Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Rich Machholz
Continued from: The Birth of A Rifle
One of the perks to being a Ballistic Technician for Sierra Bullets is sometimes we can get our chambering done in house. Since this was “supposed” to be a budget gun, I figured I would take advantage of this very sweet perk and made arrangements for chambering with my 6 Dasher reamer and the Sierra 30 BR reamer. How sweet is that? Now all I had to do is get the barrels.
One day I was discussing this project with our in-house gunsmith and he said he could go ahead and detail the action and that will be done. Seems the machine shop was gearing up to build two new work centers and that would take precedence over any outside project so we’d better get what we could get while we could get it. That being said, the process had already begun and the mill we needed to inlet the stock was not available and would remain unavailable for the foreseeable future. There’s the first stick in the spoke.
Luckily all the action work was being done on a lathe as is the chambering and that machine was still available.
As time passed machine time got more and more scarce and eventually it became clear that my budget project would not get completed in house in the immediate future. At this point it was March 2013 and I was not optimistic.
Most gunsmiths are very busy and it is unreasonable to even ask the time frame. My goal was to shoot this new rifle in the St. Louis for the 600 yard IBS Nationals in October 2013. Most of the holdup is parts and I had all those except the barrels, but just as I was about to give up and resign myself to another year for being tortured by those “damned Dashers” I got a package for Broughton barrels. Low and behold both barrels were inside and looked great. They were in the lathe within two days and chambered by weeks end! But … that was the end of that phase of this project. There was no more available machine time for outside projects. The demands for increased bullet production take precedence.
So now, for me, the most important thing for me to do is find someone to complete my project.
I was discussing my dilemma with a banker friend and he related that a friend of his had put a rifle together for him on short notice for an African hunt. I knew his friend by reputation and I knew his background, so I thought I’d call him and see IF he was willing to take my project on and complete it in time for me to shoot it in the Nationals. It is now April 2013 and Nationals are in October of the same year. I couldn’t wait any longer so I called Crescent Customs in North Kansas City, Missouri. I told the owner Tim “Moon” Roberts of my dilemma, explaining in detail what had and had not been done and what I had on hand in the way of parts and pieces. I also explained the time frame, but most importantly, asked if he would be interested in this in that amount of time. The problem was he, just like all good ‘smiths, was about 60 guns behind. But since I had all the parts and some of the work done he’d try to work it in to avoid any dead time and although he’d try to finish it in a timely fashion he couldn’t guarantee he could complete it time for Nationals.
That was good enough for me. Off to Kansas City I went with a pile of parts.
Tim’s directions were right on and I arrived in good time but …. I didn’t see anything that looked like a gun shop in this industrial neighborhood. So I called him to clarify my location. Great way to start off don’t you think!? He looked out the window and sure enough, there I was in all my splendid stupidity. There’s more to the story but it’s even more boring.
Once inside I showed him what I had and he was fine with all that … until we got to the stock. He took a long look at it and said “You weren’t kiddin’ were you? It is a blank.” He said he’d never inletted a stock from scratch but figured he could do it. We agreed on pillars and bedding, tracking rails and finish and moved on.
He looked at the action and saw it had a different bolt – a complete different bolt. He allowed how he would check the blue printing and time the bolt, I brought a Jewell Benchrest trigger, which he would install, but he didn’t like my bolt release and had a better one which he would include also. I asked him if he would pin the recoil lug also since it was to be a switch barrel. No problems here. We talked some more and I headed home still a little nervous. Not because of the quality of Tim’s work, but it came out that there were 61 rifles ahead of mine and Tim was kind enough to try to work mine in. All the what ifs and unfavorable scenarios that could come up came up on the 2 hour drive back home. That was April 2013.
I’ve learned that you need to leave your smith alone, if he needs something he’ll call. I followed my own advice for a change and left Tim alone – for weeks, maybe even longer and then, I couldn’t stand it and sent him an email, which he answered, but he didn’t need any more money or anything like that.
During this lull in the action I located some 6 BR brass, 100 pieces for each barrel. My pal John insisted I send him a box which he would Hydra-form for me no charge. Since he was partly responsible for me getting into this it the first place I took him up on the offer. A week later I got 100 nearly fully formed Dasher cases back. I couldn’t shoot them yet but I had the brass. I also had 500 sorted 6mm 107s #1570 I’d done while I waited.
Finally Tim called to find out when exactly the Nationals were and how soon before did I need the rifle. It wasn’t quite ready on the first day he gave me, but it was ready the second time. I loaded up the wife on the premise I’d buy her dinner afterwards. When I got to the shop I was dazzled. It was much better than I had hoped with deep colors and a smooth as silk action.
He timed the bolt, handed me the bill and then threw cold water on me to bring me around. Guess I hadn’t anticipated that big a bill and must have fainted. Nah, just kiddin’. It was within $100 or what he told me it might be. But he pointed out that after I shot the Nationals he wanted it back to finish the paint. Well I thought it looked great, he said “No, bring it back.”
Okay, but now I only had 7 days before Nationals.