October 10th, 2014

Sniper’s Hide Boss Builds a Tactical Tack-Driver in Gunsmith Class

Frank Galli, aka “Lowlight”, runs the popular SnipersHide.com website. A while back, Frank completed a gunsmithing course with Robert Gradous. Frank recounts the learning process in an informative, nicely-illustrated article on the ‘Hide. Frank explains how he put together a new 6.5 Creedmoor tactical rifle using a Bartlein barrel, Bighorn Action (Rem clone with floating bolt-head), and a “lightly used” Accuracy International 1.5 chassis. The HD video below shows the process start-to-finish. READ Full Article.

During Frank’s “hands-on” training sessions with Gradous, Frank learned to thread and chamber a barrel, fit a recoil lug, and install the barreled action in the AI chassis. Chambering was done with great care: “We spent the better part of the day working the barrel. I feel this is a critical component and seeing the attention to detail in Robert’s approach confirmed it for me. When it came time to chamber Robert had a custom tight chamber reamer there for a 6.5CM but I’m shooting a tactical rifle, tight chambers aren’t for me, and this was clear, as out came the standard SAAMI reamer.”

Frank also learned how to modify an aluminum chassis: “the AI chassis had the recoil lug opened up, but it was opened in the wrong direction. This was going to require milling increasing the gap to at least a 1/2″ in size. Robert was really leery of this, but my attitude was, ‘it’s just a chassis and nothing a little Marine Tex can’t handle’.” Thankfully the chassis mod came out OK.

Once the barreled action was complete and the AI chassis was successfully milled, Frank applied a tan Cerakote finish to the barreled action. This would give a proper tactical look to the rifle, while providing superior corrosion resistance for the metal parts. To learn more about Cerakote finishing, check out the Cerakote Application Video, published last week in the Daily Bulletin.

When the rifle was complete, Frank took it out for testing with a variety of ammo, both factory fodder and handloads. There were some initial worries about accuracy as it took a while for the barrel to break in. A few sessions of bore cleaning were required before the barrel stopped fouling and then — like magic — the rifle started printing really small groups.

By the end of his load testing session, Frank was getting good groups with Hornady 120gr GMX factory 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, and really superb groups with handloads. The 120gr GMX ammo “was going 3100 fps with no ill effects”. The best handloads were approaching 1/4 MOA for three shots, and Frank’s load with Berger 130 VLDs shot even smaller than that: “In my opinion the load development we did was worth its weight in gold. Where else can you build in a rifle in two days, then go out and develop a baseline load using everything from 120gr ammo to 140gr ammo with a few in between? My favorite load and clearly the rifle’s too, was the [Berger] 130gr VLD. This gave us great velocity, awesome groups [with some one-holers] and really nice results at distance.”

Lowlight’s Gunsmithing Story is a ‘Must-Read’
We recommend you read Frank’s story. It shows that, with the right tools, and the supervision of a master smith, even a novice can produce an ultra-accurate rifle. For those of you who have considered taking a gunsmithing class, Frank’s successful experience with gunsmith Robert Gradous should give you plenty of motivation.

CLICK HERE to Read Lowlight’s Gunsmithing Course Article
CLICK HERE for Info on Gradous Rifles Gunsmithing Class

Photos courtesy SnipersHide.com and Frank Galli, used by permission.

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