Are you ready for this…this is really going to piss some people off. The accurate bolt action rifle is a beautiful thing. Whether light and sleek or weighted for stability with heavy calibers the bolt gun is the original pinnacle of the utility rifle. There’s a lot of custom builders out there that make it sound like they are the only source of the magic fairie dust that turns a mediocre rifle into something of greatness. Well, that’s complete bullshit that even they know. It’s all marketing and hubris.
The bolt action is simply a repeating version…the next technological generation of…the muzzle loader. With the advancement of cased ammunition, the average man’s rifle had the ability to reload the chamber for multiple shots instead of the typical single shot of the muzzleloader. But…how do we make this shoot well?
Let’s talk about what it takes to make an accurate bolt gun. The bolt action is essentially a barrel with a stock on it….right? So, it all starts there. You need a good quality barrel. We do that by making sure it is made of good materials. Once you have quality components you can work on what goes on inside the barrel.
As you all know, rifling is what makes everything happen correctly. There is different types and no, they are not all equal. We could go on for days about the different types so I will only mention two. Cut rifling has long been hailed as the best and still is the best means of traditional rifling. It actually removes material to give the twisting grooves that give the bullet accurate spin. It leaves the least amount of stress to the metal and leaves the least amount of burrs in the bore. Seek this one out over other traditional rifling. I highly suggest Benchmark Barrels for their quality and consistent accuracy.
Polygonal rifling is somewhat new to the US. We see it in Glock and HK pistol barrels. Only recently have we seen it in AR15 barrels and it has taken AR accuracy to a whole new level. If you have the opportunity…seek out these barrels for your bolt guns. The ones at Columbia River Arms will serve you well.
Now that we have a great barrel we need a means of setting off the round. Triggers are a key aspect of accuracy that can’t be ignored. There has been one standard in match grade triggers that I hope everyone realizes is mediocre at best. Timney…just don’t. Don’t even try it. They are a nightmare to tune right and there’s simply no need for it. They simply haven’t updated with immerging tech because they are riding on an old reputation. I suggest TriggerTech and Huber. However, take note that Huber is the only trigger I will link to. It’s the only one worth taking the time to connect the link for. So, just go buy it.
Stocks…it’s pretty easy. Get a good one. Wood, wood laminate, chassis system, synthetic…don’t skimp. Go for quality. McMillian, Boyds…you get the point. Just stick to team quality.
Bedding. You have to go with pillar and glass bedding along with free floating the barrel. This ensures zero stock crush and one-to-one fit that is essential for accuracy. Screw this one up and nothing else matters. Not the barrel, not the trigger…nothing. In fact, do this one thing to a commercial rifle and see a huge change in your accuracy. Don’t try to do this one yourself. Get someone good at it. Really good.
When it comes to bedding/accurizing a lot of builders make them sound like they have the best tech and latest knowledge. Bedding has been the same since…the 1970’s…maybe 80’s. Its the same process that gunsmith schools have taught for decades. Done right, there’s no replacement. Just don’t be sweet-talked into thinking they are doing something wild or new that everyone else isn’t doing. They might be better at it…but it’s all the same process.
You get those things in order…have the barrel installed by a really good gunsmith…have the stock bedded by a really good gunsmith…get a Huber trigger installed…and magically you have an amazingly accurate rifle.