As we become adults the thrill of opening Christmas presents is far surpassed by the thrill of seeing our children open Christmas presents. Sad but true, that thrill of busting into presents under the tree each December 25 never again courses through our blood, I have found. That is, with one possible exception: receiving impossible to find, extremely high end packages of some of the best gun parts known to mankind via delivery service and ripping into them like a fat man tears apart a pop tart bag when he is late eating breakfast.

The Nightforce ATACR 5-25 Zerostop with a .25 MOA, something I only wish I could afford to plop on top of one of my personal guns, came first. Let us not forget the six-bolt Nightforce rings as well. The Shilen trigger with safety came next, then the Badger Thruster break and Bartlein barrel (thanks Greg from Southern Precision for not only the barrel but your suggestions/guidance). Next came the Defiance Deviant action, an absolute work of art. Right behind the action in the mail was a letter from Mr. Brownell; he thanked ME for the purchase. Seriously? Brownells, I can always count on you my friends. Last but not least was the new Accuracy International AX MKII Long Action Folding CIP Chassis (you see, when one spends this kind of scratch on a stock it evidently ceases to be a stock and now it becomes a chassis). Lance, you are the man. As mentioned, the AI Chassis came on Monday and by this time Rick was in Manassas multi-tasking; spending equal parts of time machining and threading the barrel/receiver/break and cursing me under his breath.

By days end (ok, maybe it was night’s end) on Wednesday the machining was complete, the trigger had been fitted, all had been dropped into the chassis, Rick was a zombie and the Lapua was ready to be test fired. Immediately we ran into problems with the trigger. Greg Norman wanted a 1.5 pound trigger weight and although the Shilen Standard Trigger stated that it would adjust to the 1.5 we couldn’t get it to perform at two pounds or less. This gun still needed bead blasting and cerakote so in the time crunch we were dealing with I made an ‘executive’ decision (as if I am an executive, right?) and we reverted to a very old and dear friend, the Timney trigger. The Timney dropped into the barreled receiver like a hunk of margarine sliding down an ear of warm summer corn; let the test firing begin gentlemen. Five successive shots of the .338, bolt moving backward and forward like silk, and now we are in business. The rifle was off for final touches and upon returning home the Pelican case had arrived.
Thursday was good. Cerakoting had dried, Rick cut the middle piece of foam in the Pelican case and packed in a bipod, cleaning supplies and, at my direction, ample business cards (yeah, I whored myself out at the hopes of Greg putting me in touch with some of his ‘connections’), and the case was closed and padlocked. Now we can coast. Honestly, you know this story would be way too predictable if we actually coasted from here though, right?

The Defiance Deviant action and bolt with Bartlein barrel, freshly machined.

The Defiance Deviant action and bolt with Bartlein barrel, freshly machined.

I had told Rick that he was delivering this gun in person (by now the price tag is pushing $15,000.00 and if you think I am entrusting this to a delivery service you are smoking crack) and if his wife had a problem with it then, well, I am scared of his wife so he could sleep in my basement so long as he didn’t tell her he was sleeping in my basement. Rick gets to Dulles Airport, about 45 minutes west of D.C., and the airline that he was scheduled to fly on, which I won’t mention by name other to say they are very United in the way they work together as a team, can’t seem to pull off getting the plane ready to rock and roll on time. I’m not talking about a few minutes late. I’m not even talking about an hour or so. The damn plane is more than two and a half hours behind schedule due to some “unforeseen” maintenance. And Rick is about to pee himself.

The problem is not so much that the plane is delayed, we are used to planes being delayed. The problem is that Rick has a 50-minute layover in Denver before he flies on one of those prop-jets-of-death to downtown scenic Grand Junction, Colorado. If my math is accurate, 2.5 hours of delay time minus fifty minutes of layover time equals we are screwed, blued and tattooed. It is bad enough that Rick will miss the only connector to Grand Junction this particular day but in all seriousness, and don’t get me wrong Ricky is my boy and everything, however he better damn well get that Pelican case in Denver or there really is no need for him to return to Virginia.

Greg Norman’s 7-Lakes Ranch in Colorado.

Greg Norman’s 7-Lakes Ranch in Colorado.

I do believe the telekinetic wavelengths between Rick and I were on because he tells me that he stalked, then harassed the ground crew in Denver until he made such a pest of himself they finally gave him the gun case just to get him to leave them alone. Well done sir. Now on to our next dilemma: the rental car and hotel are in Grand Junction, which if you have traveled out west you know that the towns are not as close together as they are in the east. To the tune of four hours. Well, the Norman abode in Meeker is ten minutes less than that in a different direction so it seems the wise choice is to scrap Grand Junction, rent a car in Denver, get about three hours of sleep in the local Bates Motel along the way and try to keep his 10 AM appointment with Greg.

Stay tuned for part 3.

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