Rifle Reliability Highlights video

Discussion in 'Practical Long-Range Rifle Shooting' started by strow, May 30, 2011.

  1. strow New Member

    Zak (or others),

    From a mechanical standpoint what makes the AI rifles so much more reliable than the custom shop guns?

    I would assume many of the boltgun reliability issues are magazine/feeding related? Is that still an issue with the AICS or tube type chassis using AI mags?

    From a hunting standpoint are detachable mags worth the hassle over a steel hinged floorplate and quality bottom metal?

    How ofter do you see factory or aftermarket triggers quit working in the Rem/Win based rilfes?

    Besides the AI rifles what other set-ups seem to hold up to hard field use?
  2. Zak Smith Operations

    • Instructor
    Zak Smith
    As background, the video was made as a tongue in cheek response to the idea that certain "match" rifles were just as reliable and durable as the AI, even in the field.

    One of the main reasons is that it is an integrated system that has been in military service for almost 30 years, and it's already had the incremental changes and adjustments done to make it dead reliable in a variety of challenging environments. This has implications to its mechanical design, but this is more a behavioral reason. Custom rifles are to some extent "one off"; they are combinations of parts. As such, it's not like there have been 1000 copies of "your" custom rifle undergoing field tests for years. If it had, there would almost certainly be a list of modifications and enhancements made to fix the issues that did crop up. A significant portion of rifle problems that we see at the match are due to changes made from factory configuration (either parts changes, customization, user adjustment, etc). Just like a "home gunsmithed 1911" or "parts AR-15", these changes often cause problems. Even if they appear to work, it's not uncommon for a combination of factors to come together to cause a problem (like ejection angle vs. WSM cartridge vs. scope windage knob).

    The AI does have a bunch of features that make it more reliable in extreme use. One of the easiest to observe is to shoot a day with heavy wind blowing sand everywhere and see which action goes "crunch" every time you run the bolt (Rem) and which one is still running smooth. This is due to the physical arrangement of the action body vs. the bolt, and the bolt lug design, which does not migrate dirt into the action; it migrates it away from important components. In addition, you can look at the physical connection of the receiver to the "stock". The AI has no moving parts and will thus be more repeatable over time and under hard use.

    With that said, your best bet is to keep your rifle as close to stock as possible where reliability is concerened. We really have very few rifles with failures at the Steel Safari; virtually all of these can be traced back to: modifications to stock rifles that cause problems; ammunition problems cause by user (loading) error; scope failures.

    The AICS is the best DBM system that can be added to Remington-style actions. I don't know that it was ever an issue, when properly installed, but note that the position of the bottom metal will ultimately determine the location of the cartridge on the feed lips.

    For hunting, it's a toss up. I always used to hunted with the internal magazines, and they get the job done, but loading and unloading is kind of a pain.
  3. strow New Member

    Thanks for the detailed reply!
    What are the most comman optics, rings, base, issues you have seen in field use?
    If you couldn't afford the AI platform what would be second best? Action, trigger, stock, optic, base, rings, bipod, etc.
    As a side note besides the S&B PMII's what other optics do you recommend? Eye pocket, clarity, durability, etc.
  4. Zak Smith Operations

    • Instructor
    Zak Smith
    The most common two optics issues we see are internal failures, either the reticle coming loose or failures in tracking. After that, probably a base coming loose. Rings almost never fail or come loose.

    If I couldn't get an AW, I'd try for an AE MKII (just over half the cost). After that, to get a big enough step down in price to make a difference, you'd be looking at a mostly stock Remington or Savage. The DTA SRS is good, if you can live with the bull pup action and its idiosyncrasies. I'd recommend checking the equipment survey for what people have used. Most of the rifles would be considered "custom" and most of them do not have problems.

    As for optics, I don't really have any advice other than what I've written in the various optics review/round-up articles. If I couldn't afford a SB, I would probably shoot a Leupold until I could.

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