I finally had enough of the factory barrel that was on the Savage LRP that I picked up last year. The original plan was to shoot the .243 factory barrel for 1500 round or so and then swap it out for something else. However, after shooting the gun quite a bit, maybe 500 rounds, I just wasn't happy. If anyone followed by .243 reloading thread, try after try, I just couldn't get what I wanted out of that gun.
Back in November I ordered a barrel from James at Northland Shooter Supply. My choice was a Criterion Stainless Match barrel in an MTU contour finished at 25" and chambered for 6mm Creedmoor Match. I received the barrel a couple weeks ago and had a local guy do the Cerakote job on the barrel, barrel nut and recoil lug. Although I wasn't thrilled about the name "sniper gray", it was the nice dark gray that I was looking for.
For those who don't know, Savage guns can be re-barreled with pre-fit barrels using nothing more than an action vice, a barrel nut wrench, and a couple gauges, all available from NSS.
I removed the old barreled action from the stock, removed the scope and base, and removed the trigger assembly (not required for rebarreling but you'll see). Removing the old barrel was as simple as putting the barreled action in the action vice, clamping that in a bench vise and then loosening the barrel nut so that the barrel can be spun out.
After completely cleaning the action and the threads, and applying an anti-seize to the barrel threads, the new barrel was spun on the reverse order. The key is to use a set of go/no-go gauges to set the barrel to the right headspace from the bolt face. Not a hard process, but very important. Once turned in to the right spacing, the barrel nut is re-tightened and you’re done.
Now, before I reinstalled everything, I decided that I would skim bed the action to the stock. The HS Precision stock that came on the gun had an aluminum bedding block, but I ground that down (dremel) about 0.100", prepared the action with release agent, set clay dams in the stock, etc. and then gooped it up. The idea is that the skim bed will improve the action contact with the stock and will eliminate any high spots that cause stress in the action when the action screws are tightened. It also insures that the recoil lug makes full contact with its mating surface on the stock. This isn't a clean process and it takes a lot of pre-thought and dry runs. After the epoxy is mixed is not the time to think of something that you forgot. However, with some careful planning, lots of painters tape, shoe polish (release agent) and some modeling clay, it isn't too difficult.
There are some great videos on this process. I'm not talented enough to run a camera while dealing with the set time on the epoxy and everything else that could go wrong.
Once the epoxy cures, the action is removed, you spend a few hours picking clay, everything gets cleaned up, there is some filing of the epoxy to clearance items ... and you should have a stock with an exact imprint of the action. Overall, I think this one turned out pretty good.
**On a side note I skim bedded a buddy's factory heavy barrel 223 Savage last weekend (first one I've ever done). The gun shot in the 0.5" to 0.6" range before the bed job, but was pretty consistent with throwing at least one flyer 1/2" out of the 5-shot group. Since bedding, we haven't shot it enough to say for sure but we did see three 5-shot groups, all at or just below 0.5" with NO flyers. That's a good sign and should mean that the gun isn't shifting in the cheap plastic factory stock like it likely was before the bedding. We'll know more after another range day or two.**
Next I will get the action re-set in the stock, re-mount the scope and start a 15 or so round barrel break-in with factory ammo. After that I'll start working up a hand load and see what type of accuracy I can squeeze out of it.
I'll do a follow up as I get a feel for how the new barrel will perform.
If anyone has any questions or comments on the process, feel free to post them. I'm no expert but we may have some fun discussion.
I am also planning to build another .223 from the ground up with a Savage action, Criterion barrel and a Bell & Carlson stock. When the rest of the components come in for that build, I will try to do a follow along of the full process with a few more pictures.