More revolver work

I am back on revolver work for a bit now. I know it always sounds odd to people to hear that we have and can hold such things here in the UK however we can and have a thriving revolver community over here however not quite as they used to be…

To legally hold a cartridge firing revolver such as a .357 Mag on a Section 1 FAC you need to satisfy one very important condition, namely the overall length is not less that 24″ and the barrel is not less than 12″ Obviously there are a few more requirements to keep things legal however this is the key one and indeed applies to all Section 1 Firearms with the occasional exception such as some Section 1 shotguns which must not be less than 24″ barrel and 40″ overall length, oh and muzzle loading revolvers however I am straying from the original reason for this article so let’s leave the specifics of our laws to another day.

Sooo… Revolvers.

Remember the universal revolver wrench I made a few days ago, well here it is in use. First image is a Taurus .44 and the second is a Ruger with the barrel firmly clamped in our 25 Ton hydraulic barrel press, I find it so much easier to use this as opposed to the more typical clamp type barrel vices as it means I can do the job without resorting to hand tools if I need to rotate or relocate the barrel.

Here is the wrench in use again, this time on a Taurus .44 which was in for a variety of jobs including re-cut and polish of the forcing cone and a thorough de-leading.

One of the jobs on the list was to remove the UK legal wrist brace (Remember the 12″/24″ law I mentioned above, well to get the revolver to 24″ a wire wrist brace is added. This is a great idea however the brace wire is held in place by a couple of pressure crimps which you can see quite clearly bottom right of the grip frame just to the right of the peg. These seem to relax with time and the whole brace starts to rotate and rattle. The other issue is the brace itself is easily bent out of shape and in theory it is very easy to bend it to a stage where the overall length of the firearm becomes less than 24″ so rendering it unlawful.

The process to resolve this is as follows:

Remove the crane and cylinder, the crane being the part that hinges out and supports the cylinder and it was here that I came across the first issue, the crane simply pulled out when un-latched which meant the plunger behind the third screw had failed. The factory fits a detent plunger and spring which is not great, the easiest solution is fit a longer hardened steel pin radiused at one end and without the spring, problem resolved.

Next remove the grips and finally the barrel. At this stage I remove the wire brace and the frame is placed in a jig on the mill. I drift the peg out and run a 6mm carbide end mill down through the frame so removing the remaining stub of the brace. I then run an 8mm carbide end mill down through the same hole for a depth of 3,0mm which gives a nice counter bore for the new counter weight rod which is 8,0mm diameter reduced to 6,05mm for the final 20,0mm.

Now it is simply a matter of thoroughly cleaning both the end of the counter weight rod and the inside of the grip frame, push the two parts together and Tig weld them together through the hole left by the peg. I do this on both sides and I can safely say the new extension is never going to come off  unless you resort to an angle grinder and/or hacksaw.

Finally the barrel is replaced, followed by the cylinder and grips and it is back as it should be. Time taken including a thorough service, de-lead and forcing cone and make the parts is typically around 4.0 to 4.5 hours depending on what else I find.

I can fairly confidently say this is the worst Taurus I have ever worked on when it comes to carbon fouling, the whole thing was covered in burnt on carbon in every conceivable place. It was absolutely awful.

Whilst on the subject of revolvers, this one was ready for some load development for the customer and I suspect I have a good load after a fair amount of testing however it is very difficult to find out just how accurate something is when the front sight falls off on the second shot, in fact it was not until I went to take the third shot that I noticed something was missing. Yup the front sight had fallen off. It had originally been epoxied on and not particularly well by the look of it. I could always scrape the epoxy off and glue it back on again however I much prefer to drill and tap the barrel and screw the front sight base and blade back in place and be confident it will not drop off again at a future point.

A universal revolver wrench

We do a fair amount of revolver work here and I have always used a flat ended rifle action wrench if the barrel needs to come off, however it is heavy and cumbersome and not ideally suited to the lighter frames of the revolver so time to design and build one for myself.

Designing a revolver frame wrench is not exactly rocket science and in its simplest form it is just a length of metal with another bit that can be bolted to it and the frame is sandwiched between the two parts, usually with a bolt through the trigger loop and above the top strap and maybe one in the middle.

Of course the spacing for the bolts does tend to vary from model to model which is something to incorporate into a universal design. Also I wanted the ability to add shaped spacers for unusual things and it needed a comfortable grip.

A few minutes on the computer and a concept had been created. I tend to use Sketchup quite a lot for simple 2D designs such as this as I can export them as a DXF file for the CNC machine albeit in a vastly simplified form as the CNC I use only understands profiles and only across one edge. Incidentally, Sketchup is still free to download and use in the basic version and this does include full 3D modelling and it is incredibly easy to use.

With the material cut to length it was popped into the machine. You will notice I am not using a steady and there is a fair lump of material extending from the chuck that is not being machined. The reason for this stick out is very simple, the machine is currently set-up with a collet chuck which will only accept a maximum of 26,0mm diameter material. I could have swapped to the 3 jaw however my back is not great right now so I opted to machine a 25,0mm tenon on one end using the smaller lathe and then into this one for profiling.

I ran two programs, one for roughing out to +0,025mm of the final profile and one for finishing. I normally generate a program that does both roughing and finishing so time to try something new.

One issue with profiling without a steady over such a length is chatter and I ran the finish cuts at 1750 rev/minute as it seemed to give the best result.

Next job was back into the small lathe (Colchester Chipmaster) and the tenon was machined off, then into the Bridgeport and the flat section for the clamp surface machined followed by drilling and tapping the holes ready to accept the upper section. The wrench uses high tensile M8 button head screws  to hold the two parts together and this should give me more than enough clamping pressure without fear of ripping screws out. In fact I usually just nip the screws up so they do not deform or damage the part being held.

The final operation was drill the clearance holes for the upper, give it a quick clean up and assemble and yes, it works and feels right which is what I wanted. Time to put it to use!

Saiga 12 gas piston – The small jobs always count

Friday and I am catching up on the small jobs whilst waiting for some tool steel to arrive and an early job for the day was this Saiga 12 which is best explained with some pictures over a cup of coffee.

This was the gas piston connection to the bolt carrier on a Saiga 12 that was wobbling badly. Saiga simply screw the gas piston in and then stake it and it is never ideal.

The stakes are clearly visible in this image  you can see how much thread is hanging out of the end of the carrier.

First job is drill the stakes out and unscrew the piston, everything is then tidied up and I use a very high temperature adhesive to bond the piston to carrier which is screwed in until tight. Wait 24 hours for the adhesive to set. Now at this point I have to say I am always slightly wary of this as everything needs to be fairly well aligned however this is an accepted modification so on with the job.

Drill through with a 4,2mm drill and add a countersink to either end. The holes where I had drilled out the stakes lined up perfectly proving attention to detail always pays dividends.


Then it is just a matter of machining a pin to suit with a suitable countersunk head at one end. I always go for a tight fit and check this on the machine before the pin is removed as it is always easier to take another fine cut if required.

With fit confirmed the pin is pushed into place and the ends peened over.



The final job is to file the ends of the pin flush with a light emery to complete and the job is done and I defy you to spot where the pin is 🙂

Well that is my coffee finished and another couple of jobs booked in so I had better make a start on the next job which involves a Ruger Precision Rifle.

Firing Pins

The thing about firing pins is you ideally need one as a sample if you are going to make a replacement, if however half the pin is missing and what is left was a less than perfect copy it is time to start from scratch.

So here it is, a dummy top firing pin for a Laurona O/U shotgun that actually fits, now I have to make the final item. CNC comes in handy at this point however a sliding head machine would be even nicer.

It always makes me smile when people ask me what I do for a living and reply ‘WOW – that must be interesting’ Well yes it is always interesting however it is not always glamorous and I often find myself having to make small items for rifles or shotguns or most recently revolvers.

Which reminds me, I need to make a universal action wrench for revolvers as I originally designed the one I use for rifle work so it had to be large, robust and capable of taking a short length of scaffold pole over the end. Yes, I did say scaffold pole and believe me when I say you have not lived until you have had to resort to undercutting the barrel where it fits against the receiver and you still needed a 4′ length of pipe and a fair amount of weight to get it to unscrew. The Mosin Nagant and Enfield variants can be notoriously tight and you really must use the correctly sized wrench if you are not to distort the receiver on some rifles.

So the wrench design, well a length of 30,0mm  Bright Mild Steel (EN1) is fine for the main handle and a length of 30,0mm x  12,5mm flat EN3 is fine for the top clamp. Add some leather for the faces and a series of holes with the lower tapped M8 should cover most applications I will ever look at. The temporary tenon is because I want to profile the handle on the CNC and it is currently set up with a collet chuck. Given the current state of my back I reckon it is easier to stick the bar stock in a 3 jaw on the smaller lathe, turn to 25,0mm diameter and I can then pop it into the big lathe and profile the handle with ease.  Yes I know it is a bit posh to have a nicely shaped handle however this wrench should see me out and I plan on doing this for a good few years yet so I might as well make it look and feel nice. I might even blue it when finished 🙂

Why the choice of EN1 and EN3 BMS? Well it is what I have on the rack so I may as well use it. I could have used stainless however that is just way to shiny and my choice of materials should be more than ample for this particular application.

The colours are for you the reader with the sort of washed out brownish red being the leather pads.

The drawing serves as a reference however I can flip it by 180 degrees, remove the dimensions and milled section and convert it to DXF format which means I can then run it through another programme and then upload it to the Harrison which will do the profiling whilst I watch with a cup of coffee in one hand. Actually I doubt I will have made the coffee by the time it is finished!

Once profiled I will bung it back in a 3 jaw, machine the tenon off and it is ready for the milling and drilling operations.

About all I need now is the leather strips, the Viking is currently flatly refusing to donate one of her handbags however I am sure she will come round to my way of thinking, especially as I know she is looking at another SOWR…

T3x TAC A1 rear bag rider.

I seem to be very quiet on the Journal front, a combination of two new Labrador puppies and a load of rifle and revolver work is keeping us both very occupied and it is probably 10 days since we were at the Salt Marshes which also means I am starting to pine for the Saltfleet chip shop. The dogs however are quite happy as they are getting lots of local walks and the pups who spend a fair amount of their time in the workshop are getting used to new noises and people and seem to be taking it in their strides.

We have been working on some shiny parts and this week was a mix of OAL gauges and comparators along with a new rear bag rider.

People have been asking about a bag rider for the new Tikka TAC chassis system so here it is. 6082 Aluminium with A4 stainless screws so it is not going to rust any time soon. The plate is vapour honed and hard anodised and the rider tube is polished as they seem to track better with this finish. It will be added to our shop very shortly. Weight is around 165 grams for those of you shooting on a diet.

On the subject of OAL gauges someone recently pointed out our gauge did not fit his DTA Bullpup which set me thinking… So coming shortly is a new longer OAL gauge suitable for Bullpups, 50 cals and rifles with very long actions. The new OAL gauge will be 50,0mm longer which should cover all bases and as ever will be of all 316 Stainless construction. We can also supply the gauges with a removable rear end and supply bushings specifically for your rifle action to support the rear end.

I have not really thought about the price however I am sure the Viking will take a view on this once she has to start cleaning the things post polishing 🙂