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GUNS Magazine June 2010 - Page 48
T here are times when you open a rifle case, pick up the rifle, hold it, work the bolt, pull the trigger on an empty chamber, and the whole experience makes you smile. But when you take it to the range and it shoots in a hole, you know you have your hands on something special. I have been shooting, hunting, competing and evaluating rifles for most of my life, and those sentiments are exactly what I experienced with a custom-built rifle from Blue Ridge Rifles. Even though the rifle came to me through an odd set of circumstances, I’m glad it did. It gave me a chance to get to know Mark Boarman, owner/ operator of Blue Ridge Rifles, a fellow who does not compromise on quality craftsmanship. The rifle I received is chambered for the .300 Winchester Magnum, an inherently accurate case, part of the reason it completes one leg of the military’s long range needs. Mark wanted a fluted No. 4 contour barrel for this particular rifle and chose Dan Lilja, a prominent match-grade barrel maker. A journey through the barrel with my borescope showed me what I already knew because I have put Lilja barrels on more than one of my Benchrest competition rifles: clean, well formed lands and grooves, hand lapped and finished beautifully, a well tooled leade and transition to the lands ending in a perfect crown. But the kicker is after shooting about 40+ rounds of Barnes Tipped Triple Shock Bullets (BTTS) at 3,225 fps, the barrel was almost free of copper fouling. There comes that smile again. The 26" Lilja barrel was married to a trued Remington 700 action, the receiver work being completed with reamers from Dave Kiff. Dave is the owner of Pacific Tool & Gauge, and is another prominent and respected industry suppler of quality parts. Dave’s spiral fluted bolt with a Sako-style extractor was installed. As I have stated in other articles, I am not a Jacob Gottfredson The bolt handle is extended for quick and easy access and is welded—not silver soldered—to the bolt. The bolt is spiral fluted and Boarman installed a Jewell trigger. The barrel and action have been coated with a cured polymer finish. The clean, simple lines speak of speed, utility and reliability. The rifle carries dan lilja’s match-grade No. 4 contour fluted barrel fitted with a vais muzzlebrake. 48 fan of silver-soldered bolt handles, and I was pleased to find the bolt handle on this rifle is welded. It is my understanding Blue Ridge Rifles will be using integral bolt handles in future. If you ever knock a bolt handle off, you will know why and how much I appreciate that move. The recoil lug is also oversized. A Vais muzzlebrake was added to the end of the barrel. In case you are not familiar with this brake, it has circumferential holes like any conventional brake. It also has longitudinal holes. It was an innovative concept to reduce the noise people object to. It is also for that reason many shooters at the Williamsport 1,000-yard Benchrest use Vais’ brake. A Jewell trigger was chosen for the rifle, another excellent choice for a custom-built rifle. Arnold Jewell and I started competing in Benchrest the same year here in Texas, exactly three decades ago next year. I remember, well Arnold’s displeasure with the best triggers of the day. Squeezing a trigger that varies from 2 to 6 ounces each time does not promote accuracy and will bother your concentration to the point of frustration. A former corporate pilot and resident genius, his first trigger took an extraordinary departure from conventional trigger mechanisms and was completed using a file. Today, many (if not most) competition rifles in the world house Jewell triggers. WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • JUNE 2010