James Laney, and his family company Laney Custom Rifles and Gunsmithing services, is actually fairly new to the industry but he has been an avid outdoorsman all his life and a competitive shooter for about 10 years now. His business is like many of the other smaller custom firearms shops out there in that they really pride themselves in taking care of the customer and making sure they get the custom rifle just the way they want it.
The rifle they provided for review here is a fairly standard custom build chambered in the .300 Win Mag cartridge. The rifle itself is geared toward long range shooting, but perhaps not specifically for tactical or sniper use. So some of the things will not be specifically geared toward tactical use and we will comment on those in this review. With just a few minor changes in the customer specifications and the rifle would be much more tailored for sniping work, and that is the beauty of a custom built rifle that is built to the users specifications.
This rifle is built on a stainless Remington 700 action that has been worked over for accuracy improvement as well as smoothing up the action. The action was trued including squaring the face and threads of the action while using the bolt raceway as the guide. The lugs were also lapped in and the barrel threaded and chambered in their shop using a floating PTG reamer. When the rifle arrived here it had grease on the lugs and raceway and the action was extremely smooth. Even when the grease was cleaned and the action dry it still retained the ultra smooth action. The Patriot Arms muzzle brake was fitted and attached in the Laney shop as well. The entire metal work for the rifle was coated in Dura-Coat ™, and as you can see, the gray color was probably more for aesthetics than tactical purposes. There is also a larger bolt handle attached with texturing on it for positive bolt manipulation. The entire bolt is coated in black Dura-Coat ™ for a nice offset to the rest of the gray of the barreled action and it matches the stock.
The stock is a Manner’s T4A which is a excellent and very comfortable stock. It has the adjustable cheek piece, nice vertical pistol grip and a wide forearm for stable shooting from a bag. The stock is very durable and well made. The paint finish on the stock was a bit too glossy for my liking which actually made it a bit slick to the touch which added to a bit slippery cheek weld. I would prefer a more matte and frictional painted surface. The stock does have texturing on the pistol grip and forearm area. The barreled action is pillar bedded into the stock using Devcon™ steel and the barrel is free floated all the way back to the recoil lug.
The floor metal is the stainless steel HS Precision detachable magazine system that holds 3 rounds of 300 Win Mag ammo. The magazine performed well throughout our tests and fed very nicely. We were even able to single feed the rifle with the empty magazine in place. The magazine release button was easy to operate and worked very positively. Our overall impression of the magazine system was positive, though it does only hold three rounds. There did appear to be plenty of room in front of the 190gr ammo we were shooting to allow heavier and longer loaded cartridges to be used.
The overall impression of the rifle was positive and the quality appears to be quite nice. For all of the features including the muzzle brake, Jewell trigger, manners adjustable stock and detachable magazine system, the price appears to be pretty good for the rifle. Speaking of the trigger, it is out of place on a tactical rifle, but as I mentioned, this rifle was not specifically setup for tactical work. The trigger was fantastic in shooting, no creep or over travel and it broke extremely clean, but at 10 ounces, it is way to light. It was, and is, great for shooting targets at the range, but in the field it is too dangerous. It would just take a cat to startle the sniper or a bump from the spotter, and you could have an accidental discharge. It is that light. But like I said, a fantastic trigger, it just doesn’t belong and a sniper rifle in our opinion.
For the range tests, we mounted up a Leupold Mk4 16x40mm scope with mildots. This is a scope tailor made for long range rifles and cartridges with 140+ MOA of vertical elevation. The base is a Valdada/IOR 20 MOA canted base that came mounted on the rifle from Laney. With everything all mounted and ready to go we headed to the range with some Federal 190gr Gold Medal Match and ABT 190gr Match ammo to see how the rifle would perform.
One of the difficult things with the .300 Win Mag cartridge is that it is a belted magnum and as such is headspaced off of the belt near the case head. This prevents getting as good or as tight of a head space as you can when headspacing off of the shoulder like is done on a non-belted case. Typically this means it is more difficult to get a 300 Win Mag to shoot as accurate as you would with the tried and true .308 Win. or similar cartridge. I always respect the rifle makers that are willing to have their .300 Win Mag rifles tested because it is a very good test of their rifle quality.
The rifle was a joy to shoot at the range and a big part of that had to do with the effectiveness of the Patriot Arms muzzle brake and the weight of the rifle, a hefty 14.6 lbs without optics. Recoil was less than that of a .308 Win, and probably even less than a .243. It was very tame, and as you would expect, quite loud for the shooter, but that was to be expected. One could quite literally shoot the rifle all day with no issues. The trigger, as mentioned, was very light and was fantastic at the bench. The adjustable stock also allowed the rifle to be adjusted just right for the shooter which also contributes to the comfort when shooting.
The weather was sunny, calm and cool at about 45 degrees F and it provided for some good shooting. Accuracy with the rifle was very consistent and pretty good. The average of all the groups fired with Federal GMM 190gr ammo was .81″ with a best group of .606″ at 100 yards. Laney indicated that they were getting very good results with hand loaded 208gr AMAX bullets which I believe as the longer bullets should get them closer to the lands and groves and help with the headspacing issues on the 300 Win Mag cartridge. All groups were shot from a sandbag up front and a sand sock in the rear.
Overall, the rifle is a very good example of a custom rifle built to the customers specifications and while this particular rifle had some features and options not suitable for tactical use, it could easily be changed with a few different specs provided by the customer. The rifle has very good features and a good price tag for the custom work and a butter smooth Remington action. Accuracy is acceptable, though not great, and it is a pleasure to shoot. Not a bad rifle at all…