Category Archives: Gunsmithing

Pilot Diamter is Crucial

Things in the Gunsmithing world are changing.

We spent 8 years with President Obama being the top gun salesman of all time.  He managed keep the fear level high enough that the retail of 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? 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 thier 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.

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 thats diameter is at the miniumum expected diamter 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 impead 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.

20181030_144747-1Normal bushing and retaining screw.
20181030_144954-1Bushing was too tight,  beat it back out of the bore with a rod.
20181030_141921-1Get a bigger hammer!
20181018_151337-1

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

20181021_132708

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.

20181030_144427-1It does’nt seem to matter what caliber we are talking about, some folks think force is the answer.  Only in Star Wars…
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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.

Another post of interest on this subject.

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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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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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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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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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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

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