My buddy (the lefty) has had nothing but heartache with his custom 260 Remington rifle. This was the first custom precision rifle that he commissioned 10 years ago. He used quality components; a Nesika Model K action, Shilen barrel, McMillan stock, and a HS detachable magazine system (pretty much the only option back then). The gunsmith who originally built the rifle did an excellent job.
At the time, the 260 Remington was becoming popular as a target shooting cartridge (Lapua 260 brass wasn’t available yet and guys were making it from 243 brass). Trying to squeeze the most accuracy out of the rifle, he selected a chamber with a .288″ neck. This required brass to be neck-turned. He found neck-turning cases to be quite a chore, so much so, that once he started he made it through about 10 cases and gave up. The rifle did shoot, but the turning was too much of a hassle.
The rifle spent a few years in the safe when he spoke to a different smith about opening up the neck so he wouldn’t need to turn brass anymore. The rest of the story is a bit sketchy. The smith claimed he had a neck reamer the appropriate size, but ended up running a standard chamber reamer to open it. When my friend got his rifle back it was no longer a shooter.
A lengthy inspection of the rifle found that the headspace was increased to .014″ over minimum.
I slugged the barrel (pushed a soft lead slug through the barrel to check for defects) and found the last 1.25″ on the muzzle end was pretty loose. When originally built, my friend requested the muzzle end not be cut. Tooling used by the barrel makers enters and exits the ends of the barrel which can result in loose ends. Because of this, most barrel makers (including Shilen) suggest removing the last inch of the barrel prior to installation.
Examination of the tenon found that it was undersized .020″ beneath the recoil lug.
To fix the rifle, we decided to cut both ends off of the barrel and then cut a new chamber and crown. Hopefully, this would solve the accuracy problems.
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Brownells provided the following tools for this project:
- 3/8″ high-speed steel turning kit
- 1/2″ high-speed steel threader
- High-speed steel 35 degree profile kit
- Depth micrometer
- Manson chamber reamer
- “go” and “no-go” gauges
- Action wrench
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the assembled rifle. Prior to doing any metal work I measured the action and determined my barrel tenon and headspace dimensions.
With a new chamber and crown this rifle is ready to be assembled and head to the range. Let’s hope it shoots!
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