March 11th, 2014
In Brownells’ GunTech™ Archive of instructional articles and videos, Eric Kiesler has written an informative Guide to Metal Prep for bluing or bake-on resin coatings. Eric’s “how-to” advice will be useful for prepping something as small as a scope ring or as large as a complete barrelled action. Here is a selection from Eric’s article:
Gunsmith’s Guide to Metal Prep for Baking & Bluing
By Eric Kiesler
Prior to bluing or the application of a bake-on coating, a steel surface must be properly prepared. In either case, at a minimum the work piece must be thoroughly and completely degreased. There are many acceptable ways to degrease steel parts, so long as no residue remains the method used is not critical. We typically recommend TCE (#083-060-024) for degreasing prior to the application of Brownells Baking Lacquer (#083-046-801) or Oxpho Blue (#082-024-004). The TCE in the spray can is preferable as it allows you vigorously spray the surface, start at the top of the part and hose it down to the bottom chasing the grease off.
Prior to hot caustic Bluing (#082-005-007) the parts are immersed in a heated detergent bath using Dicro-Clean (#082-005-008) because (like TCE) we know it will have no adverse after effects or residue that could cause problems later on. Once the degreasing is complete, the part could be blued or coated, however, with bake on coatings, adhesion is greatly enhanced if the surface of the parts are roughed up. This can be accomplished by sanding them with a fine abrasive cloths, sand paper, Emory Cloth (#657-110-120) or by abrasive blasting. Abrasive blasting is preferable because it will typically reach areas that sand paper might not.
For the Gun Kote (#083-051-001) brand of bake-on finish, aluminum oxide (#084-206-060) must be used as the abrasive blasting media in your abrasive blaster. For our other bake on coatings (and even Aluma-Hyde) sand or glass beads may be used in the blaster. If you do abrasive blast the part (highly recommended), it should be degreased afterwards because the blasting media may have contaminants in it. You don’t want to coat a highly polished part since shiny metal resists the coating, but a highly polished part could certainly be blued.
CLICK HERE to Read Entire Article | CLICK HERE for GunTech™ Archive of Articles
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March 10th, 2014
The NRA Gunsmithing Guide contains 336 pages of solid, comprehensive gunsmithing info drawn from articles originally published in the American Rifleman magazine.
The $24.95 book includes 116 articles by expert smiths who build, repair, accurize, and customize all types of firearms (with a strong emphasis on rifles). The three main subject areas are: improving rifle accuracy, customizing fine rifles, and restoring old rifles. Roughly one-third of the articles cover these three topics.
As you would expect from content that first ran in American Rifleman magazine, the articles in the NRA Gunsmithing Guide are richly illustrated with photographs, charts, drawings, diagrams, and data tables. Not Available in bookstores, the NRA Gunsmithing Guide is sold online through Palladium Press, the NRA’s Book Publishing Affiliate.
Click Here for NRA Gunsmithing Guide ORDER Page
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February 24th, 2014
Looking for a high-quality fiberglass stock at a bargain price? Then check out the Kelbly over-run stocks at PMA Tool. You’ll find a wide variety of stocks on sale at extremely attractive prices (from $200 to $350.00). There are 3″-wide benchrest and F-Class stocks, Hunter Class benchrest stocks, and a variety of general-purpose hunting and varmint stocks. Most of the benchrest stocks are priced at $300.00 to $350.00 — that’s hundreds less than you’d ordinarily pay for a first-tier fiberglass stock from McMillan or other big name manufacturer.
And price isn’t the only attraction. With these Kelbly over-run stocks, there is no waiting. PMA Tool can ship you out a stock in a matter of days. By contrast, you might wait months to get a newly-made stock from another maker. PMA Tool has acquired dozens of Kelbly stocks so there is a large selection. If you go to the PMA website, you can select from three categories of stocks. Then choose a stock that has the appropriate inlet for your action. Some of the over-run stocks are inletted for Pandas, others for BATs, and some for other round actions.
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February 21st, 2014
Most F-TR rifles are essentially prone rifles adapted for use with bipod and rear bags. They feature prone or tactical-style stocks designed to allow a firm grip on the gun, with cheek, hand, and shoulder contact. This has worked very well. Unquestionably, a skilled F-TR shooter can achieve outstanding scores with such a configuration — it works. However, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”.
At the Berger Southwest Nationals, Eric Stecker introduced a new type of rifle, and a new type of gun-handling, to the F-TR ranks. Shooting “free-recoil” style* (i.e. with virtually no contact on his rifle) Eric managed to finished second overall in F-TR (with the highest X-count), beating some past national champions in the process. Thinking “outside the box” worked for Stecker in Phoenix. The success of Eric’s benchrest-style rifle and shooting technique definitely drew the attention of other F-TR shooters.
Click photo to zoom
Eric’s F-TR rig was built by John Pierce using a stiff, light Scoville carbon-fiber stock. The stock is so light that Eric’s rifle came in 1.5 pounds under the F-TR maximum weight limit (8.25kg or 18.18 pounds). The gun features a Pierce action, Bartlein barrel, Jewell trigger, and a Gen 1 Nightforce 15-55X52mm Comp scope. From the get-go, Eric’s strategy was to “aim small” and shoot his rig like a bench-gun. He actually focused on shooting really small groups rather that just trying to keep shots within scoring rings and “hold waterline”. With a .308 Win that could shoot bugholes at 100 yards, this strategy paid off.
Rifle builder John Pierce explains the thinking behind this rifle: “The stock choice was mine — I had built two prototype rifles last year based on the premise that the game is Benchrest in the prone position. I still feel very strongly regarding [this concept]. I chose Bob Scoville for obvious reasons — he is an artisan and his stocks have won so much, they just flat work. We built Eric the latest configuration along these lines, and the tool worked for him. Without a doubt, Eric is a shooter, and we were all pleased to watch him perform so well.”
Eric sets up rifle before match. During live fire his hands do not contact the stock.
Eric employed a benchrest-style shooting technique with his F-TR rig — he shot pretty much free recoil, with no cheek pressure, no hand contact, and just a “whisper” of shoulder contact. Eric explains: “I shoot what’s called ‘free recoil’. Now the rifle is butted up against my shoulder very lightly, but no other part of my body touches the rifle except for my finger on the trigger.” Eric has even used this technique when shooting a 7mm cartridge in F-Open at other matches: “Someone suggested that this style wasn’t possible with the larger [7mm] cartridges, but I found it very successful so I continue to do it that way.”
Eric also employed an unconventional strategy — he was focused on shooting small groups (not just holding ring values): “Since I have started shooting F-Class, I treat [the target] like a benchrest target. What I mean by that is that I regard the center as my first shot, and so my objective is to create the smallest group. So, I will hold whatever… is required to end up with the bullet ending up in the center — that’s probably true of any F-Class shooter, but I guess the perspective’s a little different when you have a benchrest background.” Eric explained that “maybe I aim a little smaller than others might”, because in the benchrest game, “the slightest miss ends up costing you quite dearly”.
Click to Zoom Photo (This is not Eric Stecker’s rifle, but a “sistership” built by John Pierce.)
Eric Talks about F-TR Trends
Will other F-TR shooters build rifles suited for free-recoil-style shooting? Eric isn’t sure: “I don’t know if this type of rifle is the future of F-TR. I shoot a lot of benchrest, so putting those kinds of components into an F-TR gun made a lot of sense to me. One thing I like about F-TR is that there are a lot of different types of approaches being tried and some of them are successful. So I think it’s still pretty wide-open[.] But I think the really great part of what we found at the Southwest Nationals is that shooting [with] a benchrest-style approach certainly doesn’t hurt you. What I mean by that is … aiming small, trying to make the group as tight as possible rather than trying to hit a particular area. I actually tried to shoot tight groups — that was a focus and that worked for me — I had quite a high X-Count.” NOTE: Eric finished with 51 Xs, 14 more than F-TR Grand Agg winner Radoslaw Czupryna (37X). James Crofts had the second highest X-Count with 48 Xs.
Even Berger’s Boss did pit duty at the Berger SW Nationals.
*”Free Recoil” style shooting has its variations. Some would say “pure free recoil” would not even allow shoulder contact. Eric Stecker lightly touches the back of the stock with his shoulder.
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February 20th, 2014
Sometimes you’ll get a barrel that doesn’t stabilize bullets the way you’d anticipate, based on the stated (or presumed) twist rate. A barrel might have 1:10″ stamped on the side but it is, in truth, a 1:10.5″ twist or even a 1:9.5″. Cut-rifled barrels, such as Kriegers and Bartleins, normally hold very true to the specified twist rate. With buttoned barrels, due to the nature of the rifling process, there’s a greater chance of a small variation in twist rate. And yes, factory barrels can be slightly out of spec as well.
Before you purchase a bunch of bullets and set off to develop loads it’s wise to determine the true twist rate of your new barrel. Sinclair International, in its Reloading Press Blog provides a simple procedure for determining the actual twist rate of your barrel. Read on to learn how….
How Twist Rate Affects Bullet Stability
Most of you know that the twist of the rifling in the barrel is what puts spin on the bullet. As a bullet is pushed down the barrel and compressed into the rifling, the bullet follows the path or twist of the rifling. The combination of velocity and bullet spin is what stabilizes the bullet. Finding the twist rate for your barrel will help you in selecting appropriate weight bullets for your firearm. Remember, the general rule is that the faster the twist rate for a given caliber, the longer the bullet (of that caliber) you will be able to stabilize. (Generally speaking, a longer bullet will also be a heavier bullet, but the bullet geometry dictates the needed twist rather than the weight per se.)
Determining Barrel Twist Rate Empirically
Twist rate is defined as the distance in inches of barrel that the rifling takes to make one complete revolution. An example would be a 1:10″ twist rate. A 1:10″ barrel has rifling that makes one complete revolution in 10 inches of barrel length. Rifle manufacturers usually publish twist rates for their standard rifle offerings and custom barrels are always ordered by caliber, contour, and twist rate. If you are having a custom barrel chambered you can ask the gunsmith to mark the barrel with the twist rate.
Erik Dahlberg illustration courtesy FireArmsID.com.
Sinclair’s Simple Twist Rate Measurement Method
If are unsure of the twist rate of the barrel, you can measure it yourself in a couple of minutes. You need a good cleaning rod with a rotating handle and a jag with a fairly tight fitting patch. Utilize a rod guide if you are accessing the barrel through the breech or a muzzle guide if you are going to come in from the muzzle end. Make sure the rod rotates freely in the handle under load. Start the patch into the barrel for a few inches and then stop. Put a piece of tape at the back of the rod by the handle (like a flag) or mark the rod in some way. Measure how much of the rod is still protruding from the rod guide. You can either measure from the rod guide or muzzle guide back to the flag or to a spot on the handle. Next, continue to push the rod in until the mark or tape flag has made one complete revolution. Re-measure the amount of rod that is left sticking out of the barrel. Use the same reference marks as you did on the first measurement. Next, subtract this measurement from the first measurement. This number is the twist rate. For example, if the rod has 24 inches remaining at the start and 16 inches remain after making one revolution, you have 8 inches of travel, thus a 1:8 twist barrel.
This rifling illustration was created by Danish graphic artist Erik Dahlberg. It is published here courtesy FireArmsID.com, an excellent website for forensic firearms examiners.
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February 15th, 2014
Forum member Preacher recently crafted a nice varmint rifle for fellow Forum member Dave 0. (aka “Waskawood”). But rather than buy an off-the-shelf stock, Preacher crafted this stock all by hand, starting from a laminated blank panel. He calls this stock project his “Axe Job”.
CLICK for Full-size Photo
This stock is being used on a prairie dog rifle, chambered for a 17-caliber wildcat, the 17 VHA, which is based on an H&K 4.6x30mm parent case. With about nine grains of 300 MP pistol powder, the 17 VHA drives 20-grainers at about 3850 fps. (SEE details at end of article).
The ‘Axe Job’
Report by Preacher
I like carving with the laminates because all the lines are right there in front of my eyes, so it’s easy to follow along and get it just right, until it’s pleasing to the eye. I never use a template, I just keep checking the lines as I go along. I have all the needed equipment to power build one of these, but I really enjoy the time spent on the hand work. From start to completely ready-to-install, I’ll have about six (6) weeks into one of these stock projects. A lot of that is drying time for the clear coats.
A little work with the hand axe, after a trip through the band saw…
The majority of the laminated blank panels I use for my gunstocks are purchased directly from Cousineau Wood Products or from Rutply.com. You have to buy at least four full panels at a time, all the same color, but that will yield eight (8) stocks. Seems like I have a little over $150.00 in a blank large enough to start making a full-sized, benchrest-style stock.
A little work with a chisel…
A little work with a rasp. (Before I was rich and famous and could afford really good rasps, I used a good old horse shoe rasp.)
A little more work with the chisel…
Preacher’s Advice on Carving Your Own Stock
The one main advantage of being older that dirt, and tormented with MS the past 40 years, is lots of free time to enjoy what ever I can do these days, as long as I can set down to do it, and I can make a lot of wood chips setting down.
Any one can do this if they have the time to devote to it. All it takes is time and a good eye for details. I made a lot of firewood over the years, until I got the hang of it. Most all those problems were inletting, and screw hole spacing. Get those right the first time and you’re on your way….
A little more work with the rasp…
A few coats of Auto clear has it about buttoned up…
Micro 17 VHA Wildcat
Here’s the finished rifle built by Preacher for Dave, using the ‘Axe Job’ stock. Dave tells us: “Preacher chambered the rifle for the 17 VHA, a wildcat based on the H&K 4.6x30mm MP7 PDW case necked down to 17 caliber. There are numerous articles in the Varmint Hunter’s Magazine about it. This efficient little round shoots 20gr ballistic tips at 3850+ fps. That’s not too shabby for ‘nine point something’ grains of pistol powder.”
“My intentions for my 17 VHA rifle are to plop down in the middle of a PD town with my swivel bench and shoot prairie dogs. I also thought it would be a nice platform to test the accuracy of the cartridge. If I like the little round as well as I think, I plan to build a more practical rifle that I can carry. I really want to thank Preacher for his patience with me through this project, as it was my first custom build.”
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February 7th, 2014
Click image to see full-screen panorama.
If you’re a fan of fine rifles, and functional shooting accessories, you’d have to be impressed with the hardware on display at the Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN). At this popular match, sling-shooters compete alongside F-Classers, so you get to see a wide variety of rifles — iron sights, and optical sights, traditional wood-stocked Palma rifles and modern metal tube-guns. And the F-TR class showcased a bevy of bipods, with numerous different designs. Here are some of the interesting guns and gear we saw at the Berger Southwest Nationals on Thursday February 6, 2013.
Here’s a nice spotting scope and front rest/rear bag set-up for F-Open. Can you name all the accessory items on display?
The rifle is battle-scarred, but the marksman’s form is good. And that’s what counts.
Team Grizzly had an impressive Kowa “Big Eyes” rig — Size Counts in the optics game.
There were quite a few Tubeguns and Tubb 2000s on the firing line. We took notice of this Tubb-gunner’s nice hold and his HBN-coated ammo.
How do you transport an F-TR rifle with a wide-track bipod? Here’s one clever solution — a rolling cart with vertical rifle-holder.
Somewhere under all that head-gear is a human being. This is one way to “tune out” visual distractions.
Here’s a good view of the Pohlabel “Flex” Bipod. Click to see a full-screen version.
Here’s an interesting, modular F-Open rig from Wayne Young. The forearm can be adjusted to 5″ or 6″ width for shooting benchrest.
CLICK HERE for a full write-up on the Wayne Young stock design.
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February 5th, 2014
A while back, while in Arizona, we headed out to the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, located about 27 miles north of downtown Phoenix on I-17. We were impressed by Ben Avery’s vast range complex, which includes a Clay Target (shotgun) center, 1000-yard High Power range, 100-300 yard Benchrest range, rifle and pistol silhouette ranges, handgun ranges, smallbore range, Running Boar range, and a large, 53-bay, 200-yard main range.
At the main range we ran into Forum Member Troy D., who had a brand-spanking new 6mmBR rifle built by Lester Bruno of Bruno Shooters Supply. While breaking-in his new 28″ Krieger barrel, Troy was using Sierra 70gr Blitz-Kings. Accuracy was impressive — the 70 grainers ripped tight, little knots in the high 2s, low 3s. Though his rifle has an 8-twist barrel, Troy was testing the 70s in preparation for a prairie dog trip next week. From what we saw, those p-dogs should be worried. Troy’s gun was a tack-driver with the Sierra Blitz-Kings.
Troy’s Compact Storage Box (Just $1.50!)
While Troy was cleaning between groups, we noticed he was using a compact little box to hold his jags, brushes and patches. The box was the perfect size for these items. Troy explained: “If you’re just taking one rifle to the range, you don’t need to take a big gear box with stuff for all your guns. Apart from solvent, bore guide, and cleaning rod, this little box holds all I really need to clean my rifle.” Troy sourced the box at Cabela’s for $1.50.
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February 3rd, 2014
When we recently ran a story about Dennis Santiago’s new snakeskin Eliseo Tubegun, folks asked us if this kind of rifle can be competitive in F-Class competition. Here’s a detailed answer to that question by German Salazar, who runs the Riflemans Journal Website.
A while back, German Salazar published a three-part article on Shooting The Tubegun in F-Class. Links for all three segments are found below. The article covers some of the hardware German engineered to adapt his tubegun for long-range F-Class shooting with scope. If you’re an F-Classer, or just a fan of tubeguns, you should read German’s article, in all its parts.
READ Tubegun in F-Class Part 1
READ Tubegun in F-Class Part 2
READ Tubegun in F-Class Part 3
In the intro to his multi-part F-Class Tubegun article, German explains:
Salazar: The tubegun has truly changed the face of High Power shooting over the past five years or so. Specifically, the CSS (Gary Eliseo) tubeguns, which are made for a broad variety of actions and configurable to single-shot or repeater, have truly helped the sport to grow. That’s not just idle talk, the two principal factors that made the tubegun so important to our growth are the ease of transition for AR15 shooters moving into a bolt-action rifle and the absolutely ridiculous length of time it currently takes to get a stock from the conventional stock makers. My last conventional stock took well over two years from order to delivery (plain fiberglass). One of my friends has now been waiting four years for a simple wood stock for a smallbore rifle. By contrast, tubeguns, which are largely CNC machined, are delivered in a reasonably short time — weeks or a couple of months at most.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the tubegun would never have attained its present success if it weren’t for one simple fact — they are brutally accurate. I have three CSS tubeguns, one chambered in .308 and two in .30-06 and they are my favorite prone rifles due to their accuracy and great ergonomics. Those factors are just as appealing to an F-Class competitor as to a prone shooter, and indeed, the tubegun is making solid inroads into F-Class. READ MORE…
READ MORE of Part 1, The Tubegun in F-Class
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January 30th, 2014
A 7mm Snake for Santiago
Our friend Dennis Santiago has a new reptile in his arsenal. It’s actually an Eliseo R1 single-shot tubegun chambered in .284 Winchester. The eye-catching aspect of Santiago’s new toy 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 and tactical matches. He says: “I can’t wait to start breaking it in. 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 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 during break-in. If I did everything right, the first round will be on paper — theoretically. 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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January 29th, 2014
Beretta USA announced today that it will open a new firearms manufacturing plant in Sumner County, Tennessee. Beretta, a global manufacturer of sporting and military firearms, will invest $45 million in a state-of-the-art manufacturing and R&D facility in the Gallatin Industrial Park. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam stated that this new facility will create 300 new Tennessee jobs. Beretta hopes to complete construction on the facility this year. Moving production and R&D functions to Tennessee will allow Beretta to scale down its operations in the state of Maryland. In recent years, Maryland has become less attractive to firearms-related businesses.
Beretta supplies sporting and self-defense firearms to consumers worldwide. The company manufactures the U.S. Armed Forces M-9 pistol, the standard sidearm of U.S. soldiers since 1985. Beretta will make firearms at the new Gallatin plant from both their sporting and tactical product lines.
Established in 1526, Beretta is one of the oldest industrial companies in the world. The company has enjoyed 16 generations of continuous family ownership. Firearms bearing the Beretta name have been sold for almost 500 years. Beretta also owns and markets other leading firearms brands, including Benelli, Franchi, SAKO, Stoeger, Tikka, and Uberti. For more information, visit www.beretta.com.
“From the moment when we started to consider a location outside of the State of Maryland for our manufacturing expansion, Governor Haslam and his economic development team did an excellent job demonstrating the benefits of doing business in Tennessee. We are convinced we could find no better place than Tennessee to establish our new manufacturing enterprise.”
– Franco Gussalli Beretta, Vice President and Managing Director of Fabbrica D Armi S.p.A and Executive Vice President of Beretta USA.
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