No Tolerance

Still smarting from the experience with the POS Savage Predator (see here), I happened upon this little video (watch it first before heading below the fold).What really gets up my nose — and this is not a knock against the kid from Brownells — is that blithe acceptance of bad quality in our guns.  Yeah, they’re mostly mass-produced (as though that’s an excuse), and if we want our guns to work properly, then we should simply accept the fact that we have two choices:  buy a gun for a grand, and then spend money with a gunsmith to get it to work properly;  or spend a lot of money on a “premium” quality rifle which should be fit for purpose straight out of the box.

Here’s what I’m talking about.  From Sportsman’s Warehouse, in .308 Win:

And from Europtic:

Note that other than the camo pattern, the two rifles have identical features.  But wait! that’s not all!  Still from Europtic:

Now I’ll admit that the M18 is not the equivalent of the M12 — like the Savage, the M18 has two lugs instead of three, push-feed not controlled feed, cheap plastic stock, etc.  In all respects, then, the two rifles should be identical.  (And I should point out that the only reason I didn’t get the M18 for Boomershoot 2021 is that there was an unconscionable wait time for delivery — 6 months, if memory serves.)

Ask yourself the question:

If you had both the Savage and the Mauser in front of you:  brand new in their boxes, and you had to pick one to go hunting that same day, which one would you choose?

Yeah, I’d go with the M18 too.

Now ask yourself the final question:


And that’s why I’m unlikely ever to buy a new American rifle ever again.


  1. Many years ago we had D’arcy Echols speak at a dinner meeting about his custom rifles. He started with a pre-1964 Winchester action which was considered the best available at the time. He threw away everything else from the firearm. D’arcy then spent 20-40 hours trueing the whole thing up. The before and after pictures were amazing.

    His rifle were expensive but on an average he looked to be making only about $25/ hr with all the work he put in.

    If I win the lottery I’ll buy two!

  2. Dunno. I have a Ruger in 350 legends that I intend to use deer hunting this fall. I think you can find good examples in all makes just as you can find the occasional dud. Quality can be had with modest price if there is sufficient attention to detail in the creation.

  3. There’s no excuse for firearms to come from the factory with lower tolerances than your LS engine from GM. The firearm manufacturers have access to the same precision measuring and machining equipment as the auto manufacturers. Certain specifications are to within a couple of ten-thousandths of an inch on an LS crank.

    1. I’ve worked in manufacturing for almost 30 years, from shop floor grunt doing entry level stuff, to quality control, CNC programming and setup, shop floor management, and product development. Finishing my degree in business management with a project management focus right now.

      I vehemently agree: there is zero excuse for a defective gun to get past quality inspection. CNC machining is getting cheaper and more accurate all the time. Metrology equipment even more so.
      From a manufacturing standpoint, guns aren’t that complicated.

      Hell, I work with aerospace tubing assemblies and we hold formed tube ends to +/- .00075″ with a hydraulic process that’s basically like fucking blacksmithing without the heat

      This is either incompetence, or someone did a cost/benefit and thinks as long as people keep buying they can cut corners.

      Which is a great way to lose business and (with a firearm) potentially kill some of your customers.

    2. JLW,
      you’re absolutely right. Decades ago, acceptable accuracy for hunting was probably 4″ or so and out the door the rifle went. As manufacturing methods and equipment have improved, so should the quality of firearms. The level of accuracy in a rifle leaving the factory should be far better today than decades ago. That’s a great marketing tool to sell new rifles. Buy this year’s model because it’s better than the one you bought ten years ago.


  4. Gee, I was looking hard at the Savage too. I’ve been hesitant for several reasons. One, around here there just aren’t long enough ranges to really get the most out of a rifle like that. Secondly, I’ve heard that Savage rifles just don’t hold up when taken to a long range shooting course. Warrior Poet Society had a a few videos with Ryan Cleckner and Cleckner suggested putting more money into a scope when getting started. In his opinion, a high end scope can be moved from rifle to rifle and a firearm is easier to sell used than a scope.

    I’ve had a Ruger 77MkII in 30-06 in the past and it’s okay but I bet it’s too much of a sow’s ear to turn it into a silk purse.

    I suppose the next rifle I look into will be a CZ or Mauser for something longer range.


  5. I slightly disagree. I would expect one to be able to choose accuracy via price. For example, Springfield makes three grades of AR: Saint, Saint Victor, and Saint Edge. In addition to other upgrades, I’d assume the more expensive rifle would be more accurate.

    I can’t say if different brands at the same price, with the same features, should have the same accuracy.

    The other thing I’ve noticed is how much more accurate overall rifles have become over the last 30 years. Back in the 80s it was rare to have a 1MOA rifle, and never in semi auto. Now they seem to be common.

  6. That rifle is salvageable. A gunsmith with a Savage barrel nut tool and a set of .308 NATO go/nogo gauges can correct it. I looked that rifle up, and it uses Savage’s threaded headspace adjustments ( makes a caliber change easy ).

    Yes, you shouldn’t have to. A rifle that cannot chamber a round out of the box is inexcusable. Period.

    I suggest having the headspace corrected locally, and then put the damned thing up for sale.

  7. The real screw up here was the failure to correct the problem the first time, it was a real bad mistake for the original firearm purchase to be defective, a bad, bad thing however that was the time for Savage to address the problem, correct the problem and return the firearm to Kim repaired, test fired and with a bolt that was smooth as melted butter flowing over a hot cinnamon roll. I can understand working with various loadings from different manufacturers to find the sweet bullet for a specific rifle, I can understand remounting a scope getting torque settings just right to bring the group in tighter but not being able to open the bolt without turning the rifle on its side is pure, baked in the sun, slightly crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside dog shit.

  8. Tragically for mass-producer standards, I grew-up on a farm, surrounded by four grandparents and aunts and uncles.
    Dad was the youngest of seven, so my cousins were his age and older.
    In the kitchens at five years old or out in the shops and chicken-coops at eight, ‘satisfactory’ was barely adequate.
    With these old-timers to emulate, each of us kids automatically pushed back against the need to coast on earlier achievements.
    Accordingly, I tend to build instead of buy.
    For example, I had an vision of a robust durable reliable ExpeditionVehicle.
    2003, I acquired a 1997 Ford CF8000 commercial truck to complete the concept.
    2021, after nearly two decades full-time live-aboard, my vision evolved in a different direction, so I am fabricating a new ExpeditionVehicle concept.
    My tools need to be built by me, shaped and formed from an image I conjured.
    For example, my newest plunker has an upper receiver-half from Rob Heller in Saint Helens, Oregon.
    6.5 Creedmore.
    Squirting 140s, recoil is negligible on my tired old shoulder.
    I built my lower receiver-half at Viper Defense in Eugene Oregon, a mass-producer of such (closed now).
    At the 200-yard range at Shotgun Creek outside Springfield Oregon, I bore boring one-hole groups all day… a form of ‘validating my zero’, nothing more.
    Folks on the benches ask “Are you getting ready for deer season?”
    I am more of a ‘people-person’.
    Occasionally, I look at videos and photographs of store-bought factory-made RecreationVehicles and ExpeditionVehicles, but my experience indicates they tend to decompose around me on the rough tracks to my preferred remote mountain lakes and isolated Baja beaches.
    I am fine with building… and evolving as I go.


    Around the time I completed air-cop school in 1971, I acquired a new .357 revolver.
    Colt? SmithAndWesson?
    The maker doesn’t matter for the purposes of the story.
    Downstairs at the indoor range in the federal building in Sacramento, the cylinder froze on the first shot.
    In those days, instead of fiddling with warranties and shipping to the manufacturer for making good, the gun-store owner — gunsmith and master story-teller Murphy Delano, one of the finest men to walk this particular planet — exchanged it for anything else, no questions asked.
    If our carry was not restricted to factory-this and factory-that, I could disassemble that revolver to fuss with the innerds.
    But we were so I didn’t.

  9. Dammit did you hit a sore spot. Even worse is the attitude of mild indifference. Case in point.

    I bought a KE Arms slide the other day, that had a massive burr in the extractor plunger channel. The extractor plunger would bind solid about half-way through the channel. You could see it plain as day just by looking. The response from their rep:

    “Yeah, it should’ve never left the factory like that. But honestly, it’s no big deal. You could just drill it out on a drill press in a couple minutes.”

    Seriously? No big deal? At this price point? Are you for real?

    Needless to say, they’re blacklisted forever. Clearly no QC in sight.

  10. Thompson-Center (now owned by S&W) Compass. MSRP $399. Out the door from Academy, about $250, with rebate and Academy discount(s).

    6.5 Creedmoor, comes with a 5-R rifled barrel, three lug bolt, scope bases, (I replaced the two-piece factory bases with a one-piece 20MOA Picatinny unit.). T-C sells it with a 3 shot, 1MOA with Premium Ammo warranty.

    It delivers such with Hornady 140gr. rounds, easily. I’d slapped a “surplus” Nikon Pro-Staff cheap-scope atop it, just to confirm it’s nature, and now that I know it’ll shoot cloverleafs, it’s going to get a Vortex Viper PST 2nd gen, in 5x20x50, with MOA reticle and turrets.

    The rifle exudes economy, you’d never mistake it for my Ruger M-77 African in 6.5×55. That one is an heirloom rifle, but *sigh*, I have no heirs. The T-C though, is the perfect HUNTING rifle. Scratch the bluing on a barbed wire fence? It is to laugh! I’ll touch it up with a Marks-a-Lot or such. And, etc. Truck gun? This rifle is perfect for the task.

    Benchrest accuracy at Bubba pricing. What’s not to love?

    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

      1. Well, that’s not good news now, izzit? Doesn’t account for the low pricing though, as I bought mine well over a year ago.

        That said, my advice then would be to find one and buy one, ASAP. My neighbor has it’s twin in .308 Win., and it’s also a cloverleaf-group shooter.

        Even at the $399 MSRP, it’s a helluva deal on a likeable, inexpensive Glock of a rifle. One does not own or shoot a Glock out of a love for the gun, nor it’s aesthetic. Same for the T-C Compass. Nearly Soviet in it’s straightforward “is gun, is shoot!” nature. In .308, I’d slap a low-powered, illuminated reticle scope on it, put it into a tough case, and make it the dedicated Truck Gun.

        Oh, forgot to mention. They DO come with a threaded barrel and protective thread-cover device, included in the price. i.e; suppressor-ready, out of the box.

        Good luck and find one if you want one!

        Sunk New Dawn
        Galveston, TX

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