The Good - after installation the barrel was again free floating.
The Bad - the fit and finish around the barrel was once again uneven one side to the other.
After visiting with my Gunsmith Ron in Encinitas he suggested that perhaps the posts on my action were the problem, ie they aren't perfectly straight. I may contact Remington about this issue and the likelihood that they would repair it but for now I'll live with it.
I intended to have him pillar bed the rifle to improve accuracy which would also allow him to place the pillars such that it would properly align the action with the stock. However, after spending more than an hour picking his brain he talked me out of having him do anything to the rifle for the time being. Instead he suggested focusing on load development before doing any upgrades to the rifle itself. He said that as it is the rifle should should shoot MOA (1" group at 100 yds) as it is with a good load. I fully expected Sub-MOA accuracy from this rifle out of the box but to be honest have only tested it once and wasn't impressed. After our conversation it became evident that a dirty barrel, wind conditions and a poor powder choice may have been to blame.
I tried to pry a list of upgrades in order of importance from Ron but he was reluctant. Here is my best shot at it.
Here is the basic process he suggested -
- Load Development - Find the powder, projectile, primer and seating depth that produces the best results both in accuracy. Consistency being more important than higher velocity.
- Gunsmithing - It was difficult to get him to list the different accuracy upgrades in order of importance but he for the average rifle he suggested the following
- Free Float Barrel - ie. upgrade your stock or modify your current stock by bedding or pillar bedding. (in my case the barrel is now floating and he seemed to think I was getting good contact between the action and aluminum bedding block based on the even rub marks on the bedding so he didn't think spending the money for pillars was worth it at this time.)
- Trigger Job - Most triggers come from the factory at 4-8 pounds. A 1.5 - 3 lbs trigger is best. (mine came from the factory at a surprisingly good 3 lbs so spending $50 for a half pound adjustment isn't warranted on a tight budget)
- Blue Printing or Truing - Disassembly of the action and barrel, truing both surfaces resulting in better alignment. The bolt face and lugs (knobs on the bolt that lock it forward when closed) are also trued to ensure a flush contact surface, even pressure distribution and a consistent fit shot to shot. By removing the bolt and examining the bolt lugs you can look for irregularities such as the signs of rubbing which indicate an uneven distribution of pressure. (mine lugs did show signs of uneven wear) Ron charges $45 to true each component. ($135 for barrel, action & bolt)
You can see the bluing is rubbed off only on the outside edge indicating that this is the only point on the lug that's making contact. After truing the fit would be custom milled ensuring contact is even across the lug face.
Optional Upgrades -
- Muzzle Brake - The 300 Win Mag can be brutal to shoot repeatedly do to heavy recoil. A good recoil pad can help but a muzzle brake will drastically reduce the recoil. Heavy recoil left uncontrolled can lead to Flinching which dramatically hinders shot to shot consistency and can be a difficult habit to break. Ron charges $50-75 to install a muzzle brake that you provide. Brakes cost between $75 and $200. Popular muzzle brakes - Ops inc, Badger Ordinance, Holland, Vais, JP, Defensive Edge.
- Tactical Bolt Knob - Looks great and makes cycling the bolt much easier thanks to the added size, weight and angle of the bolt know. About $35 for the average knob and $40-60 to install.
Additional Major Upgrades
- Match Grade Barrel - A Krieger or Lilja barrels are phenomenal but pricey. They won't get dirty as quickly and can increase accuracy significantly. $300 - 500 depending on the barrel.
I've taken Ron's advice and started loading a new series of loads for testing and even jumped the gun a bit and started toying with seating depth. I'll post a video on how to effectively find overall length without buying any expensive tools or gauges.