Remington 700 Makeover

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  • Remington 700 Makeover

    Hi All,

    this project doesn't really qualify as a build, more a makeover of my existing platform. But it's the first time I've embarked on a project like this, so I thought I would write it up here for the benefit of those who may be considering something similar, and just for general interest. For those like me who haven't done anything like this before, maybe you can learn something from the mistakes that I will undoubtedly make and your own work go a bit more smoothly.

    Anyway, a few years ago I moved to Victoria and needed a legal calibre for Sambar. Wasn't real flush with cash so bought a cheap new rifle that I thought would be suitable for the task. Less than 1k got me a Remington 700 SPS. Came as a package deal with a cheap Simmons scope, in stainless steel with camo synthetic stock in 300WSM. Rifle has done everything I asked of it, carried it around through some awesomely thick scrub, up some heartbreaking hills and even grassed a few deer with it. Always did what I wanted, quite light, accurate and hard hitting enough for the purpose and I've been very happy with it.

    Now I'm in the south west corner of the NT and have been spending more time reloading and firing off the bench than hunting, and I feel it's time for a change. At first I was just going to swap the cheap scope out, but my plans have evolved. In no particular order I am going to swap the stock for a Boyd's laminated number, replace the recoil pad, pillar and glass bed, some other stock furniture, extended magazine box, new scope and mounts, and some trigger work. Doesn't sound like much, but I live a looooong way from anything resembling a gunsmith, or even a Bunnings, so a lot of the things I do will be different for some of you.

    Right, here's a pic of the rifle in her original guise

    First task I took on was making and fitting the pillars. Just getting the material was a pain, though for most of you the local hardware will supply some aluminium tube. I cut it to length, which I made deliberately short so that the glass bedding job would cover the pillars. During my information collection and research I found a lot of references to covering pillars with bedding compound, and this is the way I will go. After some file work I chucked it up in the drill press and used some sandpaper to tidy up the ends and get it down to the precise length I wanted.

    Once that was done I cut some kerfs in the outside of the pillars with a hacksaw so the bedding compound would create a mechanical lock.

    Drilled out the stock bolt holes in the stock to fit the pillars, using the existing holes as pilot, so I didn't bother getting a level datum point and setting up in the drill press etc, just winged it.

    Then inserted the pillars in the stock and tacked them in place with some 5 minute epoxy to hold them secure until the bedding job. You can see in this pic that the top of the pillars are about 1 mm below contact with the action, this will be filled with bedding compound. The clearance around the pillars may not be enough for the bedding compound to fill, but it is a very thin and runny compound, so should be okay.

    So that's it for now. I will be back periodically to work on this project and post updates. As I said, this is my way of overcoming problems and achieving what I'm after, it may not be what you would do, but that's okay. If anyone has a better way of doing things, or a different way, please share so we can all benefit. I welcome comments, just make you're criticism constructive so all of us on the forum can get something positive from the discussion.


    Steve - out
    If I knew I was gonna live this long I would've taken better care of myself

  • #2
    Thanks for sharing mate. Never done anything like this before but keen to keep an eye on it as you go and see what you make of it


    • #3
      So, finally got a bit of time to do a bit more on this. The first thing I thought I would tackle was replacing the standard Boyd's recoil pad with a Limbsaver. This is not a very clear pic, but gives you and idea of the difference between the Boyd's fitted recoil pad on the left and the Limbsaver on the right.

      This rifle is a 300WSM and I am not particularly fond of being belted in the face every shot, so I got on the Limbsaver website, downloaded the templates and determined that there was no pre-fitted pad compatible with the Boyd's stock and I would need a grind to fit number. So I rang a gunshop and quoted the part number, and placed the order. Then what turns up in the post? A pre-fitted pad for a Tikka T3.

      It was pretty close but too small by fraction of a mm all around. I should have sent the bloody thing back and insisted on getting what I ordered in the first place, but living remote like this, we are used just making do with what we have on hand, so I'm now in the process of sanding the stock back to fit the pad. Not too bad as it gives me an excuse to reshape the fore end more to my liking. Pics to follow.
      If I knew I was gonna live this long I would've taken better care of myself


      • Guest's Avatar
        Guest commented
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        Looking good so far there Rockranger!
        I did my first bedding job on a monte carlo laminated boyds stock not long ago & am very happy with the result, it was a big learning curve but im ready for the next one now.
        I didnt have enough putty in the mag well & in the end had to dremel out to much material!
        Keen to see how she progresses & shoots!

    • #4
      Good progress so far.

      One note of warning on the Limbsavers. The pre-fit pads do not like being ground to fit that last mm. As you are grinding your stock it is all good, but grinding the pad? Get a grind to fit Limbsaver as it will look better in the long run.

      I have a very nice rifle with a ground pre-fit Limbsaver which works great, but looks shite.


      • #5
        Yeah, Adam, I've heard that if you want to grind a Limbsaver to fit, then you need to get one made for that purpose. That was my original intention, but now I've got this one, and it's just a bit undersized, I'm making the stock fit the pad instead. Bit arse around, but if I'm patient it will work out okay. Here's a pic of how I'm doing it.

        If I knew I was gonna live this long I would've taken better care of myself


        • #6
          So been a while since I had the chance to do much on this project, but finally got into it again. I wanted to have a grip cap on the Boyd's stock, as this is a high wear area, and I just wanted to have one. Had a good look around, can get plastic or resin ones okay, but didn't like the look of some of them so ordered a steel one from Brownells, made by Dressels, website here:

          They are a pretty hefty item and you can feel the quality when you handle them. Added about 70g weight to my rifle if memory serves correctly.

          There's a couple of Midway USA vids by Larry Potterfield on youtube that I used as a guide, here's some shots of how it went.

          Started off with surform or wood rasp

          Part way through, still a bit to go, but taking it easy so everything stays level and true

          Getting close now, so wrapped a bit of sandpaper around a file and going very steady so I don't round off the edges

          Got the grip cap fitting well, now to work on the screw. It's a tapered fit and as you can see in this pic it stands proud of the grip cap and needs final fitting by hand.

          I emailed the manufacturer and asked what was the best way and he recommended not making the screw absolutely flat and flush with the grip cap but to create a dome in the screw so that there was more meat for a screwdriver to grab. So I chucked the screw up in my cordless using some paper towel to protect the threads and used a succession of grits to dome it over, trying it in the grip cap for size every now and again.

          Until I got it fitting nice. Here's the finished grip cap on the stock.

          Of course it's still in the white, so will need ceracoating along with a few other bits and pieces to match the stainless action and barrel, and I still have to sand back the rest of the stock and refinish, but I'm pleased with the result. Just wish I could get more done, seems to be taking forever, but that's life.
          If I knew I was gonna live this long I would've taken better care of myself


          • Guest's Avatar
            Guest commented
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            look great and like the pillar too

          • adamjp
            adamjp commented
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            I don't know if you are going to do it, but you didn't mention it so....

            For the grip cap, the best way to have it stay in the right place is to prepare the stock like you have, put some masking tape around the grip section to protect it from runs. Go over the grip cap and it's screw with a release agent (in the screw hole on the stock too) and then apply a liberal does of 5 minute epoxy to the prepared bit of stock and put the grip cap on, screw it down aligned the way you want.

            The epoxy will dry fairly quickly and the resulting lump of epoxy will ensure that your grip cap does not rotate or otherwise move about. Since you put release agent on everything but the stock, it will come off nicely.

        • #7
          Great work mate, looking forward to seeing the finished work.


          • #8
            Been a while, frustrating when work and family get in the way of what a man wants to do, but anyway, I have been able to do a bit more on this project.

            One of the problems this rifle developed was the annoying tendency to ratchet rounds from the magazine, causing double feeds, particularly when the bolt was worked hard. Obviously as a hunting rifle that's precisely what I did whenever I fired a shot, whether a follow up was ultimately needed or not. But if I did need that second shot in a hurry it became a lottery if it would feed correctly or jam. It was never a problem when the rifle was new, but grew over time, I assume as the integral feed rails in the action were worn in.

            A second problem was the restriction on COAL of the original magazine box. With many projectiles I could not even load to minimum SAAMI specs and still feed reliably through the magazine. Again, a common problem with the WSM cartridges in a short action.

            I did a lot of research and decided to go the option of installing Wyatt's Outdoors extended magazine box with integral feed lips to overcome both of these problems. Here's their website Wyatt's outdoors. Requires modification of the receiver and the bolt stop, but nothing too radical.

            I chose a single stack centre feed model, which means I get one less in the magazine than the standard staggered feed configuration, but this is a hunting rifle, so I can live with that. I'd rather have one less in the magazine and be sure of the second shot rather than have only a single shot should the rifle jam. Never needed three shots for a deer yet, so I should have plenty. And I can seat projectiles out another .110" or so from memory.

            So here's a pic of the two magazine boxes and the followers, original on the left, Wyatt's CFE5 on the right

            And fitted to the receiver
            If I knew I was gonna live this long I would've taken better care of myself


            • #9
              Been distracted from this project for a while with more urgent family stuff, but recently got back into doing a few things. I attacked the fore end with a plane and some sandpaper to get rid of the finger grooves. Although they were functional and effective enough I just didn't take to the look of them, and now they're gone. Didn't get too heavy handed and alter the profile at the bottom of the fore end, so it still sits nicely in the hands.

              The sling swivels, grip cap and screw, magazine box and bottom metal all went to be cerakoted, and will be back sometime next week, in a finish similar to the matte stainless on the rest of the metal.

              I was playing around dry fitting the barreled action into the stock and mentally going through the bedding process when I noticed that I had trouble lining up the stock screws as easily as I expected. Took me a while to work out, but realised that I had glued the pillars in crooked. I thought that I had plenty of internal clearance (which there wasn't, really) and hadn't paid enough attention to detail when I did it. You can hardly see it unless you look closely, but they weren't perfectly parallel with the stock screws and there was contact, which I suspect may have set up some sort of vibration or unwanted harmonics in the finished product, so I drilled them out, made new ones and reinserted them with more care. Didn't take long, they were just tacked in place with some 5 minute epoxy to hold in place until the bedding job, and they came right out after drilling in only a mm or so, but glad I found out before bedding.

              So bedding is the next step, which hopefully will happen this weekend, though this project is taking forever so I better be careful making assumptions.
              If I knew I was gonna live this long I would've taken better care of myself


              • Guest's Avatar
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                Wouldnt it be better to glue the pillars in with the stock in place? Then the screws can line up the pillars with the screw holes and stock holes. I dont like 5 minute araldite much. Id like to see more bite on the pillars if its there for a lifetime,

              • Guest's Avatar
                Guest commented
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                This is a great write up about a build in a tough location. Well done mate.

                And by the way, the photography has been first class.

                Thank you for taking the time to share this build.


            • #10

              that's what I did end up doing, after getting it wrong and having to fill the screw hole and think about it for a while, but it worked out ok in the end in exactly the way you described.

              Thanks a lot for the interest fellas, I have been really slow with this, but I bedded the stock last week and am now in the process of cleaning up the excess. I only get about 15-20 minutes of an afternoon to work on it until the ankle biters get bored with the TV, come into the shed and start getting underfoot, the little so & so's. Wasn't the best bedding job you've ever seen, but it will be functional enough, and at this point I'm happy seeing as it's my first crack at this sort of thing. Pics to follow when I get that part finished.
              If I knew I was gonna live this long I would've taken better care of myself


              • #11
                So, finally getting around to posting an update on this project. I have just about finished. Since the last post I have completed the bedding, not the best job, a few minor imperfections that are just cosmetic, but overall it will be functional and deliver what I wanted, which is a consistent bedding surface. But all in all, I'm satisfied with it for a first attempt. Not happy, but satisfied which will have to do. Also bedded the bottom metal while I was at it.

                Had the grip cap and screw, bottom metal, new mag box and sling swivels cerakoted in Satin Mag to match the stainless, and refinished the stock with a 'wipe on' polyurethane finish. I mixed the finish using a satin finish polyester resin and turps 50/50, soaked a piece of old T shirt, squeezed out the excess with a gloved hand and wiped on the finish a few times in a very light coat. Sanded between coats with fine sandpaper the first couple of times, then with steel wool and it came up a treat. To my eye it matched the original finish on the Boyd's stock very closely.

                So I've mounted the new 3-9x40 Ziess Conquest scope in Warne Maxima vertical split rings and all I'm waiting on is the trigger back from the ebay trigger man and I'll be off to the range.

                So once I get the trigger fitted and put some rounds downrange I will post another update. Hopefully this time it will be quicker.

                Cheers Ladies and Gents

                If I knew I was gonna live this long I would've taken better care of myself


                • Guest's Avatar
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                  Looking good rock!

                  The bedding looks awesome for a first attempted

                  Although I cant say Im a fan of the palm swell cap thingy

                  But its your rifle eh

                  Also is there any reason why you only used 5 minute epoxy to fix in the pillars instead of the devcon??
                  Imo I would have been using the devcon.

                  Look forward to seeing it complete

              • #12
                First of all, apologies for losing all the previous pics, I've still got them so if someone can tell me how to edit my previous posts, I'll restore them.

                So I've finally finished this project. Can't believe how long it's taken me. I kept getting hung up with other stuff, changing my mind then having to wait for the parts and I was always hampered by my remote location, but she's finally done.

                Took it out to the range a week ago with some handloads and dropped the ammo box while setting up, rounds everywhere, all the different loads mixed up and no point in really continuing, so just played with the .22. Loaded up a few more rounds for this weekend and I'm very pleased with the rifle. Didn't have any of the more preferred pills on hand, but loaded up a few that never shot particularly well, and they exceeded my expectations. These pills previously varied between 3" and 1.6" depending on the load. This weekend the worst group I could get out of them was 2.2" and shot two 1" groups of five rounds. Early days yet, but with a bit more load development and using better pills I'm confident that I can get it to consistently shoot sub 1" five shot groups.

                So the bedding and trigger were the main reasons for the improvement, with the better scope contributing a little. All the rest was either cosmetic or functional without contributing to accuracy, but I'm very happy with the result. And I can always swap it back to the lightweight synthetic stock if I plan a few long days back in sambar country.

                Cheers, Steve out.....
                If I knew I was gonna live this long I would've taken better care of myself