Month: May 2005

Survival Rifles

Posted by on May 29, 2005

I’ve mentioned before that barrels aren’t difficult to make once the tooling has been mastered. Actions are a bit more awkward. But some are easier than others. Depends on the intended purpose of the rifle. A friend of mine has a very nice little single shot in 357 Mag built on a Cadet Martini action. Bill Holmes, he who wrote those excellent books on DIY gun making, has built successful falling block actions. I saw photos of them in an article but I can’t remember where. One had a round breech block. Very much easier to make than the rectangular type. Indeed the difference is of the order of dead simple compared with almost impossible.The downside of the round breech block is it’s reduced strength compared with the rectangular type. It is therefore considered suitable only for low pressure cartridges. But I wonder. A 20mm diameter breech block in an action of sufficient wall thickness should be a lot stronger than many light framed 357 Mag revolvers. The sectional area of the locking lugs of most bolt actions is much less and they are good for centre fire rifle pressures. The round breech block would need testing but I suspect it’s good for most anything. Should certainly be good for 357 Mag, and a lot of useful rifle cartridges like the 30-30 have chamber pressures not much higher than the 357 Mag.In any case, with BP loads which are all low pressure, the simple round block design has a lot of potential. Just another idea y’all might like to toss around.For the really ambitious, a book was published in the US not long ago devoted entirely to the construction of a hammerless falling block action that looks every bit as good as the Ruger No 1. It is very detailed and complete. I know, because I have it. It was serialised in a machining magazine to which I subscribe and later published as an individual book. Anybody who wants to know where to get it can contact me off list.There are all kinds of possibilities in an all out survival situation. I’m sure I’m not the only one who knows about a single shot deringer that is loaded with BP and ball by unscrewing the barrel, loading powder and ball and screwing back on. Only one shot, but that’s a whole lot better than nothing. The beauty is in the simplicity, and they are smal so two or three could be carried.A muzzle loading version of the famous Remington o/u deringer would be a nice idea. Two shots and small enough to carry two or three. Yeah, I know it wouldn’t be legal if it’s not an exact copy of anything. That’s not the point. The point is simplicity, smallness and concealment. The trick is to get the trigger design to work, something simpler and easier to make than the Remington trigger.Who’s familiar with the little North American Arms revolver in 22LR and 22Mag ? I’ve fired one once. Well it was a whole morning session teaching it’s owner how to handle it. As I’d never fired one I taught as I learned. Fortunately the owner didn’t notice. It shot very nicely, tight little groups at five metres which is about as far as it is likely to be used. Very small, lovely for carry. You know the rule, a small gun carried is worth a lot more than a big one left home. In future concealability might be more important than in the past for reasons that need not be discussed here. It occured to me that such a revolver, five shots in 32 S&W long loaded with wadcutters in front of a stiff charge would be almost as small and quite useful, and not dependent on factory ammo. How do you reload a small single action revolver without a swing out cylinder. You don’t, you carry a spare cylinder and learn how to switch them quickly in the dark.[Originally posted to SATalkGuns -- Admin]

Calibre conversions and other things

Posted by on May 6, 2005

All sorts of things cross my mind in those moments when I’m stuck between jobs or in places like doctors’ waiting rooms with nothing to read. Some are wild ideas I suppose. Wonder if anyone else thinks along the same lines. I expect that the next attack will be the unavailability of ammo and components. BP is the obvious alternative but it also seems that it will be so tightly restricted as to amount to de facto licensing. We might find ourselves in a situation of making do with whatever we have. Farmers in particular can’t be without weapons. With some effort and organisation BP can be made. So can primers. The formula for BP primers is easier and less demanding the conventional primers because of the easy ignition character of BP.There are a lot of old SMLEs around. While the SMLE has never been a ideal sporter conversion it is undoubtedly an efficient fighting rifle and in some opinions the best bolt action combat rifle ever. It is also very rugged and of simpler construction than the 98 Mauser for example. It is also an easy action to which to fit a barrel. The bolt head is designed for the 303 rimmed case. The rim is 540 max dia. The rim and belt of most belted magnums is max 532, almost the same, and will work well with the SMLE extractor and ejector. Consider a 458 Winmag case trimmed down to the length of the 303 Brit to feed through the action, with a 500 grain cast or paper patched bullet in front of a stiff BP charge. BP Chamber pressures are very low. Low enough to fabricate cases if brass is not available. While MV would be modest, the 45 cal 500 grain bullet has high sectional density and thus BC. A very effective hunting weapon I reckon, for which ammo components might conceivably be free of official interference, and quite handy in a scrap. Only difficulty I can think of would be fixing the magazine to feed the cartridges. Probably better to make another mag.Where would one get a 458 barrel ? Make them of course. I don’t want to suggest that barrel making is a handyman job, but it’s not difficult once the tooling has been got right. There’s a wealth of info about how to do it with easily built inexpensive equipment. In any case, now that BP arms are deregulated there’s no problem making barrels for them, is there ? And once equipped and having developed the expertise, any barrel can be made.So hang on to SMLE actions or any other decent actions if you can find a way to do so, and don’t throw away brass no matter what calibre. You never know what you might have to do, like calibre conversions.Berdan cases are usually considered too much trouble. But Berdan primers are much easier to make. So the cases will be much more desirable. Don’t be too quick to throw them away.Same thing with 98 Mauser ? Why not, the action is long enough for the 458 Winmag as is. The conventional wisdom when converting the 98 to belted magnums is to open the bolt face to suit the case head. Opening a Mauser bolt face is less simple than the books would have you believe. For one thing these actions are case hardened. The case hardening is very thin in some rifles and it’s too risky to cut through it in a situation in which the rifle is a vital survival tool and can’t be replaced if irreparably damaged. Rather go the rebated rim route. Better to spend the effort to alter the cases than risk the rifle. Remember also that once converted to the belted magnum case the rifle can never be barrelled for the conventional cases like the 30-06.Rebating a case rim is a simple lathe job. There is then the matter of the magazine guide lips. Same problem, once converted to the bigger cartridge you are stuck with it. Rather use it as a single shot. That’s why the SMLE is a better bet for this 458 BP conversion. But the Mauser is more suitable for a lot of other things.These are just random thoughts as to where we might be headed and what we might have to do. Anyone else think the same ?[Originally posted to SATalkGuns -- Admin]