• All-Weather Carbine Rifle in .300 Savage

    Submitted by Jody Calhoun -

    have always admired compact hunting rifles. Their short stature, lightweight, and balance make them a good choice if you hunt in heavy brush country, thick forests, and swamplands where a traditional long rifle really isn't needed.
    I also like how the short barrels allow them to be handled easier when you are on an ATV or in a truck. Since I hunt in southern Alabama, primarily along the Gulf Coast, I decided to "bite the bullet" and build one for myself.

    Having already built a few custom rifles of my own I had a good idea of how to go about it. The only things that were stopping me were money and time, it's hard to have both at the same moment.

    Here's what I knew I wanted to do.

    Keep the price reasonable but not so low as to sacrifice quality. I budgeted $1000 for everything. Key requirements for the build were as follows:

    - A 20 inch barrel
    - A laminated wood stock
    - All surfaces, except scope, would be Dura Coated
    - Make the rifle as light as practicable. Something in the 7 to 8 pound range.
    - A cartridge that is deadly on deer but, due to the weight of the rifle, not heavy on recoil.

    Completed rifleWith all that in mind I decided to start the build with a Stevens 200 short action. It began as a .22-250 but I dumped everything except for the action. At $285 it was easy on the wallet.

    For the stock I went with a "Monte Carlo Sporter" in rust camo from Sharp Shooter Supply. I asked them not to install the sling swivel studs as I was going to shorten the fore end. Price was $279.

    The next step was the barrel. I went with an E.R. Shaw chrome-moly steel sporter barrel cut at 20-inches. It has 1-12 twist, pre-threaded and chambered in .300 Savage. The price was right under $200 shipped.

    For optics I chose a Weaver Classic K4 4x38mm fixed power scope for $105. The Weaver scope sits in a "Game Reaper" mount from DNZ Products which was an additional $57.00.

    Other parts and accessories include:

    - Sharp Shooter Supply Tactical Bolt Handle ($26.00)
    - Sharp Shooter Supply recoil lug ($28.00)
    - Savage metal trigger guard ($20.00)
    - Quake "Claw" sling ($18.00)
    - Butler Creek flip-up lens covers ($19.00)
    - Timney Trigger ($98.00)
    - Dura Coating of the metal parts and stock by GCS ($150)

    DNZ Scope Mount & Weaver K4 ScopeThis brought my total build price to $1000. Yep, a bit steep for a basic carbine rifle, but nothing is cheap these days. Fortunately, I already had the tools, bedding compound and sling studs so I didn't have to purchase those.

    I chose the .300 Savage as the chambering due to it's mild recoil and good short range performance. With ballistics between the .308 Winchester and .30-30 Winchester I figured it would be just about right for a deer rifle. The deer in this part of the country are not armored so I didn't see any need for a super magnum. Also, having it in a classic Savage chambering somehow seemed like the proper thing to do.

    The first order of business was to get the donor rifle torn down and all the metal parts separated for the DuraCoating. Once I had received and test fitted the E.R. Shaw barrel I took everything to Woody Woodworth at Gulf Coast Shooting for the DuraCoat. They made a custom color for me which they dubbed "Calhoun Gray". I also had them do the factory .22-250 barrel in the same color. They would also apply a semi-gloss clear DuraCoat to the stock.

    I knew the stock would take several weeks to ship so I ordered it the same week I ordered the barrel. It arrived in about 8 weeks. The fit of the action was good, so I then cut 1.5 inches from the fore end and opened up the barrel channel a bit . GCS told me that the surface would need to be very smooth or the fine fibers or "hairs" left from the sanding would create spikes once the clear coat had cured. So I went about wet sanding for several hours to get the stock ready. After cleaning the dust, oils, etc, from the stock I let it sit for a few days to completely dry. At the time of ordering the stock I also bought the metal trigger guard, recoil lug and tactical bolt handle.

    The scope came about as a impulse buy. I found it at a local gun show and figured it was worth the money. Only time will tell if I'll like or regret that decision. So far, in shooting at the range it is quite clear, repeatable, and has decent eye relief. The matte black finish has scratched easily though. The scope mount is from DNZ. It was sent as a product review a while back but I really like the lightweight and ruggedness of it so it found it's way into the project.

    Once GCS had all the parts ready, I gathered everything and went to the work bench. The first thing I did was install the recoil lug, barrel and nut then I assembled the bolt, firing pin, bolt head, baffle and handle. Headspace was set using Clymer GO & NO-GO gauge’s for the .300 Savage. I then test fit the barreled action into the stock and found everything was good to go. I then added the Timney trigger to the action. This was a real pain in butt! Not a flaw with the trigger, just the way the factory springs, bolt release, etc, are attached to the receiver. After I finally got it all together I adjusted the trigger to trip at 3.5 pounds. The Timney was used due to the factory trigger being too hard and gritty, also, I didn't have a Timney trigger in my collection.

    Completed rifleThe following day I bedded the action using Brownell’s Acraglas gel. When using bedding compound, make sure you read and understand the directions first. Also, don't skimp on the release agent. If you don't have enough, you will not get the action out of the stock without breaking something. Lots of masking tape will also help. My bedding effort worked out well so I removed the dried release agent and reinstalled the barreled action into the stock.

    After a couple of days I installed the scope base and scope. I always put a little bit of gun oil on the screws and torque to 25 inch pounds. With the optics installed the rifle weighs in at just over 9 pounds. A little over my goal but the balance is good so I think I can live with it.

    By now it's the end of summer. You are probably thinking that I could hardly wait to get it to the range. Well, you are mostly right - I really did want to go to the range but it didn't work out that way. Between deaths in the family, illness, work on the house and my day job I was very strapped for time. The day after Thanksgiving was the rifle's first outing. I bought a few boxes of Remington 150gr pointed soft point Corelok’s and went about getting it sighted in. I decided to zero it at 150 yards. The theory is that this will allow it to shoot just over an inch high at 100 yards and 2 inches low at 200 yards.

    Completed rifleI was able to get it zeroed in a few shots. I then shot a few 5 shot groups and a cold bore shot. With the Timney trigger breaking clean and smooth the rifle averaged 1.65 inch groups at 150 yards in weather of 60 *F with cold bore shot being 0.85 inches high and right at the 2 o'clock position with the recoil being very mild. I think this is pretty good for factory ammo. I still have yet to work up any handloads for it but I'm anxious to. Hunting season has arrived so I'll have to use what I have and hope for the best.

    In closing, it was a fun build as they always are. I wish I had more time to put into it but I think I will enjoy it. If nothing else, it got a lot of inquiries at the range.

    Additional Photos:

    DuraCoat finish from Gulf Coast Shooting Bolt Assembly Parts
    Tools Required Installing & Headspacing the barrel
    Monte Carlo Sporter stock from Sharp Shooter Supply Stock and barreled action ready for
application of DuraCoat
    Timney Trigger Metal parts blasted prior to being
DuraCoated by GCS

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