October 5th, 2017

How to Clean and Maintain AR-Platform Modern Sporting Rifles

AR15 AR-15 Cleaning bolt grease carbon removal black rifle

We call them “black rifles”, but that shouldn’t refer to all the carbon and gunk on the inside. AR-platform rifles can be maintenance-intensive beasts. But some AR owners make the situation worse by not regularly cleaning important small parts, or by using too much oily/greasy lubricants in the wrong places. A properly maintained and lubricated AR15 can shoot hundreds of rounds (between cleanings) without a problem. If you learn where (and where not) to apply lubricant, you’ll find that your AR will run more reliably and the task of cleaning the bolt and bolt carrier will be less of a burden.

Here is a good video that explains AR-15 Cleaning and Maintenance. In this 30-minute NSSF video, Gunsite Academy instructor and gunsmith Cory Trapp discusses the proper way to clean and maintain the AR-15 carbine. Very knowledgeable, Trapp provides rock-solid advice for AR owners. Along with cleaning producedures, this video explains how to inspect key components and how to function-test your AR before each shooting session.

AR15 AR-15 gun cleaning maintenance

AR15 AR-15 gun cleaning maintenance

AR15 AR-15 gun cleaning maintenance

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tactical 1 Comment »
January 28th, 2017

TECH TIP: Clean Your Chamber and Lug Recesses

Most competitive shooters are pretty good about bore cleaning (some may even clean their bores too aggressively). However, we’ve found that many shooters neglect the chamber area and the bolt lug recesses. It’s too easy to clean the bore, slip out the guide rod and say “I’m done.” Sinclair Int’l explains why it’s important to clean the action interior: “Shooters use a lot of grease and oil on their bolts to reduce friction and to prevent wear[.] Unfortunately, both of these compounds attract grit, powder and primer residues. Cleaning your receiver is especially critical [with] custom actions where the fit between the action and bolt is held to very tight tolerances. Routine cleaning of the action will prevent unnecessary wear on the bolt body, locking lugs, and the action raceways/guide rails. Frequent action cleaning is also essential to keeping the trigger area free of debris which can cause trigger hang-ups and failures.” Below, we present action cleaning advice from Sinclair’s Reloading Press Newsletter.

Cleaning the Chamber
Combustion by-products, lubricants, and solvent residues can collect in your chamber. Severe build-up of grease and carbon can interfere with chambering. Also some solvents will promote corrosion. You need to keep your chambers clean.

Bolt Action Cleaning

1) Install a clean cotton mop of the correct size on the end of a chamber rod and insert the mop into the chamber. Rotate the mop several times to remove any brush bristles left behind and any excess solvent that was between the rod guide snout and the end of the chamber. Make sure the chamber is dry. Prior to storing a rifle you can oil the chamber but make sure the oil is removed prior to firing the rifle.
2) Alternatively, install an old bore brush on a chamber rod, overlap a couple of patches on the brush bristles, and wrap them around the brush completely. Then insert the patch-covered brush into the chamber while rotating it to remove the excess solvent and debris. Push it firmly into the neck area of the chamber. A similar method is to pierce a large patch on the end of the brush loop and insert it into the action, again rotating the brush as you push the patch up against the breech.

Cleaning the Lug Recess Area
The action lug recess area is one of the dirtiest places on a bolt-action rifle. To properly clean this area, always use a tool designed for the task, such as the $21.50 Sinclair Action Cleaning Tool (part # ACT1) which is part of the Sinclair Action Cleaning Tool Kit (now on sale for $29.99, part #ACT2).

Bolt Action Cleaning

1) Insert a cotton roll or cleaning felt into your lug recess cleaning tool and wet both ends and the face of the cotton roll/felt with solvent.
2) Insert the tool into the action and push it forward until it is positioned fully in the lug recess area and rotate the tool head several times. Then reverse the rotation for another few turns. While rotating the tool move it slightly in and out to cover the entire recess area and to also clean the breech face.
3) Remove the tool from the action and inspect the surface of the felt or cotton roll. If there is quite a bit of residue on both sides of the felt/roll, then repeat with another wet felt/roll.
4) When you feel the recess area is completely clean, insert a dry cotton roll into the tool and rotate the tool head to remove any remaining solvent and debris. If necessary, use a second dry cotton roll.
5) You can follow this step up with another pass of a mop or patches into the chamber to get any debris or solvent that pushed forward out of the lug recess area.

Bolt Action Cleaning

Cleaning Tips from The Reloading Press, used courtesy Sinclair Int’l, All Rights Reserved.

Permalink Tech Tip 4 Comments »
January 18th, 2017

Got Vertical Flyers? An Ignition Issue Could Be the Culprit

USAMU Handloading vertical dispersion ignition rimfire accuracy firing pin
Top to bottom – Remington firing pin assembly with ISS, Tubb SpeedLock alloy-composite system without ISS (current versions have dual, opposite-wound springs), and Remington short action firing pin assembly without ISS.

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. Last week’s “Handloading Hump Day” article covered mechanical issues and related ignition irregularities that can cause vertical fliers even with good ammunition in an otherwise excellent rifle. We highly recommend you read this article, which offers some important tech tips.

USAMU handloading hump day

Vertical Dispersion: Mechanical/Ignition Issues?

Poor or inconsistent ignition has long been known to be one of the “usual suspects” when one encounters vertical fliers that just shouldn’t be there. By having a sense of some of the basic principles involved, and a few basic areas to check, the shooter may avoid colsiderable frustration, not to mention time, expensive loading components and barrel wear.

USAMU Handloading vertical dispersion ignition rimfire accuracy firing pinIs your well-built rifle of high-quality components plagued with vertical fliers across more than 1-3 handload combinations? Consider the bedding, crown and scope/sight mounts. Are they correct? If so, then you might check for ignition issues before boldly undertaking an extensive, expensive, and quite possibly fruitless quest for the “magic handload”.

SEEING IS BELIEVING: While the author had been aware for many years that poor ignition should be considered and ruled out when dealing with vertical fliers in an otherwise-excellent rifle, actually seeing the problem and its almost instantaneous cure really drove the lesson home.

He was working with a “dot” rifle – a .22 LR match rifle that really stacked bullets into little piles at 50 yards and beyond. With one lot of ELEY Tenex, it produced consistent “bughole” groups at 50, but with another, selected lot of Tenex, similar groups were regularly ruined by single, vertical fliers that did not appear in other rifles. Rather than spending days burning up expensive, select ammunition looking for “magic lots”, he contacted a well-respected rimfire gunsmith and explained the situation.

Without so much as batting an eye, the highly-experienced ‘smith tore into the rifle’s action, and quickly found the cause(s) of the problem. He discovered a demonstrably weak firing pin spring, plus a chip out of the face of the firing pin where it contacted the cartridge rim.

After replacing and tuning the offending parts, the rifle immediately began shooting tiny, bughole groups with the previously “unacceptable” lot of Tenex. Centerfire rifles can also benefit from ensuring positive, consistent ignition. A wise riflesmith is literally worth his weight in gold!

So, what are some issues we as shooters can inspect in our rifles to help determine if ignition woes could be part of our problem? At the club level, ask yourself if that “experienced” Remington, Winchester 70, or even Springfield-based match bolt gun you’re using is still running its’ original 40-80 year-old factory striker spring? If so, a new replacement is cheap insurance against current or future problems. (And BTW, it might be best to stick to the normal, factory-spec spring weight. A super-powerful spring can cause vertical, just as a weak one one can.) Along with that, a routine check for proper firing-pin protrusion is a quick preventive measure that can rule out potential issues.

Other areas to consider are the centering and consistency of the firing pin’s operation in the bolt. Admittedly, with the increasing use of precision-machined custom actions, this is becoming less an issue every day. Below is the firing pin assembly from a custom BAT action:

USAMU Handloading vertical dispersion ignition rimfire accuracy firing pin

However, particularly with factory actions, a very quick and easy check is to remove the bolt, let the firing pin go forward, and look at the firing pin tip through the firing pin hole. Is the tip off-center in the hole, and possibly striking it as it moves forward? Is the hole out-of-round or burred from being struck repeatedly? If so, a trip to the riflesmith is likely in order.

Similarly, machining issues in the bolt/firing pin system can lead to rough and erratic firing pin movement, in which the firing pin drags against an internal surface of the bolt. In high-quality rifles these issues are relatively rare, but not unheard-of, and it takes mere minutes to rule them out. It may be worthwhile to remove the cocking piece/firing pin/spring assembly and look for any unusual gouges, dings, peening, burrs or signs of abnormal wear.

This task is especially easy with Winchester 70s, Springfields, and the similar Mauser 98s, involving little more than the push of a button and unscrewing the cocking piece assembly. This is just one of the many reasons these tried-and-true actions have earned such a loyal following in the field, among hunters who must maintain their rifles away from a shop.

USAMU Handloading vertical dispersion ignition rimfire accuracy firing pin

Particularly with older rifles, watch for and remove excess grease (or even Cosmoline!) from both the firing pin assembly and inside the bolt. This can help improve firing pin speed and consistency. Other bolt-action designs may need a take-down tool or other measures.

As part of this inspection, AFTER ENSURING THE RIFLE IS UNLOADED, slowly cock the rifle, dry-fire, and repeat several times. Listen carefully near the action for inconsistency in the sounds it generates. Does the striker falling make the same sound each time? Do you hear or feel grinding upon operation? If so, where?

Be sure to check the operation of the cocking piece (bolt shroud), firing pin within the bolt shroud, the cocking piece cam and the rear of the bolt body where the cocking piece cam operates. As with our examination for abnormal wear marks discussed above, look for marks indicating roughness or a possible need for light polishing. Then, clean and lightly grease the bearing surfaces while you’re at it.

Remington 700 bolt shroud and cocking cam
Rem 700 bolt cocking cam

These are relatively easy checks that shooters can undertake to perform a preliminary inspection on their own. Other mechanical issues can also cause ignition issues, chiefly centered around the action of the trigger, sear and sear spring. If these are suspected, a trip to an experienced, qualified riflesmith for diagnosis is recommended. We hope you find this information helpful! Join us again next week, and in the meantime, enjoy the shooting sports safely!

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip No Comments »
December 31st, 2016

How Guns Work — An Inside Look

Firearms infographic NRA Blog Outdoor Hub

The NRA Blog has produced an interesting graphic guide to firearms function. This “How Guns Work” infographic shows the basics of bolt-action rifle operation and how a centerfire cartridge propels a bullet through a barrel during the “firing sequence”. There’s some good artistry here, with cutaway drawings letting you look inside an action and cartridge.

Enjoy this technical graphic. The NRA Blog says: “In celebration of cartridges big and small, we partnered with OutdoorHub to bring you a detailed look into how guns work. While the infographic will be most instructive to newcomers, we think avid shooters will find it interesting, too.”

Firearms infographic NRA Blog Outdoor Hub

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo 2 Comments »
September 27th, 2016

Bolt Configuration: The Benefits of Weakside Bolt Placement

left port McMillan Rifle

Most bolt-action rifle shooters work the bolt with their trigger-pulling hand. This is because most rifles sold to right-handed shooters come with right-side bolts, while “lefty” rifles come with left-side bolts. This “standard” configuration requires the shooter to take his dominant, trigger-pulling hand off the stock to cycle the bolt, then re-position his hand on the stock, and “re-claim” the trigger. Often the shooter must lift or move his head to work the bolt, and that also requires him to re-establish his cheek weld after each and every shot. Not good.

This really doesn’t make much sense for precision shooting with fore-end support*. There is a better way. If you leave your trigger hand in position and work the bolt (and feed rounds) with the opposite hand, then you don’t need to shift grip and head position with each shot. All this requires is a weakside-placed bolt, i.e. a left bolt for a right-handed shooter or a right bolt for a left-handed shooter. The video below shows a “Lefty” working a right bolt. Note how efficient this is:

As our friend Boyd Allen explains: “If you think about it, if you are going to work with a factory action where your options are left bolt and left port or right bolt and right port, and you are building a rifle that will only be shot from a rest, using the left/left for a RH shooter or using a right/right for a LH shooter works better than the conventional configuration”.

Shoot Like a Champ and Work the Bolt with Your Weakside Hand
Derek Rodgers, the only person to have won BOTH F-Open and F-TR National Championships, runs this kind of “opposite” bolt set-up, shooting right-handed with a left bolt. Though Derek is a right-hander, he shoots with a Left Bolt/Left Port (LBLP) action. He shoots with his right hand on grip, while manipulating the bolt (and feeding rounds) with his non-trigger-pulling hand. He pulls the trigger with his right index finger, while working the left-side bolt with his left (weakside) hand. This allows him to stay in position, and maintain his cheekweld.

2013 National Championship-Winning Derek Rodgers Left Bolt/Left Port Rifle.
left port McMillan Rifle Derek Rodgers

left port McMillan Rifle Derek Rodgers

*For true standing, off-hand shooting (whether in competition or on a hunt), a conventional strongside bolt placement makes sense, since the non-dominant arm must support the front of the rifle all the time. When shooting from bipod or rest, it’s a different story.

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Shooting Skills 6 Comments »
January 16th, 2016

Getting Down to the Nitty-Gritty — How to Clean Your AR

AR15 AR-15 gun cleaning maintenance

AR-platform rifles can be maintenance-intensive beasts. But some AR owners make the situation worse by not regularly cleaning important small parts, or by using too much oily/greasy lubricants in the wrong places. A properly maintained and lubricated AR15 can shoot hundreds of rounds (between cleanings) without a problem. If you learn where (and where not) to apply lubricant, you’ll find that your AR will run more reliably and the task of cleaning the bolt and bolt carrier will be less of a burden.

Here is a good video that explains AR-15 Cleaning and Maintenance. In this 30-minute NSSF video, Gunsite Academy instructor and gunsmith Cory Trapp discusses the proper way to clean and maintain the AR-15 carbine. Very knowledgeable, Trapp provides rock-solid advice for AR owners. Along with cleaning producedures, this video explains how to inspect key components and how to function-test your AR before each shooting session.

AR15 AR-15 gun cleaning maintenance

AR15 AR-15 gun cleaning maintenance

AR15 AR-15 gun cleaning maintenance

Permalink - Articles, - Videos No Comments »
March 3rd, 2015

AR-15 Bolt Sheds Lugs — Can You Figure Out What Happened?

AR15 AR-15 Bolt lug shear damage Kaboom gas system pressure

Black Rifle Gone Bad…
Take a close look at this AR-15 bolt. Notice something missing — namely all the lugs? A healthy AR-15 bolt has seven (7) bearing lugs (plus an extractor hump). For all seven lugs to have sheared “clean off”, something serious must have happened to this bolt assembly. The folks at Brownells published this “lost luggage” image on Facebook to spur discussion. So, you AR experts out there — what do you think caused the problem here? Was it over-pressure, metal defect, headspace problem, gas system malfunction (or some combination of issues)? Post your theories in the comment section below…

AR15 AR-15 Bolt lug shear damage Kaboom gas system pressure

Permalink Gunsmithing 77 Comments »
February 26th, 2014

TECH TIP: Take-Down Procedure for AR Bolt Assembly

Accurate, modular, and supremely versatile, the AR15 is America’s favorite semi-auto rifle. But let’s face it, the AR is a maintenance hog. The AR’s gas tube blows carbon and soot right into the middle of the bolt assembly where it cakes on to the metal. The AR bolt also has many tiny parts, and small recesses, which must be cleaned regularly. This author has seen numerous ARs fail simply because there was gunk (dried lube, carbon, brass shavings) in the ejector slot or extractor spring recess.

AR15 Bolt Disassembly

A Clean AR is a Happy AR — Whether You Run ‘Wet’ or ‘Dry’
There are various schools of thought when it comes to maintaining an AR. Some folks prefer to run their AR “dry” with minimal lube on the lugs and friction surfaces. Other shooters prefer to run their ARs “wet”, with lots of lube. But whatever your preference, you need to clean your AR regularly. And nothing is more important than the AR’s bolt/carrier assembly. Because it is involved in feeding, firing, and extracting, the AR-15 bolt/carrier assembly can be considered the most critical portion of the AR-15 from a maintenance standpoint.

Bolt Take-Down Guide on Top Quark Blog
The editor of the Top Quark Blog has created an excellent illustrated AR15 Bolt Take-Down Guide that shows how to disassemble an AR15 bolt and carrier for regular cleaning. Even if you’re an experienced AR15 shooter, you can learn something from this page (sample at right), and you may want to bookmark it for future reference. The photos are large and clear and there are helpful hints for each step of the process.

The author knows his stuff and offers some important insights. For example, he notes that “Extractor springs in most AR15 bolt assemblies are fairly weak, and this can lead to various extraction-related failures. One of the few high points about Colt assemblies is their usage of higher-strength extractor springs. You can tell the difference by looking at the inner plastic insert. ‘Normal’ springs feature a blue plastic insert, Colt strong springs have a black insert.”

There is one notable oversight on this page — the author doesn’t cover disassembly and cleaning of the ejector assembly. This is actually quite important. A few small brass shavings, combined with carbon and lube in the ejector slot, WILL cause malfunctions. In fact, when this editor is called to diagnose problem ARs, the first things I look at (after swapping magazines) are the ejector recess and the slot for the extractor. Clogged ejectors are responsible for fail-to-ejects and other jams. It is essential that you keep the ejector hole clean. Old, gooey lube residues mixed with carbon and tiny brass shavings in the ejector recess will create all sorts of problems. As shown in the diagram below, it is simple to remove the ejector (#6) and ejector spring (#5), by drifting the ejector retaining pin (#4).

AR15 Bolt Assembly Diagram

Permalink Tech Tip 9 Comments »
January 10th, 2013

Pacific Tool and Gauge (PT&G) 2013 SHOT Show Specials

Pacific Tool and Gauge Dave KiffPacific Tool and Gauge is running a SHOT Show Special with big savings on bolts, bottom metal, chamber reamers, gauges and more. SHOT Show Special prices are offered for FOUR DAYS ONLY: January 15 through January 18, 2013. If you see something you want in the Specials list below, don’t hesitate. You can save $20-$30 (or more) on these SHOT Show Special items.

Call (541) 826-5808 to order and mention the SHOT Show Special. Remember deals expire at the end of the day on January 18, 2013!!

PT&G 2013 SHOT Show Specials

CHAMBER REAMERS
Custom and Wildcat Chamber Reamers
(Sm to Med) with removable pilot — $135 each

Standard SAAMI or CIP Chamber Reamers
HSS with removable pilot — $110 each
Carbide with removable pilot — $175 each

BOTTOM METAL
Remington “Stealth” Detachable Mag Bottom Metal — $99 each
L/A: BDL bolt in black | L/A: M5 black | S/A: M5 black
(Not including mag box and no engraving)
Remington PT&G Stealth Bottom Metal

Remington & Winchester Trigger Guard — $79 each
Long Action and Short Action Aluminum in the white
(Not including follower or spring)

ONE-PIECE BOLTS
RH custom size on the OD. L/A or S/A, with or without flutes
Your choice of extractor type — $175 each

RH standard size .699 OD, with or without flutes.
Your choice of extractor type — $149 each

PT&G one piece 1-piece bolt

HEADSPACE GAUGES
Small to medium — $25 each
Large (50BMG) gauges — $42.50 each


PT&G Expands Plant, Adds New Products, Launches Custom Shop

Dave Kiff, founder of PT&G, tells us there are many positive new developments at his company: “We will have new products coming out for 2013. There will be 14 new reamers, fixtures and rifle parts coming out after SHOT Show [plus] we are adding more bolts and bottom metal. Plus, we are now able to sell overseas with our ITAR in place.”

Pacific Tool and Gauge Dave Kiff

Pacific Tool and Gauge Dave KiffWith ever-increasing demand for its products, PT&G has grown dramatically in recent years. The company has invested $2.5 million dollars, expanded its production facilities, and added many more highly-trained staffers. Dave notes: “We have gone from 49 people to 126 toolmakers and office staff. Two years ago I decided to grow to meet the demands and needs of our customers and added machinery, buildings, and new employees. It has been a long, hard road but… we are just about over our growing pains.”

New PT&G Custom Shop
Dave has started a custom shop with fast turn-around. Dave says: “We are offering a 48-hour delivery on emergency tools and a 1-6 week delivery on tools that a gunsmith can wait on[.] We are able to stock SAAMI and Match grade chamber reamers on the shelf.”

Enhanced Certification System
Dave has created a new certification system: “[We have] put together a certification-auditable form that is stapled to the invoice and is filed so that if a customer has a question on a reamer size we can look up the tool and read the inspection data. This is working great.”

Pacific Tool and Gauge Dave Kiff

Permalink Gunsmithing, Hot Deals 3 Comments »
October 4th, 2011

Bolt-Tail Cleaner Tools for .223 and .308 ARs

Here’s a simple tool that may benefit you AR15 and AR10 shooters out there. The G&G Tools’ Bolt Cleaner and Polisher uses a radiused scraper with a cleaning pad to remove stubborn carbon from the tail of your AR bolts. The G&G Tool is offered in both a .223 version and a .308 version, both priced at $29.99. There is also a more basic (scraper only) unit for $19.99.

There are other ways to remove carbon (soaking in solvent and scraping with a knife), but G&G’s tools make the job quick and easy. Credit The Firearm Blog for finding this device. Watch the video below to see the tool in action.

G & G Tools AR15 bolt cleaner tool

Permalink Gear Review, New Product No Comments »
May 11th, 2011

Stolle Panda Drop Port Conversion by S&S Precision Rifles

The Drop Port is a great feature for benchrest shooters. You can run a bolt without an ejector, yet your cartridge will extract smoothly and reliably each time you pull the bolt back. Stiller’s Precision Firearms pioneered the Drop Port design, and Jerry Stiller offers this as a popular option with his Cobra, Viper, Python, D-Back, and Diamondback actions. The Drop Port is amazing in its simplicity (watch video below). As you pull the bolt rearwards, the fired case slides downward into a funnel. As it tilts nose-down, the case rotates free of the six-o’clock extractor, falls nose first down the funnel, and finally exits through a hole in the bottom of the stock. Gravity does all the work.

S&S Panda Drop Port Conversion
Until recently, if you wanted a Drop Port, your only option was to purchase a Stiller action or engineer a conversion yourself. Now the owners of Kelbly Panda actions can enjoy drop-port functionality via a conversion performed by S&S Precision Rifles in Texas. The folks at S&S will mill a slot in the bottom of your action, and then install a drop funnel in your stock. The conversion work is done so well you’d think the Pandas were originally made as Drop Ports by Kelbly. Drop Port conversions will be available for popular small match cartridges including 22 PPC, 6 PPC, 6mmBR, 6BRX, 6 Dasher, 6.5 Grendel, and 30 BR (plus other wildcats in the BR family).

Conversion Will Be Costly — New Actions Are Best Candidates
This conversion will not be cheap. Because Drop Ports require a six o’clock extractor, you’ll probably need a replacement bolt for your Panda. S&S is in discussion with Pacific Tool & Gauge to provide these bolts. You can probably resell your existing bolt, but the upfront conversion cost could approach $400 with new bolt and labor. S&S hopes to announce firm pricing in 4-6 weeks. Don “Stick” Starks, S&S’s lead gunsmith, also cautions that this conversion is most cost-effective with Panda actions that have not yet been installed, or which are set up with pillars (as opposed to glue-ins). Stick explained: “If your Panda is already glued in, then we have to remove the action, mill the port, install the funnel, and then re-bed the whole thing. That’s going to substantially increase your cost. It’s more logical to do this on a Panda that has not yet be put in a rifle.”

In the video above, you can watch S&S Precision convert a Stolle Panda action to a Drop Port, and then see how the converted Panda functions. The rifle is a 30BR owned by FORUM member Truckincars, who also created the video.

Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing, New Product 2 Comments »
May 8th, 2010

Tech Tip: Fit One-Piece McFarland™ Gas Rings in Your AR

If you use an AR-platform rifle for varminting, multi-gun matches, or Service Rifle competition, one simple upgrade you can make to enhance reliability is to replace the mil-spec gas rings with a one-piece McFarland™ bolt gas ring. The McFarland ring is a single spiral of spring steel that loops around the bolt three times and leaves no path for gas leakage. With conventional gas rings, you need to correctly rotate each ring so the “gap” does not line up, thereby allowing gas blow-by that can cause cycling problems. The one-piece ring is an inexpensive, “set and forget” solution that eliminates the need to monitor your ring position on the bolt body.

McFarland 1-piece AR15 bolt gas ring

The one-piece McFarland gas ring is recommended by Fulton Armory and other AR experts. Installation is simple and the one-piece rings last a very long time. One AR user comments: “Ever since I tried single rings I would never change back to mil-spec rings. I’ve experienced more consistent recoils and cyclic rates of fire. And, as to wear — I haven’t worn one out yet.” On Brownells.com, two gunsmiths offered these reviews:

“Easy install, zero chance of a gap, one less thing to worry about in the bolt carrier group. This item should greatly improve gas pressure consistency. This is a ‘must have’ item.” — Jake, SC

“The concept is simple and sound. The one-piece gas ring removes the possibility of gaps lining up. It installs easily, holds great tension, and is cheap. Doesn’t get much better.” — Lane, TN

The McFarland™ one-piece bolt gas ring can be purchased from Brownells for $3.99 (item 100-001-257) or from Fulton Armory for $2.99 (item FA-AR-300-109). Purchase three or four at once to save on shipping costs — that should be enough for a decade of AR shooting.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 12 Comments »
November 1st, 2009

Basic Gunsmithing Videos from MidwayUSA

Larry Potterfield, owner and founder of MidwayUSA, has created some basic gunsmithing videos that are worth watching. These show some key aspects of rifle metal-working, such as crowning a barrel. Be aware that these videos are really just teasers — they don’t illustrate most of the critical preparatory steps a skilled gunsmith will do, such as leveling his lathe precisely, and indicating the barrel very, very carefully. Nonetheless, there are some good, basic tips in the videos, which should be informative for all shooters, whether they do their own smithing or not. Please note that benchrest smiths may employ more advanced methods.

VIDEO One: Cutting and Crowning a Barrel (Radiused Crown)

YouTube Preview Image

VIDEO Two: Threading and Chambering an Octagon Barrel

YouTube Preview Image

VIDEO Three: Trueing the Bolt Face on a Mauser 98

YouTube Preview Image
Permalink News 1 Comment »
April 10th, 2009

IBS Issues New Rules for Bolt-Handing and Begg's Skeleton Stock

International Benchrest ShootersOn the eve of the new competitive shooting season, the rulemakers of the International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) issued two decisions that will affect the short-range benchrest game.

On March 31st, the IBS Executive Board took the following actions:

Modification of Bolts-Out Rule
In order to safely allow competitors to check seating depth, et. al. in the loading area, the E-Board voted to allow the allow insertion of bolts in the loading areas. However, placing the bolt in the gun while in the loading area is permitted ONLY under the following circumstances (read carefully).

1. Competitor strips the bolt of the fire control system.
2. Competitor uses a dummy round without primer or powder.
3. Competitor inserts a NRA “chamber flag” or other IBS-approved indicator inside the bare bolt.
4. Competitor displays all of these items to those around him.

NOTE: Violation of the above rules will result in an immediate disqualification from the tournament. According to the IBS Executive Board: “The change in the bolts-out rule will not take effect until we establish the exact type of bare bolt indicator that will be readily available to competitors. A likely date of inception is June 1, 2009. Until that time, the existing ‘bolts-out rule’ applies.”

Approval of Current Beggs Stock
An IBS member asked the Executive Board to rule on the legality of the Gene Beggs’ modular stock for competition. This stock (shown below) features a separate, clamped bag-riding forearm rather than a conventional one-piece stock. The Excutive Board determined: “After consulting the Group and Score Committees there was a consensus among board members that the rules really did not envision a stock of this type. In the interest of not inhibiting innovation, the E-Board approved the Beggs Stock as currently configured, for HV, LV, SP, and VFS (as appropriate) competition in 2009. So that similar innovations can be more readily assessed, the Executive board will do a comprehensive review of the stock configuration rules prior to the July 1 deadline for agenda item submission.”

Gene Beggs Stock

Permalink Competition, News No Comments »
December 20th, 2008

Emergency Surgery — Stan Ware Fixes a 40X

Stan Ware SGR CustomMinnesotan Stan Ware is an extremely knowledgeable gunsmith, known for his precise machine work and attention to detail. When you have work done by Stan, you know he will “sweat the details” to ensure that everything is assembled to the correct, precise tolerances. Stan is also a successful benchrest competitor, shooting in score matches, and Hunter Benchrest matches using his innovative short-neck Wolf Pup wildcat.

Stan recently received a Remington 40X receiver from a customer on the West Coast. Supposedly, the action had been “trued” by a California gunsmith (who shall remain nameless), who also fitted (using the term loosely) a PT&G replacement bolt. To be brutally honest, the California gunsmith butchered the job, and Stan Ware was called in to “save the day.”

Stan looked over the 40X action carefully and was able to determine flaws in the truing work and serious problems with the way the replacement bolt was fitted and the bolt handle attached. Faulty work by the California smith resulted in a myriad of problems — the bolt timing was off, the bolt was headspacing on the handle (not the lugs), the bolt was not camming correctly, the lugs were lapped improperly and they were not bearing correctly inside the action. All in all, this action needed major surgery. In the videos below, Stan explains how he diagnosed the problems, and he illustrates the work he did to restore the 40X to a safe, functioning condition.

Moral of the story? When you have action work to do, go to a respected smith like Stan Ware (SGR Custom Rifles), rather than some local “gun plumber” who may mess up the action big-time, leaving it downright dangerous. Watch the videos below, and you’ll be amazed at the problems that Stan had to correct.

Part 1 — Diagnosing the Problems
Stan explains: “We recently received this action to be fixed. Because the bolt is such a good example of what the things you want to avoid, I put together this video. It’s a great example of what happens when the bolt is out of time or not in the correct position.”

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Part 2 — Fixing the Lugs
According to Stan, “We encountered some more problems after machining the bolt handle off and installing the new Kiff bolt. We found that the lugs were lapped at a angle and that we were loosing cam as we rotated the bolt. So, we decided to go back in and re-cut the integral lugs and true the bolt lugs.”

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Part 3 — Final Bolt Installation
Stan notes: “Here we show you what was done to correct the bolt that was not installed correctly. The Kiff bolt (Pacific Tool & Gauge) is a good system and laid out well. I would recommend it to anyone that wants to accurize his 700 Action.”

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September 12th, 2008

Bill Hawk's Custom Bolt Knobs — Hand-Crafted

Looking for a cool extended bolt knob to provide extra leverage and more secure grip while working the action of your rifle? Bolt Knobs by Bill offers a wide array of styles and colors, all hand-crafted with great precision. Bill Hawk’s products range in price from $20 to $30. The O-Ring style provides excellent comfort and grip. The Tactical style knob is slightly longer and has no o-rings. It is available with or without knurling. Bill also offers a conventional oversized ball in plastic or metal. Click images below to see LARGE PHOTOS.

Custom bolt knobs are made from aluminum stock that has been machined, media blasted, and powder coated for a durable and uniform finish. Choose from dozens of powder-coat colors. Knobs are drilled and tapped to fit 5/16 x 24 threaded bolt handles. A round ball style is available in aluminum, steel, or phenolic (hard plastic with threaded brass insert). This configuration still provides plenty of gripping surface but keeps the overall length of the bolt handle shorter compared to the tactical model.

Bill Hawks tells us that all his products can be customized: “I started selling bolt knobs a few years ago when I began to combine my passion for metal working and my passion for shooting. Of course, there were other manufacturers who already made bolt knobs, but I wanted to offer something a little different by allowing the shooter to tell me what they wanted and do my best to produce it. Hence the ‘custom’ part. Most people are happy with the tactical and o-ring knobs that are featured on my website, but I also make them to customer spec. Length, profile, thread size, and material can all be adjusted at no extra charge in most cases. My emphasis is primarily on offering a service to my fellow shooters.” There is a secure shoping cart on Bill’s Website, so it’s easy to order. Direct questions to info [at] boltknobsbybill [dot] com, or call (319) 321-0827.

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