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May 1st, 2022

Sunday GunDay: Falling-Block .50 BMG — Beauty of a Beast

.50 BMG J.T. 50-caliber Smith breech block falling block custom rifle
.50 BMG J.T. 50-caliber Smith breech block falling block custom rifle

This is one amazing .50-caliber rifle. Along with the lever-actuated falling block, it has a massive swing-out breech block like you’d find on a field artillery piece. The action is so wide that the sights and scope are offset. You’ve heard of the “Beauty and the Beast”? Well here the Beast IS a Beauty….

View looking down at the action from above. Note the hinged Breech-Block.
.50 BMG J.T. 50-caliber Smith breech block falling block custom rifle

This extraordinary example of gunsmithing art was crafted by the late J.T. (Jack) Smith of Sudbury, Massachusetts. This unique .50-caliber rifle features an aircraft machine gun barrel cut down to 38-1/4″, and turned octagon to round (in the style of Schuetzen rifles). The round portion of the barrel is tapered with a heavy boss at the muzzle. The barrel is inlaid in gold on both left and right side top flats. Custom scope bases are fitted to the receiver and to the top of the barrel. These hold an externally adjusting Unertl 15X target scope in offset scope mounts.

.50 BMG J.T. 50-caliber Smith breech block falling block custom rifle

Huge Falling Block Receiver
The massive receiver (8″ long x 2-3/4″ wide x 3″ deep) is remarkable in design and construction. Machined from solid steel, the action incorporates several unique features. Note the hinged Howitzer-style breech block which swings to the right and mortises into the back of the receiver in the loading slot, providing a back-up for the falling block. We’ve never seen anything like that on any rifle. The one-piece floorplate/lever incorporates a Ruger No. 1-style latch which locks into the bottom of the trigger guard. The entire floorplate and lever retract downward. Firing is accomplished by means of a striker mounted in the hinged (swing-out) breech block. This is manually cocked with another lever on top of the breech block. Dropping the falling block activates the extractor which removes the spent case.

Offset Sights
This rifle features a custom-built, windage-adjustable offset front sight plus a custom-built vernier tang sight with aperture offset to the left side. The sights are offset to the left for a right-handed shooter, to correct for the extreme width of the receiver, allowing a more comfortable head position.

.50 BMG J.T. 50-caliber Smith breech block falling block custom rifle

(more…)

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April 24th, 2022

Sunday GunDay: 6PPC Falling Block Ultra-Lightweight 97D

eben arthur brown model 97D falling block single shot 6 PPC rifle

While a 16.5-pound benchrest gun is wonderfully stable on the bench, it’s not what you want in a field rifle. There is much to be said for a slim, light-weight, and easy-handling firearm when it comes to a walking varmint adventure. Eben Brown, who runs E. Arthur Brown Company, has created just such a rifle — the Model 97D Falling Block. When chambered for the 6PPC cartridge it delivered quarter-MOA accuracy in a splendidly portable package that tips the scales at just over six pounds without scope. The Model 97D is fairly unique in its lightweight and compact format — that makes it a great field-carry varmint rig. [Editor’s Note: This is an older article and we use some more recent photos of other model 97D Rifles to better illustrate the design and layout.]

eben arthur brown model 97D falling block single shot 6 PPC rifle
Catalog photo of EABCO Model 97D Falling Block rifle.

Excellent Accuracy Made Easy for Sport Shooters

by Eben Brown, E. Arthur Brown Company
You don’t have to be a benchrest competitor to enjoy shooting one of the most accurate centerfire cartridges in the world, the 6mm PPC. With no complicated brass forming or finicky reloading processes, you can be shooting near half-inch groups right from the start and hone your skills to near quarter-inch groups by your second outing–at least that’s how it worked for me, and I’m NOT a good bench rest shooter! Developed by Louis Palmisano and Ferris Pindell, the 6PPC has won more bench rest accuracy competitions than any other cartridge. Easily made from Lapua .220 Russian brass, the 6mm PPC has a small primer and uniquely small flash hole that is credited for much of its inherent accuracy. The “short, fat” shape and nearly straight body contribute to efficient, consistent powder burning and stable chamber performance (it grips the chamber well during ignition).

Eabco model 97D 6ppcThe Brown Model 97D — A Slim, Accurate 6-Pound Rifle
The 97D was developed from the EABCO “BF” falling block silhouette pistols that have won world championships and set 500-meter distance records. In operation, the 97D falling block slides perpendicularly and closes the breech with absolutely zero camming leverage. This makes it a perfect test-bed to measure the chamber performance needed for hand-loading most other single-shot rifles accurately. At the reloading bench, I worked up a load with the now fully shaped 6mm PPC brass. I full-length sized the brass, trimmed, and primed each case the same as I would with any other cartridge, and began loading. With the resultant load, I easily shot a 5-shot 1/4″ group, a personal best for me. See target photo at right.

Making 6mm PPC Cartridges
Full-length size, prime, charge with powder, and seat a bullet… sounds like what you do with any other cartridge, doesn’t it? In fact, the only difference with 6mm PPC is that it has to be fired once (fire-formed) to expand to its final shape and size. But even fire-forming shots produce exceptional accuracy. I shot several 3/4″ groups while fire-forming at 100 yards, with my best group at nearly half-inch–so the time spent fire-forming was wonderful! In the photo, the parent .220 Russian case is on the left, while the fire-formed 6PPC case is on the right.

The EABCO 6mm PPC Chamber
– 6PPC without Neck-turning!

We dimensioned our 6mm PPC chamber reamer to cut a chamber that fits Lapua 220 Russian brass closely without neck-turning. Naturally we recommend you use the Lapua brass for best results.

[Editor’s Note: We asked Eben if he had tried a 6BR chambering in a model 97D. He explained that, because of the extractor design, the falling block action works better with a smaller rim diameter: “The larger .308 rim width creates some issues. This design works best with cartridges no wider than the 30/30 case, or the 7.62×39 case, from which the 22 Russian case was derived. Cases with .308-sized rims develop more bolt thrust and work best with a different type of extractor than we use in the 97D. I love the 6BR, but I recommend the 6PPC for our 97D.”]

6mm PPC Reloading Data for Model 97D

The following loads were worked up in a Model 97D Rifle with 24″ barrel chambered for 6mm PPC with the chamber neck reamed to .275″ to fit Lapua brass without neck-turning. Lapua 220 Russian brass was full-length sized and fire-formed to 6mm PPC using 65gr V-Max bullets, CCI BR4 primers, and 24.5gr of VV N135 powder. Eben cautions: Load at Your Own Risk — Always start 10% low and work up

eben brown 97D Rifle 6ppcThe following optimum loads were worked up with Vihtavuori N135, 58gr and 65gr V-Max bullets, and CCI BR4 primers. Please Note: There really is no “standard” for 6mm PPC. It can be finicky. But once you find what works best for you, the cartridge performs superbly. The accuracy will astound you.

Model 97D Specifications

OAL (with 24″ Barrel): 38″

Approx. Weight without Scope: 6-6.5 lbs.

Barrel: 17-26″ Chromoly or Stainless

Stock: Walnut w/Hardwood Grip Cap

Trigger: Tuned 16-24 ounces

This video shows the Loading Technique for Model 97D Rifle

Powder Selection — Choosing the Right Propellant
I’ve found that my maximum single-shot loads reach the same level of performance as bolt gun loads when I use one level slower burning powder type and proper chamber preparation. For example, when the VihtaVuori loading guide shows a maximum with VV N133, my best single shot load ends up being with the slower burning VV N135. Here’s the simplest way to proceed: Use a starting load from the loading guide and increase the powder charge until you detect some resistance to block movement with your thumb. Next, charge a case with that same amount of powder, tap it to settle, and look to see if the case is full to the base of the neck. If it’s not full, step up to the next slower-rated powder and repeat the load development process. There’s a powder burn rate chart for all brands of powder in the front of the current VihtaVuori Loading Guide. When you have the maximum load that will fill the case and still allow the 97D single-shot to open and eject freely after firing, you’re ready to shoot some groups!

Loading for Best Chamber Performance
In the model 97D rifle you can check chamber performance easily. After firing a shot, see if you can press the block downward with only your thumb on the top of the block. If it moves freely, you’ve got good chamber performance.

I use three pressure indicators when developing loads on the Model 97D. First I check the block with my thumb. Then I check to see if the cartridge sticks at all when ejecting. And finally, I check the primer for the excessive flattening that would indicate too much pressure. Generally, the hottest load that still allows the gun to open and eject freely ends up being my most accurate shooting load.

Chamber Preparation
Best chamber performance happens when a cartridge grips the chamber and does not drive backward significantly. When you want something to grip (rather than slip), you want to make sure there is no lubricant on the gripping surfaces. Case forming lube and gun oil are the two lubricants you want to remove. Clean your 6mm PPC cases after sizing (I wipe mine with a paper towel and Windex). Clean your chamber with a chamber sized jag and patch wetted with acetone. (Note: protect your chamber with a thin coat of Clenzoil when you’re not out shooting.)

Conclusions of a Single-Shot Sport Shooter
I love the 6mm PPC! It was easy to hand-load for the cartridge and it was easy to get excellent results. The group shot on this page was with the 65gr bullet and a rifling twist of 1:10. I usually recommend a 1:12 twist and the 58gr bullet because customers have reported superb accuracy (better groups than I can shoot). But the 5-shot ¼” group I shot with this set-up is my personal best ever–so naturally I’m thrilled!

While it’s hard to beat the 6PPC’s accuracy in a Model 97D rifle, my company currently offers the rifle in a variety of chamberings including 17 Hornet, 219 Donaldson Wasp, and 6mm BRM. The 97D Standard features a blued 24″ chrome-moly barrel, French Gray receiver, anodized buttstock transition, 2-ring scope mount and swivel studs.– Eben Brown

About the production Model 97D Rifles: “The 97D is a small frame single shot rifle that’s suitable for big game as well as small game and varmint hunting. It originally evolved from our World Champion long range silhouette pistol action and incorporates the same accurate gun making processes. The 97D action itself is inherently accurate and simple. Onto this we fit an EABCO Accuracy Barrel, precision turned and threaded between centers. Each chamber is individually reamed on-center and individually head spaced. We feel the crown is so critical to accuracy that we leave it until after the gun is finished. Our 11 degree target crowns are cut last and left bright — our trademark finishing touch.”

Rifle report text and photos Copyright © Eben Brown All Rights Reserved. All other content Copyright © AccurateShooter.com, All Rights Reserved.

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March 16th, 2019

A Beauty of a Beast — .50 BMG Falling Block Rifle (Amazing)

.50 BMG J.T. 50-caliber Smith breech block falling block custom rifle
.50 BMG J.T. 50-caliber Smith breech block falling block custom rifle

This is one amazing .50-caliber rifle. Along with the lever-actuated falling block, it has a massive swing-out breech block like you’d find on a field artillery piece. The action is so wide that the sights and scope are offset. You’ve heard of the “Beauty and the Beast”? Well here the Beast IS a Beauty….

View looking down at the action from above. Note the hinged Breech-Block.
.50 BMG J.T. 50-caliber Smith breech block falling block custom rifle

This extraordinary example of gunsmithing art was crafted by the late J.T. (Jack) Smith of Sudbury, Massachusetts. This unique .50-caliber rifle features an aircraft machine gun barrel cut down to 38-1/4″, and turned octagon to round (in the style of Schuetzen rifles). The round portion of the barrel is tapered with a heavy boss at the muzzle. The barrel is inlaid in gold on both left and right side top flats. Custom scope bases are fitted to the receiver and to the top of the barrel. These hold an externally adjusting Unertl 15X target scope in offset scope mounts.

.50 BMG J.T. 50-caliber Smith breech block falling block custom rifle

Huge Falling Block Receiver
The massive receiver (8″ long x 2-3/4″ wide x 3″ deep) is remarkable in design and construction. Machined from solid steel, the action incorporates several unique features. Note the hinged Howitzer-style breech block which swings to the right and mortises into the back of the receiver in the loading slot, providing a back-up for the falling block. We’ve never seen anything like that on any rifle. The one-piece floorplate/lever incorporates a Ruger No. 1-style latch which locks into the bottom of the trigger guard. The entire floorplate and lever retract downward. Firing is accomplished by means of a striker mounted in the hinged (swing-out) breech block. This is manually cocked with another lever on top of the breech block. Dropping the falling block activates the extractor which removes the spent case.

Offset Sights
This rifle features a custom-built, windage-adjustable offset front sight plus a custom-built vernier tang sight with aperture offset to the left side. The sights are offset to the left for a right-handed shooter, to correct for the extreme width of the receiver, allowing a more comfortable head position.

.50 BMG J.T. 50-caliber Smith breech block falling block custom rifle

(more…)

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
July 14th, 2016

Black Powder Target Rifle Championship Next Week in Raton, NM

NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championship Raton NM
NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championships Raton NM

Next week the NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championship will be held at the Whittington Center in Raton, NM. From July 19-24, top Black Powder Cartridge Rifle (BPCR) shooters from around the country will test their skills during a week-long event with targets set from 200 to 1000 yards. On the firing line you’ll see many handsome, custom-built BPCRs (Sharps, Ballards, Browning High Walls, Rolling Blocks) with exquisite wood, hand-checkering, and color-case-hardened receivers.

NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championships Raton NM

NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championships Raton NM

The Black Powder Championship starts with mid-range matches from 200 to 600 yards. Then competitors set their sights for long range, with 800-1000 yard Creedmoor matches at the end of the week. Interestingly, for safety reasons, there are minimum bullet weight and muzzle velocity requirements for the Creedmoor matches. These BPCR shooters launch some seriously heavy projectiles downrange:

Caliber Minimum Bullet Weight (Grains) Minimum Bullet Velocity (FPS)
.38 Cal 408 (375) 1300 (1375)
.40 Cal 408 1280
.44 Cal 450 1240
.45 Cal 510 1200
.50 Cal 600 1200

NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championships Raton NM

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July 2nd, 2010

Anschütz and BSA Martini Benchrest Rigs from MT Guns

We recently tested some interesting “club benchrest” rifles created by MT Guns. Recognizing the demand for highly accurate “club-level” smallbore BR guns, Mac Tilton and his crew at MT Guns have started producing two new types of affordable rimfire benchrest rifles. One line of rifles employs Anschütz actions refitted with modern SS barrels and benchrest stocks. As its second line of rimfire BR guns, MT Guns is offering highly-modified BSA Martinis, tricked out with bag-riders and premium barrels fitted with tuners. With the hot-rod Anschütz running about $2000.00 and the modified BSA costing about $1500.00, these guns should provide an affordable alternative for club-level rimfire benchrest shooters. Plus you won’t have to wait months or years to get a “big-name” smith to build you a rifle.

Anschütz 54 Benchrest MT Guns

Anschütz Modified for Serious Accuracy
For Anschütz fans, MT Guns has fitted high grade Benchmark barrels to the legendary Model 54-type action. These re-barreled Anschütz actions are placed in Don Stith laminated benchrest stocks. With a modern low-profile, wide-forearm stock, MT Gun’s Anschütz BR guns track beautifully. So far, MT Guns has created two of these Anschütz-based bench guns, both built from model 19XX donor rifles — which also provided superb 5018 triggers. Barrels on both guns are Benchmark — one a 2-groove, the other a 3-groove. In the Stith stocks, complete with aluminum butt plates and weighted tuners, both rifles tip the scales at about 10 pounds. Price for the Anschütz bench guns is $1995.00 with unfinished Stith stock. A fitted Hoehn barrel tuner adds $200 to the price, while a Picatinny rail is a $125.00 option.

Anschütz 54 Benchrest MT Guns

BSA MartiniBSA Martini — Classic Design with 21st Century Upgrades
If you want to get noticed at your club’s next smallbore rimfire match, then a modified BSA Martini may be the gun for you. These rifles, originally built for prone target shooting, earned a well-deserved reputation for accuracy. MT Guns has done some basic modifications allowing the unique BSA Martinis to be surprisingly competitive in the benchrest game. The factory barrels were “retired” in favor of a 2-groove or 3-groove reverse taper Benchmark barrel — the type of tube that has won big matches and set records. To improve the rifle’s “bench manners” MT Guns fits a custom-made low-friction polymer sled in the front. Fitted with this 3″-wide bag-rider, the gun is extremely stable. An optional Hoehn tuner allows you to tune barrel harmonics for maximum accuracy.

Speaking of which, readers may be asking “How accurate can this BSA Frankengun really be?” Amazingly accurate. Watch the slide show below. In the last frame you’ll see two very impressive 5-shot groups shot by the BSA Martini Int’l Mark III at 50 yards. The ammo was Lapua X-Act.

In the video below, Bruce Duncan of MT Guns explains the distinctive mechanical design of the lever-activated, tilting-block BSA Martini. Bruce also discusses the history of the BSA Martini marque, reviewing the many BSA Martini models produced in the last century. The BSA Martini International MK III is perhaps the most desirable in the long evolution of target Martinis built by BSA from the Great War era to the early 80s. These MK IIIs, dating from the 1960s, feature Benchmark 28 3/4″ reverse-taper barrels, Hoehn barrel tuners, and special bolt-on Picatinny rails fabricated by MT Guns. Bruce noted: “The MT Guns bag rider attaches to the rifle’s fore-end rail. During testing, we noted that the fore-and-aft position of the bag rider on the rail affected the rifle’s tune.” For more info, visit MTGuns.com or call the shop at (805) 720-7720.

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May 10th, 2009

E. Arthur Brown 6 PPC Falling Block Auction

There’s a very nice E. Arthur Brown model 97 falling block on Gunbroker right now (Auction Item 1278790919), with a few more hours left before close of auction. This “custom grade” rifle features many nice upgrades, including a heavy barrel with muzzle brake, scope rail, brass stock wrist-piece, french gray finish, and select wood. What caught our eye was the fact that this particular rifle is chambered in 6 PPC — plus the gun’s in great condition.

model 97 6PPC

Memories of a 6PPC Falling Block
A friend of this Editor acquired a very similar model 97 some years ago, also chambered in 6 PPC. It proved to be superbly accurate. My friend wanted a slim, lightweight rifle for backcountry coyote hunts. He would often trek long distances during his hunts, so the rifle had to be easy on the shoulder but still capable of half-MOA (or better) accuracy. We both loved that little falling block (and it took its share of ‘yotes). Here’s your chance to save hundreds over the cost of buying a deluxe model 97 from the factory. Note, this auction will end today, May 10th, unless the item is relisted.

model 97 6PPC

model 97 6PPC

MODEL 97 VIDEOS
CLICK HERE for Model 97 Features Video | CLICK HERE for Model 97 Varmint Hunting Video

Permalink Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
November 29th, 2008

Sweet Browning Falling Block For Sale in Forum

We believe that every serious gun collector should have at least one falling block rifle in his or her collection. This classic design allows a very short, compact action. Falling blocks can be extremely accurate. Remember that the finest, long-range target rifles of the 19th Century were falling blocks. And the more modern BSA Martini designs were very successful rimfire target rifles in their heydey.

Compared to shooting a semi-automatic rifle, or even a modern bolt gun, using a falling block is a very different experience. It seems old-fashioned, but in a reassuring kind of way. The pace is slower, and there is something calm and purposeful about working the smooth under-lever and loading the case by hand. You “work” a bolt gun… but you “caress” a falling block.

Browning High Wall 1885

Right now there is a very nice Browning B-78 High Wall falling block for sale in our Shooters’ Forum Classifieds. Chambered in 22-250, it features a full octagon barrel and superbly-figured wood. The seller reports this rifle: “Is in 99% condition [and] shoots under 1” at 100 yards with factory ammo.” The $1,100 asking price includes a 6-12×44 Simmons Aetec scope, rings and bases, 125 pieces once-fired brass, and a Sinclair 22-250 bore guide.

This Editor has shot one of the older Miroku-built Browning B-78 falling blocks and it was beautifully built, with a butter-smooth action and gorgeous blueing. (Japan’s Miroku, which also builds Citori shotguns for Browning, is renowned for the superb metal-work and finish of their rifles and shotguns.) The B-78 was produced by Miroku from 1973 to 1982. This single shot rifle was initially offered in .22-250, 6 mm Remington, .25-06, and .30-06. .243 and 7mm Rem Mag was added to the standard rifle line and a .45-70 version was added on a heavier frame. The B-78 was discontinued in 1982, and then reintroduced in 1985 as the Model 1885 High Wall. The more recent 1885s feature a more traditional stock with a straight wrist and no roll-over comb.

Browning High Wall 1885

Chuck Hawks is also a fan of the Browning falling blocks: “The Browning 1885 High Wall is a modern version of the John Browning designed classic, widely regarded as the strongest and best of the American single-shot rifles. It is a very simple yet elegant looking rifle. It has an exposed rebounding hammer that cocks automatically when the ‘S’-shaped underlever is operated. The automatic ejector can be user set to throw the empty case out to the right or left, or extracted for convenient removal by hand.”

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