Category Archives: Books

Excerpt from “Gunsmithing Student Handbook Series”

At the time of this writing there are three books in the Gunsmithing Student Handbook Series.  In early 2018 “Chambering Rifles for Accuracy” was released.  In its first week on Amazon.com it was #1 in two categories.  Gordy Gritters, famed benchrest gunsmith & Fred Zeglin well known wildcat and hunting rifle maker joined forces to create this comprehensive title.  It covers the subject of installing and chambering barrels from simple rechamber jobs, to hunting rifles and the last half of the book is all about benchrest quality gunsmithing.

The excerpt here gives you an idea of how careful the authors are to cover details often overlooked in such books.  Enjoy:

Tolerance Stacking; 
                Everything You Need to Know About Pilots?

Chamber reamers come with two styles of pilots, solid or removable bushing (the later sometimes called a floating pilot).  One is evil and one is practically perfection.  But which is which?  I can tell you that in renting tools to gunsmiths I have found the industry is split on this question about 50/50.  In other words, about half demand solid pilot reamers exclusively and the other half will not touch those nasty solid pilots with a ten foot pole.

It is clear that there is a trend toward the removable pilot reamers.  This is because barrel makers are not all holding to the same production standards.  Some have the idea that a tighter bore is better, while other makers hold close to the “standard” bore dimensions.  Example, .308 bores are .300” on the bore and .308” on the groove.  Custom barrel makers have tightened the bore to say .298”  This will required a smaller pilot as the standard pilots are normally .299” with tolerances of + 0 to – .0005”. removable pilot reamer 

Removable pilot reamer.

The reason for the tighter bore?  In short, it is believed that it produces better accuracy.  This is only true as compared to a loose bore that is oversized, i.e. a groove on a 30 caliber of .309 or .310 will produce lower pressures and potentially be less accurate because the bullet is not fully engaged until pressure bumps the bullet up to match the bore.

For a pilot to work correctly it should be .001” smaller than the actual bore dimension.  In other words, it needs to be a close slip fit.  If a pilot is too tight it will bind and likely break the reamer, and possibly damage the bore.  If a pilot is too loose it will promote chatter.  It is possible to run the pilot on a removable pilot reamer closer to the bore diameter (.0005” under bore diameter is ideal), but it must still slip easily in and out to avoid damage to the barrel or the tools.

A little history at this point might be interesting:  Red Elliot was and still is legendary with old timer gunsmiths as the absolute best reamer maker of the last century.  Near as I can tell he was the first to offer removable pilots on his reamers.  Why did he do this?  Well, he found that there were enough different barrel makers in his day that the dimensions of the bore diameter (where the pilot rides) varied a fair amount. 

So, this problem of bore dimensions changing a little is nothing new.  What about SAAMI standards you say?  I will address that in just a moment, for now lets talk about how Red Elliot handled bushing pilots.

I have seen several of Red’s reamers with bushing type pilots, what we sometimes call floating pilots today.  Red held very tight tolerances on his bushings so that it required a little pressure to slide them onto the reamer, held in place by a screw mounted in the end of the reamer the bushing would not turn once the screw was tightened.  This is contrary to the bushing pilots we see commonly used today, where the bushing is a slip fit with about .0005” tolerance internally.  This tolerance is added for manufacturing ease. Tolerance stacking is not usually mentioned in conjunction with floating pilot reamers, but we are going to take a closer look at it here.

Another source of tolerance issues is the fact that the pilot receiver on the reamer must be concentric (round), and in line with the reamer.  If either of these conditions is not correct there will be problems with the reamer cutting oversized or out of alignment with the bore.  Admittedly, this is not much of an issue with today’s cnc machines.  So long as the operator does not make an error, and no chips get caught in the set-up.  One other possible source of trouble would be a warped reamer (not common).

Now for SAAMI, their standards are voluntary, so obviously any barrel maker can decide whether or not to hold solid to the standards.  Industry standard is plus or minus a half thousandth (+ or – 0.0005”) on the bore diameter.  The bore diameter is the smallest diameter of the barrel, also referred to by shooters as “across the lands”.  The same tolerance applies to the groove of the barrel.  I will leave the discussion of groove depth as we are talking about bore diameter as it relates to chambering tools, groove depth does not affect these dimensions.

Admittedly barrels considered “match” grade or “air gaged” are supposed to be held to a tolerance of .0003” or less total variance, end to end of the barrel.  This does not indicate the actual bore diameter, we are left to assume that it is the standard diameter for caliber.  In the case of a 30 calibers we would be talking about a .300” bore.  What if the maker decides to simply use a gage that works with the bore diameter they are making, say .2995” and it air gages as above.  You have a match grade barrel but the bore is at the minimum size according to industry standards. 

Are you starting to see how bores can vary and still be within standards?

Of course there are those makers who operate outside the standards and make perfectly good barrels.  The point being; different size pilots will be needed to chamber these barrels as was recognized back in the 1950’s and 60’s by Red Elliot.  It’s pretty obvious by now that removable pilots are necessary tools in dealing with variations in bore dimensions.  It should be clear by now that variations in bore diameter of plus or minus .001” or even more, is not that unusual, even though such dimensions do not follow the voluntary standards set by SAAMI.

Solid pilot reamers offer certain advantages over the floating pilot.  First and most obvious there is no built in tolerance between the bushing and the reamer, because the there is no bushing.fixed pilot

 

 Solid Pilot Reamer

Since most barrel makers today are making barrels by the button rifled method dimensions tend to remain pretty steady for a given maker as buttons last a long time if properly cared for.  So if you deal with the same barrel maker all the time chances are a solid pilot reamer will fit the same from barrel to barrel. 

There are other factors that play into the bore and groove dimensions, but that is for a discussion for another book.

One limitation of a solid pilot reamer is that it cannot be changed to deal with variations in bore diameters.  Of course you can have the pilot ground down if necessary to fit a tight bore, but then you would probably need a second or even a third reamer to deal with various diameter bores. 

Everything in life is a trade-off.  Because of the expense of multiple reamers for the same caliber removable pilots are a cost effective answer to the problem.  $10 for a bushing beats $100 or more for another reamer.  There are shops that stock bushings in 0.0002” steps for the popular calibers.  This allows them to match the bushing to the bore every time.

pilot bushingsPilot bushings can be a big investment.

To make the use of removable pilots efficient and accurate, the gunsmith should invest in a set of pin gauges.  These are precision ground pins that can be used to gauge the bore and insure that the correct bushing is selected.  Using pin gauges allows the gunsmith to know what bore diameter the barrel maker is really supplying.

Now keep in mind the pilot has to slip into the bore, so in mechanical terms the pilot has to be about 0.0004” smaller than the bore to slip in without any interference. In most shops the pilot is figured at 0.001” smaller than the bore and rightly so.  Too tight a fit can gall and or leave marks in the bore or stress the reamer and break it during the reaming process.

What happens if the pilot is too loose?

Ninety-Nine times out of a hundred when a reamer chatters (vibrates) in use, it is because the pilot to bore fit is too loose. 

The lack of support when the pilot is too small allows the reamer to move around in the bore, as the tool tries to bite into the steel it grabs hard and because even tool steel is flexible you get chatter as the tool loads and releases tension.  This is the reason that some gunsmith’s insist on having a set of pilots that cover the possible variations in .0002” (That’s 2/10,000 of an inch.) increments.  Keeping the pilot as close to bore dimensions as possible will help eliminate chatter and promote a more precise chamber. 

If you have a pilot that is a perfect match for the bore but is too loose on the inside where it rides on the reamer then the advantage of a close fitting pilot is negated.  To pull the whole concept together…  If you have a .0002” tolerance on your bushing to barrel fit and the same on the pilot to reamer fit, you end up with .0004” total slop on the pilot. 

I can tell you that most people do not grasp this or understand why these tolerances  matter.  I base that statement on 30 years of talking to gunsmithing customers, and the people who call to rent tools.  The comments that shooters and gunsmiths make during our conversations indicate their level of understanding in a hurry.

In general if the total pilot run-out is under .001” then all will work fine and there should be no worries.  This rule holds true for solid pilot or removable pilot reamers.  Long ago I lost track of how many rechamber and barrel jobs I have done.  I can tell you that

Chambering Rilfes for Accuracy, cover

 it is possible to get an accurate job from either type of reamer.  In fact, if pressed for a choice I would say that solid pilot reamers are more accurate on average.  Especially for inexperienced gunsmiths.

I do not make this statement lightly, as I own hundreds of reamers of both types.  This goes back to the understanding of how the tools relate to the barrel.  To reiterate, the one caveat would be that for best accuracy the pilot of the reamer must meet the tolerances of less than .001” run out verses the bore, for all this to hold true.

There is another major factor in how well a reamer cuts and how accurate the gun will be…  The gunsmith must do a good job on the set up for machining.  If the threads are not true to the bore, or the chamber is crooked or oversized, or the throat of the chamber ends up off center, accuracy will be elusive to say the least.

Use of a floating reamer holder is a great way to insure an accurate chamber.  This tool allows the reamer to follow the hole in the barrel without any side pressure that might be caused by minor misalignment of the tail stock to the bore of the lathe.

Whether you plan to build accurate hunting rifles or top quality competitive benchrest and long range guns this handbook has detail descriptions and plenty of clear photos to make the subject easy to understand.  The other titles in the series deal with headspace, the vital counterpart to chambering, check them out here.  More titles are planned for the series.  These are college level training manuals that a gunsmith at any level of experience will value.

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The Big News for Fred Zeglin, April 2018

How many authors can brag that they held #1 in two categories on Amazon.com?

I don’t know the answer to that, but I am one of them so here I am, bragging.

Last month (April 2018) Gordy Gritters and I (Fred Zeglin) released our new book, “Chambering Rifles for Accuracy”.  This book is the 3rd in the Gunsmithing Student Handbook Series. Obviously the reception of the book and it’s counterparts in the series has been very good.  It’s gratifying to see our work appreciated by so many customers.

On behalf of Gordy and myself.

Thank you for pushing us to #1 on Amazon during the first week of April.

#1 on Amazon

#1 in Two Categories on Amazon!

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Gunsmithing Student Handbook Series; Comes to the Market in Time for SHOT Show 2018

cover

The first book in the new series of Gunsmithing Student manuals is Chambering for Ackley Cartridges.  Fred Zeglin the author says, “I have been teaching gunsmithing for some time and with my experience in wildcat cartridges and dealing with clients it became painfully obvious to me that that material available to reloader, gunsmiths and the like are spread far and wide and do not tell the complete story of the mechanics of headspace in firearms.”

Zeglin went on the talk about the fact that Ackley Improved cartidges seem to receive the most mishandling both in the gunsmith trade and by reloaders who do not understand the simple headpsace method that P.O. Ackley set up very early in his career.

Ackley was no fool, he set up a method that is easy to use and will produce both safe and accurate fire-forming of ammunition.  There have probably been hundreds of articles written that tout the value of the Ackley Improved principle that allows the firing of factory ammunition for the parent case in the chamber of an Ackley Improved rifle.  Unfortunately, many folks refuse to read Ackley’s simple instructions so they end up trying to set headspace without proper understanding of the process.  Both professional and hobby gunsmiths are guilty of this.

Prove it you say…  OK, call any die maker and ask them for dies for an Ackley Improved cartridge.  They will ask you for a chamber or reamer print before they ship the dies.  Quality Cartridge is a maker of custom head stamped brass.  The owner Pete tells me he will not ship brass for Ackley designs unless he has fired cases from the clients gun, this is simply because of poor headspacing by gunsmiths, or the reloader who does not understand how his dies are adjustable.

In this booklet that kicks off the new series of gunsmithing instruction books, Zeglin clearly and without mincing words tells the reader how to correctly headspace any Ackley Cartridge.  It’s not a book about how to ream a chamber but rather about the finesse that should be applied during the process to insure accuracy and longevity of the firearm.

There is a book on how to ream a chamber that will be out in 2018.  That title is the third book in this series and Zeglin invited well known Bench Rest Gunsmith Gordy Gritters to co-author that book with him.    That will be the book you need you want to understand what it takes to make a rifle shoot, you know we all want those tiny little groups!  Watch for a follow up about that book here in the future.

coverThe second title in the series is coming out now as well, it is called, “Understanding Headspace for Firearms”  Where the first title is narrowly focused on Ackley designs this title will help the reloader and/or gunsmithing student to understand headspace no matter what firearm you are looking at.

Zeglin is pretty easy going about his work and tells us he fully expects to hear criticism over anything that was not covered thoroughly enough or heaven forbid, missed all together.  He says he expects to start the second edition for these manuals as questions start to roll in.

These titles are available from www.4drentals.com

There is a review of the first two books on GunsAndGunsmiths.com

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Gunsmith Writes About P.O. Ackley

r3744_po-ackley_cvr-750

A new book from Gun Digest Media, P.O. Ackley: America’s Gunsmith by author and gunsmith Fred Zeglin; takes the most comprehensive look ever into the life and work of Parker Ackley, the eminent gunsmith, barrel maker, teacher and cartridge developer. The book is set for release the week of March 6, 2017

Ten years of extensive research highlights not just the history of cartridge and rifle development, but a never-before-seen look at a humble man who influenced nearly everything we know about shooting and ballistics today. Ackley’s ideas on reloading, rifle accuracy, safety, cartridge choice, and wildcats are just as relevant for modern “gun cranks” as they were in Ackley’s heyday.

This hardcover, 256-page study of P.O. Ackley’s work is the first in Gun Digest Media’s Heritage Series celebrating the iconic guns, designers and manufacturers who shaped today’s firearms landscape. The book is illustrated with never-before-seen photos from personal archives of Ackley’s friends, family, and associates. From the dusty, oil rag-covered machine shops of Ackley’s early years, to stunning modern-day firearms chambered in Ackley’s timeless wildcats.  A full-color center section brings the story to life.

From the Foreword of the Book

“It is a difficult task to write a book that is equal parts technical manual and biography, yet Fred Zeglin has done just that. Within the covers of this book you’ll find the history of P.O. Ackley, and a glimpse into the man’s life, as well as a comprehensive understanding of the cartridges that he left behind. And, as a wonderful bonus to those of us who still tinker with copper, lead and brass, there is a wealth of handloading recipes for the Ackley cartridges, using modern powders and projectiles, to allow today’s shooter to connect with the wildcatter of yesteryear.” Phillip Massaro

About the Author

Fred Zeglin has been building custom hunting rifles for over thirty years. Zeglin has taught classes for the NRA Short Term Gunsmithing program at three separate colleges and is the Coordinator/Instructor for the Firearms Technology Program at Flathead Valley Community College. He has published two books; Hawk Cartridges Manual and Wildcat Cartridges, Reloader’s Handbook of Wildcat Cartridge Design he has also contributed to numerous publications.  Fred has worked with American Gunsmithing Institute to produce two instructional DVDs, Taming Wildcats and Reloading A to Z.

Comments on the book from others:

“The book is great, I am very happy with it. I’ve told every one who would be interested in it to get it. Thanks so much for honoring Grandpa with such a great book.” Ron Pearson, P.O. Ackley’s Grandson.

“P.O. Ackley, America’s Gunsmith” is so extensive and so well done, I am at a loss to adequately describe it!”  Dennis “Mike” Bellm, the last guy to buy out P.O. Ackley’s shop.

P.O. Ackley: America’s Gunsmith by Fred Zeglin, Gun Digest Media, ISBN-13: 978-1-4402-4759-0

Buy this book here.

Also available as an Ebook, click here

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How To: Inlet Your Barrel Correctly

A barrel should be inlet up to the center line of the bore, or in other words, half it’s diameter should be below the wood line.  All too many new gunsmiths and hobby gunsmiths just inlet until they can get the screws into the action and call it good.

There is a simple way to make sure your barrel channel is deep enough so that the bore line will be aligned to the top of the stock.  Take a square and place the outside 90 degree corner of the squared into the barrel channel.  If the square touches on all three sides then the barrel channel is a half circle.  GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

If the point at the bottom of the barrel channel touches and keeps the sides from contacting the top of the stock then your too shallow.  Conversely, if the point of the square does not touch but both sides are in contact with the top of the stock then your past 50 percent depth.

Fred Zeglin is working on a series of booklets, “Gunsmithing Student Handbook Series”.  This little how-to tip is just one peek into the upcoming books.  What gunsmithing tips would interest you?

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P.O. Ackley and the Trinidad Gunsmithing School

In post World War II, veterans were looking for a way to receive training so that they could start new careers.  Untold numbers of vets wrote to P.O. Ackley requesting training.

Tom Elliot_1947

Ackley returned home from a vacation to find a huge pile of mail on a desk in his office, all from men seeking a chance to learn gunsmithing.  P.O. had tried to train a few men in his business but found that it was counterproductive.  He took the mountain of mail to the Junior College in Trinidad and suggested they start a school to deal with the hundreds of G.I.s who had returned home and had veterans benefits to spend for training.

The school agreed to set up a program and in short order the first round or classes began.  P.O. Ackley taught at the school for the first three years of it’s operation.  He also helped choose instructors who could pass along quality training to the vets.

Ackley left Trinidad in 1951 when his business was sold to an out of state concern.  But the school lives on and is still training gunsmiths today.

A new book on P.O. Ackley will be available in 2017, it will cover his entire career.  From 1936 to 1989 Ackley manufactured scope mounts and barrels, he wrote articles and books, and he was “The Gunsmith’s Gunsmith”.  No other gunsmith of the 20th century was as influential in the firearms trade.  Six years of research have produced an amazing amount of new and interesting information.  You may think you know about Ackley, but trust me, when you read this book you will learn so much more…  

Book has recently been published, “P.O. Ackley, America’s Gunsmith”

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Nosler with NEW Products at Shot Show 2013

Nosler7Nosler has a lot of new products of interest to the shooter and reloader for 2013.

First off the new Nosler reloading manual #7 is out both in print and in a digital edition.  864 pages of data and articles.  More than 120 cartridges are included and some new propellants have been added along with new bullets from Nosler.

In Nosler brass new offerings include the 6.5 Grendel, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7×57 Mauser, 300 AAC Blackout, and the 375 Ruger.

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R.I.P. Precision Shooting Magazine

Precision Shooting Magazine has long been considered THE source for serious technical articles on rifle accuracy.  For me it was the first magazine to buy an article from me and I am proud to be able to say they published my works a couple of times.  So, I feel like I am saying good-bye to an old friend.

My contacts with Editor, Dave Brennan have always been cordial and professional, he is a true gentleman.

Some in the industry may point to the end of PS magazine as a further indication that the public will not commercially support a technical journal.   I would argue that there will always be a market for high quality technical articles that truly educate and inform the reader.  Hopefully other publications will see this as an opportunity to fill that need.

There was a time when some of the gun magazines seriously backed writers with technical knowledge and ability to write such quality material.  The reader may not realize how much time, effort, and ammo can be spent to produce an article.  When we are talking about a research piece that is designed to test new ideas or products and enlighten the reader, the preparation for such articles is expensive.  Personally, I hope an editor or two see this as a market opportunity and start producing some in depth technical features.

It’s with great fondness and respect that we say farewell to the Precision Shooting Magazine.

Dave Brennan farewell letter for Precision Shooting Magazine.

 

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Need Dimensions for Factory Cartridges?

For years you had to be a member of SAAMI (the Sporting Arms & Ammunition Manufacturing Institute) to get a copy of the data the factories use to manufacture guns and ammunition.  The Internet has made is easy for SAAMI to share this data so it is now available for download at their site.

How does the gunsmith know proper specifications for the cartridge?The publications are broken up into books for various types of cartridges i.e. Rifle, shotgun, pistol, and rimfire.  So you only download the information you need.  This data answers an incredible number of questions for avid shooters.  All the tolerance specifications, and pressure data are included.  As a bonus the correct methods for testing are described in detail.

In Truth, there is more information provided than most shooters will need.  However, if you’re trying to compare cartridges or want to know the standard dimensions for a cartridge, this is must have information.

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Wildcat Cartridges, The Reloader’s Handbook of Wildcat Cartridge Design, now on Amazon Kindle

Wildcat Cartridges by Fred ZeglinBack in 2005 this book had it’s first printing.  The hardback edition of the book contains 288 pages of stories, illustrations, anecdotes, instructions, and data. Many of the cartridges covered in the book include a dimensioned drawing. Foreword by Wayne van Zwoll.  The first edition if now sold out, making the book out of print.  The price of the print copies of the book have already begun to rise in price.  No reprint is planned, so recently Fred Zeglin decided to release the book through Amazon as a Kindle book.

Wildcatting has been around almost as long as the metallic cartridge case. Wildcats have an air of mystery about them, no effort is made in these pages to diminish that mystique. Yet, you will find information here that is simply not available anywhere else. P.O. Ackley was the last Gunsmith to address the subject of wildcatting in depth. Over forty years later, Fred Zeglin, Master Rifle Builder and wildcatter has assembled in an easy to read, often humorous manual for anyone who loves guns, reloading, or wildcat cartridges.

History of wildcat cartridges is presented including many well known designers like P.O. Ackley, Jerry Gebby, and Charles Newton. The historical information provides an appropriate frame of reference for wildcatting. Nobody really wants to repeat something that has already been done. More recent wildcats are included along with reloading data and dimensions wherever possible.

Most valuable of all is the how-to information about making reamers and reloading dies. Fred supplies dimensions and instructions on how they are used to produce highly accurate reloading dies and chambers. Delivery times for such custom tools can delay a wildcat project by many months, knowing how to make your own dies can speed delivery of custom projects by many months.

Click here to go to Amazon.com and check it out.

Fred Zeglin wrote another book about, “P.O. Ackley, America’s Gunsmith”. If your interested in wildcats then this book will definitely be a good read for you.

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