Dolphin Rifle Company
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- Last updated: 19/12/2016
A friend of mine was having his 300 WSM custom rifle rechambered and fluted and when he said he was off to Dolphin Gun Company to have the work carried out, I jumped at the chance to tag along. With custom rifles, I tend to stick to one person so you can get to know them and work together, but it’s good to spread your wings and I have been hearing a lot of good reports about Dolphin, so off we plodded.
To say I was impressed was an understatement; we were met with a broad smile and firm handshake as Mik Maksimovic (the co-owner with Peter Hobson) at their large workshops in the Lincolnshire countryside near Louth.
Mik and Peter are both F Class veterans, which really helps steer customers in the right direction towards the best choice of rifle. They have been there, done that and know what works, to bring home the medals and cups, of which the walls are adorned to prove their validity. What you notice is the very well-equipped workshops and gunsmithing space, combined with a great showroom and clients rifles in progress. They build over 150 rifles a year, 20 of which were ready to ship whilst I was visiting, so I had a really good look and have to say I was impressed.
What I instantly thought was different from other custom shops I have visited, was that like many custom rifle shooters, Mik demands the best quality but does not want to be reliant on the fickle USA market and their long shipping times that can draw out any custom build. Therefore, Mik and Peter always buy in bulk and have quantity of any one product at a time, so you can literally build your dream rifle from stock.
That’s pretty rare and gives the client a really nice choice for off the shelf components.
Whereas custom builders often order in a match grade barrel, Mik had shelves of Lilja, Krieger, Bartlein and Tru-Flite, sorted in calibre order and no fewer than 450 at any one time. These being replenished throughout the year to give an inexhaustible supply of type, contour, length, calibre and rifling twist. I tried to catch him out, with a .20 cal 1-in-9 twist, he had it! Rotter! I really liked the choice of barrel fluting available, all done in house, of course, with a selection of straight, spiral, cross over and my favourite interrupted fluting, nice.
The storeroom was an Aladdin’s cave, with a superb choice on tap. Stock-wise, laminate or synthetic is well-catered for. Joe West laminate stocks of sporter, hunter, target and long-range bench rest styles are all available, in many styles of laminate colours. Bill Shehane tracker stocks are stocked too, again a bias towards F Class and longer range use, I use one on a .22 rimfire 200-yard gun, so can recommend them.
Other stocks from Christensen Arms are carbon fibre that offer less than half the weight of other tactical rifles and very comfortable to shoot. Available in tactical adjustable, sporter and thumbhole and come in natural carbon-fibre finish, which looks very nice as well as being functional.
Dolphin also make their own aluminium-framed chassis that can be inlet to a variety of actions. These stocks are all made in house on one of the many CNC machines, with two styles; one for F Class T/R and the other tactical rifles. These stocks are modular in design with full inlets for Remington 700 style actions, Barnard S & SM Actions & RPA Quadlite, both single shot and repeater, plus BAT VR and Savage actions.
The stock is fully adjustable, including an adjustable pistol grip for length of pull, with a choice of three types of forend: short tactical style, long F/TR style and a Benchrest F Open forend. They accept AI magazines in the repeating version and they come complete with a quality Morgan Recoil pad, which is also fully adjustable and a quality pistol grip. All stocks come complete with stainless steel bedding bolts and repeating actions come with a five round AI magazine as standard. Best of all, Mik can inlet any of these stocks to your rifle’s action on their CNC machines. They are also available in a variety of anodised colours or coated in house with Duracoat in your choice of colour. These can be straight inlet to the stock and on some stocks a separate bedding block to perfectly mimic the action’s underside can be machined and inletted if required.
Most common calibre reamers are kept in stock, with standard or tight neck configurations and Mik likes to have them made without a throat cut. He orders separate throating reamers, in this way a client can specify a particular bullet and overall seating depth and Mik can match it, perfect.
Action-wise, Mik stocks Nesika in all the configurations one could wish for: Nesika Classic Action, Nesika Round Action, Nesika Hunter Action and the Nesika Tactical Action, left port right bolt, vice versa and single shot and repeater with small, medium or magnum bolt face.
These are always in stock and made to make your dream rifle. Barnard too are offered in many guises, the P action is the original action produced since 1982, it is designed for the Palma or long-range shooter and has a single shot cylindrical action, in right or true left-handed configuration, also available as twin port, left bolt/ left port, or right bolt/right port. The receiver is of 4340 chrome/ moly/nickel steel through hardened to 38Rc. The bolt has three forward locking lugs and is fitted with a Sako style extractor and can handle any case rim up to standard magnum rim. Supplied as standard with the Barnard Target trigger, or the action with a hanger for attachment of after-market ‘Remington suitable’ triggers.
BAT actions in stainless or chrome moly are available, again in all guises and an action I have used a lot and really admire. My particular favourite was their own designed action. The Dolphin CST DGC, again all in-house machined, is as good as it gets. It has many innovative features and the CST DGC has been engineered from the ground up to provide the most accurate shooting platform obtainable.
The Cone-Lok™ bolt design, with cone shaped locking lugs and a cone shaped floating bolt handle actually ensures the rear and the front of the bolt is seated centrally and squarely when loaded. This also produces continuous and uniform pressure of all locking lugs, to maximise accuracy potential. An innovative piece is the zero-lift cocking piece that has flanges extending from the sides of the cocking piece, to stop upward lift of the firing mechanism during bolt lockup, eliminating an angled sear engagement.
The three-lug design, with 60-degree bolt throw and magnetized .062-inch firing pin tip maintains contact with the firing mechanism whilst allowing a perfectly centred position in the bolt for positive ignition. All actions come with magnum and 308 bolt bodies for ease of multi calibre, change barrel, rifle builds.
The ability to make kit in house on precision machinery to order is a big benefit and further gives Dolphin a big advantage.
Let’s not forget the extras. Jewell triggers in all configurations are all in stock and ready to fit as are bolt handle alterations, extensions or replacements can be made to your requirements but many in house off the shelf varieties are perfect.
Again muzzle brakes in all sizes, calibres and port configurations, as well as custom one offs for small or large calibre cartridges alike are all possible. Mik stocks the excellent Tier One scope mounts with single mount options.
Particularly nice are the Dolphin F Class type bipods. Here you have several choices, all of which really provide a steady aiming platform. The Tracker 1 is available in aluminium or anodised colour to match your rifle and in either rail or swivel stud fittings. The Tracker 1 weighs 550g and a new carbon fibre model is set to turn a few heads and win a few competitions no doubt, so give Mik a call to discuss requirements.
Dolphin, as well as rebarrelling, threading and all the usual gunsmithing chores, can make and offer their own styled custom rifles in the form of Tactical, FT or sporter but one really took my eye. The Dolphin Nesika F/TR Rifle, from £2500, is designed to provide a precision actioned bench rest quality rifle, with a select match grade barrel and custom stock at a price and lead time that will amaze. Features include a Nesika K fluted bolt action with a 20 or 30 MOA scope rail and choice of Bartlein, Lilja, Krieger or Tru-Flite barrel, throated to the customer’s requirements with either a 10, 11, 12 or 13 twist rate in 308 Win. 7, 8 or 9 twist available in .223 Rem at 30-inch length. Heavy Palma profile with a surcharge of £120 for straight fluting. A Jewel BR or HVR trigger is standard, as is the Dolphin Modular Stock, available anodised or Dura coated. That’s one hell of a rifle for the price. If you cannot see what you want then they will build it for you.
This really only scratches the surface of what is on offer at Dolphin Gun Company, I was really impressed and it was refreshing to see a passionate owner willing to build exactly what you want. Not only that, they actually have what you want on the shelf, which is always the bug bear when engineering a custom rifle, the wait, at Dolphin that’s all taken care of.
This is your one-stop custom rifle depot or emporium, with actually too much choice!
Some fantastic home grown actions, bipods and kit that rival and exceed some USA made products.
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