It is nigh on 4 weeks since I last mentioned the M54S project and only 5 weeks since its concept. Sadly, many things have changed in the last 5 weeks and not all for the good. Work has slowed for us and many rifle ranges and gun clubs are now closed here in the UK which does free up some time to wrap up long term projects and the m54S-430 was near the top of the list.
One thing we realised was no matter how much I worked on the chassis it was always going to be front heavy which is not good for a rifle that is to be shot off-hand (Standing) So out came a 6,0mm carbide bull nose cutter and 7 flutes later the barrelled action has shed exactly 450 grams.
Note to self, order two cutters next time, it was certainly not as happy towards the end of the fluting as at the start. Plus, it would have been bad news if I had snapped the cutter and had to wait a couple of days for a replacement as I had no more in stock.
One issue we both noticed was the poor old 3-9×40 Hawke ‘scope would not focus at the required 20 yards for LSR so I wound the objective out by around 4,0mm to get it to focus and interestingly, it also worked quite well at 50 metres however the ‘scope is on the list of things to be binned in favour of a slightly higher magnification alternative which I am yet to decide upon.
Time for some statistics:
Excluding the ‘scope and rings: 3786 grams.
The complete chassis excluding the barrelled action: 1096 grams.
All up weight including ‘scope and rings with a standard AR grip : 4235 grams.
Add a more vertical wooden grip: 4335 grams.
My view is I can still drop another 100 grams with ease, if not more. As well as the fluting I have changed the ‘scope rail. It was originally set at zero MOA and I knew this was going to be an issue further along the line so I sat down and machined 75MOA rail, then cut the necessary gap for the load/eject port to maintain the correct angle and screwed it into place. The excess of tube has also been removed. I am 6’-3″ with a long neck so I reckon if it fits me it will fit anyone and the length of pull can easily be shortened with a 3,0mm Hex key.
I also added some paint, matt black for the barrel and satin black for the rest with stainless fixings other than the HT screws for the receiver.
Finally, did it shoot after the fluting? Too right it did! This group was shot at 50 metres with Eley Club resting on a squeeze bag and at 9x magnification.
So the fluting has not made any difference to the accuracy for my level of shooting. Incidentally, that 75MOA rail should get this rifle out to 400+ yards and I have every intention of trying it at some point.
So what did I learn? Well lots of course! boring the required depth of tube for the receiver was a nightmare and I will use a 30,0mm parallel reamer next time. I would also change the tube port aesthetics and the fluting as well with 8 flutes being my preference.
The secondary tube holding the Kydex cheek piece is currently 25,4mm diameter and I would reduce it to 22,0mm to bring the cheek piece down slightly. I could not actually get a decent sight picture with the original Warne rings and went to a higher set of unknown make with the extra 2,5mm ish making a huge difference.
There is always a bit of a ‘ping’ on centre fire tube chassis when shot, not so with the little .22LR.
Other than the above there are a couple of small cosmetic changes I would implement and that is about it.
It was fun.
I think I will call it a day now on this project, time for us to shoot and enjoy the rifle and look to future projects. Did I mention I have a lovely 1920 dated Coach Wood Lithgow No1Mk3* here that I really must get out and shoot and it is only in the last couple of weeks that I have been out with the very early version Smith Corona 1903A3 we have here.
So many things to do, spring is here and summer must only be around the corner.
Take care all.