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Thread: Switch Barrel Rifle

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    Switch Barrel Rifle

    Alright just sold my 300 Win Mag 5R and considering building a short action switch barrel rifle. Would like to know from anyone who has built or owned a switch barrel rifle how they liked it, pro's and con's and anything you might of done differently. Thanks.

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    I finished my Savage build @ a month ago.

    Savage 10ba LE SA action...McGowan 308 barrel...Accutrigger...XLR stock.

    I really like the Savage setup as opposed to the Remington...It's also very easy to swap calibers...You can do it yourself with a go/no-go gauge, some tools and about 15 minutes.

    For some reason Savages seem to lose their resale but, I haven't figured out why because every Savage I've owned has out-shot it's fellow Remington...So, who knows.

    All said and done, I spent about $2400 and I'm extremely happy with the outcome.

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    I like the switch barrel concept. I have one now built by Moon at Crescent Customs off a Surgeon 591 action in a Manners T3 with a mini chassis. It's a .308/.243 and I plan on having him add a 6.5 Creedmoor to it as well. Simple swap out with a barrel vise and action wrench.

    I would suggest using an action with either a pinned or integral recoil lug. Just makes it easier and you don't have to worry about the recoil lug rotating on you. A smith can pin a Rem 700 recoil lug for you if you wanted to go that route for an action.


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    Tag because I've been exploring a switch barrel myself.

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    I've done it works great saves alot of money but it does get to be a pain. Now I just get a couple of barrels spun up using the same reamer and shoot, your loads are going to vary some but its easier to me to stock the same compenents and load for 1 common chambering

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    Quote Originally Posted by TCBREINIG View Post
    Alright just sold my 300 Win Mag 5R and considering building a short action switch barrel rifle. Would like to know from anyone who has built or owned a switch barrel rifle how they liked it, pro's and con's and anything you might of done differently. Thanks.
    What cartridges are you intending on switching between?

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    I have only 2 rifles but barrels in 5 calibers. In essence I have 5 customs at a dramatically lower cost. The 591R is 260 REM, 308 WIN and 6.5 SLR Improved. The 1086R is 284 Shehane and 300WM. I save on scopes, actions, chassis/stocks, triggers and bipods and gunsmithing. It takes me about 15 minutes start to finish switching out calibers.

    I built my switch barrel rifles on Surgeon actions (591R and 1086R). I have noted the barrel and scope ring torque settings and return to zero settings for the scope turrets and found that with minimal adjustment I am back on target after completely switching calibers.

    I would second using either a pinned or integral recoil lug.

    My only regret is not going this route in the first place.

    After a horrid experience in which I received my first custom builds, a FN SPR and FN PBR, back from the smith with the finish partially blasted off finish and rusting (the least of the damage). I repaired the guns at additional expense and sold them as I could not stand to look at them after such a crap-tastic (and expensive) expirience... long story short the less "smithing" the better in my book.
    Last edited by Rockfish Dave; 04-12-2013 at 10:10 AM.
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    I have a 260, 6mmAI, 6mmBR, 220 AI on an FN PBR. It works great and really helped with my firearm ADD. As stated above, a pinned or integral recoil lug is a must and I would recommend the integral lug over a pinned lug as I have personally seen the pins sheared off by over zealous barrel swapping. It all sits in a McMillan A4. I should have gone with a chassis to avoid removing the B/A from the stock for barrel swaps.

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    Why not a DTA SRS?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Randoman5 View Post
    Why not a DTA SRS?
    +1 for the DTA

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    My switch barrel plan didn't work out.
    I have/had a Savage LRPV closed top repeater action that I wanted to be my 260 AI - 223 AI switch barrel rig. I ordered a couple appropriate barrels, got reamers cut, machine work done, etc., etc. The problem was that after shooting both I wanted to have both - all the time.
    Screw it. I just bought another target action and stock. Problem solved.

    B

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    RRW
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    May sound like a stupid question but what makes a the rifle have the ability to simply switch out the barrels vs requiring a smith to do it. Is it just an integral or pinned recoil lug. Is that the reason you can switch a barrel on an AI rifle as well.

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    I also have a Switch Barrel built by Moon at Crescent Customs off a Surgeon 591 action. Mine is 4 barrels 3 Bolts in .223, .308,6.5 Creedmoore and 7WSM in a RockSolid. It really came down to cost, when you look at building 4 separate rifles ($4500 per rifle) to just adding new barrels and bolts it's the way to go. I also dont have to buy multiple scopes or keep changing them from rifle to rifle.
    Good Luck on your choice but i give Moon a and never look back

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    Quote Originally Posted by Randoman5 View Post
    Why not a DTA SRS?
    For me it was greater choices in aftermarket parts, cost, and ease of getting new calibers.

    I put the first surgeon 591 r together for 2,600 minus optics. Each caliber barrel cost me on average 700 dollars.

    My magazines, triggers and chassis/stocks are available from multiple vendors. I'm partial to folders for transport, length of the gun is less important to me when I'm shooting, or more accurately stated doesn't matter enough for me to pay the price premium.

    Last of all I can have one of many available smith's spin up a new barrel for me.
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    The decision to go switch barrel was all about having two guns in one. Like a number of others here, I used a Surgeon 591R. My main barrel is a 16.5" 308 that I have on it 90% of the time. It's great for the ranges I normally shoot at and is super handy. I did spin up a 260Rem barrel cut to 22" for hunting, casual LR stuff. Frankly I've had so much fun with the 308 that I haven't shot the 260 much. Robert Gradous did all the work and as usual, it's outstanding.
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    If you have a an action with a pinned lug and a traditional barrel, any reason you couldn't do a switchbarrel with the remage barrel nut system?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RRW View Post
    May sound like a stupid question but what makes a the rifle have the ability to simply switch out the barrels vs requiring a smith to do it. Is it just an integral or pinned recoil lug. Is that the reason you can switch a barrel on an AI rifle as well.
    The smith does do all the work in chambering and headspacing so all you are doing is screwing off the barrel and screwing on a new one. You need some tools like a barrel vise and a action wrench but after you have those it's a simple process. Having the recoil lug pinned or an integral part of the action helps in that you don't have it rotating as you are trying to tighten the action/barrel and possibly having it not fit back into the stock bedding correctly.

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    Like all things, it depends. I have a switchbarrel under construction. It started as a Surgeon Scalpel in .308 Win with a Manners A5. After using it, I realized it's not exactly what I wanted. I purchased a Manners T3 mini-chassis and bought a 6.5mm barrel and a 223 barrel. @JARed Joplin at APA is fitting both of these barrels onto my Surgeon 591/R receiver. I did have to source a 223 bolt from Surgeon, which I think I was lucky to get in just 2 months. I also had to get a 223 AI mag, again a little tough to find right now. So, I can use a highly accurate 223 as a plinking gun and a 6.5 CM as a match gun. I also have a 308 too. Something I've been considering if my next duty assignment puts me near a long distance range or near big game is getting a 300 WSM bolt and using the same receiver and mini chassis to switch between 223/6.5 CM/300 WSM. All three calibers have very different purposes.

    Here is what I think you need to make a switchbarrel system work:

    - You need a stock or chassis that can accommodate the barrel contours you are going to switch between
    - You need to choose calibers that have the same bolt face, or get new bolts (223 family, 308 family, WSM family)
    - You probably will have the most flexibility with a short action, but that will limit you from using large magnums (I guess you could use a Surgeon XL and switch between 300 Win Mag and 338 LM, but I think that is overkill here in the northeast - you might be able to use something like that, which would be awesome)
    - You need to have magazines that accommodate the rounds you will use, which means you should use the AI/Accurate mag style mags
    - You'll need an action wrench, a 0-150lb torque wrench w/ appropriate drive socket, nickel anti-seize, and a good barrel vise on a solid work bench
    - Highly recommended that you get an action with an integral lug. It used to be that Surgeon and BAT were the only games in town. Now, you can use Defiance and Bighorn as well. I personally like Surgeon, but they are very hard to get now. If I was building something like this from the ground up, I would go with the new Defiance Deviant and get order the different bolts along with it (not necessary if you want to switch between 308 and 260, but necessary if you want to switch between 223 and 260)

    The main advantage I see is that you only need to pay for one receiver and one stock/chassis system. You get a modular system that is configurable to your needs. You can do this with AI or DTA as well, but these systems are not for everybody (they are expensive and I don't care for the aesthetics of either).

    Some people will complain about needing to take off and re-zero the scope. I don't think that is too big of a deal, especially if you have a good scope and high quality mounting system. I have switched a scope between two different rifles and it only takes 2-3 rounds to get everything re-zeroed.
    @Rob01 above was who encouraged me to go the switchbarrel route and I'm glad he did. I'll post picks when Jared finishes working it.
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    Thinking initially to build a 223 and a 260 or 243, I know I will have to get two bolts. Thanks for the info on the integral recoil lug. Anyone know if the stiller TAC 30 is integral or pinned?

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    I have one built by Rifleworx on a Surgeon 591 with a 28" 6.5 creedmoor and a 18" 308. It sits in a XLR which is more work than a traditional stock. I have my scope as low as possible so the scope has to come off, the top clamp has be loosened which is 6 screws. The I have to loosen the front action screw to pop the handguard free and take that off. Then I have to slide it in a barrel vise (Tubb) as close to the action as possible tighten it down then insert the Surgeon action wrench in and break the action off the barrel. Insert new barrel in vise and repeat in reverse order.

    Knowing what I know now I wouldn't reccomend a switch barrel setup like mine in a XLR AT ALL. A traditional stock would be a lot better as you only have 2 action screws and you could keep scope on.

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    Would a TRG be a good switch barrel candidate?

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    I've got a switch-barrel project in the works, using a Surgeon 591 receiver. The intention is to go between .308, .243, and 7mm WSM with three barrels and two bolts.

    The thinking is as follows - I know that I should own fewer rifles and spend more time shooting a smaller number of guns. And yet my firearm ADD causes me to crave so many different calibers (the "logic" here, to the extent I can call it that, seems to be that if I've ever owned brass or dies for a particular cartridge, then I must have something in the safe chambered in that cartridge). Since receivers, optics, and stocks/chassis aren't cheap, and barrels (relatively speaking) are, and since I can chamber my own stuff in my home shop, a switch-barrel rig just makes good economical sense. Or so I've convinced myself I think it's more an excuse just to go buy more barrels and reamers.

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    I'm curious why some are removing the scope and taking it out of the stock for a simple swap? I've never used a torque wrench either.
    Last edited by FredThorp; 04-15-2013 at 09:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by justinbaker View Post
    Any rreason you couldn't do a switchbarrel with the remage barrel nut system?
    No, there is no reason you couldn't.

    However, the barrel nut arrangement's key attribute is eliminating the need for a gunsmith to chamber a barrel for you.

    Once you've got barrels fitted to a non barrel nut rifle, it's actually easier not having the barrel nut, because you don't have to set the headspace each time the barrel goes on.

    When you install a barrel on a Savage or RemAge, getting the HS just right is a trial and error process because torqueing the nut will also cause the barrel to tighten slightly as well. If you spin the barrel down until it contacts the go gauge, then torque the nut, you'll have locked the bolt up in the action because it's clamed onto the gauge. It takes a couple tries to get it just right for a zero HS fit. Not difficult, just not as easy as spinning the barrel on and torqueing.

    Another nice switch barrel action is the Badger M2008 and M2013. You don't even need to remove the action from the stock. You only need a barrel vise secured to the bench, and an action wrench.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FredThorp View Post
    I'm curious why some are removing the scope and taking it out of the action for a simple swap? I've never used a torque wrench either.
    My scope is mounted really low so mine might be a little different than your situation. Heres how I do it.
    1. Remove Scope (I have to do this remove the hand guard)
    2. Remove the 6 screws on top of the hand guard clamp (The top piece of clamp has be removed or extremely loose for the hand gaurd to rock out.)
    3. Loosen the back action screw slightly and loosen the front one about half way out. (If you don't want to take the action out of chassis or you can unscrew completely and remove chassis)
    4. Tilt the action up slightly so the hand guard can clear the positioning screw then slide it off.
    5. Then slide the barreled action in the barrel vise barrel first close to the action as possible to reduce as much flexing of barrel as possible
    6. Insert action wrench (mines a surgeon wrench, the action wrench wont fit with my new scope on the action so thats another reason I had to remove the scope.)
    7. Break barrel free
    8. Thread new barrel in action then set in vise and repeat steps in reverse order.

    Now, If you wanted to you could just slide whole gun in the barrel vise and clamp the vise down right in front of the hand guard without looseing or removing anything. But, If the barrel slips in the vise your going to have a nice ring where the vise destroyed the finish on the barrel(this has happened on both of my barrels but its under the hand guard and barely noticeable). Also hanging that much weight and torquing from that far down the barrel may induce stress(I really don't know for sure as I cant measure it give you scientific data but it looks it could).

    I use a torque wrench for repeatability. I torque to 85ftlbs for repeatability, but Im going to try 50 ftlbs next time and see what happens.

    Im not saying mine is the best nor even the right way and am open to any suggestions.
    Last edited by PowerstrokeOBX; 04-15-2013 at 10:01 AM.

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    I'm lazy. I found I preferred just having another rifle.

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    I learned from the bench rest crowd. It's a two minute process for me. I'm not worried about the hanging weight or torquing issue when the pickiest shooters in all of shooting aren't worried either.

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    So it seems that it can be easier to not use the nut system ( Savage or similar) ?

    Can the smith mark the barrel thread or barrel at some point so that barrel gets screwed :roll eyes: the same every time, and not have to rely just on a certain torque setting?

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    No need. Once it's on it's metal to metal. Not much torque setting. As mentioned BR shooters just hand tighten them on. Some shops use certain torque values but some just snug them on. There really isn't much movement once you get that metal to metal contact.

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    I had my switch barrel built last year and like being able to use one rifle for deer and varmint hunting. Mine is a long action 6.5-284 and 22-6mm Imp. Switching barrels is easy, remove stock, tape the barrel where the vise will grip it, place barrel in vise, put wrench in action, give it a twist and away you go.

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    Thanks Rob.

    Hand tighting... better use a threading that goes opposite to the riflingˇˇ

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    I snug mine with a wrench but once the barrel touches the action it just takes a little tug and your done.

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    Yeah a good snug tighten with a wrench will do just fine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob01 View Post
    No need. Once it's on it's metal to metal. Not much torque setting. As mentioned BR shooters just hand tighten them on. Some shops use certain torque values but some just snug them on. There really isn't much movement once you get that metal to metal contact.
    +1

    I have one in 338 Lapua Ackley and 7WSM.
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    I was eyeballing a couple of these pretty seriously in the for sale section, but I was concerned about accuracy and screwing something up in general when switching the barrels. It sounds like it's not that overly complicated, but it's not as simple as picking out a couple of cartridges and having one lower/base (I'm thinking in terms of semi-auto gas gun now). Someone above said something about needing to have a base/lower that will handle all of the barrel contours. Can you elaborate on that? Sorry, I'm not 100% knowledgeable on barrel contours in the first place, so I need a little help on this. It also sounds like you can only switch the barrels at home and not at the range. Is that true? And when you switch the scope from one barrel to the other and zero in, are you required to completely reset the zero/move reticle back the center of the adjustment range of the scope before going to your zero for that particular cartridge/barrel?
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    I'm picking up a 1086R on Wednesday and was in turmoil over going 7-300WM or straight 300WM, The more I think about it, the more I'm thinking why not both?

    I further like the idea of going hand-tight only, like the benchrest crew, so there is no need to turn barrel changes into an ordeal.

    I guess the only hard thing is zeroing the scope to one barrel, and then finding out what your modified zero is on the other barrel and count your clicks as opposed to visually seeing where you are on the scope.

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    I wouldn't trust that to get your zero. Shoot to verify.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Randoman5 View Post
    Why not a DTA SRS?
    The DTA is a great system but for the money of the SRS before a caliber conversion I can build a Savage any way I want it with several extra barrels and have plenty of money left for trigger time and LR classes. If money is not an issue then rock out with...

    Quote Originally Posted by TCBREINIG View Post
    Thinking initially to build a 223 and a 260 or 243, I know I will have to get two bolts.
    If you go with a Remmy you can have the bolt converted to use Savage floating bolt heads, PT&G makes some really fine bolt heads now.

    I have a Stevens 200 that makes .3" to .4" ctc 5 rd groups consistently (I don't give a shit about looks, bolt lift or resale) it has a .223 and .308 barrel with appropriate bolt heads and I am in the entire setup for less than $1200. Left me plenty of cash to actually shoot the damn thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by korykhunter View Post
    I snug mine with a wrench but once the barrel touches the action it just takes a little tug and your done.
    Same experience here. Never had a problem with them coming loose ( I have several for the PD fields ).

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    Great info, I have been thinking about doing this for a while with my Times Precisions action.
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    LRI is building me one in a 6.5 and 6 creed Ill have it in a week.Part of his group buy sent one receiver and two barrels so they can head space them both.Very excited
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    Just to add to my previous post, I spoke with Robert Gradous a couple weeks ago reference this project, a switchbarrel off of a 1086R and no need for tools to switch barrels, and he didn't think it would be a problem at all. He liked my list of components so I sent him all the parts to build the .300WM portion of the rifle. I'm still waiting on PT&G to send me my 7-300WM reamer, and then that, my .284 barrel, badger thruster, and Pelican 1750 for return shipping will be sent to him.

    My .300WM barrel is a Bartlein M24 contour that will finish at 26" with an FTE brake, the 7-300WM is a Benchmark Heavy Target, spiral fluted by Kampfeld, that will finish at 27" with a thruster brake.

    I found an A5 in McMillan's in-stock inventory with adjustable CP and length of pull for a 1086R and surgeon bottom metal. The barrel channel is for an MTU, so I hope my barrels still look aesthetically pleasing inside it. Either way you can't beat not having to wait the 6-8 months for the stock and then 6 months for the smithing.

    I just need to get some barrel caps and sleeves from Sinclair Int'l now.