As gun manufacturers crank out higher quality production rifles, custom-barreled actions are becoming less necessary for shooting crazy-small groups. It’s tough to beat a skilled gunsmith, but shooters are realizing that a factory piece can be nearly as accurate and just as much fun.
That trend was on full display earlier this month when Scottish benchrest shooter David Sharp (yes, his real name) posted a 3.090-inch 1000-yard group using a Savage Model 12 F-TR barreled action chambered in .308 WIN, according to a report from AccurateShooter.com. That group set the UK record in the Factory Sporter Class, and his aggregate for all four five-shot groups (6.756 inches) also beat the previous 1000-yard UK record in that class.
Sharp replaced his factory stock with a Choate Varmint stock and his trigger with a Timney trigger. He mounted his Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x scope on a 20 MOA Ken Farrell rail with Vortex rings. Otherwise, he made no other changes to his firearm.
“My rounds are nothing special,” he told AccurateShooter.com. “I’m using Sierra 2155 155 grain bullets over Vihtavuori N140 powder and CCI 200 primers. I use Lapua brass (large primer) full-length sized in a Redding S bushing die to give 0.002″ neck-tension.”
Sharp shot his record-breaking group at a 1000-yard range associated with the Galloway Small Arms Club in Ingliston, Scotland. While the rugged, mountainous range isn’t known for mild weather, at 9:00 a.m. on the day of the shoot the wind was still, and the temperature was already about 59 degrees F.
Sharp has been wildfowl hunting, clay shooting, and deer stalking for more than 50 years, but he only started benchrest shooting in 2016 when old age began to prevent him from clambering over hills in search of deer.
The UK Bench Rest Association operates under IBS/NBRSA rules for Light and Heavy Gun Classes, according to AccurateShooter.com, but they also host Factory Sporter Class competitions. In these events, shooters may only modify a firearm’s stock/chassis and trigger, but the barreled action may not be re-chambered or throated.