Building a Custom 6.5 Creedmoor Precision Rifle

The flat shooting and light recoiling 6.5 Creedmoor was introduced by Hornady in 2007.  Based on a 308 Winchester case, the 6.5 mm (.264″) Creedmoor fits inside an AR10/ 308 AR platform and feeds well from AICS style magazines.

6.5 creedmoor aics magazine

The Creedmoor is unique among the current crop of 6.5 cartridges such as the 260 Remington and 6.5×47 Lapua in that match grade factory ammunition is readily available and relatively cheap (Lapua sells factory ammunition for the 6,5×47 Lapua, however, it is more expensive and less frequently encountered).  A big plus for newer shooters who don’t reload.

6.5 Creedmoor is a great option for custom bolt action rifles.  A rifle chambered in 308 Winchester can simply be re-barreled for the Creedmoor.  All other parts, including the magazine system, will work. Unlike some other 6.5mms, such as the 6.5×284 Norma, reported barrel life is relatively long (typically around 4,000 rounds if moderate loads are used- Sin City Precision has a picture of a shot out 6.5 Creedmoor barrel at 2,200 rounds, but state they loaded it hot).

In this post, I’ll be building a custom 6.5 Creedmoor rifle.  The heart of a precision rifle is the action, and for this project, a Surgeon 591 short action will be used.

Surgeon 591 ehection port and anti bind rail

The Surgeon 591 action is a popular choice for custom gun builders.  A one piece bolt, integrated rail and recoil lug provide an excellent foundation for custom rifles.

Here are the specifications from Surgeon:

All 591 actions are built with an integral .250” recoil lug and 20 MOA 1913 picatinny rail that runs the full length of the action. A shrouded, side mounted bolt stop is integrated to help prevent accidental releasing of the bolt.

In the middle of the left bolt raceway is an anti-jam rail. The purpose of this rail is to prevent a round from lodging in the raceway when single loading the rifle through the ejection/loading port.

The raceway on the right hand side has an anti-bind rail just below the ejection/loading port. The purpose of this rail is to insure smooth bolt operation as the locking lug passes through the loading port.

The 591SA will work in conjunction with any stocks made for the Remington 700 short action with little to no modification as well as triggers and feeding systems.

right side surgeon 591


I ordered the following parts from Brownells for this project:

I also be using some specialized tools and materials from Brownells:

The contents of are produced for informational purposes only and should be performed by competent gunsmiths only. and its authors, do not assume any responsibility, directly or indirectly for the safety of the readers attempting to follow any instructions or perform any of the tasks shown, or the use or misuse of any information contained herein, on this website.

Any modifications made to a firearm should be made by a licensed gunsmith. Failure to do so may void warranties and result in an unsafe firearm and may cause injury or death.

Modifications to a firearm may result in personal injury or death, cause the firearm to not function properly, or malfunction, and cause the firearm to become unsafe.

1 measuring surgeon 591 action

The first, and most important step is to measure the action to determine the barrel tenon and headspace dimensions.  I use a depth micrometer for this critical task.

3a barrel through headstock3b chamber end in spider

The barrel is placed in the headstock of the lathe.  A spider (four screws spaced at 90 degrees) on each end of the headstock are used to gimbal the barrel so the bore is concentric with the lathe.

5a dialing in bore

A range rod is used to dial in the barrel.  I normally start with a .001″ indicator and work down to a .0001″ indicator.

5c dialing in opposite end

The muzzle end of the barrel is dialed in.

6 squaring end of barrelOnce both ends of the barrel are dialed in and run true, I use a high-speed steel insert tool to face the end of the barrel and zero the lathe’s digital readout (DRO).

8 turning tenon to diameter

The tenon is turned to the proper length and diameter with a high-speed steel cutter.  A micrometer, shown here, is the proper tool to measure the outside diameter of a cylinder, like the barrel shown here.

9a tenon dykem and chamfered

The tenon is coated in Dykem layout fluid.

9 setting up for threading

The high-speed steel insert threading tool is set up in the lathe.  The compound is set at 29.5 degrees and a center gauge is used to make sure the cutter is properly aligned.

9b tenon threaded for action

Threads are cut at 16 TPI.

10 test fit action

I take the time to test fit the action.  It should thread on smoothly, with little play. I put a little grease on the threads prior to screwing in on, this prevents the surfaces from galling and the action from getting stuck on the barrel.

11 cleaning up threads

high-speed steel 35 degree profile tool is used to clean up the rear of the tenon.

12 bolt nose recess set up

I use a .705″ form tool in a Manson floating reamer holder to cut the bolt nose recess.  The dial indicator on top of the tailstock is resting against the spring clamp.  It helps determine the depth of cut.

12a complete bolt nose recess

The finished bolt nose recess (note: the threads look much better in person than they do in the pic above).

13a adjusting PTG reamer stop against gauge

Now it is time to set up to ream the chamber.  I like using a PTG reamer stop.  The stop allows the depth of cut to be adjusted in .001″ increments.  For the initial setting, the go headspace gauge is held against the reamer, and the stop adjusted a little short.

14 drilling muzzle for chamber flush

I’ll be using a chamber flush system on this barrel.  The system attached to the muzzle with a 1/8 NPT fitting.  I use a cordless drill and a Q drill to make the clearance hole for the tap.

14a tapping muzzle for chamber flush

The 1/8″ NPT tap is used to cut the threads.

14b chamber flush union installed

And the threaded end of the chamber flush system is attached to the barrel with some Teflon tape to ensure the pressurized oil doesn’t leak.

13 reaming set up

On this project the reamer is held in a Manson floating reamer holder.

15 chamber flush while chambering

With the oil flowing in one direction through the barrel, the reamer makes short work of the cut. I use Do-Drill cutting oil and it works like a champ.

16 measuring head space with gauge and depth mic

When the reamer stop contacts the end of the barrel, the chamber is cleaned and the go gauge inserted.  A micrometer is used to check the headspace.

16a measuring headpsace with feeler guage and action

As the headspace gets closer to the finished dimension, I start screwing the action back on to the barrel with the headspace gauge in the chamber.  A feeler gauge can then be used to measure the gap between the front of the action and the shoulder of the barrel.  This dimension is how much deeper the chamber must be cut.

17a handle closes on go

When the chamber is cut to the correct depth, the bolt will close on the go gauge…

17 bolt stays open on no go…and stay open on the no-go gauge.

18 radius on edge of chamber and recess

Finally, the edge of the chamber is broken and a radius is cut around the bolt nose recess.  This radius will assist in feeding.

19 dial in muzzle edge

The barrel is reversed so the crown can be cut.  Initially, I dial in off the outside diameter of the barrel.

20 square muzzle

The barrel is faced.

21 dial in muzzle bore

A range rod is inserted, and the muzzle is dialed in off of the bore.

22 plunge cut crown 90 thou deep

I make a plunge cut, .090″ deep.

22a compound set at 45

With my compound set at a 45 degree angle, I slowly retract the boring bar, this cuts the “pull back” of the crown.

24 use 45 counterbore

A light cut is made with a 45 degree counterbore to break the sharp edge of the crown.24a finsihed crown

The finished crown.

torque barrel 2

The barrel is removed from the lathe and cleaned.  It is torqued onto the action and checked again with go and no-go gauges.  The is barrel secured in a Farrell barrel vise for this operation.

cleaning stock

Time to prep the stock for bedding.  I read somewhere that bedding a rifle was all about the foreplay, this couldn’t be more correct in my experience.  First step is to make sure everything fits.  Once this is accomplished, the stock surfaces are degreased- this is a critical step.

tape surgeon recoil lug #2

The action is degreased prior to bedding to allow the masking tape to adhere to the recoil lug.  I use 3M fine line tape for the sides and a piece of masking tape for the front.  The recoil lug should only be bedded along the rear surface.

tape barrel to center in stock

A few layers of masking tape are used to center the barrel in the barrel channel.  This is also a good time to check that everything fits in the stock one last time.  Sometimes, you’ll encounter stocks with a fairly tight lug inlet and the tape on the lug will prevent the action from seating.  You don’t want to figure this out the hard way while your epoxy is getting ready to set.

release agent

Ample release agent is applied to the metal parts.  I like the Acra-Release Aerosol from Brownells.  At this point I also apply modeling clay to any voids I do not want filled with epoxy.  In addition to making clean up easier, filling the voids with clay prevents mechanical lock up of the action to the stock.

clay snake in front of lug

I like putting a little clay snake in front of the recoil lug to make clean up easier.

apply marine tex

The Marine-Tex is carefully mixed and applied to the bedding surfaces.

placing action in marine tex

The stock is lowered into place.  I screw the bottom metal to the action with the standard stock screws.  I find this is the best method and works better than longer screws.

cleaning up excess epoxy

A little bit of time with some cotton swabs and paper towels and the action is cleaned up.

milling away excess marine tex

Once the Marine-Tex has been allowed to cure for at least 24 hours, the action is removed from the stock.  The excess bedding compound is cleaned with an end mill in the milling machine.

bedding cleaned up on the mill

The two bottom metal screw holes will typically have some epoxy in them.  I chase these holes with a chucking reamer to clear this out.

The action and stock are ready to be finished.  I coated the metal parts of this rifle with black Cerakote. The stock was coated in olive drab Duracoat.

BEAST front creedmoor

6.5 creedmoor front 5

6.5 creedmoor rear left

The excellent Nightforce BEAST 5-25×56 FFP scope finishes this rifle off.  Does it shoot?

6.5 creedmoor 136 scenar 5 shots 264 inches

Yes it does!  Five rounds of 136 grain Scenar-L in Hornady brass at 100 yards, prone, from a bipod with rear bag.

The rifle shoots like a dream. The Surgeon action cycles smoothly, the Timney trigger has a crisp break and the Nightforce BEAST provides an excellent sight picture.  All with the moderate recoil of the 6.5 Creedmoor.  I think I have a new go-to rifle!

Follow on Facebook!