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Shop tips; proper use of chambering reamers.

Shop Tips; Proper Use of Chambering Reamers

Hand Reaming Chamber Finish

Do not finish ream your rifle chambers to the final few thousandths for headspace with the barrel tightly locked up in a sturdy barrel vise. The vise compresses the steel and you get an oversize chamber, although you might be getting the headlength correct. This can be done satisfactorily in the barrel vise if the grip tension is backed off to merely keep the barrel from turning.

We prefer to remove a barrel from the vise (if it is short on headspace), and return it to the lathe for an accurate final finish and dimension. It is extremely difficult to hand-finish ream a chamber and get it as smooth and uniform as an in-the-lathe job will turn out.

Don't Polish Chambers

During the process of doing nicely-finished work many of us have polished chambers after reaming. This looks great and produces a fired cartridge case that is little short of beautiful. It extracts easily. For average handloader shooters who load mostly for hunting and plinking purposes, it can be an advantage. However, bench rest shooters who spend endless hours and dollars for every possible perfection, may have a short supply of cases that are perfect for their one-hole accuracy groups.

They value every shot fired from such cartridge cases that have been uniformed by outside neck turning, primer pocket depth and flash hole reaming for uniformity, plus inside flash-hole deburring and neck length trimming. The BR (bench rest) boys say polished chambers promote additional case stretching, causing more full length sizing, and subsequent shorter case life. Professionally made chambering reamers cut smooth chambers and require no further polishing. One of my helpers remembers the time he was wiping off a Keith Francis reamer and made a noticeable cut on one of his fingers. Dan said, "that reamer is sharp." In order to do good work cutting tools should be kept sharp and handled carefully.

Use Chambering Reamers

If you have chambering reamers without the integral throat section and use separate throating reamers to throat for various bullets your varmint or target shooting customers use, you have the ideal tool for that final touch of the bore edge muzzle crown. Insert the (no throat) chambering reamer pilot into the bore, well lubricated, and advance the tailstock almost microscopically to trim the bore edge with the lathe in low speed position. Be sure to hold advance position for about 15 seconds to positively clear the cutter lands of the reamer.

This type of ultra care for a muzzle crowning is in line with various target shooting sports. It will also help sporting arms accuracy. Let's leave no stones unturned to further the precision of our shooting sports.

Quick-Exam Guns BEFORE Repair

Much customer misunderstanding and often "FREE" work for you can be avoided by taking a few minutes whenever possible and going over the customers' complaints, work and repair orders in detail at the time the guns are left at your shop. Experienced gunsmiths can often recognize potential hidden problems. For instance, a home hobbyist re-stocked military rifle such as a 1917 Enfield must have the front end of the trigger guard frame straightened, and a stock blank to accommodate this alteration is necessary.

Whenever such a rifle has the original dip-in front guard screw plate, yet the stock does not shape in accordingly, there is probably several hours work ahead to properly finish inletting the stock. Our shop recently took in one which lacked almost a cartridge diameter of having the magazine box fit into the bottom of the receiver. The follower would hang up in this out-to-the-wood gap and almost prevent loading a cartridge. Whenever a round could be maneuvered into position it promptly jumped out of the magazine. The customer had recently acquired this rifle from a sharp trader and was not aware of the problem.

Worn Barrels Not Worth Scoping

Fortunately I had glanced at the inside of the barrel, vetoed the customer's wishes to convert it into a .300 magnum, and indicated it probably would still give some service as a .30-06. I'd examined and fired lots of pitted and worn barrels that still delivered hunting accuracy, but after doing the scope installation, inletting the stock so ammunition would feed, single-staging the trigger, jewelling the bolt, this one was hopeless. It gave barely hunting accuracy at 50 yards. The customer had to be informed that after all this work and expense he still didn't have an adequate rifle. Fortunately we had an issue 1917 Enfield military barrel in perfect condition and volunteered to install this at a reasonable cost, so he could be assured of good hunting accuracy.

Keeping Customers

Much of the afore-experience can contribute to loss of customers if not handled cautiously. Careful examination of guns at the time work is taken in helps avoid extra unmentioned costs and work. Stay awake, make no promises on questionable matters such as old barrels or stocks inletted by inexperienced hobbyists. A good approach is to ask the gun owner for an examination hold, during which time you can tag the gun for targeting and removal of the stock to get a complete answer to what needs to be done. From here more accurate quotations and statements can be made.

Split Stock Tangs

Any rifle stock having a crack or split-out to rear of receiver tang is a high suspect for trouble, as frequently the recoil block has broken away from the stock's sidewalls, permitting bending of the guard screws and rearward thrust to contact the stock tang and split it. Whenever a front guard screw binds, comes out with interrupted resistance, or refuses to come out, a major stock overhaul or a new stock is needed.

Through many years of spotting these gun sickness symptoms gunsmiths learn to recognize them as instant warning signals. It is impossible to pre-spot all troubles from a surface inspection, but lots of them can be easily recognized, saving you and the customers money and work, plus keeping them happy.
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Author:Schumaker, William
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:column
Date:Aug 1, 1990
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