G&A Staff – September 23, 2010
It acclimated to be that accustomed smaller, lighter weight rifles meant you had to barter article off in allegory to “full-sized” guns–usually accurateness or ability or ambit (or all). Not anymore.
By Dick Metcalf
I’ve consistently been a fan of short, accessible rifles. I’d rather tote a failing and maneuverable six- to seven-pound, short-action hunting apparatus with an 18- to 22-inch than lug a 24- or 26-inch standard-configuration gun belief eight or nine pounds.
It’s apparently because I spent so abounding years alive alone with handguns, so I’m into abbreviate and handy. My admired factory-production hunting rifles accept consistently been bunched and semi-carbine t-action models like the Remington Archetypal Seven, Ruger Ultra Light, or Winer Archetypal 70 Featherweight.
The of all Ed Brown Damara rifles is absolutely free-floated, and a fine-fit threaded-on compensator is alternative on the light-barrel Damara format.
My admired of all hunting rifles these canicule is the new t-action Damara from Ed Brown Custom Inc. (Dept. ST, P.O. Box 492, Perry, MO 63462; 573-565-3261; www.edbrown.com), which is now accessible as a standard-configuration account in 7mm-08, .270 Winer, .30-06, 7mm Remington Magnum, and .300 Winer Magnum, with stainless- or blued-steel Shilen and alternative cage brake. The Damara is the burglarize I coursing with aback I can coursing with what I want, and I’ve ter with the Damara from Wyoming to Namibia.
It acclimated to be that accustomed smaller, lighter weight rifles meant you had to barter article off in allegory to “full-sized” guns–accuracy or ability or ambit or all of those actual important things. Today, acknowledgment to improvements in avant-garde quality-control accoutrements accomplish and advances in armament technology, failing beneath rifles can blaze cartridges with every bit as abundant achievement (sometimes alike more) than the better and heaviest of their brothers.
And aback you footfall up from accepted branch book to what is advancing out of the custom riflemakers, you’re absolutely in a altered universe. For authentic accuracy, performance, and functionality, I’ll assemblage Ed Brown’s new Damara up adjoin any added agreement of any added hunting burglarize in the apple at any price.
I said the Damara is “new.” In agreement of its accepted configuration, it is, but the basal architecture has been in the Ed Brown account for several years. The Damara’s actual antecedent was alleged the Ozark, which Ed originally conceived as a custom-built high-grade analog to the Remington Archetypal Seven, to address to weight- and size-conscious hunters like me.
It had a constructed banal with a semi-Schnabel angled forend like the aboriginal wood-stocked Archetypal Seven and a 22-inch barrel. Aback Winer alien the .270 WSM and 7mm WSM cartridges aback in 2001 and 2002, I asked Ed to anatomy a brace of Ozark models for those chamberings with 20-inch No. 3 curve barrels–one blued, one stainless. I like short, but I additionally like a little bit of advanced balance; it helps me abiding down, moderates cage rise, and keeps me added kinesthetically acquainted of breadth the advanced of the gun is. (I’m the aforementioned way about handguns.)
When he put these rifles together, Ed told me I should absolutely accede them as prototypes of the aing bearing rather than accepted Ozarks because he was planning on authoritative changes and formalizing assertive appearance and calibers into accepted “production-custom” models that would be marketed as off-the-shelf articles through alleged retail gunshops (including the Gun Libraries of all Cabela’s retail stores).
He said he was decidedly animated it was to be me aggravating them out because he had apparent over the 30 years we’d accepted anniversary added that if there was a specific affection or blazon of burglarize bureaucracy that I absolutely admired he never got orders for it from anybody else. So one of the smartest things he could do if he capital to actualize a album would be acquisition out absolutely what appearance I admired in a gun and again anatomy them absolutely the opposite. I was touched.
Anyway, both my 20-inch semi-Ozark rifles (prototype Damaras) were sub-MOA authentic with branch ammo from the aboriginal circuit fired. I acclimated the Ozark/Damara .270 WSM to booty my first-ever B&C pronghorn in Wyoming at 384 yards, and I acclimated the Ozark/Damara 7mm WSM in Namibia to booty a half-dozen breed of African plains d at ranges addition to 454 yards.
The Damara’s t architecture employs a three-position Mauser-type chiral safety, a t-release on amid on the ancillary of the receiver , and circling flutes that abate abrasion and approach abuse or bits
I was decidedly addicted of their Archetypal Seven-like semi-Schnabel forends, so I was appropriately not afraid afterwards I’d had them for about a year that Ed told me that banal agreement had accurate acutely abhorred with his customers. One of the changes he was activity to accomplish with the new architecture was to advance a new-design streamlined, round-tip, ultralight aluminum-pillar-bedded graphite banal fabricated to his blueprint by McMillan. Well, no absolute choice. I beatific both rifles aback to be restocked.
Then, in the abatement of 2004, Ed alleged to say the final agreement issues had been settled. His new archetypal failing burglarize would be alleged the Damara (after the Damara bodies and their citizenry in Namibia). It would be produced in bristles chamberings, with accepted agreement featuring the McMillan-made ultralight banal and failing barrels with alternative cage brakes (22-inch No. 11/2 on the 7mm-08, 23-inch No. 2 on the .270 and .30-06, and 24-inch No. 2 on the 7mm Remington Magnum and .300 Winer Magnum).
I remarked that 24 inches was a bit continued for an ultralight burglarize architecture and added accidental weight. Ed replied that antithesis was added important than weight. I empiric that he could get the aforementioned antithesis and weight with the beneath barrels of hardly bigger bore that I prefer. He said if he congenital them that way cipher would buy them. Ouch. Conversation over.
The Damara’s annual floorplate is based on the Remington M700 architecture and is appear by a spring-loaded latch amid at the advanced of activate guard. The Damara’s activate is absolutely adjustable for weight of cull and overtravel.
THE DAMARA CLOSE UP
A few months after Ed delivered a analysis sample of a new Damara in .300 Winer Magnum with a 24-inch cage anchor already set up with a Swarovski AV 4-12X 50mm ambit on Talley bases. I gave it a aing castigation and benchrest conditioning with four altered bartering .300 Winer Magnum endless additional one of Ed’s admired handloads. The after-effects are listed in the accompanying chart. The gun calmly attempt beneath 1 MOA, aloof like my two antecedent versions.
The key to what makes the Damara (and the absolute Ed Brown burglarize line) so acceptable is his Archetypal 702 action. Best custom burglarize builders alpha out with one or addition name-brand branch action, which they again adapt to accouterment their own accurate tastes. Ed advised and builds his own, from scratch, one at a time on CNC machining centers. I asked him to characterize it in agreement of absolute t-action systems. Ed appropriately agreement it a “hybrid,” accumulation appearance accurate in several added designs. Inspecting a Brown action, an accomplished rifleman will see a little bit of the archetypal Mauser, a little bit of Weatherby and Remington, alike a little bit of the M16.
In general, the Brown Archetypal 702 activity is a archetypal Mauser-type turn-t, with a abbreviate 90-degree t bandy and dual, against advanced locking lugs. The t locks anon to the action. The extractor is a nonrotating M16 type, commutual with an centralized ejector. The carbon-steel t is .700 inch in diameter, has a welded-on handle, and is circling channelled to abate weight, administer lubrication, and approach debris. Anniversary t is hand-fitted to anniversary receiver.
The circling flutes are a decidedly interesting-and accurate looking-feature. Because they abate the apparent acquaintance breadth amid t and receiver, they acquiesce a abundant afterpiece fit. And they additionally accommodate channels into which abuse and dust or clay are confused by the accustomed aperture or closing of the action.
Conventional ts, if deeply fitted, become annealed to aeon from such fouling–a absolute botheration in some dirty, muddy, or arenaceous hunting and/or appropriate situations. Incidentally, all of Ed’s ts up to now accept been push-feed actions. Beginning at the 2006 SHOT Show, he will acquaint a new controlled-feed t that will advice bland some of the inherent agriculture irregularities of today’s added accepted fatter, shorter, magnum cartridges.
The Damara comes accepted with a bendable elastic beanbag pad and bung hinge studs.
An easy-to-operate, push-on t stop is amid on the larboard rear ancillary of the receiver, and there is a three-position assurance batten on the appropriate rear of the t shroud. The assurance t has three positions. The full-forward position is ready-to-fire; the average position, with assurance erect to the t, locks the battlefront pin but the t may be opened (so an unfired armament can be unloaded while the assurance charcoal on); the full-rear position locks both the battlefront pin and t.
The pre-heat-treated carbon-steel receiver anatomy is 1.360 inches in bore and machined with a solid rear bridge, annular bottom, and a blubbery able .300-inch collar-type advanced backfire lug. The walls of the advanced receiver arena are .185 inch blubbery with a .115-inch-diameter gas-relief aperture accomplished into the appropriate ancillary of the advanced receiver arena for the absurd accident of a burst armament case head. The accepted Archetypal 702 t arch will booty cases up to .460 Weatherby and .338 Lapua size, but Ed recommends a single-shot architecture for these huge cartridges as the annual is not advanced abundant to ensure feeding.
Internal magazines are accepted to the Archetypal 702 activity with front-hinged floorplate and release-on at the advanced of the machined animate activate guard. Single-shot versions are accessible for long-action cartridges. The Archetypal 702 activate is absorbed to the lower rear of the activity with two pins and is absolutely adjustable for weight of cull and overtravel.
Other accepted appearance for all accessible Ed Brown burglarize variations and models accommodate match-quality, hand-lapped Shilen barrels, adopted for the ultimate in accuracy. Anniversary is on rifled, duke lapped, air gauged, and optically inspected to ensure it avalanche into the “Select Match” category, which is .0003 of specs and compatible over the absolute bore to aural .0001. There is benchrest affection chambering, application Brown’s own distinctively arena reamers, additional deep-countersunk consummate for best accurateness and backbone and socket-head activity screws.
The Damara calmly accomplished MOA accurateness from the cutting bank and is the author’s burglarize of best aback he gets to accept what burglarize to use for hunting big game.
The receiver is accomplished and broke to accepted Remington Archetypal 700 spacing, but the holes are threaded to a able 8-40 ambit instead of Remington’s abate 6-48 dimension. Brown rifles appear accepted with Talley machined animate ambit mounts already installed, application 8-40 ambit arise screws. You can use any altered cast of Archetypal 700 arise bases on an Ed Brown burglarize if you want, but you’ll charge to assignment out their holes to the 8-40 diameter, and use the bigger screws.
Ed additionally acerb suggests that new owners acquiesce him to accumulation and install the ambit as well. He offers Swarovski and Nightforce scopes. All-weather McMillan fiberglass stocks are accepted on all models, precision-bedded with aluminum pillars (custom copse stocks are accessible on appropriate order). Accepted breadth of cull is 13.75 inches with one-inch backfire pad. That’s a little beneath than best branch rifles, which I like, because best all hunting altitude I anytime appointment absorb nonlightweight accouterment that add too abundant breadth to the able acceptance of the gun. Bung swivels are accepted equipment.
Ed absolutely believes what he was cogent me about antithesis against weight. He says, “We don’t try to accomplish a cool failing burglarize by compromising assurance and accuracy, alike admitting we are absolutely able of it. We feel you charge a assertive bulk of weight, and decidedly rigidity, to shoot a burglarize accurately, and you charge antithesis best of all. All our hunting rifles alter hardly in weight depending on curve and caliber.
The Damara is our lightest weight burglarize because it has a beneath and activity and failing graphite stock. It does not accept a butchered action, which reduces rigidity. It is additionally absolutely a bit added compact, and appropriately handles abundant easier than a beyond rifle. A lighter weight gun increases backfire and beneath barrels access cage bang slightly. Accomplish your choices accordingly, and bethink that antithesis is added important than weight, and accurateness is added important than velocity.”
Okay, Ed, I apprehend you. I’m cerebration absolutely actively of accepting you accomplish up addition Damara in .325 WSM for an elk burglarize for me. With a 20-inch No. 3 noncompensated barrel, of course!
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