Custom Rifle Build

I am finally building my first custom rifle and plan on using it for training, long range shooting and PRS style competitions.  I have an FN SPR that has been my go-to precision rifle for about the last 4 years, and now it will get a break from time to time with this new rifle in the works.  I am having Short Action Customs do the build for me after they did some amazing work on my FN SPR.  So far this is what I've got for build specs:

- ARC Mausingfield Action

- Manners Elite 100% Carbon Fiber T4A stock with flush cups bipod rail and Badger EFR

- Proof Research CF barrel chambered in .308 or 6.5CM (22"-24" haven't decided yet)

- Vortex Razor Gen 2. 4.5x27 scope

- Area 419 Hellfire Muzzle Brake with SilencerCo Omega adapter

- Atlas Bipod


Any suggestions on additional items or components?  I know if I go the .308 route it isn't an optimal caliber for competition except in the tactical division, and that is ok as I am already pretty heavily invested in the .308 in training time, ammo, etc.  It will also given me the ability to train with the same caliber I will use operationally. 


Original Post

I have had several rifles and DTA barrels from Mark and I couldn't be happier.

Consider getting the folding option on that Manners. Well worth it.

No one can dump enough cold water on the 308 to make me stop loving it. But, yes, 6.5 is a lot of fun.

When I'm having fun, it's one of my 6.5's. When it's serious work, 308 or bigger.

Competition is fun, not serious work. Get what you want and be confident your choice was correct.

I have been favoring 22" tubes on my 308's and 24" or 26" on my 6.5's. When you hang a can on the 26"'s they're a little long, so that folder really makes a difference.

You are going to be a happy man.

Update us.


Just knowing enough to be dangerous, your components are top notch as is your builder.  I like the Mausingfield action.  Seems very well thought out.  I've wondered about Proof barrels as I've heard pro and con.  I'm a Bartlein and K&P guy but it seems like the salad days of great barrel makers out there.  You'd have to really try hard to get a bad one.

SAC is just a great builder.  My Scalpel is inbound to him now for some minor work.



HRH (Ret.) The Most Reverend Consig





 Joined: 28 Nov 2004: 0037hrs        Location: The worst run state in the U.S

Which trigger?  I've used both Jewell HVR and Timney 510.  I prefer the Timney for the wider shoe.  The Vortex is a nice scope, but damn its heavy.  Kind of offsets the weight savings you get from the Proof barrel and CF stock.  I too prefer Bartlein barrels as they just work.


I will be using the Timney Calvin Elite trigger system most likely.

The vortex is a pig, but a well thought out optic.  I thought about the Razor AMG also as it is considerably lighter and maintains a lot of the great features but it starts at 6-24 power and I do like to retain some lower end magnification.  I think 4.5-27 power is a pretty good compromise of low/top end magnification.  Even with the extra weight, it will be over 4.5 lbs lighter than my FN SPR which I am already used to shooting.  I am open to other suggestions on optics.  There are a lot of great companies making some really good products right now.

Bartlein barrels are great and I have used them with great results.  I wanted to build a nice training/competition gun and was trying to save a little weight while maintaining both accuracy and mobility.  I suppose time will tell if the Proof barrel is worth it, but I figured I would give it a shot.  From first hand accounts from other shooters and with the SAC guys taking some good matches with a Proof barreled 6.5, I don't think it can hurt.  We shall see.

Ill hopefully have it waiting on me upon return from deployment and I will get out and break it in real proper like.


JS7SFGA posted:

When I'm having fun, it's one of my 6.5's. When it's serious work, 308 or bigger.


Doc(can I call you Doc)

Why is that? Does the 308 offer better terminal ballistics, barrier penetration, ????

I would think a properly selected/designed 6-7mm bullet would flatten a man pretty well.

I've got an SPR with a Rock barrel in 308, I've gone back and forth with selling it, re-barreling it, or just leaving it the way it is. I did buy a DPMS w/ a Bartlien barrel from GAP hedging my pre-election bets, so I could use funds from selling to upgrade the DPMS..

My 223 bolt gun is going to the fun show time now....

FWIW, I'm not really a long range guy.


"Good landing, good fight, and good luck" James M. Gavin 09Jul43

 "they say if it works, it's a good tactic...I say anything can work once" 

I've been a Jewell man for years. SAC has used the Calvin Elite on my last two builds. I am satisfied and don't even think about it. GREAT trigger. I cannot tell you any significant thing other than it is one of the best single stage triggers ever. No  issues to report other than my satisfaction.

I'll likely try a PROOF barrel in my kid's RPR one day when I'm bored. I SWEAR by Bartlein barrels.

Brother Bob, that's a great question.

I maintain that I prefer not to be shot by anything. 

It doesn't seem like there would be a lot of difference between a 140 to 143 gr tipped or bonded 6.5 projectile and a 168 to 175 gr tipped or bonded 308 for duty use, and I'm willing to concede there may not be.

The trouble is as of right now there is no compelling proof that the 6.5 could fill that role.

At some point Gary or the Chesapeake guys may have that answer, and I'm sure they will. For now, no.

308 is such a documented predictable performer it would be unacceptable to change to a "flavor of the month" cartridge, even a great one like 6.5 or 260.

I do not personally know of any agency that does not use 308 as their primary sniper cartridge, with an addition of coverage for Heavy Target Interdiction where some use 338 and more and more are going to 50 after the Dallas experience.

To make a long answer longer....

The 308 performance against intermediate barriers is good. I'm looking at the 143 ELD-X as a potential duty round and I bet Gary is or will at some point, just for the data. I think it may do the job. But would it outperform the 308 in a way that would make us look at replacing the 308 and a 168 Amax or similar? I'll go out on a limb with no objective evidence yet and say no way.

I currently have four 6.5's in the house, and during a course most guys end up shooting them (and others), especially at night because all my guns are set up for CNVD and a lot of guys' duty guns don't and that's what they are coming to get exposed to. Everyone LOVES shooting a 6.5. The Hornady factory stuff is plentiful, relatively cheap, and match quality ammo. It gives you a solid 6 mph wind bracket to work with so is a lot like a 300 WM for wind formulas, but you can shoot it all day and night. It is FUN.

My completely un-scientific, non-meaningful, completely biased hesitation comes when at 800 yards you hear and see the difference produced in the steel between that 6.5 and 308. With the 6.5 it is a barely perceptible "ting" and a small mark on the paint versus a "clang" and a big, easily seen splat on the white with 308. Every. Time.

There is a clue in there somewhere. 

When we think about barriers, peer-engagements against opponents in ballistic armor, etc., I need a lot more info before I could ever tell a guy they should consider adding a 6.5 to their work line-up. 

For myself, the confidence I have behind the 308 based on a long track record in the field and in the lab coupled with premium projectiles and the right platform gives me a combo I do not have any anxiety about being capable of performing on demand.


That was a great post John.  Even though I obviously shoot for fun (stupid laws keep me from settling some scores),  I just didn't think there was enough of a difference for me to pick up another caliber.  I have so much in brass, powders and heads invested, it makes no sense although the  6.5s are not slouches.  My infatuation with 6.5 SM is only because I've had Sakos chambered in them for years and also already have the components.

I'll have to look into the Calvin Elite.  I've always had Jewells and never had an issue for my needs.



HRH (Ret.) The Most Reverend Consig





 Joined: 28 Nov 2004: 0037hrs        Location: The worst run state in the U.S

The cool thing is always the want Vs. need; good Vs. better Vs. best arguments that continually buzz around the brain like an inner monologue for all riflemen.

It is a DSM V Axis disorder much like OCD that has net yet been described. It is harmless, except to the bank account.

Guns for work Vs. guns for fun there is not much to argue about. Not a lot of room for opinion. Only room for proof.


 Thanks for the detailed explanation. Longer stories made longer, are fine for subjects like this.

Maybe I'll keep my 308 bolt gun......for now.

But, for some odd reason I want a .250 Savage now....


"Good landing, good fight, and good luck" James M. Gavin 09Jul43

 "they say if it works, it's a good tactic...I say anything can work once" 

Since this discussion moved into a meaningful essay on .30 v. .26:

For Doc Spears:

Have you messed with 140ish grain bullets in .308 @ 800 meters to see if the bullet weight is making the difference in perceived hitting power?

Or is it merely cross section area creating the bigger splash and clank?

My stalwart 5R gave me a reason to go to the gun doctor for major repairs. (Recycled M-240 and M-60 brass can FOAD)

So my FN SPRA1 is pinch hitting as my new primary. In any case, it puts me in the position of possibly changing the 5R to 6.5CM while on the bench.

I have a stock of .308 ammo and a couple other sticks so chambered. The 6.5 would be a new addition. But I am in Montana where we don't even talk about wind unless it is over 15-20 mph. Or it is dead still, which is also a rare condition.

I do not reload, so factory ammo is a given.

It's a question I don't know the answer to. I've messed around with stuff as light as the Hornady 150gr SST in . 308 and had fun. Pushing around 2900fps out of a 22" tube with no pressure issues. I have friends who use the 125gr SST for varmints and are happy.

Sectional density is probably the most significant measurement as far as a general mathematical predictor of performance due to mass/caliber (and BC is just sectional density with the form factor added) and by that measure, the 6.5 has better sectional density than .308.

But, mass is mass.

I am currently experimenting with Hornady superperformance 168gr ELD, as the 168 tipped have been good intermediate barrier performers, and the 100-200 fps velocity increase advertised makes me curious about their performance out of the new 16" Tikka TACA1's we're running. 

They have BC's as good as 175 SMKs so am very curious. I'm hopeful they will be the factory answer I'm looking for. Lag time is the measure of ballistic superiority vis a vis wind deflection. You can only decrease lag time by increasing BC or increasing MV. If you have a choice that does both......

"mass is mass"

That sounds suspiciously like some hot rod mechanics I new years ago, whose mantra was "you can't beat cubic inches" 


"Good landing, good fight, and good luck" James M. Gavin 09Jul43

 "they say if it works, it's a good tactic...I say anything can work once" 

R.Moran posted:

"mass is mass"

That sounds suspiciously like some hot rod mechanics I new years ago, whose mantra was "you can't beat cubic inches" 

I believe the preferred term is: "no replacement for displacement"


As per the revived discussion, I'll weigh in...

Given what I am seeing out of 6.5CM factory loads and especially in the factory Winchester Match 140gr load (which is less than $1.25 per round), I see no point in choosing 308 over it (especially in 168 or 175 SMK/OTM) unless you require specific projectile for terminal performance like TAP for liability issues or unless you intend for loading for a shorter barrel and not sacrificing baseline performance.  Depending on the bullets compared, terminal performance between 6.5 and 308 should be marginal at distances beyond 600y and more or less turning it into a question of what you can hit better with.   As far as the "unscientific" effects on steel noted above, I have come to notice that target construction often plays a larger factor on "ringing" than the size of the pill hitting it.

If you really need to consistently put the hurt on something at greater distance, put on your big boy pants and get something that has "magnum" in the name.

I know it sucks being a slave to available factory ammo as I had to live by it most of my shooting career.  Reloading (or doing custom loads from an viable reloader like McCourt) opens up a whole new world.

"Pain, we endure...faulty weaponry, we do not."

On my last build from Mark I replaced the Timney trigger with a Huber Concepts two stage. That was mostly due to the Timney not working well with the Badger 2013 action. But suffice to say I have not been disappointed with the Huber.

Check it out if you're interested in examining trigger options. 

"Idque apud imperitos humanitas vocabatur, cum pars servitutis esset"         


"You are never out of the fight."


Joined: 9/5/2011 Location: The Former Empire State, now The State of Anarchy

This reminded me that I am still waiting on this build from SAC.  From what I am hearing from them the ARC Mausingfield is hard to source right now.  Going on almost 6 months.  They have been great about keeping in contact and keeping me informed.  I am really looking forward to getting this thing done and getting it to the range.


I could go either way with it.  I have shot the .308 both on duty and in competition and with it being the caliber I am most likely to employ in a precision role, I don't mind staying invested in it as it just continues to expand upon my skillset.  I have no doubt that making the switch to 6.5CM would make me much more competitive at higher levels, but thus far I am finishing in the top 10% of the matches Ive shot.  I have considered building another rifle, or doing a switch barrel set-up with another 6.5 CM barrel, but I have so much investment in the .308 it's difficult to want to go all in on the 6.5 just yet.


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