Craft Gunmaking, No compromises, No corners cut, EVER

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Things You Hear, Part 1: General Nonsense

There are so many myths and so much just plain bullshit in the gun world and it simply refuses to go away.  So in the interest of disposing of some of it, I'm going to address some of those myths and some of that BS here.  There is surely enough to make this a regular series, to say nothing of the brand-specific BS.

I'll start the list with my personal favorite.

Everybody with a buffing wheel, a Dremel tool and a Brownell's catalog thinks they do it.  The ones that ACTUALLY do it own neither a buffing wheel nor a Dremel tool and I, personally, rarely (almost never) order anything from Brownell's.  Possibly the most misused word in all of the gun world.  If you restore Rugers, the above does not apply.

"Mint Condition":
The second and third most misused words in the gun world.  I prefer to use the dictionary definition versus the gun dealer's/seller's definition, which apparently allows for repairs, refinishing and other assorted deviations from the actual meaning of the phrase.

"As Far As I Know...":
The gun dealer's/seller's "get out of jail free" phrase.  Typically used thusly:  "As far as I know, those 18-inch barrels are original, probably rare", or, "As far as I know, it's a real A1 Parker", or the ever popular "As far as I know, it's all original".  If you hear this phrase, beware.  What it really means (usually) is "I do know but I'd rather make the sale".

"I Had a Local Shop/Guy Do It":
This is a common answer to the question: "Who the #$%^&* did this?!!"

"Hand Rubbed Finish":
This DOES NOT mean slathering Tru-Oil (or whatever) on a stock with your hand like a preschooler fingerpainting.  "Hand rubbed" means the same thing in wood finishing as it means when referring to a paint job on a car.  It means that each coat and the final coat is polished, by hand and using blocks and appropriate abrasives, in order to level the finish between coats and impart the chosen level of gloss on the final coat.  A hand rubbed finish can be brushed on, sprayed on, mopped on, dipped, it doesn't really matter.  It can be oil, lacquer, varnish, paint, shellac, etc. What matters is what is done between applications and after the final application.

"Seven Pin Sidelock":
This utterly meaningless term is a favorite of advert copy writers for Turkish gun companies and self-styled "experts" on all things doublegun.  The number of exposed pins in a sidelock gun's lockplate have absolutely no correlation to the quality of the gun, period.  Here is a short list of some of the best guns made in the world and the number of visible pins in their locks.

- Fabbri Over/Under, either 0 or 6
- Boss Over/Under, 6
- Fratelli Rizzini Over/Under, 1
- Fratelli Rizzini R1 SLE, 0-4
- Purdey Over/Under, 8
- Purdey Beesley SLE, 8

Think your Turkish side by side is a "best" because it has "seven pin" locks?  It's not.  The number of pins has only to do with the design of the lockwork, nothing more.

"High" and "Low" Brass Shells:
The height of the brass base of a shotshell has zero correlation to the chamber pressure, at all, period.
Shotshell pressure depends upon variables like hull internal volume and powder burn rate, not the height of the exposed brass.  Remember Active shotshells?  They had NO brass.

"Light Target Loads":
Most big-box target loads are only light in the recoil department.  Many of them generate pressures of 11-12 KPSI.  Remember, chamber pressure and recoil have no correlation.  The next time you think, "It's OK, I'll just use light target loads", maybe reconsider and use shells for which your gun is proofed.

Measuring Pull Length:
Common "wisdom" has the shooter put the butt into the crook of their arm (at the elbow) and determine their "proper" pull length by noting where their trigger-finger lands.  This is total nonsense, unless you actually shoot the gun that way.  What you want is about an inch to an inch and a half between your thumb knuckle and the tip of your nose when the gun is properly mounted.  Better to err on the long side as too short will make you lift your head.  And no, a fourteen and a half inch pull length is not "really long" unless you're a member of the Lollipop Guild or you have arms like  T-Rex.

"Relaxing Springs":
A spring's lifespan is measured in the number of cycles it will perform and the number of cycles is determined by its design, the choice and quality of the material used and the quality of its manufacture.  It's funny that everybody worries about "relaxing" the mainsprings for storage but no one gives a thought to the ejector mainsprings, which are always compressed unless the ejectors are tripped.  In actual use, a spring is never really "relaxed" since they are always installed with a considerable amount of preload.  So in reality, if you're the type to always drop the hammers for storage, you're actually "using up" the finite number of cycles that make up the spring's lifespan.  Don't worry about the springs and relax yourself.

"Water Table":
 I have no idea where this idiotic term came from.  They're either action flats or frame flats, the water table is under your house, where your well is drilled into.  Nobody has a problem calling the barrel flats by their proper and sensible name.  Maybe we should start calling them the "lawn", since they are above the "water table". 

 "Rabbit Ears":
They're hammers.  Don't sound like an illiterate moonshiner.

This is one that makes my ears bleed. Unless your parents are brother and sister, please don't refer to sidelocks as "sidekicks".  

Oh Jeez.

Next time, maybe some brand-specific mythology.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Joseph Harkom & Son 20 Bore Hammergun

  This Harkom 20 bore hammergun was tarted-up and "repaired" for resale by a party that won't be named but, I will detail the complete lack of anything resembling correct workmanship used in the repair.

To start, not all steels are satisfactorily weldable, this includes the oil-hardening varieties.  This fact did not stand in the way of the "gunsmith" attempting to repair the left tumbler precisely by that method.  The welded tumbler was discovered when the left lock was disassembled to remove the broken remains of the hammer screw, the head of which had fallen off.  After examining the broken screw, two things became apparent.  One was a noticeable amount of some sort of epoxy around the tumbler shank, the other was evidence of attempts at prior removal of the broken screw shank.  These two items might lead one to believe that the screw head was simply epoxied in place.  Not surprising when the workmanship of the other repairs became apparent.

The gun as it came in,

The horrible, bird-shit welded, warped, butter-soft and buffing wheeled "repair" of the tumbler, keep in mind that these are top-quality Stanton locks.
Let's take good, detailed look at the "craftsmanship" and note the utter lack of similarity to the original workmanship.

The new tumbler blanked from O1 on the lathe, from here on, it's pretty much hand work.

Almost finished,

Ready for heat-treating and final polishing, the full and half-cock bents are filed to final shape and will be stoned for smoothness after heat-treating, the recess for the swivel is cut and the flats that drive the hammer are filed up.

A little comparison,

The lock assembled,

The new hammer screw was made in the usual fashion.  Here it's in my engraving vise...

...And finished

The finished job.

 This is a perfect example of how anything less than best-quality workmanship in repairs can have a detrimental effect on your investment in a fine double.  Yes, doing it the right way takes longer than the half-assed way, but the right way lasts longer and maintains the value of the gun precisely because the repair is indistinguishable from original.