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Gunwerks Nexus Bolt-Action Switch-Barrel Rifle in 6.5 and .300 PRC

This Gunwerks Nexus bolt-action switch-barrel rifle with an aluminum action and leather stock inserts is the most boundary-pushing rifle the author has encountered.

Gunwerks Nexus Bolt-Action Switch-Barrel Rifle in 6.5 and .300 PRC

Cleverly named, this rifle is built on an all-new aluminum action dubbed the NXT and a stock of unprecedented design labeled the Nexus. It’s a switch-barrel, multi-caliber, feature-driven shooting and hunting tool the likes of which America has not seen. It’s made by Gunwerks, a leader in premium long-range hunting instruments.

Gunwerks Nexus NXT aluminum action and bolthead that locks directly into each barrel's breech
The NXT action is aluminum. Boltheads lock directly into the barrel breech, providing repeatable stellar accuracy.

Built Like an Italian Sports Car

The Gunwerks Nexus system’s base is the machined-from-billet 7075 aluminum action. As a material, aluminum has certain advantages. It’s super-light. It’s easy to machine precisely. Its surface can be anodized to extreme hardness. And it won’t ever rust. However, aluminum is not strong enough to host the barrel and bolt lugs and serve to join the two when the bolt is in battery. To use aluminum for the action, the bolt locking lugs must interface with the breech of the steel barrel. So Gunwerks designed a high-grade stainless-steel barrel extension, into which the barrel shank is threaded and blended.

The extension is CNC-machined to extremely tight tolerances and mates with the bolthead, which is likewise held to exceptional tolerances. Headspace is controlled by these two parts, which enables the switch-barrel capability.

To swap barrels, simply loosen the two T25 torque-head crossbolts in the bottom of the front receiver ring, open the bolt, and pull the existing barrel out. Slide in the other barrel, using the orienting notch to line it up. Close the bolt and torque the two screws to the recommended specs. Done.

Initially, the Nexus system is chambered for 6.5 PRC and .300 PRC. The two cartridges have the same case head size, so there’s no need to swap the bolthead when changing calibers. However, swapping that bolthead is easy and toolless, which provides future potential for a whole array of other cartridges.

Savvy riflemen will note that the 6.5 PRC and the .300 PRC are cartridges of vastly different lengths. Obviously, the NXT action is long enough to house the .300 PRC, which is a true magnum-length, 3.70-inch cartridge. It also plays well with the medium-short, 2.955-inch 6.5 PRC cartridge. Yes, the bolt throw is longer than it needs to be for the 6.5 PRC, and action weight is slightly greater than it needs to be with the shorter round, but configurability and versatility drives the Nexus system. To my mind, the tradeoff is worth it.

Gunwerks Nexus six-lug bolt assembly
The bolt has six lugs, in a tandem take on the classic three-lug configuration. The 3D-printed steel extractor reliably hauls fired cases from the chamber, and tandem ejectors toss them out the port.

Unlike the ClymR and Magnus and other Gunwerks models, the NXT features a six-lug bolthead (tandem lugs in a three-lug configuration). As a result, bolt lift is short (65 degrees) and fast to operate. Gunwerks engineers optimized the extraction cam system to provide easy bolt lift. Extraction is sure and reliable, courtesy of a unique 3D-printed extractor optimized for extraction and directional ejection. Paired with dual ejection plungers, it hurls empty cartridge cases out the ejection port at exactly the correct angle—no interference with big windage turrets on scopes here.

On the far end of the bolt, the cocking piece interface with the trigger sear has a vertical face. While seemingly a small thing, this eliminates the upward-tilting pressure that angled cocking-piece interfaces commonly apply to the back end of most bolts and makes for truer, more consistent bolt-to-barrel alignment.

The single-stage trigger has an adjustable shoe—as in adjustable for length of pull. This enables the user to adjust it for a perfect reach, placing the trigger finger in optimal position and eliminating torque from the shooting-hand grasp.

Thanks to an exceedingly light firing pin and some other secret juju, the NXT’s locktime is fast—around 30 to 40 percent faster than most conventional custom actions.

Another feature of the bolt that I’m partial to is the three-position, firing-pin-blocking safety built into the bolt shroud. I grew up with Mauser, Springfield, and Winchester Model 70 actions, all of which feature a safety that captures and blocks the firing pin rather than just blocking the trigger, and I’m a big fan of the added protection such designs provide.

When rotated to the rearmost position, the safety locks the bolt closed—another feature I appreciate. And, of course, the middle position keeps the rifle “Safe” while allowing the bolt to be opened and the chamber cleared.


Gunwerks Nexus detachable magazine
The detachable magazine is machined from billet aluminum. It is flush-fitting and top-loadable.

Atop the front and rear receiver bridges, 1913-spec Picatinny optic rails are machined integral to the action and incorporate 20 MOA of elevation. This is the strongest scope base type, and it makes mounting a scope nice and tight to the action very easy.

The NXT action is fed by a machined-from-billet, double-stack, detachable magazine. It is not compatible with AICS-type magazines because, according to Gunwerks, AICS magazine systems aren’t good enough.

That statement got my attention, but after reflecting a moment, I had to agree. AICS mags are like truck hitches—adaptable across a broad spectrum of hauling tasks. They’re not a part you’d associate with an Italian sports car. Nexus rifles are like Italian sports cars.

One characteristic of AICS magazines that Gunwerks was unwilling to accept is that for the most part they can’t be topped off while in the action. Top-feeding and top-loading is often critical to a hunting rifle. The machined-aluminum NXT magazine allows both.

Gunwerks’s magazine fits rattle-free; provides plenty of inner length for long cartridges and stretched-out, high-ballistic-coefficient bullets; and incorporates shoulder support to protect bullet tips from damage during recoil.

Nexus rifle systems are built with carbon-fiber-wrapped barrels, in a choice of 20 or 24 inches. Directional brakes come standard, enabling shooters to tune the brake to minimize the right-leaping muzzle jump imparted by right-twist rifling. And all barrels feature proper match-grade, handlapped bores of premium quality.

If you’re wondering what the accuracy specification is, well, Aaron Davidson of Gunwerks deplores accuracy guarantees. He says they are too manipulatable.

Gunwerks Nexus carbon-fiber stock
The stock is made of high-quality carbon fiber, and it uniquely features premium leather inserts.

Instead, every Gunwerks rifle must pass a rigorous accuracy spec test before being shiped. That spec is a seven-shot, 0.75-inch group fired from 100 yards, without allowing the barrel to cool. “Three-shot groups are easy,” said Davidson. “If half-MOA is your thing, our rifles will easily do that with three shots.”

Like the NXT action, the Nexus stock is a big departure from the norm. At first glance, the most noticeable difference is the leather inserts on the grip and comb (cheekrest) areas. This feature has sparked a lot of feedback, both negative and positive. Shooters either love it or hate it. According to Davidson, Gunwerks used leather because it’s a distinctive touch—a premium, luxury component. In a way, it turns a tool built of space-age composites into an instrument finished with peerless class.

Another distinct and obvious departure is the inclusion of a built-in full-length aluminum ARCA rail on the bottom of the fore-end. A wide dovetail-type rail, the ARCA is overwhelmingly popular with today’s long-range practical precision shooting crowd and enables a shooter to position a bipod or tripod at any point along the fore-end. Or nearly so. In the case of the Nexus stock, the rail tapers to the Picatinny rail at the fore-end tip, enabling the use of traditional bipods.

At the rear, the ARCA rail morphs into the magazine well for the machined aluminum magazine and the trigger guard. Flush-fitting QD sling attachment cups are integrated into both sides of the rear of the stock and into the rail near the fore-end tip.

Inside, there’s an aluminum bedding block with a recoil lug locking block. I’ve always been a glass-and-pillar-bedding kinda guy, but there’s no debating that the Gunwerks system provides consistent, top-shelf accuracy.

The ergonomics of the Nexus are next level. The near-vertical grip fills the palm and positions the shooting hand to perfection, free of torque. A built-in thumb shelf further enhances consistency. Beneath the buttstock, the toe line has what Gunwerks terms a shallow line, meaning it’s not quite parallel to the bore, but it does not drop off steeply, either. Its advantages are twofold: It rides a rear support bag nearly straight back through recoil, and it can also be used for fine adjustments to elevate or lower the point of aim.

The comb has a negative angle, so it drops away from the cheek during recoil, and the feel of the leather is like coming home. I worked for several years as a custom saddlemaker, and there are few things I love more than the feel of good leather. On that note, the grip feels wonderful, too.

Of course, the primary stock material is carbon fiber. And it’s good carbon fiber, properly laid out, of robust thickness, and filled with a dense, strong fill.

Nexus rifles will have a natural aluminum color type III hard-coat anodizing on the action, black nitride on the steel parts, and natural matte black carbon fiber on the stock. For now, no fancy paint jobs or Cerakote finishes are offered.

Gunwerks Nexus Accuracy and Velocity Results Chart

Shoots Like a Dream

I was introduced to the Nexus at a pre-launch writer event. Springtime in Cody, Wyoming, is beautiful—and cold and windy. After a classroom seminar detailing the unique features of the system, we toured the factory, seeing firsthand how the Nexus is manufactured. I then had the pleasure of assembling a Nexus rifle, nearly every part and pin, after which we headed into the nearby mountains to do some shooting.

Gunwerks instructors had paper and steel targets set out at a variety of distances. The Nexus I assembled—and planned to use on spring bear back home—had a .300 PRC barrel. I like to wallop game hard—particularly bears.

To my surprise, the recoil was mild. Part of that was due to the Gunwerks 8IGHT suppressor on the muzzle, but a large part was due to the rifle’s excellent design. I’ve fired a lot of .300 PRC rifles with aggressive muzzle brakes or suppressors, and no doubt about it, the Nexus is hands down the softest-shooting of the lot.

The rifle was accurate, too, printing tidy groups on the 100-yard paper. Wyoming wind notwithstanding, I managed to ring distant steel targets without difficulty.

Two weeks later, hunting in big mountain country, my daughter Audrey (age 14) shot a nice color-phase boar from 301 yards with the Nexus. We were told later that it was the first bear ever taken with the Nexus system! My daughter Sophie (age 10) followed suit on a nice sow that hit the same bait. Then my wife, Jenna, cleanly took a magnificent old bear with teeth worn nearly to the gum with a single shot on a different bait some 94 yards away.

In the same month, my friend Rob Gearing and I used the same Nexus rifle in Namibia. Rob shot a beautiful oryx bull from a couple hundred yards, and I managed to drop a running ostrich (on a control effort) from 470 yards. Clearly, the ergonomics of the Nexus system work, promoting consistent accuracy.

Rob and I did note that the Nexus, as set up with a Leupold 3.6-18X 44mm Mark 5HD riflescope, is too heavy for rigorous hunting in rough country. We hunted big free-range kudu in Namibia’s mountainous thornbush desert, and when roller-skating on loose, jagged rocks on steep, rocky ridgelines thickly encumbered with thorny bushes, the Nexus was a bit of an anchor. Candidly, it’s better suited for front-country hunting where you’ll sit more than you’ll hike.

Of course, I test-fired the Nexus on my home range as well with the .300 PRC factory ammunition I had on hand, which consisted of two hunting loads from Hornady. Unfortunately, I had no match ammo, but Hornady’s 212-grain ELD-X Precision Hunter factory load turned in a very impressive 0.51-inch average over a series of three consecutive three-shot groups. Hornady’s Outfitter ammo topped with the company’s new 190-grain CX bullet posted a respectable 1.05-inch average.

Fellow writer Tom Beckstrand reviewed a Nexus in 6.5 PRC for ST’s sister mag azine Guns & Ammo, and I was interested to see that he reported it’s the most accurate rifle he’s ever fired. That says a great deal.

As I understand it, Gunwerks is working on a high-capacity magazine for the Nexus. Once that comes out, the system will surely become a power player in the sport of NRL Hunter competition. It’s ideally suited and enables the shooter to swap barrels out as needed.

The Nexus price tag is $5,375. Granted, that’s a lot, but it is actually the lowest-priced rifle in the company’s stable. Extra barrels will run somewhere around $1,350.

The Gunwerks Nexus system is considerably more complex than your grandaddy’s Remington Model 700. It is not, if I may say so, an entry-level rifle. It’s a premium, adaptable shooting tool for the connoisseur, and in that realm, it’s the most boundary-pushing rifle I’m aware of.


  • MANUFACTURER: Gunwerks,
  • TYPE: Bolt-action repeater
  • CALIBER: 6.5 PRC, .300 PRC (interchangeable barrels)
  • BARREL: 24 in.
  • OVERALL LENGTH: 44.75 in.
  • WEIGHT, EMPTY: 7.63 lbs.
  • STOCK: Carbon fiber with leather grip and comb inserts
  • LENGTH OF PULL: 13.5 in.
  • FINISH: Natural anodized aluminum, matte black carbon fiber
  • SIGHTS: None; 20-MOA rail bases integral to receiver
  • TRIGGER: 2.19-lb. pull (as tested)
  • SAFETY: Three-position
  • MSRP: $5,375

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