Barrel Bands for Winchester or Browning 71 Part I of III


Custom Barrel Band, helps hold the Model 71 together.

Custom Barrel Band, helps hold the Model 71 together.


I often have clients ask for 450 or 50 Alaskan conversions on Model 71 actions.  These are pretty easy conversions, only minor feeding changes are needed, but that is not what this article is about.



The 450 Alaskan, 50 Alaskan, the 348 Ackley Improved or even the 348 Winchester which the Model 71 is normally chambered for produce a fair amount of recoil.  You have a relatively light rifle versus the caliber so recoil is stout but manageable with these guns.  Model 71 carbines and rifles have been popular with Alaskans ever since they came out.  They deliver a powerful cartridge in a handy, fast action, light package, all in all – good bear medicine.

Unfortunately the light package also means the recoil is hard on the gun.  The Forend is retained by a small dovetailed hanger under the forend cap.   They often become loose over time allowing the forend to rattle and move fore and aft.  There are a few things the gunsmith can do to help prevent that problem.  First, make sure the forend is fit correctly so that there is no movement when fully assembled.  Second, I always put two springs in the back of the forend on either side of the magazine tube that push against the receiver, thus holding the forend tight, preventing any rattle that might develop, despite our best efforts. Finally I make a custom barrel band that is soldered to the barrel and grips the magazine tube tight, preventing any movement under recoil.  The barrel band also holds the magazine tight, up against the forearm hanger, which prevents it from twisting or moving during handling or under recoil.

I have seen many old 71s with loose magazine tubes, even though on this action they are threaded into the receiver.  It would be a bad day indeed if you fired your first shoot at a charging Kodiak Bear only to find you have launched your magazine at him under recoil.  That second shot might be a real problem under such circumstances.  As a gunsmith you don’t want a call telling you that the gun you built failed in any such situation.

Mild steel makes a fine material for a barrel band.  I simply cut a piece of flat bar stock  2”x1”, just over .750” long and true it up in the mill.  The finished dimensions of this project are not critical, its more about providing support for the magazine tube and making it look like it belongs on the gun.  The Blank pictured here is about 2.5” instead of 2”, I know some of you would notice and question this, it just happens to be the material I had on hand.  I trim the excess off during the machining process.
To get ready for layout of the holes for the barrel and magazine use feeler gauges to measure the gap between the barrel and tube on the assembled gun.  This is important because the magazine tube will have to slip thru the barrel band to be assembled when your finished.  Then measure the barrel at the point where it will be soldered, the magazine tube is cylindrical so measure it and your ready to layout the primary holes.

This is part one of a three part article, we will show you how-to make this barrel band from scratch.


Barrel Band blank being bored for barrel and magazine tube.

Barrel Band blank being bored for barrel and magazine tube.


Filed under Firearms, Gunsmithing, How To, hunting

4 responses to “Barrel Bands for Winchester or Browning 71 Part I of III

  1. gray man

    how do you get it past the front sight ?

  2. Chris S McLaughlin

    Is converting a Miroku built model 71 to .348 Ackley Improved an involved process?
    Should (or could) sling swivels be installed at the same time?

    • reamerrentals

      I have retired from Gunsmithing. That particular conversion is just a simple rechamber, it may be necessary to work on the loading gate because of the straighter body and fatter shoulder. Of course sling swivels could be added. The Custom work here could be duplicated by any competent gunsmith.

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