Tag Archives: Encore

Fred “Bullberry Barrel Works” Smith is retiring.

Guest Blog by Mike Bellm

Fred Smith’s work has been a key stepping stone in the evolution of custom Contender and Encore barrels to the point it is today at Match Grade Machine, Click here!

Fred has been one of the most significant pioneers in the Utah centered custom TC barrel business as it has evolved over the years, continuing through the fast growing Match Grade Machine

A brief history follows.

Custom Contender carbine wood was Fred’s first few years in the TC Contender business at a time when carbine length barrels were pretty scarce. Fred had plenty of walnut for his nicely crafted stocks and grips, but no reliable source of carbine length barrels or barrels chambered for cartridges TC did not make.

Thinking back and not recalling my early conversations with Fred, he may very well have gotten his early interest in Contender carbines like I did at the 1976 (or ’77?) NRA Convention in Salt Lake City where Al Beckstead from Preston Idaho displayed Contender carbines with barrels he was making.

My first employee was a former employee of Beckstead’s that gave me quite a bit of insight into Contender barrels in general.

It was around 1981 or ’82 when Fred began leaning on me to make Contender carbine barrels, but the work I was doing in the P.O. Ackley tradition did not entail the mill work that making Contender barrels depends on extensively making the barrel lugs and the drilling/tapping and other mill work on the barrel itself.

 

In 1983 I partnered with another machine shop in Salt Lake City and made my first dozen Contender carbine barrels for Fred.

Not wanting to wait for us to make fixtures to do the work more cost effectively, Fred and his son, Greg, went on their own making barrels with the head start I gave them.

That left me with the investment in making Contender barrels and continuing to make custom Contender barrels for quite a few years before giving up to the reality of my resources not being able to make barrels profitably. Making an art and science of reworking factory barrels became my forte while still doing quite a bit of fixed barrel work. Along with reworking barrels, the gun as a whole and how it is fed were issues that had to be made workable for the average shooter, and my accessories line and instructions were developed to meet those needs now supplied by my son, Kurt Bellm, through Bellm TCs.com

 

The Stratton family employees at Bullberry

The short version is that Steve Stratton and his two sons, Jeff and Kerry, worked for Bullberry, but broke out in open competition with their former employer as Virgin Valley Custom Guns for about 4 years before selling out to Wade Sip whose reincarnation of custom TC barrel manufacturing is the Match Grade Machine company, THE top custom TC barrel maker in the country today.

I should add also that E.A. Brown’s “Accuracy Barrels” were originally made by Virgin Valley Custom Guns who gave Brown the prints and details he needed for his crew to make custom TC barrels.

 

We may not agree among ourselves or have warm fuzzy feelings for each other, but we DO all owe Fred a debt of gratitude for making custom TC barrels a viable business venture and passing on the skills needed as the basis for even larger ventures serving all TC shooters.

Collectively, starting with my tutelage under P.O. Ackley on through to Fred Smith, the Strattons, E.A. Brown, and Wade and Dylan Sip, we have kept the TC break open guns not just alive and thriving, but we have taken them WAY beyond Thompson Center’s offerings covering probably the widest range of shooting and hunting venues of any firearms system made.

 

Give Fred a big thank you for his role in our shooting sports and best wishes for his retirement years!

Go to: Bullberry Barrel Works

 

Best regards,
Mike Bellm

 

Mike Bellm TCs | Mike Bellm, US Mail: P.O. Box 276, UPS/Fed-Ex: 1525 E. 350 Rd, El Dorado Springs, MO 64744. Phone (541) 956-6938

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Filed under Firearms, Gunsmithing, Pistol

More Calibers in Savage Drop-in Barrels Than Any Other Source

contour-savage

4D Reamer Rental LTD. has expanded what they offer for shooters and gunsmiths once again.  Not only do they offer Savage pre-fit barrels in most any caliber, or twist.  They also stock a small supply of barrels on the shelf.  See:  https://4drentals.com/savage-drop-in-barrels/

Here is what’s really new:

Recently, they started a new offering of chamber work.  4D will rechamber your barrel for Savage barrels as well as many single shots, like NEF rifles, TC Contender or Encore barrels, Rossi single shot rifles can all be reworked to new larger chambers.  If you have some other barrel be sure to check in before you ship it.   4D will be glad to answer your questions about this service option.  They will not accept a complete firearm, this is barrel work only.  For $99 they will rechamber your barrel.

If you have always wanted to try out an Ackley chambering, or wanted a caliber the factory does not offer then this service is right up your alley.  With over 1100 reamers on the shelf it’s likely that 4D will have a chambering that will interest you.  The gunsmith doing this work for 4D has over 30 years of experience in chambering and barrel work, so you know the work will be done right, no guessing.  For the complete list of calibers go to the 4D web site.

Barrels can be blued or coated, 4D currently offers CeroCoat.

Barrels in both Blue and Stainless material are available if your placing an order. Custom orders take more time than barrels on the shelf.

Fred at 4D tells us that this service came about because they often get calls from folks who want to rechamber a gun but do not have any experience with chambering barrels.  So it seemed natural to help out such potential clients who were either short on time, or worried about the process.  “We offer more chamberings than any other Savage barrel vendor out there, and we can extend that to the single shot barrel market too.”

The barrel blanks offered by 4D are made by three makers, McGowen, Green Mountain, and XCaliber.  Delivery times vary by maker, and prices vary a little as well so check in with them for a quote.  hours are 9-4 Mountain time, Monday to Friday.

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Filed under accuracy, Firearms, Gunsmithing, How To, Rifles, tools