AMT CUSTOM SHOP’S .22-CALIBER LONG RIFLE
By RONI TOLDANES
It was a whimsical project, the sort of idea that’s dreamed up when the snow is flying and the guns are locked away for the season. If you were designing a hot-rod 10/22 competition rifle, what would it look like? No budget restrictions. Just start with a clean sheet of paper.
After we’ve set the parameters for a centerfold project, gunsmiths Ron Herbertson and Sam Paredes of the AMT Custom Shop joined forces with Arizona gunsmith Frank Glenn in crafting a championship 10/22 rifle. The result is a rifle that is both mesmerizing and astonishingly accurate.
This rifle started life as a stainless steel AMT action. Even before it was blended with other major components, Herbertson and Paredes have already decided that the critical considerations in building this rifle were accuracy and overall appearance. They chose McMillan’s fiberglass “Intimidator” stock and a Lilja 20-inch bull barrel.
“Performance was the hook,” said Herbertson, explaining the decision to use Lilja barrels. “We can’t compromise accuracy.”
Lilja Precision Rifle Barrels, Inc., based in Plains, Montana, produce stainless match barrels that are truly drop-in, requiring no gunsmithing. Lilja barrels leave the factory already with muzzles crowned and chambered. They are button-rifled, stress relieved and hand-lapped and they come with a 16″ twist rate, with internal diameters on the tight side that contribute to their extreme accuracy.
Meanwhile, McMillan’s “Intimidator” fiberglass stock with molded marble blue color was chosen for its extra rigidity and stability, besides the attractive appearance that comes without the drawbacks of a painted finish. It is also impervious to weather.
Specifically designed for the Sportsman Team Challenge, the “Intimidator” features an adjustable comb that gives both vertical and horizontal adjustments, allowing the shooter to set the rifle to his own physiological requirements.
It also comes with a butt plate that provides adjustments for length of pull, vertical and cant. It has a vertical fore-end grip for those who shoot “action style” and a 3-inch belly for those who shoot “position style.” To allow easy access in tournaments like the Team Challenge, both its fore-end grip and its vertical “open thumbhole” pistol grip have parallel bottom surfaces, so the stock stands upright on the table. McMillan, which began producing “Intimidator” stocks about five months ago, also offers other stocks that vary in weight from 2.5-6 pounds to meet each shooter’s needs.
The stock’s 90-degree “soft corner” on the adjustable comb allows for positive and consistent cheek weld. There’s also a decreased depth through the fore-end to create less drag in windy conditions.
As a standard factory offering, the McMillan “Intimidator” includes an extended magazine release, a safety extension, aluminum magazine liners and an attachment for two magazines.
The main components were shipped to Frank Glenn, a former Masters shooting champion. Glenn said this centerfold rifle used the AMT Custom Shop’s factory trigger with a trigger pull set at 1.75 lbs. The AMT Custom shop, however, does not offer factory triggers anymore to their customers. Instead, actions and complete rifles from the custom shop come with Jewell triggers, which can be pre-set down to about 6 ounces (0.5-lb).
Glenn, 54, said some centerfire rifles do not appear to be sensitive to brand and load. Those rifles normally shot well, regardless of what ammunition was used. With this rim-fire rifle, however, you cannot use cheap ammo and expect it to perform at its best.
Lapua is the ammo of choice for this gun. Lapua, in terms of ballistics performance, is far superior to other commercial .22 ammo, providing better wind deflection resistance and a flatter trajectory.
Glenn said he glass-bedded the action and the trigger work into the stock. He used two Allen wrench screws to hold the gun stock instead of the original screws. He also drilled and tapped a Weigand weaver-style scope mount on top of the barrel.
When the gun is due for cleaning and needs to be disassembled, the scope base comes off together with the barrel without obliterating the scope’s zero.
Finally, the rifle was fully-dressed with a Burris Signature Series 4x16x-44mm Fine Plex scope. This scope, which retails for $700.00, comes with a feature called “light collector.”
When you turn it wide open during a twilight setting, you’ll get sufficient light for better images. When shooting in a bright environment or in snowy conditions, you can close it down to get less eye fatigue and an increased depth of focus. It has internal lenses that are 40 percent larger than most scopes and features four times magnification range (4-16) rather than the conventional 4-12. It comes with parallax adjustments from 50 yards to infinity, a full wide field of view and 3 ½ inches of eye relief.
A motivated shooter is not going to be satisfied with average capabilities, but this gun was built to please. In rim-fire rifle shooting, all things have to work together to produce a good shot. It requires blending of good equipment, watching conditions and a refined technique. The requirements are reduced when an AMT Custom Shop rifle is added into the equation.
The range results on this gun justify AMT Custom Shop’s claims for producing super-accurate .22 rifles. At 50 yards, this masterful creation consistently scores 5-shot groups of quarter of an inch. It’s truly a 10/22 rifle that would satisfy every Team Challenge shooter’s dream.
Assembled to match specifications by a champion shooter using only the finest parts and components money can buy, don’t you think this rifle is trying to tell you something?
(Roni Toldanes was managing editor of Gun World, the oldest firearms magazine in the United States; group managing editor of Knives Illustrated, and editor of Gun Games, America’s shooting sports magazine. He also worked as editor-in-chief of weekly newspapers; news editor, senior copy editor, assignment editor and editorial board member of major daily newspapers in California, Texas, New Jersey, Florida and Georgia. He covered southeast Asia as a foreign correspondent and chief editor of an international news agency.)