Gunsmithing How good are the various custom action?

pawprint2

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I'd love to hear from some of the great gunsmiths on this board that have handled every custom action going. When you put the dials on them, which ones have you found to be the most true and least true? A lot of people assume if they buy a custom action it will be "true", and not be in the need of any futher work-I'm guessing some are better than others. Gunsmiths are in a unique position of put forth their experience.
 

swampbuck

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I'm not a smith but I have been an active shooter for 20+ years.

Bat and Stolle are probably the premier bench rest actions out there but the tolerances for these actions are too tight for general use. However Bat has made a tactical with looser specs.

For general hunting/tac rifles there are many great options used by outstanding smiths. GAP uses defiance and Surgeon. Nighthawk has used Pierce and Stiller. Terry Cross uses Surgeon. LA Precision uses Defiance. Les Bear uses Stiller. Big Horn makes great actions as well as Borden. Gradous prefers Surgeon.

They are all capable. The defiance Deviant and Surgeons have integral rails and recoil lugs so are arguably the strongest. Stiller and Pierce are a little cheaper but just as capable.

This weekend all of these actions will be handing their ass to each other in various bets and competitions across the nation. In none of those instances will the action be the limiting factor.
 

seanh

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unless he posts here, I'd call chad dixon at longrifle inc and talk to him directly. He's worked on about ever action available...worth a call.
 

LongRifles Inc.

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    I've used quite a few of them at one point or another and worked for two that at one time were considered the haloed favorites.

    The junk ones have long since passed. Those companies didn't last long. If your shopping and order one today you'll likely have to wait a bit. This only means that demand is high. Shooters are a demanding bunch with an eye for detail. The fact that the companies are this busy only means that the product is meeting the muster.

    Buy with confidence and temper it by buying what's most appropriate for the application.

    The "is my action tighter than your action" debate is often heated and passionately discussed. There's truth in it, but I wouldn't allow it to be the ultimate decision. A Nesika is one of the tightest tolerance actions you can buy. Great if your a BR/Palma shooter. It'd be my last choice if given a cart blanche decision on which gun to take to a tactical match, deployment to the middle east, etc.

    Look for features like primary extraction, fire control timing, and the size of the loading port. I don't subscribe to a petite ejection port simply because at some point all rifles have a malfunction. If your a hunter buried in a snow drift with Q tips for gloves your going to have a hell of a time clearing a "double clutch" on an action with a small target style port. If the lowly M700 can shoot as well as it does with an open architecture port then there's no reason why a custom can't as well.

    M-16 extractors, they seem to be the latest "gotta have it" addition to an action. I don't buy it though. Every one I've ever seen has lead to ejection angle problems. The cartridge bounces off the million dollar scope you just bought at best and at worst it flips right back into the port. Poison in every application. You can modify the extractor to alter the ejection angle, but then your robbing the amount of case rim purchase. What does this mean? In the event of a sticky case it raises the potential for a torn case rim.

    The factory M700 extractor was designed to work the way it does for a reason. It kicks the case straight out at 3/9 o'clock. They are also quite strong and when properly fitted, they work extremely well. Just something to consider.

    The best solution IMHO is the non rotating Mauser type found on control round feed Winchesters, Dakotas, Mausers, etc. It serves double duty. It's an effective breech block on the ejection port side of the receiver (awesome in the event of a case rupture as it helps prevent gun parts from embedding in your face like the neighborhood emo kid that fell face first into a bass fisherman's tackle box) Control round feeding just means the cartridge doesn't have tourettes when it bounces out of the feed lips and attempts to chamber.

    A 3pos safety uses a firing pin block. Meaning its cammed to the rear and the trigger mechanism isn't loaded. Unless there is a catastrophic failure in the fire control, the gun becomes a club or kindling wood. It cannot fire. Not true with a Remington clone. There's a thousand horror stories worth of M700's that mysteriously go bang when the gun is dropped or when flipping the safety off.

    Sako extractors are a great way to end up in the ER if you ever sneeze a case. Hope your wearing safety glasses. . .

    -It's for reasons like this that most PH services in Africa demand that their clients be fitted with control round feed, 3 position safety style actions when hunting dangerous game with a bolt action. -Having been to some of the worst places Africa has to offer I have to think that Murphy and his little law thrives in that god forsaken place.

    A mechanical ejector means no case preload when chambered. If were all going to obsess over the best way to chamber a barrel and hold minimal tolerances so that our brass lies perfectly aligned with the bore it seems like a mute argument when we have a spring loaded plunger poking the ass of the case over in left field. A mechanical ejector eliminates the debate. It also gives you the shooter the decision to either kick field goals with your brass by racking the bolt or have them drop in to a neat pile right next to you by being more conservative with your bolt manipulation.

    I look for little things. Things that make my job easier. I don't like undercutting barrel tennons. The fillet left at the shoulder as result of my finishing insert's nose radius (the cutting tool that profiles the breech end of the barrel) empowers me to believe its a better way because its how racing crankshaft journals are designed. It's stronger this way. It'd be a simple operation to add a .035" wide 45* chamfer on the forward facing side of the recoil lug to clear the corner radius. To my knowledge I'm the only lug manufacturer that does this. It's not a big deal, but it's a pain in the arse when you have 20+ barreled actions a week to get through and you have to dedicate a machine to doing nothing but chamfering lugs.

    I like truncated lead threads and action makers that invest the effort to chamfer/edge break the broken receiver ring threads that intersect the front scope base hole. To my knowledge there's only one guy doing this, AJ Goddard from Bighorn. (yes, I noticed buddy!) Anyone whos ever had to peel a galled tennon from an action will appreciate these little efforts to thwart disaster. I've just recently started incorporating it as part of our standard accurizing service for Remington/Winchester actions.

    Materials:

    Every custom maker out there is using premium grade materials. Some still suffer from lubricity issues, but by and large they all run well.

    Long story short, if your in the market for a custom receiver, buy with confidence. It's a good time to be shopping for one as every one of them is doing a hell of a job. Just make your purchase on an educated decision based on what's most applicable for the job the gun is assigned to.

    Good luck and hope this helps.

    C.
     
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    ORD

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    ^^ One of the single most well-written, detailed posts I've read in a LONG time!! ^^

    Thanks for taking the time to put all that down, Chad. Your knowledge and experience are truly some of the best assets available to the masses on this site!
     

    mcfred

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    Thanks for posting Chad!

    I like truncated lead threads and action makers that invest the effort to chamfer/edge break the broken receiver ring threads that intersect the front scope base hole.

    fwiw the Pierce actions have thread milled holes that do not break through. This takes a little more effort to time/trim various screws to a proper length but overall I like it. It looks cleaner and solvents don't drain out the bottom of the receiver and through the stock if you use too much.

    Do you know if the integrated lug receivers (Bat Tactical, Surgeon, etc.) have truncated lead threads for the tennon? With no separate recoil lug how close to the corner do you have to thread the barrel?
     

    damoncali

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    I don't like undercutting barrel tennons. The fillet left at the shoulder as result of my finishing insert's nose radius (the cutting tool that profiles the breech end of the barrel) empowers me to believe its a better way because its how racing crankshaft journals are designed. It's stronger this way.

    Indeed. For those interested, in engineering terms this is known as a stress concentration. Sharp corners are bad. Radiuses are good. If you imagine a barrel tennon with no threads and no shoulder (held in place by magic, I suppose), and you fire a round it it that barrel might be subjected to a stress of x. When you add a corner, the stress might jump to 1.5x or 2x at the corner. It's tough to say how much without doing a lot of work, but it is dependent on the radius of the corner, among other things.

    Given the placement of the shoulder and threads to the high pressure point of the chamber, it's wise to be conservative here.
     

    E. Bryant

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    With regards to stress concentrations at the barrel shoulder - I totally agree in theory with what is stated above, but in practice, it's a bit academic. We'll shoot out a barrel before we ever approach the fatigue limit of the barrel tenon; 1200 rounds of .338LM sounds really severe, but there are about twice as many cylinder firing events during a single 1/4-mile pass in my diesel pickup.
     

    300sniper

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    Indeed. For those interested, in engineering terms this is known as a stress concentration. Sharp corners are bad. Radiuses are good. If you imagine a barrel tennon with no threads and no shoulder (held in place by magic, I suppose), and you fire a round it it that barrel might be subjected to a stress of x. When you add a corner, the stress might jump to 1.5x or 2x at the corner. It's tough to say how much without doing a lot of work, but it is dependent on the radius of the corner, among other things.

    Given the placement of the shoulder and threads to the high pressure point of the chamber, it's wise to be conservative here.

    Although I chamfer my lugs and leave the tool radius at the shoulder, undercutting may or may not be the worse stress riser when you look at the fact the thread minor diameter is smaller than the rest of the joint. That is also a big no-no on a high-stressed joint, since all the sudden were looking at this from a stress/failure point of view now.
     

    turbo54

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    With regards to stress concentrations at the barrel shoulder - I totally agree in theory with what is stated above, but in practice, it's a bit academic. We'll shoot out a barrel before we ever approach the fatigue limit of the barrel tenon; 1200 rounds of .338LM sounds really severe, but there are about twice as many cylinder firing events during a single 1/4-mile pass in my diesel pickup.

    Thank you.

    Couldn't agree more.

    From a strict engineering standpoint, single shear is a shitty arrangement of attaching anything.

    How reasonable would it be to attach the wheels to our cars in double shear??

    More importantly, has the traditional single shear attachment of wheels to our cars been a problem?

    Lastly, Chad mentions racing crankshafts having a wide-radius where the journals meet up to the cheeks of the crank...

    ...that's only because small(ish) racing crankshaft manufacturers don't have access to the awesome undercut fillet roller equipment the OEMs use, which is quite a bit stronger and more fatigue crack resistant than a racing "wide radius"...
     

    E. Bryant

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    ...that's only because small(ish) racing crankshaft manufacturers don't have access to the awesome undercut fillet roller equipment the OEMs use, which is quite a bit stronger and more fatigue crack resistant than a racing "wide radius"...

    If I'm not mistaken, the OEMs actually "deep-roll" (cold deform) those undercut fillets in order to gain some additional strength through the compression and deformation of the underlying material. For the average firearm enthusiast, the idea of residual stress being a Good Thing(tm) probably doesn't sound quite right, but this sort of thing is pretty common in a lot of industrial products (shot-penning being another widely-used process for improving the fatigue strength of things like gears, connecting rods, etc.).

    Anyways, back to arguing about how many angels fit on the head of a pin...