View Full Version : my bolt rifle in the works...

03-19-08, 17:26
I wasn't sure if anyone here was interested in old iron, but here's my bolt rifle that's in process. It's a Smith-Corona M1903A3 with a 1.25" diameter barrel (which is original to the receiver BTW) chambered in .308. The barrel is 22" in length. It's official U.S. Army designation is the "Mann Accuracy Device" and was used to test the accuracy of ammunition lots. The basic rifle (basically everything but the stock) from the CMP:

I removed the "collar" from the barrel (basically a fixture that was used to clamp the device in a vise of sorts for testing) and had to turn a sleeve to fit over the barrel due to a gap between the barrel and the receiver left behind.

I've also purchased a bent bolt from Numrich, Redfield one-piece base and standard rings (not much to choose from for this action I found out), Super Sniper 16x42 scope (silly name, but I've heard some decent reviews), a Bench Mark stock from Richard's Microfit Gunstocks (good product, sh!tty service, long wait, etc.)

While I waited for some of the parts to arrive, I machined this receiver wrench. Nothing spectacular, but it saved me $50 :p

I also plan to machine a flash suppressor and sound suppressor (form 1, no worries), but just for grins, I made a practice FS the other day. It won't be used as there's no external threads for the sound suppressor, and I also plan to change the slots to helical slots that will match the 1:10 twist. I don't know if that will change/effect anything, but it should look cool.

I had to turn the barrel down slightly to remove the rough-turned O.D. (they didn't really care what the outside looked like I'm assuming).

The receiver was a major B!TCH to drill/tap though. The rear hole went in fine, but the front ring was made of kryptonite I think as I had to use a solid carbide drill. I also wrapped the receiver around the front hole with wet paper towels (to keep the heat from spreading) so that I could spot-anneal the front hole so that it would tap. Finally, after 6 dulled taps later, it was finished. (and no, I didn't use the butane soldering iron to heat the hole, that was done with the good 'ole smoke wrench)

The stock just showed up yesterday evening (after a 4+ month wait), so I still have a long way to go. I need to get around to threading the barrel and cutting the crown soon too. After its finish sanded and bedded, the barreled receiver will go off to the gunsmith to have the headspace checked/reset.

Not much to really show at the moment, but here's a glimpse of what she might look like:

I know that I could have easily bought a new production rifle that would fit my needs (and probably be cheaper to boot), but this will be a one-of-a-kind rifle that I can pass down to my son...that is, unless it's sold in a yard sale for $50 the day after I'm gone........:eek: :D


03-19-08, 19:05

03-19-08, 22:44
Beautiful so far. What does the barrel weigh?

03-19-08, 22:57
Beautiful so far. What does the barrel weigh? I never actually checked, but I'll see if I can weigh it tomorrow. And thanks!


03-19-08, 22:57
that is starting to look like a very nice piece.

Keep up the good work sir.


And thank you as well!


03-20-08, 10:46
-gary, I just checked and the barrel weighs 6.7lbs.


04-05-08, 01:27
That's some skill you had making a testing tool into a one of a kind piece.

Cannot wait to see the final product, but I think maybe the build pictures are the best seeing what you had to finish!


Seth Harness
04-05-08, 21:17
I know that I could have easily bought a new production rifle that would fit my needs (and probably be cheaper to boot), but this will be a one-of-a-kind


That says it all right there.

Buy It!!! For what, then you'd be missing the truely fun part of owning and being involved with firearms. There is no comparison between building and buying. Those who dont make and do, will never understand. IMHO.

Nice piece by the way, excellent work. :)

04-06-08, 00:24
Very cool, thanks for posting.

04-06-08, 01:19
Looks great, any new pics?

04-06-08, 01:59
Thanks for the compliments everyone. Not much progress to report yet....

I've got the barreled-action at the gunsmith right now (AZEXARMS in Mesa, AZ) getting the headspace checked/set and getting the muzzle threaded. I was planning on doing the threading myself, but I just found out that during my companies recent move, someone lost the steady rest to the lathe :mad:

I've got the material in for the new, threaded FH and have written the programs to machine them, I just haven't had a chance to make any chips yet. I'm actually making two FH's for testing: one with LH helical slots and one with RH helical slots; both helix's are 1:10 to match the rifling. I wasn't sure which one would cancel the most flash so I just decided to make one of each.

I've been whittling away at the stock, but I really need to wait until I get the barreled-action back before I go any further. I've been using a floorplate from my standard 03A3 for fitting, but that's about as far as I can go.

I've already loaded up some standard loads for getting a basic zero: Hornady 168 BTHP's in front of 45gr. of 4895 in LC M118LR cases. I can't wait........


05-19-08, 21:18
Impressive work I must say sir, keep us informed when it gets back..

07-23-08, 13:48
Just picked up the rifle from the 'smith last night. Since this is actually a test barrel, we ended up machining the "cone" or whatever it's called, into the breech and machining the extractor cut. Then, the threads had to be lengthened and re-reamed for headspace. Then I had him park everything.

Hopefully, I can start working on the stock and get it bedded in ~a week so I can start working up a few loads. Here's a few teasers:



07-23-08, 22:38
That's some really excellent work.

I have always heard the best gunsmiths are good machinists. Can't wait to see the finished product, and its first test target.

Are you planning on bedding the action? If so, Acraglas or Marine-tex?

All the best,

07-23-08, 23:34
Thanks! I did get the stock inletted an extra 1/16" all around for bedding. I've never bedded a rifle before, so I hope I don't screw it up. I'm not sure what I'm going to use yet, but I was thinking of steel-bed from Brownell's. Is there any kit that's easier/better to use than others?


07-24-08, 00:00
I have used Acraglas and Marine-tex, and they both work.

Bedding rifles is not too difficult, but be sure to get access to a plunger gauge to determine how much movement you have on the guard screws when you put it all together. Preferrably, you want a reading before and after the bedding job.

Movement should be NO more than .010" on the guard screws for maximum accuracy.

I have seen as low as .001" with Marine Tex and .000" with Acraglas. Some guys are really great with bedding guns, but you will never learn unless you try it yourself. Based on your work we have already seen, there is no reason to think you cannot do it yourself. If you muck it all up, you can Dremel it and try again.

Buy some rubber tubing, pipe tape and plenty of Release Agent (or Pam spray). Mix up the goop, make sure you get it behind the barrel lug and guard screw bases, tie it up and let 'er dry...

Feel free to PM if you want prior to doing the bedding work and I will tell you what little I know...

07-24-08, 00:06
Thanks for the tips! I'll keep everyone posted...


08-21-08, 15:00
That is some beautiful work right there! :cool:

There is a sporterized 03-A3 down at the pawn shop for $180 with a shot out barrel but I don't need any more projects right now. :)

09-06-08, 18:13
Well crap; in the process of re-organizing my photobucket account, I accidentally broke all my links to the pics I previously posted...

But anyway, IT'S ALIVE!!!!

I got the bedding all done (used acraglass gell), and took it out for it's first run today. Not too shabby of a group considering:

1: These are the last 5 shots out of 15 that I've EVER fired out of this rifle
2: The ammo used were some mild, run-of-the-mill reloads that I wanted to use to get the scope "close enough"

Now to find out what load it likes the best....



09-06-08, 18:26
Oh my!!! :eek:

That turned out even better than I expected. Long live the '03!

09-17-08, 15:14
For those interested, I brought this in to the shop the other day so that I could weight it: 14.95lbs. Needless to say, this isn't a "walkin' around the timber" rifle...lol.


09-17-08, 18:08
Really nice build.

What would you say was the total cost was for the components (not to included smithing, and "park"ing)?

09-17-08, 22:12
I you don't include the 'smith work, probably in the neighborhood of $1K.


10-31-08, 16:13
Bravo! Well done, and a straight shooter! Good job!

11-26-08, 01:37
What finish did you use for the stock?

11-26-08, 10:37
I applied several hand-rubbed coats of boiled linseed oil.