300BLK BOLT AC­TION PIS­TOL

GEAR HEAD WORKS ONE

Recoil - - Front Page - BY STEVEN KUO

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.

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.

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