Craft Gunmaking, No compromises, No corners cut, EVER

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Training vs. Education

 In the gun world, much stock is put into being "English-trained" by both those that practice gunsmithing and by those who employ the services of a gunsmith.  I've often been asked "where I trained" or, "who I apprenticed under". The answer to both is the same:  No one.  I, much like my beloved dogs, am not "trained" at all, nor would I have wished to be so.  I am self-educated* in all things that interest me, including gunmaking.  

Training and education are not the same thing, regardless of the fact that many use the terms interchangeably.  Training to do a task is to learn a sequence of steps necessary in order to complete that particular task in a prescribed manner (which may, or may not, be the best way to accomplish the task).  Almost anyone can be trained to do almost any one thing, as the military has proven for decades.  Let us take an example from the English gun trade, the barrel maker.  This individual is trained in the steps necessary to take a pair of tubes, a blank for the forend lug and some rib stock and turn this collection of material into a rough assembly, ready for the actioner to take and make into a jointed action.  After the gun is finished, the barrel maker may, or may not, see that set of barrels again for choking, chambering or whatever else, depending upon the particular manufacturer's protocol.  He would train his apprentice to do the job in the same way he was taught as an apprentice.  He was not educated in other aspects of gunmaking because there was no need for him to be, since the company had trained individuals for each aspect of making the gun.  The truth is that, at least in the English trade, the only person who understood more than one aspect of gunmaking was most likely the finisher, because it is this individual that has to take everyone else's work and make it all function as a whole.   As an aside, I believe that this is the reason that the British, in their inimitable arrogance, believe that no one person can make the entire gun.

 Being "trained" is to be conditioned to think "inside the box".  To learn how but not necessarily why.  To do as you're told (trained) to do.  Sit, speak, roll over.  There is no room for imagination or improvisation, nor is there any need, because there is no perceived need to comprehend the work in any greater context. 

 "Do it this way because this is the way it's done."  Why (assuming the critical thinking skills to even ask)?  "Because that's the way it's always been done."  

Being educated is precisely to understand the greater context, to gain broader knowledge, to understand the "why" and let that drive the "how".  In gunmaking, it is to understand the entire gun as the system that it actually is.  It is to not only understand the function but also the materials used in each and every part.  

It is this very lack of understanding that is at the root of the widespread incompetence in this industry.

Training discourages furthering one's knowledge, understanding and abilities.  It is also finite, once you're trained, that's it.  Education encourages furthering all of those areas and it goes on for life.


 *Given the choice between credentials and competence, I'll take competence every time.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Leather Covered Recoil Pads Gallery

A sampling of leather covered recoil pads I've done, showing different hides, colors and styles.

Dakota Model 10
Kangaroo hide over Silver's base

Parker Repro
Pig hide over Silver's base
Pig hide over Pachmayr base
Pig hide over Silver's base
Pig hide over Silver's base
Pig hide over modified Silver's base
Caesar Guerini
Pig hide over Silver's base
Beretta DT-10
Goat hide over Pachmayr base
Pig hide over Pachmayr base

Hand made 28 GA
Kangaroo hide over custom base

Custom Fox
Kangaroo hide over Silver's base

Another Dakota Model 10
Black 'roo over modified Silver's base

Fratelli Piotti Hammergun 
Pig over Silver's base

Friday, May 6, 2022

More Stupid Forum Shit

1. Checking for "off the face":

 Why does anyone believe that any break action gun needs to have the forend removed before checking to see if the barrels are off the face?  

The forend iron in all conventionally designed break action guns serves multiple purposes.  The most obvious purpose is as a place to attach the forend wood.  Another purpose is to serve as a place to either house, or in some instances, to attach, the ejector mechanism but the primary purpose of the forend iron (in a conventional design) is to stabilize the joint/pivot.  It does this by pulling the barrels forward, thus ensuring full contact of the hook's concave face against the hinge pin's mating convex surface.  This is what provides primary lateral support to the barrels, not the fit of the lump to the frame slot, as is commonly believed. 

 How does the forend pull the barrels forward you wonder?  It does this by spanning the distance between the action knuckle and the barrel's forend lug with what amounts to a very slight interference fit.  The forend is braced against the action knuckle and rotated into position against its ramped lug, thus putting forward pressure on the barrels as the forend seats.  This is precisely why the forend iron should be in place when checking for an off-face condition.  This is also why the forend iron is in place when the barrels are "blacked down" (mated to the standing breech) during the making of the gun.  

Here's a scenario to ponder:  The gun's barrels appear to be tight on face with the forend removed but when the forend is installed, light suddenly appears between the barrels and standing breech.  Is this gun off the face?  Yes it is, and it means absolutely nothing that the gap closes up when the forend is removed because the forend is a structural part of the mechanism.  There are those that may want to repeat that latter part to themselves, a lot.

Scenario two:  The barrels are tight on face with the forend in place but there is vertical movement at the rear, where the barrels meet the standing breech.  Is this gun off the face?  No, the bolting mechanism is either worn or not engaging completely.

It's really that simple.  In a conventionally designed break action gun, the forend iron is integral to the joint's structural integrity.  The mating surfaces of the hook and pin, and the mating surfaces of the action knuckle and forend iron shoe are circle segments with different radii but they share a common axis.  Anything that causes any of these to deviate from that axis (like removing the forend), even by .0005 of an inch will cause perceptible movement.  This is why welding and attempting to refit the hook to a worn hinge pin that isn't round any longer is a fool's errand, but I've covered that elsewhere on this blog.

For those that still believe the common nonsense that "The pin is hardened so it's the hook that wears", see here (and actually read it):

If as many "experts" on forums really knew as much as they think they do (about seemingly everything), there would probably be far fewer f***ed up guns floating around.

2. Shotshell pressures (Again):

I've said it here before but it apparently bears repeating:  There is absolutely zero difference in average or maximum pressures between 2 3/4" and 3" shells, be they 12 or 20 gauge.  Both shell lengths operate at the same pressure levels in their appropriate, or longer, length chambers.

This means that a 3" shell averages 11.5KPSI when fired in a 3 inch chamber, as does a 2 3/4" shell when fired in either a 3 inch or 2 3/4 inch chamber.  These numbers apply to 12 and 20 gauge.

Firing a 3" shell in a too-short chamber will cause an increase in chamber pressure because the hull is opening into the forcing cone.  This would seem obvious, since shell length refers to the FIRED length, NOT the loaded length (another point worth repeating).  The extent to which the pressure will increase over normal is dependent upon certain factors, such as hull material and thickness, forcing cone angle, payload weight and shot size and powder burn rate.

"But, muh 3" shells urr magnums!", you say?  No, Cooter, they're not.  Your 2 3/4 and 3 inch "magnum" shotshells operate at no greater pressure than any other shotshell.  It's called marketing, the same force that is responsible for the very existence of the abominations known as 3 inch shotshells.