The Continuing Adventures of Bubba the Gunsmite

That’s not a typo: Bubba don’t smith guns, he smites guns. And a look around the trusty Intertubes tells us he’s been a busy little Bub, he has.

We’ll start with the venial sins and work our way up to the mortal sins. For the first, Father Weaponsman is inclined to let you off with a few Paternosters and a week of remedial training. For some of the others, well, the penalties shade away through lifetime tool prohibition, towards the positively cruel and Asiatic.

But this Asiatic pistol, a Norinco commercial TT-33 knockoff (aka Type 54), tends more towards the venial, because it is, after all, done upon a cheap and common pistol. As a common commercial import in the period 1985-89 it has little value as a collector piece and less as a carry pistol, with its unusably awkward ATF-specified afterthought safety. (Not to mention that most of these are chambered in a cartridge without suitable defensive ammo available). The “upgrades” Bubba has installed don’t mitigate its weaknesses: cheap rubber grips force-fit off a 1911, a refinish job that is more redolent of Krylonkote than professional products, and three incredibly tactical perforations in the trigger, for the purpose of…?  We’d guess, for the purpose of demonstrating that this Bubba was the only one in the bayou with a fully equipped shop, to wit, a Home Depot drill press. (Extra Bubba Points if he drilled the trigger in the gun).


Yes, it’s ugly, but not fugly. But patience Grasshopper: Bubba will take us there in due course. Not quite yet though, first we have another pistol Bubba job.

This one is more of a category error, as it doesn’t seem badly done… instead, the logical question is, “Why would you do that?” Handguns by design give up some of the benefits of long guns (like powerful cartridges, and shoulder-fired stability) for convenience and portability.

Here, by using a large aluminum chassis to mount the gun to a scope and an AR-15 stock, Bubba has produced a weapon with the awkwardness of a long gun, but with its firepower limited to five pistol rounds. This was ID’d to us as a Smith, but we wonder if it’s a Taurus. It looks like a Judge.


Here in New England, some waterfowl hunters like inexpensive, three-shot bolt action shotguns, usually with long barrels (up to 34″) in hopes of reaching out to formations of Canada geese. Of course, if you are Bubba with tactical ambitions, you need to trim that shotty down to Operator Size. You also want to do something about that protruding bolt handle.

bolt-shotgun-bubbaBubba may be proud of it the way it is but that 18″ barrel is about twice as long as it needs to be for this firearm’s optimum employment, to wit, knocking off 7-11s.

Now let’s take the jump (the MORE button) and look at Bubba in his natural habitat, to wit, inexpensive Russian surplus. Next stop, the SKS-45, a favorite among Bubbas.

Let’s just start with the first three of the Lee Sisters: Ug, Home and Gnar.


Next Lee Sister up, Beast:


Lots of rails, no sights, and the Magpul MOE pistol grip. (What’s the over-under on whether Magpul’s next two products for the Bubba demo are going too be named LARRY and CURLY?)

… and the queen of all the Lee Sisters, Ghast, answering that question: “Can it still be a Bubba job if they attach a high-quality optic? Well, what do you think?


We know what you must be thinking now. “If Bubba’s SKSes look like this, can I call on a merciful Lord for the strength to look at his Mosins?” Well, can you?

Somewhere, a 97-year-old Red Army vet is looking at this picture. “For this, we fought the Great Patriotic War? Bozhe moi, are we sorry we won?” The ultra cantilevered scope mount is a nice touch. Maybe this Bubba can get with the Bubba behind the SKS above and reach some kind of a happy medium.


The other extreme is taking your bog-standard $300 Mosin and adding $1000 worth of tactical crap in an attempt to compete with a Walmart rifle-and-scope package that sells for $600.


Or you can just go half way.


You can make a Scout Mosin:


Or … well… whatever in the name of Niffelheim this Bubba thought he was making.

mosin-bubba-weirdnessNothing says “Gecko 45, Mall Ninja” like a PVC stock arrangement with more weird angles than Nambu machine guns.

Then, there’s the peculiar kind of Bubba who serves Middle East dictators and Mexican cartel chiefs, proving that if you beautify a functional but ugly firearm vigorously enough, you can produce something as ugly as the cartel’s product — and its men’s souls.


But Bubba does not smite Russian iron alone.

One Bubba specialty is making ordinary shop tools more high performance by welding firearms to them. Sometimes he doesn’t even use Mosins or SKSes.


If you’ve ever wondered what happened to that one missing wrench from your set, well, look no further. Bubba’s got it. But that’s not the worst of it; he’s also helped himself to the flatware. spoon-bubba

Still, when he is not striving to increase the tactical potential of ordinary household items by welding, soldering, brazing, or super-gluing firearms to them, he brings these same talents to work on improving ordinary firearms, often in ways that leave traditional, hidebound gunsmiths speechless before his unprecedented work.

He has long shared the belief of California politicians that any old firearm, here a Lee-Enfield, can be made 10,000 times more tactically deadly (or maybe it’s deadly tactical?) by the addition of a barrel shroud.


Or, absent the barrel shroud, maybe it really needs the Shoulder Thing that Goes Up™, as seen here:tactical-enfield-bubba

(Which grip is that? LARRY or CURLY? Inquiring minds want to know….)

This kind of innovation makes one forget that Bubba’s usual daily bread is made working on the good old AR-15 platform. Is there anything he can’t do?

ar-bubbaFinally, a talent like Bubba’s cannot be contained in ordinary ARs and inexpensive, common surplus firearms. Sometimes he need to stretch.

He can even improve on Swiss workmanship, our Bubba:


Those silly yodeling chocolatiers breathed the thin air of the high Alps so long, that it never occurred to them to make this simple and natural improvement to the K-31.

But even Bubba, that man of such a wide range of talents, can’t resist sometimes, taking some boring GI firearm and making something really special out of it.


Mel Johnson, eat your heart out. (And don’t dare criticize the front and rear sights for not being in plane. They are! The rifle is just designed for shooting at 1500 yards).


63 thoughts on “The Continuing Adventures of Bubba the Gunsmite

  1. Clarence Chen

    Holy hell! If that last one is a bona fide M1941 Johnson, not only did he bubba-fy a WW2 rifle, last time I checked Johnson rifles are a few thousand dollars each. Real shame.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Yeah. Going price is $4-5k for a GI one, and $2-3 for one of the sporterized ones… perhaps a little more for the rare color teflon finish on the sporters. Even when Johnsons were sold off as surplus, they were going for $40 or $50 when 1903s and 1917s were under $20, judging from ads in old magazines.

      1. Clarence Chen

        Yeah. They only made ~70k Johnsons compared to ~1.3 mil M1903s and a whopping `6.25 mil M1s, and even those are going for quite the pretty penny. I will never understand the desire to modify a piece of history. If you want a ultra-tactical space laser, get a snazzy new AR. Leave the antiques for the rest of us.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Search the archives for Bubba. There’s a Glock there that will make you appreciate the fine factory finish on the Austrian Lego Blaster.

  2. jim

    Revolver in pic 2 is a S&W X-frame. Chambered in .50 or .460…5″ or 6.5″ barrel. The judge has a much longer (~4″) cylinder and looks much stupider and is even more poorly finished.

    1. John M.

      +1. The Judge’s cylinder is as out-of-proportion as Andre the Giant riding a miniature donkey.

      -John M.

    2. KJ

      That X-frame looks like a John Ross Special. No porting or brake, 5″ barrel, and a 1/10″ twist.

      1. Daniel E. Watters

        I think you are correct. If I remember correctly, a mere 500 were made, and only half of those were all stainless. The remainder were pintos: blackened with the cylinder remaining in its natural stainless finish.

        The stock modification may not have resulted in permanent damage yet. The top of the bracket might attach to the scope mounting holes in the top strap, normally hidden by the adjustable rear sight. The bottom may thread into to the stirrup for the Hogue Tamer Monogrip. However, I doubt either set of mounting holes will stand up to .500 S&W Magnum recoil.

      2. Tam

        Seeing the arrangement of the stock bracket/optic on the X-frame (to say nothing of the amount of work that went into that bracket), I’m half ready to bet it’s a mod to get a one-armed dude back in the deer woods again.

      3. jim

        That’s what I thought…but they are so rare, what are the chances the Bubba bought, Form 1’d, and stocked a Ross .50?

  3. Ray

    The barrel and bolt on that last weapon are made of stainless and that “Johnsonesk” Mag appears to be home made. NOT WW2 and I don’t think any part of it is Johnson made, as it DOES NOT have any other “Johnson” parts , EXCEPT the mag. (the receiver and ALL SS parts are not and never were made by “Johnson”) It might be “inspired by”. But NO it is not “butchered history”.

  4. bloke_from_ohio

    There is a reason why the 10/22 I smote does not get photographed. It has served me very nicely as a plinker and at the occasional Appleseed. It is exactly what I want in a fun little gun. But, I admit that it is ugly, and quality of my “craftsmanship” is below professional grade. But, I did not pay professional grade prices for either the labor or the parts. And you get what you pay for.

    Despite playing legos, I have not made any permanent changes. With the exception of the iron sights (it wears tech sights) I can get it back to stock in 15 minutes with a hex key and a flathead. That includes the time it takes to dig up the original parts. I could get the sights back to factory spec in reasonably short order, I just need to order a new front sight. I lacked the tools and patience to get the original out of the dovetail non-destructively. So it was freed with the help of a Dremel powered relief cut.

    -Partially Repentant Gun Smite

  5. jim h

    simply speechless. seriously. what in the actual f*ck am I seeing? what perverse mind dreams up these abominations?

    I am in the process of taking a previously (badly) sporterized 1917 I picked up for 150 and turning it into at least properly sporterized. it can never be GI stock again since the ears were ground off and it was drilled and tapped for two piece scope mounts. regardless of the damage done, it will never be this bad.

    the other project is building a 1903a3 sporter from a stripped receiver.

    in both cases, all collector value is gone. best case is making the best use of fantastic actions to build good, solid hunting rifles. viewing this breathtakingly depressing and sobering post reaffirms my commitment to making a steaming pile.

  6. Clarence Chen

    In other news, that revolver-rifle thing is a SBR. If he got that papered and forked over 200 for that, that would be a whole-nother level of Bubba.

      1. John Distai

        Is it 14mm? You could shoot AND repair your Toyota! Great irony if that’s what’s on that Japanese action.

  7. Noah Werka

    You mentioned “Gecko 45, Mall Ninja”. Some of your readers may not be familiar with that classic thread that was in one of the “Glock Talk” forums. It can be found HERE. It is some funny stuff if you haven’t read it.

  8. Boat Guy

    Given Bubba’s lack of OpSec and all-around discretion we can but hope he and his ilk absorb a lot of ImpFedGuv attention, time and money in the coming days…

  9. David

    I just did a carry permit class and someone brought a snub Judge. Given the simple course of fire he passed, but listening to the rationale for wanting to carry it was painful. If you are morally and financially responsible for every round you fire, 3 balls out of a short rifled barrel are a bad idea. If you want to mechanically drop someone, same thing.

  10. Swamp Fox

    I have nothing to do before election day, so what the hell I will defend Bubba (some).

    As a former 18B, I never learned how to gunsmith anything, make any improvised weapons, nothing out of the Frankfort Arsenal Improvised manuals. I ask has any 18 Series had any official schooling on weapons manufacturing? The 18B Weapons Sergeant Course technical weapons section is a section where you learn how to take apart some weapons and then put them back together again, the big bad Pile Test. Wow who cannot do that with a manual and in these days watching a video.

    I ask what would more effective in a UW situation The Pile Test or some real improvised weapons making skills along with gun smithing skills, and an in depth knowledge of basic weapons design?

    So the SF guy in me appreciates the “G” in Bubba. So to Bubba in your Black Box lab (your garage) keep it up. We have 412 to 660 million guns so Bubba go ahead and play Dr Frakenstein on a few. You just might make The Monster we are looking for. Just keep Abby Normal’s brain out of the thought process, as it helps to prevent collector grade rifles from getting sliced and diced.

    The 18B NCO education track needs a complete redo from the ground up to Senior Leaders Course

    Hognose your thoughts

    Keep up the good work, I have to go PT.

    1. Aesop

      All I ask is that Bubba work on commonly available firearms with no historical or collector value, nor notable scarcity. (In that vein, Bubbaing that Johnson is a straight hanging offense, no appeal possible.)
      Within those parameters, it’s his Bondo and tableware, and as long as he doesn’t violate EPA regulations, local fire codes, or the like, he serves mainly as a negative example to aspire to.

      To be fair, every actual gunsmith started out as Bubba on day one; the better ones may have been lucky, smart enough to learn to crawl before they could walk or run, or at least smart enough not to think that their used baby diapers ought to be hung on momma’s refrigerator as “art”, let alone posted on the ‘net.

      What happens in Bubba’s basement should stay in Bubba’s basement.

      1. Tam

        (In that vein, Bubbaing that Johnson is a straight hanging offense, no appeal possible.)

        Word. That’s the awfulest thing I ever did see done to a gun, and I’ve seen stuff that would curl your hair.

      2. Dyspeptic Gunsmith

        Well, without defending Bubba too much, many hack gunsmiths don’t pay much attention to how many of a military surplus gun have been produced or what it might be worth until they really start learning much more about guns, if they ever trouble themselves to do so. They don’t know to do some research before putting a tool to a gun. Then we get to the fact that most of them have only rudimentary skills with tools, and they don’t know how to really drive their tools correctly.

        I blame the Glock/AR-15 “revolution” in American gun buying for this state of affairs. Kids today think that there’s an endless supply of parts for older guns – because that’s the situation they’re used to in modern guns. They’re used to “building” guns with punches, wrenches and hammers.

        They don’t even know what old guns are worth. I recently ran into a kid (early 30’s) at our local range who inherited his grandmother’s pristine, pre-war Model 70 in .257 Roberts. Looking at the serial number, I reckoned it was from about 1939 or so.

        The kid was laying the gun directly on a concrete bench, with no protective mat, scratching up the wood and barrel. I went to my car and got a blanket to put over the bench. Told the kid “Please pick up your rifle and put this under it.” Kid looks at me like “WTF? Why are you all over me?”

        “Because, Scooter, that rifle you’re just laying on the bench is worth some serious coin. I’m guessing you didn’t pay a thing for it and you think it’s just some old rifle, right?”

        The kid looked like I had just lobotomized him with a railroad spike. “It can’t be worth that much. It’s just some old rifle my grandmother gave me before she passed away. I’m just out here to see how much it kicks. I want to put a muzzle brake on it, then. I want to put a rail on it and a big scope… (insert list of mortal offenses here).”

        I restrained myself. I’m getting better at doing that, but it takes oh-so-much effort. “Yeeeaaahhhh…. OK, Scooter, tell ya what: I’ll give you $1,000 for that rifle, right here, right now.” I whipped out my wallet and started peeling off C-notes. I carry a wad of c-notes just for such occasions.

        He looked completely befuddled and confused. “Why? Why do you want to buy my grandmother’s rifle all of a sudden, and who the F are you?

        “I’m a gunsmith. I fix, repair and build guns. I know what you have there –exactly what you have there. You don’t seem to know, and what’s worse, you don’t seem to care. I care. Tell ya what: I’ll sweeten my offer to $1500, right here, right now.”

        I peel off five more portraits of that randy old bugger, Benny Franklin. “You can keep your case. I always have spare cases in my care.”

        “If I sell you this rifle, what will I hunt with?”

        “You and I can pack up, then go down to the sporting goods store in town, the one next to the brewery, and I will help you buy a Remington, Savage, Ruger or some other modern rifle, in any caliber you want, and we can put a nice scope on it. You can put all the tacti-cool nonsense on it you want. You’ll have money left over for ammo if you sell me your grandma’s rifle for $1500.”

        He thinks about this for a long minute.

        “No, I don’t think so. This was my grandmother’s rifle, it’s been in the family. You say it’s valuable. I’m going to keep it.”

        Now I leaned forward and got pretty emphatic. “Then take care of it, goddammit. Don’t just lay it on the bench without padding. Don’t make all those stupid mods to it you were just talking about – you’ll ruin the rifle and crater the value. If you ever want to sell it, here’s my card…” I gave the kid my card and the beater blanket.

        Clue transmitted.

        Damn kids. The problem with kids today is that they weren’t slapped around enough. Most of them could use a clue administered upside the head.

        Saw the kid in town last week. He said he talked to a dealer in town and mentioned the rifle. The dealer offered him $2K on the spot, cash. Kid complained I was going to take advantage of him back those weeks ago. I told him, at the rate he was abusing the rifle, I was planning on what it would be worth when I finally took possession. At least now he has a clue what he has, he’s going to leave it alone and keep it safe.

        Most Bubbas don’t have these sorts of experiences. They don’t even know where to look for information. No one helps them, they just hack and flail away, thinking “if it was mil-surp, it can’t be that valuable.” And you get what we see here. It’s sad sometimes.

        1. Hognose Post author

          Very good comment (as usual), DG. I would like to riff of this, though:

          Kids today think that there’s an endless supply of parts for older guns – because that’s the situation they’re used to in modern guns. They’re used to “building” guns with punches, wrenches and hammers.

          That’s the way it was for kids like I was, with Springfields, 1917s, Mausers (how many G33/40s got built into hunting rifles 1955-1985?), and pistols like P.38s and especially 1911s? (I bought a P.38 in 1986 or so from a barrel of them, literally: pick one, $25. A 1911 would have been $250). On the 1911, gun magazines had articles telling Bubba how to grind out his ejection port and add a rough finish to his front strap….

          My guess is, we’re about ten years from someone paying a nosebleed price for an LNIB Gen 1 Glock 17. (We’re starting to see collectors buy Colt SP1 AR-15s for escalating prices).

  11. Dyspeptic Gunsmith


    Well, look on the bright side, gents: The rest of every example shown above have become a little more valuable.

  12. jim h

    c’mon, DG, I mean, whom amongst us hasn’t wanted to do that to a revolver? surely you must have folks running straight off the street to have their snubbies….shoulderized, or whatever you call that. and as an added bonus, it’s gotta feel good to have all that job security once looking at this stuff.

    love reading your stuff. across all the blogs. keep it up.

    1. Dyspeptic Gunsmith

      Well, I haven’t, and I haven’t met anyone who wanted to do that.

      Once you have a long-arm stock on a gun, then why mess around with handgun cartridges?

      1. Tam

        It’d be easier to shoot Bambi with than either a pistol caliber lever action or a large frame revolver…if you only had one working paw.

  13. Rob

    You didn’t happen to catch the latest issue of Guns and Ammo? There was an article where a guy took a mega dollar Swede M-41B sniper rifle and sporterized it. Not sure why he didn’t use one of the many thousands of already sporterized Swede’s.

    Sporterized military rifles don’t really offend me; I can understand why they were done back in the day. But that day is long, long past, and I am always a bit mystified when I run across someone who has not noticed.


    1. Dyspeptic Gunsmith

      That’s why, if someone brings me a mint-condition Mauser/Springfield/Enfield/etc in military configuration, I tell them to put it away in their safe, and let’s go find a bubbafied action and rescue that.

    2. Tam


      We called it “putting a bean in the customer’s nose.”

      Sometimes a customer will come to you and say “Will you please put this bean in my nose?”

      And you’ll “Well, sir, I don’t think that putting that bean in your nose is a good idea.”

      And they say “But I really, really want the bean up my nose.”

      “But sir,” you say, “if we put that bean up your nose it could get stuck. You’ll have difficulty breathing. You’ll wind up very unhappy down the road.”

      “I don’t care! I WANT IT! Here’s $500! Put the bean up my nose!”

      Well, you warned him. And the customer’s always right, even when he’s wrong.

      I still have the cut-off bolt handle of a pristine Argentine Mauser carbine sitting on my desk as a memento of one I just couldn’t talk sense into the owner about. I even offered him more than the gun was worth, or a trade on a brand new Remington… *sigh*

  14. ToastieTheCoastie

    Never thought I’d say it… but shakin’ muh head.

    I’ll never understand the obsession with trying to make an SKS tacticool.

  15. Weredragon

    The shoulder stock revolover is built on a John Ross Performance Center 500 Smith & Wesson Magnum. I have one, the barrel nut in front of the front sight is distinctive. Go ahead and Google it, Bubba done jacked up a $1400 revolver, if John Ross even has any left for sale. If memory serves there were only 500 made.

  16. Jim Scrummy

    Please make it stop….PLEASE. Why do people do stupid things? WHY? Stupid is as stupid is. I can’t fix stupid.

  17. RT

    I have never actually wanted to physically KILL Bubba until he was dead until the final picture…

    No the mag isn’t home made, it’s an original as is the receiver…

    This is why when my urge to… Create became so strong that I could no longer keep it bottled up I bought tools, rather than go to the gun show and harbor freight on the way home!

    I also did this other thing, this novel and totally paradoxical other thing, and bought / downloaded books… Lots of books. Oh and measuring devices of all sorts as dictated by the machinery’s handbook and various armorer manuals.

    I then read the books between bouts of turning big pieces of metal and etc into much smaller pieces of metal on the aforementioned tools…

    I then tried my hand at making more and better tools for my existing tools, because if you can make tools that make things to desired dimensions you’re just about ready to make shit for guns.

    I read the books one more time and made more chips out of big hunks of metal etc…

    THEN I started out making my own little bits and bobs for stuff and buying things like barrel blanks receiver castings etc.

    This wasn’t really that long of a process, nor was it super expensive. When I want to make something now I can do it, and even if I don’t ever feel satisfied with or willing to share pictures of the things I make online… The pretty holes my creations punch in targets in nice tight little groups says that I’m well on my way to doing very good work.

    Why is that such a hard concept?

    P.S: the one impressive thing about that last picture is that Bubba the Moyle (he’s Jewish and you should be able to guess his day job) found an almost pretty cool way to route the existing recoil spring setup through the skeleton stock of his poor mauled Johnson…

    Get it? See what I did there?

    1. jim h

      ha, good one. my personal “fave” is the wood stocked, cantilevered MN with bipod and some sort of unholy grip glued? at the stock wrist. it wasn’t until I blew it up that I realized that there was some sort of design that appears to be scrawled into the wood itself. but you know, by that point, what little value there was in that rifle is long past gone anyhow. all this stuff makes me want to peruse reddit for the funnies you are sure to encounter when they see this stuff.

  18. LSWCHP

    I’m an engineer. A sad engineer, after working my way through that photo set. Good machines, horribly tortured. My dreams are going to be filled with spoons and spanners welded to bolt handles. I may need therapy and medication.

    1. bloke_from_ohio

      I like the spanner bolt handle. It would make a great touch on a prop in some end of the world type movie. It really sets a Mad Max type mood. But, such media is purely mindless entertainment and such silliness belongs on props not on real world weapons. Certainly props like that could be built on common non-historical, non-noncollectable pieces. I admit I don’t know bolt guns well enough to ID what they tacked those improvised handles onto. But, I assume it was not something that is appropriate for the “task” given the responses of the more educated/experienced readers.

  19. TRX

    Bubba hates Arisakas… brr.

    The AR-stock-on-Enfield thing – there is (was?) a company in South Africa that sold SMLE buttstocks for that. And AK-style sidefolders too. But South Africa gets a little weird sometimes.

  20. James

    OK,a lot of folks seem traumatized with this offering of a article and it’s experiments/mutilations gone awry.So,watch this video of the story of the Kalash,tis interesting and you will feel a little better after watching,was on Lew Rockwells site today ,perhaps he got a early version of this article and felt it was the right thing to do! ,hopes this helps folks feel a little better!

  21. Alan Ward

    my second thought after “where is the nearest tree” was what the hell did bubba do to the action of that poor thing that he needed a wrench bolt handle just to get the bolt to unlock???

  22. John Distai

    This is awesome! I love this type of post! This is much more entertaining than the “When Guns Are Outlawed…” segment.

    As a white trash kid growing up, I’d see plenty of this stuff, albeit not as egregious. When your family is struggling to keep the lights on, paying a gunsmith to do some work for you just doesn’t figure into the picture.

    I’ve done my share of Bubba-ing. A little bit of sharp corner rounding, to remove sharp edges cutting into my hand. But I at least took the much slower route and used a file instead of a Dremel. The one time I did use a power tool, I quadruple checked what I was doing before I did it. The result wasn’t quite perfect, but it was pretty damn good for a gunsmite.

  23. Swamp Fox

    I do need some help.

    I have a 1980’s Norma imported CG80 with a Schultz & Larsen barrel in 308Win. I had a gunsmith tell me that the Swedish Mauser actions where not strong enough for 308. What do the gunsmiths have to say?

    1. Bert

      Well, going by SAAMI data, your gunsmith would note that .308 Win is around 20% higher max pressure than that listed for the Swede-

      But the Swede is pretty strong, well made of very good steel, for the day. Sweden sent THEIR steel to Mauser for the initial German made ones, not trusting German steel…

      6.5×55 is chronically underloaded for the USA market by our factories, due to the chance of liability for modern service spec ammo ending up in a weak/worn out/dammaged/under strength for chambering (Norwegian Krag) or other less capable action.

      The fact that the Swedes THEMSELVES rebarreled M96 actions into .308/7.62X51 target rifles suggests that it is not unreasonable.

      Kimber used to sell professionally ‘smited M96 conversions in this caliber, along with .243 Win and others in the same pressure range, have not heard of them having issues.

      1. Hognose Post author

        European pressure levels (CIP) for the 7mm are about as high as for the 7.62 NATO. Husqvarna used to build these rifles into nice sporters, small-ring be damned. A Euro-built sporter in any of these calibers would already have been proofed at well over 60k psi.

        You can’t build a small ring into African dangerous game calibers, but its fine for normal hunting rounds for North American and Euro game.This all goes back to the large ring/small ring controversy and proves once again that a little knowledge, if not a dangerous thing, ought to be a sprinboard for a little more knowledge. Bottom line, you’re right, he shouldn’t worry about his Mauser, it will still be able to serve his great-grandson well, long after all of us are asking Paul Mauser, “Hey, why all the different action sizes?”

    2. Hognose Post author

      I am not a gunsmith but really need to write about Mauser actions. First: your rifle is fine, it was certainly proof tested at manufacture to 125% of European CIP pressure for the .308, as long as you’re not shooting proof loads in it you’re going to be fine.

      The gunsmith’s position, if I may be so bold as to psychoanalyze him, is rooted in a broad distinction in Mauser actions. Most pre-98 Mausers are “small ring” with the front receiver ring measuring about 1.300″ (although Mauser worked on the metric system) and most 98s are 1.410″ (some guys say 1.400″. I’m not going to say I’ve handled all the Mauser action types that exist — there are about a dozen different size actions — but I suspect sloppy measurement). It stands to reason that, ceteris paribus, a large ring would be stronger than a small, but with all the different Mauser actions that’s a gross oversimplification (for example, a small ring with a large barrel shank is less strong than one with a smaller barrel shank).

      In 189x, the 7mm that was used in a lot of the small ring actions (Spanish and Mexican) was loaded to pressures approximating military 7.62 NATO and exceeding commercial SAAMI .308.

      Nowadays, American shooters have come around to the merits of the Swedish 6.6 x 55, but it’s hard to beat the .308 for ammo variety and availability. If you need a box of shells for your hunt in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, you’re a lot more likely to find some nice soft points in the local shop in .308 than in 6.5, and your rifle will shoot them just about forever.

      I really need to write a comprehensive “large ring vs. small ring” and “American Shooters’ Ethnocentric Biases” about this persistent myth. Here are some links for people who’ve already tried to do something like this to hold you over:

      (most technical)

      (a simplified 2-page rundown on action sizes)

      (most readable)

      Bottom line, No nation (except the USA with some low-number receiver 1903s, and Germany and Japan with some last-ditch junk) ever issued unsafe Mausers. Also, you can consider any European (or other CIP member) Mauser sporter to be satisfactorily proofed for the round it was chambered for. American-made sporters on European actions have no proof requirement (and I don’t know of any smith who does this?) but the action will be, unless cut into, welded on, re-heat-treated, pitted from rust or otherwise molested, just about exactly as strong as it was when made in 1966, 1916, or 1896. That’s the nature of steel metallurgy, it doesn’t “go bad” with age (another myth that infuriates me) or fatigue significantly if not stressed beyond its yield limit. (This is in contrast to aluminum alloys, that do fatigue when loaded within their limits, which is why aircraft structures have calculated life limits and are subjected to periodic inspections even during those limits).

      This myth of unreliable Mausers has persisted for a century now, and yet, who has seen a Mauser blow up when not abused?

      1. Dyspeptic Gunsmith

        Ackley found (when he was testing several WWII surplus actions in his time at Trinidad) found that all the WWII bolt actions would hold up to 70K PSI loads, with several holding higher (and the Arisakas holding over 100K PSI).

        The thing is, most brass with unsupported rims will fail before 100K PSI. The thing about bolt guns is that the brass, the receiver, the barrel tenon, the bolt, bolt face, etc – it’s a whole system. You need to look at it as a whole.

        There are some actions that might appear really beefy, or have some ultra-cool sounding feature that doesn’t really improve the strength of the action. eg, the Rem700 and the “three rings of steel” idea, but then they have the crummy spring-clip extractor, which people tend to replace with a Sako or AR15-style extractor. This now costs strength in the bolt nose in the event of a case head rupture.

        From my perspective, some of the rifle actions that are denigrated by the rifle market are sometimes the strongest. The Arisaka – ugly beyond belief, but strong as hell. The post-64 Winchester Model 70 – the extractor is inspired, and provides one of the best solutions to the problem of how to have a high-strength extractor, and an ejector that doesn’t compromise the bolt face. Introduced to the market after the classically finished pre-64 Model 70, the market turned up its nose in revulsion at aluminum bottom metal and sloppy woodwork. The strength and engineering improvements of the action were lost in the revulsion of the post-64 cheapening of the entire product line.

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