by: Germán A. Salazar
Recently I wrote about my project rifle which I dubbed the 40XL (click here for the article). When I wrote the original article the rifle was just finished and I had shot it very little, although that brief bit of shooting seemed very promising. Here’s an update on how it has been working.
I originally wrote that the 40XL was intended to show what Remington could produce today at about the same cost as their current 40X, but be a bit more in line with the needs of Highpower shooters. I also wanted to show how it could be done with a long action to properly house my old favorite, the .30-06. Although I liked the rifle, I didn’t have an expectation that it would shoot at a super high level, the low, non-adjustable comb on the stock and the used, rechambered barrel kept my expectations low – I was wrong!
In the chronographing article (click here for article) I used the 40XL to search for a mild load for the 300 yard stage of our Mid-Range state championship. That match is fired at 600, 500 and 300 yards (in that order) and it occurred to me that after firing my usual fairly stout load with 190 gr. bullets at 600 and 500 yards, it might be nice to finish each day with something a bit milder. While I was going to shoot the match with the Eliseo tubegun in .30-06, the 40XL was used to check out some loads. The idea was to shoot a 155 gr. bullet with a mild charge of 4895, something around 2800 fps, after all, it was only for 300 yards.
That day, testing loads at the range, I found that the powder charges I selected were probably a bit hotter than I wanted, the mildest was 2830 fps, but it seemed to shoot well and the match was the following week, so I decided to use it. As things turned out, it was a good choice. On the first day of the state match, I shot a 150-4X at 300 yards with it under fairly windy conditions and on the second day a 150-10X which was the high score for that stage (both were fired, as always, with iron sights). Now, with our summer season upon us, I began to think about trying that mild 155 gr. load at 500 yards. During the summer we only shoot at 500 yards as it is the only distance at which our clubs have covered firing lines and in 110 degree heat, shade is not optional.
I loaded some Lake City 62 Match brass with the selected load and Berger 155.5 gr. Fullbore moly-coated bullets for the first summer match at the Phoenix Rod & Gun Club. During the first string I felt some creep in the second stage of the trigger and it was bothering me. I stood up about halfway through the string, adjusted the trigger and got back into position. Unfortunately, the wind had shifted more than I thought and the first shot after getting back down was an 8. A score of 197-11X for that string wasn’t too bad, all things considered. During the next string, I still felt a bit of creep, but decided to shoot through it and finished with a 200-14X, that’s better than I ever expected from this rifle. I finished with a 199-9X for the last string as the wind really got brisk, but the total 596-34X was a very promising start and I thought there was a higher score hiding in that rifle.
The following week, I loaded the same brass, primers and powder charge, but substituted the Berger 155 VLD for the 155.5 Fullbore bullet simply because I had a few boxes of them that I hadn’t used in years. Conditions were a bit milder than the previous week and my hopes were high. The first string went well other than one shot which I called high, and it was, so a 199-12X opened the day. On the second string the wind was switching direction frequently, X’s were harder to come by and I got blown out for a 9, so a 199-10X was the result. After a long stint in the pits, I came back out to find a stronger, but more consistent wind blowing across the range. My sighters were a pair of X’s, then, just as I broke the first shot, I felt the wind pick up, fortunately a 10 at 3:00 was the result. I gave the sight a 1 moa correction and fired another 10 in the same place as the wind kept increasing, I added another 1.5 moa now I was at about 3 moa total. The next 17 shots in a row were in the X ring, the final one dropping to a 10 at 7:00 as I had a bit of a pulse going by then, so a 200-17X to finish the day with a 598-39X.
I have to say, that the 1:13″ twist Krieger which previously had about 3,500 rounds fired through it as a .308, is doing just fine! I still haven’t tried the 175 Berger which I still intend to shoot, but we can certainly say that the 155 with 4895 is a good load, although a bit mild for our longer and windier ranges.
The two matches brought out a few areas in need of attention. As I mentioned previously, the trigger’s second stage kept developing a bit of creep (excessive sear engagement). I took the trigger apart after adjusting it once more and wicked the tiniest imaginable drop of Loctite onto the second stage sear adjustment screw. That tiny bit was enough to give the screw some resistance to movement and cured the creep problem. I have six of these triggers in use right now and this is the only one that I’ve had to do this with, so I don’t think it’s a design issue, just a fluke.
The next area that needed attention was the buttplate adjustment rod. The buttplate extends and is held in place by a set-screw through the side of the stock which bears against the main rod; I had the extension set at 3/4″ over fully compressed. Under the recoil of the .30-06, the buttplate would sometimes slowly push back in, overcoming the resistance of the set-screw. I first filed a flat onto the rod, thinking that would give the set-screw a bit more area to bite, but that didn’t help much. Next I decided that a fixed spacer would do the trick. A quick trip to the local hardware store turned up a couple of good candidates: a 3/4″ ID x 1″ long steel spacer and a 3/4″ ID x 9/16″ long shaft collar with a set screw to hold it in place. In the second match (598-39X), I used the 1″ long spacer; it cured the compression problem, but I found that it extended the buttplate a bit more than I prefer for ease of loading. At the next match I’ll try the 9/16″ long collar. If that’s too short, I’ll see if I can get a friend to cut the 1″ spacer down to 3/4″ on a lathe.
The final item was to try to raise the comb just a bit. This morning I added a Cheek-Eze pad which is a simple, stick-on pad to raise it a bit. I actually added a small section of pad material right on the comb and then a larger piece over a broader section of the cheekpiece. Each piece is 1/16″ thick, so the total height increase at the comb is 1/8″. That should be a helpful increase.
That’s about it for now, the rifle is working better than I expected and only reinforces my original concept, that Remington could be making something better for Highpower shooters and it wouldn’t cost much more, if any more at all, than what they currently sell. Oh, and don’t discount the .30-06, it still shoots!