How I built my Own Dream Rifle

12 June 2002
By Joel Avila, 1LT(P), EN, USAR

I have a combined eleven years' experience in the Regular Army, National Guard, and Army Reserve. Needless to say I grew up on the venerable M-16. However, I did not start participating in the sport of shooting until the summer of 2001. My first civilian rifle, believe it or not, was a .17 caliber Gamo air gun. I gradually moved to the more powerful .22 long rifle rimfire. Eventually, I purchased a Winchester Model 70 chambered in .270, and a Bushmaster M-4 .223.

I have been heavily involved in all types of sports since I was a child. But I must say that the sport of shooting is the most relaxing, the most enjoyable, and the best stress-relief there is. I go to the local firing range at least three workdays a week whether rain, snow or shine. I usually go directly to the range after work and before pumping iron at the gym. And if I don't have Reserve drill on a weekend I usually spend half a day on Saturdays at the range with my brothers-in-law.

I am also fascinated with military snipers and their weapons. Their physical toughness, mental discipline, and other attributes are admirable. I got married two years ago and recently turned 30, and because my priorities in life have changed I can honestly say that I have no aspirations to join the elite ranks of military snipers. However, who is to say that I cannot have a sniper rifle?

I envisioned my ideal sniper rifle as a bull-barrel, bolt-action varminter chambered in either .308 or .300 magnum with tactical stock and scope. Then one day while turning the pages of Shooting Times Gun Guide 2001, I saw a picture of my dream rifle. It was a tactical rifle by Magnum Research. It was exactly what I had in mind. The price (almost $3000), on the other hand, was beyond my budget. I was very tempted to order one, but immediate castration from my wife would undoubtedly have been my punishment had I bought the rifle. There had to have been another way.

I thought it might be less expensive if I bought the individual components and assembled my own dream rifle. And that's exactly what I did. After further research, I ordered a .308 Remington 700 BDL Varmint Laminated Stock through a local gun shop. The owner was also a friend of mine so he cut me a deal. The rifle's MSRP was almost $700, but I got a brand new one for a little over $500. Next, I bought a 10x42M mil-dot Tasco Super Sniper Scope for $400 through (By the way, Sniper Country gave outstanding reviews on this item.) I also bought Mark 4 rings and base to go along with the scope. Finally, I had to decide on the type of tactical stock.

Two rifle stock companies came to mind: HS Precision and McMillan. I chose HS Precision stock for two reasons. First, the US Army's M-24 sniper stock is manufactured by this company. Second, Sniper Country sold the stock for a lot less than factory retail price. (Price direct from HS precision was almost $500.) I decided to order a black PST-25 vertical grip tactical stock with adjustable LOP and cheekpiece ($410).

My stock finally arrived after a couple of months. There was a UPS box on the doorstep when I came home from work one day; I knew exactly what was in it. I was so excited and felt like a little kid in Toys R Us. I immediately took the stock out of the box and admired its awesome beauty for a moment. It was very well built. The grip fit perfectly in my hand, and the stock overall was ergonomically designed. It was light and well balanced, but it was also tough enough. If I could give the stock a character I would liken it to Angelina Jolie in The Tomb Raider: sexy with curves in all the right places, yet powerful and dangerous.

The replacement process was quick and easy. I removed the old stock and replaced it with the new. I then tightened the bolts to 65 inch-pounds as specified. It felt good as I transformed an ordinary varminter into my dream rifle. To finish it off, I added a Versa-Pod bipod and a military-style leather sling. I also put Butler Creek scope covers on for an added uumph. The finished product cost me a little over $1600, almost half the price of the Magnum Research rifle previously mentioned.

I took the rifle to the range the same day I received the stock. I adjusted the length of pull and the cheekpiece height to my personal preference. It took two rounds to re-zero the rifle. Afterwards, I shot five reloaded 168grain HPBT Sierra bullets at 100 yards. The result was amazing. All five shots were within half of an inch. The fact that the stock was very comfortable contributed to the increased accuracy.

The rifle always gets compliments from other shooters every time I go to the range. Other shooters have actually come up close and literally stared at the rifle as if they have never seen one before. I have had this rifle for several weeks now, and I must say that I am still in awe.

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