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WINTER GUN PROJECTS — 41 Comments

  1. Word up on the “itus” in the hands. I find myself gravitating back to revolvers and DAO autos or ones with safeties!

  2. Mas: As another aging specimen – your dob shown on the web makes you 2 months younger – I guess i can be nostalgic, too, this time of year. I’ve had a project going on and off for years. It started with a Rem 700 Classic 257 Roberts inherited in 1998 from a dear friend and mentor, that he had his bench rest gunsmith buddy Dan Dowling rechamber to 257 AI 40. I’ve working making it into a barrel swapper by Bart Miller, Heritage Gunsmithing at Centennial Gunclub. The second barrel, also inherited from the same source, had been chambered for 280 RCBS imp. It was going to go into an elk rifle that never got finished. Its been rechambered, now, to 280 AI since the Ackley version has eclipsed the earlier RCBS one. I’m gonna wait for the warmer days to hit when I can head to the range to fire form cases and smile because I know my old pal will be looking down, grinning from ear to ear. Merry Xmas

  3. No customization projects per se, just more familiarization training with my somewhat new P30 LEM .40 I acquired in April. Striving to break the 2″ mark at 25 yds. I’ve gotten close several times, with the best 4 shots of 5 under 2″, but not 5 for 5 yet. Not easy with the LEM trigger and my tendency to flinch.

    Mas, if you read this, I’d love to see you dust off a project gun of yours from way back–your european P220 with Bar-Sto barrel–and do a field review again on that classic. I once had a P220 and regret trading it decades ago…

  4. A surprising number of vintage Remington .22 rifles have really gorgeous black walnut under their el cheapo flaking finishes. One of them right now has been chemically stripped (the few shallow dents were raised with a steam iron, no sanding) and multiple coats of tung oil will be applied.

  5. I would really like to build my own 1911. Any advice is always appreciated. Mas, you mean a lot to us, and many others. Any, thoughts on building a 1911 with an added 9×23 barrel, or the cartridge for that matter.

  6. Hi Mas,

    I have an old Marlin “Goose Gun” (bolt-action, 3-shell mag, 36″ barrel) that was given to me by an old friend. I plan to refinish the stock a deep red mahogany satin finish, and cerakote the rest (still considering which color on that).
    So much fun to shoot, and to teach youth to shoot!

    Thanks for bloggin,
    Hag

  7. I recently picked up, at a decent price, a 1954 vintage Colt Model 357. This was the one known as the poor man’s Python. Only about 15,000 were made before it was discontinued around 1961. It has a smooth action and a really nice single action trigger. The reason it was as cheap as it was is because it was improperly stored at one time and now has pitting on the cylinder and the rear sight. I believe a restoration is called for. My winter project.

  8. I would like to spend some time working up some custom reloads for several of my rifles and handguns. This would not really involve the creation of a lot of ammo so as to support extended shooting sessions. Rather, it would be to experiment with various calibers so as to develop some accurate recipes.

    Among the calibers that I would like to experiment with are .400 Nitro Express (Jeffery),.300 RCM, .303 British, .270 Winchester, .44 Special and .32 H&R Mag.

    On a side note, has anyone been following this news story?

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/claud-tex-mciver-prominent-atlanta-attorney-charged-in-wifes-shooting-death/

    Frankly, this story makes no sense to me.

  9. Too many other projects to get into gun projects now. :-/

    On a different note, kids & grand kids all home tomorrow (from CA, UT & MA). So … we get to go blast’n Monday. We will be shooting, among others, an older SS Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 mag with an 10 inch barrel. Not quite fireside but it should warm the room up some. If needed we could pull out a 1927A1 for added warmth.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and such. Mostly, have a healthy, prosperous and Happy New Year.

  10. Mas,
    You had a world class pistol smith install your sights. I had the pleasure of working with Dave Lauck when he was a Deputy in northern Wyoming and I was a Detention Deputy at the same department. Dave installed some sights on my Colt M1991A1 and made a real shooter out of it. Always appreciated the insights that Dave provided time to time. Sounds like you are going to have a real piece of workmanship in that .45. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  11. Marc–Likewise to you and yours!

    David S. Keough — Factory ammo for 9X23 is thin on the ground, but for handloaders it’s an awesome round. An expansion chamber compensator should help reduce buffeting to the parts from that high pressure cartridge.

    Ira Cutting — I still have that P220E. Great gun for wear with heavy gloves in deep cold, due to the butt-heel magazine release.

  12. A little back surgery plus the cold weather sucked me into the reloading room more effectively than one of Stephen Hawkings’ now imaginary black holes. I managed to infect my son with the shooting bug so I “needed” to replenish all available ammo containers with favored .45 and 9mm loads for use as soon as the back heals a little more. That done, I was also looking for a winter season project gun that a frustrated amateur gunsmith such as myself could cajole to a state of unexpected beauty and performance. Your thoughts about tweaking the G-19 rekindled my interest in doing more with/to mine. Glocks are about as hard to screw up as a bowling ball so they definitely play into my skill set. Have a great Christmas and New Year Mas. and thanks for the ideas.

  13. We just moved to an 18.5 acre hobby farm in Central Texas. We don’t really get a winter compared to you, Mas but on the colder or wet days I have to dig all my reloading gear and gun books out of boxes, find my shabby little collection of gun tools in other boxes.

    On the nice days I must get on the tractor and smooth the little hill in the middle of my proposed shooting lane so I can hang my half sized buffalo
    gong. The dirt I take off will be my 300 yard line berm. The plan is one berm and markers at 100, 200 and .300 yards. then a few more at handgun ranges.

    This should keep me busy until late spring. By summer folks should start complaining about that strange old man shooting black powder .45-70 rounds most every day.

  14. As someone relatively new to the shooting sport, I’m going to be adding a mount and scope to my Saiga Ak47 and converting my Ruger 10/22 to an Appleseed “Liberty” rifle as well as adding a scope to it. This involves changing sights, changing the trigger, and adding swivel mounts for the rifle sling. If by some miracle i finish those, I also have my first AR-15 to build.

  15. My Christmas dry spell from live shooting will likely last a good few months more for the happiest of reasons – my wife and I are on “baby watch” for our second one, due any day now. So I’m preparing a couple of gunsmithing projects that will likely progress at a snail’s pace in stop-go fashion over many months. I’m planning to spend my modest end of year bonus on a mint Ruger Security Six. Then I’ll send it to master gunsmith Rick Devoid for a MagnaTrigger conversion, and then I’ll see if I can make the trigger rival a Smith & Wesson or Colt Python, towards my IDPA comeback at some point thereafter. The Trigger Scan at work will come in handy, as will my copy of Jerry Kuhnhausen’s Ruger Double Action Revolver Shop Manual at home. I suspect I’ll soak up many a spare part from eBay (especially hammers and triggers) as I progress through trial and error, so if anyone else is planning some “Six ‘smithin’ “, you’ve been warned :-). I also have a scout rifle project in hibernation, on a Winchester 1894.

  16. Winter is even starting cool in Arizona this year. Temp has been dropping below 40F some nights here, days below 60F. Lotta rain, some snow up higher.

    I have been doing conservative DIY on an exotic blowback in 9 x 18. Finally got it feeding very reliably, possibly due to the use of Remington Dri-Lube. Wondering about possible problems developing from spraying the ammo before I insert it into the mags. Like too much recoil, or primers not igniting. Haven’t seen any trouble yet, but I think I will try just lubing the pistol action for a while. Anybody got experience? I sure like the pistol, just put in 2 springs and honed the upper breech a little with 320 emery cloth.

  17. Mr. Sabo, I’m looking foward to a 1911 build, it won’t be my last. I wish the best for your project. Right now, I’m moving around. Once I’m settled, I’ll be starting a project. I’m thinking a .38 Super, it’s a lot easier on the wrists.

  18. Mas,
    Please don’t retire yet, we need you keep doing the important work you’re doing.

  19. My only Winter gun project planned thus far is my intention to laugh heartily and to smile broadly every time I open my gun safe door and see one HRC “Stronger Together” 2016 campaign bumper sticker positioned directly above my stored handguns, rifles, shotguns and adjacent stored ammunition and one HRC “I’m With Her” 2016 campaign bumper sticker positioned directly above my Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm pistol renamed “Bill” with an arrow drawn on the bumper sticker pointing directly to my Gen 4 Glock 19 9mm pistol renamed “Hill”, LOL. What better way could there be to memorialize the 2016 Election?

    Truth be told, after 33 wondrous years of marriage to my beyond fantastic wife, I can say with total confidence that “I’m With Her” and that we are “Stronger Together” both in our love for one another and also in our rock solid advocacy for the Second Amendment. (Yes, indeed, the best slogans are often stolen ones.) 🇺🇸

  20. Last year I had to do a quick finish touch up and dent raising type repair on a polyurethane coated walnut stock that I tore up a bit on some shale. Now this was in the fall and I was missing out on time a field to deal with it personally. It’s got some character now, as I just wanted to get back out with it weatherproofed well and smooth yet grippy to touch. It has worked out great!

    This year – My project is to get out for some more Hunts and then wind my way into Spring Bear and Turkey… 🙂

    But for now –

    MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

  21. Good column fodder, Mas…I think for me, I’ll spend my North Texas winter, such as it is, stocking up on parts and pieces for the guns in my armory, rather then adding to their numbers. Having a passel o’ firearms is great, but unless you have springs, pins and other items to replace those that wear and tear, they’re just paperweights! At the rate I shoot, I’m good on ammo, but I obviously need to visit the range more often as nobody should ever be good on ammo!

    BTW, is it safe to assume you’ll ask us about our New Year’s gun-related resolutions? Here’s mine even if you didn’t ask: get my wife in an LTC class!

    Keep up the good work…Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    TXCOMT

  22. First winter project is the yearly one of loading up 3.000 rounds or more of .357 Mag. ammo to get me through the next year. Most winters I spend some time tinkering with my revolvers, but currently I’ve got everything tuned the way I want them. I have 5 Ruger GP100’s and a Security Six so that tells you what I like. Just bought my first semi-auto, 15 shot, DA revolver, a Sig P250. Darn thing doesn’t point right. When I throw it up, it’s aimed somewhere down around the South Pole. So that’s my gun project, the judicious placement of some Acra-glass on the rear, bottom half of the grip to raise the muzzle up.

  23. I have some after-market parts to install in an attempt to correct the FTE on my Kel-Tec PF9.

    I figure that’ll take all winter…

  24. Minor things. Installing a Timney trigger for my .300 Weatherby and doing some touch up on the bluing.

    After 50 years of service the magazine floor plate catch broke and shortly after the bolt stop followed suit preventing the bolt from being withdrawn from the action.
    The solution was obviously a new trigger, an upgrade I’ve been putting off far too long.

    The good folks at Weatherby located a floor plate catch (long out of date) and sold it to me at a very reasonable price.

    There are many good rifles out there, but I can’t recommend Weatherby strongly enough.

  25. I picked up one of the new Ruger Mark IVs, so my winter project is to get to know it well, before I take it to the range to teach with.

  26. I hope everyone had a merry Christmas and my best wishes to all for a happy new year.

  27. To help the colder regions of our country, I have been asking Al Gore for some of that dreaded Global Warming he has predicted will destroy our planet soon, but the internet inventor wants a huge donation for that service which I won’t cough up, so we’ll just have to wear additional sweaters and drink more hot cocoa to stay warm.

    I have over a dozen gun projects which needs to be done, especially 1911 pistols that needs to be finished and sold or traded off. Over the years, I have built or highly modified about two dozen 1911s including a full house customized Colt Series 70 G.M. in .45 ACP for a long serving local sheriff who carried it for many years and several pistols for his SWAT team. I also have a STI frame, six magazines and most of the parts to build a compensated pistol in the originally planned 9X23 caliber, or the more commonly available .38 Super, but with IPSC now gone, I’ll probably just sell off the pieces. My checkering files have been laying idle and lonely for years in their plastic tubes. These days, I mostly just help friends make their AR-15s, long range rifles, and Glock pistols more combat ready for the impending Zombie Apocalypse or possibly a violent liberal insurrection when President Donald replaces our slimy Dear Leader in 2017.

  28. Here in Texas right now we have just weird crappy weather. I’ve got two Winchester trappers, one in .44 (angle eject) and the other in 30/30 (top eject.) Neither have those hated safeties. One needs a new fore end the other needs work on the rear sight. Neither one is 100 percent reliable in function (my Marlin Texan carbine, made in 67, is 100 percent reliable and very accurate.)

    Going to get those Winchesters that way. Yes I’ve got ARs, 1911s, Glocks, SIGs, etc. But I’ve also got six shooters & lever guns.

  29. Mas, you continue to select firearms for which I have extreme interest. You and I are so close in age (and afflictions, unfortunately) that I very closely identify with what you’re doing. I can’t wait to see the 1911 and I’ve been struggling with a decision I simply must make soon regarding a change in my EDC pistol. Specifically, I will be going to 9mm and have narrowed the candidates to a G19 or a G26. It comes down to whether or not I feel I can adequately conceal the G19 and if it’s worth the trouble for the additional rounds. Right now, I’m leaning to the 26 as concealment has become #1.

    Please give us pictures of both your projects.

  30. Don Whipple, aka Don-Pa,

    I went with the G26 with standard 10rd. magazine for pocket carry, 15rd. mag with grip extension filler grip for waist carry. I carry 15rd. spares for either type carry.

    This is only when my paranoia level is elevated and I feel more comfortable with the high capacity 9mm. than my all the time, no matter what, .380acp. Ruger LCP. (never an excuse to leave home without one).

  31. I’ll be rebuilding a cheapo GI 1911 with Wilson oversize parts, nothing fancy, just a nice GI to shoot. Almost done with an old taurus 82 4 inch heavy barrel 38spl, was a Brazilian federal police surplus import. Used a chainsaw file to U notch the rear sight (a la Warren tactical style) and I bobbed the hammer and narrowed & rounded the trigger and have it my first colour case hardening job, which came out nice. Polished DAO trigger, smooth but full power ignition and extra power reset. Chambered and polished cylinder, right cylinder gap. Only real issue was short timing and loose cylinder but I tightened that up with some blacksmithing work. Found old pachmayr gripper grips, shaved off the bottom swell for lower profile. Waiting on new firing pin so technically it’ll be a 2017 gun when ready. But the thing has a new life and looks and shoots great.

  32. Two-gun Steve:

    You asked if anyone had experience lubing ammo. I once had a problem with that. Since I became a gun owner at age 37, I learned a lot from reading, not from having someone tell me everything. This is especially true when it comes to cleaning guns. Fortunately I was cautious, and would not touch a gun I wasn’t comfortable with.

    However, reading a manual on cleaning, it said to leave a thin coating of gun oil in the barrel and chamber. This was to keep rust away. Well, I did that, then put the gun away, then took it to the range and shot it. Usually I didn’t have a problem. But once I must have had too much oil in the chamber, because a fired 12-gauge shell got stuck in the chamber of my Remington 870. Fortunately a range officer freed it and told me chambers must be dry when fired. I guess I was supposed to clean my guns BEFORE I shot them. That didn’t make sense to me. Why clean a gun before you shoot it? Well, now I know.

    I once had a 1937 Mauser K98k tach-driver. I couldn’t load it fast enough from the stripper clips, so I put gun oil on just the stripper clip, and the rim of the cartridges. That worked great for loading fast, but an empty cartridge froze in the chamber. I had to take it to a gunsmith to free it. So I finally learned my lesson. BARRELS AND CHAMBERS MUST BE CLEAN AND DRY BEFORE BEING SHOT.

    Since all my guns must be ready for self-defense, I never leave them oiled on the inside. I clean the guns, then leave them dry. If the barrel rusts, I will shoot it rusty, or buy another gun.

    It may be you already knew all this. You did mention “dry-lube.” That would probably not expand and seize the cartridge case in the chamber. I did not mean to insult your intelligence. I thought by writing this, I may help some newbie to not repeat my mistakes while learning.

  33. Roger Willco: thanks for sharing your experience. Makes me take a much more careful look at the issue. That Mauser jam was a doozer!

  34. @ Roger Willco,

    I used to use conventional gun solvents and oils. My old standby’s were Hoppe’s No. 9 and Rem Oil.

    Then I discovered Frog Lube and have never looked back. Frog Lube is not an oil-based product. It is made with a completely different (and supposedly) safer formula. It is said that you can even eat Frog Lube without harm but I’ll have to take their word for it as I have not (and likely will never) try it! 🙂

    To use Frog Lube, you need to:

    1) Clean and degrease your firearm. Try to get rid of all the old oils and grease. I typically degrease with isopropyl alcohol (i.e. rubbing alcohol).
    2) Coat the metal (including inside the bore and chamber) with Frog Lube.
    3) Warm the metal (use a hair dryer or set out in the sun on a hot day).
    4) Let the Frog Lube do its magic for an hour or two.
    5) Wipe the metal surfaces dry of all remaining Frog Lube.

    The end result is a metal treatment that is dry but slick. The Frog Lube penetrates the pores of the metal to inhibit corrosion. It also resists powder fouling. So, clean up after future firings is usually very quick and easy.

    Be careful to never use a conventional gun oil again on the firearm as it is incompatible with Frog Lube. Use only more Frog Lube, if necessary, in future cleanings.

    A bore and chamber treated with Frog Lube can be fired safely with no danger of a struck case. In fact, the slick surface of Frog Lube is said to enhance the velocity of the firearm by a small percentage (maybe 1 to 5%). I take that claim with a grain of salt but, in my book, Frog Lube easily beats conventional gun oils.

  35. Thank you Two-gun Steve and TN_MAN. Learning about guns is definitely a subject where a present human teacher is better than any alternative. This is even true when it comes to simply cleaning guns. Thank God for Dads, the Boy Scouts, the NRA, and firearm instructors of all types!