Artisanal Gunmaking, No compromises, No corners cut, EVER

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Yet Another Model 70

Remember that bolt that looked like it was "decorated" with a Dremel tool held in a running paint-shaker?  Well, here's the rest of the story (as the late, great Paul Harvey would say).

The owner of this "big-name custom" rifle was less than thrilled with some of the incongruities that it sported: things like express sights on a pencil-barreled .270 that is clearly stocked for a scope, and an express-style barrel-mounted front swivel base.  Other issues were: a stock that was shaped like a very chunky but well-used bar of soap, a too-short forend (actually just far too "fat") and bottom metal that was used "right-out-of-the-box", with no attention given to contouring whatsoever.  The owner also could not abide a recoil pad and ebony forend cap without a spur or "widow's peak" (hey, I don't make up these terms).

So settle in, it's going to be a long one.

The rifle, as it came:  note the generally bloated proportions of the stock.  The nose of the comb also looked very unsightly with the heavily rounded shape and the sorta-flutes.

The toe-line is far higher than the bottom-line of the stock.  This will be corrected (with much work).

The comb is very, shall we say, "full"?  Neither side is remotely flat either, the outward bow is obvious.  The top of the comb was just as outwardly bowed, giving the look of an over-inflated tire. Also, the heel of the pad is left unshaped, which is all too common and just smacks of laziness.

Ever see the toe and underside of a military Mauser 98?  They are literally as wide as the heel.  Apparently, that was the inspiration for this stock.  Notice also the completely cock-eyed installation of what may be the ugliest swivel base ever conceived.

The entire butt was slimmed down, the cheekpiece flattened, thumbhole and comb nose altered, the grip-to-receiver area (top and bottom) required much work and the entire top edge of the action/barrel channel was straightened.  This shot shows a couple of those areas that needed attention.

Here is what I found under the sight bases.  This is what happens when parts are directly soldered, using acid-based flux, instead of tinning both parts first and using rosin to assemble.  But hey, time is money, right?  Yes, the barrel was pitted under the sight bases.  Yes, it was corrected.

Part of raising the bottom-line of the stock involved "sinking" the bottom metal deeper into the wood.  This would also allow the depth of the forend to be reduced.  Here, the bottom metal has been sunk and the reshaping of the forend has begun (that is why the metal is beveled).  As I said this bottom metal was used as it came from the supplier.  Take a look at the floorplate hinge.  Nice, huh?

I think this looks a bit better.

The floorplate's contours left a bit to be desired.  I ended up taking almost .060 of an inch off the entire part.

The triggerguard bow was next.  The guard bow is supplied with much material everywhere.

With the bottom metal and forend shaped up, I replaced the ebony forend cap next.  Removing the old one turned out to be an interesting exercise, since it was held in place with epoxy and a 1/4-20 stud and nut.  Secure?  Yes.

Next up were the swivel bases.  Removing the front base from the barrel wasn't quite as easy as the sight bases because the swivel base was silver-brazed in place.  So I machined the majority off and hand filed the rest.  I wanted something that would look good and cover the inletting of the original rear base.  So I made these up.

That's the major stuff.  Lots of detail items were taken care of in preparation for finishing.  This includes polishing, turning ornamental raised borders on the action screws, more polishing, taking care of the bolt from the prior post, etc.  After checkering the grip panels and forend, I finished the stock in actual oil (a slow, laborious process that never seems worth it, until it's done, then you see that it is worth it), the major metal components are rust blued and I charcoal blued the small stuff like screws, swivel bases, etc.  Here are some photos of the finished job.  And to the "custom gunmaker", whose name is still on the barrel:  You're welcome.

Here is the "quick version".