Want to see new-born Pandas? No, not the furry kind — rather Stolle Panda actions produced with state-of-the-art CNC machinery. If you’ve ever wondered how precision benchrest, long-range, and tactical rifles are built, check out video from Kelbly’s. You’ll see actions finished, barrels chambered and crowned, pillars installed in stocks, barreled actions bedded, plus a host of other services performed by Kelbly’s gunsmiths and machinists.
If you’re a fan of fine machine-work, this video should be both informative and entertaining. You can see how precision gun work is done with 21st-Century technology. Tip of the hat to Ian Kelbly and crew for producing this excellent video visit to the Kelbly’s production center.
CLICK Triangle to Launch Kelbly’s Video
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Product Preview by Boyd Allen Marsh Industries LLC of Cave Creek, Arizona, has just started production of its new “Saguaro” benchrest action. (Saguaro is the distinctive tall cactus plant found in the Southwest.) If the Saguaro action looks familiar, that’s by design. The idea was to produce a Panda-type action with 1 1/16″ removed from the middle to allow for reduced weight, and importantly, shorter bolt “draw” during cycling. In addition, Marsh Industries wanted smoother function and optimal accuracy. In that quest, Marsh crafted a state-of-the art striker assembly, configured specifically for short cartridges typically used for 100- and 200-yard benchrest matches.
The Saguaro action is like a Stolle Panda with 1 1/16″ removed from the middle.
Design and Testing of New Saguaro Action
After spending some time with “Doc” Marsh, (the owner of Marsh Industries), I must say that I am impressed with his new product. After learning what has gone into the design and production of these actions, and hearing how well Saguaro prototypes shot, this is one action I want to add to my collection.
Beneath the shiny exterior, the heart of any benchrest action is the striker assembly. Its specifications and adherence to tolerance are a formula that ultimately determines the potential of the action. Striker fall, weight, and spring rate, all work together to put the sharpest edge on accuracy, or if they are not right, result in run of the mill (for a benchrest action) accuracy, even if all the other details are perfectly executed. Rather than leave these details to the expertise of one person, several big names in the benchrest community were consulted about this part of the design. Intelligent input was received, and the design was improved from one prototype to the next. The final result is impressive to say the least. When the late prototype Saguaro was tested in a very good tunnel, using a rail-gun, the results were unequivocally outstanding. (Editor: This means the Saguaro action shot small enough groups to be “more than competitive” with any other hardware on the market.)
Saguaro Actions Can Use Barrels And Stocks Now Fitted to Pandas
The truth is that no one can quite put his finger on what makes the difference between a good action and a great action. Designs are created, actions built, they become parts of rifles, and only then is the truth revealed. Whether you believe that it was skill or luck, it would seem that the details that comprise this new action just happen to have the exact right stuff. For many of you, who already know how your barrels shoot on your rifles that have Panda actions, for the first time, a direct comparison is available. This is because Panda barrels fit Saguaro actions. So current Panda owners can remove one of their barrels, place it on a Saguaro-actioned rig, and see if the barrel shoots as good or better. That allows direct testing of one action vs. another.
You can use that closet full of barrels, on your new action, without modification, (and have a couple of more ounces toward that tuner that you have been waiting to try). For that matter, other than having to do a little filling in at the front of the action, you can replace your Panda with a Saguaro, and keep using the same stock. That offers a significant savings on a new build.
Saguaro Actions Start at $1050.00
For serious benchresters, an action that comes out of the box a potential winner is almost priceless. Saguaro actions will cost $1,200.00 polished, or $1,050.00 with a 400 grit finish. That’s reasonable given the build quality and performance. While you could pay a bit less for some other actions, if you are in the game to win, a less-than-competitive action isn’t worth owning (even if it is inexpensive).
Marsh Industries, LLC
7040 E. Lone Mt. Rd. North
Cave Creek, AZ 85331
Email: info [at] marshindustriesllc.com
Phone: 480-699-2902 | Fax: 480-699-2397
And so there you have it — Part One of my report on a brand new action. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, I will have a chance to do more than just cycle the bolt (felt good) and actually shoot a rifle built around one. Until then, I will have to content myself with trying out some of Bergers new Column bullets, and doing some more work with the slower but otherwise identical brother to the yet to be released Accurate LT 32 powder, some of that Canadian 2015, as soon as the temperatures get out of the triple digits on a day when the wind is suitable.
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The Drop Port is a great feature for benchrest shooters. You can run a bolt without an ejector, yet your cartridge will extract smoothly and reliably each time you pull the bolt back. Stiller’s Precision Firearms pioneered the Drop Port design, and Jerry Stiller offers this as a popular option with his Cobra, Viper, Python, D-Back, and Diamondback actions. The Drop Port is amazing in its simplicity (watch video below). As you pull the bolt rearwards, the fired case slides downward into a funnel. As it tilts nose-down, the case rotates free of the six-o’clock extractor, falls nose first down the funnel, and finally exits through a hole in the bottom of the stock. Gravity does all the work.
S&S Panda Drop Port Conversion
Until recently, if you wanted a Drop Port, your only option was to purchase a Stiller action or engineer a conversion yourself. Now the owners of Kelbly Panda actions can enjoy drop-port functionality via a conversion performed by S&S Precision Rifles in Texas. The folks at S&S will mill a slot in the bottom of your action, and then install a drop funnel in your stock. The conversion work is done so well you’d think the Pandas were originally made as Drop Ports by Kelbly. Drop Port conversions will be available for popular small match cartridges including 22 PPC, 6 PPC, 6mmBR, 6BRX, 6 Dasher, 6.5 Grendel, and 30 BR (plus other wildcats in the BR family).
Conversion Will Be Costly — New Actions Are Best Candidates
This conversion will not be cheap. Because Drop Ports require a six o’clock extractor, you’ll probably need a replacement bolt for your Panda. S&S is in discussion with Pacific Tool & Gauge to provide these bolts. You can probably resell your existing bolt, but the upfront conversion cost could approach $400 with new bolt and labor. S&S hopes to announce firm pricing in 4-6 weeks. Don “Stick” Starks, S&S’s lead gunsmith, also cautions that this conversion is most cost-effective with Panda actions that have not yet been installed, or which are set up with pillars (as opposed to glue-ins). Stick explained: “If your Panda is already glued in, then we have to remove the action, mill the port, install the funnel, and then re-bed the whole thing. That’s going to substantially increase your cost. It’s more logical to do this on a Panda that has not yet be put in a rifle.”
In the video above, you can watch S&S Precision convert a Stolle Panda action to a Drop Port, and then see how the converted Panda functions. The rifle is a 30BR owned by FORUM member Truckincars, who also created the video.
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Kelbly’s Inc., just annouced that it will produce a new, stainless Rem-clone “Atlas” action that will sell for $700.00 (before options). Notably, it is available with a cone bolt and a trigger hanger. The latter feature means that glue-in installation is feasible. Additionally, a headspace adapter will be offered so you can use chambered barrels that have been headspaced for Kelbly Panda actions. Currently, only two configurations will be offered: right bolt, right port (RBRP), or left bolt, left port (LBLP). The first run of Atlas actions are slated for release at end of October 2009. The new action is named after the Atlas Bear, once found in Morocco’s Atlas mountains. To learn more about the new Atlas action, call Kelbly’s at (330) 683-4674.
Kelbly’s reports: “The new Atlas action is a Remington 700 clone made to benchrest standards. The action body is made of 416RS stainless steel. Bolts are made of 4140 alloy steel on the body and stainless steel on bolt handle. The Atlas action will come standard as a single-shot with trigger bracket for Rem-style triggers, aluminum bolt shroud, cone bolt on 222, PPC, and 308, flat bolt on .532 bolt face, and top safety cutout. The headspace is .692 without recoil lug. The thread will be 1 1/16 x 18 tpi.”
Fluted bolt – $60.00
Magazine (extended, requires flat bolt) – $60.00
Ejector – $75.00
Recoil Lug .250 – $35.00
Cera-Kote action body and bolt handle – $100.00
Polish action and bolt handle – $120.00
Stolle 1.115 Headspace washer – $30.00 (Allows installation of Panda-spec barrels on the Atlas action without rechambering.)
Forum Member Al Nyhus observes: “This new action is going to be a winner. One of the big things it has going for it is the use of a hanger for the trigger mounting. Add to that an innovative way to use barrels already chambered for the ‘standard’ headspace Kelbly actions and you’ve pretty much covered all the bases. — Well done.”
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We spotted a couple excellent deals in our Shooters’ Forum Classifieds, if you are looking for a 17-lb class BR gun for 300 to 1000-yard varminting and competition.
DEAL ONE — Matt’s 6-6.5×47 for $2100.00
Matt Dienes is a very well-known and respected shooter at the Williamsport Club. He’s decided to part with his Black 6-6.5×47 Light gun that has performed very well at 1000 yards. Only 125 rounds through the Bartlein barrel. Here are the specs:
6-6.5×47 Lapua Light Gun
Panda RB/LP polished action with Jewell trigger
Bartlein HV Contour 1:8″ twist, 4-groove with nuzzle brake
Chambered as 6-6.5×47 Lapua with a .273″, no-turn neck.
McMillan MBR Tooley stock, black color
Polished Shehane +20 MOA Rings.
Matt notes: “The chamber work and muzzle brake were done by Springman rifles. This rifle has shot 3″ at 1000 yards, and that was backed up with a 5.1″ at the Nationals. With only approximately 125 rounds through the barrel, this gun is ready for the 2009 season.”
DEAL TWO — Turnkey 6mm Dasher Package for $2800.00
Here’s an attractive package deal for someone who wants a 6mm Dasher
bench gun. Seller Brandon has a complete rifle, with fire-formed brass, dies, bullets, and even a spare, new Krieger barrel. Brandon says he’s spent nearly $4000 on the rifle and associated tools and components, but he will part with the whole package for $2800.00. Note, though the action has a left bolt, the stock is ambidextrous, so a right-hander could shoot this from the bench — but you’d have to load with your right hand. There’s a lot of value in this package… heck the Kelbly BR trigger is worth $240.00 by itself.
Reloading Tools & Components:
Forster BR Microm.-top Dasher seater die
Forster Dasher full-length sizing die
Wilson inline Dasher neck-sizing die
Lucas Bore Guide
Close to 200 Lapua 6mmbr cases (Approx. 170 fire-formed Dasher cases; 30 more un-formed cases.)
Approx. 250 Berger 105gr VLDs
50 105gr Lapua Scenars
25 107gr Sierra MKs
Brandon would like to keep the rifle, but the current economy dictates otherwise. Brandon tells us: “I have several groups in the .1s and .2s at 100 yards working up loads and several under an inch at 300 yards. the rifle has been shot less than 350 times, possibly less than 300. And there is a brand new 31″ Krieger waiting to go on as well. The rifle was built by a well-known smith from the recommended gunsmith list on this site last summer. This is a great opportunity to get a very Accurate rifle with everything you need to reload and start shooting tiny groups at long range. Asking $2,800.”