So I picked up a Winchester Model 70 Extreme Weather in .30-06 from Wild West Guns a few months back. This was going to be my one gun for everything in Alaska gun. I looked the gun over when I bought it and was satisified with the fit and finish. I took it home and it sat for a couple of months before I got a chance to shoot. When I was breaking in the barrel (not really shooting for accuracy, just getting it on paper) I noticed that what I thought was just a streak on the bolt raceway from dirty grease was actually a gouge filled with dirty grease. The gouge was deep enough that you could catch a fingernail in it, but it did not affect the function of the gun. I took it back to Wild West and they were awesome to deal with. They sent it back to Winchester and it came back with the raceway polished and the gouge gone. I was a happy camper, until I did some more shooting.
Unfortunately, the rifle would only hold about 2-3" groups. I tried five different bullets (180 Accubond, 180 Partition, 165 SST, 150 Remington PSP, and 220 Hornady) and five different powders (H4530, IMR 4350, RL-15, RL-19, and Ramshot Big Game). I used mostly what I had around. I know there are more accurate bullets, like the Bergers, but I won't use them for hunting. I was using Lapua brass, Federal 210M primers, and Forster Micro Competition dies. I used a Hornady OAL tool and varied the length from .020 to .050 from the lands without any significant change. I know the first thing to consider is the shooter, but I can hold 1/2" groups with my Blaser R8 in 6.5x55 with Sierra Gameking bullets and my Ruger Frontier in 300 WSM with 180 Accubonds will do 3/4" (with a low powered scout scope no less), so I know I'm capable. I tried two different sets of bases (Leupold and Burris), and two different rings (Leupold QRW and Warne QD). I also tried two different scopes (Leupold 3.5-10x40 VX-III and a Nightforce 2.5-10). I was shooting off a Rock front rest and sand bag V rear off a stable bench. I also looked at all of the other common things like the action screws not torqued properly, the magazine box binding, free floated barrel, etc. and got nothing.
I decided the gun just won't shoot to the accuracy I was looking for. 2" in my mind is good for 300 yards and under, but I wanted the confidence that the bullet was going to go exactly where I put it. I moved to the Valley from Barrow a little over a year ago, so I needed to find a good gunsmith to work on it. I did some research and settled on Steve at Alaska Custom Firearms. Him being a forum sponsor also weighed into my decision. He has a custom Mauser in .375 Improved that I liked the work on, so it was a done deal.
I thought that since he's a forum sponsor I would detail the build and my progress here. I know this isn't his forum, but it seems it fits best here.
I dropped the gun off yesterday. I should add that I did not know they were closed on Mondays. I work nights on the weekends and made the trip to their shop after work. I happened to pull into the parking lot as the clerk was walking out. She was kind enough to let me in and take my order, despite being closed. Now that's customer service!
Here's what I asked Steve to do:
Winchester Model 70 Extreme Weather SS
True bolt and action
Lap bolt lugs
Install Lilja barrel to same length and contour
Install NECG Masterpiece banded front and pedestal rear sights with S-4 sight post and windowed hood
Polish feed ramp
Nitride entire gun (which includes Burris Xtreme Tactical bases and Leupold 1" QRW rings)
Remove factory bedding (hot glue really) and bed action to stock
Adjust factory trigger to 3 lbs.
I went with the Burris Xtreme Tactical bases because I wanted a two-piece base that was an actual picatinny spacing. I have a mount for a Trijicon RMR that needs picatinny that I may use for close in hunting. I also left him two sets of rings because I'm going to set up two scopes for two different loads, hopefully an Accubond for long range light skinned animals and a Partition for closer and heavy skinned animals. I think I'm going to go with Leupold VX-III's in 3.5-10x40 and 1.75-6x32 for the scopes.
I think I'm going to Cerakote or something similar the stock. I just haven't settled on a color or pattern yet. I'm kind of fond of the coloring and pattern on Steven Rinella's (Meat Eater) gun, so I may try to duplicate that.
I'll update the thread with the progress and pics of the final product. Steve is ordering the barrel and sights, so that will delay things some. I'm going to be laid up from surgery for about two months, so I'll be anxiously awaiting the results.