Sometimes a guy just wants something a little different. Rifles are very personal items that often reflect the personalities of their owners. If that’s the case, then this Shaw Barrels Mk VII says a lot about me.
Like most rifles that are built specifically for the individual hunter, this example could be considered eclectic, at best. Hmmm. Same could be said for me.
And there is a back story. This particular project spans a number of years, going back to a time when fellow scribes Jon Sundra, Jack Mitchell and I converged on the Shaw Barrels booth at the SHOT Show.
Someone suggested that I should try a Shaw Barrels rifle chambered for some exotic wildcat cartridge, while someone else felt a particular barrel treatment was in order.
All of that sounded intriguing. But there was something in the back of my mind that kept insisting that I get something that is both utilitarian and features some combinations one doesn’t normally find in regular production rifles.
When the dust settled, it was decided that the rifle would be one of Shaw’s Mk VII variants with wood stock (I like the feel of real wood), 26-inch rather heavy contour spiral fluted barrel and chambered for the .300 Win. Mag. cartridge.
The action, trigger guard and outside of the barrel would be highly polished stainless steel, with the insides of the flutes blued. Contrast is nice, and I always have liked shiny rifles.
Certainly, the trend these days is for non-reflective camo finishes on rifles and there is nothing wrong with that. But there also will always be a place in my gun rooms for shiny rifles.
I don’t know that I remember any snickering in the Shaw booth that day, but that rifle has attracted other shooters like moths to a flame when it has been taken it to the range or on hunts. Some marvel at it, others seem confused because it is not the typical combination of looks and feels of a hunting rifle. Still others just shake their heads.
Certainly, I did not set out to make any kind of a fashion statement. Truth is that I just wanted something different that also could be valid for hunts on open public land in the Western United States and could be fun to have and to shoot. In the end, fun with a gun is what it is all about.
It is in this vein that a discussion about Shaw Barrels’ offerings comes front and center because, given all of their options, there are more than 75,000 possible combinations. That’s more than the combined numbers of fingers and toes of several thousand gunwriters.
Practically speaking, though, there are fewer basic configurations, as Shaw Barrels explains:
“Your choices include two barrel contours, long or short actions, and multiple barrel lengths up to 26 inches. We are happy to offer the Mk VII Gen II in both right and left-handed models for all action lengths.”
Stock options include two colors of wood laminate, checkered wood and H-S Precision synthetic.
“We have implemented a number of enhancements but without the high price tag of most custom rifles,” the company noted. “Mk VII prices range from $1,010 to $1,980 for a fully decked out rifle.”
The receiver of the MK VII is Shaw’s interpretation of the Savage 11/110. The Mk VII receiver is drilled and tapped for regular 6-48 Savage 10/110 Round Receiver scope bases. Timney triggers and Warne bases available upon request.
Some of the important features are:
- Glass- and pillar-bedded actions with fully free-floated barrels
- Checkered stocks with Pachmayr recoil pads
- Savage AccuTrigger
- Three position safety
- Dedicated long and short actions
- Precision button-rifled barrels
- 11 degree target crown
- Polished feed ramps and rails
- .25-inch heavy duty recoil lugs
- Drilled and tapped for Savage 10/110 Round Receiver scope bases.
That’s a whole lot to think about, and all of those features are present in the rifle being discussed here. With scope and sling, ready to go hunting, the weight of the rig with empty internal magazine is 10 1/2 pounds (nominal weight of the rifle alone is 8 1/2 pounds).
Certainly, this is not some featherweight wand that a hunter would choose as a first pick for a wild sheep or goat hunt high in the mountains. There are other kinds of rifles for that, and Shaw Barrels offers them as well.
What I had in mind for this rig was to be able to use it on hunts where the game is spotted at distance before the stalk begins.
Or it could work great for shooting across agricultural fields at big buck deer — that sort of thing where the rifle isn’t carried all day but is solid enough to make an accurate shot at distance when the time for that comes around.
The long and rather heavy barrel makes the rifle a bit nose-heavy, which is very nice when it is shot from some sort of rest in the field (backpack, shooting sticks, bipod, log, rock, etc.).
Also, by being slightly nose-heavy with a long barrel, it is a true joy to shoot. Felt recoil as akin to that of most full-bodied .30-06s or .308s and there is no bucking or snorting. Very nice.
The trigger pull was set at Shaw Barrels at 3.0 pounds and it “breaks” deliciously cleanly and crisply with no perceptible overtravel. This means the trigger pull will not tend to move the rifle off-target.
“The Mk VII Rifle comes standard with the AccuTrigger trigger system. Once in our facility, we triple hone all engagement surfaces for the ‘glass rod’ feel. Three position safety lever is standard,” Shaw Barrels explains.
Another feature of this rifle that was a bit of an education for me was the bolt handle and knob. I must admit that in all the decades I have been shooting, I never really gave the bolt handle and knob much attention.
I have noticed the difference, and routinely shoot the butterknife bolt handles on Mannlicher-Schoenauer and classic Mauser rifles, and have used about every other design, including some with very large, wood knobs. They all have worked fine, so there wasn’t much to say or think about.
However, I did notice that the new Shaw Barrels teardrop bolt handle was a bit different.
“Starting from raw steel stock, we carefully polish them down to a satin matte or polished finish,” Shaw Barrels noted. “Right- and left-hand models are the same.”
In use, I noticed that this particular bolt handle design enhanced my ability to cycle the action better when holding the rifle to my shoulder. That can matter on a hunt where a quick follow-up shot is needed.
The various contours of the knob make it really easy to use both fingers and the base of the palm of the hand to cycle the action. Not something I would have thought of, but darned handy that someone did.
It is in the shooting of the rifle that the fun comes into focus. This is just one nice gun to shoot. And, depending on the specific ammo being used, it is quite accurate.
Most good loads, factory or handloads, had no trouble grouping within, or under, an inch at 100 yards. Some days the groups were a little tighter than other days — a measure of the pilot, not the rifle.
When I did my part, the rifle delivered three-shot groups between 3/4-inch and an inch with a variety of loads. It seemed to prefer Hornady’s 190-grain Precision Rifle loading.
It’s great when a hunting rifle does its best work with serious hunting loads like Hornady’s Precision Rifle offering. With such accuracy from a .300 Win. Mag. 190-grain bullet, this rig is ready for deer, elk, moose, bear and just about any of the African plains game.
The build time for such a rifle is generally around four to five months. And Shaw Barrels offers a whole lot more than the Mk VII model. There are other bolt-action offerings, as well as some interesting AR rigs.
Since Shaw Barrels has been an OEM barrel maker for the industry, they chamber barrels in a really comprehensive number of cartridges — by my count 109, but I would wager that this number grows as time goes by. We’re talking about everything from .17 Remington Fireball to .458 Lott.
And this company has an interesting history:
“Shaw Barrels began its history as a nut and bolt manufacturer that heavily supported the railroad industry. As the likelihood of the United States entering WWI became more and more likely, the country’s resources were diverted to wartime efforts. Factories of all kinds were converted to making implements of war. Small shops all the way to large automakers were given the task of tooling up for the impending entrance to the first global war. With the experience and know how it was only natural that our efforts were allocated to manufacturing all types of small arms barrels. At the conclusion of WWI our sister company, Small Arms Manufacturing was born. Small Arms Manufacturing would go on to be the leading supplier of OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) gun barrels, providing premium gun barrels to small shops and large manufactures alike. Over the years we have expanded to three plants, all with the ability to produce premium grade gun barrels in all varieties,” the company explains.
So, for those who have a yearning to have a rifle made that is something a little different, Shaw Barrels is a place to check.