6 Creedmoor precision rifle on a budget?
We had great results with our Remington 700 SPS Varmint chambered in 243 Winchester. Approaching 1/3 MOA accuracy at 500 yards, this modestly priced rifle exceeded expectations. The only downside is the cartridge, the 243 Winchester is a great hunting round and quiet capable for use in matches, however, for the competitive shooter, there are smaller, more efficient rounds that approach the 243 Win in performance. Since this rifle had good bones, we decided to rechamber it in another cartridge, 6 Creedmoor.
Why 6 Creedmoor? The rifle was equipped with a Remington Varmint contour barrel with a 1:9 1/8″ twist from the factory. This barrel shot well and worked with our favorite 6mm match bullet, the .243″ diameter 107 grain Sierra MatchKing (SMK). I knew I wanted something that burned less powder than the 243 Winchester, and came up with a few different options, the 6mm BR, 6 Dasher, 6×47 Lapua, and 6 Creedmoor.
The 6mm BR is known to be one of the most accurate cartridges produced, especially at mid range distances to 600 yards. The short powder column, steep shoulder, small rifle primer and quality brass make for a compact accurate cartridge. The 6mm BR can be made to feed well, but the relatively short length of the case can be problematic with the constant tension ejector on the Remington 700 action, making extraction an issue. The 6mm Dasher, an improved version of the 6BR, suffers the same problem. While I’ve built two different 6mm BRs on 700s that extracted well, I elected to avoid potentially dealing with this issue and pick a cartridge with a longer case length. For this reason, 6 BR and 6 Dasher didn’t make the cut.
Now the decision was between 6×47 Lapua and 6 Creedmoor. Similar in size and performance, both are necked down versions of their more commonly encountered 6.5mm parent cartridges, the 6.5×47 Lapua and 6.5 Creedmoor. For both cartridges, the 6.5 brass is simply necked down to 6mm in one pass and the brass is formed. Easy. For the 6 Creedmoor you can buy brass from Hornady. The Lapua uses a small rifle primer while the Creedmoor uses a large rifle primer. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is the brass, the Lapua can be formed from Lapua brass, while the Creedmoor requires either the use of Hornady brass (which isn’t very good) or Norma brass which isn’t always encountered. Decisions, decisions… I already have a 6×47 Lapua that hammers, so 6 Creedmoor it is!
Let’s customize this 700 SPS! But first, read the disclaimer below…
The contents of Rifleshooter.com are produced for informational purposes only and should be performed by competent gunsmiths only. Rifleshooter.com 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.
For this project, I ordered the following products from Brownells:
- High-speed steel turning tools
- Headspace gauges
- Barrel vise
- Remington 700 Action wrench
- Do-Drill cutting oil
- Recoil lug alignment tool
- HVLP sprayer
- Cerakote heat cure, MAGPUL flat dark earth
The barreled action is removed from the stock. With the bolt and trigger removed, the action is secured in an action wrench. Removing factory barrels can be difficult, use of a port entry action wrench can bend the action, a wrap around wrench, like the Brownells shown in the picture above, is a better choice for this type of operation. A piece of painters tape is used to protect the outside of the action from becoming marked up.
The barrel shank is coated in rosin. This is important to prevent the barrel from slipping when it is help in the barrel vise.
The barrel is held in a barrel vise. This vise, from Brownells, uses a set of aluminum or steel bushings matched to the outside diameter of the barrel. I prefer the aluminum bushings because they are stickier and resist slipping fairly well. The vise is attached to the leg of my work bench. A pipe on the handle of the action wrench helps break the action loose.
This is what the factory barrel tenon looks like, note the left over thread locking compound from the factory.
Another view of the factory barrel tenon, this one with the factory recoil lug in place.
I’ll be reusing the barrel on this rifle. Since the original chamber is for 243 Win, a larger cartridge than the 6 Creedmoor, I begin by cutting off the threaded end of the barrel.
I mount the barrel in the lathe between centers. In this case a spider (4 screws) is used to gimbal the barrel concentric with the lathe. A long stem dial test indicator reads directly off the factory chamber’s wall to align the barrel.
The tenon is cut to 1.062″ in diameter with a 3/8″ high-speed steel insert tool.
The recoil lug should fit over the tenon with little to no play. I decided to reuse the lug on this rifle since it was flat when I checked it.
A 35 degreee high-speed steel profile tool is used to cut a small stop groove between the threads and the part of the tenon the lug will sit on.
An insert threading tool is used to cut the thread at 16 TPI.
The action can now be test fit on the barrel. Everything looks good.
A 3/8″ high-speed steel insert boring bar is mounted in the lathe to cut a new bolt nose recess in the rear of the barrel. A piloted form tool will not work in this application since the barrel already had previously been chambered.
The action, lug, and bolt all fit now.
I will be cutting the chamber with a piloted high-speed steel reamer. This one is equipped with a reamer stop to help control the depth of cut. I gave up on the reamer holders I used to use in the past and now hold the shank of the reamer with locking pliers and push the reamer with a flat MT3 blank in the tail stock.
The reamer is coated in Do-Drill cutting oil and inserted into the chamber. The lathe is run at 70 RPM and the reamer is gently fed with the tail stocks feed. The reamer is stopped and cleaned often.
I like to sneak up on final headspace. I take it slow, a few thousandths at a time as I reach final depth. The bolt should effortlessly close on the go gauge.
And stay open on the nogo.
The last final lathe operation is to cut a chamfer on the outside of the bolt nose recess and break the inside edge of the chamber. This allows for smooth feeding.
The barrel is now removed from the lathe. A recoil lug alignment tool is used to make sure the lug is correctly positioned when the barrel is tightened.
The barrel is placed in a vise and torqued in place with an action wrench. Note I use a different wrench (Surgeon) and vise to install the barrel than I used to remove it. This is because this type of vise is faster to use and installation doesn’t require as much force as removal of the factory barrel.
Ready to Cerakote. The part are placed in a heat curing oven and allow to heat, this will allow any oil in the metal to leech out.
The parts are then soaked in acetone. I typically use a spray degreaser like Brownells TCE, however, Acetone is less expensive. The parts are placed in a fiberglass bin.
After a long soak the parts are allowed to dry. The acetone doesn’t evaporate as fast as the TCE.
Over to the blast cabinet. Silicone plugs are placed into critical parts like the bore.
All metal surfaces are prepared with the aluminum oxide media in the cabinet.
Back outside with the parts. I hang them on a rack so I can blow off any residual media from the cabinet.
The parts are coated with a small HVLP gun. The color is MAGPUL flat dark earth. The parts are sent back to the oven and allowed to cure.
The barreled action will sit in a Grayboe stock. Grayboe is a new company, started by Ryan McMillan. The Grayboe (front) has the same basic shape as the McMillan A5 (rear, green) but costs significantly less.
Looks good doesn’t it?
Price wise how did we do without optics or accessories? (Prices as of 8/2016)
- Remington 700 SPS $490 (after $75 rebate)
- PTG DBM $130
- Grayboe Renegade $350
- Timney Calvin Elite $212
- MDT AICS style magazine $36
$1,218- without the cost of resetting the barrel and cutting a new chamber. Not too bad and under the price of a Ruger Precision Rifle and approximately the same cost as a custom action.
The rifle is finished off with the following parts:
This rifle shoots great as well!
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