“Front Sight” Becomes “PrairieFire Nevada”

Front Sight as many of you know went into Bankruptcy in 2022. The news came out this week that the courts have allowed the sale of the facilities to PrairieFire Nevada. The facility is now under completely new management and ownership. Ignatius Piazza is not involved with the new company in any way.

What if you were a past member of Front Sight? As a part of the US Bankruptcy Court proceedings, all former membership were officially ended. If you had a Front Sight membership, then you are a member today. Your current membership, while similar in many respects to the old, is a new membership under PrairieFire. You have access to the Front Sight facility in Pahrump, NV. You can currently sign up for preexisting Front Sight courses still being offered and enjoy many of the same benefits.

The Front Sight facility in Pahrump, NV remains open today as PrairieFire begins a four-month transition plan. This interim period will be necessary for conducting critical tasks before formally launching PrairieFire Nevada. During this transition period, the pre-existing training classes will continue for all legacy Front Sight members under the recent fee structure and online scheduling. You can still sign up at myfrontsight.com as of this writing.

PrairieFire Nevada will host a Grand Opening in mid-April 2023 to launch the new branding of the facility. They will unveil three core offerings and open the new membership program at that time. As a legacy Front Sight member, PrairieFire will be offering you a new PrairieFire Frontier membership at no cost for two years, sorta sucks for us life members, but at least there is some value being offered.

PrairieFire Nevada will center around ‘world-class’ training, with the exclusive Q Academy curriculum, Specialty Shooting Experiences designed by elite military veterans, and a Competition Series open to all levels of shooters. Early in 2023 more details of PrairieFire programs, membership plans, and other benefits will be publicized.

The development of PrairieFire Nevada is a long-term activity. Future phases will include further range development; introduction of additional gun ranges; a member’s club house; gun storage and gunsmithing services; dining options, and eventually, lodging via its sister company, Stagecoach Outpost.

The PrairieFire team can be reached at info@frontsight.com or 702.837.7433.

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More Reamers Than Most Gunsmiths Ever See…

4D Reamer Rentals LTD has been providing gunsmithing tools to the public for about twenty years now, so its safe to say they are here to stay. They currently offer at the time of this writing over 1800 chamber reamers. That does not count headspace gauges or all the other unique gunsmithing tools they offer for rent.

I asked Fred over at 4D what kind of objections they get to renting? In this day and age of Internet trolls I figured he probably hears from the occasional malcontent… “Why would I rent? is the most common objection we might hear. Since the tools range is price from $100 to $300 on average some folks figure they are just not that big of an investment. That may be true if you are only building one gun and have no plans to do so on a regular basis, however, our typical hobby client rents from us several times a year and seldom the same caliber reamer. When it comes to professional gunsmiths they might rent several times each month” said Fred.

Beyond the rental of the reamer, most clients also rent headspace gauges, so when you add up the cost to buy all these tools it pretty easy to see why renting is a much cheaper alternative. Fred pointed out to me that 4D is not a hobby, its a full time business with all the considerations about cost and overhead that any business has. So their return clientèle is very important to the ongoing growth of the business.

Fred mentioned the need to care for clients, “We strive to take the best possible care of our clients. In the event that someone has a problem with a tool, we are going to do everything possible to resolve that issue and help our client to achieve a successful outcome.”

The staff at 4D is well equipped to help with that success as Fred mentioned. He graduated from Lassen College’s gunsmithing program in 1984. Since that time he has chambered so many barrels and repaired so many guns he lost count long ago. Over the years he has work in general repair gunsmithing, build custom hunting rifles, created a line of wildcats, done museum quality restorations, made tools including reamers & gauges. Fred has written several books on the subject of gunsmithing. He even wrote the curriculum for the Firearms Technology/Gunsmithing program at Flathead Valley Community College. So this guy knows his tools.

Of Course 4D Reamer Rentals is a sponsor of this Blog, so you know we are partial to their services.

Next time you need some tools for your project, we suggest you check out 4D at their web site: www.4drentals.com

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Farewell to Jack Landis

This is becoming a habit that I don’t like. I have had to say goob-bye to three of my gunsmith friends in the last couple of years. This most recent is a guy, I truly considered a friend, drinking buddy and mentor. I put off writing this for a bit, Jack and his wife Len’ee are important to me so it was hard to even start this process.

I met Jack through my affiliation with AGI. I have done a couple of instructional courses for them and have written for the monthly magazine they put out to the membership. Since Jack did the editing for the GunTech Magazine he frequently called me either for content, or to ask my opinion when answering questions for AGI students. Consequently, we built on our time together at SHOT Show every year, to become good friends.

Jack was a decorated Army, Viet Nam combat veteran. As such, he was always supportive of veterans and it seemed to me that his eyes lit up a little more when he was talking with one.

I was lucky enough to shoot with Jack a few times over the years. He was good at spotting the details about guns that really matter. He understood the mechanics of guns and how to explain them to students. I can tell you from personal experience there are few people who can do both well.

Left to right: Bob Dunlap, Jack Landis, Ken Brooks and Fred Zeglin.
Clearly, Bob had just delivered a quip we all enjoyed.

Jack was big in stature and even bigger in personality. I will certainly miss his jokes and laughter. He was the kind of guy who could find something to laugh about in most any situation. Something I admire and wish I was better at.

Jack left behind a wonderful family, wife, kids and yes grandkids. I know they will all miss him. When it comes to his work he left some big shoes to fill. While things will inevitably change as a result of Jack’s passing, I am excited to see where things go, as I know Jack would have been too.

Jack liked to tell people jokingly, “I know the secrets of the Universe and How Women Think.” I can see Len’ee’s eyes rolling right now. I have decided that I will steal Jack’s line and use if from time to time. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t mind.

If you would like to send a memorial in Jack’s honor, please donate to the NRA’s Youth Shooting Programs in his name.

Until we meet again old friend.

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Farwell to Jerry Fisher, Stockmaker

Daily Inter Lake | Page A07Sunday, 10 October 2021

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Jerry Arthur Fisher, 91

Jerry A. Fisher passed away on Oct. 1, 2021, at his home in Bigfork from a fast growing cancer.

He was born in Helena on Aug. 8, 1930. His mother died when he was 1 year old. His father, Henry, took their four children to Parkdale, Oregon, and raised them alone during the Depression on a small stump farm at the base of Mount Hood. Jerry grew up hunting, fishing and working in the woods. He was drafted into the Army and later attended the Colorado School of Trades Gunsmithing Department. Later, he also taught stockmaking at the school before starting his own shop.

He was a master in his life. He received many awards throughout his life. In 1992 he was awarded the Career College Hall of Fame award for success in his chosen career field. We were flown to Toronto, Ontario, all expenses paid. At the banquet we sat next to the man who invented the artificial heart valve.

Jerry started the North American Rifle Makers Institute in Kalispell in 1985. It was a great success for the students, who then went on to be some of the best in their field. Though there were many lined up for the next year, unfortunately enough funding was lacking to continue the Institute.

Jerry love to hunt, no necessarily to shoot anything, as he enjoyed just watching wildlife as well.

He was a true gentleman and a loving husband. He had many friends all around the world and will be missed by all who knew him.

He is survived by his wife Celeste, of 38 years; two daughters, Virginia and husband Rob Goodrich, and Jennifer and Dan Hershman; two stepsons, Troy Long and wife Jill, and Clinton Long and partner Juli; two grandchildren, Claire Thompson and Conrad Cooper and wife Nicki; and two great-grandchildren, Jameson and Skyler; nephews, Dave Peyton and wife Carolyn, and Mark Fisher; nieces, Carole Barger and partner John, and Marabelle and Faye Fisher. He was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers and two sisters.

A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, Oct. 16, at 11 a.m. at the Swan River Hall in Bigfork. Private family burial will take place at the Bigfork Cemetery at a later date.

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Jerry was very kind to me. We talked many times when I was working on my book about P.O. Ackley. He was supportive of the Firearms Technology program at the College here in Kalispell, donating his stock drawings for the students to learn from. He was a true gentleman and craftsman extraordinaire. May he rest in peace. FDZ

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Pilot Diameter is Crucial


Originally released October 30, 2018

Things in the Gunsmithing world are changing.

We spent 8 years with President Obama being the top gun salesman of all time.  He managed to keep the fear level high enough that retail sales firearms grew exponetionally during his Presidency.  Then we had Hillary Clinton running for President during the Lame Duck period of Obama’s time in office.

The result was that tens, probably hundreds of thousands of new shooters, dare I say millions? These new shooters purchased guns out of fear that at some point in the future they would no longer be able to.  After some time many of them discovered how much fun guns are and all the sporting opportunities they provide.  Not to mention, the portion of the market that only cares about personal protection or concealed carry.  All these new shooters then need gunsmiths to help keep their guns running and to update them for specialized use or personal tastes.  That means more people hanging out a shingle as a gunsmith.

Personally, I am thankful for the huge growth in the gunsmithing market.  Competition is healthy for business, it pushes people to offer good service and meet the needs of the market place.

As all this has been happening lots of new people are learning to gunsmith.  Some get formal training from one of the traditional schools or from a distance learning company.  It’s exciting to see the market place grow so dramatically.  It does bring some new challenges that we did not see very often in the past.

New Gunsmiths fresh from school and Hobby Gunsmiths with little or no training have to learn some things the hard way, by trial and error, if there is nobody handy to teach them.  Here are some good resources: Books and DVDs

In this article we are going to talk about one of these items.  In the past I wrote about pilots, discussing solid vs. removable pilots. What we are looking at here is related to that information directly.

Solid pilot reamers are traditionally made with a pilot that’s diameter is at the miniumum expected diameter for barrels made in the U.S.   The idea is simple, by going to minimum spec. the pilots will fit most any barrel you may find.  It’s not unusual for a solid pilot to be a few thoushandths of an inch smaller than the bore (the diameter inside the lands of the barrel is the bore diameter). In short making them as universal as possible.  Some guys will claim they cannot be accurate, that simply proves they have a lack of experience, on the contrary they can be very accurate, producing chambers that win matches.  But that is a seperate subject.

removable pilot reamer

Removable pilot bushing retained by a screw.

So why do removable pilot reamers exist?

Because some folks like to remove every alibi they can from the process of chambering a barrel.  Removable pilots allow you to utilize a pilot bushing that closely fits the bore of your barrel.  This eliminates unnecessary run-out between the pilot and the bore of the barrel which might allow the chamber to be out of alignment with the bore.

No matter what size or type of pilot you are using, it must slip inside the bore.  A slip fit on a pilot is normally .0005″ to .001″ smaller than the bore.  If the pilot is too large it will not slip in the bore.  There are several bad outcomes possible from a pilot that fits too tightly in the bore.

  1. Damage to the lands ahead of the throat of the chamber by the friction of a solid pilot rubbing on the lands.
  2. Solid pilot and/or reamer broken, due to the stress of being too tight in the bore.
  3. Removable pilot too tight in the bore can cause the pilot to be forced back onto the reamer.  Since there is no cutting angle where the bushing meets the flutes of the reamer this will impede the advancement of the reamer in the bore.
  4. Removable pilot too tight in the bore often causes the bushing to stick in the bore.  If a gunsmith is paying attention and notices the tight bushing this will never happen.
  5. Air gauged match grade barrels are normally defined as those that have less than .0002″ variation in bore diameter from end to end.  So if you try to stay too close to bore diameter with the pilot bushing you may start out with a slip fit but hit a bind a little way into the bore, especially if the barrel is not match grade.
  6. Removable pilot bushings that fit too tight can introduce enough stress to occasionally cause a reamer to break or chip.

HINT:  If you think a chamber reamer is dull because it is harder than normal to advance into the barrel blank.  Check the pilot fit.  A tight pilot fit will make the reamer hard to turn and advance, giving the impression it is not sharp.  How do I know this?  Because nearly every time someone complains about a dull reamer I have tested them in a barrel blank in my shop and find that they cut just fine.  In these cases I often see damage to the pilot.  Below is a small gallery of photos showing what happens to pilots when abused.




If you push hard enough maybe you can cut the pilot too.


Bushing was forced back onto the reamer. You can see that there was no cutting edge where it met the reamer so it was mashed. Worst of all it expaned making the pilot even bigger in diameter.


These are pilot bushings for 12 Gauge choke tools. The two on the left were forced into a bore too small for the bushing, so the reamer cut the bushing itself since it was stuck in the bore. The bushing on the right is undamaged for reference. Size Matters…


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Meeting up with the ULTIMATE RELOADER

Its always fun to just shoot the breeze about guns, gunsmithing and the characters you have known. That’s exactly what we did when I visited the Ultimate Reloader Ranch in June 2021.

After almost 40 years in the gunsmithing game there are a few fun stories to tell, we just barely scratched the surface in the interview. Gavin Gear is a knowledgeable guy, not only about reloading, he know his way around a gunsmithing shop too.

We talk a lot about the trade and the need to help the next generation preserve this knowledge and skills.

There’s a whole lot more. Check it out.

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300 AAC Blackout Build on a Budget

Summer of 2021 I stopped in at the Ultimate Reloader Ranch in Washington State. Gavin Gear had invited me to come over and show him some of the tricks of the trade that allow gunsmiths to produce Minute of Angle (MOA) bolt guns. Day in and day out gunsmiths have to make accurate shooting rifles for their clients, these techniques are easy and repeatable for results.

Gavin loves to chase every alibi away from his rifles with all the fancy tools and techniques that many shooters can’t afford or are unwilling to pay for. After all, no Elk for Deer has every been impressed by world record groups. If you figure Minute of Deer is about eight (8) inches at one hundred yards then a rifle that shoots under MOA consistently is good enough for most shots on Big Game at reasonable ranges.

If you have any understanding of how to install a barrel this video is more than adequate to show you how to get consistent hunting accuracy without breaking the bank. We used a Ruger American in 350 Legend as the basis for this project. Yes, I know they make the gun in 300 AAC, but try to find one right now.

In the video you will see us measuring the barrel to determine what the factory used for headspace. We also measured the receiver and bolt to make sure it was square and true to the axis of the receiver. Since it was less that .0005″ of an inch from perfection, we did not worry about facing the receiver. If this were a bench rest gun, we would do everything possible to make it perfectly square.

We used several tools from 4Drentals.com to perform the gunsmithing tasks on this barrel. Such tools can make it possible for you to do quality work and skip the need for a Lathe or Mill.

It was a pleasure working with Gavin in his shop/studio. Our finished rifle shot better than the factory gun we started with. A successful build.

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How it Works – The Caliber .50 M2 Browning Machine Gun

This new book contains a short history of the Ma Deuce by Fred Zeglin.

In addition there are reprints of two WW II training manuals for the M2 50 BMG. If you have ever wanted to learn more about this John M. Browning design this is a great way to learn about it. These are the same manuals used to teach armorers and gunners in WW II.

The print edition is 176 pages in a paper back, 8.5×11 format. Nothing has been edited out, all the images and drawings from the original manuals are included. Suggested retail $18.95. ISBN# 978-1-955611-99-2

There is also an Ebook edition of the book which sell for less. ISBN # 978-0-9831598-8-9

Both the print and Ebook editions give you access to the fold out (poster) in PDF format. This was in the full size manual and can be printed for your man cave or so you can study the parts with the exploded view.

Both original manuals and the exploded view of the Ma Deuce with the complete parts list.
Original manuals and the exploded view/parts list for the M2 .50 Browning Machine Gun.

The original manuals were created for the Ordnance Department by AC Spark Plug Division and Frigidaire Division of General Motors Corporation.

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back… This book is just a whole lot of fun for anyone who wants to know “How it Works”.

Summer 2021 Sale price on the Ebook on Amazon, Apple Books, only $2.99

Street price for the print edition is about $14.50

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How To Measure Headspace Gauges.

This is a short excerpt from “Gunsmith Tools, Cutters & Gauges – A Primer”.

Pictured here: “Forster’s Datum Dial, can be used to check headspace gauges or ammo for correct headspace.

Reloaders often set the headspace of the ammo wrong, either making it hard for the gun to lock up properly, or creating excessive headspace by bumping the shoulder back. This tool makes it easy to check ammo and prove to the client an error.

Note: the indicator reads .0035″ this is the difference between the two gauges in the picture. Well within tolerances.”

This method is measuring from a diameter along the shoulder to the head of the gauge. Overall length of the gauge has NOTHING to do with headspace when talking about rimless bottle neck cartridges.

You would be amazed how often this information has to be imparted to people who are learning about headspace. We provide this tidbit of valuable information here to save to from silly errors that make life much harder than it really is. Check out the complete book.

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Stockmaking… You Can Build GunStocks!

Here is a book that will help anybody with the desire and some ability to work with your hands to build gun stocks.  Sherman L. Mays wrote this book to help people with no experience at all to learn the process of making stocks, repairing, finishing and even checkering them.  Naturally, you can’t write a book like this and have it limited to beginners only.  Every gunsmith I have ever met or worked with had a trick or secret to share that made me more profitable and a better craftsman.  Sherman is no exception to that rule, no matter your experience there are good ideas in this book.

Sherman has over forty years invested in making and checkering stocks for his clients.  Along the way he has learned a few tricks and he is not afraid to share his knowledge. The focus of this book is on two piece stocks.  Sherm’s bread and butter is shotgun stocks.  That does not mean a rifle guy can’t learn from this tome.  The subjects of detail work like sling swivels, grip caps and recoil pads are all covered in great detail.

General gunsmith’s have to know a lot about a wide variety of skills. Not the least of which is wood working and stock design.  If you want happy clients the stock must fit them properly.  Custom stock makers are folks who specialize in working only on the gun stock. Their work is highly prized because of their attention to detail and great knowledge of how to achieve the best results.  This textbook will help you produce the professional quality work you dream of doing.

I have never seen this many pictures in a manual, I would argue that more books of how-to information should be this well illustrated.  There are a lot of readers who need pictures to fill in the blanks in their understanding. This book meets you needs both in writing and in illustrations.

364 pages

Perfect Bound, paperback

Format is 8.5″x11″

662 – Mixed color and black  & white pics.

ISBN# 9780578165813

Retail $49.95

Were you can get it:  Amazon or https://4drentals.com/product/stock-work-for-the-beginner

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Filed under Books, Gunsmithing, How To, Stocks, tools, Uncategorized