At the end of 2009, the decision was made to stop building rifles using factory receivers.  The reason was simple, the back orders at APS had grown to well over a two year waiting period which was to long of a wait in Kirbys opinion.   Because of the time required to blueprint and accurize factory receivers to get them ready to build on, there simply was no way to keep up and cut the back log of orders down while still accepting factory receiver based projects.
    The decision was made and over the next two years the backlog was cut down dramatically.  As such, starting Jan. 1, 2011, APS started accepting a limited number of factory receiver based projects again.   These are limited to the Remington M700, Savage M110 and Remington XP-100 receivers.
    These are the only factory receivers that APS will build complete custom rifles on and offer a 1/2 moa accuracy potential guarantee on.   APS will do simple barrel jobs on most factory receivers which only includes simple barrel installation to factory receivers but the 1/2 moa accuracy potential guarantee is not offered with these rifles, still they often meet this level of consistency.

What goes into an APS custom rifle build?

Receiver accurizing and blueprinting
    For each custom rifle build, you must start at the heart of the rifle.  Many would have you believe this is the barrel, that is not the case, its actually the receiver.  Every receiver is completely machined and blueprinted around the axis of the bolt way in the receiver.  To do this properly, a precision ground mandrel is fitted to the receiver bolt way using specially sized bushing that perfectly match to the inside diameter of the bolt race way.   With the mandrel fitted into the receiver, the receiver is then mounted into a special accurizing fixture and chucked into the lathe.  This accurizing fixture allows the receiver to be dialed in for zero run out.  Not only zero run out at the receiver face but to do this correctly, the precision mandrel allows the builder to dial in the receiver to perfect zero 6" ahead of the receiver face.
    Why is this important?  Well, if you zero the receiver in only one location, you may still have an out of square situation but when you can zero to points on the axis of the receiver, you take out all axial variation the entire length of the receiver which allows you to make perfect axial concentric cuts on the receiver metal.
    First machining step after dialing in the receiver is to recut the receiver threads.  To do this a single point cutting tool is used to true the threads perfect to the axis of the receiver bolt way.   Often times, this results in the receiver threads being 10 to 35 thousandths larger in diameter then factory receivers threads.  Its for this reason that a factory barrel can not be reused on a fully accurized and blueprinted receiver in spite of what many companies are claiming.  Can not be done correctly without recutting the receiver threads.
    Once the receiver threads have been tried to the axis of the bolt way, the next step is to recut the bolt lug support surfaces in the receiver to ensure two things, one, that they are both the same distance from the bolt face to the bolt lug support surface and also perfectly perpendicular to the axis of the bolt way.  
    Next step is to face off the receiver face which makes it perfectly parallel to the bolt lug support surfaces and perpendicular to the receiver bolt way axis and freshly recut receiver thread axis.
    To confirm that a receiver is properly accurized and blueprinted, depth measurements are taken from the receiver face to the forward surface of the bolt lug supports in the receiver.  These measurements must have less then 0.0001" variation from side to side.  Once a receiver meets these requirements, its time to move onto the bolt machine work.

Bolt accurizing and blueprinting

    It is very important to machine the bolt properly as well.  Some feel that simply lapping the lugs into full contact is suitable for a custom built bolt action rifle.  This simply is not the case.  The larger the chambering the more critical it is that EVERYTHING in the rifle system is as perfect as possible.  For this description, we will be describing the accurizing process for the Remington M700 bolt but its similiar with all bolt systems with slight variations due to bolt design.  
    To start the machining on the factory bolt, a precision tapered arbor stub is fitted the the rear of the bolt body.  Then the bolt and arbor are mounted into the lathe with the tapered arbor in the lathe chuck jaws and a live center in the tailstock supporting the forward portion of the bolt by inserting its 60 degree live spinning cone into the firing pin of the bolt.
    Next the bolt body needs to be dialed in properly along the entire length of the bolt body.  This can be a bit tricky as most bolts are not perfectly concentric along the length of their body so you get it as close as humanly possible using fine dial indicators in the 0.0005" range increments.
    Once the bolt body is dialed in properly, its time to true the rear and forward surfaces of the bolt lugs.  Many only true the rear surface but it is wise to true both surfaces so you can maintain consistant barrel to bolt nose clearances.  After these two surfaces are trued, the diameter of the bolt nose is then recut just enough to clean up the entire circumference of the bolt nose.  This does a couple things, it allows you to make the bolt nose diameter much more consistant which allows you to fit the bolt nose more precisely to the barrel bolt nose recess.  It also trues the bolt nose around the firing pin so that you get dead center firing pin impacts on the primer, even when a bolt to receiver fit is less then ideal, the bolt nose recess in the barrel will control the bolt head position and ensure dead center firing pin impacts for consistant primer ignition.
    After these cuts are made, a steel collar is placed around the bolt lugs and clamped into place.  The outer Diameter of this collar is then machined true to the axis of the firing pin hole in the bolt face.   Once this is accomplished, A three finger "Steady Rest" is used to hold the bolt in position with its three brass fingers riding on this trued steel collar.  This allows the live center to be removed and the final truing cuts can be made to the bolt head and face.
    These last steps are to true the bolt face and forward surface of the bolt nose and chamfer inside and outside corners of the bolt nose.    With these final steps taken, the bolt is then pulled from the lathe, cleaned and inserted into the receiver.  Depth measurements are again taken from the receiver face to the bolt face.  Variation across the bolt face MUST be held under 0.0002" or they are not ready to be built into an APS custom rifle.  That is 1/5 of 1 thousandths of an inch variation across the bolt face.  If they do not meet this level of squareness, the process is repeated until they meet the requirements.
    The very final step in receiver prep for building is to lap the bolt lug contacts to a 600 grit finish to remove any minor machining marks between the bolt lugs and their mating support surfaces.  The receiver is now ready to install the barrel.
Barrel machining and installation

    The next step in building a precision rifle is barrel machining.  This is just as critical as the accurizing performed on the receiver but not nearly as involved to do correctly.  There are many ways to properly machine a barrel and get fine results in the finished product but there are several keys that MUST happen no matter how the process is performed.   The key is to start with a quality barrel and APS recommends Lilja stainless steel match barrels.  There are many other barrels that work very well including Hart, Rock, Broughton, Krieger and many others so if you have a preferred brand, we will use what you prefer as long as its a proven world class barrel up to APS standards. 
Keys to a precision barrel installation are:

1. Barrel thread shank MUST be cut true to the axis of the barrel bore.

2. Barrel shoulder MUST be perpendicular to the axis of the barrel threads.

3.  Barrel threads MUST be single point cut to a precision class 3 thread fit. 

4.  There MUST be proper clearance between bolt nose and barrel bolt recess.

5.  Barrel chamber MUST be cut perfectly concentric to the bore.  This is accomplished using world class live piloted reamers fitted with bushings that fit the bore to within 0.0002" clearance.  NO SOLID PILOT REAMERS are ever used in APS firearms.

6.  Muzzle crown MUST be cut perfectly true to the axis of the bore.  Again, this is accomplished by using world class cutters that also use the live pilot bushing to allow perfect fit to the bore for a perfectly concentric muzzle crown.

    Barrel fitting is quite simple, you place much of your trust in the tooling your using and APS only used JGS reamers and cutters for all barrel machining.  If the threads, chamber and crown are concentric to the bore of a fine match grade barrel, that barrel will shoot under 1/2 moa.

Stock inletting and bedding

    Now the major metal machining work is finished on the rifle.  It is now time for the stock work.  There are two important factors in fitting a stock to a barreled receiver.  It must have proper clearance in certain areas and it must have tight bedding contact in other critical areas.  In all APS custom rifles, with a few exceptions, the barrels are 100% free floated from the receiver face to the end of the forend.  A fine match grade barrel will easily shoot under 1/2 moa as long as we do not influence it in a bad way by contacting the barrel surface and applying uneven pressure to the barrel as it heats up.  There are exceptions to this rule such as when using a very long and heavy barrel which may result in receivers flexing to much if the barrel is free floated, then a barrel support pad may be used.  Another instance is a Barrel Bedded V-Block bedding system  which beds the stock to a V-Block which the barrel sits in and is bolted to.  For general rifles however, every APS barrel will be free floated.
    Bedding is critical as well.  If the stock used is a solid wood, laminate wood or quality composite stock, all of these will be pillar bedded when used to build an APS custom rifle.  If the stock has an internal bedding block such as the HS Precision stocks, these will be skim bedded.
    In both bedding techniques, the goal is a 100% stress free bedding system that fully supports the receiver and prevents the crushing of the stock when tightening the receiver screws.  Only the finest bedding materials are used in APS bedding.

Finish work and assembly

    Standard finish on all APS custom rifles is a 120 grit, bead blast matte finish to reduce glare off the barrels while in the field.  This finish is similar to the top quality stainless matte finished offered by Remington on their upper level rifles.  A nice satin finish.  Cerakote finishing is also available as an extra cost option as well as for those that prefer a black colored rifle finish.  Only stainless steel barrels are used on APS rifles so if you want a blued look on your rifle, it will have to be coated.
    Great attention to detail is taken when doing the finish work on your custom rifle.  From the cut engraved barrel markings to final fitting and appearance, APS takes great pride in building rifles that look as good as they shoot.  Customers spend alot of hard earned money on their rifles and they should look the part and shoot lights out.

Accessary items

    Only the best accessary items are used on APS custom built rifles. All APS rifles are built using a match grade, heat treated competition style recoil lug to ensure that under no situation will the recoil lug flex under recoil stress.  
     Jewell triggers are the only trigger endorsed by APS and these will be used unless the customer demands another brand of trigger that is proven in quality.
    Magazine box systems made by Wyatts, HS Precision and Seekins are used on all APS rifles because these systems have proven themselves the best out there for most applications.  If there is a unique application that requires another magazine system, we will certainly use what is needed but it will have to meet the quality standards set by APS.
    Rail bases from Nightforce, Seekins and Badger Ordnance are first recommendations for use on APS custom rifles.

Final testing prior to shipping

 Every APS custom rifle is tested after assembly to prove function and accuracy potential.  Repeating rifles are proven to feed properly from the magazine and also eject properly.   Bolt stops, safeties, detachable magazine boxes and all other accessaries are tested and proven to be functioning properly at the time they are shipped.
    Every APS custom rifle is accuracy tested by Kirby Allen personally to proven then meet his 1/2 moa accuracy potential requirement before shipping.  These rifles are not tested at 100 yards, they are tested where they will be used, at long range.  Sporter weight rifles are tested at ranges from 500 to 800 yards depending on weight of rifle and chambering.  Medium weight rifles are tested at 800 to 1200 yards. Heavy rifles are tested from 1000 to 1500 yards.   All rifles must prove they are capable of 1/2 moa accuracy potential for three shots firing quality handloaded ammunition or they simply will not ship.  
    The load data for each rifle used during the accuracy testing is offered free of charge to the rifles owner.  Additional load development is available but at added cost in labor, shooting components and range time.
    Simply put, when you get your APS custom rifle, you will have a very good starting point for your load development.  Over 75% of all APS customers simply use the load that was tested in their rifle.

Remington M700 Long Action ready to fit precision accurizing mandrel to.  Note the five specially sized bushings (two on mandrel) to perfectly fit mandrel to bore way of receiver. 

Custom sized bushings installed in front and rear of Remington M700 receiver. 

Precision Mandrel installed in receiver.   Receiver is ready to be installed in accurizing fixture and dailed in true to the axis of the receiver bolt way. 

Receiver installed in accurizing fixture.  The mandrel will be dialed in to perfect "zero" with 0.0001" dial indicaters placed just ahead of receiver face and also at extended tip of mandrel.  This ensures that the receiver is zeroed perfectly before any machining steps are performed. 

Here you can clearly see the freshly machined and trued receiver threads, bolt lug support surfaces and receiver face. 

Here the rear bolt lug contact surfaces are shown after truing the surfaces up.  This contact surface will be lapped to a 600 grit finish with the receiver bolt lug support surfaces resulting in that silky smooth feel of a properly accurized receiver.  

Here you can see the critical surfaces of the bolt head that have been trued perfectly concentric to the firing pin hole.  These include the forward surfaces of the bolt lugs, circumference of the bolt nose, forward surface of the bolt nose and finally the bolt face.  You can see the amount the bolt face had to be set back to totally clean up the entire surface of the bolt face.  This also helps to eliminate any belling of the firing pin hole.  

A thing of beauty, a fully accurized Remington M700 long action ready to fit a match grade barrel to and get legit 1/2 moa consistency or better.  You will notice in the lower, inner lip of the receiver face that there is a flaw in the metal surface that was not totally cleaned up but facing off the receiver.  This small defect will have no effect on the receivers or finished rifles performance.  Its always best to leave as much steel as possible so minute flaws like this are generally just left as they make no ill effect on a rifles performance. 
Because of current work load at ALLEN PRECISION, factory receiver based projects are accepted only on a VERY limited basis depending on current work load at APS. Decisions are made on a case by case basis.

APS Customized Factory Firearms: What goes into each one?

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