Sometime in mid 2005 I was looking around for some projectiles for my .308 Norma Magnum and was recommended GS Custom amongst Barnes, Swift A-frame etc. When surfing around their Website I saw that they had tried a 22x64 running around 4700 Fps.
I decided to do a project like this, thinking that the best route would be to buy a used 220 Swift rifle and re chamber it to 22-06 Easling. This is an American wildcat that was developed in the early sixties. It never gained any popularity because of the bullets and powders of that time that were not suited to the idea as they are today. It starts with a 30-06 or 270 case and, die sets, reamers and gauges are available from Huntingtons in the USA as mail order items. Gerard said that the 22x64 is the ballistic twin of the 22-06E. He had a 22-250 reamer spare that was modified to cut the deeper chamber. Cost of the experimental project was therefore very modest. When the reamer wears out, he will switch to the 22-06E as well, now that he had proven the viability of the idea with modern bullets. Problem was that the reamers, gauges, & dies would cost $600.00 to $700.00 US. Delivery is six months.
I then decided to write up a project brief:
I want to build an accurate rifle that shoots flat.
The idea is not necessarily to kill anything with it, but rather to build something to enjoy, for it being able to hit what it is aimed at.
I do not expect to go out further than 500 Yards.
I was not quite certain yet, whether I was barking up the wrong tree !
The first person who came back with a price, was Mkonto:
For the barrel:
Unchambered bull barrel in .22 with a 1 in 8 twist 30 " long @ R2750.00
Price adder for fluting barrel @ R1600.00
For the action:
Blueprinted Remington M700 action @ R22000.00
Bench Rest MK action with triple locking lugs, integral picatiny rails, adjustable single stage trigger with side safety catch @ R32000.00
I was a bit shocked at the prices for the Action, as a Remington 700 Action costs 300 USD dealer in the USA. In Namibia I can get a Littleton single shot new for 2500 Rand, while in SA they go for 2250. Mkonto advised that this was for a blueprinted action i.e threads recut, locking lugs lapped, etc. According to them the Remington actions in South Africa cost R7500.00
A Few questions arose, such as what profile I wanted of the barrel? What thickness would I want the barrel OD to be from 16, 17, 18, 19 or 20 inch?
Gerard had a profile that he claimed works very well (and definitely looks the part). It is not very heavy but the barrel is extremely rigid and the balance is between the hands. He has two rifles with this profile and several of his customers have requested this over the years. None have been disappointed and he now has a (bullet) customer in the USA who also had one built by PacNor.
A bull barrel would be 31mm from the action through to the muzzle. Since I was going to use a Bipod & silencer from the word Go, I decided to go for that shape. I am trying to convince a Friend, who now also became interested in the .22-06, to use Gerald’s hunting barrel profile.
Truvelo suggested that they do the barrel for me with the rifling as suggested at 1:7. Gerard from GS Customs confirmed this as correct, as it would be a good performer with their 60gr HV.
They could cut the thread for the action I require. GS Custom could then do the chambering as they have such a reamer. The fitting of the action and the barrel as well as fitting the stock was to be done in Namibia. A 30” Barrel was chosen, to burn up most/all the powder. Stainless would be double the price and not necessary or recommended.
Truvelo quoted me:
Bull barrel R968.00 no contour
Fluted barrel R1700.00 contour and fluted
Hunting profile R1110.00
Now it was a choice of actions, Hartmut wanted a Mauser 98. I was advised not to use a Remington action unless I had access to a gunsmith who knows how to deal with them. Old Musgrave Vrystaat rifles with the Mauser type extractor, a bolt that looks like an RSA rifle and with Lyttleton Engineering or LIW on the action would be a good choice for a hunting rifle. RSA single shots, the Lyttleton RSA magazine box actions and older Sako, not the new 75 action, Browning A-bolt ll or a Savage would be capable of good accuracy. Some Vektor double square bridge Mauser Magnum actions would go for R14 000 to R16 000 !
I then contacted Terry Harrison; known for extreme accuracy, to see what actions he had on offer. A Bit of background on him. In 2005 he built 4 of the 8 rifles that won gold at the F class word championships and one rifle that won Gold at the World Benchrest Championships. His specialty is long-range accuracy. His wise words were as follows “Firstly you cannot do Ferrari speeds with VW parts, the same applies with rifles. All rifle calibres can reach out to 500 m but only a few do it accurately. Firstly your barrel choice is wrong and your calibre, A 22 x 64 I have not heard of yet but all that powder behind a 22 bullet is sure to affect your barrel life. By the time you tune your rifle that soft Truvelo barrel will have enough throat erosion to give you the shits. 22 Calibre is affected by the wind so what you gain on vertical you will lose twice as much on the horizontal and when there is no wind the mirage out at 500 will kill you.
The action I would suggest that you go for is a Remington 700 BDL long action; this action has a large bedding area and fairly long action thread area for hanging a long heavy barrel. Get the action blue printed and have a Sako style extractor fitted. By blue printing means, re-cutting the action threads concentric to the centre axis of the action and at the same time re-facing the action locking lugs and action face. Re-cutting the bolt lugs and bolt face at 90 degrees to the outside of the bolt body, reworking the firing pin if need be and sleeving the rear bolt body to prevent bolt cant then lapping the bolt and action lugs for 100% marriage. If all this is done correctly by a competent Gunsmith you should end up with an accurate action with magazine capabilities.
Stock either a good laminate or glass fibre stock with a varmint style forend to accommodate a thicker barrel and prevent roll on recoil. No swivel studs as they intend to dig into the rest on recoil.
Bullet, what you need is to maintain above the speed of sound at termination of flight path so put a bit more study into Ballistic coefficient and calibres. Unfortunately gravity sucks and your bullet is going down from the moment it exits the barrel. There are very good ballistic programs available by Sierra that will help you plot your flight path. Calibres with good BC to look into are 6,5mm, 7mm, 30 and 338 the 6.5 x 284 or the 7mm Ackley improved would be about your flattest shooting calibres.
Barrels. This is the beginning of accuracy so don't scrimp here, go for the best and to me the best are Shilen or Hart or Krieger all made in the USA and all very good Shilen and Hart are button rifled and Krieger cut rifled. You would need a barrel length minimum 26" stainless steel and round about a 5 contour to give you a finished rifle of about 8 lb. The twist in the barrel depends on what bullet and calibre you intend shooting
Telescopes, The bigger the target the easier it is to hit. As you have a lot of heat where you stay I would pick a variable telescope say a 8 - 25 X 50 or a 6 - 18 x 44 with duplex or fine reticule.
Do yourself a favour and go to http://www.benchrest.com/
Ok, everybody is allowed their own opinion and I respect that of Terry. I studied Engineering and Engine design and have read up on BC as well as calibres.
Problem is that a lot of the "writings" are done purely on empirical findings or experience.
Chevrolet did a lot of Wind tunnel testing of various shapes. This they published and you could read it up on SAE papers.
McFarlane then went on his own and most of this info was forgotten.
His choice of Calibres did not tickle my fancy, because I first had a 7mm STW built in the USA, which gave me hunting accuracy.
I have a fair bit of experience with the 338 Lapua and found that extremely accurate as in the Military sniper rifles.
I thought of building a .408 Chey Tac, but junked that idea, as it is a proven performer and an expensive proposition that I could not warm to.
After being pounded by those cannons I decided to give something small and fast a shot.
My 243 loaded with 55gr projectiles gives me 4000 FPS+ velocity but there are 2 problems, current projectiles are made for varmints and are too short.
The latter is a BC problem and to long a leade, but still a sub minute accuracy at 300M is possible.
That is the reason I want to give the .22 HV a try. With the right BC and correct chambering, it should do wonders.
If it does not, I am sure I will find a collector who is prepared to refund my expenses for having something novel.
One day I will go back to the 6.5 X 68 (My father had a custom unit built as a present together with a 8X68, by his Gunsmiths- Triebel brothers, sadly he sold Rosenthal in 73), which I am sure can be made to perform with the right rate of Twist and the proper projectile.
For now I am thinking of supplying such a 700BDL Action (USD300 +-). Terry would then blue print the action and have a Sako style extractor fitted. Between R1800 - R2500 depending on how worn the action is, which it won’t be because it will be new and if it needs bolt sleeving, probably R1800.00
If I go for a RSA action that still needs to be blue printed R1200.00
Various bad things were said about the Mauser, such as “that it was made in 1898 for the military did a good job then, in the end that would be like putting wooden pistons in a small block Chevy”.
I am leaning towards choosing Armtec for their excellent Synthetic stocks. This is going to use a Thumbhole type that would need to be pillar bedded @ R880. I was advised to Order the stock unpainted, as the bedding process will stuff the paint job up. Some interesting info; Terry Harrison developed and made most of the moulds and process for fibreglass stocks in 1993 and sold his business to Armtec in 1997.
So far this is where we stand on 08 February 2006.