Eventually Mawhinney teamed up with Andrew Hendrick, who owns Riflecraft, Ltd., in the United Kingdom, a company that sells and modifies shooting equipment, and trains professional shooters. In 2006 Mawhinney and Hendrick approached Michael Haugen of Remington, a Special Forces sniper and, at the time, Remington’s military projects manager, about making another, more exact version of the M40. It took a few years, but eventually the rifles appeared, with the actions stamped CBM8541—Charles Benjamin Mawhinney’s initials and his Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) designation. Only 103 were made, one for each of Mawhinney’s confirmed kills.
Modifications were made to each rifle after it left the Remington factory. George Gardner of G.A. Precision free-floated the barrels and pillar-bedded the actions in Marine-Tex, then had Chuck Mawhinney’s signature and the rifle’s individual number from 001 to 103 engraved on the floorplate.
Each rifle also needed a scope. Since Leupold had purchased Redfield they worked with Kevin Trepa, a former Marine officer and vice-president of Leupold’s military and law enforcement branch, to produce a 3-9X scope. Marty Bordson of Badger Ordnance had an original M40 mount, a Redfield modified specifically for the M40, and provided reproductions for the project.
The rifles are more faithful to the original M40 than the first Remington reproduction, right down to the clip-loading slots in the top of the action. “The clips were useless, of course, because of the scope and mount,” Mawhinney explained, “but the slots were there on the original rifle.”
Almost everything else is also exactly the same, from the alloy buttplate to the heavy 24-inch barrel with a 1:12-inch right-hand twist. In fact, the entire rifle weighs 9 3/4 pounds, precisely the same as Mawhinney’s. There’s even a green webbing sling, very close to the sling issued with the original rifle.
One last little problem was ammunition. The load used in Vietnam was 173-grain Lake City match, and a very close approximation was supplied by Black Hills Ammunition, the South Dakota company that makes exceptional ammunition for everything from Cowboy Action Shooting to law enforcement. Jeff Hoffman, owner of Black Hills, supplied its 175-grain boattail hollow-point match load, which Chuck Mawhinney uses to personally break-in and sight-in every rifle.
“First I scrub each bore with JB Compound to do a little polishing, then shoot eight rounds, cleaning the bore between each with Bore-Tech Eliminator. By the time I’m done, every barrel is really smooth. All the rifles group half an inch or less at 100 yards, and some will do a quarter-inch.” He keeps a log book of the date and number of rounds fired through each rifle.
The rifle I tested was number 029. It was fired at the 100-yard range with the Black Hills ammunition. The single five-shot group fired at paper to confirm the sight-in measured 0.48 inches from center to center, with the three shots in the middle of the group making a single, much smaller hole. Aiding this performance, the smooth trigger pull averaged just a hair more than 3 pounds.
Chuck Mawhinney still loves to shoot. His original M40 was eventually rediscovered at the Weapons Training Battalion at Marine Base Quantico, and in 1996 was retrofitted to the same configuration as when he used it in Vietnam. It is now on display at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Va., and except for wear and the lack of the autograph on the floorplate looks just like the new Mawhinney rifle.