After talking to Robert Gradous, I need to make a decision between a Surgeon Short Tactical Action (591/R) and a Big Horn Arms Short Tactical Action. I have read a lot about both, and no doubt, either could make me happy. Mr. Gradous said he had used both in his rifle builds, and felt both were good, but he thought the Surgeon was a more solid component with better repeatibility. The price difference between the two is over $200.00, but if I choose the cheaper one (Big Horn Arms) and end up wishing I had the other, it won’t really be less expensive. It is difficult to find good factual data on the Big Horn Arms action, because they are a newer company, and therefore, there are less people using them and providing feedback (compared to the extremely popular Surgeon).
How do you compare actions? Some attributes that vary among actions are (among others):
- 60 degree vs 90 degree bolt throw (Both the actions discussed here have 90 degree bolt throws.)
- Type of extractor used (both have Remington)
- Is the picatinny rail integrated or separate?
The Surgeon 591/R action comes with an integrated 20 MOA 1913 picatinny rail that runs the full length of the action. Both actions will work in conjunction with any stocks made for the Remington 700 short action with little to no modification as well as triggers and feeding systems.
The Big Horn Arms (BHA) Action is compatible with Surgeon bottom medal and AI Magazines feed extremely well. Due to some design modifications, the BHA action supports heavy barrels very well (this last point is less important to me because I am trying to balance weight and accuracy, and will NOT be getting a very heavy barrel.) The BHA bolt has a floating head, so the lugs are always squarely in contact with the receiver and not affected by the alignment of the bolt body in the receiver. The BHA also claims better barrel alignment to the action.
The BHA also touts the following features:
- Weighs 31 ounces
- Extra heavy rear tang eliminates rear tang flex.
- Positive bolt stop that does not contact bolt lugs.
- Due to a closed top, making the action more stiff, it has an ejection port that does not allow for top loading and it must be fed from a detachable magazine.
- Lightened firing pins to quicken lock time.
The Surgeon 591/R features:
- Uses a Remington extractor
- Weighs 34.6oz
- Bolt: One piece, Fluted, Two lug and threaded handle