In light of JAYB's off forum lecture to me on the evil of scratches in gun stocks, I thought I'd post a pic of one of my favorite deer rifles. In 1996 I had retired from gunsmithing
and reentered the post secondary education arena. All of my rifles were in storage and deer season was coming up; the last two weeks of which coincidentally fell in with the first two weeks of the semester break for the holidays. I'd had a long-standing invitation to hunt on the steps above the Yellow Stone and Big Horn rivers that I dearly wanted to take advantage of but had no scoped deer rifle at the house. I was working for a local gunsmith rebarreling M1 Garands and he offered me the loan of a rifle but I wanted my own and there was a gun show coming the following weekend. I was about broke but had $100 to spend on whatever I could find.
As it turned out there was plenty to buy at the show but all priced a few dollars beyond my budget. What I did see on my walk around was a Brno Model 98 action, drilled and tapped with a sporter bolt and a commercial safety. It was priced at $50 and I bought it with the idea of buying a Belgian 30-06 barrel from the gunsmith I worked for as I was certain that he had several.
Much to disappointment, he was out of the FN 30-06 barrels for the M-98 but he did have a 308 barrel that was made for trhe Israeli military, still in the grease. He charged me $35 for the barrel and I fitted it that hour. It screwed in and headspaced perfectly. So now I had a rifle but no stock and still had $15 left. Two days later I was at the Trading Post and the owner was swapping out stocks on a commercial Mauser bolt action .270; replacing the wooden one with a new and (more marketable) synthetic due to a shallow and unsightly elk carving rendered by one of our Native American neighbors into the original wood. For $5 I got the stock and a 2 boxes of large rifle primers. I had $10 left. I spent three dollars of that on some flat black, hi-temp enamel paint to finish the barrel with. I rasped out the carving and refinished the wood using 5% nitric acid to turn it brown.
I dropped the rifle into the stock and it was a perfect fit into the existing glass bedding. I was amazed. The barrel even floated after the first step which was my plan at the time. I mounted Burris Z-Rings and dug out a Weaver K2.5X for glass. I was set.
The Politicians of the time were pushing an assault rifle ban so in "protest" I modified the magazine to 9 shots using a second trigger-guard and magazine assembly purchased from my Boss for $5 cash, welding it to the original and joining the follower springs. It took some fiddling but it works flawlessly.
The result is what you see. Total cost: $98 US and some elbow grease. I have never shot a jacketed bullet through this rifle but have shot at least a thousand cast bullets through it; most of which I have to taper on the forward section to fit the short ball-seat throating. I heat treat these, loading most of these to jacketed bullet velocities and they kill deer handily. THis rifle will shoot cast bullets in three shot groups ranging from 5/16" to 7/8" depending on the bullet with RCBS's 188 grain giving the top accuracy. I have shot prairiedogs at 300M with RCBS's 165 grain bullet using this rifle. It's accuracy has never waivered.
So I took that $98 Cobble Gun hunting that winter and dropped the last mule deer buck I ever shot at 90 yards off hand with with a single shot. (Since then only shoot does) The fellow I was hunting with was so impressed with the performance he asked me to develop a load for his 30-06 using the same bullet.
Yesterday I dug the rifle out of the lock-up to use to teach a very young girl how to shoot this coming week. I'll use light cast loads. Anyhow... I decided to share the story of a $98 rifle in hopes that those who already don't know it will see that a really good rifle stalking doesn't need be pretty nor expensive. Thanks for the patience while I waxed reminiscent.~Muir