Tag Archives: Lever gun

Winchester Rifles for SHOT Show 2014

Single shot fans will be happy to see that Winchester is offering the low wall Model 1885 in 22 LR, 22 Win. Mag., 17 HMR, and 17 WSM.  The low wall action has been popular with single shot fans ever since Winchester put it into production over 100 years ago.  While these new models are slightly different from the original design, they still provide good quality guns with out the collectors price tag.

Other offerings for this year include the 1873 with a color cased action.  A 20″ barrel, and full length magazine tube  bring back the “Load on Sunday and shoot all week” era in a fun and historic way.  Chamberings are 44-40 and 45 LC.  Stocks are straight grip walnut.

1892 lever guns are in the mix as well.  Large loop levers make you think of John Wayne and True Grit.  These rifles have full length magazines along with 20 inch barrels.  Calibers are 357 Magnum, 44 magnum, 44-40, and 45 Long Colt.  All finished with high polish blueing.

Cowboy action shooters will be glad to see this line up.

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Filed under Firearms, Rifles, Rimfire, Shooting

Chiappa Firearms; 1886 Kodiak Trapper, New for 2012

1886 Lever GunWinchester Model 1886 a John Browning design,  was originally produced from 1897 until 1935 by Winchester.

Chiappa has been importing the 1886 for a while in a couple of configurations.  Earlier models sported long (26″) octagon barrels or full round barrels in a carbine format (22″).  Both have color case finish and blued parts.    The latest installment is a short barreled 45-70 (18.5″).  One advantage to these new 1886 levers is that they are made to handle full power modern ammunition.  With a six shot magazine the 1886 Kodiak Trapper would make a handy rifle in bear country.

Barrel band by Z-Hat Custom Inc.  Win. 71 pictured.

The Trapper model has walnut stocks that are over-coated with a rubberized finish, making it a great choice for wet climate hunting.  Design of the stock has been reworked to make the butt-stock  more inline, the comb height has been increased too,  reducing felt recoil.

Brushed electroless nickle is the finish on the metal surfaces.  Detachable sling swivels come standard on this model.  The sights are “Skinner” express sights.

The cost of Winchester and Browning versions of the 1886 have driven most shooters away from making custom rifles out of them.  These high quality rifles from Chiappa will allow anyone who ever dreamed of having an Alaskan Thumper to afford one.  Z-Hat Custom Inc. can convert these new rifles to 450 Alaskan, or 50 Alaskan for anyone who thinks the 45-70 does not pack enough punch.  Also these rifles will handle any 348 Winchester wildcat variation with very little modification.

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Filed under Firearms, Gunsmithing, hunting, Rifles

Barrel Bands for Winchester or Browning 71 Part I of III


Custom Barrel Band, helps hold the Model 71 together.

Custom Barrel Band, helps hold the Model 71 together.


I often have clients ask for 450 or 50 Alaskan conversions on Model 71 actions.  These are pretty easy conversions, only minor feeding changes are needed, but that is not what this article is about.



The 450 Alaskan, 50 Alaskan, the 348 Ackley Improved or even the 348 Winchester which the Model 71 is normally chambered for produce a fair amount of recoil.  You have a relatively light rifle versus the caliber so recoil is stout but manageable with these guns.  Model 71 carbines and rifles have been popular with Alaskans ever since they came out.  They deliver a powerful cartridge in a handy, fast action, light package, all in all – good bear medicine.

Unfortunately the light package also means the recoil is hard on the gun.  The Forend is retained by a small dovetailed hanger under the forend cap.   They often become loose over time allowing the forend to rattle and move fore and aft.  There are a few things the gunsmith can do to help prevent that problem.  First, make sure the forend is fit correctly so that there is no movement when fully assembled.  Second, I always put two springs in the back of the forend on either side of the magazine tube that push against the receiver, thus holding the forend tight, preventing any rattle that might develop, despite our best efforts. Finally I make a custom barrel band that is soldered to the barrel and grips the magazine tube tight, preventing any movement under recoil.  The barrel band also holds the magazine tight, up against the forearm hanger, which prevents it from twisting or moving during handling or under recoil.

I have seen many old 71s with loose magazine tubes, even though on this action they are threaded into the receiver.  It would be a bad day indeed if you fired your first shoot at a charging Kodiak Bear only to find you have launched your magazine at him under recoil.  That second shot might be a real problem under such circumstances.  As a gunsmith you don’t want a call telling you that the gun you built failed in any such situation.

Mild steel makes a fine material for a barrel band.  I simply cut a piece of flat bar stock  2”x1”, just over .750” long and true it up in the mill.  The finished dimensions of this project are not critical, its more about providing support for the magazine tube and making it look like it belongs on the gun.  The Blank pictured here is about 2.5” instead of 2”, I know some of you would notice and question this, it just happens to be the material I had on hand.  I trim the excess off during the machining process.
To get ready for layout of the holes for the barrel and magazine use feeler gauges to measure the gap between the barrel and tube on the assembled gun.  This is important because the magazine tube will have to slip thru the barrel band to be assembled when your finished.  Then measure the barrel at the point where it will be soldered, the magazine tube is cylindrical so measure it and your ready to layout the primary holes.

This is part one of a three part article, we will show you how-to make this barrel band from scratch.


Barrel Band blank being bored for barrel and magazine tube.

Barrel Band blank being bored for barrel and magazine tube.


Filed under Firearms, Gunsmithing, How To, hunting