Sshhh…The folding single barrel .410

The folding single barrel .410 shotgun, I know I have mentioned them before. Normal rules apply with these things if you are in the UK. Is it safe to shoot and equally as importantly, can you legally own it on your shotgun certificate? I say this because so many of these things hover around 24″ barrel length and to comply with our UK firearms law the barrel must be 24″ or greater, not 600,0mm or longer and not 60cm or longer. 24″

OK, so you own one, it is safe to shoot and lawful to own so what can you do with it? Well shoot it of course! Beware as they are usually 2.5″ chamber or less so do not go stuffing 3″ 17 gram loads in it, however as a fun gun for rabbits or barn pigeons and clays of course, they are great.

But what about if it has a barrel less than 24″ in length? Well now it is classed as a Section 1 firearm and needs to be held accordingly.

You can always do something useful with one though. This one came in on a Section 2 shotgun certificate and careful measuring from the breech face to the end of the barrel put it right on the raggedy edge of Section 2. We advertised it for a while however we had no takers so it was left in the Armoury, awaiting a decision. As much as I do like these things I cannot keep every gun that comes in. They are either sold or used, not left in the corner of a cabinet.

Now I have to deal with animals involved in RTA’s (Road Traffic Accidents) I prefer to use a .410 shotgun as they are quick and humane, however walking through a housing estate with a gun over one shoulder in a high visibility vest does draw attention so I decided to haul the .410 out and do something with it.

The plan was to fit a permanently attached sound moderator that would not leave any doubt as to the length of the ‘Barrel’ plus it could be used for humane despatch. First job was to create a suitable sound moderator body and I opted for a cylinder from an Air Arms Carbine air rifle. They fill to 200 Bar (2900PSI) so more than adequate for the job and did a quick mock up to see how it felt and looked.

Nice, time to put the concept into practice.  I machined a threaded adapter that fitted nicely at the correct distance from the muzzle, fitted a muzzle cap to the new body and assembled everything on the gun. Everything still looked good, so the new threaded adapter was silver soldered onto the barrel and everything was pulled apart. I had already scrubbed the section of the barrel that would be inside the sound moderator, so I now drilled a series of 4,2mm holes at 30,0mm centres in 4 rows, offset by 15,0mm. Think of it as opposing holes every 30,0mm at Zero and 180 degrees and two more opposing rows at 90 and 270 degrees with these holes being centred between the other pair. The burrs were removed and the barrel blacked again by hand.

Onto the baffles. I had been mulling over many different ideas and ended up with aluminium mesh from Amazon. A sheet of mesh 3000x500mm costs under £14.00 (October 2020) and is enough for several goes.

As the outer tube is 300,0mm long externally, the mesh is around 250,0mm long. I cut it to length with scissors, then wrapped it tight to the barrel until it just fitted in to the tube and cut it to the length. I then wrapped the mesh back around the barrel and tried to assemble everything and failed as it was unwrapping itself from the barrel. So I wound it into a tube like a rolled up newspaper, pushed into the outer tube where it opened up slightly and allowed me to assemble everything with ease as the hole in the middle of the mesh was plenty big enough to allow easy assembly.

OK, so now I have a folding .410 shotgun that has a 2.5″ chamber and needs testing. Off to our designated test location we went and confirmed it was quite happy with the 2.5″ test loads. I also noted that it was incredibly quiet with a solitary test subsonic cartridge, however only 3″ subsonic cartridges are available here in the UK, so I was obviously going to have to make my own.

Back at the workshop I stripped everything down to clean and carefully inspect and was delighted to not see any signs of damage or pressure as I had expected. So I did some research on 2.5″ subsonic loads, realised the data was not really available so I ‘phoned a friend and he did the load development.

The load arrived upon used 2.5” Plastic case, Winchester 209 primers, Maxam CS5 powder, full size cork wad left untrimmed at 16mm, 16.7 grains #6 shot, a car wad and finished with a tight roll crimp.

So how does it shoot? Our sound meter tells me a supersonic factory 2.5″ 14 gram cartridge measured at 45 degrees back and at one meter is around 140 dB give or take a couple of dB. With the newly built subsonic loads we saw around typically 97-98 dB. This is with a load of 16,7 grams #6 shot and around 990fps. The load listed above uses no plastic components other than the case itself which can be reloaded several times.

I gave the case heads a wash with blue dye so I can clearly identify the subsonic loads.

What I will say is I strongly believe the sound reduction is down to the cartridges as much as the silencer and oddly, the tension on the crimp is as important as anything. Nick of NB Guns, who did the development tells me he did get some loads down to 700fps with no signs of over pressure so dependant on ambient temperature we can always slow/quieten things down a bit more if needed.

In practice, I can definitely hear the hammer drop at 90 degrees to the gun at 2m with our loads and I doubt you would really know what was going on from 25m away, which is about the length of a tennis court. Have I used it yet? Well I did shoot a clay with it the other day!

Final job was find something to put it in. We get many guns come in with old slips so I grabbed one from the pile, shortened it to suit, glued the end together with rubber adhesive and stitched it up. So now I can keep it safe and sound and pop it over my shoulder when needed.

Will I be building any more? Probably not. It was a design and build test as much as anything, it was intended to be built to a tight budget and hard cash outlay has been negligible. Instead it was mostly a spare time build, even the testing was added to an existing run out to test customer guns.

Will I be testing the gun with slug? Given the results I doubt I will take things any further. I have a lovely little gun that will serve the purpose it was built for, nothing more and nothing less.

Fitting and head spacing a barrel on a BSA International MkIII

The humble .22 BSA International target rifle, we have all shot or owned one and if not, hopefully you will one day.

This one is a MkIII with the floating barrel and it came in for a re-crown and re-time//head space the barrel. At some point the barrel had been twisted very slightly which was enough to cant the fore sight over, yet still operate correctly. The head space was also out. Now interestingly, there seems to be some mystique about these things and I remember reading on a forum quite recently that they were factory pressed together and could not be adjusted. OK, well here is one in bits on the counter so you can see how they come apart and the process is remarkably easy:

Drop the action parts out of the receiver and place them some where safe.

Remove the two knurled cap-head screws from the left hand side of the receiver, they are going to be tight so you have been warned!

Now pull the barrel out of the receiver, it might be quite a snug fit!

What I do is pop the barrelled actioned in the barrel vice (I use a 25000kg hydraulic press) I then flood the barrel tenon with Plus-Gas and make myself a coffee. I then attach my universal action wrench with masking tape or aluminium shims to protect the receiver.

Nip the wrench up very lightly, if you do it up tightly the receiver will tighten on the barrel tenon.

 

Now get hold of the action wrench and rotate/pull back and the receiver should detach from the barrel with a bit of effort.

I make my own wrenches and here are a couple of examples. They need to be robust as they do take a fair amount of abuse on occasions. The top one is the one I use most of the time for British Service rifles and the block with cut-out alongside is for SMLE rifles. Below is a wrench I mostly use for revolvers however it also does a good job on parallel sided receivers.

With luck, you should end up with something that looks a like the adjacent image.

Clean everything carefully and inspect, in this case it went into the lathe and was crowned.

OK, back in the vice, clock the front sight base to zero (Or use a precision level)

Now push the receiver onto the tenon and fit the two screws loosely, I usually nip them until the receiver will no longer rotate and back off a 1/4 turn. You should have a few degrees of rotation.

Fit the action internals ensuring everything has been thoroughly cleaned as we really do not need a piece of grit to mess up things right now.

Fit the GO head space gauge, push the receiver forward and ensure it is level, now nip the screws up and check everything. Did you fit the GO Gauge before fitting the receiver? Start again

Open the action keeping a hand over the load port or be prepared to spend an hour or so looking for your gauge.

Check with the NOGO and if all is good you can put the rifle back together.

One small detail, the fore end support is held in place by the front screw so you do have one last chance to mess things up, which, hopefully you will not.

So there you go, a BSA International MkIV stripped and head spaced.

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

Preparation for opening tomorrow 15th June 2020

Just a reminder that the plan continues for us to open tomorrow Monday 15th June 2020, albeit with some new rules in place. I say plan as this is entirely down to our Government and their final decision, however it is looking good right now.

We have a counter in place now, those of you that have visited in the past will know we are quite informal and we are one of the few places where you could walk in through the workshop doors and about the only hindrance was the workshop Labradors and a large container of jelly beans. This has had to change.

With the counter now segregating visitors from the workshop and bench areas I really did think we now had a reasonable barrier for the pups, however the yellow one cleared the counter in a single leap upon first introduction.

We have had words about this…

We have hand Gel and wipes available along with anti bacterial surface sprays, we will maintain a strictly one customer only at any one time and a 2m social distancing rule applies.  Hard surfaces are wiped down after every visit.

We have our own risk assessment for those of you that are interested.

We look forward to seeing you all very soon.

The M54S-430 revisited.

The .22LR tube gun has gained a bipod and different ‘scope.

I have been practising shooting this off-hand for LSR and despite being used to heavy rifles I have struggled with this for a variety of reasons so it was time for a change. Accuracy at 50m was superb so why not put it to the test a bit further out? A stud for the bipod was added as I really cannot be doing with a machine rest and the scope was swapped out for a sidewinder. I raised the cheek piece by adding 10mm spacers, yes fully adjustable for height would be nice however it would have added far too much weight and lets face it, once a rifle is set-up correctly it is seldom adjusted.

Final job was test the new set-up and it was a disaster, the POI was way out from the previous outing and I was starting to doubt myself, was it a problem with the rifle or is transporting it in a soft case in the back of a Defender not going to work?

So the rifle was ripped apart and everything checked with the rifle in a vice and a laser pointer used for reference. Starting from the back the butt assembly was removed, followed by the bolt and still no change to the erroneous POI, so I took the opportunity to clean the bore and bolt thoroughly (No issues) Before cracking off the action screws and at this point everything changed, the error was gone and normality resumed. So the action screws are back in and torqued to 4,5 Nm/40 ft lbs and it is ready to be tested at 200m this coming week.

So why the issue? Well having shot it the time before I ran around all of the fixings with a Hex key and found the two M6(F) action screws were not as tight as I would have liked, so I nipped them up like I would on the rear axle of a truck and there lies the issue. So, a somewhat obvious lesson learned and noted. The chassis design is finished now and what better of developing/writing the manual for it than getting out and shooting it?

The Marlin 7000 Target (AKA the ‘Boiled Sweet’)

Here is something you don’t see every day, a Marlin 7000T or 7000 Target, also immediately re-named the ‘Boiled sweet’ when the Viking spotted it for the first time.

 

 

These are quite scarce here in the UK, this one was built in 1999 according to the serial number and these things came with a heavy micro twist 18″ barrel and an ambidextrous laminated stock with three way adjustable butt stock. Combine this with a large hand swell and you get a stock that looks to be for a 9 year old that fits my 6’3″ frame as equally well as the Viking’s more petite 5’8″ without adjustment, looks truly can be deceptive. This particular rifle came in with 6 magazines and an 18x ‘scope so I can only assume it was used for plinking and Light Sport Rifle in a previous life.

First job was a complete strip and clean then get it out for zeroing and this is where the first issue showed. The barrel was very clean, the action however was grim, a typical un-cleaned semi automatic and adding insult to injury the bolt buffer crumbled away in 4 parts. That was going to be a problem if it was to be zeroed as the last thing I needed was a bolt rattling away inside the receiver. So I improvised with some super glue and duct tape, gave it a wipe over and put everything back together.  Interestingly, this rifle has a self colour aluminium trigger guard and the original guard was black. Also, the over-travel screw was not present so this guard is a replacement for whatever reason. I can soon add an over-travel screw once the rifle function was confirmed. Once everything was back together the trigger weight gauge was used and confirmed a reasonable 1.25kgs/2.75 lbs which is about half that of the Ruger 10/22 we have in the Armoury. Sooo, we have a rifle with a bull barrel, adjustable laminate stock, last round hold open, free fall magazines and an 18X ‘scope all for less than the price of an after-market trigger for a 10/22, I can see someone is going to be happy 🙂

Last job of the day was place an order for a replacement buffer.

Friday, the rifle zeroed and cycled virtually flawlessly on Eley Club (One fail to feed) On CCI HP Subs it was perfect, so a couple of hundred rounds through with both deliberate and rapid fire and a 50 metre zero set. Accuracy is around 1 MOA at 50m/55 yards and will probably improve with different ammunition.

Amazingly the buffer arrived Saturday morning so I stripped the trigger completely and cleaned it properly.  You can see the new buffer next to the original complete with duct tape, it had worked for a couple of hundred rounds and was still intact so I guess this is a reasonable short term fix if you ever end up with a shattered buffer.

The triggers come apart very easily as the two sides are held together with 2,3mm/3-32″  ‘E’ Clips. I had none in stock so ordered 50 for under £2.50 delivered to replace the originals at some point. ‘E’ Clips are sprung and do not fair well when replaced a few times so just replace them.

TIP – The pin the buffer sits on is handed so make sure you replace it the way it came off. If in doubt, the slightly longer end holds the magazine lever in place.

So that is the rifle tested, cleaned and zeroed and ready for whatever the future holds for it.