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First Bolt Action Build (.223) Questions

rking453

Private
Minuteman
Mar 21, 2022
92
41
Pulaski, NY
Hey folks, I've been thinking about putting together a .223 Rem bolt rifle. I want something with a 26" fast twist barrel for shooting 77 and 80 grain bullets.

I've never put a bolt rifle together before, I've been researching and learning everything I can for about a week now. I've got a couple routes I'm thinking about taking.

The first would be a used R700 Short Action with a Criterion Remage barrel system from Northland Shooters.

Second option would be a Zermatt Origin action with a shouldered pre-fit. Currently eyeing the Proof off-the-shelf barrel option.

I would really appreciate some opinions / recommendations on what route to take and why.

Also looking for any experience with the proof .223 Rem barrel in particular. I recently built a 6mm ARC AR-15 with a Proof 20" Carbon. The barrels shoots great, but it has really limited freebore, more limiting than the AR mag length. Wanted to make sure this short free bore isn't the case with the .223 Rem as well.

I'm also open to other suggestions on Zermatt barrel pre-fits, definitely not set on anything yet.
 
get an origin and 223 proof prefit from Front Range Precision. available, it's the easy button and will work just fine with 77-80gr bullets and MDT poly mags
 
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get an origin and 223 proof prefit from Front Range Precision. available, it's the easy button and will work just fine with 77-80gr bullets and MDT poly mags
Thanks for the recommendation! So no issues with short free bore on these? I was planning to go with a BDL type floor plate rather than mag fed. Any issues with a floor plate and Origin?
 
Thanks for the recommendation! So no issues with short free bore on these? I was planning to go with a BDL type floor plate rather than mag fed. Any issues with a floor plate and Origin?
mine ships this week. but i have used a standard wylde chamber before in a bolt gun and it worked well with both 75 and 80gr bullets. no issue getting to 3,000fps. no powder compression or pressure signs either

Origins are cut for BDL...but their website states that 223 is magazine fed only when you go to pick which bolthead you want

maybe @Zermatt Arms can chime in with specifics
 
The Origin will not accommodate the .223 case diameter fed from a BDL. That's due to the width of the feedlips. .223 and similar cases need to be fed from a DBM in the Origin.

The SR3 can be made to accommodate those cartridges, but you'd have a dedicated action for that purpose if you decided to go that route.

Thanks - Ray
 
I have a 700 with a NSS Criterion Remage and it has exceed my accuracy expectations, I had the bolt bushed
to stop the primers from cratering so that is an added cost.

Not sure how important having a BDL instead of a magazine is to you but you are probably better off
getting the Origin action giving you the ability to use shouldered prefits and swapping boltheads should
you get tired of 223. If you want to sell it they go pretty quick.
 
No experience with the Origin but I would definitely do a custom if you can swing it. I did a Remage and later I did a Lone Peak action. The Lone Peak with the Krieger barrel is twice as accurate and so much nicer to run.
 
The Origin will not accommodate the .223 case diameter fed from a BDL. That's due to the width of the feedlips. .223 and similar cases need to be fed from a DBM in the Origin.

The SR3 can be made to accommodate those cartridges, but you'd have a dedicated action for that purpose if you decided to go that route.

Thanks - Ray
Thanks for the info! Did not realize this, you saved me from some potential headache.
 
I have a 700 with a NSS Criterion Remage and it has exceed my accuracy expectations, I had the bolt bushed
to stop the primers from cratering so that is an added cost.

Not sure how important having a BDL instead of a magazine is to you but you are probably better off
getting the Origin action giving you the ability to use shouldered prefits and swapping boltheads should
you get tired of 223. If you want to sell it they go pretty quick.
I'm not sure how important to me it is either to be honest. I've been wanting a 26" 223 bolt gun for a little bit. I found a nice looking .223 700 Police on Guns .com recently for $800. Barrel was 1:9 and 24", so not exactly what I wanted. Price seemed good though, so I went to order, and they wouldn't let me select my FFL. While I was on the phone with support someone else bought it. It's definitely still on my mind, I was planning to build something similar looking but with a different barrel. Honestly, all my bolt guns besides a Howa 6.5 Grendel are floor plate rifles, and the Howa magazines have me wanting a floor plate for that as well. I know there are way better mag systems out there, so maybe I should keep an open mind on magazine fed.

If I do go the magazine route what does everyone suggest for bottom metals / magazines? Are PTG, Hawkins, Grayboe M5 style bottom metals all good options?
 
No experience with the Origin but I would definitely do a custom if you can swing it. I did a Remage and later I did a Lone Peak action. The Lone Peak with the Krieger barrel is twice as accurate and so much nicer to run.
That is good to know! I own a good array of actions, M77, 700, Bergara, Howa, Ruger American, X-Bolt. I've never owned or even had my hands on a custom action. I probably don't know what I'm missing out on.
 
I'd echo the recommendation to go with a Origin or other custom action over the R700. One huge plus to the origin is that with a bolt head swap and another barrel you could turn your 223 into a 6.5 creedmoor or even a 6.5 or 7 SAUM. I have the TL3 (very similar to the Origin) and run all sorts of calibers off it. It's a great value proposition to have one stock/scope/trigger and just change out the barrel when you want to shoot something different.

Mag fed with DBM is also definitely the way to go. I really like Hawkins bottom metal, I've got it on all my rifles and it's been solid whether I'm running 223 mags, AW, AICS or Accurate mags.

For 223 mags I've used the MDT poly mags and they work, but I prefer the Accurate 223 mags. A little bit of work with a hand file on either of them and you can open up the length to accommodate the heavier bullets with longer OAL.
 
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That is good to know! I own a good array of actions, M77, 700, Bergara, Howa, Ruger American, X-Bolt. I've never owned or even had my hands on a custom action. I probably don't know what I'm missing out on.
You don’t. It’s a nice step up in refinement.
 
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I’d do the Origin you won’t regret it. I’d also make sure I got a 1/7 twist barrel in case you want too shoot the 85.5 Berger’s. I think my next barrel will be just for that.
 
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I'd echo the recommendation to go with a Origin or other custom action over the R700. One huge plus to the origin is that with a bolt head swap and another barrel you could turn your 223 into a 6.5 creedmoor or even a 6.5 or 7 SAUM. I have the TL3 (very similar to the Origin) and run all sorts of calibers off it. It's a great value proposition to have one stock/scope/trigger and just change out the barrel when you want to shoot something different.

Mag fed with DBM is also definitely the way to go. I really like Hawkins bottom metal, I've got it on all my rifles and it's been solid whether I'm running 223 mags, AW, AICS or Accurate mags.

For 223 mags I've used the MDT poly mags and they work, but I prefer the Accurate 223 mags. A little bit of work with a hand file on either of them and you can open up the length to accommodate the heavier bullets with longer OAL.
Avoid the MDT's in my humble opinion. I had a hell of a time trying to get them to feed an AX chassis for my .223 build. I bought a used Accurate Mag off the Hide and it feeds perfectly. I couldn't be happier.

.223 bolt guns are just plain fun. Great wind trainers and economical to shoot.
I just threw a 16" together. Man it is fun to shoot with zero recoil and still have groups just larger than a quarter at 400 yards.
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I echo everyone’s advice on going with a custom action over a trued up 700. I’ve owned a few different custom actions, the origin is a good value, but I think you will be happier in the long run saving up a little more coin and going with an impact, lone peak or defiance “buy once cry once”…Do as you will just my 2 cents.
 
I'd echo the recommendation to go with a Origin or other custom action over the R700. One huge plus to the origin is that with a bolt head swap and another barrel you could turn your 223 into a 6.5 creedmoor or even a 6.5 or 7 SAUM. I have the TL3 (very similar to the Origin) and run all sorts of calibers off it. It's a great value proposition to have one stock/scope/trigger and just change out the barrel when you want to shoot something different.

Mag fed with DBM is also definitely the way to go. I really like Hawkins bottom metal, I've got it on all my rifles and it's been solid whether I'm running 223 mags, AW, AICS or Accurate mags.

For 223 mags I've used the MDT poly mags and they work, but I prefer the Accurate 223 mags. A little bit of work with a hand file on either of them and you can open up the length to accommodate the heavier bullets with longer OAL.
What have you been using for barrels? Are there other options out there besides Proof for shouldered pre-fits?
 
What have you been using for barrels? Are there other options out there besides Proof for shouldered pre-fits?
Damn near every smith who is worth a shit at their trade should be able to make a shouldered prefit with any barrel. The barrel itself shouldn’t matter but you get what you pay for. A 70 buck green mountain blank won’t be as good as a 375 dollar krieger.
 
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What have you been using for barrels? Are there other options out there besides Proof for shouldered pre-fits?
tons of options if you want a different reamer or freebore from any number of smiths, but nothing close in cost or availability unless you go with a barrel nut
 
Damn near every smith who is worth a shit at their trade should be able to make a shouldered prefit with any barrel. The barrel itself shouldn’t matter but you get what you pay for. A 70 buck green mountain blank won’t be as good as a 375 dollar krieger.
Anyone you suggest in particular I could order from? I don't know of anyone local to me who does this kind of work.
 
Anyone you suggest in particular I could order from? I don't know of anyone local to me who does this kind of work.
Pva is who I usually use as mentioned above when they have their periodic sales. Not sure in their current lead time. You can find 100 names on this site though
 
Anyone you suggest in particular I could order from? I don't know of anyone local to me who does this kind of work.
LRI
SAC
GAP
Bugholes
WTO
Swift Creek
Deep South

i'm forgetting some

few things to consider.
cost (proof wins by a long shot, and theyre good barrels, nice contour, and are 7 twist)
availability (proof available now, no 6-8week wait)
do you need more than a standard wylde chamber if you're shooting 77/80gr max? i didnt/dont)
 
What have you been using for barrels? Are there other options out there besides Proof for shouldered pre-fits?

I've shot 223 barrels from Keystone and a couple custom cut ones from my gunsmith (Modacam in NC). All were 223 Wylde chambers. The ones from my gunsmith shot better than the one from Keystone (and were more expensive), but all were sub-MOA accurate.

Proof is a good option for low-cost prefits, Front Range Precision is a good place to order those from. Any good gunsmith can cut a prefit (it's just a chambering job cut to a specific set of dimensions for the action), but you'll pay a higher price for the one-off work and be dealing with lead times.

If you want a dirt-cheap barrel, I'll give you my old Keystone 223 for free if you pay shipping. :) Will fit on a TL3, or on an Origin with a recoil lug from Hunts Long Range. Has about 5k rounds on it and was shooting at around 1 MOA when I swapped to another barrel.
 
or...keep the tikka and ADD a 223 origin to the stable
$$$$. I don't shoot enough to justify it. It's a hobby. Now, if I grabbed a single action and scope, and could switch between a heavy range barrel and range stock, and a lightweight hunting barrel and stock, I could sell my Cross too.

I'd just grab a .223 barrel for my Tikka if the bolts weren't unobtanium.
 
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$$$$. I don't shoot enough to justify it. It's a hobby. Now, if I grabbed a single action and scope, and could switch between a heavy range barrel and range stock, and a lightweight hunting barrel and stock, I could sell my Cross too.

I'd just grab a .223 barrel for my Tikka if the bolts weren't unobtanium.
and that's the advantage of the origin and proof prefits

and the new lightweight chassis (HNT26/XLR Element) with mlok slots for weights
 
and that's the advantage of the origin and proof prefits

and the new lightweight chassis (HNT26/XLR Element) with mlok slots for weights
After owning a Bravo and a Manners T4A, and playing with a buddy's Xylo, I don't think I'd be interested in any chassis that wasn't a Xylo. I strongly prefer the Manners stock over any chassis but the Xylo. The Xylo really is a treat, super comfortable and well designed.
 
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Hey folks, I've been thinking about putting together a .223 Rem bolt rifle. I want something with a 26" fast twist barrel for shooting 77 and 80 grain bullets.

I've never put a bolt rifle together before, I've been researching and learning everything I can for about a week now. I've got a couple routes I'm thinking about taking.

The first would be a used R700 Short Action with a Criterion Remage barrel system from Northland Shooters.

Second option would be a Zermatt Origin action with a shouldered pre-fit. Currently eyeing the Proof off-the-shelf barrel option.

I would really appreciate some opinions / recommendations on what route to take and why.

Also looking for any experience with the proof .223 Rem barrel in particular. I recently built a 6mm ARC AR-15 with a Proof 20" Carbon. The barrels shoots great, but it has really limited freebore, more limiting than the AR mag length. Wanted to make sure this short free bore isn't the case with the .223 Rem as well.

I'm also open to other suggestions on Zermatt barrel pre-fits, definitely not set on anything yet.
This is my opinion, take it for what it is worth.
I have 5 rifles built on remington actions, because, for all except one, I had the actions already.
I would not buy a remington to build off of.
You can go with a custom, or a Tikka CTR and buy a chassis.
The Tikka will come with a barrel twisted fast enough for the 77's, it will give you a chance to get out and shoot, you can rebarrel with a pre-fit later.
Criterion also does prefits for the Tikka.
Howa no longer makes the 1500 series in .223, only the mini-action, which sucks when trying to load long bullets.
 
This is my opinion, take it for what it is worth.
I have 5 rifles built on remington actions, because, for all except one, I had the actions already.
I would not buy a remington to build off of.
You can go with a custom, or a Tikka CTR and buy a chassis.
The Tikka will come with a barrel twisted fast enough for the 77's, it will give you a chance to get out and shoot, you can rebarrel with a pre-fit later.
Criterion also does prefits for the Tikka.
Howa no longer makes the 1500 series in .223, only the mini-action, which sucks when trying to load long bullets.
The annoying aspect of .223 Tikka's is that if you want to go from .223 to a .473 bolt you are $375 into an LRI bolt. If .223 is part of the picture I don't think I'd go Tikka.
 
The annoying aspect of .223 Tikka's is that if you want to go from .223 to a .473 bolt you are $375 into an LRI bolt. If .223 is part of the picture I don't think I'd go Tikka.
And how much for a Remington that he is considering buying?
 
Pva is who I usually use as mentioned above when they have their periodic sales. Not sure in their current lead time. You can find 100 names on this site though
Really like what PVA has to offer, may have give them a call and see what current leads times are. Looks like I could get a barreled action origin from them for about the same cost as buying the action, proof barrel, action wrench and gauges. Very tempting so long as it isn't a crazy long wait.
 
And how much for a Remington that he is considering buying?
.223 Tikka = $1,200
Tikka Bolt = $400
Tikka Prefit = $500

or

.223 Tikka = $1,200
6.5cm Tikka = $1,200
Sell one Tikka action/trigger = -$500

or

Origin = $875
Trigger = $200
Bolt Head= $125
Prefit $500

I think that's right. The Tikka comes with a trigger. I don't think firing pins need swapping. Whatever chassis you choose is outside those numbers.
 
.223 Tikka = $1,200
Tikka Bolt = $400
Tikka Prefit = $500

or

.223 Tikka = $1,200
6.5cm Tikka = $1,200
Sell one Tikka action/trigger = -$500

or

Origin = $875
Trigger = $200
Bolt Head= $125
Prefit $500

I think that's right. The Tikka comes with a trigger. I don't think firing pins need swapping. Whatever chassis you choose is outside those numbers.
The Tikka comes as a complete rifle.
It has a bolt, a trigger, a barrel and everything else that you need except the scope, ammo, hearing protection.
OP wants to build a .223, no mention of switching calibers, don't know why you are hung up on extra bolts.
I agree, a custom is a better option if you want to build a rifle, OP is open to a custom.
The point of my post is that the Tikka is a better option than the remington, unless he has the action already.
 
The Tikka comes as a complete rifle.
It has a bolt, a trigger, a barrel and everything else that you need except the scope, ammo, hearing protection.
OP wants to build a .223, no mention of switching calibers, don't know why you are hung up on extra bolts.
I agree, a custom is a better option if you want to build a rifle, OP is open to a custom.
The point of my post is that the Tikka is a better option than the remington, unless he has the action already.
That's true, if you just wanted to go .223 and nothing more, the Tikka is ready to go and it will shoot well.

But, you're locked into a .223 Tikka, and if the chamber dimensions, twist, barrel profile or length aren't what you want, or if you want to change calibers, then you're looking at the above formula. But if you just want it to be a .223, you can grab a Tikka and drop it into whatever is comfortable and it will shoot.
 
Another really good option imo is getting the MPA PMR PRO 2 rifle in 223.. comes with a curtis custom action TT diamond (if you ask them for it) hand lapped barrel with a match grade wylde chamber and obviously has the great ba comp chassis. I've loved mine and am currently re chambering to a 223ai. But I've shot groups as small as sub 1/4 moa 5 shot group handloads
 
Sadly even if the best gunsmith does your 700 you are still stuck with a POS 700. Only a fool would pour money into one vs the "budget" customs we have now.