Tag Archives: TC 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

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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Filed under accuracy, Firearms, Gunsmithing, Shooting

A Question I answer a lot!

Can you rechamber my NEF or TC Encore…?

The real question often should be can my 308 barrel be rechamber to 338-06?  Or some 30-06 Ackley Improved etc. 

First when you thinking about rechambering a barrel the bore diameter must be the same unless you are willing to rebore the barrel as well.  Reboring is often thought of as a cheap alternative to a new barrel.  It is usually less expensive but the best reason for a rebore is when you have a gun that has some intrinsic value, either a family gun, or maybe a fancy barrel that has a quarter rib, custom sights, octagon, etc, that would be expensive to duplicate.  Such barrels make sense to rebore.

Back to plane old rechambering… Just look at it this way, you must pick a chamber that is larger than the original chamber, ideally, larger in diameter and at least a little longer.  Sometimes the original neck diameter was on the large size and when you rechamber it leaves a small groove or mark in the neck area of the chamber.  Normally this is not a problem for function, but it leaves marks on your brass and might hinder accuracy.

Ackley Improved cartridge do now work well for single shot rechambers unless your starting from a much smaller case, like a 22 Hornet to a 22-250 AI.  Now if you working with rimmed cases then an Ackley design is fine in a single shot simply because the rim handles headspace.  Rimless cases headspace on the shoulder and Ackley rimless cases are .004″ shorter than the factory counterpart.

Anyway, single shots make for a fun and cheap way to try new calibers.  Give it a try.

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Filed under ammo, brass, bullets', Firearms, hunting, wildcat