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Building a modern Bolt Action National Match Rifle

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by DMK, Sep 14, 2007.

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  1. DMK

    DMK Member

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    This thread got me to thinking about a fun project.

    Back in the days between the world wars, Springfield Armory made some 1903 rifles customized for competition shooting. These rifles, known as 1903 National Match rifles, were things of beauty. Precision instruments that shot exceptionall well. Today, they are fairly rare treasures and carry hefty price tags. They are also very old and rebarreling one would be sacrilege.

    Could one take a modern bolt action 30-06 rifle, tune the action, bed it, install a set of receiver mounted aperture sights and make the rough equivalent of a Springfield NM rifle (maybe even better)?

    What modern commercial rifle would be the best platform to start with?

    How would you build one? (no optics!)

    Keep in mind, this is not a benchrest rifle. This is a rifle to shoot from positions (standing, sitting, prone) slowfire and rapidfire.
     
  2. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    If you look at the rifles used in the Palma Matches, you'll see exactly what you're talking about -- mostly Winchester Model 70 Bull Guns and Remington 40X centerfires.
     
  3. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    DMK-

    Hmmm...

    One could buy a Howa barrelled action with a heavy barrel, and have these guys make a Springfield-pattern stock from laminate http://www.legacysports.com/products/howa/specs/specs_baractions.html, inletted for the action and barrel. Free-float the barrel, bed the action, put on sights, change or work the trigger.

    The only catch? They don't sell the heavy barrel in .30-06, just .308. But Howas are accurate and not too expensive.

    http://www.legacysports.com/products/howa/specs/specs_baractions.html

    I have a friend who did something similar for prairie dogs, with a heavy barrel Howa action in .223. Instead of a military look, though, he had a classic fancy-walnut hand-made sporter stock on it. Shoots TINY groups, but looks like a classic high-end bolt-action hunting rifle instead of the modern free-floated varminter it really is when you look close.
     
  4. DMK

    DMK Member

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    Well, hmmm... the Springfields weren't HBARs.

    I think a sporter stock might have to be a necessary evil. But it would have to be wood on my rifle, just to keep a classic look. Just like it would have to be blued and 30-06.
     
  5. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I daresay you could do it without much trouble but with some money.
    A friend has a post-64 Winchester M-70 in a McMillan stock, with bases for aperture and scope sights so he can shoot it as an any/iron or any/any gun.
    His and most of the similar ones I have seen were .308s to take advantage of current ammunition and reloading data for the supposedly more accurate cartridge.
    You can do it on a Remington 700, there are probably more parts and accessories for it, but Highpower seems the last bastion of the Winchester.

    Must be a repeater with clip guide either machined in or screwed on, often as part of the sight base. Needs sling swivels and an accessory rail for a hand stop. There are several brands of aperture sights that will serve, with all sorts of inserts, filters, polarizers, and lenses.

    That is about all I know, I only shoot F-class with scope and bipod.

    There are National Match and Long Range boards that can help.
    http://www.nationalmatch.us/forums/index.php?act=idx
    http://www.long-range.com/forums/index.php?&


    For something more traditional, you could do up a Springfield. There are a lot out there sold in recent years by DCM and you could build up a repro NM '03. There is a shop that specializes in them but they are way expensive.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2007
  6. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    The Howas are made in .30-06 in a #2 barrel contour, then. Those are also quite accurate, relatively inexpensive, and would look even more Springfield-like if you want that.

    Boyd's sells brand new Springfield stocks. Why not do it military style if you want to?
     
  7. DMK

    DMK Member

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    That would be very cool if possible. It just didn't look like it would fit the stock due to a different recoil lug configuration (just looking at the pic of the action in that link you provided).
     
  8. cracked butt

    cracked butt Member

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    Even better for sure. Better cartridge choices than 30-06 for high power- the 30-06 is great, but you only need to put a hole in a piece of paper and there are a lot of cartridges that will put holes in paper just as well as the 30-06with a lot less fatigue to the shooter- and a lot less cost to the reloader. If you build such a rifle, you would have to compete with highly tuned space guns in the match rifle class- so you might as well put a Krieger or other high quality barrel on it after your true up the action.

    Better yet, spend less money on a AR-15 and shoot in Service rifle class ;)
     
  9. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

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    Boyd's will, however, make stocks to order. Since they already have Springfield blanks sitting around their shop, and they make stocks to fit Howa actions (also Weatherby Vanguard actions), they should be able to take a Springfield blank and inlet it for the Howa.

    BTW I have this gun, the Vanguard Sporter, in .30-06: [​IMG]

    It's the Howa barreled #2 contour action with some mostly-cosmetic changes, in a walnut Weatherby stock. It is very accurate and a pleasure to shoot.

    That said, cracked butt has a good point. A custom job with a .223 heavy barrel in a Springfield-style stock could make an incredible target rifle, with unique style that would be a real attention getter at the range.:)
     
  10. cracked butt

    cracked butt Member

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    Another thought-
    If you want to have a 'cool' military rifle to shoot, you could simply buy a Swedish CG-63 or CG-80 match rifle- they are swedish M96 rifles rebuilt as match rifles with stock modifications and aperture sights. Any one of them will outshoot any NM springfield every made and they usually sell for $500-1000.
     
  11. 30Cal

    30Cal Member

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    I would find a sporterized M1903 and start from there.
     
  12. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Good idea. As a bonus, a sporterized Springfield will go for about half what a Springfield in "as-issued" condition will command.
     
  13. USSR

    USSR Member

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    Winchester did it for decades.

    Don

    [​IMG]
     
  14. DMK

    DMK Member

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    All true of course. AR15s, NM M1As, Heavy Barrel Rem 700 tacticals in .308, and a number of other rifles will probably shoot better. There are lots of fine rifles rolling off the factory floors. But that misses the point. I'm talking about something different than everything else. Think 'retro'. Like what the new Mini is the the classic. What the new Mustang is to the original.

    I'm talking about a new rifle (not a sporterized milsurp) built up with a classic style, in a classic caliber, iron sights, just to build something cool and fun. Not to compete with. Not to best anything else. Just a retro "range gun for fun" with a nod of respect to the old 1903 NM. Maybe something a little along the line of what Springfield's Carlos Hathcock tribute was (but different).

    Obviously, it has to perform or it would be like Ford making their new Boss mustang with a 4 cyl.

    Some folks may say 'why?'. I say "why not?"
     
  15. browningguy

    browningguy Member

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    Any basic Mauser action in '06, drill and tap for a peep sight and a hooded ramp front and you're in business.. The Charles Daly works, and they are pretty cheap when you find them. Or a CZ or the Remington version of the Daly. barrelled action
     
  16. hps1

    hps1 Member

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    They did that!

    Having worn out several barrels in two different Mod. 70 target rifles and the cost of replacing barrels being what it was, I undertook exactly what DMK is contemplating.

    I had my smith cut off the worn throat of a mod. 70 target barrel, thread it and screw into an 03A3 receiver, installed rear sight base for Redfield Olympic sight, alter bolt and extend knob for rapid fire.

    I then purchased a Bishop target stock blank and finished the project myself. Pillar bedded and put a Freeland adjustable butt plate, rail and forend stop so that the rifle felt the same as my mod. 70's and used the REdfield sights off my Winchesters. Added a Timney trigger and voila.......poor man's target practice rifle.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    The good news is that after this barrel wears out (the 2nd time around), there are two more takeoffs leaning in the corner good for another 7000 rounds or so between them.:D

    The only drawback to building a target rifle on a military action (as compared to a Mod. 70 or 700 action is the slower lock time. I found out during my very first practice session with the Springfield that I was one ring farther out than my call, shooting offhand, due to this slower lock time.

    Heavy mainsprings will speed up lock a tad, but you pay for the speed by much harder cocking (not good in rapid fire strings and more wear and tear on cocking surfaces). The knob on cocking piece can be ground off and cocking piece pinned to firing pin to lighten the firing pin, but I am not sold on this conversion.

    You may save a bit of money building your own target rifle, but if you have to start from scratch, you might be able to pick up a good used one for not too much more cash. It is a fun project, though, and saves a lot of wear and tear on my Winchester barrels, as I practice with the 03 and shoot matches w/the mod 70's.

    Regards,
    hps
     
  17. quicktime

    quicktime Member

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    So you want to build a retro looking 3P gun on a modern action. Well since it is 3P and not long range you will need a repeater and preferable a detachable box. If you are serious and want the ultimate in cool here is my list.
    1. Grunig&Elmiger(probably spelled wrong) repeater. As far as retro not really but it is blued steel and wood stock and designed for three position. Not in 30-06 but I would not want an 06 anyway.
    * By far the smoothest bolt action I have ever cycled and a bad *ss trigger already on it with a detachable mag. Available from a couple of sources. If Neal Johnson's Gunsmithing Inc. still has their left hander on the shelf when I go home in December it will be going home with me.

    2. Really cool but not ultimate and more retro.
    Pre 64 Win (I can hear people screaming already)
    Set it up to use M-14 mags or Ar-10 Mags.
    Find a comfortable stock for all postions (you will probably find it in synthetics these days) and have it duplicated in walnut.

    3. Still cool but way more affordable.

    Get a hold of some one that specializes in target rifles and look for something used. ( I have experience with Neal Johnson's Gunsmithing Inc. in Colorado Springs) A lot of people are either getting out of it or trading in older stuff for new stuff.

    Whatever you decide to do make sure when it is done to post some pictures.
     
  18. esmith

    esmith Member

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    Unless recoil is an important part of this idea i wouldn't use a 30-06 for the project. A target rifle doesnt have to be all powerful, all its doing is going through some targets. I also don't think high powered cartridges like the 30-06 need to be used anyway, one the barrel life is going to be a lot better if you use a less powerful cartridge, two if the shooter isnt seasoned and isn't used to the recoil (even though a 06 isnt that bad) it can form bad habits like flinching etc.,
     
  19. 30Cal

    30Cal Member

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    If there ever was a rifleman's rifle, that's it right there. Please remember me in your will.

    Ty
     
  20. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    John Garand experimented with that approach of speeding up Springfield lock time and found it not worth the trouble.

    Somewhere (perhaps in
    ) I can recall seeing pictures of his set up. A thin wire was soldered to the cocking knob (in both versions) and the rifles were positioned in rests so the wire touched a spinning disk which was coated with lamp black. The wire scratched out a circle, and when the trigger was pulled, a second, smaller circle with a thin scratch connecting them. The angular displacement from where the scratch left the outer circle to where it joined the inner circle allowed Garand to calculate lock time.
     
  21. hps1

    hps1 Member

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    I tried the heavy spring, but took it out after a short while because it slowed bolt operation too much on rapid fire strings; never shot a "de-horned" Springfield, though. Glad to hear someone actually tested one and found it not to be all that great.

    Regards,
    hps
     
  22. USSR

    USSR Member

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    Ah, Ty, the son I never had.;)

    Don
     
  23. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Dad! You're not disinheriting me, are you?:what:
     
  24. Swampy

    Swampy Member

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    Of course not.....

    I'm sure he'll leave you the Barbie doll that's on the hutch in the background. :evil::neener:

    Swampy

    Garands forever
     
  25. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Abandoned and disinherited by my own father, and you make fun of me!!:eek:
     
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