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      Larry Gibson
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      To make a long story short about 2 years ago I got tired of wishin’ n’ hopin’ about a rifle I would love to have. So I went through the gun safes and picked out 3 rifles I just wasn’t using anymore and sold them to fund my “dream” long range rifle. I already had a late model stainless CRF M70 Winchester (US Repeating Arms) to use as the action. It originally was a .308W that had been rebarreled by Jim Cloward (of Bellingham, WA) along the way.

      I bit the bullet and got a Nightforce NXS 8×32 MOAR scope. I have been lusting over that scope for several years.  I prefer the reticle in the 2nd focal plane and the MOAR reticle is excellent and easy to use.   I also had a scope base built by Jim Cloward with a 10 moa cant built in. Additionally I had a set of 4 older Redfield 30MM rings that had some windage adjustment. Absolutely love the NXS scope and MOAR reticle.

      Ordered a Broughton Palma contour barrel with a 12″ twist to be sent to Tim. That would take 6+ months to deliver.  I then ordered a McMillan adjustable A5 stock in Sonoran Camo inletted for the M70 action with the Palma contour barrel with pillars and flush mounted sling cups on the left side. I specified a 13″ minimum pull to a maximum of 14 ¾” pull. The stock has the clamp bar adjustable cheek piece with round knob. During the wait for the stock I happened to be in Scottsdale, Az and stopped by the McMillan factory. Very nice people and I got a complete tour. Marvelous operation and, while spendy, I learned why. The precision and craftsmanship that goes into the manufacture of their stocks is amazing.

      I knew it would be about year for the stock to be completed and shipped to me. As it was it took right at 9 months. The barrel had arrived at Tim’s shop so I sent the M70 barreled action off to Tim for him to “work his magic”.  I was wanting the Broughton barrel installed and kept as long as possible. Tim kept it right at 32″ and chamber it to minimum headspace with his 30-06 XCB reamer. I have no intension of shooting cast in the rifle with 175-178 match bullets being my choice. Experience using those in another similar LR rifle Tim built for a friend of mine showed the XCB chamber to be exceptional for use with jacketed bullets also. I also had Tim D&T the scope base holes in the action to take 8×40 screws. Tim opened up the factory 308W magazine with the hope it would feed 30-06s but, alas, it wouldn’t so a replacement 30-06 factory magazine fixed that without any problem.  The feed lips on the 2 magazines are indeed different.

      I also sent along a Savage Competition M12 that the 223 Rem barrel had been shot out on. I had been given a Savage factory Palma Barrel (almost new) in 308W and sent it along also for Tim to install on the M12. The barrel had the larger Savage shank and the M12 has the smaller Savage shank.  Tim turned the barrel’s shank down and rethreaded it for a perfect fit (didn’t expect anything but perfect). That rifle is another story/thread for later.

      Well Tim got both rifles action done  the end of March and shipped the “new” barreled actions back to me. The M70 with the 32” Broughton barrel was a “drop in” into the McMillan A5 stock. The front edge of the barrel channel lightly touched the right edge of the barrel, so I left that. I decided to see how it shot as a drop in before bedding and fully free floating the barrel. The Cloward base was mounted with 8×40 torx head screws. I mounted the Nightforce NXS in the 4 Redfield rings but between the high rings and the scope base the scope was a bit high. The NXS MOAR reticle was adjusted to 8 moa from the bottom then using a Leupold bore sighter.   I then shimmed the rear of the base hoping for a 300 yard base zero. This would, of course be tweaked as initial shooting/testing progressed.

      I had previously tested 3 different powder with Sierra 175 MKs and Hornaday ELD-Ms; H4350, IMR4350 and IMR4831. I had several bullets to test also; Sierra 175 MKs and 175 TMKs, Sierra 180 MKs, Hornady 178 ELD-Ms and Hornady 178 Match bullets. With 150 Winchester new cases already match prepped I loaded up some selected loads with each bullet as the loads had previously been worked up in the other 30-06 LR rifle Tim built for my friend and pressure tested in my 30-06 pressure test rifle.

      Started with the Hornady 178 Match over 59 gr IMR4831. It ran 3030 fps out of my LMG-LR over the Oehler m35P chronograph. First 2 shots at 100 yards were touching but 2 moa low and 1.2 moa right. I guessed I should be about 4” high at 100 to be close to on at 300 yards so I adjusted the scope up 6 moa and left ½ moa. Shot 3 shots and the three were almost touching 4” high but slightly left at 100 yards. With that I moved the target to 300 yards. Shot this 10 shot group;

      Group was right at 3” for moa accuracy at 300 yards. Shot the remaining test loads with different powders and bullets at 300 yards and all grouped at or just under 1 moa. A couple changes needed to be made as I just did not feel comfortable behind the rifle. The scope was definitely too high and I thought I just wasn’t used to the 16 ounce trigger. Also, the base would need a bit more shim as I was 14 moa up from the bottom of the elevation adjustment.

      So back in my man-cave I did some measuring and ordered a set of Vortex low tactical 30mm rings. I free floated the barrel and then bedded the action and 2” up the barrel with Brownell’s Steel-Bed. The bedding was well cured when the rings arrived, so I remounted the base and mounted the NXS in the Vortex rings. That put the scope as low as possible without touching the barrel. Having noted where, on Leupold bore sight grid, the 300 yard zero was I was able shim the rear of the base with the elevation adjusted back down to 8 moa above bottom back to “zero” on the bore sighter. It worked out close as the 300 yard zero is now 6.5 moa above bottom. That gives me a little adjustment leeway on the bottom end of the NXS’s elevation adjustment and almost full adjustment for longer ranges past 300 yards.

      The hold felt a lot better with the scope lowered. The adjustable cheek piece is not only adjustable for height but also has some lateral adjustment. I adjusted the height and laterally so with a good spot weld the scope was “there” perfectly in my vision.

      Went out to my 1000 yard range to help Kenny Eye with a target camera test [Eagle Eye Shooting on U-Tube, TactiCam LR video] and did okay hitting my 24” steel target.   Made the initial scope adjustment for elevation and wind based on computer estimate. First 2 shots were just off the steel a 10 – 11 o’clock so adjusted down 1 moa and right 1 ½ moa and was on target. I still just did not feel quite “right” behind the rifle. Something still just did not fit quite right.

      Went to the 300 yard range (Sara Park, Lake Havasu City, AZ) to try to figure it out.  At 300 yards the elevation was a tudge high and left which accounts for the initial 2 shots at the previous 1000 yard shooting.  However, with the 59 gr load of IMR4831 I blew a primer out of 8 shots so I quit shooting.

      Back in the man-cave I found the other 7 fired cases also had enlarged primer pockets.   Obviously, even though that load tested out at 61 – 62,000 psi at 70 – 80 degrees during load testing and previous shooting, at the current 100+ degrees it was a bit too hot.  I pulled the rest of the bullets dumped the powder and re-weighed it to a reduced charge of 58 gr.   Went out yesterday and at 100 degrees in the shade it ran the same 3030 fps with one gr less powder and shoots very well. With targets up at 300 yards the first 10 shot group ran 2.25”….. .75 moa. Second ten shot group ran 2.1”…… .7 moa.

      I was getting the feel of the 16 ounce trigger better but, still, my position on the rifle just didn’t feel “right”.
      I sat there at the bench waiting for the barrel to cool a bit, as at 100+ degrees even in the shade it takes a bit, and ponderied the situation. Then it dawned on me that the length of pull was still at the maximum of 14 ¼”. I loosened the 2 hex bolts in the rear and slipped out a ¼” and a ½” spacer reducing the length of pull to 13 12” which is my normal length of pull without a thick shoulder pad on. The 2 hex bolts were then tightened back down. On the McMillan A5 the spacers are slotted so the slip out without the whole assembly having to be removed…..pretty handy.

      Settling behind the rifle then in position it felt like a whole different rifle….everything fit perfectly.  Especially my grip and placement of trigger finger on the trigger.  I had perfect control and the 16 ounce trigger pull actually, now, felt good. Even though the rifle weighs in at 17+ pounds pushing the 178 gr bullet at 3000+ fps does provide a certain amount of recoil.  Thus solid firm position and hold on the rifle is necessary for control of the rifle and to get back on target after the shot.  A light bench rest hold letting the rifle free rifle recoil will not cut it.

      With now a comfortable position and grip on the LMG-LR I then shot this 10 shot group at 300 yards;

      That’s 10 shots in 1.55” at 300 yards for basically .5 moa. That is exactly what I was hoping for. I was satisfied with ¾ moa at 300 yards but still hoping for ½ moa and there it is!  My dream long range rifle come true!

      That concluded my short range testing so now I will only shoot the rifle  on my 1000 – 1500 yard range out north of town on BLM land.   I’ve 10”, 12” and the 24” steel “dingers” that are easily set up. I’ve a MagnoSpeed target light to put on the 12 and 24” targets. It’s pretty slick as it lights up when the target is hit. However, given the weight of the LMG-LR rifle and the time of flight I am able to recover from recoil and get back on target, even with the scope at 32 power, to see the hit at 1000+ yards.  The 178 gr bullet at that velocity smacks the dingers really well and leaves no doubt when they are hit.

      My advice is, if you want a rifle of your dreams, get the parts to Tim and have him work his magic. Do not scrimp or go 2nd choice on anything even if you have to get the wife a 2nd job, sell the 1st born or get 2nd and 3rd mortgages on the homestead……. Yes, it takes time to get it all together so don’t wait. Tim’s work is excellent and can’t be beat….so if you really want the rifle of your dreams……go for it as I did.  You won’t regret it……

       

      Larry Gibson

      Hold hard, shoot straight…… 

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