It is always interesting to begin a new project rifle – to try and turn goals and vision into a tack driving lead-slinger. But it requires some thought and planning since mistakes can be costly. So, the first question you should ask yourself is, “What will the rifle be used for?” The second question is, “What are your expectations for accuracy?” – and finally, “What is my budget?”
With this project, I am looking to build a 1,000 yard rifle for F-Class Tactical Rifle (FTR) competition, but with the option of also using it for precision rifle shooting (PRS) and sniper training. The latter requirements necessitate that it be a repeater, so not built on a single-shot action such as Kelbly’s F-Class Panda with integral 20 MOA rail.
I’ve been using one of my sniper rifles for FTR matches up until now, but the 22″ barrel and Harris bi-pod put me at some disadvantage alongside the 18-pound custom FTR rifles with 32″ heavy barrels and more stable FTR bi-pods.
Dedicated FTR rifle build on a single shot action with McMillan XiT stock
As with all my rifles, my expectations for accuracy is 0.5 MOA, but with Berger 185 Juggernauts and Berger 200 grain Hybrids. After talking with National FTR champion and US Team member, Derek Rodgers, the decision was to go with a Bartlein Heavy Palma 1:10 .308 blank that would be cut to 30 inches. Fortunately I found a dealer who had one on the shelf, eliminating a long waiting period for the barrel.
Bartlein barrel blank and Kelbly’s Atlas Tactical Action with pinned 20 MOA rail
After researching high-end tactical actions, and talking to Ryan at Kelbly’s Inc, I went with their Atlas Tactical action, complete with pinned 20 MOA rail and recoil lug. Kelbly’s were also able to fit the barrel to their action within 60 days, which is good considering other gunsmiths had a 5-6 month backlog.
When this comes back from Kelbly’s later this month, the barreled action, along with the Badger Ordnance M5 BDM bottom metal, will go to Kelly McMillan at McMillan Fiberglass Stocks in Phoenix, AZ, for an A5 adjustable stock. While the McMillan XiT stock would have been the hot setup for FTR shooting, it did not provide the options needed for PRS and sniper training, but the XiT will be the stock on my next build.
McMillan A5 adjustable stock with GAP transition paint job
Along with a Jewell HVR trigger, a good scope, and a Phoenix Precision FTR bi-pod, this rig should provide me with a very accurate, very stable, long range rifle. The goal is to see just how competitive this type of Sniper/FTR rig will be at the local, state and national level before stepping up to a custom built dedicated FTR rifle. But with the time it takes for all the barrel and action work and stock fit-up, I will probably start that project rifle as soon as this one begins pushing Juggernauts down range.
Kelly McMillan and Derek Rodgers with the McMillan XiT stock