Better By A Long Shot
You're a rifleman. You've shot enough bolt rifles to sift the good from the ordinary. But where do you turn when even good hunting rifles no longer meet your standards? What's next?
"You still can't beat a bolt action for strength, accuracy and dependability," says Kelly McMillan, whose family has made a name for itself in nearly every facet of the rifle-building industry. "We go beyond the competition, though, in producing what we think are the best bolt rifles, for discriminating sportsmen."

Discriminating. As in marksmen who know the difference between a serviceable rifle and a great rifle, who can shoot well enough to sift truly accurate rifles from the rest, who can appreciate fine balance and silky, seamless cycling. Discriminating. As in willing to buy the best.
"McMillan rifles deliver your money's worth in Feed top-drawer materials and components, excellent fit and finish, flawless function and superlative accuracy." That's Kelly's assessment. His customers agree; many have racks full of McMillans.

I remember my days as a competitive rifleman. My prone rifle wore a McMillan barrel. Outside it looked the same as any well-turned stainless tube. Inside, its button-rifled bore, held to unbelievably close tolerances, guided bullets into one-hole X-ring groups that garnered many wins. While the McMillan group has since split, and McMillan rifles feature barrels from other makers, "they're the best available," insists Kelly. "Same as our other components. Same as the people who assemble our rifles. We've committed to building the best bolt-action sporters. No compromises. No shortcuts."
McMillan G30 Action
McMillan designed and manufactures its own G30 round receivers in- house. They're machined to benchrest specifications from 17-4 stainless steel, hardened to between 42 and 43 Rockwell. Bolt ways are cut by EDM (electrical discharge machine) because, according to Kelly, that method is more precise than broaching and results in a better finish. But unlike production-class receivers, each G30 is "squared" so bolt and receiver faces are exactly perpendicular to the bore. Ditto the beefy, washer-style recoil lug, surface ground on both sides and pinned to the receiver. "We drill the bridge and ring for stout 8-40 screws and Talley scope bases that also fit Remington's Model 700," Kelly points out. After machining, polishing and heat-treating, receivers get bead-blasted to a satin surface, then finished in black Cera-Kote.
Wayne van Zroll shooting
McMillan tailors its actions to the cartridge. You can choose from short, short magnum, long, long magnum, and long magnum versions, the latter a "big bolt" option for the .300 Ultra Mag and .30-378.
The bolt, of 93-10 stainless hardened to 60 Rockwell, is of traditional twin-lug design for an easy 90-degree lift. (Steep camming surfaces on three-lug bolts can make cycling difficult.) "All our bolts are lapped for full and even lug contact," says Kelly. The Sako-style extractor hauls empties clear for ejection by a bolt-face plunger. An M70-style mechanical ejector backs it up. "We've found our extraction-ejection system as positive as that on the controlled- feed Mauser," Kelly tells me. "It feeds smoothly and reliably, and we don't have to make extractor cuts in the barrel." Bolt handles are silver-soldered. McMillan offers left-bolt rifles for southpaws, with a 3- to 6-month lead time.
McMillan Prodigy Rife and Saftey
The safety is a Remington-style thumb button that moves smoothly and silently but with snappy determination. When engaged, it does not lock the striker or prevent bolt manipulation. Jewell triggers are standard on all Custom Collection rifles.

The McMillan enterprises no longer include a barrel shop. "We most often use button-rifled Lilja and Schneider stainless barrels," says Kelly, "though we accommodate customers who specify other makes, like Douglas, Obermeyer, Hart, Shilen and Krieger. Twist, contour and length match the chambering or the customer's specific load." (The McMillan Outdoorsman rifle, chambered to the powerful, flat-shooting .300 Remington Ultra Mag and .30-378 Weatherby Magnum, is designed expressly for long-range shooting and features 28-inch barrels.) Each barrel is chambered by hand on a manual lathe, then hand-fitted to the action so bore and bolt are perfectly co-axial. "We install chrome-moly barrels on our .375 and .416 safari rifles," says Kelly. Those are the Heritage and Prestige models from the Custom Collection, the latter with Krieger quarter-rib and barrel-band front sight.
a classic African game rifle
Kelly McMillan in South Africa's Limpopo River Valley in 2009. He shot this stunning zebra using the Prestige rifle, a classic African game rifle topped with a Swarovski scope.
Stocks on McMillan rifles incorporate what the company calls EDGE technology - Evolutionary Design Graphite Engineered. Standard versions weigh 24 ounces with 1-inch Decelerator recoil pad. They feature "a little cast-off, a little cant" according to Kelly, "to put your eye naturally behind the sight." The shape of the stock hews to traditional form: lean, almost austere. Dynasty, Heritage and Tactical Hunter stocks feature an understated Monte Carlo comb. Other McMillan rifles have straight-comb stocks. The forend, proportioned for the barrel it
cradles, is properly straight of line and slightly pear-shaped in cross-section. Grip and forend checkering comprise diamonds as crisp and uniform as professionally checkered walnut (Tactical Hunter stocks boast textured panels, a beavertail forend).
A slim, open grip complements the understated but supportive cheek-piece. "We glass-bed the receiver with aluminum pillars around the guard screws," Kelly tells me. "The barrel floats." But the channel gap on McMillan rifles is a paper-thin slit, and very uniform. All hunting stocks wear black paint over a textured surface.   impala shot with .308 Winchester
The rifle Kelly McMillan used to take this impala at 180 yards was the Tactical Hunter in .308 Winchester.
The seven rifles in McMillan's Custom Collection include the lightweight Prodigy, which I range-tested not long ago. This rifle leaps to my cheek eagerly. Its 7-pound heft seems an ideal blend of liveliness and pulse-dampening mass (the Legacy is the lightest McMillan, at 6 1/2 pounds). Balanced perfectly with a 2 1/2x Sightron scope, the Prodigy carries as delightfully as it points. The bolt handle - vertical, per those of commercial Mausers that inspired my first love affair with rifles - lies close to the stock. The generous breech opening should please everyone
McMillan floorplate  
  who has tried to toss individual rounds into detachable magazines. Artfully- shaped bottom metal includes a hinged alloy floorplate secured by a small catch seamlessly fitted to the slim guard. The belly opens when you want it to, stays shut when you don't. By the way, that bottom metal is shared by the Legacy, Dynasty, Outdoorsman and Tactical Hunter. The Heritage and Prestige, in .375 H&H and .416 Remington Magnums, feature drop-box magazines with stainless floorplates.
In my view, there's no better trigger than a Jewell. This .30-06 has one that breaks at a factory-set 2 1/2 pounds, without detectable creep. It is adjustable. The open contour, gentle backward sweep and slim profile of the finger-piece constitute a study in elegance. Why other companies insist on thick, awkwardly curved triggers that hang high in oversize guards is beyond me.

"We don't guarantee any particular level of accuracy," Kelly replies when I ask him about the test target that accompanied my rifle in its heavy polymer case. "But we'll accept back any rifle that doesn't shoot to customer expectations." This policy is reasonable. Guarantees of 1- minute or half-minute accuracy presume a skilled shooter and exceptional ammunition. All of the McMillan rifles I've fired have printed groups well within the capabilities of the ammo.

My first group with the .30-06 Prodigy and ordinary Federal 150-grain factory-loaded soft- points measured .8 inch. Subsequent shooting delivered the consistency I much appreciate in hunting rifles. Of the first eight groups I printed, with four very different bullets, half measured .8 inches or less. The biggest taped just 1.4 inches. I'd much rather own a sporter that keeps a variety of bullets between 3/4" and 1 1/2" than one that punches occasional one-holers and as often prints a 2 1/2" group.

The Prodigy's spiral-fluted bolt cycles like an oiled piston, evidence of expert fitting and "blue-printing" to ensure action concentricity. I found the stock proportions ideal for field positions and use of my Brownell's Latigo sling.

McMillan Prodigy Rifle

At $4,770, this McMillan rifle might seem an indulgence-unless you really do demand the best. For riflemen who appreciate intelligent design, the best of materials, gnat's lash tolerances and meticulous attention to fit and finish, a rifle from McMillan's Custom Collection is simply a good buy. The confidence engendered by its slick cycling and spot-on accuracy-well, that's a bonus.

For more information on the Custom Collection-and special-order options-contact McMillan Firearms, click here.
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