Guns and Gear

Building A Precision Rifle With Faxon’s FX7 Action

Building A Precision Rifle With Faxon’s FX7 Action
The Faxon build and accessories ready for an adventure. Knife and hatchet by Winkler Knives.

There seems to be no limit to the number of variants that can be extrapolated upon using the classic Remington 700 screw spacing. In the past decade, countless actions by dozens of companies, big and small, have introduced their own spin on making a turnbolt action that feeds from AICS mags. The short-action bolt gun is dominant in America and, as a result, there’s a race to make what could be the best one at the best price.

Indeed, in our era, we have seen the actions—not completed rifles—run up a bill in excess of $1,500 … and sometimes even more.

Factoring in barrels, stocks, optics and accessories, you can rack up a build easily exceeding $10,000 for a slight edge in performance against other high rollers (you can at least spend that money on a Barrett M107 if you want to truly dunk on your range buddies, but that’s up to you).

Faxon Firearms sought to change this paradigm and launched what is perhaps the most adaptable, feature-rich action on the market for the price … and the future will only hold more options for their new action at a fraction of the cost of the competition.

Oh, and they have the ability to swap calibers with pre-fit barrels.

The Bolt Gun Of Tomorrow

Bolt-action rifles today are unilaterally descended from the Mauser 1896. Why not the Mauser 98, arguably the most famous Mauser, the Backbone of Hitler’s Wehrmacht? Simply because 1898 actions have a third lug on the bolt—not even the 1903 Springfield, itself a Mauser, can claim true fatherhood of today’s most common actions. The main difference in the operation mode is 1896 actions are cock-on-closing, where today’s guns, and the Mauser 1898, are cock-on-opening. The latter cocking feature has become the predominate mode of fire control, where the lug-free tubular bolt akin to the 1896 action has assumed the role of dominant action style.

Truth told, the 1896 action, as well as the 1903 Springfield, were “overly safe” in terms of construction; the cartridges and associated pressures present in the earlier Mauser designs were all within standard range, and the 1896 locking lugs were plenty even for modern cartridges. Needless to say, there has been a never-ending attempt to increase the strength of the common bolt gun, largely in a move to increase the number of cartridges that can be fired from one action. The short action needed to exceed what Mauser started, and what we see with the new Faxon FX7 action is one of the strongest to date for its size.

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The Faxon FX7 action in .308 Win., as it arrived from the factory.

Faxon has dabbled in bolt actions for a little while. Years ago, the company made Ruger Precision rifle barrels as an aftermarket option. They also did OEM work for some companies. The turn came when Faxon partnered with Stiller for the launch of the 8.6 Blackout as a limited first run.

Faxon did an incredible job on the barrel, the cartridge itself I found a bit wanting across the board, notably due to some mathematical snake oil found in the advertising from Q, the company from which the 8.6 Blackout “originated” (JD Jones had the .338 Whisper decades ago, just like he also had .300 Whisper. Rebranding is a hell of a thing, I suppose).

I appreciate Faxon’s enthusiasm for what amounted to a wildcat cartridge at the time, though the overall status and acceptance of the 8.6 Blackout is still in flux. I don’t personally see a glittering future for the conspicuous cartridge beyond boutique end use, though I have been wrong before. Eating crow is a staple diet for gun writers.

The 8.6 RemAge (a name for barrels that used a Remington 700 standard thread but utilized a Savage-style barrel nut for headspacing) style barrels came after, and these products did very well with consumers. The question then came up, “What if we did this our way? A high-quality product without breaking the bank?”

It was decided that Faxon would make their own actions in 2022. It was kept relatively quiet and was released with excitement at SHOT Show 2023. The product line was launched to include rifles, barreled actions and pre-fit barrels. Every core component is made in-house, from the bolt to the action body.

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Note the two small screws holding the trigger hanger plate to the receiver. You won’t need to pound your pins out with a punch like other 700 actions: The heavy lifting is done for you. In fact, this was the easiest trigger install the author ever accomplished.

The products consist of a strong 416 body and 4340 bolt, easily able to withstand modern ammunition. The design was meant to keep price manageable but offer a feature-rich end-product to include an integral recoil lug and optics rail, 70-degree six-lug bolt (wow!) and Remington 700 compatible trigger options. In short, it would be the strongest, most variable action on the market at a savings compared to other options.

But Faxon didn’t just settle here: They also wanted the smoothest action and went to great length to provide the user a satisfactory experience in overall operation. The smoothness, they felt, has to be there, and they achieved it. They focused in on the handling experience and not just high-performance function. I, personally, enjoy this approach.

Actions will include trigger pins, though they’re laid out very differently than in typical 700-footprint actions. The trigger cassette, in this case a Timney Hunter model, is held in by a separate part entirely as opposed to being pinned to the receiver directly, as is done with most 700 clone actions. You will use a Phillips (in the age of Hex bits?) driver to remove two tiny screw on a plate. This plate has contained pins that enable you to attach it to the trigger of tour choice. This plate is then screwed back down to the action.

In the name of full disclosure, I experienced a bit of wiggle when the firing pin was down/action open, and it made me nervous initially. The wiggle isn’t a worry, and I put several hundred rounds of .308 Win. through the complete rifle prior to taking it hunting … with zero issues. Of note is that the stock itself will keep this separate plate section flush to the action. I was worried it would be an issue, but I tested it with shims to be sure that there was no chance for this novel trigger installation setup to create an issue.

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The Magpul folding chassis makes for a compact package for easy transport.

Two finishes, polished DLC and ArmorLube matte finish, are currently being offered. I’m unsure what time will bring on the finishes of the future, but I hope that they are as diverse as the options currently available on Faxon’s other products. I’m not a “tactical” guy or mall ninja, and I like bold, interesting finishes on my guns: I’d love to see a Faxon barreled action in rainbow DLC or gold in the future.

Faxon plans to offer barrels for their actions and others: Pre-fit, RemAge and profiled blanks coming in 6.5mm, 8.6mm and 7.62mm as main launch calibers. Short mag and .223 bolt-face actions may yet be forthcoming. Short action will be the primary offering, options in long action and rimfire are being considered.

Also of note, not all the short-action offerings will be caliber compatible: Expect .308-bolt face options to be barrel compatible … but not able to cross over to options using the .223 bolt face. Stand-alone actions will be shipping quarter four of 2023 (at press time barreled actions will likely be shipping already). I eagerly await what may come from Faxon simply as a hobby builder. I take pride in assembling my own guns, and I love that I can now add bolt action complete builds and barrel swaps to my list.

The Faxon FX7 Action Build

The rifle I elected to build was to be one that fit in a backpack, namely an Eberlestock Gunslinger 2. This is an excellent pack that, while heavy for a three-day pack, is ideal for transporting a rifle hands-free. I used the progenitor of this pack over a decade ago for coyote and deer hunting, and I am pleased to be using the modern variant for the same animals, plus a ram I put down.

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The finished build readily fits into the rifle sleeve of the Eberlestock Gunslinger two-pack.

I chose a stock I’ve used from time to time on these pages, the Magpul 700 Pro, to give me a reliable base and folding stock capability. The overall length of the finished rifle, with suppressor removed, was just over 28-inch folded, truly backpack concealable. I wanted to make a gun that was not only packable but functional for the role of hunting at medium range, while not sacrificing compatibility with modern ARCA and optical systems.

In short, I wanted a gun that was able to take game at all reasonable ranges using advanced support gear while at the same time being reasonable in weight and accuracy. I did accomplish this, but I do feel that I still could have saved a few pounds. Call it a prototype if you want, but I think that the 18-inch, medium contour .308 Win. with a 10X optic can accommodate 95 percent of all hunting in America.

Suppressing a Medium Weight Barrel

There has to be some discussion on the weight ratio to barrel length when talking suppressors. Ideal barrel length for a .308 Win. rifle is 18 to 20 inches in all platforms; you don’t give up much going to 16 inches, and I’ve gone as short as 13.5 inches, but as far as reason is concerned, the 18- to 20-inch range is categorically ideal for weight to velocity. For field use, the objective should be hearing-safe suppression for 300-yard shots on a kill-zone-sized 10-inch plate. This doesn’t seem unreasonable, but so few hunters or shooters ever shoot this distance enough to know how a rifle and cartridge perform.

Accuracy with all .308 Win. loads tested was excellent, all shooting ½ MOA at 100 yards. There was really no difference between all Remington, Federal and Hornady factory loads ranging from 150 to 180 grains. My own handloads consisted of Lapua brass and Hornady 168-grain BTHP match bullets over Hodgdon Varget powder. In total, I fired seven factory loads and three handloads, and I’m exceedingly pleased with the accuracy this barreled action delivered.

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The SilencerCo Omega 36M is a great can, but it is on the heavy side if you’re using all the bells and whistles. It’s possible to convert this can to be lighter, but the QD function is really nice for transport to help reduce overall length. The Armageddon Gear cover helps reduce mirage and also keeps you from burning your hands.

This article features a SilencerCo Omega 36M with .30-cal. endcap and Armageddon Gear suppressor cover. This is a heavy can that can handle up to .338 Lapua Mag and everything in between, and while super quiet in .308, it does show some vertical stringing when warmed up. If you plan to hunt with the Gunner profile barrel, be aware of the weight of your suppressor and what it does to your point of impact. In my case, the gun shoots 2 MOA high unsuppressed, which is over a half MIL of elevation difference between suppressed and unsuppressed. I do have the option to swap barrels later on as Faxon pre-fits become available, but I sort of like my results using the light barrel as featured here. If, by chance, they come out with a fluted 16-inch M24 profile barrel in .308 Winchester … well, I’d be interested.

U.S. Optics And A Reasonable Scope Layout

I originally began using U.S. Optics a half-decade ago, and I’ve always been impressed with their custom quality. After using their Foundation 5-25X in MOA for years, I contacted the company to send a more compact optic in the same line, but in a max 10X in MIL/MIL. I wanted it in OD green with an integral bubble level and illumination … and they delivered.

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The US Optic featured here is a custom build that the author specified. It’s a solidly built, if not overbuilt, optic that provides a host of features and is very rugged. There are more features packed in than can be taken advantage of by a midrange backpack .308 Win., but they are there if you need them.

I used this optic on various projects for the past year before it found a final home on the new Faxon action. For .308 Win., there’s no better partner than a high-end optic ending in 10X. It can accomplish everything the cartridge has to offer to its effective distance. I like the U.S. Optics I have here for its raw function on a functional rifle, no other notes required. It gets the job done.

Closing The Bolt

I find that what Faxon delivered here is emblematic of what is to come of 700-footprint actions. I love that the company offers an incredibly strong, smooth action, and I love that there’s the ability to field future cartridge designs, thanks to the versatility of the action’s six-lug bolt.

In my time with their new bolt action, I’ve seen it perform very well … and I think you will be as well should you order one.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2024 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


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