By Clint Hawkins
Owner Hawkins Arms LLC,
AGI Pro Course Graduate, GCA Member
A client brought in an interesting project the other day. He had purchased a rifle of unknown heritage that was beautifully blued and kind of looked like a Mauser. More on that later. It had been re-barreled, but whoever did it didn’t bother to stamp the caliber on the barrel. The man from whom he bought it told him that the caliber was “8mm-06 or .300 something or other, probably a magnum.” He also brought a stock in which he wanted to mount the barreled action. He wanted it inletted, the barrel free floated and glass bedded, but he wanted to do the exterior himself.
The first two photos were taken to aid in determining what model, exactly, this was. The rest of the photos were taken when I realized that this was a project worth sharing. In between are some staged photos to illustrate what took place in between the start and the finish.
First of all, what was this? The bolt said Mauser; the trigger said Mauser, but LOOK! No ejector! Not even mounting lugs, or bosses, for an ejector! Not only was there no provision for mounting an ejector/bolt stop, there never had been. Wait. What is that screw ahead of the slot? Perhaps that was how the ejector/bolt stop was mounted. Well, my client said that the fellow from whom he bought the gun allowed that it was probably a Mauser and included a couple of ejector/stop assemblies, but didn’t know how to mount them. The one on the left is the usual assembly we’re used to, a little research showed the one on the right to be probably an Argentine Mauser assembly. I know, I could have asked Ken Brooks or John Bush, but what fun would that have been?
At this point, I told my client that, yes, it can be done. I’d like to find the proper ejector/stop assembly first, but it would take some time to try to find one. Failing that, yes, I can fabricate the necessary mounting boss. The whole thing would be pricey. Maybe he would like to just buy another Mauser. It would be cheaper.
His response was, well, no. He’d already had paid $X00 for the rifle, and another $X00 for the White Bastogne wood stock, and he’d like to see the whole thing come to fruition. OK, I said, I’ll start looking for the proper ejector/stop assembly.
Along with the task of looking on every website I could find that had anything about Mausers, I sent four photos to Jack, knowing that if he couldn’t identify it, he knew someone who could. Zeros. No one seemed to know anything about this model. Jack Landis called me later to tell me that he thought he remembered some photos that might identify it. He would look for them. If he does indeed have them, they are buried somewhere in the archives.
So, let’s start with something somewhat easier. What caliber is it? Ken has shown us how to cast a chamber, using Sulfur. I use Cerro-Safe, a Bismuth alloy that melts at about 50 degrees less than boiling water. The casting dimensions indicated that it was probably chambered in .308 Winchester. Remember that the casting dimensions are that of the chamber, not the cartridge. A .308 Win Headspace gage confirmed it to the point that I felt safe in firing one later. Here is a picture showing, starting at the top, the chamber casting, the headspace gage and the cartridge.
On we go to the challenge of how to mount the “standard” ejector/stop assembly. It seemed possible to form a contiguous lug from the receiver by TIG up to a shape that could be milled or ground into the proper shape and drilled and slotted. That thought lasted about (SNAP) that long. Structural integrity was a main concern, not to mention that the exact location needed to be determined through a process of fitting. So thought I. This is especially true in that the dimensions of the bolt stop positioning were slightly different between the two assemblies, as can be seen below.
It was determined that the best thing to do was to attach a single piece of metal already properly dimensioned and pivot hole drilled and then cut it for the ejector slot rather than try to attach two pieces and keep them in alignment. But how should it be attached? The options were:
1) TIG: In order to assure a proper weld, the beveling at the seam and the jigging required to maintain proper alignment seemed to be inordinately complicated. Also, there would be much metal to remove after welding to make the job “professional.”
2) Brazing: Same objections.
3) Silver Solder: Similar jigging requirements, but no beveling and less heat made this option more acceptable, especially since there would be little “clean up” required upon completion.
What dimensions should it have? This was partially determined by the dimensions of the cavity of the bolt stop assembly. Again this was different in the two assemblies. I selected to use the more familiar assembly. It was further decided that overall dimensions are not critical; but that it should occupy most of the cavity in the fore/aft direction and that the depth of the cavity plus about .010” would suffice for the width of it. For the height, it was decided that the milled surface on the receiver would provide that dimension, as if it were too short or too long it would not look “original.” This proved to be about .011” shorter than the cavity allowance, but this was not critical as the ejector in its slot determined the vertical positioning of the ejector/bolt stop assembly in the long haul.
What about the pivot hole? This photo shows this fairly clearly. This also is not thousandths of an inch critical, but was determined by measuring the location of the hole from the edge of the assembly that would be next to the receiver, then adding about .010” for adequate clearance and providing at least .020” structural integrity ahead of the hole. Careful imagineering/fitting of the ejector/bolt stop gives the most likely receiver location for where the pivot hole should be, thus also the mount positioning. Since I do not have a mill, I farmed out the mount fabrication job to another, better equipped, gunsmith with whom I have a good working relationship.
After soldering the mount, we end up with something that looks about like this, being shown in this staged photo here as initiating the slot in the mount with a hack saw used only to mark an aiming point to ensure proper perpendicular alignment with the receiver’s slot, then completing and widening the slot with a rotary tool. I cannot show the position, near vertical, used to make sure the cut was accurate. Slowly with a steady hand as I have not the milling machine that would have been more precise. Also, in this staged photo, the saw slipped into the position as shown rather than as actually used. Sorry. Be sure to wear eye and face protection!
After de-burring the sharp edges, I put it all together, shown below, with the stock in place. Perfect. Then I put the bolt in. Oops!
After fitting the bolt back into the gun, I found that the ejector did not enter the bolt’s ejector slot. Why? After several assembly/disassembly trials, I discovered that the ejector slot in the receiver as designed for the original ejector/bolt stop did not extend to the rear enough to provide clearance for this ejector. On the right, you can see that slot being extended about to the same position as the pivot hole.
Now, it’s time to re-blue the damaged area. The barrel is still beautifully blued. Do I need to re-blue the entire gun? Well, I will if I have to, but I decided to try an experiment. I have had a fair amount of success using Brownells Dicro-Pan and also their Oxpho-Blue. The former is generally used in conjunction with boiling water and requires a considerable amount of carding. The latter is considered a cold blue, but most of my success with it has been to heat the metal considerably before application. This requires less carding and that can usually be accomplished with vigorous use of steel wool.
Suppose I just heat up the receiver and employ the Dicro-Pan method? I did and the initial results were beautiful until several applications proved that the top of the receiver just was not going to survive the carding without a mottled appearance. Well, I can still re-blue the whole gun.
Let’s try another approach, being basically lazy. Let’s try using Oxpho-Blue right over the Dicro-Pan. One thing nice about Oxpho-Blue is that once the polish is well established, you don’t need to card the last application, you just polish it up. Voila! The color! It works! Eet ees beeooteefull!
Below, you see it in its stock which has been inletted, free floated, glass bedded and ready for the client to do his part on the exterior. AGI has wonderful courses showing you how to do just about anything you have questions about in metal and wood work.