Wax On, Wax Off — My Karate Kid Moment

To follow the entire series on my custom rifle build, click here.  (The most recent will at the top of the page.)

I cannot believe some of the conversations I have had with some of the most respected men in the world of tactical rifles in the last few days.  I was telling $$$, my rifle mentor, about one of them today and I realized that this had been his master plan all along.  I had a “Karate Kid” moment.  You know, when you realized everything you have done, all the hard work you have put in a particular direction that was complicated, or someone else could have done for you brought you to a moment where you see the “why” of the work and where you are headed.

I have made no secret of the fact that I am a novice in the world of tactical shooting – and no matter what I am about to say, that definitely will be true for a long time to come.  But, there is no way even six months ago that I could have had the conversations I am capable of having now.  The knowledge I have gained has opened a whole new world to me and I am starving to learn more!

Every time I ask $$$ what I should do about my action, barrel, stock, etc. he tells me something like, “Well, if it were me, I would call McMillan.” “If it were me, I would call your gunsmith [Robert Gradous].” “If it were me, I would call AJ at Big Horn Arms.” I think you get the picture. The thing is, I do not want to sound like a silly girl to these experts, so before I would call them, I would read and read and read and try to figure out what they might say, or what all the options were, so I would be able to ask intelligent questions. I am sure they could all see right through my lack of knowledge – but everyone I spoke to was amazingly nice, and helpful in a way I do not see in other industries that often.

I ended up talking to AJ Goddard from Big Horn Arms at length last evening. I did decide to get a Big Horn Action, and he was helping me get the right info that McMillan needed for my stock. The conversation ended up drifting to a random tactical rifle discussion where I explained to him what my plans were for my rifle, the overall details of my custom rifle build, even the pros and cons of Accuracy International production rifles vs custom rifles, etc. What a super nice guy!

When I hung up the phone I could not believe I had sat on my back patio as the sun set in California, just casually chatting about the world of tactical rifles with someone like AJ. When I told $$$ about this conversation, he told me, “I could have ordered all your parts for you, but you would not have learned everything you have and you would not appreciate everything that goes into this.” It had been his master plan all along.

I might have to start calling him Mr. Miagi! (As long as he does not call me Daniel-Son.)

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4 thoughts on “Wax On, Wax Off — My Karate Kid Moment

  1. When it get’s down to it….it’s the shooter, not so much the gun than matters. Proper stance, hold, sight picture, breathing control, trigger squeez, follow through is what puts rounds on target.
    I’ve seen some people with the best firearms in the world—spent lots of money…and they couldn’t hit …it.
    A really good shooter with a really good gun can do a lot.

  2. Amazing – I’ve just found your blog here, and I’ve been going through the very same process – arriving at many of the same conclusions. In nearly all respects I’m doing the same thing, but it’ll be a 6.5×55 Swede – long action. I was a little surprised it wasn’t included in your cartridge comparisons. In any case, you’ll have a fine rifle when you’re done. Best of luck to you.

    1. Jeff,

      Hello and I am glad you found my blog! I love talking about this stuff but there is a certain niche of people who are building just this type of rifle. Have you ordered any of your parts yet, or still researching? Would love to hear more! The comparison chart I made was only for 6mm. As I have time I am going to make a 6.5mm and a 7mm chart too — maybe even one day a pros and cons between the whole range. There are so many choices, and it is hard to find a one stop shop that discusses the differences. Mine was a very layman’s comparison – but, as I learn more I will update them with better info as I understand it. Even though I am using a 6XC for this rifle, I have been told by more than one person that once this rifle bug bites me (and I think it has) that this will not be the only one I build in my life. So, I want to have a deep understanding of everything. I am from Colorado too – are you going with a Big Horn Arms action? I read the info over at Snipershide Forum a lot, mainly lurking because there are some VERY knowledge people there. A lot of them really seem to like the BHA action. I was just wondering if you are in CO, if you have gone over to visit them? I still use a lot of my vacation visiting my home state – and plan on going to meet AJ over there, he has been so great sharing info and helping me when I have questions.

      Well Jeff, I look forward to hearing how your build is going and hope you have a great night!

      Lil Chantilly

  3. Like you, I spent a significant amount of time using online resources to research what ultimately would become the build I wanted. And you’re right, not everyone needs – although many probably would want – a custom-built rifle. Simply put, they’re expensive. So again like you, I felt that the investment demanded some attention to detail.

    Living in Colorado and wanting to use as many in-state resources as I could, I was very happy to learn that some of the most well-respected builders of rifle components and gunsmiths in the nation live right here. Online sources like Snipershide and friends I shoot with in local rifle matches all contributed to the logic and understanding needed to commit to a build.

    Ultimately I went with a Mark Chanlynn 6.5 barrel and a Bighorn long action. And yes, I had the pleasure of spending some time talking with AJ when I picked up the action earlier this month. I have not yet met Mark. Time just flew by talking with him as one of his CNC machines was cutting a port in another action. I was so very impressed with his commitment to quality and unquestionable knowledge as a machinist. And, he’s just a great guy to talk to. The same goes for the gunsmith I’m working with on this project. These guys work with each other all the time, and I think together they produce one amazing product.

    I chose the 6.5×55 cartridge mainly for three reasons: First, it’s been around for more than 100 years, so its behavior is well known. Second, it has performance characteristics that very closely match newer cartridges like the 260 Rem and 6.5×47 Lapua – but generally runs at slightly lower pressures. And third, I just like competing with an older cartridge that might not be as trendy as more current cartridges.

    So I think that you’re on the right track with your build. I don’t think that the other choices that were available to you would have offered any appreciable advantage over what you’ve decided to use.

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