I recently purchased a one-piece scope base from Near Manufacturing of Kindersley, Saskatchewan, for a long action Winchester Model 70. According to Mr. Richard Near, president of Near Manufacturing, the entire unit is CNC machined from pre-hardened 416 stainless steel (Rockwell C 31-36) to tolerances less than 0.001 inch. The fit, form, and function are just superb. No machining marks are evident. Critical surface finishes are very smooth. I am quite impressed with the quality and heft of this base.
The Near base features a Picatinny Arsenal rail configuration with 12 cross-slots from front to back. This scope base conforms to MIL-STD-1913 and will accept any NATO codified day or night weapon sight designed to this configuration, including the ELCAN, Pilkington Maxi 6x, Litton 6x, and the AN PVS-10. The Near base is available in three different finishes: dark desert tan oxide, matte black, or matte sandblasted stainless. It features 25 MOA of forward cant, and is produced for the Remington Model 700 (short & long action), the Winchester Model 70 (short & long action) and the Weatherby Mk V. Furthermore, the base is available in right- and left-hand action configurations, albeit with longer production lead times.
There are a few interesting features about this base. For instance, there is a milled recess just above the ejection port of the rifle. This recess facilitates the ingression of cartridges into the magazine and eases the egress of spent casings upon ejection while still maintaining a uniform scope rail, unlike the Leupold Mk IV base. Another nice touch is that this particular base has a serial number, which was probably requested by the client. The base in question has two holes in the front end and three in the back end to accommodate the various Winchester Model 70 hole spacings. While the base comes with hex screws, I prefer Torx screws, which, in my opinion, represent the current paradigm in scope base fasteners. Mr. Near recommends that 20 inch-pounds of torque be applied when tightening the screws. The use of a thread-locking compound is left to the customer's discretion.
As can be seen, the Near base offers numerous possibilities to those who are looking for a quality one-piece scope base for their favorite rifle. The beauty of a one-piece base is that everything is in the same plane, which negates the need for lapping the scope rings, assuming good quality rings are used. For daytime optics, either the standard Leupold Mk IV rings or the Badger Ordnance rings are recommended, as these are the only rings that match the quality and strength of this base. Aside from the superior alignment of the scope rings, the one-piece design strengthens the action and improves both the long-term maintenance of zero and the repeatability of zero when switching from day to night optics.
The only downside that I can see is that these bases are not exactly "off-the-shelf" items. Near Manufacturing sells primarily to military & police agencies, who typically place a large purchase order. However, Mr. Near usually does his utmost to accommodate his clients.
How much does this base cost? Well, bear in mind that "the best things in life are free, but the really good stuff costs money" - and the Near Manufacturing base is "really good stuff." But at US$195.00, it is money well spent for a quality one-piece scope base.