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Rudukai13

Precision Lever Action?

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To get this out of the way first: The answer to your question ("Why?!") is "because I'm weird like that."

 

Anyway - What would it take to build a .308 lever action rifle into a decent enough precision rifle? Is this even something feasible, or would it be similarly hopeless as trying to turn a Kalashnikov into a precision rifle? I'm not talking about going out and dominating PRS competitions, but something that I could reasonably expect to perform out to that magic 1,000 yard mark...

 

If I end up doing this (and this is rather far down the list of projects I'd want to do), I imagine I'd start with a Browning BLR .308, get the requisite scope, see if I could either find or have made a mount for a bipod, and otherwise upgrade as I go, figuring out what I want/like and don't want/don't like.

 

So...Thoughts?

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Where are you going to mount this bipod? Unless you cantilever it off the receiver its going to be putting pressure on the already non free floating barrel.

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Ok I like wierd projects... i guess it would depend on your definition of precision?

 

Maybe start with a Henry Long Ranger model (looks BLRish) American Rifleman tested the 308 version they reported it had a 1 in 10 twist so 175 gr bullets ought to be possible.  They saw decent accuracy results looks like (have to see what it would do with  the heavier bullet).  Maybe you could do as suggested above and fabricate a new forearm that cantilevered off the reciever... I bet if you had a big enough steel target you could get to 1000. Looks like the locktime  would really stink with that big heavy hammer so better have good technique/follow through (or a really stable secure rest?)

 

https://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2017/5/10/tested-henry-repeating-arms-long-ranger-lever-action-rifle/

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Assuming the twist rate is right, I think 7-08 would be a better choice, or even 243.  also as long as you don't get the banded style forearm, I would think that you could float the front end of the forearm.  I am not sure how it would shoot 10 shot groups because of the thin barrel, but 3 or 5 should work.  Good luck, and tell us how it goes, if you do it

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I had already been thinking about how to disrupt the barrel as little as possible, which I knew meant I would at the very least need to avoid barrel banded models. It was for that reason I was actually first considering the Marlin 336XLR, as Midwest Industries specifically produces an M-Lok cantilevered forend which would provide a sturdy support for a bipod without putting additional flex on the barrel (link: https://www.midwestindustriesinc.com/product-p/mi-marmr.htm). The 30-30 Win round - the only chambering available in the 336XLR - isn't exactly known as an extreme long-range performer though, which caused me to beg off from that idea.

 

Looks like the BLR is available in 7-08 and the Long Ranger offers 243 Win, either of which offers the non-banded-barrel forend. I am of course always open to other suggestions regarding rifle/chambering/even action type, I'd just like to do something different from either a bolt action or gas gun. Just to see if I can!

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Thinking either 7-08 blr or the 308 henry if you don't want to rebarrel? I'd be dubious of the 243 henry having a fast enough twist to shoot the bullets you need to get to 1k (but you'd need to check?)

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I'm not exactly opposed to re-barreling, but to be honest that causes the complexity of the project to go up significantly which causes the likelihood that I'd ever actually get around to doing it to go down significantly...

 

The other consideration on caliber is ease of acquiring plinking ammo (I insist that I be able to reasonably inexpensively plink with every gun that I own, because if nothing else my guns just need to be fun to shoot). .308 is of course plentiful and inexpensive at local gun stores - The 7-08, not so much...So I'm honestly leaning fairly heavily towards the .308.

 

I will note that it appears both the BLR and Long Ranger come with a forward sling swivel which should make mounting of a Harris bipod a no-hassle affair. And of course, both their receivers have integrated scope mounts, which means hanging glass will be simple as acquiring a quality pair of scope rings.

 

Talk me through what else most precision competitors would look for or modify on their bolt guns - Is weight a concern? More or less of it? Would it be worth getting the muzzle threaded for a compensator, or unnecessary? Keep in mind, I'm not looking to go out and win a PRS competition - Just to start with an unorthodox platform and build it into a gun that can reasonably well "reach out and touch someone," as they say!

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Good cheek-weld for consistency with whichever optic you choose will be important. You won't have the option of an adjustable stock to shift cheek-piece and LOP for better fit, so I would say that you will want to handle both rifles and see which feels as though it will fit you better. You may end up needing an aftermarket "tie-on" cheek-piece to get your eye where you need it for shooting through a scope suited for that distance.

 

Definitely get the muzzle threaded, but not for a comp unless that comp is a suppressor mount. If you're gonna go...

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I assume it would be worth getting an aftermarket stock custom-fitted to work for me and whatever optic I choose?

 

Suppressor is a possibility, but probably a bit further in the future. Will keep it in mind when choosing a muzzle device though

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It would depend on what you wanted the gun to end up looking like.   brownells sells adjustable cheekpiece kits and length of pull kits that can be installed in wood stock rifles... or if you are handy a couple of threaded inserts drilled and glued into the stock and some thumb screws and a bent sheet of kydex would work.  Or even a laceup pad (like what is used for an m1c or m1d sniper rifle)

 

Just depends on how the gun fits you to start with.

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Actually, an adjustable comb and length of pull wood stock kit would probably fit the aesthetic of a precision rifle quite well, I rather like that idea!

 

What's the generally accepted magnification range for precision shooting? 5-25x?

Edited by Rudukai13

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Define precision? I’ve seen guys at the range struggle to put 3 rounds on a 12” paper plate @ 100 yds and then say “wow, what a tack driver!”

Edited by HoMiE
Speeling

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I suppose my definition of precision is capable enough that the equipment I'm using won't hold me back as my long range shooting capabilities improve. I believe a fully-built, several thousand dollar bolt action is several orders of magnitude more potentially capable than I am ever likely to become, so I might as well have fun trying something a bit different from the norm that will still be vastly more mechanically capable than I will be, at least for quite some time into the future

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3 hours ago, davsco said:

you def won't have an advantage shooting prone.

 

Fair point. Because of precisely that issue, I had considered looking at getting a Springfield M1A in .308, disabling the gas system and turning it into a straight-pull bolt action...

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5 hours ago, Rudukai13 said:

I suppose my definition of precision is capable enough that the equipment I'm using won't hold me back as my long range shooting capabilities improve. I believe a fully-built, several thousand dollar bolt action is several orders of magnitude more potentially capable than I am ever likely to become, so I might as well have fun trying something a bit different from the norm that will still be vastly more mechanically capable than I will be, at least for quite some time into the future

I am concerned about your expectations of something that won't hold you back.   Best case i suspect you'll end up spending more than you would have on a new ruger rpr or savage that's likely a 3/4moa or better gun with lots of aftermarket support designed for the purpose. Best case with your plan maybe you end up with something interesting that is 1ish moa or so mechanically but that will be harder to shoot and will hold you back  almost immediately.

But you know your goals best.

 

Sounds like an interesting project anyway.   let us know what you end up with.

 

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You could do something with a far higher probability of success but still off the beaten path. Consider having Big Gorilla Gunworks build you a target rifle on a Mosin Nagant action. It may very well cost you less money than blazing your own trail with lever guns and it definitely fulfills your need to be able to plink with it.

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6 hours ago, Rudukai13 said:

I suppose my definition of precision is capable enough that the equipment I'm using won't hold me back as my long range shooting capabilities improve. 

 

 

I don't think you are going to wind up in that position with a one-off custom lever action.    It's like going water skiing with roller skates on your feet.  There is a reason why it isn't done.

 

You could go OLD school with a Sharps type buffalo rifle.  

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Starting to think this is a project that's going to be far too money and effort involved for a resulting platform that I really won't have much opportunity to fully utilize...

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I own a Sako Finwolf in .308. While I love the gun it is just a woods deer getter. I free floated the barrel and glass bed the action. The point of impact changes from the morning to the afternoon. 

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I hadn't heard of the Finnwolf before. It looks like if there were any lever action to try to build into a precision rifle, it would be that one. But considering they're no longer in production and your anecdotal experience of innacuracy, this is probably an idea that isn't worth pursuing.

 

Thank you everyone for the discussion and input!

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I love lever guns and have several.  Savage 99, Browning BLRs, Winchesters, and Marlins. All are fine hunting rifles, but none are really mechanically capable of long range accuracy. 

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I'm a big fan of weird too. Sadly in our world of accuracy that usually entails big $. In semi pistols and revolvers its pretty easy for a whole lot less $.

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Another thought would be a Browning High Wall in .308. Single shot falling block that I’m still saving for.

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