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Gunsmiths - promote your work with the use of a barrel stamp.

Gunsmiths -- Promote Your Work With The Use Of A Barrel Stamp

Neat, professional looking caliber and gunsmiths or firm name barrel stamps add to the value of any custom rifle. Also, a precision-fitted benchrest, varminter or plain sporting barrel should, by all means, be caliber-stamped, too. And if the gunsmith isn't affixing his name, along with the caliber stamp, then he needs a lesson in the benefits of advertising -- especially in the case of self-promotions.

Machine pressed roll-on systems are seldom practical for the average gunsmith. However, single line name stamps are available and can be easily made up via Brownells Inc. For plain caliber stamping the B-Square stamp guide and 3/32" type face on 1/4" square shanks is ideal. These are large enough to permit filling after blueing, with Bonanza gold or silver for an attractive contrast.

It took a little experimenting and a few late-night hours to get our own caliber stamping program up to acceptable standards. I presumed the guide would provide instant, perfect alignment, to replace the old "free-hand" system. However, I soon discovered that the narrow 1/4" bottom gap between the sides of the guide was insufficient to properly center onto barrels. Also, the open left end of the guide widened out of proportion, to the solid, screw-hold post guide. My first marking, a rather long one (.358 Norma), veered slightly out of line.

I filed approximately 1/8" off the corners of the portion of the guide which rests against the barrel when clamped with the "U" clamp. This helped with the centering alignment, but spread the width of the open end.

Being that the entire length capacity of the guide would probably never be used. I considered a cross-bolt, similar to that on its right side, with a 1/4" square spacing bar, to establish the uniform open gap width. Prior to this, I had already acquired a section of 1/4" square bar stock, and cut five 2" lengths (same length as the 1/16" thick spacers provided with the tool). The left-side spacing 1/4" bar was cut to 1-1/4" the same height as the guide's vertical body.

This open end was clamped temporarily with a medium-sized vise grip. Now everything was working fine except the inconsistency of the 1/4" square bodies of the stamps. Some were correct, some were loose, and a few were too tight. A light pass over the 1" faced felt buffing wheel freed the over-sized ones.

Correct Spacing

Tough At First

With the barreled action in the work vise, barrel to left, action right, and the guide unit clamped into place where I wanted to stamp the caliber, the first figure was easy. I merely placed it up against the jig's right side post. I devised a method of pre programming each caliber, marking the needed space information on a sheet of paper.

For initial spacing determination, without stamping into metal, I covered the top of the barrel with a sheet of masking tape, and cinched up the guide on top of this. The first letter or figure was pushed onto my rubber stamp ink pad, and then I gently inserted it into the guide, giving it a light bump with a small brass hammer. It was legible. It took two 1/16" spacers to properly space the next letter. (Stamp removed each time after stamping, spacers only from then forward to left.)

It took plenty of experimenting, and a number of new tapes to print on. Each caliber we used was carefully worked out before actual steel stamping. I made up a file sheet for each caliber, using a rough drawing that showed the guide post at right, first character against it, so marked.

For the third character one 1/4" square spacer was needed. The next figure needed two 1/4" squares to the right of it. The next figure called for two 1/4" squares plus two 1/16" spacers. The third and final figure for the .280 REM stamp was the 2. It took three 1/4" squares to the left of the guide post to position it.

Keeping these sheets with drawings on a clipboard enables me to stamp any such programmed caliber onto a barrel in a matter of minutes. Each new caliber you use will have to be worked out space-wise, using the tape-and-rubber stamp ink system, but once you have it carefully recorded on paper, it is simple.

I might suggest that you ask B-Square Company to supply some 1/4" square spacers with their guides or to order some extra spacers at the time of placing your order. These are easier to handle and faster than packing the guide with those small 1/16" ones, once you are two to three 1/4" squares to the left of the beginning. Another suggestion would be to mill out the bottom edges of that guide accurately so there is more of a real deep "V" or "U" block bottoming for perfect alignment, then provide a 1/4" spacer and space-holding the cross screw on the guide's left side, as well as the right.

A guide such as this one could also be used to align single line name stamps and hold them in position for accurate stamping.

Rust Blueing For Bore


Old-fashioned "Rust-Blueing" of firearms has almost fallen by the wayside. When "time" is the key element in doing business, everyone is searching for the methods that give good results in the least amount of time. The best method developed so far is the in-the-hot-tank chemical blueing solutions, such as Brownells Oxynate 7 and Du-Lite Steel Kote, plus various others, that enables the operators to process several firearms at a time.

All the smaller parts are contained in wire baskets, and blued without any problems. After 15 to 30 minutes, or in some instances longer, the jobs are completed. Most gunsmiths have tanks capable of holding two-or three-barreled actions and the accompanying smaller parts.

During this chemical process, the only important requirement is to lift the blueing parts baskets and the barreled actions; dip them into cold rinse water; rub them gently with water-soaked flannel cloths; and, then, return them to the hot bath, usually operating at about 291 degrees F. There is no need to protect the bores of guns with the hot immersion methods.

However, these chemicals are often too harsh to use with soft-soldered shotgun barrels and ribs. Due to the difficulty of obtaining cyanide additives to protect solder and enhance the blueing of hard steels, many gunsmiths are going back to the old-fashioned, yet high quality rust blueing method. This method does not adversely affect soldered joints in any manner.

There are some other precautions that should be taken, however. These chemicals impart an immediate harsh rusting to the steel surfaces. (The insides of the barrels and the screw holes must be protected.) The threaded screw holes should have their screws turned into bottoming positions. This partially protects the threads, and yet, blues the entire exposed screw.

The insides of firearms barrels also must be protected from the harsh rust-blueing action. While the blueing chemical suppliers have come up with glass-plastic expanding plugs for shotguns, I was temporarily lost in properly protecting rifle barrel muzzles! Wooden and other material plugs failed.

Once the problem was recognized, the solution was simple: Coat the inside of the muzzle with Acra-Glas releasing agent (after inserting a cleaning patch plug about 1-1/2" down the barrel from the muzzle end). After the inside of the remaining open muzzle is thus coated (and allowed to dry), mix Brownell's Acra-Glas or 50-Epoxy butter, fill the barrel end, and then allow it to harden over-night. Neither boiling water, heat nor chemicals will penetrate this plug, thus saving the rifle bore.

When your blueing work is completed, run a bore size rod into the barrel from the chamber end and gently bunt out the plugs -- and then scrub clean. Rust blues, such as Jim Spradlin's Belgium Blue (113 Arthur, Pueblo, CO 81004), do a fantastic job, if handled properly.

PHOTO : Programing your B-Square stamp guide beforehand.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Publishers' Development Corporation
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:gunsmithing
Author:Schumaker, William
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Jun 1, 1989
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