Here's the short story. A few years ago, I had a custom bolt gun in 6.5 Creedmoor built. I love that thing. Everything is exactly how I wanted it, it's super accurate, I never have to worry about whether the first shot is going to go where I want it to, it's great. I had it built as a kind of combination hunter-class silhouette competition gun (meaning, under 9 pounds unloaded with a stock designed to be shot offhand) and practical/tactical/whatever gun (meaning, a threaded barrel for a suppressor, a pic rail for an Atlas bipod, and a really nice scope with target turrets and a mil reticle - of course, it's way over 9 pounds with the suppressor and bipod).
I also deer and turkey hunt with it. I have little kids and don't get a lot of hunting time. Instead of hiding and waiting for an animal to come to me, the way I grew up hunting, I can go looking for an animal and if I can get within a reasonable distance (maybe 300 yards for deer and 150 for turkeys - pretty easy where I hunt) I know I can make a solid shot and put the animal down immediately and humanely.
Anyway, I shot another turkey with it a few months ago, and had to really hustle to get around to where I had a good shot before the turkey wandered off. I made a good shot - right through the spine, dropped instantly - but the bird was a bit more angled than I realized and my elevation was a bit low, with the end result that part of the breast meat on the far side of the bird was pretty torn up.
Between the rifle getting heavy on the walk and the torn up meat, I started thinking maybe I needed another rifle.
I guess that wasn't really a short story after all.
So, I'm thinking about a fairly lightweight .223 rifle. On one hand, it'd be easier to carry and a great option for turkeys, and on the other, it would be a nice, less expensive way to practice at short-to-medium ranges.
So I'm looking for a .223 rifle that meets the following criteria:
- fairly lightweight (more pleasant to carry hunting)
- very accurate (both for 150 yard neck shots on turkeys and for range practice)
- detachable magazine (not just for range time - I get tired of loading and unloading the internal magazine when I come back to the house or go back out hunting)
- threaded barrel (once you go suppressed, it's hard to go back)
Here's the big catch, though: I'm picky. Most production .223 rifles and all the custom ones I've seen use a .308-sized action, and the ones that use magazines mostly use .308-sized magazines with internal spacers. That just offends me, so the last requirement is:
- actually .223-sized receiver and actually .223-sized magazines
I'm not really willing to negotiate on that point, which excludes a lot of otherwise very fine rifles - anything Remington 700-based (factory or custom), Savage, Tikka, etc. (I think Savage actually does have a scaled-down .223-size rifle but it isn't based on the normal Savage action and the stuff I've read online is pretty negative about it.)
I'm open to custom, or to production, or to production-with-some-work-done.
The two production rifles that I'm aware of that come closest to meeting the criteria are the Mossberg MVP (.223-sized action, uses AR-15 magazines) and the CZ 527 (scaled-down .223-sized Mauser action, uses proprietary .223-sized magazines).
I've seen some conflicting reports on accuracy for both rifles. If that were an issue, it could probably be solved by blueprinting the action and installing a custom barrel - but I don't know how easy these rifles are to work on or how many gunsmiths actually work on them.
I'm also wondering how easy it would be to fit a different stock to the scaled-down actions if I decided I didn't like the factory stock options, and about the lack of aftermarket triggers if I end up not happy with the factory trigger.
On the custom side, I'm not aware of ANY custom bolt-action receivers available in a smaller-than-.308 size.
The other goofy-but-maybe-a-possibility idea I came up with is that I have a bunch of AR-15s, and I could build a side-charging AR upper with an ultralight handguard and a straight-taper barrel with no gas block or gas tube - basically an AR-shaped straight-pull bolt gun. That has the advantage of being relatively cheap and easy. The downsides are that it's kind of goofy, an AR is a little unwieldy compared to a bolt gun, and the scope-to-bore height is huge.
Anyone have any thoughts?
This forum is so great that I halfway expect someone to pop up with something I've never heard of that's exactly what I want, but I'll also take comments along the lines of "well, maybe you could try this..." or even "you're an idiot."
Say no more my friend, the perfect solution is right here and a great value to boot:
IDPA ESP SS
CZ makes a really really nice rifle.
I have one in .17 hornet that is made on a .223 receiver...fantastic trigger, lightweight, comes with rings...
Shoots great, is lightweight, slim...doesn't need a new/better trigger
"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers
Take a look at the Remy Model 7 sized action -- it may or may not be what you're looking for. GA Precision makes the Squire precision rifle from this action, and you can have one for only $3,250.
Defiance makes a 223 bolt face action in Model 7 size, something I'm considering. Last year I got the wild hair to build a 223 bolt action precision rifle. I won a Proof Research carbon barrel certificate, for which I now have a 24" 1/8 twist 223 bore. I have a discounted cert for a Huber trigger, but I'm uncertain if that's my choice. Probably looking for a Manners or McMillian stock. The timing for my build will definitely depend on whether or not I shoot well enough this season to win more components.
Two matches ago I met the Defiance rep and talked with him a bit. Our discussions were more about Defiance's new actions and metal coatings. I'm hoping I can catch him again at upcoming matches and pick his brain a bit more on their 223 action and the appropriate bottom metal for it -- maybe Badger M7?
A tuned Model 7 action or the Defiance short action means an expensive rifle, so you should consider your budget. The accuracy attained from either of these actions comes at a price.
I can say for sure in stock form you won't be very happy with the CZ with respect to accuracy. That's across 3 examples that I own so its not a random one off sample.
On the other hand your list of criteria fairly cries out for an AR which will easily meet everything you have asked for. just noting it.
“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.”
Thank you all for the responses.
I saw that rifle, and it's appealing, but from what I can tell from pictures, the receiver is the same as the models chambered for the .308 family of cartridges. Using AR mags is a plus, though. So is the 1:8 twist barrel. Seems like just about every .223 bolt gun there is uses either a 1:9 or 1:12 twist barrel.
I'm not sure where the receiver size hangup came from, but it's there.
From what I can tell, the Model 7 action is smaller diameter and shorter than a normal Rem 700 action, but is still sized for the .308 family of cartridges, right? Irrational hangup again.
I saw the Defiance Model 7-sized action, and it's still something I'm thinking about. I appreciate the mention of the Badger M7 bottom metal, I wasn't aware of any bottom metals that fit that action. It looks like it uses magazines with the same exterior dimensions as .308 AICS mags. I wish there was a common solution using .223-sized magazines.
The 6.5 CM I mentioned above was built by APA with a Defiance action and a Huber trigger, I think you'd be very pleased with either. The Defiance actions are machined and polished like pieces of jewelry and the Huber trigger is excellent. Mine is an old one that is not at all drop-safe - any drop onto the butt of more than about 12" will make the trigger release. I understand they fixed that a few years ago. I've been trying to decide whether to replace it with a new Huber or with one of Geissele's upcoming Rem 700 triggers.
I'm aware of the cost of custom parts and rifle builds, just not sure I want to spend that much here.
Maybe I should call APA and see what they think. I sent them an email a few days ago but haven't heard back yet.
This is the problem I've come across in my search online... some people say their CZs shoot great and others say theirs don't.
It seems like at a minimum, a CZ 527 might be a nice basis for a build, if I could find someone to do it.
I'm going back and forth on the AR thing. It would sure be easy.
JP makes a very accurate rifle, and they offer a side charging AR.
Height over bore is kind of a moot point unless you are taking shots very close to small game.
everybody has their goals and plans. I get that. But for your usage and goals an AR is a compete slam dunk. really. I can't think of a single downside against your planned usage. Heck I can't even think of a minor inconvenience. If something so plain doesn't excite you then do it in some odd caliber or configuration. But an AR based rifle is what you are looking for.
“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.”
An AR-15 can be assembled which has the accuracy not far from that of bolt action. A lot depends on the nut behind the butt, however.
A true precision AR requires quality components and a talented 'smith. My most accurate AR has a Krieger barrel, SI Defense receivers (now Falkor Defense), Wilson BCG & trigger, Magpul PRS stock, and NF glass. It's average 5-round group at 100 yards is .9" with factory ammo -- in wind and calm, when I've got the yips, when the moon isn't aligned with Venus, across all the match ammo I've tested. The factory ammo it really likes produces groups as small as .35".
I'm not the expert on Model 7 sized actions, but they are definitely shorter than standard sized (308 Win) actions. I believe the 223 mags for the Model 7 / Badger 7 system are noticeably smaller than standard 308 AICS mags.
See, this is part of what has me hesitating on doing this with an AR. I have built several AR-15s with very good parts (Noveske stainless match barrels rather than a really top-quality custom barrel, but otherwise basically the best everything I could find), a White Oak Precision Service Rifle upper, and an AR-10 I built with a JP Supermatch barrel and I've tried a bunch of different ammo with all of them. I've never been able to consistently shoot much better than MOA with any of them with any ammo (haven't tried handloading).
With my 6.5 CM bolt gun, my average 5-round groups at 100 yards are just barely over .5 MOA with both the 120 AMAX and 140 AMAX Hornady factory ammo, and I'm pretty sure you're a much better shooter than I am.
If I went that route, I would try building one with a top-quality custom barrel and no gas block or gas port and hope that between losing the gas block and shooting it not-semi-auto it might make a difference.
Are the .35" groups you mention consistent with the ammo your gun likes, or occasional best groups?
The Model 7 action is smaller and lighter than the Model 700 action, but the factory Model 7 rifles still come in .308 family cartridges - I assumed the Model 7 action has a similar length of bolt travel and similar sized inside diameter and port and just had thinner walls and less length for barrel tenon engagement. Maybe I'm missing something.
Looking at pictures if the .223 version of the Badger M7 on Brownell's, it looked like the Badger M7 bottom metal comes with polymer .223 AICS-compatible magazines (they look the same as the ones pictured with the .223 version of the M5 short action bottom metal here: http://www.badgerordnance.com/...-round-magazine.html ), which I understand are externally the same size as metal .308 AICS mags but have less interior space to fit the smaller cartridges. AI used to make .223 AICS mags that were .308 AICS mags with a spacer and a different follower, but I think they've been discontinued for a while. I may be interpreting the pictures wrong and the Badger M7 may use different magazines.
I may have to call Defiance and Badger to get more specific information.
JP makes good stuff, no doubt, and I agree that sight height over bore is a minor issue at worst.
It isn't really about looks. I have a bunch of ARs and AR parts and like them a lot, and the ideal gun I'm imagining for this isn't polished blued metal and figured wood. The custom 6.5 CM I mentioned earlier that I spent a pile of money on has the metal bits coated matte green and a green and brown splatter carbon fiber stock.
A lot of it is just wondering if I can get the accuracy that I want. I've put a lot of money into ARs and just haven't been able to shoot any of them close to as well as I can shoot my 6.5 CM or a few other bolt guns.
By looking at pictures of the .223 gun and a .308 version side by side, the .223 action seems to be much shorter to my eye at least. Just seems like this one ticks off all your boxes as the Ranch series are all medium calibers...they don't even offer a 30-06 or .308 in the Ranch line.
Also, if you wanted a 1/2 lb more weight and a good bit more barrel for some reason, you can get a 22" Predator that still uses AR mags:
IDPA ESP SS
I am definitely the limiting factor in group sizes. FWIW, I generally shoot groups when the barrel is new and I'm looking for the right ammo. After that is determined, group shooting is pretty rare, and mainly done to determine that the barrel still has life in it. My primary concern with a match rifle is its ability to maintain minimal vertical POI variation at distance. This SI rifle can hold less than 1 MOA vertical out to 800 yards. I think the last time I tested, it held less than 6" vertical at 800 yards with Hornady 73 ELDM ammo.
Back to groups, I often see bug holes for 3 or 4 rounds out of 5. Then I yank a shot or two. I know this because the reticle moves off POA during a flyer. It's all me and inconsistent technique. I shoot an AR best when I'm consistently weighting the bipod and noticeably pressing the buttstock into my clavicle. If I'm straight behind the rifle, the reticle just doesn't move during the recoil cycle.
Group sizes in inches for the ammo I've shot:
FGMM 69 = .32 / .57 / .80 / .90 / .90 / .90
Hornady 55 VMax = .34 / .89 / 1.10
Hornady 75 BTHP = .65 / .90 / .90 / .95 / 1.00
Hornady 75 BTHP Black = .75 / .78 / .80 / .85 / 1.05
Hornady 73 ELDM = .55 / .55 / .65 / .75 / .85 / .88
Fiocchi 77 SMK = .86 / .90 / 1.10
ADI 69 SMK = .69 / .77
So....no, I can't produce .35" groups at will. But I think it's more my fault than the rifle's fault.
Look at this version of the .308 Ruger American Rifle:
Both it and the .223 version have exactly 7 slots in the Picatinny scope rail above the port in the action.
Thank you. That's still better than I've ever been able to do consistently with my ARs.
I'm guessing you are significantly more consistent with a bolt gun?
My groups are more consistent with a bolt action, even with higher recoiling calibers. This is one of the reasons I'd like a 223 bolt action -- apples to apples on cartridge energy, now only comparing how actions affect accuracy.
I think part of the great accuracy with this AR is its 20" Krieger barrel with a 223 chamber. My other ARs & uppers don't have quite the quality of barrel and the chambers are 5.56. Data archives show I attain the .9" to 1.1" groups regularly with all my ARs, but the groups under 3/4" are reserved for the better days of trigger pulling.
However, I have a new 16" 1/8 twist 5.56 Wilson barrel on an old Wilson upper that shows promise. Currently with my 'smith, as there may be something loose -- maybe castle nut or gas block or rail (or nut behind butt) -- as it shows a 3-5 MOA downward POI shift when the barrel gets hot. I'm still trying to make certain the POI shift isn't due to tracking/zero issues in my two 2-10x scopes. In days where crosswinds of 10-20 mph where stringing POI sideways at even 100 yards, using the 2-10x scopes, the upper produced vertical variations of only:
.50" for BH 52 BTHP match
.69" for ADI 55 S BlitzKing
.44" for ADI 69 SMK
.40" and .81" for FGMM 69
.25" / .38" / .56" / .63" for Hornady 55 VMax
.56" / .81" for BH 50 VMax
|fugitive from reality|
I have the Mossberg MVP and I'm quite underwhelmed. With match grade ammo I'm lucky to get 4" at 100 yards. The same ammo is sub MOA out of my target AR. Now in defence of the Mossberg I've been reading that despite the 1/9 twist rate the rifle seems to prefer lighter bullets. I haven't tested mine with anything like the 55gr V-Max so I might just be feeding it ammo it doesn't like.
My other complaints are the stock is made from some kind of wood that makes soft pine look like oak. The bolt was very tight and the back of the locking lugs show very uneven wear from how they lock up. I'm debating whether to try and smith the rifle up to it's possible accuracy potential, or get rid of it before it costs me any more money.
'I'm pretty fly for a white guy'.
|To all of you who are serving or have served our country, Thank You|
Take a good look at a Howa miniaction rifle. One of the few that actually is a shrunk down action.
Available in .223 Rem., 6.5 Grendel & 7.62x39
20” lightweight, 22” standard & 20" heavy barrel options
HTI synthetic, pillar-bedded stock & recoil pad
5 or 10-round detachable magazine (depending on caliber)
This is my Howa mini in 6.5 Grendel 20” lightweight when I got it about 4 months back.
....Shredding lead both barrels
Thanks for taking the time to give me such detailed, informative responses. I really appreciate it.
As always, this forum may cost me more money than I was expecting - now I'm tempted to do a bolt gun and also build an as accurate as I can AR.
I'm glad to have the feedback on the MVP. I'll skip it. Thank you.
Thank you, I will check it out.
You need to find a SAKO Vixen from 40 or so years ago. Easier to find a .222 than .223 but nothing wrong with that.
No detachable magazine but you will have to compromise on something unless you go full custom.
Please do not send me back to the culture I nostalgically praise; please let me stay in the culture that I ignore or deprecate.
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