Gunsmithing Q&A with Ken Brooks

Ken Brooks, PISCO Gunsmithing

with Master Gunsmith Ken Brooks
AGI Instructor, Owner Pisco Gunsmithing

AGI students and Gun Club of America members get access to several methods of contact with the instructors, including a special forum on the Gun Club of America members-only website. Here are a few of their questions to Master Gunsmith Ken Brooks. His answers may also help some of you improve your gunsmithing skills.

Question: M1A Barrel change, op rod guide removal

I have a New Springfield M1A in for a new barrel installation. Having never re barreled an M1A, What tools are needed to properly remove the barrel, and this one does not seem to have an op rod guide pin, so how to remove? The barrel replacement is a Krieger. I have the split aluminum bushing barrel vise from Brownells and a couple of action wrenches.What do you recommend ? I have also heard that after removing the barrel, the receiver needs to be swagged ? your thoughts and comments always greatly appreciated. Thanks !
Ken’s Answer:
I am not sure on the operating rod guide but I believe it is pressed onto the barrel. The barrel has some splines that keep it in place. As far as barrel removal clap the barrel tight so it cannot spin and using a wrench that fits the receiver well, unscrew the receiver. Often a flat sided wrench will work as there are a couple of flats on the receiver that will mate up to the wrench. I have no idea what “swage the receiver” means. Fit the new barrel correctly, testfire and away you go. Ken

Removed barrel using Action wrench and barrel vise without issue. Op rod guide was pressed on, I used a little heat from propane torch, op rod guide came right off. After installing new barrel, and checking headspace, I needed to finish ream a bit to obtain proper headspace and had difficulty driving the reamer in the small space. I used an end wrench to turn it and applied pressure on the back side to get a bite. There has to be a better way to do this next time! What do you use to drive the reamer on these.? No access for a standard T- handle driver.Thanks !

Ken’s Response:

Pull thru reamer and extention or remove the barrel and use a regular reamer and then reinstall the barrel. Ken


Question: Rem 700 feeding issue

Reminton 700 300 WinMag issue with chambering. Friend asked me to look at his Rem when I visit him in a couple weeks, says either when feeding a round from the mag or just dropping one into the chamber it is hard to close the bolt. Uses both factory ammo and reloads. No issues with closing the bolt without a round in the chamber. He slams the bolt hard to chamber the round and stated sometimes when extracting without firing, the round is stuck in the chamber.
Ken’s Answer:

Could be several problems. Bad chamber, poorly fitted extractor are the two most common. The extractor may stick too far into the bolt face and the front face of the extractor hits the back of the case. The two flats just press against one another. The extractor chamfered edge needs to be extended further back so the rim of the case will push the extractor back and allow it to snap over the rim… or you can adjust the extractor so it doesn’t fit into the center of the bolt face as far. Since the rounds stick in the chamber it could be the belt area of the chamber is too tight, or the neck is too tight or the throat is too tight or the chamber itself is crooked or too tight. How tight are the rounds in the chamber? Are they tight or just not extracting? (Sometimes the extractor just doesn’t hook over the rim when the bolt is closed. This specific problem is NOT common). Ken


Question: Stainless Steel Properties

Am I correct in that stainless steel is a softer and more malleable steel than the alloy steel used in most blued guns? If this is correct, then buying a stainless steel gun for a greater price has few advantages.

Ken’s Answer:

You are correct. Many companies claim their stainless parts are hardened etc. but stainless is softer than regular steel and will not last as long.


How much faster will the stainless wear?

Ken’s Answer:

Since stainless steel is softer it will start right from the get go. Now this doesn’t mean that stainless steel won’t work for guns because if it never did then all of the stainless guns would be wrecked and no one could or would sell any more. BUT stainless steel is not as hard and will not last as long as a regular steel gun. Most people don’t shoot their guns enough to wear them out and most hunters definitely don’t shoot their super zapper ultra range must have elk killer magnums enough to wear them out.


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