I remember the first time I saw a Remington XP-100. It was a strange looking beast. The retro stock, bent bolt handle, off caliber, sights and odd grip made for a weird looking pistol. As distant the idea of owning a bolt action pistol was at the time, over the years the idea has steadily grown on me. After seeing one Cody Weiser, of Cody Weiser Firearm Refinishing, built on an MDT LSS chassis, I knew I needed to make one. Cody’s website can be found here.
Planning a bolt action pistol build is more complicated than one for a rifle. In the United States, you can’t legally convert a rifle to a pistol. So simply buying a rifle, taking the action out of the stock and cutting it down is a no go. You need to locate a virgin receiver that has never been a rifle. Until the last few years when Remington started selling new receivers, searching for one was similar to looking for a unicorn.
I was considering building my bolt action pistol on a Remington 700, however, I managed to buy a virgin Remington Model Seven receiver. The Model Seven is basically a compact version of the 700. The action and bolt of the Seven are shorter and the trigger mechanism is slightly different, however, they are extremely similar in design and construction (see: Remington Model Seven (Model 7) Versus The Model 700 for more information). As fate would have it, the original XP-100 used a modified version of the Model Seven receiver with a dog leg bolt handle similar to the Remington 660.
For this project, I ordered the following products from Brownells:
- High-speed steel turning tools
- Green Mountain Barrels barrel blank
- Manson reamer
- Headspace gauges
- Modular Driven Technologies LSS chassis for Model Seven
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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.
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Normally I would start with a brand new barrel blank, in this case I’ll be recycling a test barrel. This one had already been chambered and installed on a rifle for 6.5 Creedmoor- Effect of Barrel Length on Velocity: Cutting up a Creedmoor! The barrel was a straight profile with no taper- basically a 1.200″ cylinder. The tenon and chamber end will be cut off and the barrel contoured.
The barrel is secured in the lathe’s chuck. A range rod s used to dial in the bore.
A 60-degree piloted center drill is used to make a hole for the lathe’s live center.
The barrel can now be mounted between centers for profiling. Note the live center of the lathe fits into the recess cut by the center drill.
The finished profile will be a modified version of a Remington Varmint contour. I normally work with stainless steel barrels, not chrome moly, like this one. I find machining it more difficult since I am less familiar with it. In this case I am using a spindle speed of 360 RPM.
To machine the radius by the barrel’s shank, I make a series of step cuts in .100″ intervals. For a complete overview of the process, see Turning a sporter contour rifle barrel from a blank.
The step cuts are blended with a lathe file. The lathe file has teeth at a different angle to work on the lathe. Since files and oil don’t mix well, all oil is removed from the barrel’s surfaces prior to filing. File chalk, the white powder shown on the file, prevents the file’s teeth from fouling.
To finish the surface, 220-grit abrasive cloth and oil are used to Polish it. I typically use a spindle speed around 600 RPM for this operation.
The chamber end of the barrel is cut off and the newly tapered barrel is chucked up in the lathe. Note the end of the barrel still has part of the rifle’s chamber in it. This is used to dial the bore in. A tenon is cut to accept the recoil lug. In this case I am using a factory Remington recoil lug. Some factory lugs aren’t flat, this one is.
Another view of the tenon. I normally don’t like having a barrel hang out this far away from the chuck, however, I was kinda stuck with set up options. Because there was already part of a chamber cut, I couldn’t mount this barrel between centers.
The tenon is coated in Dykem prior to threading. A chamfer is cut on the end of the barrel and a groove is cut in-between the lug and threads.
The threads are cut 16 teeth per inch.
The Model Seven action is test fit to the barrel. The handle will not close and need to remain open. The bolt nose recess has not been cut yet.
The bolt nose recess, or counterbore, is cut using a high-speed steel insert in a boring bar.
The lug, receiver and bolt are test fit. The bolt handle should close with no resistance.
The reamer is held in a small set of locking pliers. A PTG adjustable reamer stop is used to limit the depth of cut. I have a love/hate relationship with the reamers stop. While it makes the process easier, I’ve cut a couple chambers too deep using one over the years.
A view of the chambering set up. Spindle speed is set to 70 RPM. The reamer is coated in Do-Drill cutting oil and the a light chamber cut is made. The reamer is then retracted, cleaned, oiled and the process repeated. Lately, I’ve been pushing reamers with a MT3 blank in the tail stock of the lathe. Since it has a flat surface, the reamer is allowed to float. This is especially relevant in a situation like this, when the chamber is already partially cut.
A go gauge is placed in the clean chamber and the lug, receiver and bolt are screwed onto the tenon. The gap between the recoil lug and the receiver is measured with a feeler gauge. This measurement indicates how much deeper the chamber needs to be cut.
When the bolt handle easily closes on the go gauge…
And stays open on the no go gauge, the chamber is cut to the correct depth.
The final step is to break the edge of the chamber and cut a small chamfer on the outside of the bolt nose recess. This allows cartridges to feed and prevents the brass from being scratched.
The barrel is cut to length, in this case 12″, and reversed in the lathe so the muzzle break can be installed. The barrel is dialed in so the bore is concentric.
A tenon is cut…
And the muzzle is threaded 5/8″-24 for the muzzle break.
Here is what the finished 6.5 Creedmoor pistol barrel look like. Pretty cool, isn’t it?
The barrel is secured in a barrel vise and a Surgeon port entry action wrench is used to torque the action in place. The recoil lug is aligned with an alignment fixture during this step to ensure it is properly oriented. Upon installation, the headspace is checked to make sure it didn’t change. Normally, you will see a .002-.003″ crush when the action is torqued in place.
The MDT LSS chassis accepts AR-15/M16 M4 style collapsible stocks. I was advised by the legal team to remove the threads so a stock wouldn’t “readily accept a stock”- their words, not mine.
The thread portion of the chassis is cut off on a saw.
And the end is trimmed with a 5/8″ 2-flute end mill.
The metal work is complete and the parts can be finished and assembled.
I like to hang my metal parts in a curing oven to allow any oil in the steel to seep out. This picture was taken after a 40 minute bake.
Note the oil seeping out of this barreled action- this isn’t the pistol barreled action, however, you can see how much oil is forced out.
The parts are hung outside and degreased.
Any openings are plugged to prevent the aluminum oxide abrasive from damaging the barrel.
The barreled action goes into the blast cabinet…
And when it comes out, the surfaces are prepped for Cerakote.
The excess abrasive media is cleaned off with compressed air and the parts are degreased again. The parts are hung and coated in Cerakote with a small, HVLP sprayer.
The finished part are assembled, and we have one, cool, or ugly looking pistol!
To finish off the 6.5 Creedmoor pistol, I added the following parts:
As as the pistol was finished I texted some pics to my friend with the comment, “this may be the most useless pistol I own”. He replied, “no, you own a Glock 36”!
I’ll post some shooting results once I get it out to the range.