Most Popular Actions in Local PRS Competition
A Background on the 2019 PRS Market Survey
As we had mentioned in our introductory article, Precision Rifle Components and Wisconsin Precision Rifle Steel Challenge (WPRSC) recently teamed up to share usage data for a wide variety of rifle parts and accessories, ranging from barrels and optics to stocks and triggers.
This data was pulled from 626 registered shooters that participated in WPRSC events over the course of the 2019 match season. Our intention is to display this data in a manner somewhat reminiscent of Precision Rifle Blog’s “What the Pros Use” series, but with a focus on your average local PRS competitor.
What the Joes Use: What’s Hot and What’s Not?
While there are certainly some parallels between the two article series in reference to brand popularity, the breakdown and variety of products used by your run of the mill shooter is much greater than that demonstrated among top shooters. Some of these findings were to be expected (the most popular custom actions made up a sizeable chunk of overall participants), but a few of the data points proved to be quite surprising!
The below chart details a breakdown of each action manufacturer present in the survey, as well as the number of registrants using that particular manufacturer. We’ll also dive into detail regarding each top manufacturer in order of their popularity:
Top 12 Action Manufacturers
#1: Remington (81/626)
While the Remington 700 might not take top billing in “What The Pro’s Use”, it remains the most popular action currently used in local competition by a fairly large margin. Long known as the standard action design across the precision rifle community, more aftermarket components and accessories are designed to accommodate the Remington 700 than any other modern bolt action rifle platform.
#2: Impact Precision (69/626)
While the #1 most popular action configuration in WPRSC might be a classic workhorse, Impact actions have proven themselves to be the new hotness. Listed as the current top ranking custom action in the “What The Pro’s Use” series, Impact 737R actions are known for their reliability and ability to hold extreme tolerances from action to action. Like many other custom actions, these actions feature an integral recoil lug and 20 MOA picatinny rail.
#3: Defiance Machine (59/626)
Most of the top PRS action manufacturers incorporate custom features into their product selection, but Defiance takes this standard to the next level. With over 20 different customizable attributes, each Defiance Deviant action is built to meet the unique personal preference of its owner. While many action manufacturers source OEM components from third party manufacturers, Defiance machines and assembles their actions in-house, allowing them to maintain oversight over the entire production process.
#4: Bighorn/Zermatt Arms Inc. (53/626):
Modularity, thy name is Bighorn.
The Bighorn TL3 (as well as the slightly less expensive Origin model) is a perfect custom action for the tinkerer. Featuring an easily swappable bolt head and a tenon designed to be compatible with any number of aftermarket Savage pre-fit barrels, Bighorn actions are a breeze to work on.
I had a little firsthand experience with this convenient feature earlier in the WPRSC season. Just prior to the Wisconsin Barrel Maker Classic I had the distinct pleasure of having a barrel go south on me in the middle of a match held the previous week. Rather than having to send my action out to a gunsmith to have the barrel replaced and a new one installed (a process that can take months), I stopped by the Criterion Barrels factory on my way home, grabbed a Savage pre-fit barrel off of the shelf, and had the rifle back up and running by the end of the day!
Bighorn actions can be ordered with nine different customizable features, including mag cut, tang thickness, knob style, and many other options.
#5: Curtis Custom (43/626)
The official action of the 2019 Precision Rifle Series, the Curtis Custom Vector and Axiom have played a part in a number of top placing national match performances. With a three lug bolt featuring a 60 degree throw, the Vector accepts AW magazines and features a bolt knob machined as part of the bolt’s body. A rollerball tipped cocking piece helps reduce drag, ensuring smooth operation of the bolt.
#6: Ruger (38/626)
With a street price in the neighborhood of $1,000, the Ruger Precision Rifle offers a complete rifle package priced below most custom actions currently on the market. While the fit and finish of these rifles may not match that of some custom rifle designs, they’re affordable, accurate, and easy to upgrade. Ruger’s early support of the aftermarket community helped cement the Ruger Precision Rifle’s reputation as an excellent gateway platform to the precision rifle game.
Featuring an M-Lok handguard, adjustable stock (for both length of pull and comb height, as well as a somewhat easily replaceable barrel, shooters can easily compete with custom rifle builds for only a fraction of the cost.
#7: American Rifle Company (38/626)
Best known as manufacturers of the Mausingfield and Nucleus actions, American Rifle Company recently released their Archimedes action. American Rifle Company actions are best known for their detachable bolt heads and controlled round feed, a handy feature when engaging targets from awkward angles at various ejection speeds. Minor features like reduced cocking cam pitch and bump free bolt closure ensure a smooth cycling experience.
The Nucleus offers many of the features of the Mausingfield, without the hefty price tag. This cost savings is enabled through the elimination of an integral recoil lug, which is instead offered as a separate component. This small modification helps to significantly cut down on material cost and machine time requirements. If you’re a fan of the classic Springfield and Mauser extraction and ejection system, American Rifle Company has the custom action you’re looking for.
#8: Accuracy International (36/626)
The pride of English precision rifle manufacturing, Accuracy International actions are well known for their bombproof construction and boringly reliable operation. The quick detach barrels on both the AIAX and AIAT actions can be removed and serviced in mere seconds. I personally witnessed a shooter service his rifle mid-match, removing the barrel, clearing an obstruction, and reinstalling it, all without losing zero! I honestly wouldn’t have believed in that level of repeatability if I hadn’t seen it firsthand!
While aftermarket support for AI rifles may not be as widespread as some of the more common rifle platforms, some of our local match participants have gone so far as designing aftermarket bipod spigots thumb rests, and even Arca-Swiss chassis forends for the AX and AT rifle platform.
#9: Savage (28/626)
In what could arguably be called the original modular action design, Savage has long embraced the concepts of swappable bolt heads and shoulderless pre-fit barrels locked in place by a barrel nut. Known for their affordability and extreme level of accuracy in disciplines such as F-Class, a variety of factory Savage 10 and Savage 110 models are available from $650 -$2,000. Recent additions including the Model 110 Elite Precision and 110FCP come competition ready right out of the box.
Their ease of disassembly and operation lend themselves well to amateur gunsmiths and hobbyists armorers who don’t require much in the way of tooling to effectively service these rifles.
#10: Lone Peak Arms (14/626)
Manufacturers of the Fuzion and Razor actions, Lone Peak Arms offers their actions in both 416R stainless steel or 6AI-4V grade titanium. While PRS builds have been trending heavier these days, the titanium option is excellent for shooters looking to build a lightweight hunting or multipurpose build. Lone Peak Arms Fuzion actions feature an AW magazine well with a Remington 700 footprint. A variety of custom configuration and finish options are available upon request.
#11: Surgeon Rifles (11/626)
The Surgeon 591 action has a longstanding reputation for its slick bolt throw and versatility in the field. Each feature was carefully designed to accommodate efficient use in the field. From its side mounted shrouded bolt-stop to its anti-bind design features, the Surgeon 591 may not have as prolific presence on the firing line as it has in years past, but in the right hands it can certainly keep up with the best of them!
#12: GA Precision (10/626)
Owned and operated by George Gardner, GA Precision has had a profound impact on the advancement of the practical precision rifle discipline. GA Precision actions (The Templar, Templar V2, and Tempest) are OEM manufactured by Defiance Machine (#3 on our list of actions) to GA Precision specifications. Their custom rifle builds are highly regarded and built with only the finest components available (the purchase of one of their M40 clones is on the author’s bucket list).
In all, 18 other action manufacturers were reported over the course of the 2019 WPRSC season (as well as a number of custom gas guns). These manufacturers include the following:
#13: Stiller (9/626)
#14: Tikka (8/626)
#15: Unnamed Gas Guns (7/626)
#16: Bergara (7/626)
#17: Sako (6/626)
#18: BAT Machine (5/626)
#19: Kelbly Rifles (5/626)
#20: Badger Ordnance (4/626)
#21: Howa (3/626)
#22: Seekins Precison (3/626)
#23: Thompson/Center (3/626)
#24: American Defense MFG (2/626)
#25: DPMS: (2/626)
#26: Tuebor Precision (2/626)
#27: Q (2/626)
#28: TL Technologies (1/626)
#29: Desert Tech (1/626)
#30: Patriot Valley Arms (1/626)