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Discussion Starter #1
Love my 204, but I want a heavier barrel for the field of dogs, as I tend to shoot many, many rounds. Any suggestions as to barrel makers, and smiths? Thanks
 

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I shoot Shilen barrels. Krieger, Lilja, Douglas, and McGowen all do great barrels. Black Hole Weaponry does a nice barrel also, but I have not used their bolt gun barrels - just a bunch of their AR barrels.

Any smith with a lathe can finish chamber a short chambered barrel or set the shoulder on a deep chambered barrel. Any smith with an action wrench and barrel wrench can rebarrel a Ruger M77 MkII. You should only pay around $100, $150 at most for this work.

If you're so inclined, you can buy a short chambered barrel, rent Reamers and go/no-go gauges, and buy or rent barrel and action wrenches and be in it for around $200.

You'll also have to either replace the stock, or at least open the channel in your existing stock to fit the larger diameter barrel.

For the cost, you might consider simply buying a Ruger M77 MkII VT.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yep, after a quick search, you are right. Gee, another rifle? Hehehe
 

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Yep. Sell or trade your current rifle for the varmint rifle and you'll be way ahead money wise.

That said, check with your gunsmith on the barrel, they can often get the barrel and do the work for less than you buying the barrel and taking it to them.

It's a slippery slope going for the best varmint rifle. Eventually you find you have spent enough customizing that you could have bought three or four new rifles. :)

Jeff
 

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It's a slippery slope going for the best varmint rifle. Eventually you find you have spent enough customizing that you could have bought three or four new rifles. :)
But you won't regret a penny of it. :) Building custom rifles isn't about cost efficiency or best bang for the buck, it's a different animal entirely. I have a couple rifles that I've sunk over $5000 into, I could have bought 10 Rem 700 ADL's for the price of those single rifles. But I like the ONE custom rifle a lot better than I would have liked the 10 cheap ones.

Bankers and wives don't usually agree. But both of mine have custom rifles of their own, so I'm just screwed :)
 

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Selling your rifle and buying another may make sense from a cost perspective but screwing a custom barrel on your current rifle should give you a bit better performance than another factory barrel.
 

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High grade barrels like Lilja, Hart, PacNor, and McGowen are a joy to use. The .204 Ruger is a one of the very best small varmint rounds especially for small rodents like prairie dogs and gophers. It will also anchor larger rodents like rock chucks and their eastern clan the wood chuck, with authority up to almost 400 yards. It closely duplicates 50 grain .22-.250 trajectories up to 400 yards with 40 grain bullets

My .204 Ruger, a Ruger Hawkeye, has a 22 inch McGowen barrel, 1-11 twist and I have been shooting 40 grain VMax bullets with IMR 8208 powder. In the works is another .204 Ruger, this one will have a heavier 24 inch #4 contour barrel, also with a 1-11 twist. The objectives are to reduce muzzle jump enabling hit spotting and higher velocities. Barrel life is excellent, cheap to shoot with 26 or so grains of powder. The 1-11 twist stabilizes the 40 grain boat tail plastic tip Vmax.

Upon performing the re-barrel job the gun smith will lap the bolt lugs so both lugs contact the inside of the receiver and square up the front of the receiver ring. Be sure to ask him to do this. The MKII uses a simple barrel/receiver arrangement much like a M98 Mauser and the re-barrel job is simple.

These high grade barrels are usually extensively lapped and extremely smooth inside and resist fouling. Going to a powder like .223 CFE and the newer IMR 4166 should help when shooting lots of rodents like prairie dogs. The new IMR 4166 might be a better choice when the temperature gets up to 90 degrees.

Shooting lots of hand size rodents at ranges over 300 yards is sort of a challenge. Having a really high quality barrel on a high quality rifle with a good trigger, good scope that holds a zero and minimizes eye strain, and ammo of the best kind will markedly increase your shot to shot kill probability. Don't let it get too hot and clean it say every 100 or so rounds.

For me there is no debate to go for a re-barrel job with a barrel like I have talked about. I can spend 500 bucks or so at the neighborhood plant nursery only to have the deer chew the little plants down to bare twigs. Instead my .204 Ruger is ready to go in the gun safe with some 500 or so loaded rounds of ammo.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
And now the question becomes "Whom shall reform this deed"?
 
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