April 16th, 2018 by asjstaff

Put down the Phillips screwdriver and hammer. Yes, I see you, banging away at your trigger pins and moments away from the inevitable slip-and-gouge across the side of your AR lower. A gouge you’ll either pay to have repaired or, more likely, leave as a permanent, scarred reminder of your penchant for the Wrong Tool for the Job.

I’m the first to admit building up your collection of task-specific firearms-related tools takes time and a not-inconsiderable amount of money. In the past few years I’ve been going through trigger pull gauges like crazy thanks to theft and random, odd breakages.

I’m also no stranger to frantically rushing around town for a uniquely-sized hex key or some bizarrely-shaped bit (the latter of which is typically on a foreign-made optics mount, leaving me cursing and sweating to meet my review deadline). All that said, I have a pair of tool kits that have proven to be invaluable: Brownell’s Magna-Tip Super Set and Gunsmith Master Punch Set.

Brownell’s Magna-Tip Super Set comes with 58 bits and two handles, one short and one long. There are also 22 and 44-bit sets available but I highly recommend the largest. Why? Because the 8-bit set includes flat blades in nine different widths and six thicknesses, a variety of Allen bits, and even a tiny torx.

As the name implies, the bits are magnetized which has been extremely useful for hanging onto tiny screws. To satisfy my OCD side, it comes in a hard plastic case with a carefully-graphed chart showing where each bit should be placed within the many holes. I’ve also found I can store the numerous tiny hex keys that come with aftermarket triggers and optics in the compartment with the shorter handle.

A few favorites: the Magna-Tip Super Set and the nylon/brass hammer from the Gunsmith Master Punch Set.

It made my life – and my job – much simpler last week when I needed to play musical triggers with a few ARs to install a Timney Calvin Elite AR trigger in a DPMS Hunter for a business trip. The pistol grip screws all had different sizes and types of heads and I had bits for all of them.

And when I install an aftermarket hammer spring in one of my hunting revolvers later today I know I’ll have the correct bits for the job. Damaging the side plate of a cherished gun because you don’t bother to use the right screwdriver is no small failure (in my opinion).

Brownell’s Gunsmith Master Punch Set is similarly valuable. I’m not quite as obsessed with it as I am the Magna-Tip Super Set, but it comes in handy on a regular basis.

It includes four starter punches for stuck pins, four hardened-point pin punches, one prick punch, four brass punches, three nylon front-sight drift punches, and one center punch. There’s also a small neoprene mat, a nylon bench block, and a hammer with one nylon and one brass head.

This set comes in a polyethylene case with removable dividers. Having the right punch for various gunsmithing jobs big and small has saved more than a few guns from scratches, gouges, and being thrown out the window in frustration.

The only downside I’ve found to the Magna-Tip Super Set isn’t product-related, it’s human-idiocy related. When the day arrives that you – or someone else, ahem – accidentally spill the box of neatly-organized bits, you’re probably going to lose it (your composure).

The good news is the bits are all engraved with their part number, so if you stick the diagram on the inside of the lid, you can easily figure out where they go. Organizing them is a bit time-consuming – pun intended – but worthwhile. When the bits are arranged by size, finding the specific bit you need happens a lot faster. Just don’t lose them.

Why a nylon hammer head? For many reasons including the non-marring way it helps pop loose the side plate on a revolver once the screws are removed.

As for the Gunsmith Master Punch Set, I have no complaints about the tools themselves. I do wish the compartments were sized differently and the removable dividers were, well, not removable. One of the long dividers with no replacement cracked badly the first week I had the set. In addition, the neoprene mat is too small for the majority of my needs. None of those are terrible flaws, just minor frustrations with nothing to do with the punches or hammer. At some point I’ll buy a different case.

Bottom line? It’s much cheaper to buy the right tools than it is to pay to repair gouges. Ask me how I know. I’ve Dremeled down more than a few screwdrivers from the hardware store to precisely fit various revolvers and far prefer having these sets on hand.

The Magna-Tip Super Set is awesome; I have a gunsmith friend who owns multiples of it and have been seriously considering buying another myself. The punches are necessary tools if you do any work on rifles and Brownell’s set provides the varied types needed for different tasks which I appreciate.

Now, put the Phillips down and get some proper tools. Not only will you not regret it, you’ll love it. And your guns will thank you, too.

Rating (out of five stars):

Tool Quality * * * * * / * * * * * (Gunsmith Master Punch Set/Magna-Tip Super Set)
I’ve used these tools hard and they’ve withstood it all. The Magna-Tip Super Set, specifically, has been fantastic. There have not been any issues whatsoever of bending, let alone breaking. These are some of my favorite tools.

Case Quality * */ * * * 
The case the punches came in is all right. I believe the case itself will likely last for some time as long as I do not drop it; the hinges and corners are unlike to survive a fall. The dividers are brittle which would be less of an issue if it came with extras for every piece rather than only the shortest ones. I’ll replace the case.

As for the Magna-Tip Super Set case, it’s made of tougher stuff than the punch set’s. I like the individual slots for each bit. I do wish it closed more securely; the lid is secured by a slight ridge at its center and has been finicky. And, yes, it’s been spilled. So while it’s good, thick plastic, the latch is iffy.

Value * * */ * * * * 
Can you ever really give something five stars for price? It isn’t as though spending money is fun. The Gunsmith Master Punch Set gets three stars because although the tools themselves are great quality, the case is not. At $109.99 I would hope for a slightly better case.

The Magna-Tip Super Set has an MSRP of $129.99 which is pretty fair considering the overall quality of the set. Considering the screwdrivers and hex keys I’ve broken I have to say it’s well worth the price.

Overall: * * * */ * * * *
I highly recommend the Magna-Tip Super Set and recommend the Gunsmith Master Punch Set as well. Between the two the Magna-Tip Super Set is my favorite. It really has proven invaluable (in fact, I have the short handle and various bits with me right now on an out-of-state hunt). Having the right tools makes your work a whole lot easier.

Posted in Gear, Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

March 21st, 2018 by asjstaff

There are few things more frustrating than being set up on the firing line and discovering you forgot the one screwdriver or drive bit you need to complete the days’ primary objective.

I’ve been there more than once; a bad habit of stuffing all my shop tools into my range bag is the scar I bare. Fortunately, it’s faded a little thanks to Warne Scope Mounts.

Warne’s RT-1 Range Tool is a multi-tool designed to service most any shooter’s typical range needs. Tipping the scales at a mere 5.2-ounces, and with dimensions of 4-inches long by 2-inches wide by 5/8-inch thick, the RT-1 is compact and lightweight, allowing it to easily live in your range bag or travel in your pants pocket.

The RT-1 features twelve chrome-vanadium steel drive bits geared towards scope adjustment and basic firearm maintenance:

• Allen: 0.05″, 1/16″, 5/64″, 3/32″, 1/8″, & 5/32″

• Torx: T10, T15, T20

• Pin remover: 0.10″

• #2 Phillips screwdriver

• Flat blade screwdriver

Each 2-inch long bit is separated by a white plastic disc which helps keep the bits in place and the tool’s width equal on both ends.

A two-piece, cross-pinned, center-bowed aluminum handle encapsulates the bits and dividers. Its bright red finish helps identify it amidst other tools in a dark range bag pocket.

The combination of rounded, bowed center and flattened ends allows for a variety of comfortable control grips and positive contact methods.

The RT-1’s design and grip also allow the user to deploy the bits one-handed. Simply put your finger in the gap above the top of the bits on the opposite side and push the bit of your choice out (above).

After over a month of use the RT-1 Range Tool is now a go-to, replacing several other tools in my range bag. And when I’m not at the range, the multi-tool is most often on my home workbench.

I’ve put the majority of the chrome-vanadium steel bits through the paces and they performed exceptionally well. Lock-up with screw heads and other female ends has been overly adequate and the bits have worn very well thus far.

The bit that saw the most use isn’t even a bit at all – it’s the 0.10-inch pin remover (above). Sure, it’s perfect for removing pins – and it completes that task well. But it’s also a tool I found myself using for a variety of purposes from clearing jammed casings to punching primers.

Warne’s RT-1 Range Tool is a nice, compact, lightweight multi-tool with a great selection of high-quality bits. It is easy and comfortable to use and allows for one-handed operation. Pair it with Warne’s TW1 and TW65 torque wrenches and you’ve got every Warne scope mount and rail covered in less space than many single-purpose range tools, and at the very reasonable price of a penny under twenty-dollars.

Specifications: Warne RT-1 Range Tool

Price as reviewed: $19.99 MSRP

Ratings (out of five stars):

Design: * * * * *
Warne’s RT-1 utilizes a simple, time-tested folding multi-tool design that uses space efficiently and allows for single-bit and multi-bit deployment.

Quality: * * * *
The chrome-vanadium steel bits are high-quality and lock-up well with receiving screw heads. The aluminum handle is not as well finished as the bits, but gets the job done just the same.

Ease of Use: * * * * *
Ergonomically pleasant and easy to operate one-handed.

Overall: * * * * *
Warne’s RT-1 Range Tool delivers solid value through twelve high-quality bits in a compact and lightweight package. If you’re looking to lighten your range bag a bit and reduce the clutter of multiple tools, the RT-1 Range Tool should be at the top of your list of options.

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

March 21st, 2018 by asjstaff

There are few things more frustrating than being set up on the firing line and discovering you forgot the one screwdriver or drive bit you need to complete the days’ primary objective.

I’ve been there more than once; a bad habit of stuffing all my shop tools into my range bag is the scar I bare. Fortunately, it’s faded a little thanks to Warne Scope Mounts.

Warne’s RT-1 Range Tool is a multi-tool designed to service most any shooter’s typical range needs. Tipping the scales at a mere 5.2-ounces, and with dimensions of 4-inches long by 2-inches wide by 5/8-inch thick, the RT-1 is compact and lightweight, allowing it to easily live in your range bag or travel in your pants pocket.

The RT-1 features twelve chrome-vanadium steel drive bits geared towards scope adjustment and basic firearm maintenance:

• Allen: 0.05″, 1/16″, 5/64″, 3/32″, 1/8″, & 5/32″

• Torx: T10, T15, T20

• Pin remover: 0.10″

• #2 Phillips screwdriver

• Flat blade screwdriver

Each 2-inch long bit is separated by a white plastic disc which helps keep the bits in place and the tool’s width equal on both ends.

A two-piece, cross-pinned, center-bowed aluminum handle encapsulates the bits and dividers. Its bright red finish helps identify it amidst other tools in a dark range bag pocket.

The combination of rounded, bowed center and flattened ends allows for a variety of comfortable control grips and positive contact methods.

The RT-1’s design and grip also allow the user to deploy the bits one-handed. Simply put your finger in the gap above the top of the bits on the opposite side and push the bit of your choice out (above).

After over a month of use the RT-1 Range Tool is now a go-to, replacing several other tools in my range bag. And when I’m not at the range, the multi-tool is most often on my home workbench.

I’ve put the majority of the chrome-vanadium steel bits through the paces and they performed exceptionally well. Lock-up with screw heads and other female ends has been overly adequate and the bits have worn very well thus far.

The bit that saw the most use isn’t even a bit at all – it’s the 0.10-inch pin remover (above). Sure, it’s perfect for removing pins – and it completes that task well. But it’s also a tool I found myself using for a variety of purposes from clearing jammed casings to punching primers.

Warne’s RT-1 Range Tool is a nice, compact, lightweight multi-tool with a great selection of high-quality bits. It is easy and comfortable to use and allows for one-handed operation. Pair it with Warne’s TW1 and TW65 torque wrenches and you’ve got every Warne scope mount and rail covered in less space than many single-purpose range tools, and at the very reasonable price of a penny under twenty-dollars.

Specifications: Warne RT-1 Range Tool

Price as reviewed: $19.99 MSRP

Ratings (out of five stars):

Design: * * * * *
Warne’s RT-1 utilizes a simple, time-tested folding multi-tool design that uses space efficiently and allows for single-bit and multi-bit deployment.

Quality: * * * *
The chrome-vanadium steel bits are high-quality and lock-up well with receiving screw heads. The aluminum handle is not as well finished as the bits, but gets the job done just the same.

Ease of Use: * * * * *
Ergonomically pleasant and easy to operate one-handed.

Overall: * * * * *
Warne’s RT-1 Range Tool delivers solid value through twelve high-quality bits in a compact and lightweight package. If you’re looking to lighten your range bag a bit and reduce the clutter of multiple tools, the RT-1 Range Tool should be at the top of your list of options.

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

March 7th, 2018 by asjstaff

For many shooters the simple mention of “T-15” brings fond recollections of self-installed scopes successfully on their favorite tack driver they’ve used out in the field or at the range. To others, the thought brings back nightmares of stripped rings and receivers, slipping scopes, crushed tubes, and other avoidable installation incidents. More often than not, these mistakes and the subsequent nightmares were the result of improper application of torque.

Whether it brings fond memories or scarring nightmares for you, the Torx T-15 screw remains a standard fixture (pun intended) among modern scope mounts, so learning to deal with them will serve you well.

Warne Scope Mounts is well known for manufacturing a variety of high-quality, USA-born optics mounts, all of which employ those T-15 Torx head screws. Like most high-end mount manufacturers, Warne holds a recommended max torque specification across all of their ring and base screws — 25-inch/pounds, to be precise.

Warne loyalists take note; the TW1 Scope Mount Torque Wrench (above) is a small, lightweight, T-handle wrench with just the specifications you need — a permanent T-15 Torx bit pre-set for 25-inch/pounds.

The wrench’s plastic shell might be a giveaway that, like the TW65 wrench, it’s manufactured in China for Warne by California Torque Products. However, the shape and size of the handle make it very comfortable and easy to operate. The T-15 bit is of great quality and fits Warne’s screws perfectly.

If you’re mounting a scope base to a receiver, it’s important to note that the TW1 should only be employed with a steel receiver as host. The wrench’s 25-inch/pounds of torque could strip the threads on an aluminum receiver.

My very first TTAG review was on the Warne 45° Side Mount (above). The mount has seen quite a bit of use over the years without fail. Now, in the midst of a series of upgrades to an AR, I had the TW1 wrench in hand for the build.

This wrench, like most torque wrenches, shouldn’t be used to loosen screws so I used the T-15 bit on Warne’s RT-1 Range Tool (above, background) to remove the mount. When it was time for re-installation, I added the recommended pinhead-size dot of blue (non-permanent) thread locker to the screw before grabbing the TW1.

Once snugged to the Pic rail, the TW1’s T-15 bit engaged the screw head with solid lock-up and torqued the screw towards the appropriate 25-inch/pound setting. As the wrench met its limit, it smoothly rolled-over and broke away cleanly.

To confirm the TW1’s torque limit, I used the standard mathematical and mass DIY test. Although slightly tricky due to its short, rounded handle, the torque wrench performed within its specifications.

Warne’s TW1 is a compact, lightweight, fixed 25-inch/pound torque wrench with a permanent T-15 Torx bit. It may be slightly overpriced for a Chinese-made single-spec wrench, but it performs well and works flawlessly with Warne mounts. This tool surely isn’t for everyone, but if paired with the TW65 it’s just about all Warne (and many other brands) mount users will need in their range bag or at the workbench.

Specifications: Warne TW1 Torque Wrench (T-15, 25 in/lbs.)

Price as reviewed: $24.99 MSRP
Specifications:

  • Preset at 25 in/lbs.
  • Bit: Torx T-15
  • Dimensions: 3.5″ x 3.5″ x 1.125″
  • Warranty: Life of product

Ratings (out of five stars):

Design: * * * *
Warne’s TW1 torque wrench couldn’t be a simpler, easier to operate tool. Maximum torque is set at 25-inch/pounds and the T-15 Torx bit is permanent. At 3.5″x3.5″x1.125″, it will surely fit into any pocket, drawer, or range bag — plus, it weighs almost nothing.

Quality: * * * *
Unlike Warne’s mounts, the TW1 is made overseas and the difference in quality is somewhat incongruous. However, the TW1 is still well-made, performs consistently well, and is backed by Warne’s “life of the tool” lifetime warranty.

Ease of Use: * * * * *
The TW1’s contoured handle fits comfortably in the palm of your hand and makes operation painless. Stick it in, turn it slowly until it brakes-over, and you’re done.

Overall: * * * *
If you’re looking for a dedicated 25-inch/pound t-handle torque wrench with a T-15 bit, the Warne TW1 is a simple, compact, and lightweight option that is perfect for any range bag.

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

February 24th, 2018 by asjstaff

Warne produces some mighty fine optics mounts. Like many other quality-seeking shooters, I’ve trusted their products for years and have their MSR and tactical mount 1/2-inch hex nut torque specification engrained in my brain – 65-inch/pounds.

Adjusting a torque wrench to 65-inch/pounds isn’t typically a tiresome task; however, many wrenches like the Vortex Torque Wrench don’t stretch to 65-inch/pounds. The Wheeler F.A.T. wrench, another popular torque tool, has a limit of 65-inch/pounds so you’re moving the needle all the way out and back which, frankly, is anything but a good time.

Warne offers a nice reprieve from adjustable torque wrenches in the form of the TW65 Torque Wrench, a handheld wrench preset at 65-inch/pounds. Manufactured by California Torque Products on behalf of Warne, the 1/4-inch drive comes with a 1/2-inch socket and features electronic visual and auditory limit notifications.

The TW65’s handle is quite comfortable in the hand and easy to operate. The rubber coating provides additional grip support and doubles as an oil and chemical-resistant covering.

Removing the two screws closest one another (above, left side) allows removal of the battery tray which houses two CR2025 replaceable batteries.

At the other end of the wrench sits a 1/4-inch square drive. It secures sockets very well, but is clearly made overseas.

The provided 1/2-inch socket can be swapped out to any 1/4-inch drive socket.

For instance, above, a 1/4″ drive 12mm socket is used to tighten a non-Warne scope mount with the same 65-inch/pound torque specification.

When the torque limit is met, the wrench rolls-over very smoothly and disengages itself from action with a “tactile click,” as they put it. Even with no (or dead) batteries, the wrench will still perform its function adequately.

With electrical power, however, the TW65’s red indicator light shines bright and a rather loud alarm sounds from within the wrench. I suppose some may find these electronic features helpful – especially if you need a sharp reminder to stop wrenching – but I’ve never had any issue feeling a torque wrench hit its limit and could do without the auditory reprimand.

The TW65 is approved for loosening hex nuts, as well. Simply apply force in the opposite direction until the nut is loose. No light or sound indication will be given when used in the reverse direction.

As accustomed as I am to Warne’s very high-quality, made in the USA optics mounts, the TW65 65-inch/pound Torque Wrench (made overseas) is a definite departure in quality. However, it gets the job done without issue and is backed by Warne’s lifetime warranty – that’s the life of the tool, no receipt necessary. The smooth roll-over as it reaches its torque limit is satisfying, but the ensuing shrill alarm is rather loud. The TW65 is a more-than-adequate lightweight solution to serve the needs of folks who often tighten 65-inch/pound scope mount screws.

Specifications: Warne TW65 Torque Wrench (1/4″ Drive, 65 in/lbs)

Price as reviewed: $59.99 MSRP ($48 shipped via Amazon)

Specifications:

  • Preset at 65 in/lbs.
  • 1/4″ drive
  • 1/2″ socket
  • Audible beep and red light when torque limit is met
  • Replaceable batteries (2 CR2025)
  • Oil resistant rubber coating
  • Warranty: Life of product

Ratings (out of five stars):

Design: * * * *
Warne’s TW65 1/4-inch drive 65-inch/pound electronic torque wrench is a less-expensive alternative to adjustable wrenches and is designed to tighten the 1/2-inch hex nut on Warne MSR and tactical mounts. Simply designed, it features a rubberized coating that resists oil and chemicals.

Quality: * * * *
Compared to Warne’ excellent optics mounts, the TW65 feels cheap. After all, Warne mounts are made in the USA and this plastic-shelled wrench is manufactured by an overseas OEM. That said, I’ve yet to encounter any issues with its performance or reliability.

Ease of Use: * * * *
Ergonomically, the TW65 feels good. It’s easy on the wrist and the textured handle and rubberized grip help to prevent slipping. The battery compartment requires the removal of two screws and a battery carrier. Absent batteries, the wrench still performs, just without the light and sound indicators.

Overall: * * * *
Designed specifically for Warne MSR and tactical mounts, the Warne TW65 is a reliably-performing, relatively inexpensive electronic torque wrench with a set torque limitation of 65-inch/pounds. Backed by a “life of the tool” warranty, this is a wrench any serious Warne mount user should consider for their tool chest or range bag.

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

July 20th, 2016 by asjstaff

Interview with Fred Zeglin of 4D Reamers

INTERVIEW BY STEVE JOSEPH PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF 4D REAMERS

How did 4D Reamers become the leading name in custom reamers, barrels and tools in the gun industry? We spoke with owner Fred Zeglin, who comes from years of gunsmithing in the industry and is sought after nationwide for his expertise on precision and gunsmithing.
American Shooting Journal What makes you the expert?

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?

The team of professionals at 4D Reamers are highly gun literate, according to owner Fred Zeglin.

The team of professionals at 4D Reamers are highly gun literate, according to owner Fred Zeglin.

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.

PHOTO LOGO 4D idASJ How does 4D assure the quality of its 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.

4D Reamers offers the widest selection of reamers – over 1,000 options – for rent, giving professional gunsmiths and hobbyists the ability to create almost any caliber they want without the huge investment of owning the necessary tools to create them.

4D Reamers offers the widest selection of reamers – over 1,000 options – for rent, giving professional gunsmiths and hobbyists the ability to create almost any caliber they want without the huge investment of owning the necessary tools to create them.

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.

Posted in Industry Tagged with: , , , , , ,

May 4th, 2016 by asjstaff

History, Tradition And Heritage At The New Musket Range

Story by Larry Case

Although not a soldier himself, Rudyard Kipling was familiar with the British army, their weapons and methods of fighting. No doubt he had soldier chums who were happy to tell him about the best girl they had, the Brown Bess musket.

From about 1722 to 1838 the Long Land Pattern musket (Bess’s official name) was the standard-issue long arm for all land forces in the British military. This weapon fired a .75- to .78-caliber ball. As this was the era of British expansion, Brown Bess saw duty around the world. From India to Waterloo all the way over to those pesky American colonies, this was the gun that did most of the fighting, and when mounted with the standard 17-inch bayonet it was deadly indeed! Think of an M1 Garand that stayed in service for over 100 years!

THE ORIGIN OF THE NICKNAME Brown Bess for this pattern musket seems to be uncertain. Some say it was an affectionate reference by the British soldiers to Queen Elizabeth I. King George I was, in fact, German and did not speak English (go figure), and others think it could have been an interpretation for the German braun Buss or brawn Buss, meaning strong gun or brown gun. (Büchse is an old German word for rifle, in the sense of a hunting weapon.)

Situated on 301 acres, Colonial Williamsburg allows visitors to be completely immersed in the time period. All the people who work and live here are well versed in the history and wear period attire. (COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

Situated on 301 acres, Colonial Williamsburg allows visitors to be completely immersed in the time period. All the people who work and live here are well versed in the history and wear period attire. (COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

Most experts on this musket, however, seem to think it is more likely the overall appearance of the weapon: dark brown wood on the stock and a barrel that often had a brownish tint due to the method of “bluing” the metal at this time known as russeting.

History is wonderful and if you are as crazy about guns as I am, you could get lost in the details and minutiae of any firearm. I will admit, however, that there is something better than just reading about it – hands-on shooting. The feel of the gun, the burning powder in your nose and getting your hands dirty – there is no substitute for this.

So, where can you actually learn to load and fire a Brown Bess musket? Glad you asked! Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, of course!

This 301-acre historic site features hundreds of restored, reconstructed and historically furnished buildings. Costumed interpreters tell the stories of the men and women in this 18th-Century city – black, white and Native Americans were all here. Some were slaves, some were indentured and some were free. When you come here, you will learn the challenges these people faced and you can also learn to fire the Brown Bess!

(COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

(COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

BRAND NEW THIS YEAR, Colonial Williamsburg has opened a firing range where guests can learn to load and fire this treasured musket. If you enjoy history (which you probably do if you are visiting Colonial Williamsburg), take the time to feel history in your hands by shooting these historical treasures.

Even though we were visiting the colonies and not Her Majesty’s home in England, the day my wife Helen and I visited Colonial Williamsburg, we were treated like royalty. Joe Straw, public relations manager for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and all of the staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome.

Brown Bess

OUR FIRST STOP was the gunsmith shop. To be honest, I could have spent the entire day in there. As with much of Colonial Williamsburg most of this sweeping landscape is just like stepping back in time. Try to imagine walking into an 18th-century gunsmith shop. It’s all here! The guns, the powder horns, the tools and every accoutrement that you can think of and some you might never have realized existed, all with the absolute authenticity and attention to detail that Colonial Williamsburg is known for.

The gunsmith shop is like stepping back in time. All of the muskets and tools, including barrel rifling, engraving and carpentry tools, are handmade in the same tradition and manner that they were created in the 18th century. (COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

The gunsmith shop is like stepping back in time. All of the muskets and tools, including barrel rifling, engraving and carpentry tools, are handmade in the same tradition and manner that they were created in the 18th century. (COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

I stood in awe of the blacksmith’s shop next door as a flat piece of metal was repeatedly heated, hammered and forged around an iron rod, transforming it into a rifle barrel. I had always been curious about this process and wondered how it was even possible. There I stood as sparks danced with each blow of the hammer and black smoke rolled.

I was very fortunate to spend some time with George Suiter, the master gunsmith here. Suiter has been working in this gunsmith shop for over 30 years and after about 10 minutes of speaking with him I had already forgotten more about making these rifles than I would ever know. Suiter makes these Colonial-era “rifle guns” right in this shop and people can order their very own. The waiting list is quite lengthy, currently eight to nine years, and on average a rifle will fetch about $20,000.

“The best way to preserve a trade is to practice it,” Suiter told me, “ … and that is what we do here at Colonial Williamsburg.” He assured me that one would never find tools in this shop which were not true to the time period.

(COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

(COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

I also spent some time talking to Erik Goldstein, curator of mechanical arts and numismatics. Goldstein is the coauthor of The Brown Bess: An Identification Guide And Illustrated Study Of Britain’s Most Famous Musket. This is, at the very least, an exhaustive study of the British Land Pattern musket. I do not believe you could be a serious student nor a proper collector without owning this book.

JOE STRAW WAS ULTIMATELY ABLE to hustle me out of the gunsmith shop and took Helen and I to the musket range. A highly capable group and just as knowledgeable in their craft awaited us. You will find this level of commitment and passion all over Colonial Williamsburg, and this is also depicted in the clothing and demeanor.

Portraying a Colonial-era militia man, armorer Justin Chapman met us at the range with a host of well-trained helpers. Chapman gave us an extensive safety and background briefing on the Brown Bess, as well as a period “fowling piece.” The “fowler,” we were told, would be a muzzleloader that would have likely been used by colonists at the time. A predecessor to the modern shotgun, it could be loaded with bird shot or ball load, making it very versatile for the hunting colonist.

This Brown Bess’s loaded pan is primed to fire. Notice the 18th century version of a safety – a leather cover on the frizzen. (Inset) Williamsburg’s blacksmith shop is perpetually in motion as they create the barrels, among many other items, from bare metal by repetitively heat treating and hammering the soon-to-be musket barrel. (COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

This Brown Bess’s loaded pan is primed to fire. Notice the 18th century version of a safety – a leather cover on the frizzen. (Inset) Williamsburg’s blacksmith shop is perpetually in motion as they create the barrels, among many other items, from bare metal by repetitively heat treating and hammering the soon-to-be musket barrel. (COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

Both the Brown Bess and the fowler are smoothbores (no rifling in the barrel). They could be loaded quickly, but are not especially accurate over 50 yards. For the European style of combat used at the time, where armies marched in formation to within range of their foes and then sent volleys of lead chunks at them, the Brown Bess was a deadly weapon; for the long-range shooter, not so much. A British soldier was expected to be capable of firing four shots in one minute. After a few volleys of fire, a charge was ordered using those wicked triangular 17-inch bayonets. The line that could stand against such a charge was stalwart indeed!

(COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

(COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG)

MY WIFE HELEN HAD the privilege of being the first visitor to fire a round on the brand new musket range here. I enjoyed watching her do that as much as anything on this trip. There is something about watching a new shooter that warms the heart. The look on her face after the smoke and boom of her first shot was priceless. When she was asked if she wanted to shoot again, she immediately replied, “Of course!”

When it was my turn to shoot, I found that it was not difficult to hit the NRA target, as the musket was more accurate than I had expected. The Brown Bess has no front sight, but the small lug where the bayonet attaches serves as one. Again, this was not meant to be a sniper rifle. Quick and easy to load, I could see how shooting this type of muzzleloader could be addicting. Straw had to drag me off of the range before we all froze
to death – it was a cold March day – and I shot up all the powder and ball in the county.

The latest at Colonial Williamsburg is the musket range – now open to the public. (LARRY CASE)

The latest at Colonial Williamsburg is the musket range – now open to the public. (LARRY CASE)

The author’s wife Helen Case (right) stands with a Colonial Williamsburg guard and demonstrates the length of the Brown Bess complete with bayonet. (LARRY CASE)

The author’s wife Helen Case (right) stands with a Colonial Williamsburg guard and demonstrates the length of the Brown Bess complete with bayonet. (LARRY CASE)

AT THE END OF THE LONG DAY, Helen and I would not be denied another stroll down Colonial Williamsburg’s streets. It was a blustery evening with not many visitors around. I stood and peered down Duke of Gloucester Street; nobody was in sight outside of those in period attire. Far down the street I could see a soldier in uniform hastening into the evening gloom. Trouble was coming, but in the end came freedom and the rise of the greatest country the world had ever seen. Just for a minute I imagined it was 1774, and I was there. ASJ

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