First off, let me say that this is an INITIAL review (for reasons I'll get into later).
I first met George while attending a Long-Range Hunting course at BadLands Tactical Training Facility in Grandfield, Oklahoma. George was there testing several of his rifles at various ranges out to 1,000 yards. This was my opportunity to shoot a Rock." I WANTED ONE!!! Oh, I wanted one in the worst way. But, like most of us, the price was a bit on the steep side for a poor, old, working, Registered Nurse. Well, to make a long story short, after a couple months and another course at BadLands, I contacted George for an initial "this is what I want to do, now what will it cost me" talk.
What I had was a Remington 700 VS in .308, as stock as the day it came from the factory. What I wanted at that point was for George to true the action and shorten the LOP on the VS stockI like that stock; it handles well for me. George asked me how much I wanted to spend. After my answer he tells me, WELL for that I'll do every thing you asked AND put on a new Mike Rock 5R 22" barrel, bed the action, add a new Pachmayr Decelerator pad, black Teflon the works, and add a speed knob to the bolt. (If you ever have George do anything, have him add a speed knob to your bolt! It makes charging the weapon much easier and the knob adds enough bulk that even with gloves on you have something to get hold of!) Needless to say, he had made me an offer I couldn't refuse! Oh, how much did this cost? Call George with your requirementscost is between you and him! I sent the rifle off and, after only a couple of weeks, George calls and says my rifle is ready! Talk about a surprise! Well, after another couple of weeks (this wasn't too long after 9/11, shipping and postal things where still messed up) my rifle arrived.
Taking the rifle out of the case was a pure joy! This was one of the finest looking rifles I'd had the pleasure of laying my hands on! Now, if it would only shoot as good as it looked, I'd be in shooters heaven! "Rock Jr's" action is so smooth it feels like it's laser guided! The trigger breaks cleanly at just over 2.5 lbs. with no creep. Balance is as close to perfect as I could ask for; I can actually hold it off-hand! A couple of days later I was able to get to the range. I broke-in the barrel, following George's instructions, then started shooting for 100yd. groups. I had to use what was on hand: some SMK 168 handloads and Black Hills 175 match ammo. OH DOES THIS THING SHOOT!! I have a target, one of the first from this rifle, that has five (5) groups ALL going under .5 MOA and three (3) of the five going right at or just under.3 MOA! This from a rifle that I had just finished breaking-in the barrel! Hey, if you question this, I'll scan the target and post it!
Now come the reasons for this being an INITIAL review. First, let me give a bit of background. As I have already said I'm a RN and, as some of you know, I work in the Emergency Room. So?, you ask. The kicker is I work 112 miles, one way, from my home!! What this means is I don't get to go home more than once every couple of weeks, and then usually only for a couple of days! Thus my reloading time, as well as my time on a longer (to 1,000 yards) range, is cut WAY down! The reloading problem is in the process of being solved but it is still going to take a couple of weeks more. Now, what does all this have to do with this review? Well, I've only been able to test one set of 175 handloads and this rifle doesn't like them at all, especially out to 200 yards. The BH 175's have shot into a sub-MOA group at 200, but I haven't been able to get any distance further than this and have NO data for any handloads, other than the one I already mentioned, at this or any longer distances. So, with 173 documented rounds at 100 yards this is a tack driver! How it is going to perform at the other distances has yet to be revealed. But, as everyone that has a Gardner rifle can testify, his rifles do shoot and I'm sure once I get a load this one likes, mine will as well!
Thanks, George, and I'm looking forward to building a load "Rock Jr." likes and shooting it WAY OUT THERE!
More to follow once the data is available!