China and Chinese products.

I doubt there is a single person reading this that has not been impacted in some way by Covid-19 over the past few months. Recorded deaths here in the UK hover at just under 1,000 people a day (10/04/2020) People that we know, or know of has died. This pandemic has brought out the very best and sadly, the very worst in people these last weeks. Daily I see images and read articles about our NHS, emergency and armed services that make me both incredibly proud and horrified in unequal doses. They are having to endure horrific conditions and crushing working hours as they try and save lives and are struggling for the very basics of personal protective equipment due to a faltering supply chain.

Let’s take a closer look at the PPE being supplied, a significant proportion is being sourced from outside of our little island. Some from the European countries and some from as far afield as China, allegedly the source of this Corona virus variant.

Equally, I am sure we have all seen or read of PPE failures and shoddy quality. Maybe not on the BBC however look further for news sources and the evidence is irrefutable and I am appalled that China allows and even condones such actions from their suppliers.

Well, we have had enough of this and have decided to make a stand in a tiny and insignificant way by no longer purchasing or using Chinese products as far as possible. Yes, I know this is virtually unworkable, however we are going to do it.

I am not being xenophobic, nor racist, nor do I dislike foreigners (I am married to one after all!) Or anything else, I am simply going to make a small stand against the giant that is China. Starting now, here at the Shooting Shed we intend to be a Chinese product free company. We will not knowingly purchase any product produced wholly or partly in China. Furthermore, we will ask our suppliers to confirm the country of origin of the part we are purchasing. This includes machinery, raw materials, cutting inserts, tool holders, nuts and bolts and even the disposable gloves we use for polishing and inspection. Everything in fact that we use in the workshop will be closely scrutinised in future.

It also applies to clothing and domestic products we use. Also to all shooting products without exception. Our products will not only proudly be designed and made in the UK, they will also be made as far as practicable, without Chinese products.

You may think I am over reacting, or this approach is a nonsense and unworkable, however I believe China is culpable for the levels of this pandemic and I am going to boycott them.

So you have some choices now, either agree and support our approach, or shake your head in disbelief and source your products elsewhere, if you do go for option two, well I really do not care. Adopt our ethos and we thank you from the very bottom of our hearts.

Next time you are shopping, just pause to read the label of the product you pick up, maybe put it back on the shelf if it says Made in China, or PRC or similar. Make a stand in a tiny way and support our UK manufacturers and products instead of saving a few pence and sending your hard earned money outside of our country.

…and why am I telling you this? Because you need to know.

Now wash your hands.

.303 Throat Gauges

We all know someone with a .303 rifle, or own one ourselves.

In fact I believe all new FAC holders should get out and shoot one at some point, just because. I have a modest collection of 303 Sporting and military rifles, including Lee Speed and postwar No1Mk3 commercial examples here in the armoury along with later ones such as the 1920 Lithgow below.

One thing I can usually say about the .303 rifle is it will have been shot, usually shot a lot and accuracy does suffer after a while. Now accuracy is not always a good reason to buy a rifle and I have rifles here that will not shoot a hand span group at a 100 yet they are keepers, equally I have worked with rifles capable of shooting tiny groups at extremely long distances that have left me cold.

For me, the majority of .303s are usually very special rifles and to find one that shoots is even better, so how to determine if the rifle in your hands is going to shoot? Well range time is the simple answer, however you can also check a few areas before taking the rifle out and bore and throat erosion are always good places to start. A careful peer up a barrel tells you a lot however a shiny bore is not always a good bore and if the throat has disappeared 3/4″ up the barrel you are always going to chase accuracy. So I made some throat gauges for just this reason and here is a prototype and an early version.

Use is very simple, just remove the bolt and drop the gauge into the chamber. The amount of the relieved section visible gives an instant indication of throat erosion. This is not an absolute measurement and just because the throat has gone does not mean the rifle should be put back in the rack, however if you gauge two identical looking rifles and one swallows the gauge you know which one to test shoot first.

So there you go, one small area to check when considering a .303 purchase. I should probably sit down and write a book of such tips however not all of them are going to interest people.

….so why am I telling you this? Because you need to know.

We are still accepting on-line orders.

Here at the Shed we are in as close to a complete lock down as possible due the onslaught of C-19 against our country (UK)

However we are still accepting on-line orders and shipping them without any major issues. Unfortunately, we cannot take on any additional gun work unless it can be proven to be absolutely critical as we must keep face to face meetings as close to zero as possible.

I am sure these restrictions will pass with time and we will all be able to get out again and do all the things we are currently missing. Right now, I am missing our Salt Marsh walks with the dogs and fish and chips from the chippy at Saltfleet!

Please take care, whatever you are doing and wherever you are. Keep social interaction to an absolute minimum, keep a safe distance if you have to go out and stay safe.

M54S – Paint it black

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.

 

 

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

From today, Thursday 19th March 2020 the Shooting Shed will no longer be accepting visitors for any reason other than to drop off or collect firearms for repairs. Such visits will be by prior arrangement only and such visits will be kept as brief as possible.

These precautions are being taken to protect both those who visit and our workforce.

This does in no way impact our manufacturing and we will continue to operate our e-commerce site and ship our complete range of shiny products and accessories.

Obviously we will reverse this decision the moment things settle down and normality resumes.

Take care.

David