While I was waiting for Remington to unscrew themselves, I concluded that a Savage Model 11 Long Range Hunter in 6.5 Creedmoor would be my next choice for a Boomershoot-able rifle, and went ahead and ordered one from Dragon Leatherworks.
Oh, did you not know? Dragon Leatherworks is presently a fully-operational FFL, from which you can order firearms and parts online. Obviously any firearm you purchase has to go through a local FFL, per the relevant federal laws, but here is the cut-above-the-rest detail for working with Dennis – he is planning on personally inspecting everything people buy from him before he sends it out. In the case of my rifle, he shipped it first to himself, checked it over, and then sent it on to my FFL; at least that way, I was sure I was getting a rust-free rifle.
The extra step added a few days, but given my last experience with mail-ordering firearms, it was worth it.
If you have not heard of Vortex Optics, they are worth a look based on their warranty alone, and aside from that, their upper-end stuff gets consistently good reviews. Admittedly, I purchased the upper end of their middle line, but I have been pretty happy with it so far.
Evolution Gun Works Inc. is kind of an interesting company, if only because everything they make is serialized (well, that I have seen so far, at least). Sure, the scope mount is serialized, and that is not too surprising, but the scope rings are serialized as well – all four parts. Front and rear rings are made together, on the same machine, at the same time, so they are as close to “matching out the box” as you can possibly get.
Assembly of all the parts was about as easy as it is supposed to be. I ended up getting a Wheeler FAT Wrench to properly torque the mounts – I figured if I was going to spend that much on glass, I might as well do it right – and a couple of cheapy bubble levels to get the scope properly lined up with the bore. Amusingly, the leveling was the most annoying aspect of the installation – I would get everything more or less where I wanted them, torque down on the screws, and then see that everything shifted ever so slightly. I must have tightened and loosened the screws… honestly, I lost count.
The only other slight hiccup is that, while it does come in a Accustock, the Savage was not fully free-floated. The very tip of the stock touched the barrel, and apparently this is an issue that Savage has been aware of for a number of years now. I called up their customer support line, and they said I could send the stock back and they could fix it, or I could simply sand down the offending part of the stock and call it a day. 30 minutes of effort later with a piece of sand paper and a metal punch I had out in the garage, and I figure it is good enough for my uses.
With the rifle and optics sorted, the only thing remaining is ammunition – I went with Hornady’s Match 140gr A-Max rounds just based on their impressive (on paper, at least) performance, which, coincidentally, is exactly what Savage recommends for the rifle as well.
Alright, enough with the yammering; how did it actually shoot? Once I got the optic mostly sighted in (I ran out of ammo to get it really where I wanted it) and after I did shoot-five-swab for 50 rounds, these were the best three groupings in increasing awesomeness (all of them are 5 shots at 100 yards at an indoor range with a sandbag under the fore-end and my hand under the buttstock, and the squares are 1″):
0.88” grouping center-to-center if you include the flyers, which I did not call, so you probably should. 0.2” without the flyers.
1.1” grouping with the flyer, 0.47” without.
0.45” group, period.
If this rifle is starting as a 0.5 MOA rifle with my sorry arse-who-has-not-seriously-pulled-the-trigger-on-a-long-range-target-since-the-last-Boomershoot behind it, I think this is going to work out just fine.
I did have some interesting notes from the range… 24x allows me to self-spot my own hits without a spotting scope, which is something 16x did not. And after fooling around with glass at the last NRAAM, I realized I honestly cannot tell the difference between a $5000 scope and a $1000 scope in terms of clarity and color, but I definitely can tell the difference between a $850 scope and a $160 scope (I am trying to work up a post with photographs of the differences, but taking pictures through rifle scopes is annoyingly challenging). The adjustable comb on the Long Range Hunter model is nice, but I need to remember to try it on while wearing hearing protection before going to the range next time. I am never going to mix MOA and mil measurements on an optic again; the PST has an MOA reticle and MOA adjustments, which makes life so much easier. Apparently the muzzle brake on the LRH (which I left open – I will examine how closing it changes the point of aim later) makes the rifle quite loud, according to other people, though the noise was not that bad right behind it. Likewise, the recoil for the new round really was not that much worse than .243 Winchester – I know there was more energy being thrown downrange, but apparently the muzzle break counteracted it or the new rifle is heavier or something. And I have no idea if this is a normal characteristic for 6.5 Creedmoor, but the barrel never really warmed up (i.e. it was never uncomfortable to touch), and the brass was hardly even warm straight out of the chamber. Honestly, it was kind of strange, though I am not strictly complaining.
And, in reality, I think I am pretty happy with this outcome. Now I just need more trigger time.