The Most Important Part of a Rifle

I got a question the other day from a shooter who wants to build his own rifle on a Turkish Mauser action and a barrel made by one of our major gun producers. He was interested in the best way to bed the barrel, and asked if the various methods really made that much difference.

You bet they do, said I, but let’s back up a minute. Since you’re going to all that trouble, why not start with a good barrel instead of one that will probably shoot OK, and might shoot badly? The barrel is 90 percent of the equation. If you have a good one there’s not much you can do to make a rifle shoot poorly. If you don’t have a good one there’s nothing you can do to make it shoot well.

A little while back I was talking with Chad Dixon, the gunsmith who builds Scimitar tactical rifles for Dakota Arms. Scimitars have to shoot 5 consecutive 10-shot groups that measure 1/2-inch or less before they leave the shop, so you could assume that Chad knows something about accuracy, and he said the following:

“If someone wanted me to build him an accurate rifle, I would ask how much he had to spend, and then put 80 percent of that into the barrel. The rest I could improvise one way or another. Spend your money on the barrel.”