Precision of Alaska Arms LLC CZ Rings

My name is Dane Sorensen and I live in Perth, Western Australia.  I’m a past customer of yours and have a tale I’d like to share with you.

Right – a little story about scopes mounts and new rifles. I purchased a new 375 H&H CZ Safari in mid 2013, and shortly after, ordered quick release mounts from Alaska Arms in both 30mm and 1 inch, which duly turned up a few weeks later, as explained, due to production schedules. Great service, from the other side of the world.
In the mean time, wanting to get some loads sorted out and needing suitable mounts – I purchased 30mm CZ mounts to suit. In Australia, the gun does not come with the mounts supplied. These were used to mount an excellent Kahles 2.5 – 10 x 50 – however, when trying to zero the scope – I found that at the full extent of the adjustment of the scope, the closest I could get to the point of impact was 100mm – not at all a good result for a new rifle / mount combination, especially as both are from the same manufacturer.
Now, you might think the simple solution would have been to take the lot back to the dealer and let the importer sort it out. Well, I live in Australia, compared to the US, we have VERY restrictive licensing laws. As I reside in Western Australia the situation is compounded – here we need to apply separately for EACH fire arm, with supporting documentation outlining reasons for requiring a new firearm and it is a protracted process that takes up to 4 months – even as , in my case, I have other high powers and handguns.
To give up the gun for a warranty claim may well mean I don’t see the gun for – well, who knew how long. I persevered – the age old method of shim metal under the offending back mount – this got me on the paper and everything seemed OK even though I was somewhat disappointed.
After a couple of hundred workup reloads and the odd quick hunting trip which went pretty well, all seemed alright and I arranged a trip to the Nullabore, 600 miles East of Perth, my home town.
The first couple of shots were less than impressive – upon inspection, the mounts had come loose at the center pillar screws. Rarely do things under stress preform as hoped – for long. I should have both expected this and checked for it.
Upon close inspection and the application of vernier calipers, I came to the conclusion that receiver dove tails might not be in alignment, as the CZ mounts both measured precisely the same in all facets. At this stage, I was resigned to the warranty course. Then I read an article about scope mount alignment and honing kits – had a mate (buddy – OK (: .. ) turn some up and checked out where the problem really was.
Custom made mount alignment pins fitted into the Alaskan Arms 1 inch and 30mm quick release mounts. CZ mounts in foreground.
scope rings

First of all, I mounted the alignment pins into the CZ mounts, then refitted the mounts to the rifle – this resulted in the confirmation that there was .68 mm miss alignment between the pins, approximately half way between the mounts. Side alignment was checked using a straight edge and there was around .45 mm out of line on the side parallel. To be honest, this is a little bewildering as I ran the verniers over both CZ mounts and dimensions are identical between both mounts. Regardless – the alignment pins don’t lie – I rotated them through five steps of about 30 degrees and the miss alignment was constant.

rings on steel scope

Close up of CZ mounts with logo clearly visible.

close up of scope rings on steelI then remembered my Alaska Arms mounts, tucked away in my cupbord – beautifully presented in their tin case and wrapped in a velvet drawstring bag, each mount individually packaged in a moisture proof zip lock plastic bag, with simple straight forward instructions included. You might think I’m going on a bit about the packaging, but I believe it shows the devotion to quality you take with your product.

Not having to disassemble the rings as you do for scope mounting, rather simply loosening the top and bottom screws, it was a very simple job to mount up my gauge pins and attach the mounts to the rifle.
I did the 30 mm rings first and low and behold – almost perfect alignment. I thought this was too good to be true, so immediately fitted the 1 inch rings – same result. The miss alignment is less than 0.08 mm – if I was measuring it correctly – it ranged from 0.05mm to 0.12mm but most of the readings were around 0.08mm – in effect, nothing to worry about with both sets.
As mentioned – almost perfect alignment with the Alaska Arms rings on the same rifle
perfect alignment scope rings
At this stage, I’ve mounted the scope (the Kahles 2.5 – 10 x 50 ) in the 30 mm quick release rings. I’d centered the scope on both adjustments, windage and elevation prior to fitting and was keen to see how it came into line with the new mounts. I have a lazar bore sighting instrument so fitted it to my barrel and turned it on – at 50 metres (54 and a bit yards) it was within 50 mm (2in) – incredible considering my first debacle with the “genuine” rings. I removed and refitted the scope as per the quick release instructions supplied with the rings – same point of aim. I’ve yet to live fire to sight in, but this is an incredible result considering I couldn’t get closer that 4 inches with full elevation previously, using the CZ mounts with no shimming.
I will of course need to confirm results with live firing and will get a 1 inch scope of a fixed 2 or 2.5 power so I can assess both setups, and will continue this report in due course. I do however, have enough experience with things mechanical and optical as well as guns/shooting, to know that I can now expect the results I was hoping for when I first purchased this rig. It’s then my intention to submit this article (suitably edited and with the live firing results) to a couple of our Australian shooting publications in the hopes they’ll publish my story. I need to clean it up and will probably need photos of the 1 inch rings – I still have the pins mounted in them and as I can now confidently remove and replace my scope – this presents no problems.
Kahles Scope with rings fitted prior to mounting on the rifle.
Scope with rings fitted
Now, you may be wondering why it took me so long to get around to trying you rings. Well, in truth – I was convinced the dovetails machined into the rifle’s receiver were to blame – as I said, I’d run the verniers over the CZ mounts and prior to having the alignment pins made up, I was convinced they were OK. In part, this was confirmed in my mind because I’d mounted the Kahles with the front mount only, leaving the rear one loose, and it was free of the rear dovetail by about 0.8 mm. Obviously those CZ rings are …. well, they’re not good.
So Morris, in closing, let me say how absolutely pleased I am that I made the choice to deal with you, on my part, blind good luck although I did do some research – the fit and finish of your mounts is superb.
If you’re interested, I’ll finish the story when I’ve done some shooting.
In any case, my very best regards and thanks
Dane Sorensen
To check our our Ruger scope rings click here.

Quick Detachable Scope Rings

My introduction to quick detachable scope rings was back in the early 80's when I was doing metalwork out of a small shop in Northern California.  One of my customers brought a beautiful pair of BRNO rifles to show me.  He had purchased them from the PX early in the Korean War when he was a young officer in the Army. He explained that shortly after his purchase there was an embargo placed on all arms coming from Czechoslovakia in general and BRNO firearms in particular because the military side of the BRNO ARMS plant was supplying arms to the North Koreans. This embargo was to remain in effect for over 30 years, finally being lifted in the mid 80's. The pair of rifles consisted of a BRNO ZG47 and A BRNO 21H.  They showed the finest craftsmanship I have ever seen on factory rifles; the finish being exceptional and the fit being near perfect.  Beautiful as they were they had two problems that interfered with scope mounting.  Namely the bolt handle was a good 1/2 inch higher than necessary or practical precluding clearance for the bolt handle and the receiver had dovetailed square bridges when no rings were commercially available in the US.  Both of these features added to the rifles near perfect lines but made it near impossible to mount a scope. It turns out that Tom Burgess would occasionally do a small run of quick detachable scope rings for the BRNO's, squeezing them in between other metal working projects.  They were always sold well in advance of a production run and a waiting list for the next run of rings started.  Tom enjoyed steady demand for the rings both in the US and Canada as the Canadians never had a BRNO embargo and the rifles were quite common up North. My customer was able to obtain a set of the Burgess rings that he brought by with the rifles.  I must admit that I was absolutely fascinated with the simplicity of the design and ruggedness of these Burgess rings.  A simple 1/4 turn of the locking lever locked or unlocked the rings on the receiver.  Tom had springs placed under the cam plate causing a audible snap when the levers were rotated to the open position.  The lockup was solid, to say the least, and were fully adjustable if more tension was desired.  Best of all, once set, the exact same amount of force was applied to the rings every time the lever was moved to the locked position. My metal work focus at the time was strictly barrels with integral accessories and I simply did not have the time to manufacture a second badly needed set of rings for my customer.  The rings were sent to Stan McFarland.  Where the Burgess rings had a Bulls eye pattern on the levers, Stan went with recessed checkering doing great justice to the Burgess design.  Stan made a few sets over the years offering them to the trade and using them on his own custom rifles.  Like Tom, he had other distractions and made the ring sets available in limited numbers. Fast forward 20 years.  After being sidelined by an industrial injury I now had the time to devote to the rings that I had promised myself I would make 20 years earlier.  So after dipping into my retirement for a CNC mill (a HAAS VF2) and Mastercam CAD and CAM software licenses I had the necessary tools for the ring production.  As much as I admire the Burgess design, the CNC mill allowed me to make slight changes to the design more in line with my personal taste.  The Bulls eye pattern on the lever was eliminated and I added 30mm rings to the lineup.  I was now able to offer Quick Detachable rings not only for the original BRNO's but the newly imported CZ 550's. These changes took all of two years to design, build tooling and make into something that would have a place on the best custom guns as well as honest hard working rifles.  Nothing short of solid and reliable would do and I am pleased to say the rings are something I am proud of. Here in Alaska stainless steel Rugers are very common; they are affordable and reliable.  Making rings for Ruger's was something I had resisted due to the many combinations of rings used by Ruger to fit its wide array of firearms.  Making the rings was one thing, coming up with a reasonable selection matrix was another.  Simply put "how will anyone be able to find the rings they need'?  A new website with a new developer solved that problem with the creation of an interactive finder matrix that is posted at my webstore The next step was to adapt the Quick detachable camming system I had been using on the CZ's to Ruger firearms.  Ruger has been using the same system since the late 60's, and there are a good number of rifles in the shooting public's hands.  One of the issues I had to resolve was the recoil lug on the bottom of Ruger ring that drops into the integral Ruger bases.  It's function is to act as a stop when mounting the scope.  This lug fits into the receiver slot and the problem was solved with a hardened insert.  Something I had to consider is that not all Ruger owners are right hand shooters and I wanted the new ring design to allow both right and left hand shooters to be able to select the location of the camming levers either on the right or the left side of the scope.  By designing the block with the recoil lug that can be rotated 180 degrees the levers can be located so that they are suitable for either right or left hand firearms. One other design change was need for the Ruger adaptation.  Unlike the CZ rings (and the original Burgess design) that are split vertically, the Ruger rings are split horizontally.  This required a design change in the levers.  I was looking for a lever that would clear the side of the ring without sticking out too far that didn't sacrifice looks. Ruger rings are offered in a total of seven sizes, heights #3-#6 for the 1 inch rings and #4-#6 for the 30mm rings adding another two years to the design and production process.  The last change was to offer the rings with an industrial chrome finish that closely mirrors the factory finish of the Ruger 'white' guns. Safe hunting, Morris Melani

Scope Mounting on Ruger Firearms

Scope Mounting on Ruger Firearms

Installing Ruger factory Rings

Proper installation of Ruger factory scope rings is crucial to a lifetime of trouble free service. Whenever I get a rifle in the shop with the complaint that "it just won't shoot any more", it often is due to an improperly installed ring or improperly torqued ring screws. The old adage "We don't have time to do it right but we have time to do it over" applies. The integral scope bases found on Ruger firearms nicely eliminate one of the causes of erratic groups; namely scope base movement caused by screws that have worked loose over time. Verify the Rings It is a good idea to verify that you have the correct scope rings for your Ruger firearm.  Ruger manufacturers two groups of firearms; one group uses the same height ring front and rear and the other group uses different heights because the integral firearm bases are not the same height.  Additionally, your specific scope will further determine the correct ring heights.  It is a good idea to visit the Ruger website and verify that you are using the correct height rings for your firearm as well as the correct height rings for your scope's objective lens diameter. A note on Ruger ring heights: Ruger 1 inch rings are offered in 4 heights #3-#6 and the 30MM rings in three heights #4-#6. The heights change in 1/8 inch increments.  If you have not determined the proper rings and ring heights for your firearm/scope combination, visit the  Ruger site and make this determination using the 'scope ring finder'. Develop a System Applying a consistent and principle-based technique to scope mounting will give excellent results.  Although not absolutely necessary, I like to use a quality torque driver with the appropriate size bits so that screw tensions are constant. The Wheeler Engineering F.A.T. Wrench has served me well for this use. Proper leveling of the scope to the receiver is a must and I like to use the Wheeler Engineering crosshair leveling kit for this.  A scope lapping tool can be purchased from Brownell's to ensure the rings are concentric which eliminates stress on the scope caused by misalignment. Friction paper for the inside surface of the rings will finish the job anchoring the scope in the rings, a must for any firearm that has recoil. Before you start, verify that the firearm is unloaded and, when possible, remove the bolt. Observe safe firearm practices at all times. The much used warning that failure to do so may result in grievous bodily injury or death applies here and Alaska Arms LLC shall not be responsible for injury, death or damage to property from misuse or improper installation of Ruger scope rings. Secure the Firearm and Prepare the Components Place the rifle in a secure gun cradle if you have one or in a bench vise if you don't.  If you are using a bench vise use padded jaws and be careful not to over-tighten the vise damaging the stock.  Omitting steps will result in a less than desirable installation.  Take your time and follow these directions and you will have as perfect an installation as is possible. Verify that the receiver and rings are clean and free of any burrs or nicks, lightly stoning if necessary to true the bearing surfaces. As a side note, compact scopes tend to be too short for long magnum receivers.  Visually verify that the front ring can be mounted on the scope in a position that provides correct eye relief.  If not, you might consider a Leupold offering through their custom shop.  It is a long tube fixed three power made specifically for long magnum actions.  I think they are a bargain at around $300.00 that includes your selection of reticles. Installing the Lower Ring Assembly Place the front ring lower assembly over the integral receiver base aligning the recoil tab on the bottom of the ring with the cutout in the receiver. Push the ring forward towards the muzzle as you torque the windage screw on the bottom of the ring to 40 inch-lbs. Rings shift forward under recoil and this eliminates one of the causes of a drifting point of impact when a scope is first installed and sighted in.  The section of the screw that clamps into the receiver dovetail cutout is as cast and tends to bite out of alignment if the bottom of the ring does not make full contact on the dovetail. This point was driven home after a hunting companion took a nasty tumble down a hill and had his point of impact shift up 3 feet at 100 yards. This was not discovered until later in the hunt when he took careful aim for a heart shot on a moose facing him at about 75 yards.  He hit his trophy squarely in the forehead and ruining the skull plate on a nice set of antlers. The windage screw had shifted relieving all clamping force on the rear ring. Repeat this process when installing the rear ring lower assembly. Lapping the Rings Now is a good time to lap the scope rings inline with the receiver. This step eliminates all undo stress on the scope tube and extends scope life. Carefully follow the manufacture's instructions for lapping.  Brownell's offers these handy tools to lap 1 inch and 30MM rings as well as a full assortment of lapping compounds. Rarely will you find both rings in perfect alignment making these laps a worthwhile investment.  Misaligned rings tend to twist and bend the scope tube as it is tightened in position and if the misalignment is severe enough it can cause the scope to lose it's seal. Misaligned rings also cause receiver stress that has a negative affect on accuracy.  These problems are resolved by properly lapping the rings. Installing Friction Paper Prior to installing the scope in your newly mounted and lapped rings, place friction paper on the inside mating surface of both the ring bottom halves and the top caps. Small address labels work well in a pinch. The inside surfaces on Ruger rings are quiet rough and tend to scuff the contact area on the scope. Mounting and Aligning the Scope Place the scope in the rings making certain that the only points of contact with the firearm are the rings. The front (objective lens) must clear the barrel and rear sight.  Establish eye relief and level the cross hairs using the leveling kit made by Wheeler Engineering or one of the other leveling devices available.  This will eliminate a lot of frustrating trial and error guessing.  The Wheeler kit is a simple set and includes a level that is placed on the receiver and second level that is placed on the scope. First the action is leveled and then the scope.  Crosscheck between the levels making certain they have not shifted during the installation. A gentlemen brought me his rifle after he installed a set of rings complaining that although he had done a perfect installation the gun was way off at over 100 yards. The problem was easy to find, he had rotated the crosshairs a good 10 Degrees out of alignment during installation and had to cant the rifle to bring them in when shooting, thus placing the scope out of alignment with the bore. Install the top caps over the scope tube and reset the torque driver to 20 inch-lbs.  Now, using a crossing pattern and alternating between the front and rear ring, torque the screws. Be careful to maintain an even gap between the top caps and the bottom halves of the rings. Once the installation has been completed recheck crosshair alignment with the levels one last time and adjust if necessary. Bore sighting A quality Boresighter is a good investment and will save you time and ammunition. Lacking one you can place the rifle in a secure rest and sight through the bore at a distant object or light and without moving the firearm adjust the crosshairs to the same object. This will get you on the target at 25 yards. Your firearm is now ready to be sighted in with live ammo at the range. Safe hunting, Morris Melani

A .404 Jeffery Stalking Rifle-Part 5

Part 5-Final Stock Shaping A .404 Jeffery Stalking Rifle by Dennis Daigger

Considerations The foundation of my desired stock dimensions had been incorporated into the pattern but the final adjustments would come out of the roughly 1/4" excess that had been left on all surfaces from the grip rearward. The specific dimensions to come from these adjustments were: cast off 1/4" toe out 1/4" pitch approx. 2" length of pull 14" comb height appropriate for iron sight alignment In additional to the recoil pad, a horn inlay in the bottom of the grip and the rear sling screw would need to be installed at some point. The Tools cabinet pattern maker's rasp hand plane scrapers Grobet 1/2 round vulcanite file chain saw files Preliminary Shaping Some preliminary shaping was necessary to get the stock to a point that the standing leaf could be sighted in for 50 yards.   Since the rifle stock would be optimally proportioned for use of the open sights, this 50 yard sight plane would fix the height of comb and then the comb height will be used as reference for all other dimensions of the butt. The comb created during shaping of the pattern had been set at a height that the bottom of the bolt cocking piece would just clear so this is where I was starting with the machined stock. An aluminum shotgun cleaning rod was wrapped at two locations with masking tape for a snug fit in the bore of the rifle. The part of the rod extending over the butt of the stock gave me a good centerline which was marked in pencil the length of the butt. Next, the length of pull was marked. The pattern had been left at 13 1/2" so another 1/2" would be removed. I would be fitting a 1" Pachmayr Decelerator pad and wanted a curved profile so the center of the curve was marked at 13". I wanted about 1 1/2" of negative pitch so the rifle was placed inverted on the bench and the muzzle was blocked up with a 1 1/2" spacer. A square was then used to mark a line on the butt that was perpendicular to the plane of the bench, this line intersecting the 13" length of pull mark. Because I was going to put a curve in the butt I did the initial squaring cut with a Japanese Dozuki saw. This aggressive saw cuts fast, leaves an ultra smooth cut and doesn't tend to wander. For a flat recoil pad installation requiring a perfectly flat cut a table saw or a miter saw would have been used for this cut. I have a VL&D Francotte shotgun with a pleasing curved buttplate and I traced and transferred this curve to my stock. I don't have a drum sander to create the profile of this curve so it was roughed in with the cabinet pattern maker's rasp by hand. Then a belt sander finished the job using the leading edge of the belt as it came off the front roller to smooth the curve. From the centerline mark on the comb where it met the butt, 1/4" was measure to the right. This point on the butt was extended to the action tang and this is the centerline that would give me the castoff that I wanted. The rifle was inverted on the bench and using a square this line was extended through the butt end top to bottom. The toe end of this line was used as a reference and another mark 1/4" to the right was made. This would give me the toe out that I wanted. Extending this line to the offset line on the comb would be the centerline for installing the recoil pad. I was using a medium Pachmayr pad and wanted to keep it near full size so needed to spot its location fairly accurately. The inverted rifle was placed on the bench balanced on the bridges and a drop at heel mark was located 1 1/2" up from the bench surface to the pad centerline located earlier. This would be the location for the top of the pad.  The screw holes were then marked from this reference and drilled.  Then the pad was installed. Load Development By this time I had my dies and reloading components on hand. I use Reloader 15 in my .450/400 Jeffery Ruger No. 1 loaded to 2,090 fps and this velocity in the .404 is approximately the original specification. Most of the loads found on the internet are significantly faster for the .404 than I want to shoot but I did find a RL-15 load that gave me a starting point. I had little of this powder so also loaded some Varget. Loading three-grain spread RE-15 test loads I found that 73 grains with Hornady's DGX gave me 2,150 fps. The Varget loads ranging from 68-71 grains gave me velocities of 2,100 to 2,150 with more visible brass stress than the RE-15. With 15 rounds of the RE-15 load in hand I returned to the range the next day and cut the rear blade in to dead on at 50 yards. Final Shaping The comb was now lowered and reduced in thickness so that upon opening my eyes after mounting the rifle I had near perfect sight alignment with the merest head movement. The centerline of the bottom of the butt was drawn through the grip and the grip was reduced in circumference evenly from this line until it had a comfortable fit in the hand. The top of the barrel-action channel was sanded flat to the half barrel diameter depth. Two layers of masking tape were applied to the bottom metal exposed surfaces and to the action tang and these wood levels were brought down to where the tape was just scuffed. The rest of the shaping is simply slow, steady grunt work using the tools listed above. The most useful tool I have found for shaping and profiling is the Grobet 1/2 round vulcanite file. It is round on one side, flat on the other. It is double ended, each end being tapered. One end is fine cut, the other rough. This is an aggressive file and leaves a smooth finish. This is what I used to shape the grip, the flutes in the comb and nearly the entire cheek pad as well as the horn fore end tip. The wider parts of Henry groove in the horn fore end tip was done with the Grobet file and the finer ends of the groove were done with the chain saw files. The horn grip inlay was shaped by hand and the cut in the grip was done with the vertical mill using a 1/2" end mill. The inlay was then glued in place using cyanoacrylate glue. Next-Part 6 Putting the Finish On and Leather Covering a Recoil Pad

A .404 Jeffery Stalking Rifle-Part 4

A .404 Jeffery Stalking Rifle-Part 4

Part 4-Inletting the Gunstock A .404 Jeffery Stalking Rifle by Dennis Daigger

Scrutinizing the Gunstock The stock duplicated from my blank using my pattern arrived in early April. The blank had a flaw on the right side of the butt section that penetrated about 3/16" that was avoided, as expected, with good machine set up. When evaluating a gunstock blank the two most important considerations for me are grain and figure. Regardless the firearm being stocked, the grain is the most important of these two needs.

I think the grain integrity of the grip needs to extend rearward well into the butt and forward through the forearm to provide the strength needed to minimize breakage possibilities. You can imagine the basis of a good gunstock by visualizing a long 2" diameter straight-grained dowel that is centered through the grip, running the length fore and aft through the entire gunstock. The rest of the stock is just wood cast in supporting roles that contributes little to the overall strength of this core.

Regarding evaluation of the figure visible in the blank it is not unlike looking at a pretty overdressed woman and trying to visualize what lies below. The blank's figure merely teases and hints at the gunstock's possibilities.

The grain was relatively easy to evaluate with my blank and I had traced my desired location of the final gunstock on it with a wide marker. The figure that would emerge from this layout was left to chance. The pattern had the Henry fore end tip shaped and colored with marker for the duplicator operator's reference. The pattern butt stock had been left 1/2" long for wiggle room when I created the final dimensions.

What I got back is a gunstock that I am quite happy with.  The entire forearm is straight-grained, the grain running parallel to the barrel channel. The grain through the wrist connects nicely with the action section and carries through the butt.  The core is solid and continuous from stem to stern.  It was apparent that I had more wood both inside and outside than I expected from the duplication but that is a solvable problem.

Getting Started My small austere 'shop' is marginal for the kinds of work I perform here. A top-mounted swivel bench vise with rubber jaws and a 10" side-mounted woodworking vise were used to hold the gunstock as I worked on it. The action screw holes in the gunstock were precisely 1/4" and my guide screws made to use on the pattern would again be employed. I was ready to get started but had to plan out one of the gunstock fixtures.

I had a piece of Asian buffalo horn for the fore end tip which at some point would have to get installed. The Ruger No. 1 that I completed last year also had a horn tip but I had attached that using two  1/4" dowels of 1018 steel that had been scored on the lathe. I wanted to use a larger diameter wood dowel and was looking for a better solution.

A 15mm Forstner bit used in a cabinet making project last summer was used to experiment with drilling holes in horn end grain. I was quite surprised to see paper thin white sheets of waste emerge when drilling like that. The resulting hole was clean and smooth. I put the horn tip in the mill vise and using an end mill squared the face in my bench mill.  I then chucked up the bit and drilled a hole about 1" deep in my tip blank. I had no way to turn an integral dowel on the fore end of my gunstock so I squared it at the correct location with a miter saw intending to drill a hole later. The tip would be affixed as the inletting progressed.

Finishing the Job The final stages of the inletting process described in Part 3 were repeated to bring the bottom metal to full depth and then the stock was turned and inletting of the the barreled action proceeded. A small amount of gouge work was needed to widen and deepen the barrel and action channel but scraping accounted for most of the time spent on this chore.

When I was about 3/16" from my final depth for the barreled action, I located the center of the squared fore end for attaching the tip and using a hand drill and the Forstner bit drilled a hole about 1 1/2" deep into the gunstock. While the resulting hole was less precise than the hole drilled earlier in the horn tip with the mill, it was totally satisfactory. A 3" long dowel was turned from a dense piece of thin shelled walnut and I was now ready to glue it in place.

I had some Black Max cyanoacrylate in the refrigerator that I intended to use on the fore end tip. Unfortunately, past its shelf life, it had turned into a thick and unusable mass. After thoroughly cleaning the dowel, the horn tip and hole in the gunstock with acetone I used the cyano glue I had on the bench to glue the parts together. Moderate holding pressure was applied with a long woodworking clamp and this all was left to set up overnight.

Scrapers are an effective and efficiency way to remove horn waste and the barrel channel was extended through the horn tip from the stock barrel channel. Inletting was then finished with careful scrapping to full depth and the action screws were timed short about 1/8 revolution.

I had proud surfaces that now needed to be brought to near metal surface level. A few paper thicknesses would be adequate to allow the final finish application to bring them even.

Next-Part 5 Final Shaping of the Stock

A .404 Jeffery Stalking Rifle-Part 3

A .404 Jeffery Stalking Rifle-Part 3

Part 3-The Stock Work A .404 Jeffery Stalking Rifle by Dennis Daigger

Design Ideas-The 60,000 Foot View With the wheels turning during the metal work I had visualized some of the design features that I wanted to incorporate into the stock. I have always admired the stock design of the Daniel Fraser bolt rifles and with the internet it was possible to study a number of high quality images of a number of this maker's rifles for details.

A short and trim forearm, a Henry fore end tip and a trim overall profile were the predominate features I wanted to incorporate from a Fraser. Additionally, I like semi-pistol grips which were a fairly common feature of some original commercial Mauser rifles.

To Pattern, Or Not My experience with stocking bolt guns is limited. I have stocked a prewar Winchester Model 70, two 98 Mausers and a Springfield 1898 Krag using semi inletted blanks and two rimfires from rough blanks. The rimfires were a Mauser DSM 34 and a Remington 37, neither of which had magazine boxes making these inletting tasks straightforward and relatively easy.

The Satterlee action has some unique dimensions so a semi inletted Mauser stock of any kind was out of the question. Although Stuart Satterlee could CNC my blank I wanted to do as much of the work myself as possible and also I was anxious to get on with the project without delay.

I didn't have the confidence to inlet the project blank to the final standards I hoped to achieve and purchased a thin shell walnut pattern blank.  This would allow me to use bedding compound on the pattern stock to get high metal-to-wood congruency with the final blank through a precision pantograph process.

Getting Started After laying out the general outline of the desired profile I marked the location of the action screws on the bottom of the blank. I had used a jointer to produce an absolutely flat top surface on the blank that was perpendicular to the left side of the blank. I could now use my benchtop mill to drill out the action screw holes quite precisely. Guide screws were made from 1/4" 1018 rod and I was ready to get started.

The guide screws fitted snugly in the action screw holes in the blank and when protruding they acted as guides to lower the bottom metal into the blank as wood was removed. The 1/4" holes in the Satterlee bottom metal are precise and if the bottom metal wasn't descending straight down it would bind. Later this snug fit would help keep a relatively close metal to wood fit for the box walls because the bottom metal was not wobbling on the guides creating an oversize hole.

Once the entire top surface of the bottom metal was started into the blank I went back to the mill and roughed out the magazine box with a 1/2" Forstner bit. This kind of inletting is tedious work and some level of speed can be applied to the early roughing out but a heightened caution and attention to details is necessary in the later stages of the work.

When I had the bottom metal to the desired depth I screwed the guide rods into the action and started inletting the barreled action on the topside of the blank. Again, speed could be applied in the early stage but as the metal to wood contacting surface increased the job slowed down.

I don't track hours for specific tasks but for me this kind of inletting is not an afternoon's job. The inletting did go well and as it turned out I believe I could have avoided using a pattern blank altogether. More time and caution would have been needed for scraping in both the bottom metal and the barreled action.

Shaping the Stock Watching the stock emerge from the blank is the part that I like the most. I no longer have a band saw so the initial outline shape was created using a carpenter hand saw. Many closely spaced cross cuts were made nearly to the desired profile outline drawn on the blank. After the wood was removed from between these cuts I used pattern cabinet maker's rasps on the outside. I did this work freehand bringing the entire profile forward of the grip to just over final dimensions.

I wanted a length of pull of 14", cast off of 1/4" and a bit of toe out, these dimensions nearly duplicating a prewar Merkel shotgun that I shoot well. I had used these dimensions on a recent Ruger Number 1 .400 Jeffery project and it mounts and fits like this shotgun. To ensure I could get the butt dimensions right in the project blank I left about 1/4" extra wood on all surfaces of the pattern blank from the grip rearward. This excess wood would be removed from the pantographed project blank as needed later.

I don't like cross bolts and ideas garnered from conversations with Stuart Satterlee convinced me I could do without them.  The Recknagel rear sight band has a smallish lug on the bottom.  It is threaded for a screw but I didn't want to use this feature for addition fastening but rather as another recoil absorbing surface.  The distance between this lug and the action recoil lug allows the recoil impulse to be applied over a long longitudinal wood grain area.  Stuart additionally had suggested relieving the back of the action tang by .005" and this would be done during scrape in of the project stock when returned from pantographing.

The project blank and the pattern stock were packed up and sent for duplication. The advertised tolerances for this work using the customers pattern were "--.003 to .007 undersized on the inletting and .030 to .040 oversized on the outside". Turn around time was quoted at no more than ten days. It turned out to be about 2 1/2 months before I would see my wood again.

Next-Part 4 Inletting the Stock

A .404 Jeffery Stalking Rifle-Part 2

A .404 Jeffery Stalking Rifle-Part 2

Part 2-The Metal Work A .404 Jeffery Stalking Rifle by Dennis Daigger

I now had all the parts in hand to build a rifle and I got regular updates from Stuart Satterlee about progress on my action. Slowly it evolved into a complete action.  The correct barrel had arrived in his shop from Lothar Walther while the action was being made and it was threaded and chambered as soon as the action was ready.  I received the barreled action in December 2012.

First Reactions The early .404 Jeffery rifles were built on standard length actions that required careful modifications to accommodate the large .404 Jeffery cartridge. It appears, however, that all the Continental and British makers moved to the larger action as soon as Mauser started production of the magnum length offering. Having never owned nor handled a large Mauser action it took a while to get comfortable with the size of the Satterlee Arms action. I had just completed a 9.3x62 on a Persian Mauser which is a standard size action and the size difference is not a subtlety.

Fit and Finish The metal work on the action is first class. Flat surfaces are dead flat, round surfaces are smooth parts of circles and the concave cuts are appropriate parts of arcs. No machine tool marks are evident anywhere on the action or action component parts. It appears that the final hand polishing was done with a 400 grit abrasive and very well done. A quick matting with a scour pad or a carding brush and the action would be ready to rust blue just as it was. Stuart had delivered on his representation that the action would not require a lot of hand work to prepare for bluing.

The finish on the barrel was excellent as well. I don't know anything of the final finish process that these Lothar Walther barrels receive on the exterior but it is as good as I've seen.

Action Component Modifications The trigger had a flat tip profile and the interior arc consisted of two bevel cuts. I thought the trigger could have a more pleasing profile and I rounded the tip and  smoothed the bevels at their intersection into a rounded surface. The trigger was very hard and abrasive stones were required to do this task. I also checkered the bolt release tab. The bridges were the only other part of the action that would be modified and that will be described later.

Installing The Iron Sights The Recknagel rear sight band was a tight fit on the part of the barrel that had been turned for it. It could be gently tapped into place but could not be slid on. I have a small lathe, barely adequate for what I was contemplating, and limited experience with turning metal work. The rear shoulder of the barrel shank for fitting this band needed just a touch of truing and this was done with trepidation creating a slight undercut so that a modest seating crush from the band would give a minimally visible joint. A 1018 steel cylinder was also turned so that the rear sight band could be affixed on it by using archer's ferrule cement. This then was centered in the lathe and the rear of the band was trued.

I used the low temperature version of the Force 44 solder to attach the band on the barrel. The barreled action was leveled in a bench vise using the flat bottom of the action for reference. The shank of the barrel and the interior of the band were tinned and then the band was tapped into place as heat was applied. I used a hammer against a 1/2" piece of hardwood held against the lug on the bottom of the band to drive it into place. Then the band had to be tap-rotated into the correct alignment on the barrel. This process was tedious and frustrating as I over rotated several times and had to reheat and try again.   Keeping the temperature of the metal as close to the melting point of the solder as possible left a very short working time to make adjustments.  Additionally, the limited flat surface of the band top for setting a level contributed to the difficulty.

Eventually I got it done but there was one other problem that needed solved. The sight band was 2.2" long. The shank on the barrel for some unknown reason was 2.7" long. Stuart had warned me about this so I knew it would have to be fixed as the extending portion of the shank beyond the extent of the band did not look good. Using the barrel taper rate, I calculated the diameter at three distances along the 1/2" section of the shank that had to be tapered and then using a cutoff tool on the lathe did plunge cuts at these three locations. This established the correct diameter to extend the taper properly to the front of the ring. I then used these plunge cuts as a reference to hand file to full depth along the section.

I was now ready to move on to the front band. The barrel muzzle diameter was .725". The closest band interior undersize diameter available was .710" diameter. This is not an insignificant difference. I would have to turn the muzzle end of the barrel or expand the diameter of the band. My lathe skills are simply not adequate for this so I turned a piece of 1018 steel with four steps. It started at .710" and went to .720". I polished the face of a ball peen hammer to mirror finish so as not to transfer marks to the band and then peened the band up to the .720" diameter. These bands are soft steel and by very precise application of light hammer strikes over the entire band surface the end result was a band with a snug fit on the .720" section that looked very good on the outside.

I wanted the band set back farther than is typical for American banded ramps but not as far back as some of the British gunmakers. I tinned the barrel muzzle and the interior of the band and then using the method described earlier for the rear band, drove the ramp on leaving 3/8" of the muzzle end of the barrel protruding beyond the front of the ramp.

Cutting The Scope Ring Bases The last of the metal work on the barreled action was cutting the bridges to the CZ profile. Between the time that I first talked to Morris Melani, owner of Alaska Arms LLC, and the time that I had the sights on the rifle, a friendship had developed and Morris did this part of the project for me. He is an extraordinary machinist and with my barreled action mounted on a jig that I fashioned from a piece of square stock steel he completed the metalwork on the action.  As an aside, the precision of Stuart Satterlee's machining was evident as the action was set up for making the cuts.  The tolerances over the entire action were very good, consistently holding under a few thousandths in all dimensions.

Profiling The Scope Rings The final metal work was applying some profile changes to the Alaska Arms LLC quick detachable scope rings. I started by removing all the finish with toilet bowl cleaner.  The rings have a three-facet profile and I smoothed these to a continuous rounded profile. The ends of the levers are square and these were rounded and the lever ends shaped to a tear drop, thinned a bit and then checkered on the top. All parts were then polished with 320 grit paper and brushed to a matte finish preparatory to rust bluing and nitre bluing.

Next-Part 3, Stockmaking The Hard Way