Savage M110: Project Homunculus
It’s here. Homunculus has been birthed, well at least bought. This is my Highpower Metallic Silhouette match rifle. It’s been a wild ride through the stages of being a beginner. I did well enough fast enough that it was time to make an investment in proper kit that would compete properly. It’s no longer about just doing it to see if I can. Now I’d like to win a class, move up a class and win that class. Just one match each is all I want. I don’t need to be champion. That’s too much work to assure myself of at this point. Winning an event in my class though would be nice but it’s not probably realistic in the near term.
Now what’s with the name you ask, well it’s chambered in 7mm BR. A homunculus is a perfectly formed miniature human. Not a dwarf but, a miniature. Like when Gulliver woke up in Lilliput. All the Lilliputians were, to Gulliver, homunculi. The new rifle is full size but the chambering is not. The chamber looks like what happens when you cut out the middle 40% of a 7mm-08 case. Heck the bullet in some of the loadings I’ll be using is just about as long as the case. 130gn bullets from Sierra come in at 1.2″ long, 168gn Sierra’s run 1.35″, Berger 180’s run 1.525. The entire line of BR cases are based on more or less a 7.62×51 case that’s been shortened to 1.5″ with minimal body taper and a normal neck angle with a long neck. Where a 7.62×51 would launch a 168gn bullet at 2650-2700fps the diminutive little 7mm BR would launch it at about 2300. Not very fast but it doesn’t need to be. It’s got about the power of a .30-30 and eats about 30 grains of powder per round which makes it very economical to load for. With 130gn pills things get up around 2550-2600fps and it turns into a dandy little deer and pig killer.
When deciding to enter the sport whole hog the first thing you have to decide is what chambering you’ll use. I started shooting a tactical .308 Winchester which has far too much recoil for 80 shot matches. I nearly built a 7mm-08 but that’s not much of a recoil reduction. I thought about 6.5 Grendel or 6.5BR and a number of very uncommon chamberings before remembering that 7mm BR rifle that was offered to me by a master class shooter at the State Championship match. The itty bitty case is great at saving powder and the 7mm bore means I can keep my rifles mostly centered on 7mm. I can use 168’s in my 7mag and in the 7BR so that makes keeping a stock of components easier to deal with. The currently “cool” chamberings are ridiculously fast running 6mm rounds like 6XC and 6mm-250. These run skinny long 107gn pills out at 3000fps or more and are hard on barrels as well as on the targets. They make serious craters in the steel silhouettes which I don’t think is cool. 7mm BR isn’t a speed demon by any stretch. It’s actually a bit on the pokey side but it’s easy as hell on barrels. Think 10,000 round barrel life instead of 1,500 like you can expect with the barrel burner super fast 6mm’s.
Ok, ammo porn! Here’s a loaded round of 130gn Sierra MatchKing over about 30 grains of Benchmark in Remington brass. Looks like a 7.62×39 doesn’t it? It’s actually not very far at all from being just that though then it would be called a 7mm PPC and would suffer a few grains less powder capacity which you really need to make these more than just another round in the same power class as a .223 or 7.62×39. The .308 based BR cases have a tiny bit wider case head and body.
The rifle? It’s built from a flat back Savage 110 action that’s been fully blueprinted, fitted with a 24″ #7 contour tapered stainless match barrel. The barrel has been set up with a shoulder (no barrel nut) like a Remington which I’m not sure I’m super happy about other than it signals that it wasn’t knocked up by an amateur at home. The action is fitted into a professionally bedded Nesika Bay fiberglass left hand Silhouette stock with a pretty wild marbled black and orange-red gel coat. An oversized heavy duty aluminum trigger guard and a pretty pedestrian factory trigger that’s been well broken in. On top sits a deliberately tall mounting base, some decent steel rings and a Weaver T24 24×40 AO target scope with 1/8 MOA dot on fine hairs and 1/8MOA adjustments.MORE GUN PORN!
You’ll notice it’s a left handed rifle. Well it occurred to me that there’s no point in thinking of myself as a right handed rifleman. I’m largely ambidextrous anyway and since form is the core of success, being able to achieve proper form both right and left will only make me more aware of what proper form is and a better shooter in general. Eye dominance does play into it a little but it hasn’t been hampering me much in practice so far. We’re using such high magnification optics and a gun properly stocked for shooting from the standing position that I think the equipment will force some of the way to use it upon me.
I got the little bastard used. One of the master class shooters I shot with at the last match offered it up for sale and it was too good a deal to pass up even if it is a left handed rifle. It came with a not inexpensive target scope (Weaver T series retail out at about $400-450) which is highly regarded by Silhouette shooters and a pretty expensive stock. The machine work to true the action and set up the barrel is not cheap and takes a bit of time to get done as well. If I had built the rifle it’d cost me over 2000 bucks before there were optics on it. I got 1000rds of real Remington 7BR brass with it, about 200 of which are loaded and ready to go. All in all there’s enough ammo there for 2 or 3 normal 40 shot matches plus sight-ers and practice shots.
Winchester M70: ELR Project Mjölnir
Pronounced Myol-neer. It is the hammer of Thor. Produced as the result of a bet and endowed with the power of the Gods of Asgard. Said of the hammer in the Poetic Edda:
“Then he gave the hammer to Thor, and said that Thor might smite as hard as he desired, whatsoever might be before him, and the hammer would not fail; and if he threw it at anything, it would never miss, and never fly so far as not to return to his hand; and if be desired, he might keep it in his sark, it was so small; but indeed it was a flaw in the hammer that the fore-haft was somewhat short.”
This rifle is finished being built now. It so far consists of a 90’s manufacture Winchester Model 70 push-feed action that’s been treated to the worlds best trigger job and a bolt and raceway lapping. There was no need to fully blueprint the action since the bolt face, action lugs, bolt lugs and action face were all quite cleanly trued at the factory. A testament to Winchester and their top quality machine work.
Rather than keep up my tradition of unreasonably long barrels I decided to go with a 24″ tube instead of my normal 28″ (for magnum chamberings). This may necessitate faster burning powders but that’s fine. Part of the reason to go with the 24 inch barrel was that that’s as long as the barrel maker I wanted to use makes them. Another limitation was 1:10 twist was the fastest they had in 7mm which turns out ok as well since I wanted to use mid-weight bullets in this rifle anyway. My barrel came from Black Hole Weaponry (www.blackholeweaponry.com). It’s cut for me in a full bull profile 1:10 twist 7mm bore that’s chambered in 7mm Remington Magnum. The polygonal rifling I prognositcate will help with throat erosion and barrel life. If nothing else, it’s really cool and unusual. I’ve had several other barrels from BHW and they were all tack drivers that were super easy and fast to clean. This one has 5/8″ threads at the muzzle and wears a Barret M468 muzzle brake.
What’s that you’re groaning about. A 10 twist 7mm? Yep. One might need 9.25-9.5 twist to deal with some 180gn bullets for some things but not all bullets need that spin. The idea of a 9 twist 7mm seems to me to be based on the desire to have a completely stabilized bullet at any velocity but does so with a direct disregard for extreme range performance. A 10 twist can deal with 150gn bullets really well but 180’s start to come out a little under-spun in theory.
The action is sitting in a Choate Ultimate Varmint stock. These get a lot of upturned noses because of their lineage (drawn from Plaster’s Disaster) but are actually an incredible bargain and a hell of a stock. They’re heavy as sin and I get that not everyone likes that. The pistol grip is well located, the stock looks nice without being menacing looking and the Anshutz rail is decently executed. A giant block of aluminum forms the bedding system and provides minimum flex. The rear monopod is wobbly until locked in place and lacks sophistication but once cinched down it’s fine if a little short.
An EGW 20MOA 1-piece mount holds on to my usual Burris Signature Series Zee rings in 30mm size with a set of +/-.010 eccentrics set in the rings. 40 MOA of down! I have it there in the hardware. If I need to dial it back out that is easily accomplished by flipping the eccentrics. I like to sit my scope at the very bottom of the adjustment range (makes remembering what your zero was pretty easy). Since I use fixed power scopes it’s not a problem optically and it gives me 40 extra minutes of up in case I want to try and do some intercontinental sniping.
Optics? Optics were a big question. There’s now a U.S. Optics ST-10 TPAL on it. It had a SWFA 16×42 SS on it but that was originally meant for Project Maginot Line and is finally resting there.
The brake makes it a total pussy cat to shoot, the great barrel makes it easy to be accurate and the amazing optics only enhance the whole package. We took Mjolnir out to the 1000m line and it was banging the gong with almost too much ease.
Savage 110: ELR Project Maginot Line
My Savage 110 in 7mm Remington Magnum. The project name is taken from France’s desperately poorly thought out national border defense system that completely failed to prevent the Nazi’s from stomping France like fine Burgundy grapes under the tootsies of an angry adolescent girl. The rifle gets the name because it serves the same purpose. This is one of my long range tactical rifles. Some people might think of it in the same way the French thought about the Maginot Line. It goes like this, “Well, it keeps the bad guy so far away and is capable of such high levels of damage to approaching troop formations that they will not be able to overrun it before taking unacceptable casualties and there’s not a lot of ways to move it around quickly.” That’s a beautiful example of mixing up tactics and strategy. In any event the weight of the rifle eliminates it from being carried around for long so it really does resemble the fixed canon emplacements that the French used and the Germans went around. It’s a powerhouse but one that requires other forces to be out in front of it. It’s an overwatch rifle with enough range to shoot over the heads of forces out in front. The guy with a .308 can be a couple hundred yards out in front and the guy with a .223 can be a couple hundred yards in front of that.
I started with a standard Savage 110 sporter with sights and a tapered barrel that I traded for a Savage 110 in .30-06 that I liked very little. I took that action and pulled it from the stock, ripped off the barrel and old recoil lug. I’ve added a Pacific Tool & Gauge .200″ flat ground recoil lug which is actually flat on both sides. The factory recoil lug had a nasty bend to it both along its long axis and across its face which means the rifles’ vibration harmonic was racing around inconsistently and rebounding off of edges and gaps and causing groups to open up. A flat ground recoil lug that matches snugly and evenly with the action face and the barrel nut helps make a single harmonic unit from the barrel/nut/lug/action. Solid is good after all. After the recoil lug I added a Shilen Match grade 28″ full bull barrel (untapered) with 11 degree crown and no muzzle threads. This gun will not use a brake. The barrel is set for a minimum headspace which will help with brass life by minimizing stretching. On top of the action there’s a Weaver 20MOA one-piece scope mounting base. On top of that is a set of Burris Signature Series Zee 30mm rings.
It’s sitting in a Choate Ultimate Varmint stock and uses a Harris bipod. The glass on top is a SWFA 16×42 SS. The gun is able to shoot up to a mile with my 180 grain loads and the extra magnification helps a little as we pass 1500m. Some day I’ll pop for a U.S. Optics LR-17 for it.
Savage 10FP-SR: LR/T Project Gabriel
The angel Gabriel is often noted as a messenger of God. Not like Metatron which movies seem to suggest as the voice of God but which is written as the scribe of God. Sorta says it all doesn’t it. That which is written in the Book of Gabriel may as well have come directly from God. It’ll have the same effect. Gabriel is a Savage 10FP-SR that I get more and more enamored with every time I touch it. It barely qualifies as a project. It never did need much as such. It was almost perfect right out of the box. The things I was able to do immediately to it were: drop the trigger pull to a nicely light level, add a Barret M468 muzzle brake, a Harris S-type 6-9″ bipod and a U.S. Optics ST-10 scope. You can’t even call any of that modification because it was already set to accept those things. The barrel is massive and threaded and the trigger is awesome and it’s already got a fat bolt handle. The only things I could do were convert it to DBM and give it a decent stock. It’s an oddball 4.4″ spacing short action center feed with a top-side bolt release. I used to think 5 round blind mags were ok. I’ve changed my mind and find the 10 round AI type magazine to be an awesome addition.
Gabriel is sitting in a MDT LSS chassis with a Magpul MOE buttstock and pistol grip.
I decided to put a USO ST-10’s on Gabriel. So equipped it’s about the perfect rifle for PRS competition and is still light enough to hunt with if I ever get back in the game fields. I recently dropped a 16×42 SWFA SS on it instead. I needed a little more magnification for a competition and haven’t had the inclination to put the USO back on it.
Mossberg MVP Varmint: LR/V Project Rolling Stone
My Mossberg MVP Varmint gets the project name of Rolling Stone. Mossy, no moss gathers on a rolling stone… you see how I got there. This is similar to Project Gabriel in that there’s not a lot to do to it. Frustratingly similar in that respect. I already tossed on a set of Burris Signature Series Zee rings with 20MOA of cant tossed in via Burris’ amazingly awesome eccentrics. It’s also got an EGW base with 20MOA in it. Now time for a criticism, the trigger adjustment. It’s crap. You can’t adjust it any lighter than it came from the factory. This makes the ability to adjust it nothing more than the ability to adjust it to be shittier and that’s not cool. So while the factory setting is nice as these things go and it’s not so bad that I can’t hit at 900m with it, it’s not what I was hoping for out of a lawyer resistant trigger that so obviously copies the shit out of Savage’s trigger which works. The gun came with a 24″ heavy-ish barrel that’s been fluted and a stock that’s good at closely mimicking the McMillan A5 while not being one. The magazine release is a little hinky but mags are held in securely and except for my 30 rounder all of my >10rd mags work perfectly with it. I hear that P-Mags work better than GI steel or aluminum mags but I don’t have any so I can’t say for sure. The stock just didn’t make me happy though so it’s been replaced with a MDT LSS chassis with a PSG-1 type grip from DPMS and a Magpul MOE butt stock. The LSS chassis holds the mags better and releases them with a button located similarly to the AR-15 who’s magazines it uses.
With 70 and 75 grain HPBT’s at 2800-3000fps it’s been a heck of a rifle. One thing I do notice is it likes to be run a bit spicy and a bit dirty. It doesn’t come up into its accuracy potential until there’s a hundred or so rounds down the barrel and the hotter they’re driven the better it seems to like them. I still stop when primers start flattening but it’s no foe of military pressures.