With the rifle finished and spring bear season in full swing, it seemed sensible to bring the rifle into the field and see if I could connect on a bear with it. First I would need to spend some time with it on the range. I was curious to see how it would shoot, and needed to verify that it would function with all the components that been acquired over the previous year or so. The success of this project would require that all the pieces work together. I had ordered the custom reamer from Manson Precision in Michigan, the barrel came from McGowen in Montana and the reloading dies were custom built by Hornady based on “reamers prints” from Manson, allowing the use of Hornady’s basic brass. That all seems straight forward but for all of them to work together the dimensions would all have to be correct. One measurement being incorrect could mean serious issues in feeding and general use of the rifle.
It was bittersweet loading the first 20 rounds for the range, as eager as I was to get to the range, I wasn’t looking forward to climbing behind this rifle on the bench. In an effort to avoid any unnecessary extra pain and abuse I decided to chronograph and shoot for accuracy all at the same time.
I took the first the few shots standing up before I settled in behind the rifle on the bench. A few shots later the rifle was sighted. I then concentrated on seeing just how well I could shoot the rifle. The chronograph indicated an average velocity of 2178 fps for the 500 grain bullet. Respectable, and well beyond anything I would need while hunting in this province. Recoil was considerable but somewhat tolerable. I fired two shots and was shocked that the bullets were almost through the same hole. I really concentrated on the third shot, hoping I wouldn’t wreck this three shot group. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the third shot hadn’t increased the group! I replaced the target with a fresh one, then shot another three shots and was shocked again. Both groups looked almost identical, one measured .057” and the other .056”, granted, they’re 50 yard groups, but this rifle was built for close range dangerous game.
I packed the rifle on my bear hunt this spring. On the second day I connected with a nice mature boar. Based on the rangefinder he was feeding across a creek at 151 yards. I found myself a decent rest and placed the crosshairs behind his shoulders and pulled the trigger. The bear took one big leap and tried to run, but it was not to be, his front legs crumpled and he rolled a few yards down the hill.
This project of building the rifle was a lot of fun and a real educational experience. At times I questioned the tedious nature of some of the procedures but when I look at the targets I shot and the bear I took with this rifle, it was all worth it. I do plan to head overseas with it one day. Hopefully that happens.