passing just beneath my target and the impacts on the berm were probably perfectly obstructed by target. I did some mental math and dialed in 30 or so clicks to bring my shots up and 10 clicks to bring my shots right. See here for helpful reading on mil-dots and mil adjustments: http://www.carolinashootersclub.com/threads/39046-Down-and-Dirty-How-to-use-a-MilRad-Reticle

I took a second shot at 50 yards. 1 inch low, 1 inch left. Another 6 clicks of horizontal adjustment and I decided to leave the vertical as-is since I figured the bullet was still climbing relative to the scope's line-of-sight at 50 yards. I lined up with my 100 yard target. Bang. Bullseye. Sweet. I took some more shots to get a good sense of my grouping, dialed in a click or two, and once I was confident I was perfectly centered, I carefully unscrewed my turret caps and set my reticle position as the new zero on my turrets. The temperature was freezing and the rain and sleet made conditions very miserable. Conditions had gone from sucky to unbearable and everyone else left the range and I was the only one there in the teeth-clattering weather for which I was very under-dressed. I mistakenly thought it would be 50 degrees because I checked the forecast for Atlanta. Yes, it was in the low 50's in Atlanta but the range is in Dalton, GA and a quick check while typing this up on weather.com confirmed temperatures were 30 - 32 degrees (windchill in the 20's) and "light snow," "wintery mix," and "freezing rain" the whole day. So my hands had gone from stinging to numb and my shivering transmitted through my shoulder and my cheek on the stock and made it a challenge to keep the reticle lined up but I still managed to shoot 6 shots within an inch, 3 of which were in the bullseye. I uploaded photos of my target and my rifle here: https://plus.google.com/photos/107835279048731119192/albums/5840597384920802785

There is no doubt in my mind that this is a sub-MOA gun in non-shivering conditions and I'm extremely pleased with how my first range trip went. I'm eager to take it out again, narrow down my groupings, and do some very long range shooting too.

Total cost of this rifle project (including shipping): $1,460.27

If you enjoyed reading about "My Evil Black Sniper Rifle project and range report (Savage 10FP-SR)" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
nipprdog
February 3, 2013, 06:23 AM
What ammo were you using?

nastynatesfish
February 3, 2013, 09:30 AM
It's hard to shoot when it's crappy conditions for sure. Being a new rifle you probally should put some cheap ammo down range and do a good break in. All the savages I've had have all shot better after 100 or so rounds. The bullseye targets are hard for me to shoot accurately. I like a target with corners to aim at like this one.
http://i1072.photobucket.com/albums/w369/tabascoman79/9EFAE260-9680-4E26-8704-DA6424DB3587-1345-000000B4AD3D328C.jpg
I like these. You just like your crosshairs on the horizontal and verticle line.
http://i1072.photobucket.com/albums/w369/tabascoman79/DC2FD0FE-5717-49C0-A0F0-7C8B90741B1F-1345-000000B47FB810F6.jpg

nastynatesfish
February 3, 2013, 09:35 AM
My rifle is not a "sniper rifle" it's a long rage deer hunter
http://i1072.photobucket.com/albums/w369/tabascoman79/E870D964-5B22-4F7F-8FB1-DD6F9E5B75A8-2139-000000B9420EFA64.jpg
My next will be done on Friday when I get home to ream the chamber
It's a 7-08 in a ruger M77 action
http://i1072.photobucket.com/albums/w369/tabascoman79/23735A40-10D3-40FF-ABC4-7AE0D9734F41-1154-00000049636BC822.jpg

jim243
February 3, 2013, 10:39 AM
You did very well on your choices and the work you did. Now it is time for you to get into "reloading". While commercial ammo has got better over the years, it is still not at the level of accuracy and consistency of hand loaded rounds. You would be astounded at how well your groups will be with hand loads.

Jim

5 shot group with Savage 110 in 270 winchester

http://i620.photobucket.com/albums/tt284/bigjim_02/image0.jpg

the flyer to the uper left is my fault. Savage in 243.

http://i620.photobucket.com/albums/tt284/bigjim_02/image0-2.jpg

skypirate7
February 3, 2013, 11:54 AM
Thanks everyone! I do have reloading equipment backordered with Midway but I think even if I had match grade ammo it wouldn't have made a difference in this particular case. I couldn't keep my hands still.

Nice groups by the way. :)

loose noose
February 3, 2013, 12:44 PM
Skypirate, excellent choice on all you're equipment, what reloading gear did you order?;)

loose noose
February 3, 2013, 12:46 PM
Skypirate, excellent choice on all you're equipment, what reloading gear did you order?;)

skypirate7
February 3, 2013, 05:05 PM
Loose Noose, I decided on the Lee 4 hole turret press kit ( http://www.midwayusa.com/product/785993/lee-4-hole-turret-press-with-auto-index-deluxe-kit ) and the lee deluxe 3-die set ( http://www.midwayusa.com/product/148525/lee-deluxe-3-die-set-308-winchester ).

I think this will be good for my small-volume reloading (really just reloading 308 for this rifle).

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