June 28th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Trio of Tack-Driving Thumbhole Varmint Rifles

gunday sunday varmint rifles Richard Franklin Custom rifles virginia thumbhole

Mr. Smith’s Tack-Driving Thumbhole Trio
What is it they say? “Can’t have too much of a good thing?” We’ll in the case of Sam Smith of Wisconsin, that goes for beautiful wood-stocked thumbhole rifles that shoot like the blazes. This week we feature a troika of thumbholes, all smithed and stocked by Richard Franklin of Richard’s Custom Rifles (Richard is now retired but still offers DVDs). Not content with a single caliber or twist, Sam commissioned three different chamberings and barrel twist rates.

First, in Fiddleback Walnut — a 6PPC Walking Varminter
thumbhole varmint rigThe most elegant of the three thumbholes is this handsome .261″-neck 6PPC. The blue-printed Rem 700 action is pillar-bedded in a highly-figured stock of laminated Curley Fiddleback Walnut, in Richard’s #004 pattern. Richard uses three sections of wood bonded together so the outside looks like a single piece of Walnut.

The lead photo at top, and the image at right show more details of this rifle. The grain really takes on a rich color in sunlight, with the Tiger-stripe figure showing brilliantly through the clearcoat. Believe it or not, Sam doesn’t even consider this one of his best-looking rifles. Sam tells us, “these three thumbhole stocks are not even close to the prettiest guns Richard has built for me–you should see the Maple ones he did for me–they are unbelievable.”

Sam tells us the gun’s 1:14″-twist Krieger barrel is a hummer — it regularly shoots one-holers at 100 yards. Sam has even logged some groups in the Zeros with the gun–awesome accuracy for a varmint rifle/Sam tells us that, using VV N133 and 58gr V-max bullets, this gun is absolutely deadly on prairie dogs out to 500 yards. (SEE: One-hole Sample Target.)

Rifle #2 — Cherry and Walnut Together in a 6mm Rem Improved

gunday sunday varmint rifles Richard Franklin Custom rifles virginia thumbhole

When more knock-down power or more distant targets are in order, Sam pulls out his 6mm Rem Improved 1:12″-twist thumbhole Varminter. Like the other two guns, this features a pillar-bedded Remington 700 action and Krieger barrel. While the 6mm AI’s #004 stock shares the same shape and form as the 6PPC above, it is much more colorful, employing a seven-layer laminate in Cherry and Walnut, covered with multiple coats of automotive clear-coat. One of Sam’s favorite varminters, this rifle sees more range use than his 6PPC because “the PPC is so accurate I want to keep the round count down.” That’s not to say the 6mm Improved is any slouch in the accuracy department. Using VV N160 and 75gr V-max bullets, the gun averages in the 2s and 3s. The best group to date was .189″ with the 87gr V-Max (See V-Max Target below). Chalk that up to another superbly accurate Krieger barrel combined with outstanding chambering work by Richard.

6mm Rem Improved with 87gr V-Max at 100 Yards
6mm Rem improved target

Rifle #3 — Fast-Twist 6.5-284 with Benchrest Forearm

6.5-284 with Benchrest Forearm

Last but not least is Sam’s handsome 6.5-284 (below), also in a laminated Walnut and Cherry stock. The Krieger barrel is a Heavy Varmint contour, with an 8-twist and .290″ neck. This gun hasn’t been shot much yet, but during initial testing it grouped in the mid-threes with 53gr of H4831 and 142gr Sierra MKs. You’ll note the stock is a bit different than the other two guns–this is the #005 stock pattern, which boasts a 3″-wide, flat forearm. It is identical to the #004 from the recoil lug rearward. Sam tells us that the #005 tracks better than the #004, though he prefers the rounded forearm of the #004 for a walking varminter.

Sam’s all-time favorite stock pattern in Richard’s #007, a roll-over comb design with conventional wrist and Cooper-style Beavertail forearm. Sam has a similar Maple #007 that he says is “even nicer than the gun in the picture.”

Nice Wood? You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet!
After this trio of thumbhole rifles, Sam commissioned two more rifles — a matched pair in 6mm BR Norma and 6PPC, done up in absolutely amazing 500 year-old Turkish Walnut, sourced from a one-of-a-kind 48″ diameter Burl. What does a piece of wood like this cost? Trust us, if you have to ask, you couldn’t possibly afford it. Let us just say these are some of the most spectacularly figured blanks ever shipped from Turkey and they are priced accordingly. Here’s a preview, taken right before Richard bonded the first stock together. The lower two pieces look lighter because of the flash angle but the upper section more accurately shows how all three pieces appear in natural light. “Wow” is right!

gunday sunday varmint rifles Richard Franklin Custom rifles virginia thumbhole

Richard Franklin is Now Retired in Montana
The last we heard, gunsmith Richard Franklin was enjoying his retirement years up in Montana. On RichardsCustomRifles.com Richard posted: “I built fine custom rifles and for many years. I was the first stock maker to laminate woods such high-grade walnut, fiddleback maple and other fancy woods. I designed my own ideas into my patterns and carved, finished, pillar bedded thousands of stocks on the rifles I built. My most popular stock pattern was my Model 11 thumbhole.

I love building rifles but my health has forced me to retire and to take time to smell the roses. I made many great videos on how to build rifles and have been selling them for many years. They are still in great demand.” CLICK HERE to check out Richard’s DVDs about rifle building and varmint hunting.

gunday sunday varmint rifles Richard Franklin Custom rifles virginia thumbhole

Permalink - Articles, Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
March 9th, 2019

IWA Outdoor Classics Show in Germany — Saturday Special

IWA Outdoor Classics Germany shot show trade new products Nuremberg

The IWA Outdoor Classics trade show is the biggest gun/hunting/outdoor trade show outside the USA. This year 1622 companies are displaying their products and IWA attendance should approach 50,000. The IWA event, held each spring in Nuremberg, Germany, opened yesterday in the Nürnberg Exhibition Centre. The show runs four days, March 8-11, 2019. Here is our IWA Day 2 report, with more images from the show. Photo Credit for IWA images: NuernbergMesse / Frank Boxler and Thomas Geiger, All Rights Reserved.


CLICK HERE for Over 200 More IWA Show Photos »

IWA Outdoor Classics Germany shot show trade new products Nuremberg

High-tech Steiner M7Xi IFS 4-28x56mm optic. That box on the end includes a digital display with level and windage/elevation read-outs.

IWA Outdoor Classics Germany shot show trade new products Nuremberg

Spectacular one-of-a-kind Walther Q5 pistol with full engraving and custom grips. Wow.

IWA Outdoor Classics Germany shot show trade new products Nuremberg

IWA Outdoor Classics Germany shot show trade new products Nuremberg

More Walthers — These are Olympic-grade competition Air Pistols.

IWA Outdoor Classics Germany shot show trade new products Nuremberg

What’s an outdoor show without a Land Rover and safari gear?

IWA Outdoor Classics Germany shot show trade new products Nuremberg

How do you make a beautiful gunstock? Start with a beautiful wood blank. Some stunning Turkish walnut blanks were on display at the IWA Show.

IWA Outdoor Classics Germany shot show trade new products Nuremberg

Beautiful Sauer rifle with engraved receiver and presentation grade wood.

IWA Outdoor Classics Germany shot show trade new products Nuremberg

There were plenty of handsome wheelguns on display at the Smith & Wesson booth. Accurate revolvers will never go out of style.

IWA Outdoor Classics Germany shot show trade new products Nuremberg

We liked this slide-out, mobile gun-locker for rifles and gear. Now that’s some serious storage!

IWA Outdoor Classics Germany shot show trade new products Nuremberg

Leading American shooting supplies vendor Brownells has a HUGE presence at IWA.

IWA New Products Center

Along with the main displays for 1600+ exhibitors, the IWA Show features a dedicated New Products Center. Here you’ll find a wide spectrum of new items — airguns, electronics, optics, hunting clothing, knives, cleaning products and more…

IWA Outdoor Classics Germany shot show trade new products Nuremberg

IWA Outdoor Classics Video — New Products Center

IWA Outdoor Classics Germany shot show trade new products Nuremberg

FK BRNO 7.5 Pistol (Cutaway) with folding stock that fits to bottom of grip, around mag well. Clever!

Parting SHOT — IWA Outdoor Classics Virtual Reality?

IWA Outdoor Classics Germany shot show trade new products Nuremberg

We have no idea what this woman is doing with that gadget, but it has something to do with Swarovski Optik. Maybe some kind of virtual reality? What’s your guess?

Permalink - Videos, Handguns, New Product, News, Tactical 1 Comment »
March 31st, 2018

New CZ 527 Varmint MTR (Match Target Rifle)

CZ rifle 527 Varmint MTR 2018 new turkish walnut 6.5 Grendel .223 Rem Remington

CZ has a new rifle that should appeal to varminters and target shooters. The new CZ 527 Varmint MTR (Match Target Rifle) is designed to provide enhanced accuracy with a heavy-profile barrel and stock that works well from bench or bipod. The MTR features a fast Mini-Mauser action with a trigger that adjusts from 2.25 to 4.95 lbs (10 to 22 N).

Chamberings: .222 Rem (1:14″) | .223 Rem (1:9″) | 6.5 Grendel (1:8″)
Specs: OAL 44.5 inches | Barrel Length 25.6 inches | 8.8 pounds (without optic)

CZ rifle 527 Varmint MTR 2018 new turkish walnut 6.5 Grendel .223 Rem Remington
Click above photo for full-screen image with legible notations.

We wish we could tell you how the CZ 527 Varmint MTR shoots, but this rifle is so new that test samples haven’t made it to the USA yet. Based on experience with other CZ 527 models, we would expect about 1.2 MOA accuracy with decent factory ammo. With handloads you might get closer to 0.7 MOA for three shots. Sorry no USA price is available yet. However, the older CZ 527 Varmint, with a lesser-grade stock, has an MSRP of $725.00, so we expect the CZ 527 Varmint MTR to retail for around $875.00. We note that the latest model CZ 557 Varmint with similar, ergonomic Turkish Walnut stock has an $865.00 MSRP as listed in the 2018 CZ-USA Catalog.

CZ 527 Varmint MTR Features:
— Match-type stock design with wider, straight fore-end for good tracking on front rest.
— Slanted buttstock toe to adjust height in rear shooting bag
— Match-type ergonomic grip design with palm swell
— High-quality Turkish Walnut wood with oil finish
— Adjustable trigger pull from 2.25 to 4.95 lbs (10 to 22 N)
— Detachable 5-round all-metal magazine
— Heavy-contour 25.6″ (650 mm) hammer-forged barrel with threaded muzzle

CZ rifle 527 Varmint MTR 2018 new turkish walnut 6.5 Grendel .223 Rem Remington

Here is the manufacturer’s product description: “Thanks to the tried and tested CZ 527 system, the rifle is comfortable, reliable and fast to control. The trigger pull and pull weight may be set in the range between 10 and 22 N. Crucial for the high accuracy is the thick-walled 650 mm long barrel with a target pattern muzzle end and a thread for the attachment of accessories. The ergonomic walnut stock in oil finish is suitable for hunting as well as sport shooting. All users will also appreciate the superb ballistic properties of the 6.5 Grendel cartridge.”

CZ rifle 527 Varmint MTR 2018 new turkish walnut 6.5 Grendel .223 Rem Remington

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, New Product 6 Comments »
February 9th, 2017

Palma Pride — Stunning Turkish Walnut-Stocked Match Rifle

Barnard Turkish Walnut Palma Rifle

At the Berger SW Nationals this week many of the nation’s top sling shooters will be competing in the Palma (full-bore) class. You’ll see a scores of .308 Win Palma rifles on the firing line in Phoenix. However, we doubt any of those Ben Avery rigs will be more eye-catching than this Barnard-actioned beauty in an stunning Turkish Walnut stock…

Turkish Walnut Palma RifleIn our Shooters’ Forum, there’s a long-running thread entitled Pride & Joy Rifles. There you’ll find dozens of fine firearms — from hunting handguns to long-range benchrest rigs. A while back, Forum member John L. (GunDog64) posted this handsome Palma rifle, built by Chad Dixon.

John reports: “Here is my new ‘Pride and Joy’ Palma rifle. The action is a chrome-moly Barnard supplied by MT Guns. The gun is set up for switch-barrel use with two Medium Palma-contour Bartlein barrels, one chambered in 6CM, the other in .308 Winchester. Both barrels feature 5R rifling. Up front is a Riles 30mm front sight, while the rear sight is a Warner. The stock was crafted from a superb Turkish walnut blank supplied by Luxus Gunstocks in Mt. Orab, Ohio.

Gunsmithing by Chad Dixon — Stock Finish by Owner
All gunsmithing and assembly work was performed by Chad Dixon at Long Rifles Inc., Sturgis, South Dakota. Chad designed the trigger guard, handstop rail, recoil lug, and cheek-piece adjuster. John, the rifle’s proud new owner, completed the finish work on the stock. John reveals: “This project was a year in the making but well worth the wait”.

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January 9th, 2017

Watch Stock Duplicator Machine in Action

Production wood rifle stocks, both laminates and hardwoods, are commonly made with stock duplicating machines. Stock duplicators allow a stock-maker to copy a master design faithfully and efficiently. The video below, from Colorado rifle-maker Michael Cuypers, shows a stock duplicator (in automatic mode) cutting a piece of Turkish Walnut, for a mauser 98. This machine rotates the blank while a spinning vertical cutting head shapes and trims the blank. This duplicator manually tracks the shape/profile of the master blank. To make another stock, this process needs to be repeated, with the master in place. For more information about this duplicating machine, visit www.riflebuilders.com.

Watch Stock Duplicator in Progress

Future Technology: We are starting to see stocks made with CNC milling machines that cut stock profiles based on three-dimensional scans of master stock designs. However, the traditional mechanical duplicator process in the video is still most commonly used by most of today’s stock-makers.

Turkish Walnut — Where to Get a Beautiful Blank
The Bijou Creek video above shows a Turkish Walnut stock being roughed out. Turkish Walnut is some of the most beautifully figured wood available — but it can be pricy. If you are looking for this kind of ultra-high-grade wood, it makes sense to shop carefully. You’ll find a wide selection of Turkish Walnut blanks at the HunterBid.com website. Hundreds of selections are available at auction. Prices start as low as $150.00. The finest blanks sell for $1,000 or more. New blank selections are added to the website every other day. HunterBid.com is run by Chiron Inc., which is 100% owned by the Ergin family who are of Turkish origin. Chiron maintains warehouses in Dover, NH and Istanbul, Turkey.

Hunterbid.com walnut blanks

Video find by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.

Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing 4 Comments »
February 27th, 2013

Need Wood? Try HunterBid.com for Turkish Walnut

Many of our readers want a custom rifle that looks as good as it shoots. When it comes to wood stocks, one of the most prized materials is fine Turkish Walnut. You’ll find a wide selection of Turkish Walnut blanks at the HunterBid.com website. Hundreds of selections are available at auction. Prices start as low as $150.00. The finest blanks sell for $1,000 or more. You’ll find both one-piece blanks (for rifles) and two-piece blanks (for shotguns). Most blanks are 36″ or shorter, but some longer Mannlicher blanks are available. Here are two examples from past auctions. The first is an exhibition-grade blank, the second a low-priced blank that still exhibits excellent figure.

hunterbid turkish walnut stock

hunterbid turkish walnut stock

New blank selections are added to the website every other day. The operators of HunterBid report: “If you are interested in any of our blanks in Hunterbid auctions, but you do not like the bidding process, please give us a call (603) 433-8908 or send us an e-mail. We will help you choose a blank that suits you, and even close the auction for you and ship your purchase the same day.” HunterBid.com is run by Chiron Inc., which is 100% owned by the Ergin family who are of Turkish origin. Chiron maintains warehouses in Dover, NH and Istanbul, Turkey.

Hunterbid.com walnut blanks

Permalink Gunsmithing, News No Comments »
September 15th, 2011

“Pride & Joy” Palma Rifle in Turkish Walnut

Turkish Walnut Palma RifleIn our Shooters’ Forum, there’s a long-running thread entitled Pride & Joy Rifles. There you’ll find dozens of fine firearms — from hunting handguns to long-range benchrest rigs. A while back, Forum member John L. (GunDog64) posted this handsome Palma rifle, built by Chad Dixon.

John reports: “Here is my new ‘Pride and Joy’ Palma rifle. The action is a chrome-moly Barnard supplied by MT Guns. The gun is set up for switch-barrel use with two Medium Palma-contour Bartlein barrels, one chambered in 6CM, the other in .308 Winchester. Both barrels feature 5R rifling. Up front is a Riles 30mm front sight, while the rear sight is a Warner. The stock was crafted from a superb Turkish walnut blank supplied by Luxus Gunstocks in Mt. Orab, Ohio.

Gunsmithing by Chad Dixon — Stock Finish by Owner
All gunsmithing and assembly work was performed by Chad Dixon at Long Rifles Inc., Sturgis, South Dakota. Chad designed the trigger guard, handstop rail, recoil lug, and cheek-piece adjuster. John, the rifle’s proud new owner, completed the finish work on the stock. John reveals: “This project was a year in the making but well worth the wait”.

Permalink Gunsmithing 4 Comments »