The Rifles, Part 2: Gungnir

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Gungnir is my bolt gun, and it shares the same name as the legendary spear of the Norse god, Odin. The original intent behind building this rifle was to start out in long range shooting with a much more precision-oriented rifle. It is a work in progress, and much is left to be done to it. But I am in no hurry, for now. If the lessons I learned from building my ARs hold true, I will be much better off shooting this rifle a lot as it is, and then changing the things I need to change to suit how I use it.

The rifle is a Howa 1500 .308 heavy barreled varminter with a 1/10 twist. Howa, if you aren’t familiar, is a Japanese machinery company that has been making rifles for a very long time. The 1500 has been made for several companies under their own brand names, but is also most commonly seen as the Weatherby Vanguard. I chose the Howa action over the much more common Remington for a variety of reasons, but I’ll just touch on the highlights. The Howa is based on old Sako style, with a flat bottom for easy bedding. It has a massive integrated recoil lug machined right into the flat bottom, which seems much cleaner than the Remington washer style. The bolt is one piece and already has the M-16 type extractor and three vents for punctured primers. The action also has a side release from the factory. Nearly all of these features have to be added on to a Remington action by a gunsmith for considerable expense. The rifle also came from the factory with a very nice two-stage trigger, which is my preference.

The only real downside to the Howa, for me, is the lack of variety in aftermarket support. That’s not to say the support isn’t there, but there may only be one or two people making a specific part (like bottom metal that accepts AICS magazines) instead of ten. The other issue is that the barrel is threaded in metric, so finding gunsmiths who actually want to work on the rifle can be a challenge.

I ditched the factory Hogue overmold stock and put the barreled action into a Manners T2. I chose the T2 instead of the T2A almost purely for weight savings. I figured that if I really needed the extra cheek height, I would be using a stock pack anyway. To date, I have not regretted this decision one bit. A problem I have run into, though, is that the barrel channel on the stock does touch the barrel at some points. I have not gotten around to sanding it down. This was purely my fault, as I ordered the stock while TDY and did not have proper dimensions for the barrel itself- so I guessed. I had the pillars bedded by Manners before they shipped me the stock.

The Howa came with an aluminum 0 MOA scope base made by EGW from the factory. I have seen no need to replace this yet, but will probably swap it out for a 20 MOA steel base at some point in the future. The rings are Vortex precision match, made by Seekins precision.

The scope is a Vortex Viper 6.5-20×44 PA Mildot. This was my first higher magnification scope. It works well, which is why I have been reluctant to replace it. My only real issues with it is that its SFP, with the mil dots accurate at 14x, and the turrets are in 1/4 MOA increments rather than my preferred 1/10 MRAD. I will shoot it as is for now, but I do plan on replacing the optic with something along the lines of a Bushnell HDMR 3.5-20×50.

When I feel that the time has come, I plan on replacing the barrel with a 22″ medium palma contoured barrel chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. But that will be a long time down the line. I plan on also having the action fully bedded when this is done. I am undecided as far as any kind of detachable magazine. I must profess a fondness for the simplicity and weight savings of the internal box magazine. Time, and use, will tell if a detachable magazine makes sense for me.

The sling is a TAB Gear Sling, which I have found to be rather excellent. It is very stable and the adjustments are easy to make. My experience with this sling is the driving factor for me considering the RAS sling for Ascalon. I do have a Turner biothane 1907 sling laying around as well for the more traditional style (originally used on my M1A), but I don’t see it getting much use on this rifle.

The stock pack is a Triad Tactical small pack. It is comfortable, easy to adjust, and does exactly what I need it to do. I also have a SKD PIG stock pack that I like more due to its attachment method and storage arrangement, however until I get a longer length of bungee cord, I can’t get the cheek piece high enough to fit on the T2 stock.

Lastly, the bipod is the Atlast BT-10 in an ADM QD mount. This bipod travels back and forth between this rifle and Ascalon as needed.

Weight, unloaded as pictured, is 12.6 pounds.



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