Tag Archives: barrels

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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New Approach to Firearms Education

Flathead Valley Community College will launch a new two-semester evening Firearms Technologies Certificate starting this fall.  The 27-credit program will feature curriculum developed to support the growing firearms industry in the Flathead Valley in Montana as well as across the country.

One of only a few colleges in the nation to offer firearms related programs. FVCC has taken a unique approach, developing the program as an enhancement to its existing industrial machine technology program introduced last year under the Department of Labor “Amplifying Montana’s Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Industry” grant (#TC-23760-12-60-A-30).  This approach will make FVCC the only school that focuses on manufacture of firearms and related parts.

The new program will provide students the opportunity to incorporate advanced machining skills with an understanding of firearms operational systems. Courses are tailored to emphasize the manufacturing of firearm components.

Fred Zeglin, curriculum coordinator for the program, developed the courses under the guidance and input from local firearms manufacturers.  “Manufacturers say they are seeking trained machinists who understand firearms.  Classes have been designed to build understanding of a wide variety of firearms and the way that they function.” said Zeglin.

Emphasis will be placed upon the completion of several gunsmithing projects involving blueprints and schematics using a combination of both hand and machine tools. This program will provide a clear understanding of firearms design and function, enabling graduates to assist with design implementation or tolerance issues in manufacturing environments.

The program will be held in the evenings with labs during the daytime on Friday and Saturday. Course topics will include firearms introduction and safety; manual mill and lathe systems; bench metal techniques; firearms theory and firearms repair; machine tools for gunsmiths; and precision rifle building.  This selection of courses are designed to increase the marketable skills of the students in the manufacturing realm.

The program will be marketed nationwide bringing focus to the local industry.  Prospective students must apply both to the program and for admission to FVCC. Program applications are due August 1 at 4 p.m. Applications are available online at http://www.fvcc.edu/firearms or in the Admissions Office in Blake Hall on the FVCC Kalispell campus. For more information, contact Jori Bullemer at 756-3905 or jbullemer@fvcc.edu or Will Richards at 756-4862 or wrichards@fvcc.edu.

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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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Filed under Books, Gunsmithing, How To, Stocks, tools

Savage Offers New Model Axis II XP, Shot Show 2014

Axis XP

This new variation on the Axis XP features the AccuTrigger, which is adjustable from 2.5 to 6 pounds.  The rifle will come with a Weaver Kaspa scope mounted and bore sighted.  This is a 3-9×40 variable scope.

Barrels are 22 inches, matte blue on all metal surfaces.  The stock is a black molded synthetic.  A detachable five rounds magazine rounds out the package.  Eight calibers from 223 to 30-06 are offered.  MSRP is only $415

Axis barrels can be changed out just like the popular Savage 110 type barrels.  In fact our friends at 4D Reamer Rentals LTD. tell us that the barrels are interchangeable.  4D offers Savage pre-fit barrels in more calibers than any other maker we have found. So you can swap the barrel on one of these rifles and have the caliber of your dreams.

Rumor has it that 4D will be introducing a new barrel nut wrench, at the SHOT Show, for Savage smooth barrel nuts, like those found on the Axis series of rifles.

Finally, Savage is offering Youth models on the new Axis II XP series.  These rifles will have a 20″ barrel chambered for 243 Winchester.  Two camo patterns will be offered:  A woodland pattern and the very popular “Muddy Girl”.

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Savage Barrel Nut Wrench, New for SHOT Show 2014

4D Savage barrel nut wrench

Savage offers smooth barrel nuts on many of their bolt guns.  Until now, no commercial wrench for removing or installing these barrel nuts when headspacing a pre-fit barrel existed.  4D Reamer Rentals LTD has designed this new wrench for use with the smooth type barrel nuts found on many Savage rifles.  The wrench will not work with splined type nuts.

These smooth barrel nuts are commonly available in the market place and provide a nicer finished look without the splines cut into them.  These smooth nuts will work on all Savage 110 action variations, including Axis™ and Stevens™. 

Made from aircraft grade aluminum this wrench can be used for both Large (fat magnum) and Small (standard) thread barrel nuts.  

The finish on the production wrenches will be either painted or anodized, depending upon the buyers preference.  Graphic dipped models, as pictured here, would be for special presentation pr personalized gifts.

Dealer pricing available.
Savage Barrel Nut Wrench by 4D MSRP $49.95

Rental from 4-dproducts.com will be $15  they are carrying the smooth barrel nuts too.

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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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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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Filed under Books, Gunsmithing, Uncategorized, wildcat

Tricks the Pros Use When Rechambering a Barrel.

Chamber with ejector removed.

Many a chamber reamer has been damaged or broken when a novice gunsmith tried to rechamber a barrel with an extractor or ejector cut.  In this post I will explain how to get a high quality job without danger of damaging the reamer.

At right is the breech end of an NEF barrel that is about to be rechambered.  The mistake that is commonly made is to try to insert the chamber reamer into this existing chamber without preparing the chamber area.  Reamers are not made to work on an interrupted cut such as an extractor cut.  Trying to use a conventional drill bit will not work in this situation either, it will simply do a lot of damage and make a mess of the job.

There are two easy ways to handle this problem and end up with a nice clean chamber.

  1. Use a piloted counterbore to cut a recess that will accept the chamber reamer, eliminating the extractor cut.  The problem with this method is that you would need a specialty tool for every shoulder diameter that you might decide to rechamber for.
  2. Place the barrel in the lathe and use a boring bar or a simple boring tool ground for the purpose.  This method has the advantage of working on any cartridge combination that you might encounter.

Measure the bore to work with the reamer.

Bore out the area of the extractor cut to a dimension very close that of the shoulder diameter of the reamer you will be using.  The idea again is to prevent the reamer from cutting an interrupted cut.  As the shoulder of the reamer engages the chamber it will then cut uniformly and without chatter.  If you attempt to cut the chamber without performing this preparation each flute of the reamer will bang against the extractor cut as it comes around.  In most cases this will at a minimum damage the reamer, worst case it will brake the reamer.

hand ground boring tool.

At right is a simple hand ground lathe bit that will work for this job.  The under side of the tool must be relieved so that it can clearance the inside of the chamber area.  This is a finesse job, only remove as much as you need to get the reamer in full contact with the barrel.

What it looks like when bored correctly.

Here is the chamber area after the boring work is done and before the reamer has been used.  Note that we did not cut away any unnecessary material, only that which will make the reamer cut properly.

Chatter is a common complaint when rechambering a barrel.  The pilot is often either not engaged in the bore of the barrel or it does not fit the barrel properly.  Proper pilot diameter is .0005″ to .001″ smaller than the bore diameter (across the lands).  This allows for a slip fit to the bore.  An undersized pilot will promote chatter.

Finished chamber

A simple way to stop chatter that will not damage the tool is to wrap the reamer with a strip of wax paper.  The wax paper acts as a dampener against the chatter which is caused by vibration.  Do use cutting oil as normal when using the wax paper.

The chamber below completely cleaned up the old rim cut from the rimmed cartridge.  Of course the extractor would have to be modified for the rimless case.

Side note:  Reamers for straight wall cases like black powder and pistol type cartridges are prone to damage from the problems addressed in this post.  In addition they are prone to damage near the rim cutter when chips become trapped in the extractor cut.  So if your working with such reamers take extra care to keep chips cleared, especially when nearing the last few cuts.

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Interview with 4D Reamer Rentals LTD

Our sponsor for this blog is 4D Reamer Rentals Inc. It recently occurred to me that we have never talked specifically about 4D to share the services and products that they offer to the shooting public as well as the gunsmith community. So, here goes…

Q. Tell us how you came to own 4D Reamer Rentals?

A. In 2004 the then owner of 4D had half jokingly offered to sell me his company. He was a little surprised when I said I was interested but we worked out a deal and in 2005 I bought the company from him. The rest as they say is history.

Q. Who rents reamers? I would think gunsmiths would buy their own?

We rent to professional gunsmiths as well as hobbyists.

Professionals do buy their own tooling, but nobody can have every tool and many calibers you may only build one or two in your entire career, so it just does not pay to buy such tools. On top of that the chambers popular in one vicinity are not in another. So we provide top quality tools and save everyone both time and money. These days time is often the biggest issue with delivery times from the makers stretching out to several months.

We suggest that gunsmiths purchase the reamers they will use over and over again and rent the rest. It’s probably obvious that hobby gunsmiths really feel the pinch from expensive tools, so they normally rent reamers and gauges to save money.

Q. What are the most popular tools that you rent?

A. The answer is often surprising to people. We check the top rentals at least once a year. It helps us keep inventory levels correct. The top ten rental are always made up of standard cartridges like 30-06, 280 Remington, 300 Winchester, 7mm Remington Magnum, 260 Remington, .308 Winchester, and 6.5×55 Swedish.

I guess it’s not sexy, shooters see to expect the answer to be wildcats. I believe availability of brass and ammo is going to drive popularity of cartridges and therefore our rentals. These common cartridges are the same calibers that the big manufacturers keep in the line up, because they sell.

Pretty consistently the 280 Ackley Improved slips into the top ten as well, but it is one of the few “wildcat” calibers that ranks regularly. There is some controversy surrounding this cartridge but it’s really a no brainer (click here to read about the controversy).

Q. How many reamers do you really stock?

A. We currently have over 675 reamers on hand and continue to add new tools all the time. We stock multiple reamers for the more popular calibers. Even with all those tools there are still more we can add, and nearly every year the factories add one or two new cartridges, so its really never ending. Every tool you see on our list is in the collection, although sometimes they are out on rental, we do everything we can to minimize waiting time.

Q. Does the cost of rental plus the deposits scare off a lot of potential customers?

A. It shouldn’t, that’s one of the items that we work to explain all the time. When a client orders through out web site, which is an automated shopping cart, they will see the deposit amounts displayed on the screen. There is an explanation posted as well that the deposit is not collected at the time the order is place, but rather is the maximum liability the client is agreeing to plus the rental.

Because the web site is automated it has to charge the credit or debit card at the time the order is placed. The site then drops the card information for security. When clients order via phone we do not charge the card at the time of order. However, all the same deposits apply.

So to answer your question directly. The deposits should not scare anyone off, since we do not collect them at the time the order is placed. It would be a nightmare for us to collect and return deposits on hundreds of orders, so we trust our clients to be honorable if sadly something does break or get lost. Most folks in the gun business are of the highest moral caliber, so it’s seldom a problem when a tool is damaged or broken.

Q. Are reamer and headspace gauges the only tools you offer for rental?

A. We offer much more than that. We have sight pushers for pistols, Shotgun choke reamers and taps, specialty taps and dies for muzzle breaks and the like. T-handle extension for reamers, so you can ream through the action, tap handles and die stocks. Specialty tools for AR-15 work. New tools are added all the time.

Q. So everything you offer is rental only?

A. We sell things too. Things like Cerosafe® chamber casting metal, Dakota bolt handles and grip caps, and Savage barrel nuts are all stock items we offer for the convenience of our clients.

Savage drop in barrel have become a very popular addition to our listings. We can chamber for any caliber that we have a reamer for, so we offer more cartridges in Savage pre-fits than anyone. Barrel suppliers can vary widely in delivery time, so we buy from three different makers to help deal with time constraints. Delivery times can be as short as 4 weeks, best to call for an actual quote.

Q. Are all Savage barrels special order then?

A. Mostly. We keep a small stock of barrels, they can be found on the web site under the “For Sale” menu heading. Then look for “Barrels on Hand”. We normally keep the blanks unchambered but threaded and tapered, that way you can pick a barrel and have it chambered for the caliber of your choice.

Q. What about services, anything besides the rental of tools?

A. Sure, we offer rechamber work on single shot barrels for guns that allow the easy removal of the barrel. We do not accept rifles in the shop only barrels, because we do not have or want an FFL. We have a suggested chambering page on the web site that can help customers decide what cartridge will work best for their barrel. Of course there might be other options, we often help with the selection of cartridges.

Q. So what guns are we talking about rechambering for?

A. New England Firearms (NEF), H&R Handi Rifles, Rossi, Thompson Contender or Encore barrels.

We have a flat rate for rechamber work, we do charge a little more when extractor work is needed. We do some rescue work when clients have tried a project without really knowing how to do the work. We are of course limited mostly by the existing chamber and the available chambers we can choose from. These guns are not suited to the fat magnums like WSM, and Rum designs, so we will not chamber them.

We often have folks send in Savage 110 style barrel for rechamber to new calibers. Even the new Axis rifle utilizes the same barrel threads and nut system. We have reworked both factory barrels and custom barrels that were not offered in the clients caliber of choice. It’s pretty cheap in comparison to having a custom rifle built, that’s why the Savage guns are so popular.

Q. Where do you see the rental business going in the future?

A. Well if the past is any indication, it will continue to grow. As tools and other operating costs continue to skyrocket people will continue to look for ways to save time and money. Since we specialize in saving you both time and money, the future is bright. We plan continued growth.

An added bonus for the gun industry is the addition of untold thousands of new shooters who have joined our ranks the last half dozen years or so. As these shooters become more knowledgeable they start to have guns modified and rebarreled. It just means more work for gunsmiths everywhere.

To see everything the 4D Reamer Rentals has to offer check out their web site:  www.4-dproducts.com

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Annular Cutter. (turning your barrel for a brake without a lathe).

This is a tool that was designed for a different purpose.  Most of the references that describe there use talk about using them with a magnetic drill.  So this would be more common in a large fabrication than in a gun shop.

Cutting muzzle diameter

Annular Cutter at work.

This tool sometimes called a Rotabroach® cutter, is one of those tools that somebody realized had a crossover use.  Gun lovers have figured out that they can be used in the place of a lathe to reduce the diameter of the muzzle of a barrel.  Normally a lathe would be used for this work, however not everyone can afford a lathe.

There might be some expedient times with such a tool would be more useful than a lathe.  If you have ever had to train an employee you know that the easiest process with minimum opportunity for error is a good choice.  I could see a production facility using the annular cutter because it’s hard to make a mistake.

Prepairing to cut

Be sure to use cutting oil.

Piloting the tool makes it an easy tool to use.  The cutting speed is best kept slow, so a hand drill will work just fine with this tool.  Depending on the actual cutter they can cut as deep as 1 or 2 inches.  Normally you do not want to cut that far back on the barrel, most brakes ask for a .500″ to .560″ length for the threaded portion.  Simply mark how far you want to run the cutter back on the barrel.

These tools are aggressive and sharp so keep the rpm under 250.  Plenty of cutting oil is to be used on the pilot, barrel and cutter.  Because the pilots are long and extend a long distance into the barrel they are very good and helping align the tool.  However, you still need to keep the tool aligned to the barrel or you can do damage to the tool, pilot, barrel, or all three.  If the tool binds at all check your alignment, you may be pushing the tool to one side.

Stop several times during the process and clear away the chips and re-oil the cutter and pilot.  If the tool is “bites”  and wants to stop you are probably running a little too slow, increase the rpm a little and slow the feed.

Setting up for a muzzle brake.

Muzzle of Nagant barrel after the annular cutter.

Once the new muzzle diameter is created you can install a gas block, or thread for a muzzle brake as you desire.  There are several tools available for different diameters of muzzles and various pilots for calibers.  Common calibers are .223. 5.45mm, and 30 Caliber.

4D Reamer Rentals LTD just started handling this tool and will be adding more if clients request them.

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Filed under Gunsmithing, How To, Recoil, Rifles, tools