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The GAP Tempest Action for Precision Rifles

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With the recent growth of the Precision Rifle Series (PRS), there seems to be small startup rifle smiths popping up everywhere. Almost all of them are trying to impress upon the rifle community with their “new and improved” bolt action, understandably hoping to set themselves apart from all the other gunsmiths. Like any industry where there is a sudden swell of people and businesses, there will always be late entrants who want to get in on a piece of the disappearing pie. The custom rifle smith business is no different. Unfortunately, many of the actions they tout are just rebadged billet versions of the venerable Remington 700 (R700) action.

While the Remington has been reliably serving hunters and the armed forces since its introduction in 1948, there is room for improvement.

GA Precision Tempest Action RD 1

Enter the Tempest, a new rifle action by G.A. Precision. G.A. Precision is a company that stands out in the precision custom rifle world crowd. Established by George Gardner in 1999, and based out of Kansas City, Missouri GAP has been building custom bolt actions rifles for competition, hunting, law enforcement and military for over 15 years.

George realized from his years of F-Class and PRS experience, the needs of an improved new action — not another regurgitation of the R700, something truly new and able to take advantage of the enormous aftermarket associated with it. With a rough design in hand George approached Mack Brothers, a machine shop and makers of some really nice suppressors, to tweak the design and manufacture the action for GAP. Mack Brothers, with substantial input from George and his GAP team shooters, developed, prototyped and eventually settled on the final design of the GAP Tempest.

GA Tempest Action 4

The GAP Tempest brings a number of new features not seen on any action currently on the market. With its thin curved bolt handle and spherical bolt knob, the Tempest doesn’t look like any normal R700 clone action. Once you open the bolt the 60 degree throw becomes obvious. Remington 700 and similar actions require 90 degrees of lift to re-cock the firing pin and move its two lugs from their locking surfaces.

GA Tempest Action 3

The Tempest with its 6 lug design has a 60 degree bolt throw very similar to an Accuracy International (AI) who uses a 3 lug design. This 6 lug design also allows the bolt body’s diameter to be the same as that of the locking lugs themselves greatly increasing strength. Mack Brothers and GAP used computer modeling and testing to design their 6 lug bolt which is 80 percent stronger than the AI 3 lug. A six lug design allows the Tempest to feed much more reliably off the AI AW double stack 10 round magazines than any two lug.

The design allows more lug surface to grab the lip of the casing during feeding ensuring smooth and reliable operation. These 6 lugs when the bolt is closed lock into what is called a breach ring. A breach ring is a replaceable ring made out of 17-4 stainless steel, pressed into the 4140 Chrome Moly steel action. This feature offers you the benefit of being able to simply replace the ring if there is ever any damage, essentially allowing you to return the action to “new” spec at any time. This also allows you to use two dissimilar metals for the lugs and there locking surfaces, both reducing galling and allowing you to use a much harder metal for the breach ring itself.

Essentially this feature ensures the action lasts longer than you ever will.

GA Precision Tempest Action RD 2

The Tempest's light 60 degree bolt throw and all of its benefits maintain an ability to be bedded or bolted into any stock or chassis designed for a Remington 700, that required some unique design alterations in order to fit all these new design features in a smaller, compact package. A unique two-piece bolt stop system was vital in allowing a 6 lug bolt with a 60 degree throw to keep the fit of a standard R700 short action receiver. The receiver still has extended barrel threads, which increases strength between the barrel and the receiver.

Waiting for the aftermarket to buy in on the design and catch up with new products or options has been one of the biggest hassles with new actions. But, the Tempest being made in the same footprint as the R700 gives anyone the opportunity to choose just about any stock or chassis option they desire, and relief from worry about new action vs fitment.

GA Precision Tempest Action RD 5

The Tempest is also designed to require few tools as possible, for basic operator level maintenance. You don't need a punch and hammer to knock out the required trigger pins like when you’re replacing a trigger on a typical R700. The trigger on the Tempest is attached to a simple trigger plate, which requires only one star key to remove. That means you can swap triggers easily in the field should one happen to break, or if you just want to switch between a super-light match trigger to one a little heavier for hunting.

The extractor on the Tempest is now a tool-less design, similar to that also found on an AI, and only required something like the tip of the bullet to replace. It's recoil lug is integral to the receiver itself, while the scope base is not. This may or may not be a positive, as some people like the feature of an integral scope base similar to having an integral recoil lug, being there's then less failure points.

I asked George about that, and he explained to me the decision being made so as to allow the end user to determine the shooters own personal scope base cant requirements. By having a separate aluminum scope base, it allows the end user to select a 0, 20, or 40 MOA base depending on their needs. It also removes a small amount of weight, by being able to make the base out of aluminum verses chrome-moly steel. I've had scopes bases come loose on me in the past, and I personally tend to like an integrated base, but I can definitely see the benefits from a separate base. Any risk can easily be mitigated by doing regular maintenance and checking torque, which we should be doing anyway.

GA Tempest Action 6

I was fortunate to be given the unique opportunity of testing out the Tempest prototype about a year before its final release. We ran around a thousand rounds of .308 in a week through the action, with zero hiccups or feed issues. This just served to further spur my intense need to build my next competition rifle off of a Tempest, the second they became available. At the last SHOT show, GAP had two complete rifle builds in their booth based off the Tempest, with one having a cerakoted bolt and the other an ion bonded bolt.

I highly recommend if you're in the market for one of these actions, or a rifle built off of one, have the bolt body ion bonded. The smoothness and feel of the action is amazing, making the bolt throw feel like its on greased ball bearings, as opposed to requiring a small break-in period like many of my rifles done in Cerakote or similar coating have needed.

GA Precision Tempest Action RD 6

When I collected my funds together and ordered mine from GAP, I requested it with an ion bonded bolt, built off my favorite rifle stock, and chambered in 6.5mm Creedmoor. After the obligatory build time as is with all great custom rifles shops, I took possession of my very own personal Tempest build. I’m a large Accuracy International fan… scratch that, a huge AI fan. I've always loved their 60 degree bolt throw and buttery smooth actions. The problem though with AI's is that historically if you didn’t fit or like their chassis/stocks then you couldn’t enjoy the benefits of their actions. That has now changed thanks to the Tempest, which now allows anyone to have many of the benefits of the AI, plus some additional designed features thanks to GAP and the Mack brothers, yet you're able to drop it into a stock that comfortably fits you.

Change isn't always easy though. A new action with a 60 degree throw will requires some new muscle memory, but in the end the Tempest won’t disappoint. If you attempt to run it like a Remington 700, you'll find it creates some bind on the bolt itself. This isn't a problem with the action itself, but the shooter transitioning from a 90 to a 60 degree bolt throw. Once you've figured out that there's a lot less effort needed, just pull straight rearward, push directly forward, without vertical or downward pressure, then the action becomes effortless to operate. The 60 degree bolt throw helps you shoot and rack the bolt with minimal head movement and effort. This translates to faster follow up shots, and an ability to maintain a better sight picture during strings of fire. Plus, with previous guns machined to accept double-stack magazines, they were never quite perfect, and prone to sporadic rough feeds or hiccups during hard use. Those issues don't exist with the Tempest. The 6 lug bolt lets the Tempest feed perfectly every time with solid control of the round the entire length into the chamber. My time with the new Tempest build has met all my expectations, and the production model proved nicer than the prototype I had played with over a year ago.

It's never an easy thing to develop a new product in an established market full of clones and copies. It takes real thought, time, and innovation to identify and design your desired features, then combine them into a single usable package. George and G.A. Precision did just that with the Tempest. The Tempest offers more features yet little compromise. It's a legitimate step in bolt action evolution that will hopefully force other companies get out of their own pool of Kool-aide, and with luck propel a change that helps further the industry.

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