June 18th, 2017

Panda Perfected — Ignition Timing for Kelbly Panda Action

Alex Wheeler Accuracy gunsmith Panda Kelbly Stolle action timing receiver benchrest video

Kelbly makes outstanding actions, including the Stolle Pandas. In the past 20 years, Pandas have probably won more benchrest matches than any other action (though BATs and Bordens are increasingly in the winning circle). Recently gunsmith Alex Wheeler of Wheeler Accuracy worked his magic on an aluminum Panda, optimizing the “ignition timing” of the action. This involves many small mods to bolt, camming surfaces, trigger, and firing pin: “The whole cam helix and detent shelf is re-cut. The firing pin and cocking piece are modified as well.” When executed properly, Ignition Timing has a number of benefits, including a smoother bolt opening/closing, improved firing pin fall, and enhanced accuracy (though the accuracy improvements can be subtle).

BEFORE Action Timing — Stiff and Clunky

Alex reports: “Normally Panda actions have plenty of firing pin fall. For one reason or another this one was very low. Before timing, firing pin fall was .210 with a Bix’N Andy (BNA) trigger. After trigger timing firing pin fall is .244 with zero cock on close.” Here is how the action functioned before timing work:

CLICK Photo to start VIDEO

Alex notes: “As you can see, after the cocking piece rides out of the detent notch it then
falls to the trigger and is then re-cocked. This is normal on most un-timed actions.”

AFTER Action Timing — Smooth and Refined

Alex explains the modifications he made for this Panda action: “Moving the trigger back adds cock on close. The whole cam helix and detent shelf is re-cut. The firing pin and cocking piece are modified as well. I do love a timed Panda. In fact, I like aluminum actions, I think there is something to them. But yes, I also recommend Borden as my first choice.’

CLICK Photo to start VIDEO

Fix for Right-Bolt Actions Only
After seeing these videos on Facebook, one poster asked: “I do like my Panda but this is exactly why I bought a Borden action and I love it. It’s good to know you can make a Panda better. Alex, can you time a left bolt Panda?”

Alex replied: “No, the tooling I built is all for right hand actions sorry….”

Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
June 18th, 2017

6.5 Creedmoor with Howa 1500 Barreled Action in MDT Chassis

Howa 6.5 Creedmoor barrel action tactical rifle Sierra RifleShooter.com
RifleShooter.com built this rig with Howa 1500 barreled action and MDT ESS chassis. READ TEST HERE.

We’ve been telling folks that the Japanese Howa 1500 barreled actions are an attractive option for a hunting, varminting, or tactical rifle. Priced at under $450.00, these barreled actions include the excellent HACT two-stage trigger. These Howa 1500 actions are smooth-running (noticeably more so than some “major-brand” domestic receivers).

Our friends at RifleShooter.com recently acquired a Howa 1500 barreled action in 6.5 Creedmoor and installed it in an MDT ESS modular chassis. This project turned out well. The barreled action mated well to the ESS chassis, providing an ergonomic platform with comfortable grip, adjustable cheekpiece, and adjustable LOP. Most importantly the gun shot well. With virtually no load development, the project rifle delivered 3/4-MOA accuracy right out of the gate.

Howa 6.5 Creedmoor barrel action tactical rifle Sierra RifleShooter.com

As tested with Hornady brass and Hodgdon Varget powder pushing Sierra 123gr MatchKings, the Howa 1500 MDT showed good accuracy right from the start. With more load development (and a few more rounds through the new barrel), half-MOA groups may be possible.

Brownells now sells barreled Howa actions in a variety of configurations. Rifleshooter.com acquired a Howa 1500 barreled action with a 24″ #6 contour barrel chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. RifleShooter.com plans to test this barreled action in multiple modular chassis systems. That should provide an interesting comparison test, providing the pros and cons of various stock/chassis configurations.

Read the Full 6.5 Creedmoor Project Review HERE »

RifleShooter.com’s Editor writes: “I was pleasantly surprised by the number of chassis and stock offerings for the Howa barreled action.” For this project rifle, RifleShooter.com chose the Modular Driven Technologies (MDT) Elite Sniper System (ESS) chassis, for the initial build.

Like MDT’s other chassis systems, the ESS uses any AR-15/M16 M4 pistol grip. The ESS departs from the rest of the MDT product line it does not use a standard AR-15/M16 M4 stock. Eliminating this interface allows for a design that does not increase the length of pull. The stock has an adjustable comb, adjustable length of pull, and horizontally adjustable recoil pad. Comb and LOP adjustments are accomplished with a hand wheel, plus a cap screw and clamp system.

RifleShooter.com’s Howa 6.5 Creedmoor rifle has the following components:

While the HACT 2-stage trigger is very good, RifleShooter.com’s Editor replaced the HACT with a Timney because he favors a single-stage design. The Timney adjusts lower than the HACT, allowing a crisp pull at ~1.5 pounds: “You’ll notice I swapped out the factory trigger in favor of a Timney. I’ve had great luck with their products and Timney’s Howa trigger was no exception. Adjusted to 1.5 pounds, it is a pleasure to shoot with.”

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tactical No Comments »
June 15th, 2017

Sako Extractor Upgrade for Rem 700 Works Great

Sako Extractor Remington bolt

Jonathan Ocab, a High Power shooter from California, had gunsmith Doan Trevor install a Sako-style extractor in the Rem 700 bolt in Ocab’s 6mmBR Eliseo R5 tubegun. Jonathan produced an excellent video showing how the Sako extractor improves the ejection of the short, fat 6mmBR cartridges in his rifle. Jonathan’s video demonstrates 6mmBR case ejection with an unmodified Rem 700 factory bolt versus a factory bolt fitted with a Sako-style extractor.

Johnathan explains: “Note how even when slowly operating the bolt, the bolt with the Sako extractor easily ‘kicks’ out the brass on ejection with minimal chance of operator error resulting in a failure to extract. While the unmodified bolt has issues ejecting brass on slow operation, it will eject if the operator pulls the bolt back quickly (fast and with some force).

While a Sako-style extractor isn’t an absolute necessity, this video shows the definite improvement this modification provides. For short cartridges like the 6mmBR, this is very useful. This modification is highly recommended for competition shooters, especially High Power competitors who seek improved function in rapid-fire stages. This modification is fairly inexpensive and any competent gunsmith should be able to perform the work (usually under $100 with parts and labor).”

EDITOR’s NOTE: In his video, Jonathan deliberately worked the unmodified Remington bolt slowly to show how the standard Rem extractor can struggle with short fat cases like the 6mmBR. In fact, when you work a standard, unmodified bolt more quickly, the extraction can be much more positive. Cycling the bolt with more “snap” provides more energy to eject the cases. We have run an R5 Tubegun chambered in 6mmBR with an unmodified Rem 700 bolt (no SAKO extractor), and the extraction was reliable, provided the bolt was worked quickly.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
June 12th, 2017

Cure Cratering Issues with a GreTan Firing Pin Hole Bushing Job

Crater moon primers greg tannel bushing firing pinCraters 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.

CLICK HERE for Gre-Tan Firing Pin Bushing Service INFO

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”.)

Gre-Tan Rifles firing pin bushingFiring 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.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Reloading No Comments »
June 6th, 2017

Adjustable Stock Rudders for Long-Range Benchrest Stocks

adjustable benchrest stock foot rudder bag-rider McMillan Alex Wheeler Accuracy

Gunsmith/stockmaker Alex Wheeler is a very smart guy. Among his many clever innovations is an adjustable bag-rider that fits on the underside of the buttstock at the rear. Alex calls this a “Rudder” because it allows the shooter to align the tracking perfectly. The rudder assembly can swing left and right using an adjustment bolt. You can also adjust the Rudder’s vertical “angle of attack” with simple shims. Some guys like the Rudder’s 3/4″-wide bottom perfectly parallel with the bore axis. Others prefer a slight angle so the stock slides down a bit during recoil.

adjustable benchrest stock foot rudder bag-rider McMillan Alex Wheeler Accuracy

Adjustable Rudders Now For Sale
Alex has fitted these innovative, adjustable Rudders in the stocks and complete rifles he sells.And now owners of other stocks can benefit from Wheeler’s invention. Alex is offering the Rudders for sale: “I have made my adjustable Rudders for sale. Price including mounting hardware is $125 shipped. These are the same rudders I install in most ever stock I build. They’re the only way to achieve perfect tracking every time.”

Watch how the Wheeler Rudder works in this video. Alex explains: “If you pull your rifle back in the bags and the cross-hair moves, your stock is not straight. The easiest fix is to use an adjustable Rudder. They come standard on all my stocks. The white box on the 1000-yard target is 4″. With a properly-adjusted rudder it’s easy to obtain less than 1″ of cross-hair movement at 1000 yards.”

Rudder-Equipped Stock In Action (with 1000-Yard Champ Tom Mousel)
This second video shows how well a Rudder-equipped stock performs. This shows IBS 1000-yard Champ Tom Mousel running five (5) shots with his 17-lb Light Gun chambered in 6BR Ackley Improved. Note how perfectly the stock tracks. It runs smoothly straight back then comes right back on target when pushed forward by Mousel. Check it out — this is impressive.

It’s relatively easy to install these rudders on most wood and wood laminate stocks. Alex says: “Just notch the stock, and install the anchors for the adjustment bolts.” In addition, McMillan will soon be offering fiberglass stocks with a notch designed to fit the Wheeler rudder. Based on Alex’s Deep Creek Tracker stock design, these new McMillan stocks with have metals rails in the front also.

New Rudder-Equipped McMillan LRB Stock
Alex explains: “The new McMillan Rudder-equipped stock will be a version of the Deep Creek Tracker, most likely called a Wheeler LRB (Long Range Benchrest). It will feature factory installed 1/2″ wide aluminum rails in the 4″ fore-arm. It will come with the rear notch molded in for the Rudders which I will install on each stock. I will be exclusive dealer on these and hope to see the first one in June. I also have got with Edgewood to make 4″ wide front bags that will fit a standard rest top and will cost the same as their standard 3″ bag. I will have some in stock but anyone can order them direct and not have to pay the $125 price for a custom bag.”

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing, New Product No Comments »
June 5th, 2017

TECH Tip: How to Use Wipe-Out Without Making a Mess

wipeout brushless bore cleaner foam

Wipe-Out foam bore cleaner is a product we’ve used with great success on many rifles. With sufficient dwell time, it removes both carbon and copper fouling. You can combine it with Wipe-Out Accelerator or Patch-Out liquid to speed up cleaning time. Many shooters, including this editor, find that bore-brushing has been virtually eliminated with the regular use of Wipe-Out. (With some barrels however, you may still have to brush or use a bore paste if you notice stubborn carbon build-up in the throat area.)

Method One: Apply Through Muzzle
Out standard procedure with Wipe-Out is to insert an O-ring-sealed cleaning rod guide into the chamber and then squirt through the muzzle in short puffs. Put a towel or rag on the comb of your stock and watch for a little bit of foam to exit the rod guide. We usually wait 30 minutes for the bubbles to dissipate, then do a second foam application. Be sure to clean off any excess foam before it drips on your stock. It is important to keep the foam off fine wood or paint finishes.

Our actual routine normally starts with 3-4 wet patches with Carb-Out (to get the loose black stuff out), followed by the two foam cycles as explained above. Then we plug both ends of the barrel, drive home from the range and dry-patch out on arrival at the house. If the gun is going to be used again soon, that’s all we do. If there will be long-term storage we’ll run some Eezox down the bore.

Method Two: Apply Wipe-Out from Breech
You can also apply Wipe-Out from the breech. To allow breech-first application, Wipe-Out cans now come with a short plastic tube and a plastic tip that fits in your chamber. These can also be purchased separately for $2.50. However, we’ve found the plastic tip is too big for some chambers and it is not always easy to get a good, secure seal even if it does fit. Jason Baney has come up with a solution. READ Jason’s Wipe-Out Article.

Use Fitted Tubing for Breech-First Applications of Wipe-Out
You can apply Wipe-Out through the breech very effectively if you use fitted, plastic tubing. While this works well for bolt-actions, breech application is particularly handy for the Garand, M1A and other semi-autos. Jason Baney has written a short article describing this process. In a nutshell, you need one piece of tubing that fits the chamber tightly and then connects with a second, smaller diameter tube that attaches to the Wipe-Out can. This avoids any “over-spray” of foam in the action area, providing a clean, simple solution. Just squirt for a second or so, and wait for white foam to come out of the muzzle. Be sure to keep Wipe-Out off fine wood stocks.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip No Comments »
May 29th, 2017

CMP Custom Shop Repairs and Upgrades Vintage Rifles

cmp custom shop USGI rifle repairs

CMP Custom Shop Civilian Marksmanship ProgramThe Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) does more than run matches and sell surplus firearms. The CMP also operates a full-service Custom Shop in Anniston, Alabama that does maintenance, repair, and upgrading of USGI-issue rifles at a reasonable cost.

Since the fall of 2013, the CMP Custom Shop has offered repair, upgrade, gunsmithing and custom services for a wide range of U.S. Military rifles, specifically those issued in early eras. As well as regular repairs and troubleshooting, the CMP Custom Shop can upgrade, accurize, and refinish virtually all the rifle types sold by the CMP.

What Rifles Can the CMP Custom Shop Service?
The CMP Custom Shop will work on the M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, 1903/1903A3 Springfield, 1917 Enfield, and the Krag. The Custom Shop will also service Remington 40X, Mossberg 44, and H&R Model 12 rifles. 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.

cmp custom shop USGI rifle repairs

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.

CMP Custom Shop Garand 1903 repair

CMP Custom Shop Garand 1903 repairFor 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:

CMP Custom Shop
1803 Coleman Rd
Anniston, AL 36207

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
May 20th, 2017

How to Prematurely Kill a Barrel — .243 Win Fast Firing Test

barrel life test rapid fire cooling

Can sustained rapid-fire shooting with no cool-down period wear out a quality barrel more quickly? The answer is “Yes” according to Forum member LCazador, who did an interesting comparison test with two .243 Winchester barrels. He started off with two, identical, match-grade HV taper stainless barrels. Both were NEW at the start of testing, and LCazador shot the same load through each: 95gr match bullets with 38 grains of Hodgdon Varget. After giving both barrels the same, gentle 20-round break-in, 300 rounds were then fired through each barrel — in very different ways. Barrel condition and wear were monitored with a borescope.

Barrel One — Slow Fire, Cool Down Periods, Cleaning Every 50 Rounds
At the end of the 300-round test, Barrel One looked brand new. There was none of the severe fire cracking found in Barrel Two. This barrel was shot no more than 10 times without a cool down and firing was done at a much slower pace. Cleaning for this barrel was done every 50 shots.

Barrel Two — Fast Firing, No Waiting, Cleaning Every 100 Rounds
The second barrel, which received hard use and minimal cleaning, was severely damaged with severe fire cracking at the leade and throat. As a result, the barrel had to be re-chambered. This barrel was shot 100 rounds at time without cleaning and was shot up to 20 times in succession without a cool down.

LESSON LEARNED — Heat Kills Barrel Life
Don’t let your barrel get too hot, and keep it clean. One afternoon can ruin a barrel!

Hawkeye Borescope imageMonitoring Barrel Wear with Borescope
Some folks worry too much about what their borescopes reveal — many barrels do not have to be “squeaky clean” to perform well. In fact some barrels run better after ten or more fouling shots. However, a borescope can be very helpful when your barrel starts losing accuracy for no apparent reason. Forum member FdShuster writes:

“A borescope is a positive way of backing up your suspicions when the rifle starts to throw an occasional (soon followed by more frequent) wild shot. Using the scope is also an excellent way to determine that the cause is barrel wear and not simply a need for a concentrated cleaning session to remove built up copper and more importantly, carbon fouling.

I’ve had a few barrels that gave every indication of being shot out. But I ‘scoped them out and found the cause to be nothing more than requiring a good cleaning. They then returned to their usual performance. There’s no guessing involved when you are able to get ‘up close and personal’ using the scope. The borescope also provides an excellent view of the all-important condition of the crown. My borescope is one of the most valuable investments I’ve ever made.”

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
May 16th, 2017

Big Rig — .338 Lapua Magnum Improved for King of 2 Miles Match


Click Image above for full-screen version

There’s a talented new team getting ready for the 2017 King of 2 Miles (KO2M) Competition in Raton, NM next month. The team features ace F-Class shooters Ian Klemm and Dan Pohlabel. Here’s a build report from X-Treme Shooting Products, which supplied the impressive XTSP action and two-stage trigger.

Big Gun for King of 2 Miles Event at Raton
XTSP: “It’s exciting — we’re getting closer to the 2017 King of 2 Miles match next month. Here are a few pictures of one of the rifles we will be shooting. Owned and built by Dan Pohlabel, it’s a .338 Lapua Magnum Improved. It has a 40° shoulder and we plan on shooting .338 Caliber 300 grain Berger OTM projectiles at around 3,100 fps.”

XTSP X-Treme Shooting Products .338 Lapua Magnum Improved king 2 miles ELR

“We started off with an XTSP .338 Magnum receiver, custom-built as a single shot with a solid bottom for stiffness. We built +60 MOA rails for each of the rifles. Of course we’re using the XTSP two-stage trigger! We added a 34″-long Bartlein gain-twist barrel which is 1.450″ at the shank tapering to 1.2″ at the muzzle. At the end we added Piercision Rifles’ 3/4 x 24 slabbed 5-Port ‘Muscle Brake’. The action is bedded in a McMillan Super Magnum stock. On top sits a Vortex Optics HD Razor in Vortex 35mm rings. We’ll have another rifle just like it shortly with the machine work by Dan Pohlabel again. That second rifle will be finished up and shot by Ian Klemm of Vortex Optics.”

XTSP X-Treme Shooting Products .338 Lapua Magnum Improved king 2 miles ELR

Here’s a file photo of a .338 Lapua Magnum Improved, alongside a standard .338 Lapua Magnum. We’re not sure about the shoulder angle on this particular example. For the XTSP project, the angle is 40 degrees (40°). Photo Courtesy LongRangeHunting.com.

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 12 Comments »
May 13th, 2017

Tikka TECH — Criterion Pre-Fit Barrels Coming Soon for Tikka T3

Tikka T3 T-2 prefit chambered barrel 6.5 Creedmoor Solid Accuracy Criterion Barrels

We have always liked Tikka actions, and now there is a great re-barreling option for Tikka T3 owners. Criterion Barrels Inc. (CBI), makers of “pre-fit” barrels for Savage, Remington, and Rem-clone actions, will soon be offering Tikka pre-fits. These pre-chambered barrels for Tikka T3 actions will be headspaced with a barrel nut, just like a Savage.

Tikka T3 T-2 prefit chambered barrel 6.5 Creedmoor Solid Accuracy Criterion Barrels
Click image for full-screen version

The new Tikka T3 pre-fit barrels will be sold through Solid Accuracy, a respected Texas-based outfit that sells high-end scopes, stocks, barrels and other rifle components. Criterion tells us: “The Solid Accuracy barrel nut and wrench design has been finalized, the prototype barrels tested and the barrel nuts are now going through production (with an expected ETA of 2-3 weeks). All orders for these pre-fits barrels are currently heading out to the shop floor for production. Orders placed this week can expect a conservative estimated lead time of 14-16 weeks.”

The accuracy has been impressive with Solid Accuracy’s test rifle, which features a Tikka T3 action mounted in a KRG X-Ray chassis. This prototype rifle is chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. The group below was shot with a stout load of H4350 and Sierra 140 grain MatchKings seated .009″ in the lands.

Tikka T3 T-2 prefit chambered barrel 6.5 Creedmoor Solid Accuracy Criterion Barrels

The folks at Criterion are excited about the Tikka pre-fit project: “We’re looking forward to getting these barrels out the door and on to some custom rifle builds.” One of Criterion’s staffers was so impressed with the initial test results that he is building his own T3 project, with a Criterion pre-fit of course…

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product, Tactical 4 Comments »
May 10th, 2017

Tech Tip: Shoot BR Cases with Rebated Rims in PPC Actions

PPC 6mm BR .308 bolt face Cutting Head for Rebating Rims

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 30 BR, 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.
PPC 6mm BR .308 bolt face Cutting Head for Rebating 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 30 BR 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.” At right is the lathe form tool Butch uses to rebate the case rims.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip No Comments »
May 9th, 2017

High-Tech Honing — Major Advance in Barrel Making

Sunnen honing barrel hone CNC computer honer machine Pac-nor

Some custom barrel makers are now honing barrels (after drilling) to improve bore diameter uniformity, smooth the interior finish, and reduce barrel lapping times. For years, large-scale manufacturers of hammer-forged barrels have employed honing. Now the process is being used by smaller, “boutique” barrel-makers. This article explains how and why barrel honing is done. Take the time to watch the video. For anyone with an interest in barrel-making, this video is an eye-opener…

Barrel Honing Process Demonstrated (Worth Watching!):

Barrel Bore honing cut-rifled rifling hammer forging accurateshooter.com

For custom barrel makers, honing is a time-saver and cost cutter. A few minutes on a honing machine can cut lapping times in half, leaving a cross-hatched surface finish in single or low double-digit Ra. Honing is the same process used to make diesel fuel injectors with bore roundness and straightness controlled to fractions of a micron (<0.000040″), with surface finish Ra ≤0.15 µm (6 µin).

A key manufacturing process used for hammer-forged barrels is now getting attention from the makers of custom button-rifled barrels. This process is precision bore-honing. Honing produces a high-quality bore surface fast, which is critical to hammer forging. (Why is honing so important with hammer forging? Surface finish is the one feature of the barrel that cannot be controlled in hammer forging. Surface imperfections in a barrel blank tend to be amplified as the blank is formed on the rifling mandrel. And if the bore is chromed afterwards, imperfections in the surface finish become even more obvious.)

Honing dramatically improves bore diameter size uniformity and accuracy, surface finish and roundness throughout the length of the barrel. It can certainly be used in place of a pre-rifling lap. The chief difference between a lapped and honed bore is the direction of the finish lines in the bore. Honing leaves fine spiraling crosshatch lines, while a lap leaves lines going longitudinally in the bore. After rifling the manufacturer can remove the crosshatch finish with a quick lap if desired. Honing is fast, accurate, and can be automated. Its surface quality and geometry can duplicate lapping, except for the longitudinal lines of the lapped finish.

Frank Green of Bartlein Barrels told us: “We worked with Sunnen and we did all the initial testing on the prototype machine for them. The machine works great! We ordered and received last year a new manufactured machine with the changes we wanted on it and we just ordered a second one a month or so ago. Should be here next month.”

(more…)

Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 8 Comments »
May 7th, 2017

Howa Barreled Actions in 6.5 Creedmoor (and More) at Brownells

Howa Brownells barreled action PRS tactical HACT 2-stage trigger

Planning a new tactical or hunting rifle project? You may want to consider a Howa barreled action for your new rig. Brownells has a large supply of these well-made Howas in a variety of chamberings, including the popular 6.5 Creedmoor. You can just bolt this barreled action into the chassis system of your choice. These barreled actions start at $359.99 complete with two-stage trigger and magazine. The 6.5 Creedmoor barrelled action with 24″ Heavy Barrel is $449.99 blued, $479.99 blued/threaded, or $546.00 Cerakote Gray. Many other chamberings are carried by Brownells, including: .204 Ruger, .222 Rem, .223 Rem, 22-250, 6.5 Grendel (Mini), 7.62×39 (Mini), .243 Win, 7mm-08, .308 Win, .270 Win, .30-06, 7mm Rem Mag, .300 Win Mag, .338 Win Mag and more.

Watch Unboxing of Howa Barreled Action in Video:

Howa Brownells barreled action PRS tactical HACT 2-stage triggerBolt-In to Chassis Systems
Howa barreled actions are ready to drop into stocks or chassis systems for quick, DIY bolt-action rifle builds. These barreled actions are available in a wide selection of calibers, barrel lengths and profiles in both blued finish and grey Cerakote. Some have threaded muzzles for easy attachment of suppressors or other muzzle devices. Actions have factory-installed two-stage HACT Trigger, and internal 5-round box magazines. Detachable-mag bottom metals and extra magazines are also available. Actions are ready to accept scope bases and rails. Brownells currently has more than 75 versions of Howa barreled actions.

HACT 2-Stage Trigger
One of the best features of the Howa barreled actions is the HACT 2-Stage trigger, which is way better than most factory triggers. Set at around 3 pounds, the HACT can be adjusted to about half that pull weight. This is a very nice trigger system, and we like the 2-Stage pull for field applications. Writing for the Western Outdoor News, WONews.com, Steve Comus field-tested the HACT Trigger: “The take-up on the [HACT] trigger was fast and easy. The crisp, positive release when pressure was put on during the second stage [reminded me] of some of the target rifles I shot through the years.”

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tactical 2 Comments »
May 7th, 2017

Replacement Trigger Springs Available for Major Brands

Ernie the Gunsmith remington tikka cz browning trigger springs

Ernie The Gunsmith Replacement Trigger Springs
Ernie Paull from California was an active competition shooter for many years. However, his eyesight has declined so he has turned his attention to providing components for shooters and gunsmiths. Through his Ernie the Gunsmith website, Paull sells a variety of useful products including gun trigger springs, pillar-bedding kits, Accu-Risers, and pillar installation tools. This Bulletin post focuses on Ernie’s trigger springs. Ernie offers springs for a wide variety of rifles: Browning (A-Bolt, A-Bolt 22), CZ (m452), Kimber, Remington (XR100, XCR, 7, 700, 722, 788, 7600 and more), Ruger (77, 77-22, LC6), Tikka (T-3), Weatherby (MK-V), and Winchester (M-70).

Springs start at just $6.95. Ernie also sells springs for the Rem-compatible Shilen Benchrest trigger, as well as Rem 700 ejector springs and trigger alignment springs. For Rem 700 rifles, Paull makes a spring that fits all Remington M-7 and M-700 triggers including the early X Mark-PRO triggers. Ernie says: “On average, installation of his Model-700 spring will reduce factory triggers’ weight of pull by 1½ to 2½ lbs with no other changes. The exact amount of creep, over-travel, and weight of pull are dependent upon the type and amount of tuning accomplished by your gunsmith.”

While there is more to a good trigger job (in most cases) than just a spring swap, you need to have the proper rate spring when adjusting trigger pull weight downwards. NOTE: For safety reasons, we recommend you consult a competent gunsmith before modifying factory triggers.

Why Replacement Springs are Better than Tweaked/Modified Springs
Ernie has observed that some gunsmiths try to lighten trigger pulls by modifying factory springs in questionable ways: “I have worked with gunsmiths in the past who, when the subject turned to trigger springs, preferred to clip them, grind them, heat them, bend them, smash them, or simply back out the weight of pull screw until there was no or almost no pressure on the spring. With any of these methods, you get a spring whose rate is rapidly rising as the trigger is pulled. As the trigger is released, the spring rate rapidly decreases as it approaches full or near-full extension. A more uniform weight of pull will be achieved when the trigger spring is compressed within its normal working range throughout the entire movement of the trigger. In the long run, the benefits of saved time, plus more uniform and reliable results, will more than offset the cost of these [replacement] springs. If you want a lighter trigger pull, you need a lighter trigger spring.”

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
May 3rd, 2017

Video Shows How to Replace Remington 700 Trigger

Remington 700 trigger replacement Timney installation

Many Remington 700 rifle owners swap out the factory trigger. This is not a difficult task, but you need to follow the proper procedure so you don’t damage any important parts during installation, and so that you don’t interfere with the operation of the bolt and safety. This Do-It-Yourself video from Brownells leads you through step by step how to safely and correctly replace your Remington 700 trigger. This installation video covers the common methods used to install most of the popular after-market Rem 700 triggers. Importantly, the video also shows how to function test after installation, and how to make sure your safety is working properly.

Many Rem 700 owners fit Timney triggers to their rifles.
Remington 700 trigger replacement Timney installation

Video find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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April 30th, 2017

Ruger Offers Integrally Suppressed Barrel for 10/22 Rifles

Integrally suppressed barrel .22 LR rimfire 10/22 takedown ISB Silent SR

Even seen an integrally suppressed rifle? Ruger offers this technology with its new Silent-SR ISB, a multi-baffle integrally suppressed barrel (ISB) for Ruger 10/22 takedown models. This system reduces sound levels to an average of 113.2 dB with standard velocity ammunition. That’s very impressive — consider that an unsuppressed .22 LR firearm can produce noise levels as high as 140 dB with standard velocity ammunition. That’s well above the threshold where irreversible hearing damage begins. (Source: NC Silencers).

Even if you are not interested in a suppressed rimfire rifle (or live in a state where suppressors are forbidden) we think you’ll be interested in Ruger’s technology. The Silent-SR employs a long, multi-element “baffle stack” that can be easily removed for cleaning.

Integrally suppressed barrel .22 LR rimfire 10/22 takedown ISB Silent SR

Watch Integrally Suppressed Barrel in Action. CLICK HERE to View Video on Ruger Site. Scroll to bottom of Ruger page after jump!
Integrally suppressed barrel .22 LR rimfire 10/22 takedown ISB Silent SR

Here’s what Ruger says about its new ISB (Integrally Suppressed Barrel) for the 10/22 Take-down:

The Silent-SR ISB quickly and easily assembles to any Ruger 10/22 Takedown or 22 Charger Takedown, and features an induction-hardened breech with cold hammer-forged barrel that provide easy takedown and accurate return-to-zero.

Reducing sound pressure levels of .22 LR to an average of 113.2 dB with standard velocity ammunition, a 10/22 Takedown rifle equipped with the Silent-SR ISB is as quiet as a bolt-action rifle with a thread-on silencer. The relatively long barrel of the Silent-SR ISB (compared to other integral suppressors) means the bullet generates energy near that of a 16″ gun for consistent, accurate and effective performance on target. The pushed-cone baffle geometry has been stretched to utilize the volume under the barrel maximizing suppression of the gunshot without disturbing the travel of the bullet.

Integrally suppressed barrel .22 LR rimfire 10/22 takedown ISB Silent SR

Disassembly for cleaning is as simple as separating the barrel from your firearm and loosening the Silent-SR ISB’s single assembly screw using the included 5/32″ hex key tool. Once loose, pull the screw to remove all six 17-4 stainless steel baffles, spacer and front cap free of the sleeve for cleaning. The sealed baffles keep the fouling away from the serialized sleeve, yet easily come apart even after thousands of rounds. Finished with Cerakote, the Silent-SR ISB is engineered and built for a lifetime of hard use without clogged ports, seized components or loss of suppression that often plague other integrally suppressed rimfire barrels.

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, New Product 3 Comments »
April 25th, 2017

Zediker Book Helps with Build-You-Own AR-15 Projects

AR15 Varmint rifle AR gunsmithing robert whitley

AR15 construction guideMany of our readers use AR-type rifles for Service Rifle matches, varmint hunting, 3-Gun competition, or defensive use. AR-platform rifles can be configured in a multitude of ways to suit the application. But if you plan to put together your own purpose-built AR rifle, how do you get started?

For AR Do-It-Yourselfers, we suggest reading Glen Zedicker’s book, the Competitive AR-15 Builders Guide. Following on Zedicker’s New AR-15 Competitive Rifle book (2008), the Builders Guide provides step-by-step instructions that will help non-professional “home builders” assemble a competitive match or varmint rifle. This book isn’t for everyone — you need some basic gun assembly experience and an aptitude for tools. But the AR-15 Builders’ Guide provides a complete list of the tools you’ll need for the job, and Zedicker outlines all the procedures to build an AR-15 from start to finish.

One of our Forum members who purchased the AR-15 Builders Guide confirms it is a great resource: “Much like any of the books Mr. Zediker puts out this one is well thought-out and is a no nonsense approach to AR building. I can not stress how helpful this book is from beginner to expert level.”

Along with assembly methods, this book covers parts selection and preparation, not just hammers and pins. Creedmoor Sports explains: “Knowing how to get what you want, and be happy with the result, is truly the focus of this book. Doing it yourself gives you a huge advantage. The build will honestly have been done right, and you’ll know it! Little problems will have been fixed, function and performance enhancements will have been made, and the result is you’ll have a custom-grade rifle without paying custom-builder prices.” Creedmoor Sports sells this Zediker AR-15 book and many other excellent shooting books. Visit www.creedmoorsports.com/category/Books or call 1-800-CREEDMOOR.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
April 24th, 2017

Remington Arms Featured on Shooting USA TV This Week

Remington Arms Eliphalet Shooting USA Television TV

Remington Arms Company celebrated its 200th year in business in 2016. The Remington enterprise was founded in 1816 by Eliphalet Remington in Ilion, New York, as E. Remington and Sons. Remington is America’s oldest gun maker and is still the largest U.S. producer of shotguns and rifles.

CLICK HERE for 200 facts about the 200-year-old company.

This week, Shooting USA TV spotlights Remington, exploring the company’s 200 years of continuous production. The show covers the rich history of Remington Arms Company, and focuses on many of the company’s most noted firearms.

The Shooting USA Hour Airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays on the Outdoor Channel:

Eastern Time:
Tuesday 3:00 PM
Wednesday 9:30 PM, 1:00 AM

Central Time:
Tuesday 2:00 PM
Wednesday 8:30 PM, Midnight

Mountain Time:
Tuesday 1:00 PM
Wednesday 7:30 PM, 11:00 PM

Pacific Time:
Tuesday 12:00 PM (noon)
Wednesday 6:30 PM, 10:00 PM

eliphalet remington armsThe Founding of a Great Enterprise
Eliphalet Remington II grew up in the countryside of Herkimer County, New York, learning the blacksmith trade. Eliphalet told his father he wanted a gun, so his father told him to build one himself. And, so he did in 1816 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 apparently it was a very successful barrel. His gun shot well,” says Remington Historian Richard Shepler. “So, neighbors, friends said, ‘ 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 buy 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. The storied history continues, from the Remington Double Derringer to the Remington Model 700, unquestionably the most successful American sporting rifle.

Remington Arms Company Eliphalet Rem 700

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April 22nd, 2017

‘Pride and Joy’ Rifles Showcased in Shooters’ Forum


This stunning flame-painted PPC belongs to Chris from Australia. This rifle features a Stiller Viper action, Speedy (Robertson) BRX stock, and Maddco (Australian) 14-twist barrel chambered in 6PPC.

In our Shooters’ Forum you’ll find a thread in which readers can post photos of their “pride and joy” — their favorite rifle. You’ll find a wide range of guns, from “big boomers” to .17-caliber varminters. Here are some of our favorite entries in the “Pride and Joy” Gallery.

The Bear’s Barbed-Wire Barnard

BarryO, aka ‘the Blue-eyed Bear’, posted his beautiful 6mm Dasher, with its unique barbed wire 3D finish. (There’s a story behind that design.) This rifle was smithed by John King in Montana, with stock bedding work by Leo Anderson. The gun features a Barnard ‘P’ action (with trigger), and 28″ Broughton 5C fluted barrel with VAIS muzzle brake. The Barnard sits in a Tom Manners carbon fiber BR stock decorated with amazing graphics by Mad Shadow Custom Paint.

Sebastian’s Radical Swallowtail 6PPC

Sebastian Lambang is the designer and builder of SEB Coaxial Rests. He’s a smart, creative guy, so you knew when he designed a short-range benchrest stock it would be something special. It needed to be lightweight, yet very rigid. Using “out of the box” thinking, Seb employs a truss-style structure to provide great strength with minimal weight. The rear section is equally radical. There are two splayed “keels” in the rear, forming what this Editor calls a “swallowtail” rear design. Others have called it a “catamaran buttstock.” Below is a side-view of the prototype SEB stock before painting.

Brad’s 6CM Long-Range Match Rifle
Chad Dixon Surgeon 6CM Paint

Chambered in the 6mm Competition match cartridge, this handsome rig features a Surgeon RSR Action, Bartlein Barrel, and LRB stock. Barrel work was done by Chad Dixon at LongRifles, Inc. and paint by AT Custom Painting.

Varmint Special with Figured Walnut Stock
pride joy low boy gray yellow Dasher

Here’s a handsome varminter with a beautifully-figured walnut stock. This is one of three rifles Forum Member Dan Hall posted in the Pride and Joy thread.

A Trio of Pealescent Bench Guns
pride joy blue UK 7mm WSM

DixiePPC served up not one but THREE pretty bench rigs, all with pearlescent paint jobs. We’d be proud to own three eye-catching rifles like that. Click the image to see a full-screen version.

Zebra-Skinned Match Rifle
And here is Mark Walker’s amazing Zebra-skin BR rifle. With that wild-looking paint job, this rifle turns heads whenever Mark brings it to the range…

Anschutz BR rifle

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing No Comments »
April 14th, 2017

Gear Review: PMA Action Cleaning Tool

PMA Action Cleaning Tool Kit

A few years back our friend Danny Reever acquired the PMA Action Cleaning tool. He’s now used it for many seasons and it’s still working great. If you shoot a precision rifle, it deserves to have a clean action and lug recess area. This handy tool speeds up the cleaning process, letting you do a more thorough job in less time.

PMA Action Cleaning Tool Kit Review by Danny Reever
I’ve been using the PMA Action Cleaning Tool Kit for quite some time. Previously, I used one of the old style (round knob) Sinclair action-cleaning tools with cylindrical cotton rolls. With the Sinclair tool, I was pretty satisfied that I was getting my actions reasonably clean. But, as I explain below, I think the newer PMA Action Cleaning Tool Kit is easier to use, and possibly achieves better results.

PMA Tool Kit Extensively Tested with Many Action Types
PMA tried a variety of options before finalizing the PMA Action Cleaning Tool Kit. PMA explains that several shooters did a lot of testing “with various sizes of die-cut foam, patches, felts and cotton rolls with various bolt action types (BAT two- and three-Lug, Kelblys, Halls, Remingtons, Winchesters and Savages). [Testers all agreed] that the foam disc is far superior to felts and cotton rolls [and] we decided to include two different sizes of foam discs.”

The PMA Action-Cleaning Tool uses round foam discs in two included sizes: 1″ diameter and 1.25″ diameter. Both size discs can be used alone, or with a 3″ patch wrapped around them. The handles of the tools are CNC-machined blue-anodized aluminum with a silicone sleeve for grip. The PMA tool handles are a bit longer than those of my old Sinclair action-cleaning tool. I like the added handle length, and I find the design of the handle easier to use compared to the old-style round knobs.

The PMA tools are quality items. They are an improvement over my older Sinclair action-cleaning set-up. But do the PMA tools they actually clean the action better or easier than the old style cotton rolls? Well, based on my experience, the answer is a definite “maybe”.

Comparison Testing — Cotton Rolls vs. PMA Foam Discs (with and without patches)
Starting with the old-style cotton roll system, I cleaned my actions to a level I considered “clean” in the past. I then tried the included PMA foam discs. I found that, for my Remington-style actions, the larger 1.25″-diameter disc seemed to work better than the smaller 1″-diameter disc. Wrapping the larger disc with a 3″ patch definitely brought out more crud from my previously cleaned actions than the old style cotton rolls. Well, you might ask, what if you wrap the old-style cotton roll with a patch? Yes that will remove more crud too, but perhaps not as much as the PMA system. Moreover you would have to buy both cotton rolls AND 3″ patches. Not many places sell the cotton rolls.

Is it worth plunking down the $49.95 for the complete PMA system? Well, if you want to upgrade to a quality-made tool with better handles the answer is yes. Is getting that last bit of crud out of your action every time you clean it that important to you? You have to decide that for yourself. From my own perspective, I was due for an upgrade so the answer was easy. I like the PMA system, especially the new improved handles. Also, with the PMA system I don’t have to fool around with a tiny Allen screw to secure the cotton rolls — that was annoying. So my final take on the PMA Action Cleaning Tool Kit is that it is a good product with some real advantages over other action-cleaning systems.

PMA Action Cleaning Tool Kit

PMA Tool charges $49.95 for the complete Action Cleaning Tool Kit that includes a chamber cleaning handle and cotton swab. PMA offers the lug recess action cleaning tool by itself with four foam cleaning discs and five 3″ patches. Cleaning discs are also available separately in your choice of 1″- and 1.25″-diameter in a five pack.

Action Cleaning Tool Kit (complete): $49.95
Lug Recess Tool Only (includes 4 Cleaning Discs): $38.95
Chamber Swab Tool (includes Cotton Chamber Swab): $14.95
Additional 1″ Cleaning Discs: $4.95
Additional 1.25″ Cleaning Discs: $4.95

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »