Craft Gunmaking, No compromises, No corners cut, EVER

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Pre-64 Model 70

I'm not really a "typical custom rifle kinda guy" but when a diversion from the doublegun world presents itself, I'm not likely to turn it down, especially when it's a referral from a good friend.  It's not that I don't appreciate a nicely done bolt-rifle, quite to the contrary, I just think that that particular segment of the market is bursting with competent builders and I see no need for another.

The victim is a custom Model 70 (by a well-known builder) that unfortunately took a tumble out of the gun cabinet.  While not successful in its escape attempt, it was the worse for it, with multiple and deep dents to the stock, some of which were in the beautifully checkered areas (ouch!).  Since it was here anyway, the owner wished to have its lack of "snap, crackle and pop" addressed as well.  That is what will be detailed here.  You might want to grab a coffee, it's going to be a long trip.

Some of the dents

With the dents addressed, it was time to address the owner's other areas of concern.  He wasn't happy with the square-fit forend tip and wanted one with a "widow's peak".  This was made with a piece of ebony.  I machined the spur and barrel channel on the mill but it was fit to the stock using smoke and scrapers.

Since ebony is an oily wood, I didn't trust epoxy alone to hold it in place, so I made a "strap" to hold it in place.  This was let into the barrel channel and it's anchored by the swivel stud and epoxy (dyed black so that the strap is not visible in the barrel channel).

With the forend tip secured, the shaping could be done.

The next agenda item was the swivel studs.  The "Dollar Store" look of the Uncle Mike's swivel bases wasn't going to cut it here but I also never liked the look of the exposed screws used in most "custom" installations.  So.....
And the rear....

Next, the cheapo-looking Pachmayr pad (basketweave face no less, UGH!) got the heave-ho.  Naturally, a spurred forend tip needs to be backed up with a spurred Silver's pad, right?  Right.

The owner felt that crossbolts were needed and, given that the rifle's caliber is .338 Winchester Magnum, I was inclined to agree.  I must admit that I used Talley's pre-fabricated bolts because I see no need to reinvent the wheel (at least not this time).  The stock is bolted into a fixture that is clamped in the mill and the fun begins.

The heads of the crossbolts are filed and polished flush.   Wow, they're ugly.

That's better.  The heads were shaped to a convex that is below the surface of the surrounding border.  When the border is polished after bluing, it gives the illusion of an escutcheon around the screw head.

The grip cap came under scrutiny next.  You might notice that the rear screw is not only misaligned, but it's actually off center.  This will not do.

That's better.  With the crossbolts being such a prominent feature of the rifle, and given my OCD-driven need for uniformity, I decided that all of the screws in the rifle would be of the pin spanner type and their heads would be of the same sunken, convex design as that of the crossbolt heads.  After welding the rear hole shut and recontouring the area, I milled the screw hole and pocket for the screw head on center.  I then added a shadow line around the base of the cap by hand filing.

Finally, the lower edge of the cheekpiece looked a bit unfinished.  A simple shadow line cured that.

Now we move on to the action.  The rifle was equipped with a Canjar (non set) trigger.  This is (in my opinion) one of the best aftermarket triggers (unfortunately, no longer made).  The problem is that the trigger shoe, while functional, is aesthetically lacking.  Clearly, this affront could not stand.
Yes, the new trigger IS asymmetrical.   It's a right-handed rifle, so the trigger is shaped for a right-handed user (exactly why the cheekpiece is only on the left side).

The bolt was next.  It was originally covered in "worm tracks" that looked like someone used a Dremel tool on it while resting their hands on a running paint shaker.  Whoever thought up this quick and (very) dirty alternative to proper finishing should be slapped, hard.  They also thought that the extractor would look neat nitre blued (can we just stop with that, please?).  The bolt, extractor and collar were repolished and properly finished, using the time honored techniques of those who've forgotten more about finishing than any "gunsmith" will ever know (that would be watchmakers).  The bolt handle was rust blued.

New action screws (all three) were made to match the pattern of the crossbolt heads, fitted and indexed and then the metalwork was all hand polished, in preparation for rust bluing.

All finished.  The stock was finished in real oil (not Tru-oil), hand cut to 2500 grit finish and the checkering recut.  Here are the "glamour shots"


  1. Bravo!

    You saved the day as well as improved that rifle.

  2. Dewey, just stunning work (as usual). My God, I am going to have you work over my pre-64 Model 70 next...... Next year. :-)

  3. Beautiful, innovative work.
    I'd guess, by the shape of the fleur de lis that the stock was by Jerry Fisher or possibly Dale Goens.

    1. According to the owner, it's a Dwayne Weibe rifle.