August 29th, 2014
We know that many of our readers have never seen a “Hammerhead” benchrest stock before. This is a design with an extra wide section in the very front, tapering to a narrow width starting about 6″ back. When paired with a super-wide front sandbag, the hammerhead design provides added stability — just like having a wider track on a racing car. Some folks think mid-range and long-range benchrest stocks can only be 3″ wide. Not so — IBS and NBRSA rules now allow much wider fore-ends. While F-Class Open rules limit fore-end width to 3″ max, there is not such restriction on IBS or NBRSA Light Guns or Heavy Guns for 600- and 1000-yard competition. Here’s a 5″-wide Hammerhead design from Precision Rifle & Tool (PR&T).
Ray Bowman of PR&T sent us some photos of another hammerhead benchrest rig. Ray reports: “Precision Rifle & Tool this week finished and delivered this BR rifle. The customer will be shooting this rifle at the 2014 IBS 1000-yard Nationals in West Virginia.” [The match runs August 29-30, 2014 at the Harry Jones Range]. This IBS Light Gun sports PR&T’s “Low Boy Hammer Head” stock in red/black laminate. Other components are a 6mm BRUX 30″, 1:8″-twist barrel, Borden BR Action, and a PR&T 20 MOA scope rail.
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August 25th, 2014
TECH TIP by Robert Whitley, AR-X Enterprises LLC
Over the years, while working with various AR-15 cartridges that require a larger bolt-face bolt (i.e. bigger than a 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem bolt-face, like those cartridges that use a 6.8 SPC bolt or the bolt face suitable for the 6.5 Grendel-based cartridges), I have found that there is an increased potential for a certain type of jam if a modification to the standard “Mil-Spec”, square-edged ejector is not made.
The original AR-15 square-edged ejector design was made for a much smaller-diameter bolt face and the smaller diameter 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem case, and it works perfectly in that application. However, as people have adapted the AR-15 platform to shoot bigger cartridges, some parts have been modified to accept the larger cartridges (i.e. bigger bolt-face bolts for the 6.8 SPC and the 6.5 Grendel, and different extractors), yet other parts have been all but ignored. One of these “ignored” parts has been the ejector. Most of the larger-bolt-face AR-15 bolts still use the standard “Mil-Spec”, square-edged 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem. ejector. That’s the problem. But there is a simple, reliable fix!
Chamfering AR Ejector for Improved Reliablity with 6mm, 6.5mm and 6.8mm Cartridges
With the larger bolt face and the larger-diameter AR cases, the old-style “Mil-Spec” ejector can cause infrequent but still annoying jams if the ejector is not modified. The jam can occur when a cartridge case feeds up and out of the right side of the magazine, and as it does so, the back of the case must slide across the bolt face and sideways over top of the ejector if it is to center up to the chamber and feed in. If the side of the case catches on the sharp-edged ejector you can get a jam. (See picture above).
Fortunately there is an easy fix for this. One way is to take the ejector out and spin it in a lathe or cordless drill and machine or grind it and round or chamfer the sharp edge. (See picture of rounded ejector next to square edged ejector).
Quick Fix Alternative — Bevel Your Ejector
Another “quick fix” is to leave the ejector in the bolt and chamfer the sharp edge with something like a Dremel tool. (See picture). This fix is easy to do and permanently resolves this potential feeding jam issue. There are no downsides to this modification if done right and I would recommend this modification for the ejectors in all larger bolt-face AR-15 bolts.
This gunsmithing tip provided by Robert Whitley of AR-X Enterprises LLC, 199 North Broad Street, Doylestown, PA 18901. Phone: (215) 348-8789. Website: 6mmAR.com.
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August 23rd, 2014
Are you a gun-loving number cruncher? Then you need to read a new Shooting Industry Magazine Report. This report, filled with reams of hard data from the past two decades, reveals the state of the gun-making industry. You may be stunned to see how firearm production has skyrocketed in the past few years. In fact, total U.S. firearm production rose to 8,872,456 units in 2012, compared to 6,351,479 in 2011. That’s a 39.7% increase. SEE MORE STATS.
U.S. Gun-Makers Set Production Records
The top three firearm manufacturers all increased production substantially in 2012 compared to 2011, setting new production records. In 2012, the #1 American gun-maker, Ruger, boosted production 48% over 2011 levels. The #2 company, Remington Arms, raised production 13% in 2012, while #3 Smith and Wesson increased production 31% in 2012 compared to the year before. What’s more, in 2012, each one of these three U.S. manufacturers built more than a million firearms. That’s an historic first according to Shooting Industry Magazine.
More Guns = Higher Demand for Ammo and Reloading Components
If you have been wondering “Where did all the powder and .22 LR ammo go?”, take a good look at the chart above. There has been an enormous boost in production in recent years. Unquestionably, many of the buyers of all those new guns are looking for ammo to shoot. This helps explain why ammo and reloading components are in short supply.
Gun Sales Are Below Record 2013 Levels, But Are Still Very High
Report Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Gun sales peaked in 2013, and there has been a slow-down in 2014. However, it does look like 2014 sales will outpace 2012. The Shooting Industry Magazine report declares: “During May 2014, NICS conducted 877,655 (NSSF-adjusted) background checks. While this was a 9.9% decrease, compared to May 2013, it was the second highest May in NICS history. More importantly, it was a 4% increase over May 2012. This trend — a decrease in background checks compared to 2013, but an increase compared to 2012 — is reflected in the early months of 2014.”
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August 23rd, 2014
Forum member Brian V. (aka “Carbide”) wanted a new look for his “modern sporting rifle”. He was tired of looking at black plastic (or FDE, OD green) and aluminum components on his AR15. So he decided to fit wood “furniture” on the rifle. He ordered a wood butt-stock and fore-arm set made by Lucid, but he didn’t like the two-piece fore-arm of the Lucid stock set. He decided he could build something better than the commercially-available, Lucid-made wood fore-arm.
So Brian took his existing AR tubular fore-arm and epoxied a walnut sleeve to it. With a lathe, Brian then turned the walnut sleeve to his desired dimensions: 2.250″ diameter in back and 2.200″ diameter in front, so there’s a little taper. Brian says “I could have gone a little thinner.” The wood fore-end was then sanded and stained to match the Lucid-made rear section. Brian says “the stain is not quite a perfect match, but but it looks a lot better.”
Does Brian like his new wood-stocked AR? Absolutely. He says the conversion makes the gun more user-friendly: “The wood is warmer to carry in winter and quieter.” He adds that the wood sleeve added about four ounces of weight to the fore-end, but that did not affect the handling.
We think this is a good “do-it-yourself” project that could be done by many of our readers. You can simply install the Lucid stock set or customize the front end like Brian did. Either way, you end up with a good-looking rifle that feels better in your hands.
LUCID AR15 Wood Stock Sets Are Sold by Brownells.com: CLICK HERE to ORDER.
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August 19th, 2014
There’s a chap in Poland named Łukasz Pietruszka, who is a bonafied “Wizard of Wood”. Lukasz handcrafts unique custom stocks, selling them through his LP Gunstocks company. Many of his most eye-catching stocks are for airguns (particularly Field Target rifles), but he also produces fine stocks for rimfire and centerfire hunting rifles. Lukasz is a master carver who includes exquisite details on many of his stocks. Some of these designs, crafted from exotic hardwoods, raise stock-crafting to an art form.
Check out the figure on this Turkish Walnut stock by Łukasz Pietruszka.
You can see a variety of Lukasz’s stocks in a video sampler. If you’re a fan of fine wood, you’ll love this video. So pull up a chair, grab your favorite beverage, and enjoy this 16-minute video interlude.
Watch Video in High Definition
NOTE: We recommend you view this video in high definition, in wide screen format. To do this, start the video, then click on the gear-shaped icon at the lower right-hand corner of the video frame (it’s located just to the right of the clock icon). If you have a fast internet connection, select 720P or 1020P from the pop-up menu. (1020P is the highest resolution.) Now select theater mode or full-screen mode using the small icons on the lower right of the frame.
Radical ‘Shockwave’ from LP Gunstocks
Here is a truly amazing bit of craftmanship. The images below show a one-of-a-kind Shockwave stock created by Łukasz for a Steyr Field Target air rifle. Over the top? Perhaps… but you have to admire the imaginative design and exquisite worksmanship.
Video find by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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August 17th, 2014
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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August 17th, 2014
Sturm, Ruger & Co. has created a series of 11 short videos that trace the history of firearms, from matchlocks to modern semi-autos. Ruger’s “History of the Gun” video series provides a fascinating look at firearms technology throughout the years. The host is Garry James, Senior Editor of Guns & Ammo magazine. Featured here is Segment 7 on Rifling. Other installments in the series are linked below.
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August 16th, 2014
“Gain-twist” refers to a form of barrel rifling where the twist rate gets tighter over the length of the barrel. For example, a gain twist barrel might start with 1:12″ twist and finish with 1:8″ twist. There is some evidence that gain-twist rifling can deliver more velocity (compared to a conventional barrel) with certain cartridge types. There have also been claims of increased accuracy with some types of bullets, but such claims are more difficult to quantify.
Gain-twist rifling is not new. This form of rifling has been around for a long, long time. The first gain-twist barrels appeared in the late 1800s. However, in the last few years, there has been increased interest in gain-twist barrels for both short-range and long-range competition.
Video Explains Gain Twist Rifling
Radical Extreme Gain Twist Barrel Design
In this video from our friend John M. Buol Jr., gunsmith John Carlos talks about a fairly radical gain-twist barrel design for high power and service rifle shooters. Produced by Bartlein Barrels, this gain-twist barrel starts with a 1:14″ twist and finishes with a 1:6.8″ twist at the muzzle (See 1:50 time-mark). Carlos believes that this type of barrel delivers higher velocities while providing excellent accuracy for a wide range of bullet weights. In .223 caliber, the gain twist works with the 75-77 grain bullets used on the “short course” while also delivering excellent accuracy with the longer 80-90gr bullets used at 600 yards and beyond. Velocity is the important bonus for long-range use. Carlos says the gain twist barrels deliver greater muzzle velocity, allowing a 90 grain bullet to stay well above the transonic zone, even at 1000 yards. (See 4:50 time-mark.)
This 1:14″ to 1:6.8″ gain-twist barrel is the product of much experimentation by Carlos and Bartlein. Carlos states: “We’ve varied all sorts of internal dimensions, such as the land height, and the groove depth. We’ve tried 5R rifling and 4-groove rifling, and we’ve worked with various rates of twist, and I believe we have it down really well right now.”
In this video, John Carlos explains the history of gain-twist rifling, and he explains how modern Bartlein gain twist barrels have been developed in recent years for both benchrest and High Power applications. If you are interested in barrel technology and design, take the time to watch.
Erik Dahlberg illustration courtesy FireArmsID.com.
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August 14th, 2014
Most of you know Carl Bernosky as a great marksman and 10-time National High Power Champion. But you may not realize that Carl is also a superb stock-maker. A true craftsman, Carl produces outstanding laminated and fancy wood stocks for hunters and competitive shooters. Visit CarlBernosky.com to see a selection of Carl’s competition and hunting stocks.
One of Carl’s latest creations is a thumbhole F-Class stock. Designed for F-Open shooters, this stock features a flat, 3″-wide fore-end, ergonomic grip, and adjustable cheekpiece. The laminated Bernosky stock featured here was crafted for Chesebro Rifles, which offers a turn-key stock package for the Barnard ‘P’ action, one of our favorite custom actions. This particular build features a MT Guns Vee Block Bedding System, MT Guns 3-Way Adjustable Butt Plate, and B&D Precision removable cheek piece.
Click Photo to view full-size image of stock.
As you see it, complete with all hardware (including short fore-end rail for bipod) this stock runs $1275.00 ready to ship. Just attach your Barnard barreled action and you’re ready to compete. The stock (by itself) weighs 6.5 pounds. Contact Chesebro Rifles, (661) 557-2442, for more information.
Cheek-piece close-up shows high-quality adjustment hardware.
Cheek-piece is relieved to allow full bolt travel.
Short accessory rail on the underside of the fore-end can be used to mount bipod.
Stock tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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August 5th, 2014
We normally use a gun cradle when cleaning or adjusting our rifles. But there are situations, such as when working on a barreled action, when it’s nice to use a pad that lies flat. Many work pads are too small — they’re nothing more than oversize mouse pads. Here are three gun pads that are big enough to work well with rifles and/or barreled actions.
DryMate Gun Cleaning Pad
The Drymate Gun Cleaning Pad is a full 54″ wide x 16″. That’s four and a half FEET wide — longer than most rifles, so you have plenty of surface area for working. Conveniently, this product can be washed with soap and water. It is offered in three versions: Green, Blaze Orange, and Camo. We like the Blaze orange version because the bright color makes it easier to see small parts such as screws and springs.
Boyt Harness Counter Pad
The 48″ x 12″ Boyt Harness Counter Pad was originally designed more for display purposes than for serious work sessions, but we like this product. It is useful if you want to lay your gun on a bench to make small adjustments. The Boyt Counter Pad is nice and big, a full four feet from end to end. The back side is canvas while the top-size is a quilted cotton fabric. This product has received high praise from buyers. Here are actual owner reviews:
Expensive… but worth every penny. I bought three of them because I want to have at least one always around. I use one for a shooting bench or tailgate mat and another for my primary gun cleaning workbench mat. Awesome for both purposes. This one was perfect for my array of needs. — Joe D.
This mat is great for cleaning guns and keeping your surfaces clear of oil or solvent. The mat has plenty of space for a rifle or handgun and the padding is thick enough[.] I would definitely buy again and have recommended this to my friends and family. — Safety Guy
I bring this to the rifle range with me every time, to rest my rifle on the table without worrying about scratches. It fits nicely in my soft rifle case. One side is a tough canvas material that doesn’t show scratches, and the other side is a soft fleece material that protects the finish of your gun. — MACPSU
Hoppes Gun Cleaning Pad
The Hoppes Gun Cleaning Pad is 36″ wide x 12″. That’s big enough for many barreled actions (unless you have a really long barrel). This pad has a non-slip nylon backing, and Hoppes claims that the “Soft acrylic material absorbs 8 times its weight in fluids.” This Hoppes Cleaning Pad is very affordable. It costs just $8.39 at Amazon.com with free shipping for Prime members.
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August 2nd, 2014
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. Last year, Rodney Wagner shot the smallest five-shot, 600-yard group (.0349″) 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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August 1st, 2014
We first featured this amazing stock last year. We felt this creation was such a stunning piece of work that it deserved a second look. If you missed this masterpiece the first time around, feast your eyes…
Sebastian (“Seb”) Lambang, creator of the SEB Coaxial Rests and the Coaxial Joystick Bipod, has engineered an impressive new wood and aluminum F-Class stock. The stock features a long, box-section aluminum fore-end with a wood rear section and wood-trimmed “wings” on the front bag-rider. The aluminum fore-arm has “buick vents” for weight reduction. From the end of the action rearward, the stock is mostly wood, with light and dark fancy wood laminates on opposite sides (left and right).
The foot of the buttstock has a very wide aluminum rear bag-rider with rails. The rear wood section appears to be two solid pieces of wood — but that is deceiving. Seb explains: “To save weight, the buttstock is hollow (using thin-walled wood)”. To strengthen the construction, Seb added carbon fiber inside the buttstock. So what you see is a wood outer shell with carbon fiber layers on the inside. The stock sports vertically-adjustable cheek-piece and buttplate. The thick, rubber buttpad should diminish felt recoil even when shooting big cartridges with heavy bullets.
This is an interesting, innovative stock design. And as with everything Seb produces, the craftsmanship, fit and finish are superb. We may get a chance to see how well this new stock shoots at the F-Class World Championships later this month in Raton, New Mexico.
Seb also crafted a handsome set of angled scope rails with beautifully-machined scope rings. Imagine being able to custom-make one-off products of this quality in your own machine shop!
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