Category Archives: Gunsmithing

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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Filed under accuracy, Books, Gunsmithing, How To, Rifles, Shooting

Flathead Valley Community College offers AAS in Firearms.

Learn Skills

Projects that Challenge

Heading into our fifth year, this program started out as a two-semester certificate program created to provide a solid foundation in theory, design and function of firearms. In 2017 the program grew to include a second two-semester certificate. The second certificate will interest folks who are more interested in traditional gunsmithing and custom gun work. The Big new for 2018 is that the Board of Regents authorized a two year degree that combines all the classes into an Associate of Applied Sience (AAS).

Course topics will include firearms safety, manual mill and lathe operation, bench metal techniques, firearms repair, machine tools for gunsmiths and precision rifle building. Stock making, checkering, bluing and other finish techniques are taught along with custom modifications of all kinds of firearms.  Many of the classes have little or no prerequisites, so they are open to anyone who would like to learn and expand their experience with guns, contact the school for more information.

Students who successfully complete the program will be prepared for entry-level positions in the firearms industry and will have a better understanding and knowledge base for owning a gunsmith business. The program contains both lecture and significant hands-on training designed to instill an understanding of the design and function of today’s firearms.

“FVCC has the only Firearms Technologies Certificate Program of its kind in the country,” said FVCC Firearms Technologies Coordinator Fred Zeglin. “Students are challenged to develop skills that are not part of any other program. We are very proud to now offer a two year AAS degree that will jump start a student’s career in firearms.  By partnering with manufacturers in our area we have assembled a program that addresses the needs of the employers.”

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and able to legally own and possess firearms. A background check is required for all students who are accepted into the program.

The program was developed to build upon a foundational machining background, which is provided through the college’s Tier I Machining Certificate Program. Tier 1 Machining . Firearms Technologies Program applicants with industry or previous learning experience may opt to bypass the Tier 1 Machining Certificate Program by requesting testing and/or instructor consent.

Prospective students must apply both to the Firearms Technologies Program and for admission to FVCC. Firearms Technologies Program applications are available online at www.fvcc.edu/firearms or in the Admissions Office in Blake Hall on the FVCC Kalispell campus. For more information, contact Will Richards at 756-4862 or wrichards@fvcc.edu.

Download the application to attend classes

NPR story about the program

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Filed under accuracy, Firearms, Gunsmithing, How To, Pistol, Rifles, Rimfire, Shooting, Shotgun, Sights/Scopes, Stocks, tools

Chambering Rifles for Accuracy

Have you ever wanted to be a gunsmith?

Or, do you just want to know what a gunsmith does to make your rifles more accurate?

This book is idea for both the guy making a living in gunsmithing and the hobbyist who wants to know how.  It’s no B.S. approach is to tell you all the considerations that go into accuracy in a rifle.  It’s not just the barrel, or how its installed.  Things like trigger jobs and the quality of the ammunition certainly play into the equation.

When I went to gunsmithing school we were taught a rudimentary understanding of how to install a barrel.  A simple list of the facts would be:

  • Face the barrel breach square to the muzzle
  • Put the barrel in a four jaw chuck
  • Install a spider on the outboard side of the lathe head
  • use the chuck and spider to dial in the barrel on the bore.
  • Thread the barrel
  • Chamber the barrel
  • turn it around and dial it in again
  • Crown
  • Polish and blue

Very little was taught about headspace, tollerances, throats, crowns or various ways to hold the reamer for better results.  My first year working in a  gun shop in Coeur d’Alene, ID I learned more about this subject than I did in two years of school.  Luckily I worked for a guy who had years of experience and had learned a lot of useful tricks.  Once my mind was opened up the concept of constantly looking for a better way, the flood gates opened up.  I have tried just about every tool and method I could think of or that I was made aware of.  Some things work better than others and often it’s a matter of personal taste as to which method works best in your shop.  With that said, facts are facts.   Some methods and tools really improve the quality of the work performed, sometimes they are no better but the speed the process aiding the working gunsmith in making a decent living.

My Buddy Gordy Gritters and I were discussing this subject and quickly came to the conclusion that we had a book in the making.  Our combined experience is over 75 years working in the gun industry.  This book is #3 in the “Gunsmithing Student Handbook Series”.

I took on the task of describing methods, tools, and all the variables that go into accuracy, no matter who is doing the work.  Gordy took on the task of writing about the methods used for benchrest quality barrel work.  You see there is a substantial difference in the cost of a hunting rifle over a bench rest gun.  The reason for this is simple, time and effort spent on detail after detail when you build bench rest guns.  In short, it cost money to squeeze every bit of accuracy from a gun.

It ended up that we split the book into two parts.  Part I is about hunting rifles and how to get sub-MOA results and not have to sell the farm to pay for it.  Part II is no holds barred, spend all the time and money that it takes to punch holes in the paper that are so close together that it’s tough to tell more than one shot was fired…

Whether you are a gunsmithing customer who wants to understand what is involved, a hobby gunsmith needing to learn or a professional who wants to hone skills that will make you money; This book is for you.

ISBN-13: 978-0983159858

 

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20 Nosler

Yes, it’s on the way…    How do we know?  Click here. It’s pretty obvious.   Well that and the fact that SAAMI has published the specifications already.  The same print from SAAMI comments that a 32 grain bullet will go 4100 feet per second (fps).

Like the 22 Nosler the 20 is based on the 6.8 SPC case or 30 Remington depending on how you view it.  They both have rebated rims so as to fit in a standard AR-15 Bolt face.

The 20 Nosler will have about eight (8) percent more case capacity by water weight than  the 204 Ruger.  So is the velocity claim of 4100 fps realistic?  On Nosler’s own pages they show the 204 Ruger doing that velocity with the same bullet, so I would say, sure, it just means you will have short barrel life if you load to that level.

It’s long been know that velocities approaching 4000 fps are hard on barrels, the throat is erodes much more quickly regardless of the bullet diameter.  I foresee the barrels for this caliber being chrome washed or Melonite® teated simply to increase barrel life.

The 20 Nosler might have some loading flexibility that the 204 does not in that if you loading for 3500 to 3800 fps there are probably a few more powders that will get there with the larger case capacity.  One thing I noticed in looking for comparisons, the 20 Nosler falls in its own class in terms of case capacity, the 20 BR has just a couple of grains less capacity, but it’s not designed for the AR platform.  The other popular wildcats in this general class either have a fair amount less capacity, or a lot more.  If for no other reason, this cartridge will have a following just based on the case capacity.

There is certainly no doubt, this will be a flat shooting varmint cartridge that will do the job in the dog town or out taking coyotes.22NoslerVs20Nosler

Nosler™ is a trademark of  Nosler Inc.  Most likely Nosler will release this cartridge at SHOT Show 2018.  Watch for updates here.

 

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Filed under ammo, Firearms, Gunsmithing, reloading, Shooting

Engraving Class for Beginners is part of the FVCC Short Term Gunsmithing Program for 2018

So you like guns and you have always wanted to try engraving.  Here is a chance to learn from one of the best.DianeScalese100

Basic hand Engraving,  Instructed by:  Diane Scalese

One week long non-credit class  Monday-Friday, June 18-22, 2018

 This course is designed for the beginner engraver or for anyone who would like to review the basics of engraving in steel.  Starting with proper tool preparation, learn the basic steps to single point engraving.  Topics include:

*Proper tool preparation                  *Graver shaping and sharpening

*Shading                                                    *Background treatments

*Metal inlays                                            *Business practices

*Transferring patterns                         *Basic lettering

*Basic scroll design and discussion of the most popular styles

Engrave on steel practice plates.  You will need to supply your own equipment.  The course is designed for using air-assisted equipment and power hones.

Instructor, Diane Scalese is a full-time engraver and has been engraving trophy belt buckles, saddle silver, bits, spurs, jewelry and firearms for nearly 30 years.  She was named Engraver of the Year in 2003 by the Academy of Western Artists.  She resides in Big Sandy, Montana.

sweetw_frgr_spur     

This class will be available for online registration in January, 2018

For more information or to register,

call the Continuing Education Center @ FVCC (406) 756-3832

This class is part of the Short Term Gunsmithing Program @FVCC, for a full listing of classes for 2018 click here.

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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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Filed under accuracy, Books, Gunsmithing, How To, reloading, tools, wildcat

Short Term Gunsmithing Program Returns to FVCC!

First class to be offered in the updated program of Short Term Gunsmithing classes will be Taming Wildcats, taught by Fred Zeglin at Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) in Kalispell, MT.

This class will be offered during the Christmas Break, January 2018.  This is a one week class, non-credit.  Students learn the particulars of designing a wildcat cartridge.  Factors like the gun it will be used in, pressure, headspace, how to form brass are all taught.  Students also make reamer and reloading dies for the cartridges so they can experiment with the information they learn.Wildcat Cartridges by Fred Zeglin

If you are interested you need to know how to run a manual lathe and mill.  Fred has taught this class many times and students always come away surprised at how much they learn in just one week.  This class was the reason Fred wrote his book on Wildcat Cartridges.

This is just the first in a new Short Term Gunsmithing program to be offered in the summer of 2018 by FVCC.  Watch the Continuing Education pages for more classes soon.  This a  fun way for both hobby and professional  gunsmiths to build their skills and enjoy firearms even more.

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Filed under Firearms, Gunsmithing, How To, reloading, Rifles, Shooting, tools, wildcat

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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Filed under Books, Gunsmithing, reloading, wildcat

5.56 x 45 (Nato) vs. 223 Remington; The Ongoing Saga

The subject of 223 Remington vs. 5.56×45 (5.56 Nato) is a popular source of discussion.

Probably one of the best blog posts on this subject can be found at http://www.luckygunner.com/labs/5-56-vs-223/

One item this and most of the discussions seem to overlook is headspace.  Since this blog leans more toward gunsmithing subjects, I wanted make sure this subject was discussed.   I often hear from clients that the 5.56 and the 223 differ in headspace.  The truth is, when I checked the various gauge makers they are all working to the same standard.

Why is this important?

Mainly because educating the shooting public minimizes accidents and makes life easier for all concerned.  None of the articles I looked at mentioned headspace.  Most of the chamber dimensions being shared do not include headspace dimensions.  This may be in part because they are so hard to locate for the 5.56 Nato.

Forster Products publishes the data for their 5.56 gauges.  Minimum headspace (Go gauge) is 1.4636” according to their specifications with a tolerance of -.0003”.  With the Maximum (Field gauge) measuring 1.4736”; that’s 10/1000s of an inch longer than the go gauge.  Most No-go gauges would be set .004” to .006”  longer than the Go gauge.  The Pacific Tool & Gauge print shown here uses a Go gauge that measures 1.4636”.

5.56 Nato Print

Look at the Minimum Headspace dimension listed on this print, it is identical to the dimension used on the 223 Remington.

SAAMI specifications for the 223 Remington show a Minimum headspace (Go gauge) of 1.4636” identical to the military spec for the 5.56×45.  The Nato round is not a SAAMI cartridge, so they do not provide prints or specification for it.

My curiosity as to why so many shooters think there is a difference between the gauges for these two, led me to do an Internet search to see what people are reading.  I consider all material on the Internet to be of dubious quality until I can confirm the data through trustworthy sources.  What I found was interesting; you have to dig deep to find anything that pertains to headspace and the 5.56 Nato.

What is easy to locate are drawings which purport to show why the two cartridges are not the same.  The dimensions  they are concerned with mostly have to do with the junction of the body and shoulder plus the shoulder and neck.  In the real world the camming action of the bolt closing would be more than sufficient to deal with the tiny difference that might exist in the brass.  Frankly there is more variation in tolerances allowed that these drawings account for, in short, it’s all smoke and mirrors.

One Internet source shows the Military gauge .001” longer than is found in the prints mentioned above.  Even if that were the case, that is only 1/5th of the difference between a standard Go and No-go gauge for the 223 Remington.  To be totally clear, it would make NO difference.

Conclusion:  Headspace gauges for the 223 Remington and the 5.56 Nato are identical.  The differences between the cartridges has to do with case wall thickness and how they are loaded.  If you want to shoot either type of ammo in your gun, rechamber it to 223 Wylde.  The Wylde chamber is designed to work safely with both types of ammo.

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Getting Ready for “This Season”

It’s that magical time of year when hunters start saying, “This Season” instead of “Next Season”.

Upgrade, try a new caliber.

Upgrade, try a new caliber.

Across the west every year when the big game draw results become public hunters start to plan for their fall trips.  Once you know the results of the draw it’s time to assemble the gear and goodies you will need for a successful hunting season.

The problem is eternal though, that for most sportsmen we are still fishing, boating, hiking, camping and doing all those summer time activities with family and friends.  It’s difficult to turn your attention to fall plans when you’re so busy having fun in the outdoors.

Doing just one small thing can greatly aid in your fall preparations and takes only a few minutes out of your summer.  Last season either you gun broke or you decided it needed an upgrade before next season.  Well, next season is now this season.  Grab that gun from the safe and get it to the gunsmith now.  You can avoid the seasonal rush and be much more likely to get your job done before the fall hunt is upon you.

Fall is just around the corner

Soon you will be glassing for that buck.

It takes time to get in parts or barrels to upgrade your firearm.  Leave time for the gunsmith to acquire the parts you want.  Many gunsmiths I talk to even offer specials this time of year to encourage bringing projects in early.

So drop your gun off now, so you can get back out there and enjoy the summer.  Then when fall hits you will have that new barrel, scope, stock, trigger or whatever you need to be more successful on you hunt this fall.

Now go have some fun!

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