South Yorkshire Shooting Supplies .308 custom tactical rifle
- 6 Comments
- Last updated: 13/12/2016
I needed a magazine fed .308 rifle to compete in tactical competitions, and first on my list of potential builders was South Yorkshire Shooting Supplies. They have come a long way from the handgun days and after dominating the 10/22 rimfire custom market for years they are now branching out into the world of custom centrefire rifles.
After looking over a few of their Remington based custom rifles made for other customers, I decided on a Remington 700 in .308 with a stainless steel, one in ten twist, 24inch long, T1 benchrest profile, Border Archer barrel.
SYSS have Border barrels fitted by Border onto their actions as well as now re-barrelling actions with other barrels on site at SYSS. They have two lathes, one big and one small to accommodate all the machine work necessary for re-barrelling, as well as moderator fitting/barrel threading. They are making up a rake of 6.5*47’s with Border barrels as I write this.
Blueprinting and Bedding
I wanted the action blueprinted and bedded into an Accuracy International stock, all of which is the stock in trade for Roger and Dave. I have an HNC in Mechanical and Production Engineering as well as being an apprentice trained turner/miller, and I’ve watched Dave at work and rate him as a top machinist with the eye for detail which is the hallmark of a custom rifle maker. Blueprinting actions returns them to their designed tolerances rather then each rifles manufactured tolerances. The difference between a standard and a proper blueprinted action is a real one. The bolt glides more smoothly and locks into place easily on both lugs.
The standard Remington trigger would be binned for a Jackson Rifles Universal trigger, and the units standard trigger blade would be replaced by a custom made Pete Dutton fully adjustable silver trigger blade. Pete is a top FT/HFT competitor who makes custom triggers, his work has to be seen to be fully appreciated. The trigger has to be one of the best I have used on a centerfire rifle and with a pull weight of 12 ounces (340 grams) is precise and still completely safe.
The AI stock needs no real introduction, the system is squady proof. Dave insisted the action was fully bedded into the stock as AI stocks are good, but they shoot even better once the action is bedded. The standard Remi bolt also needed a larger bolt knob to speed up operations during tactical shoots. SYSS will fit Badger knobs, but they also make their own design of larger bolt knobs. Roger’s son is a CNC programmer and along with Dave came up with a very pleasing stepped and knurled bolt end in stainless steel which I insisted they fit to mine. A Badger 20 MOA one piece scope rail stiffens the action a little and allows more vertical adjustment on the elevation of any scope. I did not like the Allen key cheek piece adjusters at all, as I would have to dig out an Allen key every time I wanted to remove the cheek piece for cleaning or make fine tunes to the height when competition shooting. Super Dave soon turned a couple of knurled wheels to replace the Allen screws.
Another item I needed was a pepper pot style muzzle brake, that would fit flush to the barrel profile. Dave was convinced he could make one at the SYSS machine shop, and with the help of Roger’s son they did… although they will never make another one as it took too long to make from scratch. The barrel was threaded 5/8 *16 and a thread protector made for the end of the barrel when the brake is removed. The custom brake really tames the bark of the relatively short barrelled .308 with no loss of accuracy.
A Good Coating
The last thing I wanted was for my .308 AI to look like every other Remi AI. So I called James at Jäger Sporting Arms. James would be tasked to DuraCoat the whole action, stock, bipod and scope to make it stand out from the crowd, or blend into the background. I say blend as we went for a modified Flecktarn camo pattern.
I fitted a boosted 14-35 Leupold scope with a FFP Mil-Dot reticle using a set of Warne mounts (from SYSS) along with a B square level (also from SYSS). The Harris BRS bipod was my own (although SYSS sell those as well!).
DuraCoat for those who do not know is a two part system specifically designed for firearms use. Jäger are the only one in the UK who can apply the system, James having gone over to the factory twice to learn the whole process from start to finish. To apply a camouflage three colour pattern takes time and a lot of work, masking and re-masking the rifle. To do the whole outfit in Camo DuraCoat cost £350, but before you faint, look at the finished article and remember it will not chip or scratch off. The barrel and action will always be camo patterned now. The muzzle brake, thread protecting collar, Harris bipod, scope level and scope mounts also got the hard wearing paint treatment, as well as the 5 and 10 round AI magazines. The only bits James cannot guarantee are the flexible rubber Butler Creek scope lens covers, by the very nature of the material no paint can remain adhered to all the surfaces forever. Saying that, I have used mine for a few months now with no sign of the paint coming off the Butler Creeks. The finished job looks superb and does set my Remi .308 AI out from the rest of the rifles made to the same spec and there are quite a few out there.
James tells me that DuraCoat finishing is now available in DIY kits containing all you need to coat your own firearm. The Camo kit includes camo template of your choice, DuraCoat colours of your choice, hardener, reducer, degreaser, Air Brush, propellant and an instructional DVD. For the single colour kit all of the above components are supplied except the camo template. Each kit contains enough DuraCoat to finish 1 to 2 firearms. (Note: You can visit the Jäger Sporting Arms stand at the CLA Game Fair - stand number R1706)
For accuracy I of course would be handloading and started off with 155 grain Lapua which work so well in my other .308. These initially shot one inch groups at 100 yards, which is not anywhere near good enough for me. Next to try were some 168 grain A-Max. These heavier bullets on paper would suit the shorter 1 in 10 twist barrel better than the lighter and longer 155 Lapua’s. I used Vihtavuori V-140 as it is the powder I already use in the other .308 and I’m all for keeping things as simple as possible. Initial tests with the 168’s got group sizes down under an inch and a final tweak got it even better to 14.5mm for five shots centre to centre, which I know will come down with some more work. In fact the 14.5mm five shot group was shot at 100 yards in a very gusty wind at Diggle ranges, so that size was outstanding.
South Yorkshire Shooting Supplies now have their own re-barrelling system on site and have ordered a stock of Border and Lilja barrels in all the popular calibres.
Surgeon actions are on the shelf now too, which to be honest, I would have had for my rifle if SYSS had them in when they built my rifle. Roger also has a magazine system designed by SYSS for centrefire’s coming out of his UK CNC manufacturer as I write this, as well as being the importer/distributor for Wild Dog stocks.
The rifle from SYSS with a five and ten shot magazine cost £1800, although Dave says he will never hand make another pepper pot brake; it takes too long and is just not cost effective. They have their own brakes CNC produced now, which they are fitting to customer’s rifles.
Roger and company at SYSS are the real deal and their value for money approach to custom centrefire rifles is a breath of fresh air too. In my mind a good custom rifle at a fair price is new over here and to be welcomed. Mine shoots very well and so does every other SYSS rifle they have made to date. So anyone looking for a value for money custom rifle need look no further then SYSS.