300BLK BOLT ACTION PISTOL
GEAR HEAD WORKS ONE
Some of the coolest products come about because someone was tinkering in the workshop, making something purely for their own enjoyment. Such is the case with Gear Head Works’ creation, a stubby little bolt-action pistol called the One.
Do you remember the Remington XP100, first introduced in the ’60s? Based on a 40X action, it was a unique bolt-action pistol that found ardent fans amongst handgun hunters and target shooters. Most variants were single shot, but the XP100-R version had a four-round internal magazine. Remington even developed the 221 Fireball cartridge for it, and it certainly earned its nickname. Like the stock-less AR-15 pistols of old, the XP100 was hardly the easiest gun to shoot effectively.
Gear Head Works is best known for the compact and very rigid Tailhook pistol brace, which like all modern pistol braces have been a revelation when employed on AR-15 pistols and the like, making the clumsy weapons eminently practical without the need for a tax stamp.
Paul Reavis, the founder of Gear Head Works, has a history of dreaming up and constructing unique builds purely for his own amusement. Four years ago, he came across some virgin Remington Model 7 actions, which had yet to be built into rifles. Thus, it occurred to him that he could do a pistolbrace-build with a bolt-action platform. If you have a virgin action, you can elect to make a pistol with it from the get-go, attach a brace, and avoid ending up with an SBR.
Reavis already had some 300BLK boltaction rifles that he enjoyed shooting and hunting with, but he wanted to make a pistol version that he could fit in a regular-sized backpack and would be a great suppressor host. He started by installing a 12-inch barrel and an MDT LSS chassis, affixing a Tailhook pistol brace with a hinge to fold it on the left side.
But he wanted to make it shorter and lighter, so he put it on a keto diet, courtesy of a Bridgeport mill. He chopped it down and lightened it as much as he could, then cut the barrel to leave the threads protruding just past the handguard. He also swapped the hinge to fold on the right side and cut a hole in the stock tube for the bolt handle. The result was like that family friend whom your parents wanted you to marry — functional, but not particularly attractive. So to attach the Tailhook to the hinge, Reavis machined a custom tube that tapers between the mismatched outer diameters and is hollowed out throughout its entire length to clear the bolt handle when folded. After a bit more tweaking, he put a suppressor on it and had a cool new toy for the range; he took it hog hunting as well.
Reavis enjoyed shooting it, especially suppressed with subsonic ammo. But he hadn’t intended on producing and selling the little pistol. SHOT Show 2018 was approaching, and he wanted another gun to demonstrate the Tailhook pistol brace at his booth that wasn’t a typical AR-15.
So he took it to the show. People were so enamored with the little bolt gun at SHOT and at the NRA show in the summer that Gear Head Works decided to put it into production, naming it the One.
We tested the original prototype gun, which was built entirely by hand. The production models will differ in several ways from the gun you see here:
The production gun will be built on Remington Model 700 actions rather than Model 7 actions. A fluted bolt will be optional.
The custom MDT LSS chassis will have M-LOK slots on the sides and bottom, quick detach sling swivel sockets, and additional lightening. It’ll weigh less than a pound stripped, about 6 to 8 ounces less than a standard LSS chassis. The MDT chassis takes AICS-pattern .223 magazines.
The gun will come standard with a non- folding Mod 2 Tailhook brace that telescopes. A fixed Mod 1 Tailhook and folding brace tube (shown here) will be optional and fold to the left rather than right side, by popular demand from customers.
The barrel, chambered in 300BLK, will be 9 inches long versus 8.4 inches on the prototype, with spiral fluting available as an upgrade. Both are threaded 5⁄8- 24.
The 20MOA scope base will be optional.
The carbon fiber Venom Defense grip will also be optional; the gun will come with a Magpul K grip standard.
The gun will come with a solid Cerakote finish, with various camouflage patterns available as an upgrade. Shown here is ULTerra Camo’s “Fragment” pattern, done by BAM Custom in Tennessee.
The gun was outfitted as closely as possible to the original intent. The low-power variable Leupold 1.5-4x scope is compact, mounts low for a better cheek weld, and features an illuminated Firedot reticle and a good zoom range for expected engagement distances. It sits on a 20 MOA rail to provide more elevation adjustment for the mortar-like 300 BLK subsonic trajectories. The Atlas bipod is compact, but rock solid. With the Tailhook extended, the total length was 27 inches with a thread protector.
To quiet the beast, we obtained an early sample of Dead Air Armament’s brand-new Nomad-30, a perfect match for the One. Lightweight, quiet, and versatile, it’s an excellent balance between performance, size, weight, and price. We installed a Dead Air Keymount muzzle brake on the gun to provide quick-detach convenience for transport.
Folded, the Gear Head Works pistol is just 18.1 inches long with a thread protector and 20.3 inches long with the Dead Air Keymount. It fit perfectly in the new 5.11 Tactical AMP24 backpack, which also has stretchy internal side pockets sized for water bottles that are a perfect spot to stash the Nomad. All that hardware adds almost 9 pounds of weight to the pack, but in a discreet tungsten color, the whole package virtually disappears on your back or in your trunk.
AT THE RANGE
The One is a pretty compact weapon, so there isn’t much real estate in front of the magazine well and the length of pull with the nontelescoping Mod 1 stock is 13.25 inches. Still, smaller guys found the ergonomics to be comfortable. Bigger guys felt cramped, but that’s the case with pretty much any pistol braceequipped gun.
Fit and finish were excellent, and you wouldn’t know that the prototype was built with a manual mill. The chassis, hinge, and Tailhook brace blended together seamlessly. We liked having the folder close on the right side of the gun — we weren’t bothered by not being able to cycle the action with the brace folded and appreciated a tidier package when folded, with the tube laying over the bolt handle. However, Gear Head Works is deferring to customer feedback, which was much more in favor of folding on the left side. The hinge on the prototype didn’t lock closed and, like your typical congressional representative, swung back and forth freely, which was an annoyance. While the production gun won’t lock closed either, we’re told that the hinge will be much tighter so that the brace won’t flop open on its own.
Getting behind the gun, it definitely helps to use a low-mounted optic for a better cheek weld. As you might expect, in prone, even small guys felt cramped behind the glass. In other supported and unsupported positions, it wasn’t too hard to find a reasonably comfortable shooting position. The Tailhook brace was extremely rigid, though its skeletonized L-shape was certainly not as useful as full-featured rifle stocks. The Atlas bipod proved very stable, as always, and Gear Head Works added a nice contour in the chassis behind the bolt handle that’s perfect for the thumb of your shooting hand, for those who place their thumb on the strong side of the weapon.
The Remington trigger was clean, but heavy for our taste. The external adjustment screw is easily accessed via the skeletonized trigger guard, but we were only able to adjust it from about 5 to 4 pounds. We’re trigger snobs, so we’d plan to swap in an aftermarket trigger, such as a Geissele (see Incoming on page 22) or Timney.
We tested 200-grain subsonic and 125-grain supersonic 300BLK loads from Maker Bullets. Both feature CNC-machined solid copper bullets, designed to expand effectively and to be used with suppressors. Out of the 8.4-inch barrel, the subsonic loads posted an average muzzle velocity of 993 fps suppressed, with a standard deviation of 11. The supers averaged 1,830 fps with a standard deviation of 18. Unsuppressed, muzzle velocities dropped just 5 to 10 fps. Muzzle velocities were measured with our trusty Magnetospeed.
We shot groups from a bench, achieving 1.5 to 2 MOA five-shot groups with supers and subs. Zero shift with and without the Dead Air Nomad-30 was around 1⁄ 2 MOA. Reavis told us that the prototype, originally for his own personal use, was built with the cheapest barrel he had on hand at the time. The production gun will utilize high-quality chromoly barrels with button rifling and 1:7 twist. They’ll also feature a lighter profile and optional spiral fluting. He expects them to provide better precision, which we like to see in a custom bolt gun. Still, even a 2-MOA 300 BLK gun will put down hogs and steel just fine, and it can take some experimentation to identify loads that work particularly well in your gun.
Not to mention that a 200-grain pill at 1,000 fps with a 100-yard zero will drop over 100 inches at 300 yards.
Speaking of subsonic, the One really comes into its own shooting subs with a silencer. Cranking the Nomad-30 onto the muzzle made it feel like shooting a pellet gun. The combination of the bolt-action platform, subsonic ammo, and the effectiveness of the Nomad-30 resulted in minimal felt recoil and a very subdued report. The One was an absolute blast on the range, punching paper and ringing steel. It’s a real attention-getter too, turning a lot of heads at the range during our testing. It’d be a great truck gun, and we can’t wait to take it on a hunt.
Some cynical folks say that “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” In this case, we’re really happy that they did. If you’re offended by the idea of the One, as some commenters on social media seem to be, we’d suggest that you send a few rounds downrange with it before you issue a final verdict — it would even get a rise out of Lord Varys. It’s expected to be available by the end of the year, with a projected retail price of $1,499 for the base gun. We’ll take One, with a can.
Folded, the One is incredibly compact. It fits per fectly and discreetly in the new 5.11 Tactical AMP24 backpack in a grayman gray color.
The Mod 1 Tailhook folds neatly on the right side on the prototype gun. By popular demand, the production gun will fold on the lef t side.
You may feel cramped behind the gun, though you’ll feel that way with any pistolbrace-equipped gun. Other wise, ergonomics are good, with a nice contour on the chassis behind the bolt handle for the thumb of your shooting hand.
Super and subsonic ammo from Maker Bullets feature CNC-machined solid copper bullets. Zero shif t with and without the Dead Air Nomad-30 was around 1/2 MOA. With the can installed, the subs were quiet and softshooting.