Tag Archives: accuracy

Learning About Bergara Barrels

Gunsmiths are always looking for sources for quality barrels.  There are several good makers in the United States.  Douglas, Hart, Krieger and  Pac-Nor to name a few.  Bergara is a Spanish barrel maker.  They recently purchased new equipment that have allowed them to expand operations both in Spain and the U.S.

Shooters of the T.C. Encore™ have probably heard of Bergara Barrels, because they manufacture replacement barrels for the famous Encore™ pistols and rifles.   Accuracy reports from these barrels have been very good.  Of late Bergara USA is offering much more, including tapered barrel blanks for gunsmiths.

Prices are comparable to other barrels in the marketplace.

The video below is an introduction to the manufacturing processes used by Bergara to make barrels.  Pretty interesting if you have never seen a barrel made.  Bergara has invested in some new high-tech gun drills and equipment to manufacture quality barrels in a less labor intensive process.

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8th Annual Gunsmith Conference and Career Fair

This conference has become an important part of the firearms trade, helping gunsmiths and employers to locate each other.

The Gunsmith Conference and Career Fair is the perfect venue for prospective, student or working gunsmiths to interact the with industry’s top employers and personalities. Further, it’s great opportunity for those firearm-related companies looking for qualified gunsmiths, or to show off their products to key customers. As in year’s past, there will be no charge for individuals or companies to attend. The industry-exclusive event will again be held at the Downtown Marriott in Des Moines, Iowa, April 1-2, 2014.

In addition to the unique networking and potential employment opportunities, the Gunsmith Conference and Career Fair will feature a host of seminars ranging from firearm-specific topics to business tips for gun shop owners.

Among the speakers already signed up are Steve Sanetti, President of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Les Baer, owner of Les Baer Custom, Stan Chen, owner of Stan Chen Custom, Jason Hornady, Vice President of Hornady Manufacturing, and legendary gunsmiths and gunmakers Joe Balickie, Jerry Fisher, Ron Power, Sharon Dressel and more. Doug Turnbull of Turnbull Manufacturing will deliver the keynote address at Wednesday evening’s banquet.

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New: Release Agent for Glass Bedding Rifles

4D Reamer Rentals LTD. has a long history or providing quality tools for gunsmithing.

Recently they provided me with a test sample of their latest product.  Its a release agent for use with glass bedding products.  I have tried it with several bedding compounds and other epoxy products.  Results have been great, not only does it release as any such agent should, it does so with no oily film either on the metal or the stock.

Release Agent Kit

http://www.4-dproducts.com is offering this release agent for glass bedding projects. No Hazard fees to ship.

I’m not going to tell you this is the “only” release agent to use.  But is has a couple of advantages I want to point out.  First, it is a green product.  I don’t buy into everything about the green movement, but I do like to use products that  are not hazardous to my health.  I figure I am exposed to enough junk on a daily basis, there is no reason to purposely add to the mix.

This product is at worst a mild irritant.  Some similar products require hazard fees to ship, 4D’s release agent does not.  They ship it with a sprayer that makes it easy to apply.  You just mix the concentrate they ship 4 to 1 with Isopropyl alcohol (which the customer provides locally) and put it in the sprayer.  It takes a short time to dry, that is probably the one down side.  I just sprayed the parts before I mixed my compound and the parts were ready to go by the time I was ready for them.

The  professional grade spray system that comes with the release agent has countless applications, disposable, recyclable, easy to clean and where no compressor is available its a God send.  4D sells the sprayers and replacement parts separately too.

How the sprayer operates is simple, release agent, liquid, or paint product is pulled from a removable, refillable Product Container. The pressure comes from the top part called the “Power Unit”, contained separately from the “Product Container”. A dip tube runs through the Power Unit and into the Product Container pulling up whatever you are spraying.

The product container is a glass bottle with graduations so it’s easy to mix or measure the product you plan to spray.  This is a great option for somebody who does not have a compressor or needs a field expedient solution.  I like this product.


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

Two Guns @ SHOT Show for the 17 WSM


1885 Low Wall Winchester in 17 WSM

Only two guns were available at SHOT Show, 2013 for the new Winchester Super Magnum rimfire cartridge.  By next year there will undoubtedly be many more.


Savage B Mag

The Savage B Mag has some new features that make it well suited for Winchester’s newest hot rimfire.  This is an all new platform for rimfires from Savage.  Rear locking lugs, cock on close, eight round rotary magazine, threaded barrel and an adjustable accu trigger TM.  MSRP is $349.

For more info see this link: 17-winchester-super-magnum-rim-fire


Filed under ammo, Firearms, Rifles, Shooting

Bullet Proof Samples, Shot Show 2013

Reloaders want variety.  In fact they need variety.

All too often I hear a client say I picked out a load for my new rifle.  What’s wrong with that?  They say it before they have the new gun in hand.

Assuming the gun is well built and capable of good groups then we have to find a load that will work in that gun.  Even if you used the same reamer to chamber two barrels on the same day on the same lathe, there is not guarantee that they would shoot the same load well.

Choosing a particular bullet or weight and assuming it will produce good groups is not very realistic.  There are a whole host of variables that go into accuracy in ammunition.  Then the variable for a given gun are compounded on top of that.

Bullet Proof came up with a great solution to allow reloaders to test various bullets without having to buy a full box of them.  The sell sample packs with 12 bullets in the package.  This way you do not have to buy a box of 100 bullets only to find that your gun does not like them.

Bullet Proof handles a wide variety of bullets and weights so that you can test several options in a cost effective way.



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Test Fire Tool for Gunsmiths, Shot Show 2013

Bullet Bunker is a product that I first saw at the 2012 Shot Show.

Bullet Bunker

Bullet Bunker

This is a clean and safe alternative to the common sand bunkers many gunsmiths build for themselves.  If you have ever used a home-made, or the fun spelling (homade), bullet trap you know they are effective but usually dirty. and they lead dirt and dust all the time.

The bullet bunker is a cost effective answer that also allows for accuracy testing as well as simple test firing.  This year the bulletbunker.com

is introducing 8 new models.  The bullet bunkers are available for use with calibers as large as 375 H&H.  They can also handle full auto fire.  There is even a digital target system available as well as more conventional paper target systems for fast target changes.

I gotta get me one of these!

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Five Things that go wrong with guns on opening weekend.

If you have ever been hunting you know that there is a reason it’s called ‘hunting’ rather than ‘getting’. It’s inevitable that things go wrong. Thinking back, I remember vehicles getting stuck, flat tires, forgotten equipment, and much more.

There is one constant in the universe. No matter how well you plan, something unexpected will always happen. Especially when you’re going into the back country and can’t just run to the store to get something.

For hunters the problem is often that surprises with their gun are the game stoppers. There are a few common problems that you should check for before you leave on your back country trip. A few of them can be solved in the field. We will talk about both and how to best deal with them.

1. Stiff or sticky action. You would be amazed how often a gunsmith gets in a gun with the complaint that it will not cycle.

Solution: Nine times out of ten its just dirty and dry. The quick fix, use a product like Powder Blast™ from Break Free™ to blow out the dirt and dried lubricant. (This type of cleaning removes all oil and can damage finish on stocks.) That’s right oil can dry out, it becomes like a varnish coating parts and making them stick so they do not slide past one another properly. Don’t forget to oil when your done cleaning. You should have sighted in your gun before heading to the field, then you would have caught this problem at home.

2. Horse or 4 wheeler rolled on your gun.

Solution: This can be a game stopper for more than one reason. First, inspect carefully to see if the barrel is bent. If the scope is obviously damaged, it might still shoot OK, find a place, preferably away from your hunting area to test the scope. (You will have to shoot to see if it’s still sighted in.) This is one time that iron sights can be a life saver. You can prepare for this ahead of time by selecting scope mounts that allow you to easily remove the scope with either minimal or no tools. See thru scope mounts are a compromise to allow you to see iron sights at the same time as the scope, I avoid them at all costs.

3. Safety sticking, either on or off.

Solution: If you already in the field, the best fix is a little lube on the safety or trigger where the parts interact. Work the safety on and off many times to see if the problem solves itself. An empty chamber is the only safe answer if the problem persists. Safeties are only a mechanical device and should never be trusted to keep the gun from firing. (Safe gun handling rule: Never allow your muzzle to cross anything you do not want to destroy.) Obviously, if this happens during prep for the trip, take the gun to a gunsmith, or take the time to make sure the problem is fixed.

4. Accuracy has evaporated, can’t hit the broad side of a barn. You pull down on that 1000 pound 14 point buck at 75 yards and totally miss him. Later you take a poke at a doe at 50 yards and miss.CC copyright Bill Ebbesen

Solution: In the field, switch to iron sights, or a different gun. Many hunters keep a spare gun in the truck “just in case”. First chance you get, hit the range and check your scope for accuracy and to see if it’s still sighted in. Either you will prove the gun is OK or you will find out you had buck fever. Scopes can go bad without notice, if your scope fogs up, then assume it is time to replace it or send it in for service. It is possible that some other factor is causing accuracy issues, ie check the trigger guard screws to make sure they are tight, and check the muzzle for damage. Cracked stocks can cause sudden changes in accuracy or point of impact as well. Copper fowling of the barrel can cause accuracy problems too, take care of this before the season.

5. Misfires.

Solution: Many possible causes. First look to see if the firing pin is leaving a mark on the primer. Remove the firing pin assembly from the bolt, clean it and the firing pin tunnel to make sure there is not powder, brass, or other blockage. Some guys think if a little oil is good that more is better. Not true, just a drop or two of oil on the firing pin is normally all you need. Too much oil can become thick enough in cold weather to cause a misfire.

Clearly this is a fairly general list. What it points out more than anything else is that preparation is the best way to avoid problems. Another thing that jumps out is the need for some simple tools in your field kit. A set of screw drivers and a field cleaning kit can take care of a surprising number of simple problems.

Good Hunting!

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Filed under Firearms, Gunsmithing, How To, hunting, Rifles, Sights/Scopes, tools

Miller Precision Arms, Guardian, 300 Winchester Magnum AR

Brandon Miller of MPA has been a busy guy.  He has his 300 Win. Mag. on an AR platform ready to offer to the public.  Miller Precision announced this new rifle on July 4th, 2012 in celebration of freedom.  At the time of this writing they are the only company that has a functioning rifle of this type.  Best of all the MPA rifle is an AR, this means not training with a new system.    This rifle is a natural for military use, or what a great way to play the High Power game, F class anyone?

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New Gunsmithing Courses Available Summer 2012

Gunsmithing Classes

FVCC’s Continuing Education department has announced the addition of gunsmithing courses to their offerings.  During July of 2012 seven new courses will be offered to hobby gunsmiths and professionals alike.  Brandon Miller, Coordinator for the new Gunsmithing courses was the NRA Coordinator for Murray State College as well as a gunsmithing instructor, until his move to the Kalispell area in 2011.

Two armorers courses are being offered and are in the process of accreditation via POST.  The first is an AR-15, AR-10 Armorers Course.   This five day (40 hour) course is to familiarize the student with the AR-15/AR-10 weapons format. Instruction will include function, disassembly,  as well as reassembly, of main and sub groups.  Troubleshooting and function testing tips, tool use and the installation of many aftermarket custom parts. Optional caliber choices in the AR-15 format will be addressed. The AR-10 and various manufacturers will be discussed, with particular attention to compatibility of parts. Students should to bring their own firearms as guns will not be provided.

Second, a five day (40 hour) course will focus on design, function and repair to factory service specifications for shotguns, including the study of feeding, loading, extraction, headspace, gas systems and basic repair and maintenance of all parts. Guns covered will be Benelli M1, Remington 870, Remington 1100, Remington 11-87, Mossberg 500, Mossberg 835, etc.

An exciting opportunity to learn from an American Custom Gunmakers Guild member, Lee Helgeland, the art of gunstock checkering. Tools, layout and patterns will be discussed in depth as you actually checker your own gunstock. The tips and tricks discussed can shave years off the learning curve of this artistic and functional part of stockmaking.  Bring your gunstocks and tools, this is a hands on class.

Fred Zeglin, Master Gunsmith, will be teaching two classes for this program.  The first is his popular Wildcat Cartridge Design class.  This class takes the student from a raw idea to making the tools needed to form brass and chamber a barrel for a custom cartridge design.  Students will make tools in this class and walk away with a full understanding of how to safely design and test a cartridge.

Fred’s second class will be Glass Bedding for rifles.  This five day course will highlight stress-free bedding processes while focusing on pillar bedding. The course will discuss the intricacies of the ultra accurate bolt action field rifle on today’s market. Areas covered will be bedding, scope mounting, headspace and triggers. The student will have the opportunity to bed at least one rifle in the method he/she chooses. Methods for different actions and reasoning behind the different processes will be discussed in detail. Stock pillars will be made in class.  Bring your rifle.

Other classes will be Alterntive Finihses: The purpose of this class is to familiarize the student with various finishes other than hot caustic bluing. There will be an instruction and demonstration in hot water bluing treatments such as Brownells Classic Rust Blue and Dicropan IM, as well as Nitre Blue. Students will also be instructed in the use of Zinc/Manganese Parkerizing as well as the setup and application of various spray-on finishes. Students will have and opportunity to apply Parkerizing or one of the spray-on finishes to at least one firearm and possibly a second one if time allows.  So, bring your projects.

Finally, Color Case Hardening. The differences between color case hardening modern actions as compared to antique actions will be discussed. Participants will receive hands-on training as they color case harden various parts and/or actions. Students will need to bring their own projects.

There are only a few gunsmithing schools around the country, so in order to take these classes students normally have to travel to one of these schools.  By offering these classes FVCC becomes the only school in the Pacific Northwest to provide such quality training.  For more information contact the Continuing Education Offices at FVCC, (406) 756-3822 or better yet, check out their web site:  https://ace.fvcc.edu/ShowSchedule.awp?&Mode=GROUP&Group=GS&Title=Gunsmithing


Filed under accuracy, ammo, brass, Firearms, Gunsmithing, How To, Rifles, Stocks, tools, wildcat

Get Your Rifle Ready for Hunting Season!

After almost thirty years in the gun business I have learned one thing that you can count on from one year to the next; as soon as the 4th of July passes, fall hunting seasons change from next season to “THIS SEASON” overnight.  It’s time to get your guns out and make sure they are ready for this season’s hunts.  First and foremost, you want to repair those little things that broke last year.  At the time you said, “No problem, I have a year to take care of that.”  Bad news… your down to a few weeks now.

The common problems that seem to carry over from one year to the next include scopes that have fogged up, broken parts like safeties, swivels, damaged sights, or stripped screws.  Most of these are simple little fixes that don’t really take that long to fix.  If you’re a do it your self kind of person then it’s time to get out to the garage and make some quick repairs.  If you plan to take this work to a gunsmith you had better head right over to his shop, you see; if he is worth his salt, he is already busy with a few dozen other guys guns.

Minor repairs are not the only things to consider.  Remember last year you swore you would have a better trigger before you took this gun out again?  Or, maybe you planned to have the stock bedded to improve accuracy.  Many shooters discover that the old scope is just too hard to see through in low light, after looking through their buddy’s scope one frosty morning last fall a new scope became a priority.  Even if you’re sticking with an old scope make sure the scope mounts and rings are tight and that none of the screws have broken off.  You would be surprised how many accuracy problems are simply loose scope mounts and rings.

Clean that barrel for accuracy

You might be surprised how much better a clean barrel shoots.

One of the simplest things you can do to improve accuracy is to give that rifle a good cleaning.  Pick up the correct cleaning gear for your caliber.  The best cleaning rods are one piece-coated rods; they have no joints that can catch on the barrel during cleaning, potentially damaging the bore.  The coating is designed to allow the rod to slip freely through the barrel without acting as a lap that will cause scratches or undue damage to the bore.  There are many good cleaning solvents, if your rifle is new or has seen little shooting then a solvent to remove carbon and unburned powder will suffice.  If you have an older rifle that used to shoot well but then accuracy “suddenly” fell off, it’s a good idea to try a solvent that is made to remove copper fouling.  Simply follow the directions on the bottle, the maker tells you what method will work best with their product.  If at all possible clean the barrel from the breech to prevent damaging the crown.

A mistake that many shooters make when cleaning a barrel is to think that if a little cleaning is good them MORE will be better.  If solvent is left in the bore too long, some of them have the ability to pit the bore, especially those solvents containing ammonia.  For best results and accuracy, stick to the manufacturers instructions.  When your done cleaning it’s a good idea to wipe the bore down with a patch soaked with oil, like Rem OilÒ, Tri-FloÒ, Break FreeÒ, or one of the other high quality gun oils.  This will protect the bore in storage, be sure to wipe the bore dry with a patch or two before firing as oil in the bore can act like an obstruction and increase chamber pressure.

Once you have all the repairs and upgrades taken care of and the gun is clean its time to sight in.  If your rifle is unchanged from last year, and it was sighted in correctly at that time, then you can go straight to a 100-yard range for sight in.  If you have new sights or a new scope it is easiest and fastest to start the sight in process at 25 yards.  If your gunsmith collimated or “bore sighted” your gun in the shop that only promises to put you on the paper.  By starting close you can fire three shots to be sure where its grouping, then adjust the sights or scope accordingly.  Then fire another three shot group.  Once you’re centered up on the bull it’s time to move out to 100 yards and fire another group.  By starting in close at 25 yards you can save a ton of ammo, it can be hard to make adjustments if your not on the paper, at 25 yards the odds are pretty good that you will be on the paper if the gun has been bore sighted.

If you have a rifle that has a muzzle velocity of  2700 feet per second or more; and that covers most high powered rifles. You can use a rule of 3 when sighting in.  The idea is that the kill zone on a deer or antelope is about 6”.  In the chart below you will see that the “Trajectory Peak in Yards” is the point at which the trajectory of your rifle is 3” above the line of sight and starts back down.  The majority of all game is taken under 100 yards so this system will work for most all shooters.  An old-timer once told me always aim at hair and you will nearly always make a hit.  Check out the “Point Blank Range,” that is the point where your bullet will drop 3” below the line of sight, and you can shoot up to that distance without even considering hold-over, if your sighted in for the indicated zero.  Many shooters simplify this concept by sighting in 3” high at 100 yards.

Cartridge / Bullet Wt. Velocity Feet Per Second Point of impact @ 100 yards Trajectory Peak (3” high) at __ Yards        Target “zero” in Yards Maximum Point Blank Range (3” low) at Yards 10″ Holdover in Yards

243 Winchester   100gr.







25-06                    115gr.







260 Remington   140gr.







270 Winchester   130gr.







7mm-08              140g.







7mm Remington 175gr.







30-30 Win.           150gr.







30-06                   180gr.







338 Win.             225gr.







35 Whelen         200gr.







375 H&H             300gr.







The load data in this table is derived from published factory load data for the specific cartridges.

Sights are assumed to be 1.5″ above the center of bore for these tables, as most scopes are at this height.

It’s not unusual to hear clients ask about a new custom rifle for THIS SEASON.  Frankly, by this time of year if a gunsmith says he can build you a nice custom rifle in time for an October 1st season, you should check his references.  By extension, if a gunsmith does not have a backlog you want to know why, before you invest in a custom rifle with him. The majority of rifle builders have a backlog of many months and delivery times of more than a year are common among the best builders.

Much of the reason for long delivery time for custom work is that it is handwork.  It requires the personal attention of an experienced gunsmith; most of them only have two hands.  Then of course there is the perennial problem with days being limited to 24 hours.  Bottom line, if your gunsmith has good references, be patient and you will get top-notch workmanship.



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Filed under Firearms, Gunsmithing, How To, hunting, Rifles