Can you list all the serious problems that excessive headspace can cause? For that matter, could you even explain what, exactly, is meant by the term “headspace”? If not, you should watch this instructional video from Brownells. This video defines the term “headspace”, explains why proper headspacing is critically important, and illustrates how headspace gauges work.
Headspace is a measurement from the bolt-face to a point in the chamber. This point of measurement will vary based on the type of cartridge. Improper headspace, either excessive or (conversely) under SAAMI specifications, can cause a variety of problems, many serious.
Problems Caused by Too Much Headspace
Excessive headspace issues can include: light primer strikes, failure to fire, bulged/blown cases, case separations, split shoulders, or unseated primers after firing. Case ruptures caused by excessive headspace can lead to catastrophic failures causing serious injury. That is why headspace is such an important measurement.
Problems Cause by Too Little Headspace
Insufficent (or excessively tight) headspace can prevent the firearm from going into battery, resulting in failure to fire or deformation of the cartridge case. Various feeding and functioning problems can be caused by cases with too little headspace, even if a round can be chambered (with effort).
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Top to bottom – Remington firing pin assembly with ISS, Tubb SpeedLock alloy-composite system without ISS (current versions have dual, opposite-wound springs), and Remington short action firing pin assembly without ISS.
Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. Last week’s “Handloading Hump Day” article covered mechanical issues and related ignition irregularities that can cause vertical fliers even with good ammunition in an otherwise excellent rifle. We highly recommend you read this article, which offers some important tech tips.
Vertical Dispersion: Mechanical/Ignition Issues?
Poor or inconsistent ignition has long been known to be one of the “usual suspects” when one encounters vertical fliers that just shouldn’t be there. By having a sense of some of the basic principles involved, and a few basic areas to check, the shooter may avoid colsiderable frustration, not to mention time, expensive loading components and barrel wear.
Is your well-built rifle of high-quality components plagued with vertical fliers across more than 1-3 handload combinations? Consider the bedding, crown and scope/sight mounts. Are they correct? If so, then you might check for ignition issues before boldly undertaking an extensive, expensive, and quite possibly fruitless quest for the “magic handload”.
SEEING IS BELIEVING: While the author had been aware for many years that poor ignition should be considered and ruled out when dealing with vertical fliers in an otherwise-excellent rifle, actually seeing the problem and its almost instantaneous cure really drove the lesson home.
He was working with a “dot” rifle – a .22 LR match rifle that really stacked bullets into little piles at 50 yards and beyond. With one lot of ELEY Tenex, it produced consistent “bughole” groups at 50, but with another, selected lot of Tenex, similar groups were regularly ruined by single, vertical fliers that did not appear in other rifles. Rather than spending days burning up expensive, select ammunition looking for “magic lots”, he contacted a well-respected rimfire gunsmith and explained the situation.
Without so much as batting an eye, the highly-experienced ‘smith tore into the rifle’s action, and quickly found the cause(s) of the problem. He discovered a demonstrably weak firing pin spring, plus a chip out of the face of the firing pin where it contacted the cartridge rim.
After replacing and tuning the offending parts, the rifle immediately began shooting tiny, bughole groups with the previously “unacceptable” lot of Tenex. Centerfire rifles can also benefit from ensuring positive, consistent ignition. A wise riflesmith is literally worth his weight in gold!
So, what are some issues we as shooters can inspect in our rifles to help determine if ignition woes could be part of our problem? At the club level, ask yourself if that “experienced” Remington, Winchester 70, or even Springfield-based match bolt gun you’re using is still running its’ original 40-80 year-old factory striker spring? If so, a new replacement is cheap insurance against current or future problems. (And BTW, it might be best to stick to the normal, factory-spec spring weight. A super-powerful spring can cause vertical, just as a weak one one can.) Along with that, a routine check for proper firing-pin protrusion is a quick preventive measure that can rule out potential issues.
Other areas to consider are the centering and consistency of the firing pin’s operation in the bolt. Admittedly, with the increasing use of precision-machined custom actions, this is becoming less an issue every day. Below is the firing pin assembly from a custom BAT action:
However, particularly with factory actions, a very quick and easy check is to remove the bolt, let the firing pin go forward, and look at the firing pin tip through the firing pin hole. Is the tip off-center in the hole, and possibly striking it as it moves forward? Is the hole out-of-round or burred from being struck repeatedly? If so, a trip to the riflesmith is likely in order.
Similarly, machining issues in the bolt/firing pin system can lead to rough and erratic firing pin movement, in which the firing pin drags against an internal surface of the bolt. In high-quality rifles these issues are relatively rare, but not unheard-of, and it takes mere minutes to rule them out. It may be worthwhile to remove the cocking piece/firing pin/spring assembly and look for any unusual gouges, dings, peening, burrs or signs of abnormal wear.
This task is especially easy with Winchester 70s, Springfields, and the similar Mauser 98s, involving little more than the push of a button and unscrewing the cocking piece assembly. This is just one of the many reasons these tried-and-true actions have earned such a loyal following in the field, among hunters who must maintain their rifles away from a shop.
Particularly with older rifles, watch for and remove excess grease (or even Cosmoline!) from both the firing pin assembly and inside the bolt. This can help improve firing pin speed and consistency. Other bolt-action designs may need a take-down tool or other measures.
As part of this inspection, AFTER ENSURING THE RIFLE IS UNLOADED, slowly cock the rifle, dry-fire, and repeat several times. Listen carefully near the action for inconsistency in the sounds it generates. Does the striker falling make the same sound each time? Do you hear or feel grinding upon operation? If so, where?
Be sure to check the operation of the cocking piece (bolt shroud), firing pin within the bolt shroud, the cocking piece cam and the rear of the bolt body where the cocking piece cam operates. As with our examination for abnormal wear marks discussed above, look for marks indicating roughness or a possible need for light polishing. Then, clean and lightly grease the bearing surfaces while you’re at it.
Remington 700 bolt shroud and cocking cam
These are relatively easy checks that shooters can undertake to perform a preliminary inspection on their own. Other mechanical issues can also cause ignition issues, chiefly centered around the action of the trigger, sear and sear spring. If these are suspected, a trip to an experienced, qualified riflesmith for diagnosis is recommended. We hope you find this information helpful! Join us again next week, and in the meantime, enjoy the shooting sports safely!
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A customer of well-known gunsmith (and Hall-of-Fame shooter) Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez recently asked Speedy about bedding compounds. Speedy offered some interesting advice based on long-term testing of various materials. Speedy favors Marine-Tex because it is very stable over time, while other materials can shrink up to 6% dimensionally. A good bedding job should be a perfect fit to your barreled action. If the bedding material shrinks over time, that is NOT a good thing….
Speedy’s customer asked: “I know you’re not a Devcon man in regards to bedding compounds but I respect your input in such matters and my question is this in regard to aluminum actions. If Devcon was considered, for an aluminum action, would you prefer aluminum compound formula or steel formula? I personally prefer Devcon steel and Marine-Tex for steel receivers but my experience with aluminum is limited. Also do you have a release agent preference that works better with aluminum?”
Speedy answered: “My only preference of one epoxy over another is their stability over time. My buddy who works for the Texas State Weights and Measures Department had me cast several of the most common types of epoxies used for bedding into 1.000″ machined blocks. After one year of being kept in a controlled climate and measured for shrinkage monthly, the Marine Tex shrunk only 1/10th of 1% (i.e. 0.1%) whereas almost all the others (including Devcon Steel formula, Devcon Aluminum formula…) shrunk 3% to 6%. The only other compounds that matched the Marine Tex were Araldite 1253 and Araldite 2014, with the latter being quite expensive for daily use.”
Speedy added: “The Marine Tex Grey has no atomized metal in its makeup even though it appears that it does. This can be proven by the use of a strong neodymium magnet. What is humorous to me is that people don’t like aluminum yet will bed their actions atop aluminum pillars that have twice the coefficient of expansion (COE) of steel. Like Devcon, it is what people have always done and used. Thus [they] perpetuate the same old stuff. That’s my two cents’ worth. But as I tell everyone, ‘I’ll tell you what I know or do, but it’s not my job to convince anyone to do it my way’.”
Release Agents — Try Shoe Polish
Regarding release agents, Speedy stated: “I use Kiwi Neutral or Tan shoe polish. This works great and you can find it anywhere. Do NOT use the black or brown as it will stick.”
View More Photos of Speedy Inletting and Bedding Job CLICK HERE to see an interesting bedding job done by Speedy using a custom titanium bedding block. Speedy notes, “The stock was a raw blank requiring full inletting for the action to fit properly plus the titanium block. All the loading ports, bolt handle cut, bolt stop, and trigger guard cuts were done with diamond tooling to eliminate fraying and/or delamination of the wood.” You’ll find more projects by Speedy on his Facebook Page. Speedy is in San Antonio, Texas now, and accepting new projects with his company S.G. Rifles LLC.
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There are many reasons you might want to make a chamber cast. You may have acquired an older rifle and need to verify the chamber dimensions. Or, if you have a new reamer, you may want to check the exact “cut” dimensions against the blueprint specs. A chamber casting is also valuable if you run across a firearm that you believe has a custom barrel on it and you want to find out the dimensions of the chamber. Lastly, you may want to prepare a chamber casting to be used in the making of custom dies. (Most reloading die makers know how to work from Cerrosafe chamber casts.)
Cerrosafe is a metal alloy that has some unique properties which make it ideal for chamber casting. First, it has a relatively low melting point of 158 to 190° Fahrenheit. This makes it easy for the handloader to melt the Cerrosafe in his home shop. Second, it shrinks slightly during cooling which allows it to be extracted from the chamber easily. It then re-expands to the chamber’s original size after about one hour at room temperature. After cooling for about 200 hours, the chamber cast will expand to about .0025″ larger than the actual chamber size.
One of our Forum members has done many Cerrosafe castings and he offers this smart advice:
1. Remove the barrel from the action to make the pour much easier. If you don’t remove the barrel, it can be hard to pour through the action (even with a funnel) and can make a mess if you’re not careful.
2. Pre-heat the barrel for 5-10 minutes in the oven on the very lowest setting (170° F in my oven). (DON’T overdo it!). Allow to cool for a couple minutes so you can pick it up and it is under 120° F. Pre-heating the barrel helps the Cerrosafe stay liquid as you pour the casting. This helps ensure a good, complete fit to the chamber.
How to Use Cerrosafe for Chamber Casting
The basic ingredient of Cerrosafe is bismuth. Bismuth is a heavy, coarse, crystalline metal which expands when it solidifies, up to 3.3% of its volume. When bismuth is alloyed with other metals, such as lead, tin, cadmium and indium, this expansion is modified according to the relative percentages of bismuth and other components present. As a general rule, bismuth alloys of approximately 50% bismuth exhibit little change of volume during solidification. Alloys containing more than this tend to expand during solidification and those containing less tend to shrink during solidification.
What all this means for the gunsmith is that you can make chamber castings using only Cerrosafe and a few, simple hand tools. To make a chamber casting, first clean and degrease the chamber. Use a tight-fitting, cotton patch that’s wrapped around a bore mop or brush to plug the bore just ahead of the throat. I usually leave the cleaning rod attached to the plug until it’s time to remove the plug. Melt the entire bar of Cerrosafe in a heatproof container that you can easily pour the hot Cerrosafe out of. You can use a propane torch or heat over a hot plate or the burner of a stove. Cerrosafe melts easily at 158°-195° F. While the casting metal is still liquid, stir very well, skim off the dross, and pour your chamber. The real trick with Cerrosafe is not to overheat it. If you heat the solid slowly, and keep it within the required temperature range, you shouldn’t get any dross.
Note the time the casting was poured. The casting will take only a very short time to solidify, usually within a minute. Wait 30 minutes and then remove the plug from the bore. Turn the muzzle upward and the casting will fall from the chamber. At 30 minutes after initial solidification, Cerrosafe shrinks slightly, so removal is very easy. Allow the new casting to cool thoroughly then measure the casting exactly one hour from the time it was cast. The casting will give you an exact measurement of the chamber. Cerrosafe casting metal can be used over and over. Remelt the entire amount back together and pour the Cerrosafe into a small mold of the appropriate size. Always melt the entire Cerrosafe ingot to make a chamber casting. For best results, never cut off, or use, just a part of the ingot.
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Production wood rifle stocks, both laminates and hardwoods, are commonly made with stock duplicating machines. Stock duplicators allow a stock-maker to copy a master design faithfully and efficiently. The video below, from Colorado rifle-maker Michael Cuypers, shows a stock duplicator (in automatic mode) cutting a piece of Turkish Walnut, for a mauser 98. This machine rotates the blank while a spinning vertical cutting head shapes and trims the blank. This duplicator manually tracks the shape/profile of the master blank. To make another stock, this process needs to be repeated, with the master in place. For more information about this duplicating machine, visit www.riflebuilders.com.
Watch Stock Duplicator in Progress
Future Technology: We are starting to see stocks made with CNC milling machines that cut stock profiles based on three-dimensional scans of master stock designs. However, the traditional mechanical duplicator process in the video is still most commonly used by most of today’s stock-makers.
Turkish Walnut — Where to Get a Beautiful Blank
The Bijou Creek video above shows a Turkish Walnut stock being roughed out. Turkish Walnut is some of the most beautifully figured wood available — but it can be pricy. If you are looking for this kind of ultra-high-grade wood, it makes sense to shop carefully. You’ll find a wide selection of Turkish Walnut blanks at the HunterBid.com website. Hundreds of selections are available at auction. Prices start as low as $150.00. The finest blanks sell for $1,000 or more. New blank selections are added to the website every other day. HunterBid.com is run by Chiron Inc., which is 100% owned by the Ergin family who are of Turkish origin. Chiron maintains warehouses in Dover, NH and Istanbul, Turkey.
Video find by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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What do you get when you cut a 6.5 Creedmoor-chambered barrel down to just over 16 inches? A lot more velocity than you might think. Our friends at Rifleshooter.com recently did a barrel cut-down test with 6.5 Creedmoor test rifle, shortening the barrel from 27 to 16.1 inches in one-inch increments. Surprisingly, with a 142gr Sierra MK, the total velocity loss (as measured with a Magnetospeed) was just 158 FPS, an average of 14.4 FPS per inch of barrel length. With the lighter 120gr A-Max bullet, the total velocity loss was 233 FPS, or 21.8 FPS average loss per inch of barrel.
Five (5) rounds of each type of cartridge were fired at each barrel length and the velocity data was recorded with a MagnetoSpeed V3 barrel-mounted chronograph. The rifle was then cleared and the barrel was cut back one inch at a time from 27″ to just over 16″. NOTE: During this winter test, the air temperature was a very chilly 23° F. One would expect higher velocities across the board had the outside temperature been higher.
The photo below shows how the barrel was cut down, inch-by-inch, using a rotary saw. The barrel was pre-scored at inch intervals. As the main purpose of the test was to measure velocity (not accuracy) the testers did not attempt to create perfect crowns.
6.5 Creedmoor vs. Other Mid-Sized 6.5mm Cartridges
The 6.5 Creedmoor is a very popular cartridge with the tactical and PRS crowd. This mid-size cartridge offers good ballistics, with less recoil than a .308 Winchester. There’s an excellent selection of 6.5mm bullets, and many powder choices for this cartridge. When compared to the very accurate 6.5×47 Lapua cartridge, the 6.5 Creedmoor offers similar performance with less expensive brass. For a tactical shooter who must sometimes leave brass on the ground, brass cost is a factor to consider. Here’s a selection of various 6.5 mm mid-sized cartridges. Left to right are: 6.5 Grendel, 6.5×47 Lapua, 6.5 Creedmoor with 120gr A-Max, 6.5 Creedmoor with 142gr Sierra MK, and .260 Remington.
When asked to compare the 6.5 Creedmoor to the 6.5×47 Lapua, Rifleshooter.com’s editor stated: “If you don’t hand load, or are new to precision rifle shooting, get a 6.5 Creedmoor. If you shoot a lot, reload, have more disposable income, and like more esoteric cartridges, get a 6.5×47 Lapua. I am a big fan of the 6.5×47 Lapua. In my personal experience, the 6.5×47 Lapua seems to be slightly more accurate than the 6.5 Creedmoor. I attribute this to the quality of Lapua brass.”
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A 7mm Snake for Santiago
Our friend Dennis Santiago has a reptilian rig in his arsenal. It’s actually an Eliseo R1 single-shot tubegun chambered in .284 Winchester. The eye-catching aspect of Santiago’s .284 bolt-gun is the snakeskin dip job on the exterior. This really creates a distinctive look. Dennis tells us: “It was Gary Eliseo’s idea to try a water-transfer printing finish for this rifle. There are many patterns to choose from — this is the WTP-260 Snakeskin Illusion-Fall Copper from WaterTransferPrinting.com. For a single shot LR gun, I figured something on the bright side would be interesting and pick up less heat from the sun in the summer.”
Dennis will use his new rifle in prone matches, where a single shot works fine. He says: “Underneath the hood, it’s a Rem 700 Long Action, chambered in .284 Win. Yes it’s a single shot! I don’t need anything else for a prone gun. Nothing to get in the way of building the perfect position.”
Dennis says: “Length of pull, offset and cast initially set the same as my similar RTS .308. My gun, my body dimensions.”
A FFP 6-24x50mm Sightron Rides on Top
The optic is a Sightron 6-24x50mm, FFP MOA-2. Dennis reports: “I looked at many scopes (within my determined price range), and this is the one that had the best combination of features for for this gun’s particular application. The sight line sits about 3 inches above bore line on these guns. It’s been leveled, bore-sighted and pre-dialed for a 200-yard estimated zero for the ammo I plan to use. Those are Gen II A.R.M.S. rings. Super easy to tailor to different rail widths. Same rock-steady steel performance.”
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Our friend, gunsmith/stockmaker Doan Trevor recently created a lovely, one-of-a-kind silhouette stock for an Anschutz rimfire action. Built as a true custom design, this stock combines ideal standing position ergonomics with light weight — the entire stock weighs a mere two pounds. This project really showcases Doan’s remarkable skills with wood. Read the full story about this project (with more photos) at DoanTrever.com.
Doan explains his design process: “A customer came to me wanting to know if I could build a silhouette stock that was 2 pounds or less. I used the Koa wood because it is a lower specific gravity than Walnut (which makes it lighter) and stronger. I was still able to use pillar bedding and keep the weight down. The fore end could be shortened to reduce the weight even more. Since the drops on a silhouette rifle are different than a prone rifle, I kept the pistol grip from the prone rifle which is comfortable and tried to come up with a higher cheek piece and more drop to the buttplate. All of this required lots of hand carving.”
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Craters may look interesting on the moon, but you don’t want to see them on your primers. Certain mechanical issues that cause primer craters can also cause primer piercing — a serious safety problem that needs to be addressed. If you have a gun that is cratering primers (even at moderate pressure levels), there is a solution that works with many rifles — send your bolt to Greg Tannel to have the firing pin hole bushed.
Shooters who convert factory actions to run 6BRs, 6PPCs or other high-pressure cartridges should consider having the firing pin bushed. These modern cartridges like to run at high pressures. When running stout loads, you can get cratering caused by primer flow around the firing pin hole in the bolt face. The reason is a little complicated, but basically the larger the hole, the less hydraulic pressure is required to crater the primer. A limited amount of cratering is normally not a big issue, but you can reduce the problem significantly by having a smith fit a bushing in the firing pin hole. In addition to reduced cratering, bushing the firing pin often produces more consistent ignition.
This is a highly recommended procedure that our editors have had done to their own rifles. Greg Tannel (Gre-Tan Rifles) is an expert at this procedure, and he does excellent work on a wide variety of bolts. Current price for a bushing job, which includes turning the firing pin to .062″, is $80.00, or $88.00 with USPS Priority Mail return shipping.
If you have a factory rifle, a bushed firing pin is the way to go if you are shooting the high-pressure cartridges such as 6PPC, 6BR, 6-6.5×47 and 6.5×47. This is one of the most cost-effective and beneficial upgrades you can do to your factory rifle. For more info on the Firing Pin Bushing process, visit GreTanRifles.com, or email greg [at] gretanrifles.com. (After clicking the link for GreTanRifles.com, Click on “Services” > “Shop Services” > “Bolt Work”, and you’ll see a listing for “Bush Firing Pin Hole & Turn Pin”. Select “View Details”.)
Firing Pin Hole Bushing by Greg Tannel
Work Done: Bush firing pin hole and turn pin.
Functions: Fixes your cratering and piercing problems.
Price: $80.00 + $8.00 return shipping Total Price: $88.00
Actions for which Bushing is Offered: Remington, Winchester, Savage multi-piece pin, Sako, Kimber, Nesika, Stiller, BAT Machine, Kelbly, Lawton, Surgeon, Borden, Wichita, Hall, Ruger, Howa, Weatherby, Dakota, Pacific Tool, Phoenix, and Defiant bolt action rifle or pistol.
Actions for which Bushing is NOT Available: Case hardened receivers, ARs, Accuracy International (AI), Barnard, Big Horn, Cooper, Desert Tactical Arms, Kimber, Rosenthal, New Savage single piece pin, Rimfires, Falling block, Break-open, Lever, Pump rifles, 1903-A3, CZ, Mauser.
How to send your bolt in to be bushed:
You can send your bolt snail mail, priority mail, or UPS (Please do not use FEDEX as it sometimes has delivery delays). Pack your bolt carefully and ship to: Gre’-Tan Rifles, 24005 Hwy. 13, Rifle CO 81650. Please include your name, phone number, and return shipping address.
Due to the high volume of work, turn around is 5 to 8 weeks on bushing a bolt. Three or more bolts will be sent back to you UPS and we will have to calculate shipping. We can overnight them at your expense. You can pay by check, money order, or credit card. For more information visit GretanRifles.com.
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Want to upgrade your AR’s trigger? Shooting USA and Brownells have created a video tutorial that shows how to remove a factory AR trigger and replace it with an upgrade. This video illustrates the procedures to follow and the tools you’ll need. Step-by-step, the video explains how to swap the factory trigger group for a self-contained ‘box style’ drop-in trigger module or a traditional (multi-part) trigger system with enhanced performance.
Many AR-15s come from the factory with a military-type trigger that has a long, gritty, heavy pull. Replacing that trigger is one of the best ways to improve your AR’s performance. You’ll be rewarded with a smoother pull, shorter take-up, and reduced pull weight. You will also have a choice between a single-stage and a dual-stage trigger.
The box-style, self-contained drop-in systems from companies like AR Gold, CMC, Timney, and Wilson Combat are the easiest to install. John Scoutten explains: “These self-contained systems … are very simple to install. In fact, all you do is remove the factory parts, drop in the whole system, replace your pins, and you’re done.” Conventional two-piece trigger groups are offered by DPMS, Geissele, JP Enterprises, and Rock River.
The key points of the video tutorial are also explained on the Shooting USA website with text and still pictures. Before you start your trigger project, review Shooting USA’s AR Trigger Upgrade Page. You’ll find helpful close-up photos on that page.
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Brux Barrels, based in Lodi, Wisconsin, has earned a reputation for producing great-shooting tubes. Brux-made barrels have won their fair share of matches, and set some notable records in the process. A few years back, Rodney Wagner shot the smallest five-shot, 600-yard group (0.336″) in the history of rifle competition, using a Brux barrel chambered for the 6mm Dasher.
Folks often ask us why Brux barrels shoot so well. “What’s the secret?” they ask. We can only answer with what Brux explains on its own website: “To make a cut-rifled barrel you have to start off with the proper ingredients: the best steel available, skill, and experience. Since there are really only two main suppliers of barrel-quality steel, the skill and experience is what really makes a barrel maker stand out.” Here is how Brux’s co-owners, Norman Brux and Ken Liebetrau, explain all the procedures involved in making a Brux cut-rifled barrel:
Brux Barrel-Making Process, Start to Finish
We start out with either 4150 chrome-moly or 416R stainless steel double stress-relieved bar stock. The bar stock starts out at 1-9/32″ in diameter and 20-24 feet long so we cut it to length.
Step two is to rough-contour the outside of the barrel blank in a lathe.
Thirdly, the blank gets mounted into a Barnes gun drill. The cutter bit has holes through which oil or coolant is injected under pressure to allow the evacuation of chips formed during the cutting process. This is called “oil-through” or “coolant-through”. Without this, you wouldn’t want to even attempt drilling a hole 30” long and under ¼” in diameter. The combination of a 3600rpm and good flushing allows us to drill a beautifully straight and centered hole .005” under “land” diameter at a rate of 1” per minute.
Clean the barrel.
Next the blank is sent back to the lathe to machine the finished contour of the outside.
Clean the barrel again.
Now, the blank is sent on to the Pratt & Whitney reamer in which an “oil through” reaming tool is used to cut away the extra .005” left in the drilling process. The reamer makes an extremely accurate bore size and after it is finished the bore will have a better surface finish and will be at the proper “land” diameter.
Clean the barrel again.
In the sixth step we hand lap each barrel to remove any slight tool marks that may have been left by the reamer and inspect every one with a bore scope. If the barrel doesn’t meet our standards for surface finish and tolerance it doesn’t get any further.
Clean the barrel again.
The barrels then go onto the rifling machine which is responsible for cutting the all so familiar grooves in the bore. A caliber/land configuration-specific rifling head is used to progressively shave away small amounts of steel to form the rifling grooves. This is accomplished by simultaneously pulling the rifling head through the reamed blank as the blank is spun at a controlled rate. After each cut, the blank is rotated 90 degrees (for a four-land configuration) and after one full rotation (360 degrees) the rifling head is slightly raised to shave off the next bit of material. This process is repeated until we reach groove diameter.
Clean the barrel again.
Lastly, the barrel is hand-lapped again (to ensure a smooth bore), and a final inspection is performed with the bore scope.
The barrel is cleaned one last time, wrapped, packed, and shipped to [the customer].
Anyone reading this detailed description of the Brux barrel-making process will doubtless come away with a new appreciation for the time, effort, and dedication required to produce a premium match-grade cut-rifled barrel. Obviously, there are no easy shortcuts and great attention to detail is required each step of the way. As shooters we’re lucky that we have barrel-makers so dedicated to their craft.
Credit James Mock for steering us to this Barrel Making 101 feature on the Brux website.
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You may not be aware, but the Civilian Marksmanship Program runs a reliable, reasonably-priced maintenance/repair facility for USGI-issue rifles. Since October 2013, the CMP Custom Shop (Anniston, AL) has provided gunsmithing services for a wide range of U.S. Military rifles, specifically those issued in early eras. As well as repairs and troubleshooting, the CMP Custom Shop can upgrade, accurize, customize, and refinish the types of rifles the CMP sells.
CMP will work on the M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, 1903 and 1903A3 Springfield, the 1917 Enfield and the Krag. Other rifles like the Remington 40X, Mossberg 44, and H&R Model 12 can also be serviced. CMP will NOT work on shotguns, pistols, revolvers, M14/M1A, AR15-style rifles or other commercially-produced modern rifles. For a list of services (with prices) visit the CMP Custom Shop webpage.
NOTE: Before you can send a rifle to the CMP Custom Shop you must be a customer on file in the CMP system. Customers must meet the same eligibility requirements as for CMP rifle purchases. Once qualified, you can purchase a rifle from the CMP and have the CMP Custom Shop make modifications to it prior to shipping.
CMP Custom Shop Can Work on USGI Rifles Purchased from Other Sources
The CMP Custom Shop can work on rifles that may have been purchased elsewhere as long as they were made by a USGI contractor. Some examples include: Springfield Armory (not Springfield Inc.), Harrington & Richardson, Winchester, International Harvester, Remington, Rock Island, Eddystone, Inland, Underwood, Rock-Ola, Quality Hardware, National Postal meter, Standard Products, IBM, Irwin-Pederson and Saginaw. NOTE: There are many NON-USGI copies of the M1 Garand, 1903 Springfield and especially the M1 Carbine that CMP will be unable to work on.
For more information, call (256) 835-8455, x1113, or send email to customshop [at] thecmp.org. Shipping and Correspondence address for the CMP Custom Shop is:
Many short-range Benchresters have thought about converting their 6 PPC to shoot a 30BR for score matches, or a Dasher for mid-range (or even 1000-yard) games. That way you have a rifle that does double duty, giving you the most bang for your buck. Though an action with a PPC bolt won’t normally work with 30BR/6BR/Dasher cases with their larger .308-class rim (0.4728″ diameter), there is a pretty easy solution that allows you to cycle these bigger cartridges with a 6PPC-style bolt (designed to fit .220 Russian rims).
“Rebating case rims … lets you shoot a 30BR in score matches using your PPC action. All you need is a new barrel. This saves buying another bolt, receiver, or rifle.” — Butch Lambert
Butch Lambert of ShadeTree Engineering provided this tip. Butch notes that many 6 PPC benchrest group shooters also enjoy shooting in score matches. But to be really competitive in the BR for score game, that means shooting a 30BR, which has a wider, .308-class rim (0.4728″ diameter). Likewise, if you want to compete in 600-yard registered BR events or in varmint matches, you probably want to run a bigger case, such as the 6BR, 6mm Dasher, or 6-6.5×47. Those cartridges also have the larger 0.4728″ rims.
To convert a PPC-boltface action to shoot the bigger cases you can spend a ton of money and buy a new bolt. That can cost hundreds of dollars. The simpler solution is to turn down the diameter of the larger cases on a lathe. Butch explains: “We’ve seen plenty of interest in rebating case rims. This lets you shoot a 30BR in score matches using your PPC action. All you need is a new barrel. This saves buying another bolt, receiver, or rifle if you have a PPC boltface. Anyone who has access to a lathe can do this job pretty easily. Yesterday I turned 150 case in about an hour.” Below is the lathe form tool Butch uses to rebate the case rims.
Cutting Head for Rebating Rims
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Forum member Rardoin’s handsome F-Open rig features the new Borden BRM-XD action.
One of the most popular items in our Shooters’ Forum is the ongoing “Pride and Joy” thread. Since 2009, Forum members have posted photos and descriptions of their most prized rifles. Here are some of the most recent “Pride and Joy” rifles showcased in our Forum. Do you have a gun you’d like to see featured there? Just Register for the Forum and you can add your favorite gun to the list.
Bill Goad’s 6PPC Hunter “Ranch Rifle”
Forum member Grimstod tells us: “This is the personal rifle of Bill Goad. He has been experimenting with it on several levels. It is shooting great and has several matches on it now. Please enjoy these photos. More can be found on the website www.PremierAccuracy.com. We like the subtle barbed wire effect on the stock.
Twin-Upper AR with Custom Wood Furniture
This very unique AR belongs to Forum member Nuto-BR. He tells us: “Here are the two uppers I built. The top one is am X-caliber in 20 Practical with 24-inch, 1:11″-twist barrel. The bottom one is a WOA in .223 Rem, with 20″, 1-12″ twist barrel. They both shoot 1/2 MOA or better. Both stocks are laminated Maple and Walnut. I reversed the order of the two woods to tell them apart.”
Two Dashers and a Rimfire for Fun
Courtesy Forum member Dan H., here are two red-stocked Dashers plus an Anschutz 54.30 (Benchrest Stock) to make it a trio. Dan says: “The Anschutz provides good practice in trigger-pulling. It’s amazing what you can learn from a rifle that is as sensitive as this one.”
Dream Hunting Rifle with Custom Camo
Here is Forum member TyDaws’s “Dream Hunting Rifle” in 6.5-280 Ackley Improved. We love the custom paint work by by Melodie Yarbrough. Smithed by West Texas Ordnance, this rifle features a Rem 700 action with fluted bolt, PT&G tapered recoil lug, and Timney 510 2-lb trigger. The barrel is a fluted 26″ 1:8″-twist Bartlein 5R #3 contour. On top is a Huskemaw Blue Diamond 4-16x42mm optic in Warne Maxima rings. That’s an Atlas bipod up front.
Three Guns for Mr. Big
Forum Member Mr. Big offered up another trio of rifles — two bench guns and a tactical rig. Mr. Big says: “Here are the rifles I shoot most: Farley 6mm PPC, Stiller .243 Win, and Rem 6.5×47 Lapua. They will do just about anything I ask them to…” Challenge: Can you identify the makers of the three different stocks shown in this picture (and the different materials used in each)?
Dasher in Robertson Spider Web Stock
Here is Forum member Vahena’s 6mm Dasher. It has a no-turn-neck chamber in a 28″, 1:8″-twist barrel with 1.25″ straight contour. This has an original Robertson fiberglass stock with spider web graphics. This rifle was originally built as a 6.5×284 with a fluted barrel. Now it sports a bigger barrel for a smaller cartridge. The front rest is a SEB Neo with counterweight up front.
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We know some guys who make their own stocks, and others who do their own chambering. But consider this, Robert Carnell of Australia built his own state-of-the-art, water-cooled, tension-barrel Rail Gun, even including the action. That’s right, Robert even made his own action. Wow, this has to be the ultimate home gunsmithing, do-it-yourself project.
Carnell is an accomplished benchrest shooter and past Australian Sporter Class Champion. In 1993 he won a Silver Medal at the World Championships. But Carnell is far more than an ace trigger-puller. Robert is a skilled and creative “home gunsmith” who has crafted his own custom action and built his own railguns from scratch. Robert also runs the Austrialian Benchrest Bulletin website.
Home-Built Rail Gun — Aussie Innovation
Below are photos of one of Rob Carnell’s most amazing builds. This liquid-cooled, tension-barrel rail gun is a great example of self-reliant Aussie engineering. The barrel runs inside a coolent-filled, large-diameter sleeve, much like an old water-cooled machine gun. This is the fourth rail gun that Rob built, and the second fitted with a tensioned barrel.
Robert explains: “My railgun design has a 1.75″ barrel under tension inside an aluminium tube filled with radiator coolant. There is nearly a gallon of coolant, and the barrel stays cool no matter how many shots I seem to fire, or how quickly they are shot. The brass nut on the front rides on a nylon bearing and can be tightened to get the best accuracy. I am a believer in the ‘tuner’ idea and this seems to work for me. The main tube is thick-walled aluminium 600mm (24″) long. There is a flange at both ends. The flange at the back fits onto the barrel before the action is screwed on. The front flange is a press-fit into the tube, then there is a brass nut that fits over the barrel and screws against a nylon washer on the front flange. The Railgun’s base is aluminium and has the standard adjustments — windage, elevation and a sighter cam. In addition, there is a 1/10 thou dial indicator for windage. This allows me to zero the indicator and shoot my group. If I need to add a bit of windage for a condition, I can quickly get back to the original position if my condition comes back.”
Home-Built Action Uses Rem Bolt
Rob’s rail gun uses his own home-made stainless action, which features Panda-spec threads and a modified Remington 700 aftermarket bolt. Not bad for a do-it-yourself project we’d say! CLICK HERE to read how Rob designed and built the action.
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Tonight (12/7/2016), Shooting USA television features the Remington Bicentennial — celebrating 200 years of continuous production by one of America’s most legendary companies. The history of Remington Arms is a remarkable story. No large American enterprise — not Ford, not General Motors — can match the 200-year continuous history of Remington. The Remington enterprise is nearly as old as the United States. This story began in 1816, when a young man, Eliphalet Remington II, wanted a rifle…
According to historians, Eliphalet told his father he wanted a gun, so his father told him to build one himself (Eliphalet had been trained as a blacksmith). And so, in 1816, Eliphalet did just that, with the help of a hired gunsmith to bore and rifle his barrel. Eliphalet then took the finished flintlock to a local shooting match. “And his gun shot well,” says Remington Historian Richard Shepler. “So neighbors and friends asked, ‘Could you make me a barrel?’ Over time there was more and more demand.”
By 1828, Eliphalet moved into a factory in Illion, New York. In 1845, he jumped at the opportunity to secure the first of many government contracts. When the Civil War broke out, Remington stayed busy producing firearms. While later in the 1890s during peacetime, Remington manufactured cash registers, sewing machines, knives and even the first successful typewriter.
Whether fulfilling government contracts during wartime, or manufacturing cash registers and sewing machines during peacetime, Remington’s story continues today, arming sportsmen, hunters and armies around the world.
Shooting USA AIR TIMES BY TIME ZONE
Eastern Time: 9:00 PM, 12:30 AM (Wed); 4:00 AM (Thur)
Central Time: 8:00 PM, 11:30 PM (Wed); 3:00 AM (Thur)
Mountain Time: 7:00 PM, 10:30 PM (Wed); 2:00 AM (Thur)
Pacific Time: 6:00 PM, 9:30 PM (Wed); 1:00 AM (Thur)
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We call them “black rifles”, but that shouldn’t refer to all the carbon and gunk on the inside. AR-platform rifles can be maintenance-intensive beasts. But some AR owners make the situation worse by not regularly cleaning important small parts, or by using too much oily/greasy lubricants in the wrong places. A properly maintained and lubricated AR15 can shoot hundreds of rounds (between cleanings) without a problem. If you learn where (and where not) to apply lubricant, you’ll find that your AR will run more reliably and the task of cleaning the bolt and bolt carrier will be less of a burden.
Here is a good video that explains AR-15 Cleaning and Maintenance. In this 30-minute NSSF video, Gunsite Academy instructor and gunsmith Cory Trapp discusses the proper way to clean and maintain the AR-15 carbine. Very knowledgeable, Trapp provides rock-solid advice for AR owners. Along with cleaning producedures, this video explains how to inspect key components and how to function-test your AR before each shooting session.
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Cerakote is an advanced, highly durable, heat-cured coating that offers excellent corrosion resistance when applied to firearms. Cerakote can be applied to both metals and plastics, and many top firearms manufacturers (and custom gun builders) now offer Cerakote finishes as an option on their shotguns, hunting rifles, and tactical arms.
While Cerakote is not difficult to use, application of Cerakote is not just a simple “spray and bake” process. Best results are achieved when firearms are carefully degreased and surface-prepped prior to application. The video below, produced by NIC Industries, the manufacturer of Cerakote, shows the application process from start to finish. If you watch the video you’ll learn the importance of careful, step-by-step product prep. Metals should be surface-blasted prior to coating, and curing times need to be adjusted to the material type (polymer vs. fiberglass vs. metal). Cerakote is offered in a wide variety of colors. Multi-color finishes, including camouflage, can be applied by a skilled operator.
The video above shows a professional technician applying Cerakote finish to rifles and pistols. All gunsmiths who plan to offer Cerokote finishes should definitely watch this video. NOTE: Cerakote Firearms Coatings are designed for professionals and should be applied by an NIC-trained application specialist or a coating professional with proper training and equipment. NIC Industries stresses that “it is critical to follow all these instructions”.
Story tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Can you buy a new firearm for fifty bucks? Yes you can, when the “firearm” is a stripped lower receiver, the key component of an AR15-type rifle. With an AR lower, you can build your own “black rifle” project, which could be a gun for Service Rifle competition, or a specialized varmint-slayer, or a rig for 3-Gun matches — the choice is yours. Once you have the serialized lower (which must be transferred through an FFL dealer), you can build your own project as you see fit, with the trigger, barrel, stock, handguards, and sighting system of your choice.
Right now Sportsman’s Guide is offering a great deal on Anderson stripped lower receivers. You can purchase the lower for just $49.99 ($44.99 for Buyer’s Club Members). These are good-quality lowers, with correct mil-spec dimensions, and precision-machined to ensure drop-in installation of aftermarket components. Crafted from 7075-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum forgings, the made-in-USA Anderson lowers have a hard-anodized black finish. The take-down pin has a standard 0.250″ diameter.
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The Legal Brief is a feature of TheGuncollective.com that focuses on firearms rules and regulations. In this Legal Brief video, Attorney Adam Kraut explains key State and Federal regulations governing firearms, and explains how to ensure compliance with all applicable laws.
This five-minute video explains barrel length rules for rifles and shotguns, and also explains the best (and most fool-proof) methods to measure your barrel. In addition, the video explains how to measure firearm overall length. A rifle or shotgun which is less than 26 inches overall can also be classified as a “Short-barreled” rifle/shotgun subject to the NFA. NOTE: Under federal law “If the rifle or shotgun has a collapsible stock, the overall length is measured with the stock EXTENDED”.
Highlights of LEGAL BRIEF Discussion of Barrel Length and Firearm Overall Length
The ATF procedure to measure the length of a barrel is to measure from the closed bolt or breech face to the furthest end of the barrel or permanently attached muzzle device. ATF considers a muzzle device that has been permanently attached to be part of the barrel and therefore counts towards the length.
How to Measure Barrel Length: Drop [a] dowel or rod into the barrel until it touches the bolt or breech face, which has to be closed. Mark the outside of the rod at the end of the muzzle crown (if you don’t have a permanently attached muzzle device) or at the end of the muzzle device if it is permanently attached. Remove the rod and measure from the mark to the end of the rod. That is your barrel length[.]
Remember, if the barrel length is less than 16 inches, it is possible that the firearm could be a short barrel rifle (if you are building a rifle or it is already on a rifle) and if the barrel length is less than 18 inches, it is possible the firearm could be a short barrel shotgun (again if you are building a shotgun or it is already a shotgun). Both of these firearms would be subject to the purview of the National Firearms Act and would require the firearm to be registered accordingly.
How to Measure Overall Length:The overall length of your rifle or shotgun may also classify it as a Short Barrel Rifle or Short Barrel Shotgun. The overall length of a firearm is the distance between the muzzle of the barrel and the rearmost portion of the weapon measured on a line parallel to the axis of the bore. … If the rifle has a permanently attached muzzle device, that is part of the overall length. … If the rifle or shotgun has a collapsible stock, the overall length is measured with the stock extended.