American Rifle Company Nucleus

After running the American Rifle Company Nucleus action for 9 months, I finally have a user review for the team. I have ran the American Rifle Company Nucleus with multiple calibers, and several different precision rifle matches. Rain, snow, dust, and everything in between. By far one of the most reliable actions I have used. The functionality with feeding, chambering, extracting, and ejecting has been top notch. (This is MY experience. I do not speak for anyone other than myself in this regard.) I have zero affiliation with American Rifle Company and this action was purchased out of pocket by choice. Based upon my needs for a control-round feed, reliable action with swappable bolt faces to accommodate for different cartridge sizes, this action fit the bill.

Tough As Nails…

Moving into the fit and finish, I will say the coating they use is tough as nails! After thousands of rounds, transportation to and from locations, and harsh use in the field, this action still looks pretty much new. The only signs of wear are on the bolt body from cycling the bolt. In this case it is ideal to wear the bolt down for smooth operations wearing the components together. I have been thoroughly enjoying the choice of bolt knob and the sensation of the bolt operation. This action is NOT the smoothest on the lift of the bolt during extraction due to the camming of the bolt and the cocking mechanism with this particular setup. (This can be fixed by switching certain component combos that ARC offers. ) With that being said, after running it for a while, you start to enjoy the mechanical sensation of operating it. I would say it’s similar to the Accuracy International actions in terms of clunky, but “ADDICTING.” Transitioning to other precision rifle actions after becoming accustomed to this action, you will begin to miss the way the bolt feels during operation. If you want the absolute buttery bolt operation, then this might not be favorable. For myself, it took a bit for me to get used to, but now I run it lightning fast and aggressive while maintaining 100% reliability. (UPDATE MARCH 13TH 2023: FIRING PIN SPRING REPLACEMENT FROM 25LB TO 21LB PER AMERICAN RIFLE COMPANY HAS FULLY CHANGED MY OPINION OF THE OPERATION OF THIS ACTION AND IT IS SMOOTH AS BUTTER. ALL ABOVE STATEMENTS WERE MY OPINION PRIOR TO UPGRADED TO A LIGHTER SPRING.) THANKS TEAM.

The bolt features a solid stainless bolt-stop that is damn near indestructible. It allows you to “GRIP IT AND RIP IT!”

American Rifle Company Nucleus

The action uses an inertial ejector common amongst control-feed action. My personal favorite actions for the Dasher/BR cartridges are control feed with inertial ejectors. They feed flawlessly and allow you to control the ejection pattern based on how aggressive you run the bolt. For bench shooting, you can easily maintain a spent shell in the action or launch it 20 feet during a stage in a match where you need to clear and chamber rounds rapidly. Above in this photo you can see the side of the action and the cutout for the inertial ejector. As stated before, the bolt stop is a stainless bar that captures the bolt without putting any pressure on the ejector. This means under no circumstance will you ever break an ejector from running the bolt too aggressively. Huge thing for us is reliability. We need these rifles to do only a few things. Mainly “work.”

Flawless Performance During Finale…

I ran the American Rifle Company Nucleus during the Precision Rifle Series Regional Finale with nothing but high praise. The action was 100% reliable for both days in the high heat, dust and debris. I was super impressed how little-to-no oil was required to keep it cruising through stages without issue. I began to enjoy the bolt during this match and the sensation of operating the bolt during extraction. The action had zero feeding issues for both days running PMAGS and the XLR chassis and our new wildcat 25BRX.

The American Rifle Company Nucleus features an adjustable firing pin that is also a bayonet style for easy removal. The action has an integral recoil lug and the 20MOA rail is secured with 6 beefy bolts. Definitely a step up from some other companies such as production factory actions. Although we do not tend to play with the mass produced consumer-grade actions, Comparing something like this is no contest. Much higher quality. Another point I would like to mention is the firing pin to bolt face clearance. My action has some seriously tight tolerances. Looking at primers from brass, I almost never see any “puddling” from pressure signs. We like to run “spicy” match ammo and have yet to have puddling at all. Very impressive to see.
Precision Sizing Dies
With CCI 450 Magnum primers, you can see the firing pin strike and how there is zero puddling. You can also see a slight ejector slot mark from pressure. Even under these conditions with match ammo, still no signs of puddling unlike so many other action companies. Others may differ, but this particular action functions perfect. One other thing to note, This is nothing scientific. This is also not excessive pressure. I have personally ran much hotter ammo. This functions merely as an illustration of the topic.
Lets get some gripes out the way so this doesn’t seem biased. The tear down of the bolt drives me nuts. It’s so easy even a Marine can do it. The issue I have is there is no way to remove the firing pin and run the bolt for something like a feeding check for dummy rounds similar to how a Bighorn action does. I understand mechanically why that is. I understand clearly how the bolt works. It’s more of a Bighorn VS Nucleus gripe. After switching from the Bighorn to one of these actions which are very similar in design, not being able to do that simple thing was very annoying. We switch and test a lot of barrels over here along with normal match use. It was one of those things you didn’t know you would miss until you don’t have it. Gripe #2, the extractor is based off the Mauser claw and is mechanically a marvel and totally overkill (which I love.) What I do not like is how trying to chamber a dummy round or an empty case for whatever testing were doing is almost impossible to do without having to do funky manipulation to get the case up and into the bolt face behind the claw. Same thing with the go-no-go gauges for chambering a barrel. You have to physically hook it in so as to not damage anything. THIS IS JUST GRIPES. NONE OF THIS IS A BIG DEAL. LET ME MAKE THIS PERFECTLY CLEAR. ALL ACTIONS HAVE SOMETHING ANNOYING ABOUT THEM.

Above is a finished chambered barrel from us at Goat Valley Precision specifically for the American Rifle Company Nucleus. For a machinist, This is about the easiest barrel to chamber for an action. Nothing super fancy involved. These actions are super consistent, consequentially can reliably chamber barrels and swap them between actions without having head-spacing problems. I absolutely love this about the ARC actions. They are extremely repeatable and I have the highest level of respect for them because of their tolerances. I have yet to have a shouldered pre-fit not fit tight, and exact on headspace action-to-action. We do a lot of ARC barrels and so far no drama.
Overall I am extremely happy with this action and its reliability and function. I think there is no way to go wrong with purchasing one of the Gen 2 iterations of one. Shy of the soon to be released model coming out, it is still a very viable action for any possible use. I generally think to myself, “Would I run this in combat?” The answer is unequivocally “Yes.” Under my personal observations, under the conditions I have put mine through, with proper maintenance, It should easily be able to out-perform current operational actions. Again, this is coming from a retired Army Sniper and competitive shooter. (I tend to break everything). I have had nothing but 100% reliability with mine so far.


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