An oversized bolt handle on a Remington 700 allows for faster bolt manipulation and lets the shooter’s knuckles clear the objective lens of larger scopes. At one time they were fairly exotic upgrades but now they are commonly encountered.
Typically the bolt handle of the 700 is turned down on a lathe or formed with an annular cutter on the mill and then threaded to accept a new handle. For an example of how this is done see Tactical bolt knob installation. One downside of this method is that the cast steel handles of a 700 can contain voids, which may lead to failure. For an example of a void, take a look at the image below:
Voids can happen in cast metal and you are never sure where they will turn up.
Alternatively, if you made a mistake machining the handle, you’ll need to come up with another solution. In this case, long time precision rifle maker Tactical Operations has a solution.
Unlike a typical oversized bolt knob, like the Badger Ordnance, the Tactical Operations knob kit includes a threaded stud and handle. The stud is soldered or TIG welded into the bolt handle.
Some custom gunsmiths actually prefer this type of installation over threading the factory handle. With this method they don’t have to worry about an upset customer breaking a handle with an undetected void.
For this job I ordered the following items from Brownells:
- Tactical Operations bolt knob
- LACO F-A-S-T 95/5 solder
- Automatic center punch
- #23 drill
- Multi-Vise pads
- Formula 44/40 Instant Gun Blue
Before we get to work, let’s take a look at the following disclaimer:
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.
The first step to install it is to remove the bolt handle. This is easily done with a hacksaw (left). For comparison purposes, I have a factory 700 bolt handle (right) next to the one we are working on.
Once the handle is removed, the cut surface needs to be squared up. If you are brave like me, you can use a belt grinder. Otherwise a file will work just as well with less chance of damaging the part.
The bolt is secured in a padded vise and an automatic center punch is used to mark the center of the handle.
I drill a lot of holes, so I drilled this handle with a hand held drill. I would say either a drill press or milling machine would be a better option. This is a #23 drill and the hole is 5/8″ deep.
A quick pass with a single flute countersink cleans up the hole.
At this point, the threaded stud can be welded or soldered in. I chose to solder it with a solder flux mix. Tactical Operations recommends you file a small flat along one edge of the stud’s tenon if you use solder. This allows steam to escape. I’ve been using LACO F-A-S-T 95/5 solder. This is a mix of flux and solder that flows at 450F and provides 6,000 PSI tensile strength. It is easy to work with, however it can be a bit pricey. The cheapest I’ve found it is at Brownells.
TIG welding would allow material to be built up and shaped in the area where the handle transitions between to the threaded stud. This will look much nicer when it is shaped, however, a TIG welder isn’t common in most small shops.
I only have one free hand, so this is the best picture I could take of the soldering process. I just heated the handle section to allow the solder to flow. Like any other operation with an open flame, great care should be taken to prevent starting a fire (FYI, that is an INERT tank in the background). I normally use a hand held MAPP torch.
Once the metal cools the handle can be slightly shaped where it meets the stud. The handle is screwed into place and the bolt is ready for coating or cold blue.
Tactical Operations bolt knobs are available here.
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