Fred Zeglin Most importantly, we are staﬀed by highly gun-literate people, but personally, I graduated from the Lassen College Gunsmithing program back in 1984. I have made a living in gunsmithing and custom guns for over 30 years now, and I’ve published two books, Wildcat Cartridges and the Hawk Manual. My next project is to put together several instructional booklets about gunsmithing.
Not too long ago, I was approached by the American Gunsmithing Institute to make instructional video courses, and I created two videos: Taming Wildcats: Custom Cartridge Design and Fabrication and Reloading A to Z. I have both taught and run NRA Short-term Gunsmithing programs, and coordinate and teach the Firearms Technology program at Flathead Valley Community College.
ASJ It sounds like your scope and depth of knowledge is profound!
FZ In a nutshell, I have chambered and headspaced so many barrels that I lost track of the count long ago. Because of my work developing cartridges for clients and for my own interest, I was forced to learn about headspace at a level that most gunsmiths never feel the need to understand. If you’re going to design new cartridges, understanding headspace is essential.
ASJ It sounds like you enjoy teaching. What is your philosophy when working with students?
FZ When you teach classes it’s necessary to carefully break down the processes you’re discussing to make sure you impart the information the students need. This close evaluation of processes will increase your understanding of the subject in a unique way. If you are teaching others how to headspace a barrel, you better know exactly what you’re talking about.
ASJ Your company name is 4D Reamers. Is that all you oﬀer?
FZ We are constantly adding new tools. Right now we have almost a thousand reamers. In addition to that, we have headspace gauges that work with the reamers and a lot of other gunsmithing tools.
ASJ What other tools do you rent?
FZ We have some AR-15 specialty tools, sight installation pusher tools for several popular pistols, shotgun choke tools in several patterns and gauges, hydraulic dentraising tools for shotgun barrels, specialty taps and dies, crowning tools, forcing cone tools and lots more. Essentially, if it’s small enough to ship in the mail, we might well have it.
ASJ Tell us about the quality of your tools.
FZ We’re often asked if the reamers are sharp. I really have to laugh when I hear that question. I understand the reason that people feel the need to ask, but the answer is right in front of them. We have been in business a long time and repeat customers are our life blood. So, we make every eﬀort to keep all the tools in the best possible condition. We want our clients to come back over and over. If we did not provide good tools, this would not happen.
ASJ Who is your typical client?
FZ That’s an interesting question. We have a lot of hobby gunsmiths and guys who just want to ﬁx up one gun. We also serve the professional gunsmith community; professionals rent more tools simply because they have the volume of work.
A few of our professional clients are benchrest gunsmith Gordy Gritters, Pac-Nor Barrels, Jack First Distributors, Brockman’s Riﬂes. You know these folks have great reputations with their clients and they would not do business with us if we did not take good care of their needs for sharp, quality tools.
FZ When tools return they are inspected under magniﬁcation. Most clients are very careful with the tools. They understand that the next time they need a reamer they will want a sharp tool, so being responsible with them is just natural for most clients.
Once in a blue moon a tool will be damaged. What I like about the gun business is that it’s populated with people who are all about personal responsibility. Most are nice enough to call up and tell us there is a problem; some write a note and send it with the tool. In nearly all cases they simply abide by the rental agreement and take care of the damage.
When a tool shows wear and needs to be sharpened, we ship them oﬀ to professionals who specialize in this. We endeavor to make sure every tool is sharp and in good condition. We encourage clients to call right away if they are unhappy for any reason. Happy clients come back, that’s what we want.
ASJ Why do people rent tools when they can buy them?
FZ If we are talking about a hobbyist gunsmith, tools can be rented for a tiny percentage of what they cost to purchase. Save money on tools and you get to do more projects – it’s simple math.
Professionals use us because they often need tools that they will only use once or twice during their whole career. We often hear, “I have a tool box full of reamers that I never use.” Obviously that’s a huge investment in tools that just lay around. Shops will purchase reamers for calibers that are popular in their area. But the one-oﬀ chambers are better handled by ordering a rental. The overhead cost is so much lower and most shops just charge the rental to the client, so there is no investment at all for the shop. Plus, they can oﬀer every chamber we have tools for without buying a single one. If we have 1,000 reamers, they have 1,000 reamers.
ASJ Do you ever sell reamers?
FZ On a custom order basis we do sell reamers and gauges. Most of these orders are for non-standard reamers. Some folks want special dimensions, so custom orders are the best solution to that requirement. We are not a reamer maker, so we buy all of our reamers from the various reamer makers across the country.
We also sell Dakota bolt knobs in ﬁve styles, Dakota grip caps and inserts, Cerosafe chamber casting metal, instructional videos and many other gunsmithing-related products.
ASJ You also sell barrels. Tell me more about that.
FZ We oﬀer custom Savage drop-in barrels. These barrels are for the popular Savage 110 family of bolt actions. There are many places you can order pre-ﬁt Savage barrels, but what we oﬀer is access to our library of reamers. If we have the reamer, you can have a barrel chambered for the caliber. Nobody has as many calibers to choose from as we do.
We will only stock barrels that we know we can count on to be accurate. Blanks are CNC turned to the taper of the client’s preference, and we handle all the chamber and crown work in our shop, so that we can assure a proper set up for accuracy.
Stainless steel and chromoly (blue) steel barrels are both available. We have a small stock of blanks that we list on the web site. Custom orders can be ﬁnished in as little as four to ﬁve weeks, depending on the speciﬁcs of the order, and we are competitive on price.
Our accuracy speaks for itself. We have yet to have a client complaint. I love that ability to provide a high-quality product that surpasses the client’s expectations. ASJ
Editor’s note: For more, see 4-dproducts.com.