Every Workshop needs one…

I am slowly becoming quite a fan of Bell Target and spent a few hours trying to put the bell target into the 21st century with an Arduino micro controller and accelerometer with reasonable results. The principle being when the pellet goes through the middle a series of bright LED lamps light and a sounder makes a noise, 2.5 seconds later it resets and you can carry on.

Well that is all well and good however I missed the clang of the bell and someone walking forward to reset the target so I ordered a ‘proper’ Bell Target end of last week and here it is in place in the workshop with the eighteen foot mark taped to the floor alongside my desk, so I can literally stand up, grab a suitable .177 rifle and shoot to my hearts content.

For paint I ordered some Titanium Dioxide powder which make a great never drying paint when mixed with baby oil (Liquid paraffin) Right now I am using an old tube of white oil paint mixed with anti fouling black powder lube and a dash of gun oil which also seems to work nicely as well. Next thing is to get some practice days booked at our team’s pub and get ready for the forth coming season.

Happy days 🙂

Rear Bag Riders for the Tikka T3 Tac A1

We have just finished a run of these in standard and lightweight options.

As ever the plate is 6082 vapour honed black anodised aluminium and this one has the ‘competition’ carbon fibre tube so overall weight is under 150 grams, whereas the standard is closer to 200 grams.


Do bear in mind the carbon tube is not as robust as the standard aluminium tubed version, having said that they seem to stand up to a lot of abuse, I just would not jump up and down on one of them!

We also build the RBR for all Accuracy International models including the competition special at 99 grams. Also covered are the Sako TRG 21/22 & 41/42 models plus a variety of standard T3 models.

Also, due back from the anodisers very shortly are rear bag rider brackets for the GRS range of rifle stocks in both standard and light weight versions which look really good when fitted to a GRS stocked rifle.

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!

At the range with the Schmidt Rubin Infanteriegewehr Modell 1911

We had planned on taking a few rifles to the range Christmas day however by the time I had faffed around reloading we were out of time so we had a Boxing day trip instead and one of the rifles to come with us was the SR Model 1911. First job was load some ammunition and this was the part that delayed me. Not because it is difficult to load as it is a very easy process, instead it was my choice of reloading dies…

I knew I had some once fired brass on the shelf however it had been fired in the Vikings 1896/11 so needed to be full length resized and here was the problem in that the only dies we have are Lee collet type which means they size the neck only and do not bump the shoulder back which meant the brass was not chamber once neck sized, obviously the chamber of the 1896/11 was longer which had me scratching my head however the Viking soon put her hands on 35 shiny new Prvi cases that had been primed already and even by eye the difference in length from case head to shoulder/neck junction was obvious and more to the point the new unfired brass chambered perfectly.

Next step was choice of bullet and I opted for the 155 grain Scenar, I did have to hunt around for them as I mostly have the likes of 155 Type L and Berger Hybrids on the shelf and they were probably an overkill for the rife especially as it was a shoot and load test outing at best. I was tempted to load with the 170 Lockbase however given the factory COAL is 77,7mm I would not have a lot of bearing surface being held by the neck so Scenar it was.

With a choice of bullet I could select my powder which was Vihtavuori N140 which is always dependable in similar cartridges with this weight of bullet.

Quickload tells me 41 grains of N140 should give around 2580 fps with the 31.7″ barrel and my reloading book suggested 41 grains was indeed a safe load and good start point so 35 rounds were loaded and the rifle was good to go.

First round down a new to me rifle is always interesting and I always wear safety glasses along with ear protection. Initial reaction was wow, not a huge recoil and an intact rifle so after a quick inspection I completed a group of 5 rounds and checked the target, 5 holes in the same general area so all good however I had noticed two things. The brass is ejected vertically and was being thrown over my head and behind me and when retrieved was displaying some significant dents in the neck.

Even with a spotter to catch the brass before it hit the ground it was still showing dents so it was the rifle ejection process as opposed to the landing that was the culprit. I have since been advised to be less forceful when pulling the bolt back and this should be prevented.

I did entice the Viking over to the Schmidt Rubin and she put one round down range before pulling a face and handing it back, odd how I think it is a mild recoiling rifle and she says it thumps, could be down to padding and it could be a gender or anatomy thing. Of course it could also be that she was spoilt by shooting the 5,56×45 in the Dansk Army followed by heavy and/or mildly recoiling centre fire rifles and her recent time spent with Rimfires 🙂

What about accuracy? Well I did not measure the group however I would say around 7MOA shot off hand with impacts slightly high which would be down to my sight picture. Thinking about it, this is the first time I have shot a centre fire rifle since my eye operation and I had no issues whatsoever with a clear target and foresight blade although the back sight was a tad more blurred than I would have hoped for. Regardless of this I could see and hit the target 🙂

Regarding the 7MOA,  I would hope to halve this off my elbows with some load development and some warmer weather. One thing that is worth mentioning is the trigger, it has an odd curve to the blade that when first used would suggest it has been bent at some point however this is normal and after a long first stage the second stage is remarkably light for a battle rifle, probably just under a couple of pounds although I would need to confirm this with the scales.

Whilst on the subject of accuracy, yes I do remember the famous Townsend Whelen quote “Only accurate rifles are interesting” however I would argue that this was an accurate rifle in its day and now 100 years later it will probably do quite well and I suspect working up to around 43 grains of N140 will give reasonable results and better replicate the issued GP11 ammunition at around 2680fps and regardless of if it shoots 3MOA or 1MOA it is a fine old battle rifle and certainly worthy of a place in the Armoury.

On a separate note I need a M1911 rifle sling so if anyone knows of such a thing please do let me know.

Well today is a sort of work day so I had best get on.

Chamber Stubs

Here in the UK a chambered and threaded barrel is a licensable item and as such needs to be kept under lock and key. This means unless I destroy barrels as I remove/replace them they need to be locked away and barrels take up space. I tend to chop the barrel through the chamber so rendering it incapable of being used in its current state, thirty seconds on the band saw and I have a handy piece of stainless and an off-cut for the scrap bin however there are occasions when the chamber end of the barrel might come in useful.

One application is confirming fit of the nose section of a new cleaning rod guide and on such occasions I could just chop the barrel just in front of the chamber. The downside is I would now have a problem as in theory I am now in possession of a chambered and threaded barrel with length less than 12 inches/300,0mm so rendering it a Section 5 component.

StubsTo prevent myself becoming eligible for a significant stretch in prison I machine the thread off, part the barrel off at the desired length and then tidy the whole thing up so it looks like these examples. Now I have a easily accessed test gauge that does not need locking away, plus if a customer has a question about a chamber and cartridge it is an easy way of showing them what things look like without resorting to bore scopes and drawings. The interesting part is just how many people spot the chamber stubs on my desk and pick them up regardless of why they are visiting us 🙂