GunCraft gunsmith actions

The Good, the Bad, on Big-name Rifle Actions

Know your bolt-actions

  • Remington 700
  • Howa 1500
  • Tikka
  • Savage
  • Sako
  • Mauser K98

Just to state from the start so there is no confusion.

This is as I see it and what I’ve learned.

It’s not to say one action is much better than the other. It’s just so one can learn the weakness of actions and how to work around it to enable you to build very accurate rifles.

When I build a new rifle I always blueprint the action and bolt, regardless of which action is used, except custom actions.

Rem 700 actions


  • Actions are relative soft. That I learned when I machine them when I do the blueprinting and not from a hardness test
  • Extractor needs to be upgraded to a sako extractor for more reliable extraction. When fitting the sako extractor I always got it deeper into the bolt to ensure that the extractor grips the case as soon as possible to give maximum pull out of case.
  • Bolt handle saddle fit should be checked to see if it’s not fitted to far back on the bolt. If it is fitted to far back extraction of cases becomes very difficult.
  • The recoil lug is always difficult to line up but that’s just something you have to work around.
  • When doing bedding on this type of actions always ensure that bedding material only touches rear of the lug.
  • The standard trigger is horrible and the sear adjustment screw is glued and is very difficult to adjust.


  • It’s a very popular action so therefore you get a lot of upgrade paths for this action.
  • You get custom triggers and a multitude of stocks inletted for this action.
  • The barrel threaded shank area that screws into the action is 27mm diameter and that allows for more strength around chamber area than some other actions.
  • The bolt is encased partly by the barrel and provides more strength in that area.

Howa actions


  • The barrels and actions are tightened up very tight and one often struggle to loosen them which results in cracked actions when loosened by force. Newer howa rifles however I’ve found have less tight action to barrel dit and are easier to loosen.
  • The threaded shank diameter for the barrel is 26 mm which is smaller than the std rem700 actions and custom made actions. I think it’s a small disadvantage when building bigger cal rifles such as 300WSM and belted mag calibres.
  • The screw that secured the trigger to the action and the design of the action tang and trigger fit is such that if you over tighten the trigger it bends the action tang and that is bad for bedding job and accuracy.


  • The actions and bolts are quite hard. Def harder than Remington and savage actions.
  • The triggers can be upgraded with softer springs and set to acceptable weight. No need to buy an upgrade aftermarket trigger.
  • The extractor on the howa action is very good and no need to upgrade.
  • The cam action of the action is also very good and basically same as that of Sako actions.
  • It has an integral recoil lug and it’s easy to do bedding job on it.
  • The barrels run very true.

Tikka actions


  • The front surface of the action where the barrel abuts is very small or thin. I normally cut it bigger when I blueprint the action.
  • The action only allows for barrel shank od of 26 mm, the same as the Howa actions and therefore I think it’s a bit weaker there than say the rem actions on the bigger cals like the 300WSM. But that’s very marginal.
  • The thickness of the action is quite thin.


  • The actions are harder than rem and savage.
  • They run fairly true in the blueprint jigs.
  • Better than most but still not perfect.
  • Excellent extractor.
  • Cam out is good.
  • Dovetail section on action allows for better rail setup.
  • Thread area in action longer than most.
  • Trigger is adjustable. Just need to replace the factory spring with softer one.
  • Actions are very smooth.

Sako actions

See above as it’s the same as Tikka basically, except:

  • I think the recoil lug under action is better than Tikka.
  • The older sako trigger is bad but new ones are very good and can be upgraded and adjusted.

Savage actions


  • The actions are soft, same as Remington.
  • The front face of action also very small or thin and needs to be cut wider or bigger when blueprinting the action.
  • The bolt face of the action is a lot of times concave and needs to be corrected when blueprinting.
  • Not a lot of trigger options in South Africa.
  • The recoil nut tends to tighten the barrel at an angle. I normally throw it out and headspace as per normal with a step in the barrel that stops against the action.


  • The recoil lug has raised section that index in action to allow for easy alignment.
  • Excellent extractor.
  • Very good cam out design.
  • Trigger cocking piece and trigger sear engage on the side of action and that ensures that the bolt lugs and action lugs are in constant touch, unlike other actions where the bolt is lifted by trigger sear and cocking piece pressure.
  • Barrel OD is 27mm and some of them 28 mm which is good and makes for more metal around chamber area.
  • Thread pitch inside action very fine which makes for stronger action to barrel fit.

Mauser K98


  • Very old design.
  • Slow lock time.
  • Actions are case hardened. That means the steal is soft with a very hard surface around the soft steel.
  • The tread inside action is very rough pitch.
  • Actions are very untrue and needs to be carefully blueprinted.
  • Triggers range from very bad to ok on the newer models.
  • Actions are very hard and difficult to drill and tap for scope mount.


  • It’s a basis for a lot of different hunting rifles from small to large calibers.