Hunting Rifle Rebuild: Customizing a Remington Model Seven Hunting Rifle

A compact version of the ubiquitous Remington Model 700, the Model Seven is an excellent candidate for a lightweight hunting rifle (to read more about the Model Seven action, click here).  In this post, I’ll be taking a used Model Seven synthetic chambered in 223 Remington and converting it into a lightweight custom hunting rifle in 257 Ackley Improved (40 degree shoulder).  More detailed information about chambering rifles for improved cartridges, can be found here.

For this project, I ordered the following from Brownells:

All lathe work is conducted on a Grizzly gunsmith’s lathe.

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.

model seven 7 before as a 223

This is the donor gun.  A very used Model Seven synthetic in 223 Remington I purchased off an auction website for $450.  soaking action in kroilI’ll be using the action, bolt, bottom metal, and trigger from the donor rifle for this project.  I strip the rifle and get ready to remove the barrel.  With the optics off, I soak the action threads in Kroil penetrating oil to help facilitate its removal.

barreled model seven in vise

The action is secured in a Brownells action wrench and the barrel is secured in a Brownells barrel vise.  This particular action wrench wraps around the action to prevent it from bending under stress, an important feature when removing factory barrels from actions.  The barrel was on so tight I needed to use a “cheater pipe” on the wrench handle to get it to unscrew.

Action off, I can get to work on the bolt.  The bolt on this action has a 223 bolt face.  The 257 Ackley Improved cartridge I plan on chambering this rifle in uses a 308 bolt face.  I could either buy an aftermarket replacement bolt, or machine out a new bolt face for the current bolt.  I decided to machine this bolt face to a 308 bolt face.

dialing in bolt on lathe

The bolt is secured in a La Bounty bolt holding fixture in a four jaw chuck on the lathe.  The end of the bolt is then dialed in concentric on the lathe.

boring out bolt face to proper diameter

I use a high-speed steel indexable boring bar to open up the bolt face to the proper diameter.  I also make a light pass on the bolt face to make sure it it true.

bolt face opened up

The bolt face will now accept 308 sized cartridges.

cleaning up rear of the bolt lugsWhile the bolt is mounted in the lathe, I true the front and rear faces of the bolt lugs as well as the bolt nose with a high-speed steel insert tool.

trued bolt nose and front of lugs

This is what the bolt nose looks like when it comes off the lathe.  Note the aggressive machining marks from the factory.

bolt in milling machine viseWhen the bolt face diameter was opened up, the small rim that retains the factory Remington extractor was removed.  To replace the extractor, I will be installing the Badger M16 style extractor.  This requires the bolt to be set up in the mill.  A Manon false bolt center is screwed into the rear of the bolt.  The false center is held in a square collet block and a pair of v-blocks is used to secure the bolt in the milling machine vise.

finishing recess in bolt for m16 extractor

A 1/4 four flute, solid carbide end mill is used to make the initial cuts for the extractor.

milling extractor groove in model 7 boltA smaller 1/8″ end mill is used to clean up the internal recess in the extractor cut.

completed recess

The finish M16 extractor cut has space for the extractor, as well as the extractor spring.

rotating bolt 90 degrees in milling machine vise

The bolt is rotated 90 degrees.  The square collet block makes turning the bolt easy.

spotting extrator pin hole

A 1/8 four flute center cutting end mill is used to spot the location for the extractor pin.

drilling extractor pin hole

An undersized hole is drilled through the bolt.  Next, a chucking reamer is used to make the hole the proper size.

test fitting m16 extractor

A quick test fit shows everything was machined correctly.

Time to work on blueprinting the action.

manson receiver accurising kit

I like using the Manson Receiver Accurizing system to true, or blueprint my actions.  Since the Model Seven is so similar to the 700, I can use the same kit to true this action.

manson kit on model seven

The action is held in an action wrench.  The two tapered bushings included in the Manson kit are inserted into the action, and the receiver reamer is used to recut the minor diameter of the threads and cut the front surfaces of the receiver lugs.

recutting receiver threads on model seven

The reamer is followed by the Manson receiver tap.  The tap is coated in oil and turned slowly until it cuts the entire length of receiver threads.

reciever facng tool on tap

The tap is left in the receiver to true to front of the receiver ring.  This operation can either be performed on the lathe, with the tap mounted between centers, or using a special Manson facing tool (shown above).  The tool is turned by hand and makes short work of truing the front of the receiver.

blueprinted model seven 7 action

A view of the trued surfaces after the truing process is complete.

measuring model seven for barrel

On this rifle, I am using the factory recoil lug.  I checked the lug to make sure its surfaces were square, so I didn’t see a need to replace it.  The lug is placed on the end of the action and a depth micrometer is used to measure the receiver to determine the headspace, barrel tenon and bolt nose recess dimensions for the barrel.

257 barrel cut off

The last inch of the barrel is removed from the blank per manufacturers instructions.  This blank is a Shilen #2 contour in stainless steel.

barrel secured in set tru chuckThe barrel is held in a set-true style 3 jaw chuck.  This type of chuck can be dialed in, similar to a four jaw chuck.

dialing in barrel on set tru chuck

A dial indicator is used to dial in the barrel concentric to the bore. The muzzle of the rifle is secured on the outboard side of the lathe in a spider, it is dialed in as well.

barrel tenon cut for model seven

high-speed steel indexable cutting tool is used to cut the tenon to the correct length and diameter. I use a spindle speed of 400 RPM.  I make a groove on the tenon where the threads and recoil lug meet.  The end of the tenon is also chamfered.test fitting midel 7 factory recoil lug

The recoil lug fits snugly on the tenon.  Note the location of the stop groove relative to the lug.

hreading a barrel for model seven 7

The tenon is coated in Dykem.  A 60 degree high-speed steel insert tool is secured in the lathe.

first thread pass model seven 7I make a light pass to make sure the lathe was set up properly.

threads on barrel tenon for model seven 7

The finished threads.

test fitting model seven action

Now is a good time to check and make sure everything fits the way it should.

bolt nose recess for mode seven with m16 extractor

The Badger M16 type extractor requires a large bolt nose recess than a normal Remington extractor, .785″.  I make this cut with a high-speed steel insert boring bar.

test fitting action and bolt

Another test fit to make sure everything fits together.

manson 257 imporved reamer

The barrel is ready to be chambered.  I am using a Manson live pilot reamer for this application.  A PTG reamer stop secured to the reamer shank allows depth of cut to be adjusted in .001″ increments.

chamber reaming set up for model seven 7

This is what the reaming set up looks like.  The lubricated reamer is inserted into the chamber and held with a set of pliers.  The reamer is advanced into the barrel using a dead center in the lathe’s tailstock.  I use a spindle speed of 70 RPM and take my time, stopping often to clean and lubricate the reamer.

checking headspace with depth micrometerI make my initial headspace measurements with a go gauge and depth micrometer.  Note: the Manson go and no-go gauges used in this project are specifically designed for use with improved cartridges.  To read more about chambering for improved cartridges, click here.

checking headpsace with feeler gauge

When I get close to the finished depth of cut, I screw the action and bolt onto the barrel with the go gauge in place.  I use a feeler gauge to measure the distance between the recoil lug and action to determine how much more I need to cut the chamber.

model seven closes on go gauge

When the chamber is the right depth you can close the bolt on the go gauge…

modle seven stay open on nogo…and it won’t close on the no-go gauge.

Prior to removing the barrel from the lathe, the edge of the chamber and bolt nose recess have a radius cut to ensure proper feeding (not shown).

completed barrel tenon for custom model seven

The completed barrel tenon.

form tool to cut crownTo cut the crown the barrel is mounted between centers and secured in a steady rest.  A piloted crowning tool is held in a pair of pliers and aligned with a dead center in the tail stock of the lathe.

finished crown

The tool leaves a nice finished crown.

polishing barrel on belt grinder

The barrel is secured in a barrel spinner.  A belt grinder is used to polish the barrel smooth.

recoil lug algnment tool for model seven 7 700

The tenon is coated in anti seize prior to final assembly.  A recoil lug alignment tool is used to make sure the recoil lug is oriented correctly.

torquing on new barrel

The barrel is held in a barrel vise.  An action wrench attached the the end of a torque wrench is used to tighter the action to the barrel.

test fitting barrel in bell and carlson stock

The barreled action is test fit in the Bell and Carlson stock.  The barrel does not fit in the front edge of the forearm.

barrel fitted to barrel channel

Sanding the barrel channel with some 80 grit sandpaper wrapped around a dowel allows the barreled action the appropriate clearance.

bottom metal is a little roughTest fitting the original bottom metal.  The metal has seen better days and will be refinished.

You’ll notice I didn’t bed the barreled action into this stock. Normally I do, however, I wanted to see how well the rifle shoots without being bedded in place.

fixing action screw 1

The original action screws were a mess. I decided to clean them up.

fixing action screw 2

A little work with a small file and abrasive cloth and the screw is ready to be finished.

model seven part degrease 1

This rifle will be Cerakoted.  Cerkote is an excellent choice for a hunting rifle like this one that will be out in the elements.  The metal parts are hung from wire and degreased outside.

barreled action in blast cabinet before

The parts are placed in the blast cabinet.

barreled action afterAluminum oxide is used to prepare the surfaces for Cerakote.

blasted parts ready for cerakote

The parts are degreased again prior to the application of Cerakote.

tack cloth to remove abrasive

On the advice of my friend, a tack cloth (used in automotive work) is used to wipe the surfaces and remove any remaining aluminum oxide media.

mini HVLP spray gun

The parts are painted with an HVLP spray gun and cured in a parts oven (not shown).

When everything is reassembled, I am quite happy with the results.  I replaced the factory 223 magazine with one I took off a Model 700 BDL in 308.  Finished barrel length is 22″.

model seven 7 cutsom rifle right side.jpg 2model seven 7 cutsom rifle left sidemodel seven 7 cutsom close right file

The rifle is topped with a Nightforce rail, Nightforce rings and a Nightforce SHV 3-10×42 scope with MOAR reticle. My cranky old friend saw this and wasn’t happy.  He doesn’t like modern scopes and mounting systems on hunting rifles, I guess he’d prefer a compact traditional scope with a set of turn in mounts.  Well, this isn’t his rifle.  I think the added functionality of a quality scope like this Nightforce offers significant benefits despite the slight increase in weight.

sierra 257 120

I loaded up some 120 grain Seirra GameKings (1650) on Remington brass over Varget and headed to the range to fire form some brass.

fire forming 257 imporved

A standard 257 Roberts cartridge (left) compared to a fire formed 257 Ackley Improved (right).  Note the sharp shoulder and straighter body taper.

Shooting the 257 Roberts was an absolute pleasure.  Recoil is mild despite the light weight of the rifle.

The Nightforce SHV 3-10×42 is an outstanding piece of gear.  The optical clarity is great, MOAR reticle is functional, and elevation and windage adjustments are generous.  Without a zero or boresighter, I was able to touch the edge of a 2″ target at 100 yards within 3 rounds.

best fire form group at 100 yards .652 inches

Accuracy was exceptional for such a light rifle, especially when considering I was fire forming brass.  3-shot groups (keep in mind this is a very thin barrel) were approximately 1 MOA. This was the best group, .652″ at 100 yards (above).


This rifle is definitely a keeper. Finished weight is 8.2 pounds, including the optic and mount.  Using a smaller optic, such as a compact 3-9 and turn in style bases would further decrease weight, however, I prefer the functionality the Nightforce 3-10×42 SHV offers.

I’ll post more information when I complete load development on the fire formed brass.


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To purchase gunsmithing tools and supplies, visit Brownells.

To purchase the finest reamers on the market, visit Dave Manson Precision Reamers.

To learn more about the Nightforce SHV scopes, visit Nightforce Optics.