January 5th, 2013

Upgrading an Older Model 54 Anschütz — Recommended Smiths

Do you have an older Anschütz model 54-actioned match rifle with a press-in barrel? Perhaps you want to re-barrel your Anschütz to get a few more years of precision shooting out of the old warhorse? Or maybe you want to adapt the Anschütz to a modern stock design for Silhouette, Rimfire Benchrest, or Prone shooting. If you’ve got an older Anschütz m54 that needs re-barreling, you need to send it to a gunsmith who has a proven track record with the model 54s, a smith who can remove the original barrel properly and then install either a new press-in barrel, or a screw-in barrel (after threading the action).

Mark Penrod gunsmith rimfireMark Penrod — Recommended Anschütz Smith
Forum member Edward (aka EAL22) suggests sending Anschütz rimfire projects to Mark Penrod in North Manchester, Indiana. Writing in our Shooters’ Forum, Edward states:

“Penrod can fix you up. He can either press fit [a new barrel] or thread your action [for a screw-in barrel]. He has built guns both ways. Here are some photos of his work. It’s not a bench gun but a nice Anschütz in a System Gemini stock.”

Mark Penrod gunsmith rimfire

Forum member Bill B. concurs: “I second the suggestion that you send it to Mark Penrod. I’ve just got done working with him on a Hall rimfire action to which he fitted two barrels, a Benchmark and a Lilja. I am building a prone position rifle. He was easy to work with providing good communication, and he’ll do whatever is needed to make your rifle shoot its best.”

Mark Penrod gunsmith rimfire

Other Recommended Smiths — Bruce Hongista and MT Guns
Another recommended rimfire smith is Bruce Hongisto. Forum member Steve W., a benchrest shooter, says: “My suggestion is to email Butch Hongisto at Hongisto [at] fidnet.com. Butch does amazing work and has made two rimfires for Lapua to use in their factory accuracy evaluations in Finland. Write Butch and ask him which way you should go. He knows his stuff.”

In California, Chesebro Rifles (the successor to Mac Tilton’s MT Guns) has a vast selection of older Anschütz match rifles. Gunsmith Mark Chesebro can rebarrel an older model 54 as well as adapt older Anschütz rifles to modern stocks. Mark even is working on converting single-shot model 54s to repeaters fitted with sturdy, inexpensive CZ detachable magazines. I’ve held the prototype repeater conversion with a 24″ barrel, and it is very cool. I predict the rimfire tactical guys will be lining up to buy these single-shot-to-repeater conversions. Availability is still a few months away. For more info, visit ChesebroRifles.com.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
December 13th, 2012

“It Hammers” — Radical Jennings-Stocked F-TR Rig Shoots Great

We recently reported on the new Jennings F-TR stock with integrated bipod. When we first saw this rig we thought, “OK, it looks cool, but how does it shoot?” Well, we had a chance to test a .308 Win F-TR rifle built by Chesebro Rifles using the Jennings stock, Barnard action, and 32″ Bartlein barrel. With the gun on the bench, we first shot a few rounds to confirm zero and test for function.

Then gun-builder Mark Chesebro set the rifle on the shooting mat, opened up a box of Federal 168gr Gold Medal Match (GMM) .308 Win ammo, and got down to business — from the ground. What happened next can only be described as “shock and awe”. Mark nailed three successive groups that left us shaking our heads in amazement. The Jennings stock works. Does it ever. This gun hammers.

All groups were shot from the ground, bipod-supported, with Federal factory GMM ammo.

Mark’s first three-shot group had two shots in one hole, then the third leaked a bit high for a 0.184″ group. Then Mark dialed down 2 MOA elevation, and drilled an astonishing 3-shot .047″ group. (For reference, the black diamond in the orange paster is 1/4″ from point to point.)

I was watching through a Swarovski spotting scope and I saw all three shots track into one hole that just got a little whiter in the middle with each successive round. I yelled out “Stop shooting!” because I wanted to measure the group. It was an easy mid-zero — and honestly it looked like just one bullet hole from a pistol. That is amazing with factory .308 Win ammo, particularly in a barrel throated for 185s, not the 168gr SMKs Federal uses in its Gold Medal Match .308 ammunition.

Mark Chesebro Rifles

After measuring Mark’s 3-shot bughole, we walked back to the firing line and Mark shot a full 5-shot group. This would have been a two-flat, but he flinched a bit and his third shot went a little high to open the group to a 0.233″. Still darn impressive with factory ammo…

Editor’s Comment: This Gun is Ultra-Stable and Tracks Straight Back
I had a chance to shoot the gun from the ground. I can tell you this — the stock design really works. With the wide-track bipod, the gun is incredibly stable. As you’re aiming there is virtually zero horizontal movement in the crosshairs. All you need to do is squeeze the ears to set your vertical Point of Aim and pull the trigger. This thing is one of the easiest guns to shoot accurately (from the ground) that I’ve ever tried. You don’t have to struggle for stability at all — the gun wants to stay dead calm.

With the large, cylindrical Delrin feet placed on a mat, the gun tracks straight back. And there is no hop, no bounce, no roll. In fact, the gun tracked so well that I could see my bullets impact on the paper target. That’s surprising for a .308 Win with no muzzle brake. After a shot I could slide the gun forward and the crosshairs were right where they should be — the only thing I had to do is squeeze the ears to re-set my vertical. All I can tell you is the thing is very easy to shoot well.

I don’t know whether it is because of the forward-angle geometry of the legs, or the Delrin feet, or the properties of the carbon fiber tube that supports the front end, but the gun seems to have more damping than other metal-chassis stocks I’ve tried. Some metal-stocked guns seem to “ring” and transmit a sharp pulse to the shooter. This Jennings stock doesn’t do that — it seems to soak up vibration somehow. And the recoil is very mild, I think because the Delrin feet slow the gun down as they slide back smoothly.

Bottom Line: We came away very, very impressed with this rifle and the Jennings stock. I have never experienced a bipod-equipped rifle (in any caliber) that is easier to aim and hold steady, or which is easier to return to precise point of aim after each shot. And, without question, this is one of the most accurate .308 Win rifles we have ever shot from the ground. And that was with factory ammo, not tuned handloads!

Making a Great Design Even Better
Could the rifle be improved? Yes. While there is some rear elevation adjustment (via an eccentric bag-rider that rotates) we would like to see more rear-end elevation adjustment, so the gun could better adapt to uphill and downhill target placements. Also we’d like to see a higher mounting point for the bag-rider so you could use a taller, beefier rear bag. We discussed these points with Mark Chesebro, and he’s agreed to start prototyping some upgrades. This may include a thumbwheel-adjustable bag-rider (sort of like an upside-down adjustable cheekpiece). At our suggestion, the vertically adjustable bag-rider may be offered in two versions — straight and angled. With an angled bag-rider (i.e. with a slight amount of drop front to rear), you could adjust your vertical point of aim by sliding the gun forward or aft in the rear bag.

We will supplement this test report with more photos and video in a few days. We know you want to see how well it tracks. The video tells the story better than words can…

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 2 Comments »
November 4th, 2012

New Steve Jennings Skeleton F-TR Stock with Integral Bipod

Wow. If James Bond shot F-TR, we think this is what he might use. You’re looking at the radical new Steve Jennings stock for F-TR competition. This skeletonized stock is crafted to fit the Barnard action. As you can see, there is no conventional fore-arm. Instead a carbon fiber tube extends forward of the action. At the front end of the tube, a fixture hold the beefy, forward-angled, girder-style bipod legs. These legs adjust to two heights, for prone or bench shooting. Large Delrin cylinders at the bottom of the legs provide stability and help resist bipod hop. Cost of the Jennings stock, including bipod legs and bag-rider assembly, is $700.00 at Chesebro Rifles.

Chesebro Rifles Steve Jennings F-TR stock

Chesebro Rifles Steve Jennings F-TR stock

The rear bag-rider, which adjusts for height, is also carried by a carbon-fiber tube that runs from the bottom of the pistol grip back to the buttplate. The bag-rider is attached via an eccentric fixture. This way, as you spin it in and out, the vertical position changes. This allows you to get the elevation centered -up on the target, but this system is not designed for fast changes “on the fly”. Small changes in elevation are made by squeezing the bag.

Chesebro Rifles Steve Jennings F-TR stock

Chesebro Rifles Steve Jennings F-TR stockMark Chesebro also offers a complete rifle built around the new Jennings stock. Built with a Barnard Action, Trueflite (NZ) barrel, and Barnard trigger, a complete Jennings F-TR rifle costs $2500.00. For more information on the Steve Jennings F-TR stock, or complete rifles built with this stock, visit ChesebroRifles.com or call (805) 280-5311. We hope to get our hands on one of these rigs for testing very soon!

EDITOR’s COMMENT: Now it would be great if Seb Lambang’s joystick bipod head could somehow be adapted to this rig, with the joystick running under the carbon fiber “fore-end”, but still using the forward-angled Jennings girder-style legs and oversize “Coke-Can” bipod feet. That could definitely be a James Bond-worthy F-TR rig.

Product Tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Gear Review, New Product 12 Comments »
September 21st, 2012

Chesebro Rifles Takes Over as Successor to MT Guns

After more than 60 years as a competitive target shooter and gunsmith, McLane (Mac) Tilton, proprietor of MT GUNS, is passing the baton to his chief gunsmith/machinist, Mark Chesebro. “Mark has acquired the assets of MT GUNS and will be its successor. I’m very pleased that Mark is establishing Chesebro Rifles and that he will continue to provide highest quality competition target rifles in the tradition of MT GUNS,” Tilton announced today.

Mark Chesebro Rifles

Tilton expressed his complete confidence in Mark’s ability to provide a seamless transition for MT GUNS customers: “He attended the well-respected gunsmithing course at Yavapai Community College in Prescott, Arizona, followed by four years with Bill Atkinson at H.S. Precision, where he perfected techniques in chambering and rifle smithing. After eight years of general gunsmithing in Everett, Washington and as an aerospace machinist, tool maker and CNC programmer, Mark relocated to Arizona, where he joined the team at Ruger. He came to MT GUNS in 2004 and we were very impressed with his inventive capabilities.”

“In 2006, Mark and his wife, Lisa, answered a call from their church to fulfill a three-year teaching mission in Ecuador. When he returned in 2009, he rejoined our team at MT GUNS and has continued to develop his innovative ideas and techniques, including the development of a press to insure perfect alignment when rebarreling Anschuetz rifles, as well as a centerfire conversion for BSA Martini rifles. He has also developed an entire system for converting the Anschuetz 54 action from a single shot to a magazine-fed repeater. Also, he’s mastered the critical alignment when bedding Vee-blocks for Barnard and Anschuetz actions.”

Chesebro Rifles will continue to build competitive Palma, F-Class, and Benchrest rifles using the Barnard action, as well as the very successful BSA and Anschuetz Rimfire Bench Rifles. Contact for Mark Chesebro at Chesebro Rifles is: info [at] chesebrorifles.com.

McLane Tilton and Bruce Duncan will still be available at MT GUNS for any customers with unfinished business.

Permalink Gunsmithing, News 5 Comments »