April 21st, 2020

Action Timing — Process and Benefits Demonstrated

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….”

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April 8th, 2020

Lights, Camera, Actions! — Video Tour of Kelbly’s Shop

Kelbly's Panda Action gunsmithing video barrel stock bedding

Want to see new-born Pandas? No, not the furry kind — rather Stolle Panda actions produced with state-of-the-art CNC machinery. If you’ve ever wondered how precision benchrest, long-range, and tactical rifles are built, check out video from Kelbly’s. You’ll see actions finished, barrels chambered and crowned, pillars installed in stocks, barreled actions bedded, plus a host of other services performed by Kelbly’s gunsmiths and machinists.

If you’re a fan of fine machine-work, this video should be both informative and entertaining. You can see how precision gun work is done with 21st-Century technology. Tip of the hat to Ian Kelbly and crew for producing this excellent video visit to the Kelbly’s production center.

Click Volume Control to Activate Sound for Kelbly’s Video:

Kelbly's Panda Action gunsmithing video barrel stock bedding

Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing, New Product 4 Comments »
March 1st, 2020

TECH SAVVY — AccurateShooter’s Technical Articles Archive

AccurateShooter.com technical articles

AccurateShooter.comReaders who have just recently discovered the Daily Bulletin may not realize that AccurateShooter.com has hundreds of reference articles in our archives. These authoritative articles are divided into multiple categories, so you can easily view stories by topic (such as competition, tactical, rimfire, optics, shooting skills etc.). One of the most popular categories is our Technical Articles Collection. On a handy index page (with thumbnails for every story), you’ll find over 120 articles covering technical and gunsmithing topics. These articles can help you with major projects (such as stock painting), and they can also help you build more accurate ammo. Here are six popular selections from our Technical Articles archive.

pillar Bedding

Stress-Free Pillar Bedding. Richard Franklin explains how to do a top-quality bedding job, start to finish.

Gun Safe Technical Buyers Guide

Gun Safe Buyers Guide. Our comprehensive Safe Buyers Guide examines the key features to consider in a safe — Wall Thickness, Volume, Shelving, Fire Rating, Lighting, Weight and more. We also explain the Pros/Cons of Dial vs. Digital (Keypad) locking systems.

Savage Action Tuning Torque Settings

Savage Action Tuning. Top F-TR shooter Stan Pate explains how to enhance the performance of your Savage rifle by optimizing the torque settings of the action screws.

Precision Case Prep for Reloading

Complete Precision Case Prep. Jake Gottfredson covers the complete case prep process, including brass weight sorting, case trimming, primer pocket uniforming, neck-sizing, and, case-neck turning.

rifle stock painting and spraying

Stock Painting Instructions. Step-by-step guide for stock painting by expert Mike Ricklefs. Mike shows both simple coverage and fancy effects.

Ultrasound ultrasonic CAse Cleaning

Ultrasonic Case Cleaning. This article reviews the recommended process for cleaning cartridge brass with ultrasonic cleaning machine. We cover the right liquid solutions, processing times, and case drying options.

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip No Comments »
February 21st, 2020

Gunsmithing Gone Bad — How NOT to Headspace a Barrel

Locktite Red barrel shoulder headspace Thomas Speedy Gonzales
This barrel’s shoulder was 0.025″ off the action because Red Locktite had been used on the threads.

Gunsmith Thomas ‘Speedy’ Gonzales offered this interesting report about how NOT to headspace a barrel. Hopefully you never discover something like this…

“A good friend and customer sent this rig in for repair after FedEx damaged the rifle during inbound transport from another smith. After repairing the stock and rebedding it, I decided to re-polish the barrel to make the repair perfect. Well this just added insult to injury as the barrel did not want to come off. After a few choice words, the barrel finally broke free only to reveal something very disturbing. It seems the barrel had been ‘headspaced’ by using RED Loctite to hold it in place.” [Editor: That’s definitely NOT how barrels should be fitted.]

Speedy was not happy: “I hope the smith that did this sees the photos and realized what jeopardy he put my customer in or anyone who shot the rifle for that matter. When cleaned up, the shoulder on the barrel was over 0.0250″ (25 thousandths) away from the face of the receiver.” [Editor: That’s a lot in this business]. Check out the images below to see how much the barrel rotated further inward when cleaned up. The barrel spun in nearly another eighth-turn or more. Not good.

Locktite Red barrel shoulder headspace Thomas Speedy Gonzales

Locktite Red barrel shoulder headspace Thomas Speedy Gonzales

Permalink - Articles, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
February 20th, 2020

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 The Competitive AR15: Ultimate Technical Guide, 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.” Other good resources for AR projects is Gunsmithing the AR: The Bench Manual, and the Building Your AR from Scratch DVD.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
January 22nd, 2020

TECH TIP — Check Barrel Tightness If POI Shifts Erratically

loose barrel vortex scope optics point of impact change fix

Are you seeing unpredictable changes in Point of Impact on your target? Think you may have a scope issue? Well maybe not — when was the last time you checked your BARREL?

Yes scopes do fail, and scope bases/rings do get loose. But sometimes problems with erratic POI shifts are caused by a LOOSE BARREL. This issue came up recently in our Shooter’s Forum. One member complained that his zero was shifting from day to day — by as much as two inches at 100 yards. He was convinced he had a scope problem, based on erratic POI:

“I think my scope loses 1 to 3 MOA per day. When I shot my rifle Monday it was dead on. On Tuesday it was 1″ low. Then on Wednesday it was 1 or 2″ lower. I don’t get it. — the elevation knob never touched. Scope will track and return to zero that day perfect. Yes EVERYTHING has been checked, nothing loose. What is the chance the erector tube spring has gone south? For the record this is a Vortex GE. Never had a bad scope, but this has me wondering”. — LB

On Forum member told LB to send the scope right back to the manufacturer. Two other members suggested mounting the scope on a different rifle to test. Good advice. That’s generally a smart strategy before you conclude a scope has gone bad…

Could Problem Be the Scope Base?
Two Forum members, ExPiper and Dickn52, suggested checking the scope base, recounting their past experiences with troublesome bases. This was intelligent — anyone with a POI problem should check all the optics attachments:

“Went crazy one day chasing my impacts on a 100-yard target. Shots would group fine for three then go nuts for 4-5. I cranked and un-cranked for about an hour. Then I reached up and the base wobbled on the rifle. Removed scope, tightened base screws and back in business.” — Dickn52

“Years ago I had a problem [where] shots were climbing with almost every shot. I was blaming the scope. However, when removing the scope I noticed that the 20 MOA base was cracked and getting wider with every shot. Needless to say I replaced the base and the problem was solved. — ExPiper

Eureka Moment — The problem was the BARREL, not the Scope

There were many helpful suggestions, but member PirateAmmo steered LB to the real problem — a loose BARREL: “We had a problem on a home-built AR-platform rifle once, barrel was loose a tad…”

Member Snert chimed in: “Yep — I had a PPC that suddenly went 19″ low. Picked up gun off bench by barrel and felt a wiggle. I tightened the barrel and the POI went 19 inches up”.

Problem Solved — Barrel Tightened up and POI Back to Normal
The gentleman with the POI problem took the advice of PirateAmmo and checked his barrel. BINGO! Low and behold, the barrel WAS loose.

LB posted: “Barrel loose by about 2%, checked it twice before and didn’t find it the first two times”.

After LB re-tightened his barrel, his rifle started shooting normally again. No more shooting low by 1-2 inches. Problem solved. The fix didn’t cost a penny and now LB doesn’t have to send a perfectly good optic back to the manufacturer.

Lesson learned? Check ALL the variables before you assume a scope has gone bad. Along with the barrel, also check your action screw tension, and of course the scope base and rings.

Permalink Optics, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
January 15th, 2020

Chassis Rifle Genesis — Building a Precision Tactical Rifle Video

masterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CAD

How is a modern, metal-chassis rifle built? This very cool video from Masterpiece Arms answers that question. The nicely-edited video shows the creation of a Masterpiece Arms tactical rifle from start to finish. All aspects of the manufacturing process are illustrated: 3D CAD modeling, CNC milling of the chassis, barrel threading/contouring, chamber-reaming, barrel lapping, laser engraving, and stock coating. If you love to see machines at work, you will enjoy this video…

masterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CADmasterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CAD

masterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CADmasterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CAD

masterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CADmasterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CAD

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Gunsmithing, Tactical No Comments »
December 8th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: The Modern F-Open Rifle

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Emil Kovan is one of the top F-Class shooters in the world. He won the 2014 United States F-Open Championship, and finished second in F-Open Division at the 2016 Canadian National F-Class Championship in Ontario. He is a great shooter and a great gun-builder as well.

The Anatomy of a Modern F-Class Open Rifle

Report by Emil Kovan
Kovan Match Rifles LLC, www.matchrifles.com

“What are the best components for an F-Open class rifle, and why?” That’s a question that I get asked all the time and will try to answer in this article. Two months ago, I was contacted by Duane, a gentleman I met at the 2015 F-Class Nationals. He was interested in building a rifle with the new Master Class Low Profile F-Open Stock, created by Carl Bernosky and Alex Sitman of Master Class Stocks.

I have known Alex Sitman for many years, and use his stocks exclusively, but was not very familiar with his new Low Profile F-Open stock. After a brief conversation with Alex, I placed an order, and had the stock inletted and bedded at my shop in a month. My first impression was “Wow that’s a long stock” — the forearm is significantly longer than on the original Master Class F-Class prone stock. I bolted the barreled action in, and squeezed the end of the forearm and barrel together, the stock flexed a little bit, but not as much as other designs that I have tested. I think that’s due to having “more meat” in the receiver area. The full stock depth continues farther forward that on some other “low profile” designs. That makes the stock stiffer in the vertical plane, reducing the hinging effect forward of the action. The stock was finished in gloss black per the customer’s request. Interestingly, I found that the multiple layers of paint and clearcoat stiffened the stock up quite a bit.

CLICK IMAGE below for full-screen version
.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Low Center of Gravity Tames Torque
Compared to the original Master Class F-Open stock, the barrel sits about an inch lower. Lower center of gravity equals less torque, and that is very important when shooting heavy bullets in fast twist barrels. Another significant improvement is that the toe of the stock is flat and parallel to the forearm. I added a 3/4″ track rail in the rear, and milled the underside of the fore-end to create two parallel “rails” in the front to help the stock track better.

One of the biggest reasons why I like Master Class stocks, is the pistol grip. I don’t shoot “free recoil” and a comfortable pistol grip is super important to me when selecting a stock. The new Master Class Low Profile stock shares the same grip as the old model. This allows the stock to accommodate either a “hard hold” style or a more free-recoil style of shooting — whatever the rifle’s owner prefers. This design versatility is one reason I recommend Master Class stocks. Shooters may experiment with either shooting style to find what suits them best.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Cartridge Choice — A 40° .284 Win Improved
Duane decided to have the barrel chambered for my 284 KMR IMP (Improved) wildcat. What is .284 KMR IMP and why choose it over the straight .284 Winchester? Improved by definition means “made better”, I took a great cartridge, and modified it to increase capacity, reduce pressure, and increase brass life.

There are many “improved” variants of the original .284 Winchester: 7mm Walker, .284 Shehane, .284 Ackley and so on. My version, the 284 KMR IMP, shares the .010″ blown-out sidewalls of the .284 Shehane, but I have further increased the case capacity by changing the shoulder angle from 35 to 40 degrees. The 284 KMR IMP allows you to almost match magnum cartridge velocity in a standard-bolt-face action. If you want to run 180gr-class 7mm bullets over 2900 FPS, it is cheaper and more convenient to have a barrel chambered in 284 KMR IMP than to spend $650 for a magnum bolt.

Tuning Loads for the .284 Win Improved Cartridges
The 284 KMR IMP seems to have two nodes, one around 2820 fps and other at 2940 fps. My match load clocks at 2935 fps with single-digit ES. Note –I selected that load based on accuracy, NOT raw speed. A lot of novice (or hard-headed) shooters make the mistake to push their cartridges to the max, and disregard more accurate loads at lower velocity.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

The sport of F-Class is rapidly growing, and the equipment used is improving constantly. I remember that only few years ago, an F-Open rifle that could shoot sub-one-inch of vertical at 300 yards was considered competitive. Now, we are pursuing sub-one-inch vertical at 600 yards! It takes a great rifle to approach that goal, but it is also up to the shooter to learn and experiment as much as possible in order to achieve success.

Dies for an Improved .284 Win Cartridge
One of the biggest challenges in campaigning a wildcat cartridge has been obtaining great dies. When searching for custom dies, it almost seems like that the odds are stacked against us. The most common problem is wait-time — custom die orders can take months to be completed. Also, most custom die makers want you to send them two or three cases, each fire-formed three times. I find that funny because if could somehow properly size the cases for three fire-forming cycles, I would not need a sizing die.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Custom-made dies should size the case just right, but sometimes the die’s internal dimensions are slightly off, and this leads to problem number two: dies sizing too much (or even worse) too little. I had a one “custom” die that would not size the bottom of the case enough. This made the extraction of fired cases very difficult. I feel that the best option (if available) for shooters interested in wildcat chambers is to have their gunsmiths make the dies. I offer that die-making service in addition to barrel chambering.

BAT Machine “M” Action
Duane decided to use a BAT M action for this rifle, and I think that he could not have made a better choice. We are blessed with many good match-quality receivers: Barnard, BAT, Borden, Kelbly, Nesika, and Stiller just to mention a few. These are all very well-made and suitable for F-Class. Among BAT Machine Co.actions, I like BAT models M, MB, and 3LL best. I prefer these because because of their size (large bedding footprint) smoothness, timing, options available, and last but not least visual appearance.

Trigger: I recommend and use Jewell triggers. Other good options are: Kelbly, CG Jackson (good 2-Stage) Anschutz (best 2-Stage for Bat and Kelbly actions), Bix’N Andy, and David Tubb.

Barrel: Duane made another good choice here. He decided to go with a Brux 1:8.5″-twist, 4-groove cut-rifled barrel. If you look at the F-Class and Long Range benchrest equipment lists, you will see that cut-rifled barrels are currently dominating. Many records have been shot with both button-rifled, and cut-rifled barrels. I have shot both, and prefer cut-rifled barrels. I am not saying that button-rifled barrels are not capable of shooting as well as cut-rifled barrels, but on average, in my experience, four out of five cut-rifled barrels (from top makers) will shoot well, vs. three out of five buttoned barrels. YMMV, but this is what I’ve observed.

Brux Barrels is not the only company that produces very accurate cut-rifled barrels. We know that Krieger, Bartlein, Satern, and Hawk Hill Custom all make fine cut-rifled barrels as well.

Scope: Duane’s rifle was fitted with a Nightforce 15-55x52mm Competition scope with DDR-2 reticle. This optic is ultra clear, reasonably lightweight (28 oz.), super reliable, and has 1/8 MOA clicks — what you want for long range F-Class competition. In this 15-55X NF model, I like the DDR-2 reticle best, because fine cross hairs (FCH) are hard to see in heavy mirage. The DDR-2 has a heavier horizontal line, with a center dot. March scopes are also very popular and very well-made.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Thanks for reading, and keep ‘em in the middle…

Emil Kovan F-Class competition bio photoEmil Kovan Competition History:

– 2014 F-Class Open National Champion

– 2016 F-Class Open Canadian Championship, Silver Medal (tied for first on score)

– 2015 F-Class Open National Championship, Silver Medal

– F-Class Open National Championship Teams, 2015, 2014, 2013, Shooting Team Member

– Over 15 wins in Regional and State Championships in Palma, F-TR, F-Open

– 2013 U.S. National Team Member

– 2017 U.S. National Development Team Member

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
October 4th, 2019

Definitive Book for AR-Platform Gear-A-Holics

AR AR15 Armalite Black Rifle Book Gun Digest
Photo Courtesy Cabela’s Gun Sports

Kevin Muramatsu’s black rifle book, the Gun Digest Guide to Customizing Your AR-15, is a great resource for fans of AR-platform rifles. All the AR options you can imagine are covered: suppressors, premium barrels, adjustable stocks, free-float handguards, ergonomic grips, buffer systems, tactical lights and much more. Those planning an AR rifle build will find application-specific suggestions for 3-Gun, Service Rifle, High Power (Space Gun), Hunting, and Self-Defense use.

AR AR15 Armalite Black Rifle Book Gun Digest AR AR15 Armalite Black Rifle Book Gun Digest

Firearms expert Muramatsu offers advice on choosing the right stock/barrel/optics configuration for your particular game. He also discusses the wide variety of options for slings, grips, magazines and other accessories. With over 520 photos, the book includes a large photo gallery of customized ARs, and includes bonus coverage of the FAL and other “tactical” firearms. The Gun Digest Guide to Customizing Your AR-15 is available from Amazon.com for $20.13, and a Kindle eBook version is offered for $14.99. The book is also sold by Barnes & Noble, and most other major booksellers.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tactical No Comments »
March 26th, 2019

Sportsman’s Warehouse Now Offers Gunsmithing Services

sportsman's warehouse gunsmith smithing gunsmithing Utah mail chambering stock assemble

This is good news for gun-owners. Sportsman’s Warehouse (SW), which operates 92 retail stores in 23 states, now offers gunsmithing. Gun enthusiasts can get complete firearms gunsmithing services at the new Sportsman’s Warehouse Gunsmith Center in Utah. You can ship your rifles, pistols, or shotguns to the SW Gunsmith Center, or simply drop off your firearm at ANY Sportsman’s Warehouse store. The SW Gunsmith Center, equipped with mills and lathes, offers complete repair, refinishing, threading, metal, and stock work. For more info, visit: www.Sportsmans.com/gunsmith.

sportsman's warehouse gunsmith smithing gunsmithing Utah mail chambering stock assemble

“Customers can quickly and easily drop off their firearms directly at our new Gunsmith Service Center in Utah, take them to any Sportsman’s Warehouse store, or ship them in for service,” states Jon Barker, Sportsman’s Warehouse President/CEO. “Expanding from the Utah market, we now offer this unique service to customers nationwide, including our 92 store locations.” SW has a loyalty program — each dollar spent at the Gunsmith Center gives members a point towards earning SW gift cards.

sportsman's warehouse gunsmith smithing gunsmithing Utah mail chambering stock assemble

Fees Are Reasonable — $200 for Barrel Chambering
There is a $45 minimum charge for guns left overnight, and a $68/hour labor rate. A barrel chambering/fitting job costs $200. Threading a muzzle costs $100.00. Fitting an aftermarket AR trigger is $45. Blue-printing a bolt-action receiver costs $175.00. Glass-bedding an action costs $90-$175. CLICK HERE for Gunsmithing Fee Schedule.

sportsman's warehouse gunsmith smithing gunsmithing Utah mail chambering stock assembleThe new Sportsman’s Warehouse gunsmith shop is located in SW’s Salt Lake City Distribution Center. The workspace features four stations for gunsmiths to work on rifles, shotguns, pistols, and muzzleloaders. They also have added a full production lathe that is designed for 24-hour-a-day operation, as well as a large end mill for a variety of metal working operations.

Finish tanks, a spray booth and oven for Cerakote, along with other pieces of equipment that will allow them to perform almost any gun service or customization are being installed.

“The only thing we won’t offer is custom wood stock building,” said Bill Sturtevant, Head Gunsmith. “The time necessary for that service takes too much time and pulls our gunsmiths off of other projects for too long. But just about anything else, including refinishing stocks, is on the table.”

Sportsman’s Warehouse will offer 1-year and 3-Year Firearm Service Plans supported by the company’s gunsmiths. Plans include: mounting and bore sighting, field cleaning, factory-service augmentation, free shipping to the factory for repair, and discounts on Gunsmith Service Center work.

Story Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.

Permalink Gunsmithing, News, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
January 19th, 2019

Stub Gauges — Cool Tools That Perform Important Functions

Barrel Stub Gauge

Next time you have a barrel fitted, consider having your gunsmith create a “stub gauge” from a left-over piece of barrel steel (ideally taken from your new barrel blank). The outside diameter isn’t important — the key thing is that the stub gauge is created with the same reamer used to chamber your current barrel, and the stub must have the same bore diameter, with the same land/groove configuration, as the barrel on your rifle. When properly made, a stub gauge gives you an accurate three-dimensional model of the upper section of your chamber and throat. This comes in handy when you need to bump your case shoulders. Just slide a fired case (with spent primer removed) in the stub gauge and measure from base of case to the end of the gauge. Then, after bumping, re-measure to confirm how much you’ve moved the shoulder.

Barrel Stub Gauge

In addition, the stub gauge lets you measure the original length to lands and freebore when your barrel was new. This gives you a baseline to accurately assess how far your throat erodes with use. Of course, as the throat wears, to get true length-to-lands dimension, you need take your measurement using your actual barrel. The barrel stub gauge helps you set the initial bullet seating depth. Seating depth is then adjusted accordingly, based on observed throat erosion, or your preferred seating depth.

To learn more about stub gauges, read this AccurateShooter Forum Thread.

Forum member RussT explains: “My gunsmith [makes a stub gauge] for me on every barrel now. I order a barrel an inch longer and that gives him enough material when he cuts off the end to give me a nice case gauge. Though I don’t have him cut that nice-looking window in the side (as shown in photos). That’s a neat option. You can tell how much throat erosion you are getting from when it was new as well. For measuring initial seating depths, this is the most useful item on my loading bench next to calipers. Everyone should have a case gauge made by their smith if you have a new barrel put on.”

Forum member Lawrence H. has stub gauges made with his chamber reamers for each new barrel He has his smith cut a port in the stub steel so Lawrence can actually see how the bullet engages the rifling in a newly-cut chamber. With this “view port”, one can also see how the case-neck fits in the chamber. Lawrence tells us: “My stub gauges are made from my barrels and cut with my chamber reamers. With them I can measure where my bullets are ‘touching the lands’ and shoulder bump dimensions. This is a very simple tool that provides accurate information.” The photos in this article show the stub gauges made for Lawrence by his gunsmith.

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, Reloading 3 Comments »
January 3rd, 2019

Building a Precision Tactical Rifle — Step by Step on Video

masterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CAD

How is a modern, metal-chassis rifle built? This very cool video from Masterpiece Arms answers that question. The nicely-edited video shows the creation of a Masterpiece Arms tactical rifle from start to finish. All aspects of the manufacturing process are illustrated: 3D CAD modeling, CNC milling of the chassis, barrel threading/contouring, chamber-reaming, barrel lapping, laser engraving, and stock coating. If you love to see machines at work, you will enjoy this video…

masterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CADmasterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CAD

masterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CADmasterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CAD

masterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CADmasterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CAD

Permalink - Videos, Tactical No Comments »
October 21st, 2018

Genesis of a Tactical Rifle — The Process of Creation

masterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CAD

How is a modern, metal-chassis rifle built? This very cool video from Masterpiece Arms answers that question. The nicely-edited video shows the creation of a Masterpiece Arms tactical rifle from start to finish. All aspects of the manufacturing process are illustrated: 3D CAD modeling, CNC milling of the chassis, barrel threading/contouring, chamber-reaming, barrel lapping, laser engraving, and stock coating. If you love to see machines at work, you will enjoy this video…

masterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CADmasterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CAD

masterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CADmasterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CAD

masterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CADmasterpiece arms tactical rifle gunsmithing milling CNC CAD

Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing, Tactical 2 Comments »
August 26th, 2018

How to Build Your Own AR-15 — Step-by-Step

AR-MPR-Build-2-AR-15-Tools
Here are the main tools you’ll need to assemble an AR-platform rifle

Planning to put together an AR-platform rifle? Or are you looking to upgrade your AR with a new barrel, stock, or trigger group? Then you should check out the AR-15 Rifle Build DVD from our friends at UltimateReloader.com. This DVD covers all the details of a custom build, using high-resolution video sequences, and helpful supporting graphics.

AR-15 DVD ultimatereloder.com

In this DVD, Ultimate Reloader’s Gavin Gear guides you through the entire process including selecting components, acquiring and using the necessary tools, assembly steps and details for each component, and even mounting a scope. Building an AR-15 can be overwhelming, but with the right guidance and help it’s not difficult and can be very rewarding. With this DVD you’ll be able to build your AR-15 with confidence.

Upper: Barrel / Gas Block / Gas Tube
AR-MPR-Build-4-Barrel-and-Gas-Tube-2

Upper: Handguard Installation
AR-MPR-Build-5-Handguard

UltimateReloader.com’s AR-15 Build DVD is available just $9.90 (plus $3.80 shipping/handling). This DVD can pay for itself many times over by showing you how to do your own gunsmithing (and get quality AR components at attractive prices).

Gavin in Action — Seven-minute AR-15 Build
To preview the AR Build DVD, check out this YouTube video from UltimateReloader.com. This 12-minute video shows the basics of assembling a standard AR15 with Del-ton components. Gavin shows how to install the AR trigger group and other parts in an AR-15 lower. You’ll also see the basics of barrel and handguard installation. This video covers the highlights, but we strongly recommend you buy the full DVD before starting your first AR-15 build.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tactical, Tech Tip No Comments »
July 1st, 2018

Trigger Options for AR-Platform Rifles

AR15 Timney drop-in trigger two-stage 2-stage single stage

AR-platform rifles are fun and versatile, but the standard, mil-spec triggers leave much to be desired. They tend to be gritty, with creep and heavy pull weight. One of the easiest, most effective AR upgrades is a trigger group swap. An improved fire control group makes a huge difference. There are many aftermarket trigger options for the AR platform rifles. Choose single-stage or two-stage, either standard trigger assembly or unitized “drop-in” trigger, such as those made by Timney or Triggertech.

Read Full AR Trigger Article in NRA Blog HERE »

AR15 Space Gun trigger
When upgraded with a precision trigger and match barrel, AR-platform rigs work great in NRA High Power competitions (Photo from NRA Blog, at Camp Perry).

AR15 Timney drop-in trigger two-stage 2-stage single stageTwo-Stage vs. Single-Stage Triggers
Two-stage triggers have two separate movements. The first stage offers a light, spring-loaded pressure that works against the shooter’s pull until stopping at the second stage – this is called “take-up”. If there is no spring pressure, it is known as “slack”. Should the shooter continue to pull the trigger once he’s arrived at the second stage, the mechanism will operate like a single-stage trigger from there until engaging the sear and firing the gun. Good trigger reset requires the shooter to keep pressure on the trigger, even during reset, to minimize movement of the muzzle.

Single-stage triggers feature no take-up or slack, as they begin engaging the sear as soon as the shooter begins pulling the trigger. Some competitive shooters prefer the two-stage trigger because of the feedback it provides during its first stage, while other shooters, including those using their rifle in tactical scenarios, may want the surety of a single-stage trigger, ready to engage and fire once their finger is inside the trigger guard. Regardless of preference, a good trigger will feature minimal creep and should be free of grittiness, providing a smooth, even break.

AR15 Timney drop-in trigger two-stage 2-stage single stage

Drop-In Trigger Assembly vs. Standard Trigger Group
Once you decide between a single-stage or two-stage trigger, you can choose between standard and drop-in trigger groups. Standard trigger groups feature all the fire control group parts separated, and need to be pieced together and installed much like a mil-spec trigger, while drop-in trigger are pre-assembled and contained within a casing that simply drops in to the receiver and accepts the pins, hence the name.

After-Market Trigger Comparison

Some shooters prefer drop-in triggers due to the ease of installation, while others opt for standard groups so they can access the components individually for cleaning adjustment or replacement. If one piece of a drop-in trigger fails, you’ll need to either replace the entire unit or send it to the manufacturer for repair, whereas you may be able to simply replace the broken component of a standard trigger without needing a whole new trigger set.

Trigger Terminology — “Creep”, “Stacking”, “Overtravel”
“Creep” or “travel” is the distance the trigger moves between the end of take-up and when the trigger breaks to fire the fun. Too much creep can affect accuracy, but no creep can be unsafe, as the shooter may not be prepared to fire. “Stacking” occurs when the trigger weight actually increases during travel — this shouldn’t happen. Lastly, “overtravel” is the distance the trigger continues moving back after the gun fires.

This article is based on a longer story in the NRA Blog.

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 5 Comments »
May 28th, 2018

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 2 Comments »
May 16th, 2018

Good News for Gunsmiths — Major ITAR Changes Coming

ITAR Department of State Commerce Trump administration Rule Changes gunsmithing

This is good news for gunsmiths and small manufacturers who have been threatened by onerous regulations (and huge fees), under ITAR. With a Republican President in the White House, it looks like the Departments of Commerce and State are moving towards removing common gunsmithing activities (such as threading barrels or fitting brakes) that were potentially under the purview of ITAR. In addition, possible Federal rule changes would broadly move firearms and ammunition out from ITAR regulation. Generally speaking, it appears that the proposed rule changes will make Federal law more tolerant, so that producers of small firearms accessory parts would no longer have to register as ITAR manufacturers (with hefty annual fees).

As part of the Export Control Reform (ECR) initiative and ahead of expected publication in the Federal Register this week, the Departments of Commerce and State have posted the new proposed rules transitioning export licensing of sporting and commercial firearms and ammunition from the ITAR-controlled U.S. Munitions List (USML) to the EAR-controlled Commerce Control List. Thus, items removed from the USML would become subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).

The NSSF states: “The new proposed rules represent significant change in the regulations controlling exports of our products, and all exporters need to review these important proposed rules.

NSSF is preparing comments on the rules for formal submission. We will be sending out a recap of the changes in the next few days. Please make sure all your export specialists have a chance to review and provide comments. NSSF will be drafting a comments letter for both rules based on this review.”

If you have points that you would like to see included, please email Kim Pritula (kpritula@comcast.net) and Elizabeth McGuigan (emcguigan@nssf.org).

Access New Proposed Federal Rules HERE:

Department of Commerce (click to view)

SUMMARY: This proposed rule describes how articles the President determines no longer warrant control under United States Munitions List (USML) Category I – Firearms, Close Assault Weapons and Combat Shotguns; Category II – Guns and Armament; and Category III – Ammunition/Ordnance would be controlled under the Commerce Control List (CCL). This proposed rule is being published simultaneously with a proposed rule by the Department of State that would revise Categories I, II, and III of the USML to describe more precisely the articles warranting continued control on that list.

Department of State (click to view)

SUMMARY: The Department of State (the Department) proposes to amend the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to revise Categories I (firearms, close assault weapons and combat shotguns), II (guns and armament) and III (ammunition and ordnance) of the U.S. Munitions List (USML) to describe more precisely the articles warranting export and temporary import control on the USML. Items removed from the USML would become subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).

Permalink Gunsmithing, News 3 Comments »
April 7th, 2018

New Barrel Chambering Book by Gritters and Zeglin

Gordy Gritters Fred Zeglin barrel chambering gunsmith lathe book dvd

There is a new book, Chambering Rifles for Accuracy, that will benefit folks who want to understand the chambering process, and potentially learn to chamber a barrel on their own. We caution, however — you really need a skilled, hands-on mentor for this this task. For someone without a lot of machining experience, chambering can be tricky, and working with lathes can be dangerous to say the least.*

With those cautions stated, this book will help any gun-owner understand how chambering is done, and what to look for when assessing chambering work by commercial gunsmiths. Chambering Rifles for Accuracy is co-authored by Gordy Gritters and Fred Zeglin. The methods detailed in this book can be used equally well by gunsmiths in a professional shop, and by skilled, well-trained hobbyists working in a home workshop. The book costs $49.95 from Amazon.

Gordy Gritters is a highly-respected gunsmith and gunsmithing instructor. Gordy has built many match-winning competition rifles so he knows his stuff. Fred is a gunsmith, gunsmithing instructor, author, and is the owner of 4-D Reamer Rentals, so he is very knowledgeable on the use and care of reamers. Fred has extensive experience building high-accuracy hunting rifles.

Fred wrote the first half of the book, which covers what is needed to prepare for and chamber high-accuracy hunting barrels. Zeglin lists all the tools needed such as reamers, micrometer reamer stops, headspace gauges, and more.

Gordy wrote the second half of the book, which goes beyond basic chambering. Gordy covers setting up a lathe for chambering barrels through the headstock, various dialing-in methods commonly used, how to deal with curvature in rifle bores, and how to deal with reamer chatter (especially prevalent in 5R-type barrels). Then Gordy covers the entire dialing-in/threading/fitting/chambering/crowning process used to build a benchrest-quality rifle. Gordy also explaines how to ream custom chamber necks, and how to throat the chamber for specific bullets or for a specific purpose.

Gordy Gritters Fred Zeglin barrel chambering gunsmith lathe book dvd

Gordy Gritters also created an excellent DVD, “Chambering a Championship Match Barrel”. No other chambering video shows the entire chambering process step-by-step with the advanced, precision techniques used by master gunsmiths. Gordy has built several rifles that hold world records and have won National Championships. This is a professional 90-minute production from Grizzly Industrial. You can purchase this $69.95 DVD from Gordy’s website or from Grizzly Industrial.


*This Editor’s own uncle suffered a severe arm injury while working with a lathe. He was not an amateur — he had done lathe and mill work for over 40 years. But a shirt-sleeve caught in the spinning chuck. The results were horrific.

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing No Comments »
March 8th, 2018

How NOT to Headspace a Barrel — Speedy’s Disturbing Discovery

Locktite Red barrel shoulder headspace Thomas Speedy Gonzales
This barrel’s shoulder was 0.025″ off the action because Red Locktite had been used on the threads.

Gunsmith Thomas ‘Speedy’ Gonzales offered this interesting report about how NOT to headspace a barrel. Hopefully you never discover something like this…

“A good friend and customer sent this rig in for repair after FedEx damaged the rifle during inbound transport from another smith. After repairing the stock and rebedding it, I decided to re-polish the barrel to make the repair perfect. Well this just added insult to injury as the barrel did not want to come off. After a few choice words, the barrel finally broke free only to reveal something very disturbing. It seems the barrel had been ‘headspaced’ by using RED Loctite to hold it in place.” [Editor: That’s definitely NOT how barrels should be fitted.]

Speedy was not happy: “I hope the smith that did this sees the photos and realized what jeopardy he put my customer in or anyone who shot the rifle for that matter. When cleaned up, the shoulder on the barrel was over 0.0250″ (25 thousandths) away from the face of the receiver.” [Editor: That’s a lot in this business]. Check out the images below to see how much the barrel rotated further inward when cleaned up. The barrel spun in nearly another eighth-turn or more. Not good.

Locktite Red barrel shoulder headspace Thomas Speedy Gonzales

Locktite Red barrel shoulder headspace Thomas Speedy Gonzales

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 11 Comments »
December 12th, 2017

Possible Progress on ITAR Regulation of Gunsmiths

ITAR Department of State Rule Change

If you are a gunsmith, or do any machine works on firearms, you need to know about ITAR, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations which are enforced through the U.S. Department of State (DOS). ITAR applies to companies that create sophisticated weapons systems. However, under DOS interpretations in recent years, ITAR may also apply to persons and businesses that do simple, basic gunsmithing tasks. That could require filling out lots of paperwork, and paying the Fed’s hefty fees, starting at $2250 per year. A Guidance Statement issued by the DOS Directorate of Defense Trade Counsels (DDTC) in July, 2016 (under the Obama Administration) gave rise to serious concerns that DOS was going to require every gunsmith to register under ITAR, under threat of massive fines and penalties. READ About DDTC ITAR Guidance.

Thankfully, it appears that the Trump Administration is working to narrow the scope of ITAR so that it would NOT apply to basic gunsmithing activities, and not apply to common gun accessories that are not exported. IMPORTANT: Changes have NOT been made yet, but it appears the Feds are heading in the right direction, with the DOS willing to modify its definition of “manufacturing” so ITAR would not embrace basic gunsmithing tasks such as threading a muzzle.

The Gun Collective reports that: “The Directorate of Defense Trade Counsels (DDTC) is working on revising the ITAR regulations which will help the gun industry[.] Gunsmiths having to pay hefty fees, register and comply with ITAR may no longer be a problem if this goes through as planned. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for Congress to take action, but rather an agency, which appears to be taking initiative to get it done. As always, time will tell, so be sure to keep your eye on the Federal Register….”

While nothing has happened yet, it appears that this administration is working to revise ITAR. For members of the firearms industry, this is a big deal and will be beneficial to all. There is no reason that a gunsmith should be required to register and comply with ITAR to simply thread a muzzle. It will also allow companies to more easily export their products around the world. (Source: The Gun Collective)

The Gun Collective further noted that: “The topic that will be of the most interest to us would be the definition of manufacturing[.] You may remember DDTC’s July 2016 letter, which issued “Guidance” as to who would have to register under ITAR [and suggested] that now gunsmiths would have to register as well. The definition of manufacturing is an important one to define and one that had broad ranging implications as the industries covered under ITAR are wide ranging, everything from the firearms industry to airplanes and missiles. The Guidance stated that ITAR registration was required for gunsmiths who machined or cut firearms, such as the threading of muzzles or muzzle brake installation which required machining. At a hefty $2,250 a year to register, ignoring all of the other things that go along with ITAR, it is easy to see why this would be problematic for most small businesses.”

AECA DDTC Federal export manufacturer registration requirement criminal sanctions Annual fee NRA-ILA

Here is the key language in the DDTC’s “ITAR Registration Requirements – Consolidated Guidance” Ruling of 7/22/2016:

2. Registration Required – Manufacturing: In response to questions from persons engaged in the business of gunsmithing, DDTC has found in specific cases that ITAR registration is required because the following activities meet the ordinary, contemporary, common meaning of “manufacturing” and, therefore, constitute “manufacturing” for ITAR purposes:

a) Use of any special tooling or equipment upgrading in order to improve the capability of assembled or repaired firearms;

b) Modifications to a firearm that change round capacity;

c) The production of firearm parts (including, but not limited to, barrels, stocks, cylinders, breech mechanisms, triggers, silencers, or suppressors);

d) The systemized production of ammunition, including the automated loading or reloading of ammunition;

e) The machining or cutting of firearms, e.g., threading of muzzles or muzzle brake installation requiring machining, that results in an enhanced capability;

f) Rechambering firearms through machining, cutting, or drilling;

g) Chambering, cutting, or threading barrel blanks; and

h) Blueprinting firearms by machining the barrel.

Resources for ITAR Issues:

1. Proposed ITAR Revisions to Definitions of Defense Services and Technical Data LINK
2. DDTC 2016 ITAR Registration Guidance Letter LINK
3. Export Control Reform Act of 2016 LINK

Legal Brief ITAR Episode (August 2016):

Attribution: GunCollective.com and Ammoland.com under Creative Commons license.

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