By: Larry Weeks
Building your own custom rifle has
too far beyond the skills of the average Joe. But with a lot of
a little skill and some guidance from Brownells you'll learn
how to build
a custom Remington 700.
This is the first of four articles on how to build your own
I’d been looking for an excuse to build a nice, easy
sporter rifle, so when the Remington 700 Short Actions
arrived here at
Brownells, I figured now was the best time to get going on
Soon, what was going to be a simple sporter became another
piece" for the products and processes we include in our
The various sections of this article will tell you what parts and
we used, and show how you can build your own Remington
Part 1 will cover chambering, barrel crowning and assembly.
In Part 2,
we’ll head to the range, then bed the action to the
the trigger and do some more shooting. For Part 3
the action and, finally, head back to the range for another
factory ammo and handloads in Part 4.
I enlisted the help of one of the shooters here, Marc
Besides being an accomplished benchrest shooter,
Marc’s also a darn
good gunsmith and volunteered to give expert supervision as
the barrel and action. So, let’s get started.
Choosing All The Right Pieces
If you haven’t decided what caliber rifle
you’d like to build,
be sure to check out the Remington Action page for
all the specifics
on the two actions and for links to the products you can use
your own custom rifle. You might also want to check out the
For my custom rifle, I wanted to build something that would
be a great,
all-around rifle - a nice .243. So, I needed the Standard
which uses the .308
bolt face. The choice was easy because the .308 Bolt
Face is clean
and simple, one of the reasons the Remington is a favorite for
and tactical rifle builders. If your dream rifle is in the .222
check out the Small
For a barrel, I chose a chrome moly, pre-threaded,
.243, in a Remington, factory standard taper. Yes, I know,
supposed to get a big, stout tube that’ll shoot to the
all day long. But, you carry a gun more than you shoot it, so I
Marc’s objections and went with a lighter weight. The
with an oversized recoil lug to help keep it located
Note: This applies to all the products used in the article:
carries a very large selection of barrels, rings and bases,
all of which do same job, but each do it a little differently. The
in their features may make one brand suit your specific
We picked the pieces used here, sometimes for specific
because either Marc or I just wanted to see how they
For a scope base, we picked the Farrell
Tactical because it features bedding grooves in the
we’re planning to do a super tune on the gun,
bedding the base to
the action just makes sense.
Tactical Precision’s TSR
Steel Scope Rings were the ring choice. With four screws
ring’s halves together, there’s plenty of
is from H.S. Precision. It’s reinforced with fiberglass,
and graphite for strength and includes a built-in bedding
should help accuracy, even before we bed it. I bypassed the
factory plastic ADL triggerguard and chose a factory
steel triggerguard part. I also chose a Remington’s
I didn’t buy a scope at this point. I borrowed a 4-14X
x 50 I.O.R.
Valdada from Marc.
When the crew had my order all picked, I was like a kid at
Now to put it all together!
Putting Action and Barrel Together
To put a barrel onto an action, you’ll need basic
plus a few specialized ones. We’ll cover the special
tools at each
step. First, you absolutely have to have a wrench to turn the
the barrel threads. Brownells makes a good one that uses a
interchangeable heads for darn near every
commonly-worked-on action. The
Wrench I ordered includes the handle and a two-piece
head for the
Remington 700. It's important to have a stout wrench so you
or twist the action.
Our 700 Action in the
Brownells Action Wrench.
Note the screw in the
wrench head to help locate the action correctly, and the
the Recoil Lug.
To make sure you
don’t scratch the action,
wrap it with masking tape before clamping it into the wrench.
the action, and use the front action screw to hold it in place.
the set-up without the tape so you could see everything.
The taped action, the wrench with Remington 700 head
and the bolt, with firing pin, ejector and extractor
Of course, you have to hold the barrel tightly as you turn
on. You could sneak by with “V” vise jaws in
your bench vise,
but one slip and you’ll have a marked up barrel that
polishing. I used Brownells
Barrel Vise with the #10 bushing to match the
diameter. Before you crank the action onto the barrel, put a
dab of Brownells
Barrel Assembly Paste on the threads. It will make
and keep any moisture that gets into the threads from
causing rust. Place
the recoil lug over the threaded shank of the barrel.
The action (top of photo) is almost completely screwed
onto the barrel.
The barrel is clamped in the Barrel Vise (lower edge of photo).
lug (center of photo)
covers the remaining exposed threads.
Turn the action onto the barrel threads. Once action and
barrel are close,
swing the recoil lug into the recess of the action wrench.
Bump the action
up against the shoulder and give it a little tweak with the
don’t need to lean on the wrench; snug will hold everything
Chambering By Hand
Chambering your rifle is probably something you thought
could only be
done by machine or professionals. It’s not as hard as you
may think but
it requires a patient hand. You’ve probably read things about
-- turn the reamer, remove, clean and check headspace until
the bolt will
just close on a "GO" gauge.
Well, while the process is that simple, this was my first time
do it, and let me tell you, it’s nerve wracking. You have a
and a lot of work you will have to re-do, not to mention the
of having to admit you screwed up if you do it wrong. Not
being a patient
person, I gave myself a real talking to before I started.
Instead of cranking
away on the reamer until I went too deeply, I made a
promise to go slowly,
no matter how long it took.
The tools for chambering. Do-Drill, GO and NO GO
a small brush for cleaning chips and the chambering reamer
It’s time for some more specialized tools.
You’ll need a
reamer and headspace gauges. These are specific for each
caliber. We picked
Manson brand products. Our .243 required a reamer,
plus a GO
Headspace Gauge and a NO GO Headspace Gauge.
using both the "GO" and the "NO GO"
gauges. That way
if you cut a bit past the "GO" gauge, the
gauge will let you know if you're still within spec. The bolt
on a "GO" gauge but not on a "NO
Before you start working on the chambering, you’ll
need to completely
disassemble the bolt. Kleinendorst makes a Bolt
Disassembly Tool that’s a big help. You’ll
also need Brownells
Bolt Ejector Tool to get the ejector out without spending
a lot of
time digging for the spring and plunger when they fly across
The extractor is sort of like an internal “C”
clip. Once the
ejector is out, use a scribe or tiny, flat screwdriver to rotate
clockwise, slightly in the bolt face, until the end of it moves
access cut in the bolt face. When it sticks out far enough to
scribe/screwdriver between the access cut and the extractor,
carefully, towards the center. Compress the extractor enough
to pop it
out of the bolt face.
The first step in actual chambering is to set the barreled
in a vise. I left the assembly in the Barrel Vise and clamped
works into a bench vise. This makes sure (the best you can
without a lathe)
that the reamer will stay straight in the precut short chamber.
makes it easy to flush chips out from the chamber as you
stop to check
headspace. You’ll need to put a pan or tray of some
sort under the
muzzle to catch the oil, chips and TCE that you flush out. To
reamer, you can buy a Clymer extension that fits the 3/8"
square shaft or, you can use a long extension for a
set – the socket set extension method makes it a lot
harder to get
the reamer out of the chamber for cleaning, but you can do it.
way, you have to have a big tap handle; I picked mine up at
Get a good, high-grade cutting oil. My favorite is Brownells
Do-Drill. It’s slimy, sticky and smells pretty
works great! I’ve tried to cut things using motor oil,
oils, etc., but you really can feel the difference when you use
cutting oil. Don’t skimp on this step.
The reamer, with extension in place, started into the
Slip the reamer into the extension and snug the set screw
one of the reamer’s flats. Lube the reamer and its
with Do-Drill, and slide it carefully into the chamber. For the
cut, I turned the reamer four revolutions, while pushing down
the tap handle. To remove the reamer for cleaning and
checking with the
Headspace Gauge, relax the down-pressure, keep turning
and pull it out of the chamber. NEVER turn a reamer
For any reason! You will dull it instantly.
Clean the reamer and chamber thoroughly with TCE.
Use a small brush to get rid of stubborn chips.
Clean all chips and Do-Drill off the reamer and flush the
make certain there’s nothing to cause the GO gauge
to give a false
reading. I used Brownells
TCE and ran a chamber mop and a bore mop through to
make sure all
chips were really out of there. Slip the GO gauge carefully into
Put the stripped bolt into the action; slide it down, gently
contacts the GO gauge. Try to close the bolt handle. At this
shouldn’t even come close to dropping into
After the initial four revolutions, I went to a remove, clean,
every two revolutions schedule. The progress of the reamer
slowly at first and when the chamber is close to full depth it
quickly. That's why it's important to check often. The first cuts
show chips only in the case body area of the reamer.
Now’s the time
to really keep being patient. It takes a lot of
re-oil" to get to the shoulder. After three
you’ll be tempted to crank for several turns before
headspace. DON’T do it!
Early cuts will produce chips well back in the body area of
When you see chips develop in the shoulder area,
it’s time to slow
down. One turn, clean and check, isn’t out of line
here. You don’t
want to have to force the bolt handle down, and you
don’t want it
to fall into place. You want it to "close" on the GO
just firm pressure.
The chips are now very close to the shoulder. BE
CAREFUL, GO SLOWLY.
It’s a slow process. I spent roughly 45 minutes
and checking until the bolt finally closed properly on the GO
gauge. I followed with a thorough cleaning of the chamber
and bore to
get rid of any remaining chips and cutting fluid.
Crowning the Muzzle
Custom barrels have usually been located between centers
on a lathe during
manufacture. That means the first portion of each end of the
be slightly damaged. Chambering took care of cleaning up the
It’s up to you to fix the muzzle end. Most makers
suggest you cut
off the first 1” of the barrel to get rid of any tooling
You can cut off more for a shorter barrel, but you do have to
that first inch. Marc and I marked the cut with a pencil at
around the barrel diameter. I’ve always found it
easier to get a
straight hacksaw cut on a round, tapered object by
connecting the pencil
marks with shallow cuts. That means rotating the barrel
slowly deepening the cuts until you’re all the way
When you have a fresh cut to smooth and square up,
Facing and Chamfering cutters can help get a
professional job. You
can square and finish the muzzle with a good, flat file,
a micrometer eyeball, but I’ve never had much luck
doing it that
way. A 90°
Facing Cutter and Steel Pilot for the .243, plus a 3/4”
diameter, 79° Crowning Cutter were the special
tools needed for
this part of the project.
To do the crowning, lock the barrel firmly in a horizontal
Brownells aluminum V-Grove
Vise Jaws. Screw the handle onto the cutter, slip the
pilot into the
cutter and tighten the setscrew. Get out the Do-Drill and
both cutter and pilot. Insert the pilot into the bore and make
a few clockwise
revolutions. Pull the cutter back and check your progress.
put the pilot back in, clean the face, cutter and pilot with TCE.
sure no chips have gotten into the bore. If any have, clean
Re-oil the cutter and pilot and continue cutting until all saw
The idea of a crown is to set the rifling at the muzzle back,
to protect the rifling from handling dings. Damaged rifling at
can seriously affect accuracy. The 11° target crown
(90° - 11°
= 79°) is one of the more popular angles. Brownells also
has a 45°
Chamfer Cutter if you prefer a deeper recess. The
is the same as the facing process; cut, inspect, clean, re-oil
The 79° cutter in position to make the crowning
Marc didn’t take the chamfer cut all the way out to
the full diameter
of the muzzle. By stopping just short, he left a small, 90°
a neat, finished look. The final step is to lightly sand the
where muzzle and outside contour meet.
The finished muzzle crown and chamfer.
Mounting the Scope Base
This is pretty easy. Mount the barreled action horizontally in a
bench vise horizontally. Dead-level doesn't matter here. Put a
of Loctite #242, #532-000-009, into the base screw holes in
set the scope base in place, insert and tighten the screws.
The TSR rings positioned on the Farrell base.
Putting the Action into the Stock
Another easy task, for someone who’s just
chambered a barrel. Slip
the Remington magazine box into the stock recess, add the
and follower and set the action into place in the stock. Hold
action together, turn them over and set the triggerguard into
in the screws Center
Guard Screw Hex, Front and Rear and snug them down.
Mount the Scope in the Rings
Many tactical rings, like the TSR's, are made with the top and
halves machined together for a perfect fit. Don’t
switch the tops
from side to side or try to mount one top half to a different
Scribe marks on the inside of both halves to help make sure
mixed up. Take off the top halves of the rings and set them
off to the
side. Lay the scope in the lower ring halves, shoulder the gun
for proper eye relief. Slide the scope as needed and/or move
to different slots to get the correct eye relief. The multiple
on tactical bases, like the Farrell, simplify the process.
Finish up by reinstalling the ring top halves and snugging the
down evenly. Since this is the “bolt together”
phase of the
build up, Marc and I didn’t bed the base, lap the
rings, or use
a torque wrench on any of the fasteners.
NEXT MONTH - We go shooting. A quick preview,
shooting from a wobbly
picnic table, with a heavy trigger and commercial reloads, we
solid, 1”, 5-shot groups.
How To Build Your Own Remington 700 - Part II