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Thread: Theoretical rifle project - need your expertise!

  1. #1

    Theoretical rifle project - need your expertise!

    Hello everyone.

    Following on from a previous thread on takedown rifles, I've become intrigued by an idea. How would I go about rebarrelling a Mannlicher-Schoenauer 1903 or GK from let's say 6.5 x 54MS to for instance 7mm08? There are plenty of MS rifles out there available for maybe 300-500, possibly with slightly decrepit barrels. Supposing I found one with an action and stock in good condition, it should be possible to have it rebarrelled to a modern calibre, but I have no idea how to go about this technically and legally, or indeed a very good handle on the true cost of such a project.

    Legally, would I need FAC slots both for the 6.5x54MS and the 7mm08? Or could I buy the original MS rifle off ticket on the grounds that it's an obsolete calibre, then add it to the FAC after it's been converted.

    Where would I find a barrel? Obviously MS never made a barrel chambered for the 7mm08, even if you could find one in the white, so what is technically involved in adapting it, or are we talking about a completely custom-made barrel?

    Do barrels on their own have to go on an FAC (I think so, as they're a part if a firearm)?

    Finally, how much does a barrel, its' fitting, rebluing, possibly some reconditioning on the action etc, cost? I'm not expecting exact figures, just some sort idea of scale.

    This is probably one to put on the longer-term projects list, but I really have no idea, and I'm pretty sure that some of you lot do.

    Thanks for your help!

  2. #2
    Right firstly you need to understand that you need to stay more modern here. The pre 1924 Model 1903's for instance are a nightmare to change calibres and cartridges on due to the rotary magazine spool. this spool is actually machined tot eh shape of the 6.5x54ms cartridge for instance. The later ones have a spring steel circular guide instead and so are easier to change. The GK I mention would have the circular guide.

    Other wise re-barrelling is much the same as any other bolt action. Unless seriously abused the action is not likely to need much if any work on it. Remember that the Schoenauer's were expensive high quality rifles always the fit and finish on them was superb. I understand the only reason for their demise wasa fire at the plant and the Shoenauer tooling was too badly dmaged to salvage and too expensive to replace.

    Restocking a Schoenauer it seems is not quite so straight forwards. I have only found one or two REALLY expensive people who would even consider this which is why my own re-build came to a halt. One quoted around 900 to finish inlet and finish fit a almost ready inetted stock form a US stock maker.

  3. #3
    I agree with Kevin. rebarreling a 1903 Greek from MS to anything else is a nightmare. You are better served to find a commercial model in 7x57 and bite the bullet on the price tag. I saw a 1910 at Cabelas used guns for $999 two years back and regret not buying it. I have a MS action that I considered rebarreling: the only readily do-able round was 30 Remington. Yawn. It still hangs on it's peg. Now that PRVI makes brass, I might do the X54MS.

    A greater issue id why you'd want an inferior action for a hunting rifle. They are hell to mount scope on, or ungainly at best, and not really conducive to accuracy. Why a long range cartridge VS a woodland round?~Muir

  4. #4
    Cough .......................... splutter:-

    A greater issue id why you'd want an inferior action for a hunting rifle.

    Inferior .......................................... hardly.

  5. #5
    Of course it is, by modern standards. It has a split rear bridge, a heavy striker fall and a less than sterling trigger. If I was building a rifle (scoped) around a flat shooting round this would be about the last action I would choose. Would you choose it?? I doubt it. You have more sense than that.

    Now, if I was looking for a slick, ironsighted rifle in a more woodland-type caliber, I'd be all for it. They are classic and slick. I'd be happy with a 6.5x54MS and some 160 grain bullets for sneaking onto whitetail along the local river. I guess I could use a 7-08 for that as well, but considering the conversion effort needed? Nope.

  6. #6
    Perhaps I have been spoilt? My old stalking mentor used a modified Mdl 1903 fitted with a Khales scope. Back in the late 1960's he had it re-barreled and modified to accept the .243 Winchester with it's factory Dbl sett trigger one had to be careful if not used to it as once sett it seems to only take and angels kiss to fire it as happened to me once when I used the rifle.

    All I know is that he had the conversion and re-barreling down in Leige and using federal 100 Grn ammunition his groups at 100 yards were closer to the 1/2" than the 1" mark.

  7. #7
    Casting aside for a moment the merits or not of the MS action, how would you go about undertaking this project, technically and legally?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Pine Marten View Post
    Casting aside for a moment the merits or not of the MS action, how would you go about undertaking this project, technically and legally?
    Perhaps I can help with a viewpoint.

    Firstly, you can purchase a barrel quite legally without a certificate, RFD or space on your FAC.

    However although some people will sell barrels to non-RFD, many won't as it isn't altogether clear in the fireams acts, there is an implication that major repairs etc should be done by a RFD who has the specific authority for repairs or manufacture, - when you obtain a dealers certificate it states for what purpose. Usually the cert' states, "...for the retail sales of firearms, and ammunition..." - so the dealer is strictly limited to this, they would not strictly have authority to take a firearm in for repair!

    The main issue is the next step, since as soon as the barrel is chambered it becomes a sectionable item, and therefore must be entered on your certificate.

    Speaking to your local licensing section they should be able to give guidance as it isn't unheard of.

    As for the actual fitting, it is a little bit "if you don't know how to, you shouldn't!", but providing you have the engineering/machining skills and access to a lathe (and possibly mill) it isn't that difficult.

    Firstly remove the barrel (which I think is a straightforward unscrew job) - obviously you have the "make sure the gun is unloaded children" type notice we all fell we ought to say - but I think we are all grown ups here!

    Then the tenon length, thread and shape can be measured ready for replication on the new barrel.

    Then it is a matter of chucking the new barrel in the lathe to run true on the bore at the chamber end and machining the tenon as per the old one, once this is done the chamber needs to be cut to depth - if it is a one-off, then you might as well just use a finishing reamer for the whole chambering operation.

    With this you need to continuously check the headspace - realistically for a stalking rifle, you are not looking for accuracy, but usability, so I normally set the headspace a couple of thou longer then the minimum - this allows for dirty chambers etc unlike a top end target rifle which we headspace only a few 10th of thou and use target reamers (closer on tolerance than std).

    Once you have this done, cleaned and checked; then the barrel can be finished (blued, phosphated cerakoted etc..) and then fitted and tightened up.

    Of course the headspace needs to be checked again (which could by 1/2 - 1 thou tighter now), and once ok the rifle is complete.

    Obviously if you sell it, it needs to be proved first.

    Clearly a quick overview as once experienced you can correct the fit of the tenon to improve matters, and there is a whole load of detail that could be applied to each step.

    As for where, you could try Border barrels, or perhaps Graham at GBR - he does the Bergara barrels (access through fox fireams, as Brian has the details on his site) - these are decent barrels for cheep money

    Does this help?



    Sorry in my brevity I forgot to mention the bolt and bolt face, obviously the rim is 0.454 inch dia on the 6.5x54 MSG, whilst the 308 case has a rim dia of 0.473, so the bolt face will need checking and opening out for the extra 29 thou - a fairly straightforward turning operation, similarly check feeding as the case is slightly wider (but shorter), the extractor may also need a bit of tweaking to work reliably.
    Last edited by J.Russell F/A Ltd; 10-06-2012 at 10:20. Reason: forgot to mention the bolt!

  9. #9
    Ok these might help a bit. This is the bol head/lugs of the Mannlicher 1892 and the Model 1903 is similar:-

    So the bolt face is flat which makes things easier ....................... a bit. The sliding lug that covers the left hand bolt lug in the photos would need to be altered for the larger head of the case as it's this that keeps the case central and in place for the extractor. This one is for the rimmed 6.5x53R whose head is 0.530" or there abouts. The Schoenauer that I don't have a photo to hand for is smaller here of course.

    Now to barrels an unthreaded, i.e plain shank chambered blank is a grey area as mentioned. Yes it has a chamber and rifles bore but with no means to attach to an action in theory is not a pressure bearing part. Some such as Surrey used to take this view butt hat was years back and things may have changed since then.

    If your barrel supplier will only sell to an RFD that complicates matters as I found out when re-chambering and fitting the 7x64 barrel as a 280 AI to my BSA Monarch receiver. It meant lots of running about as I could only have the barrel in my possession to machine it once that was finished and overnight it had to go back to the dealer. Once fitted and chambered to depth the 270 Rifle now became a .280 and so a different firearm which needed to be entered onto my certificate as a .280.

    The dealer could do this but as the barrel was on his books as a 7x64 barrel that was unproved selling it to me meant it needed proofing so this was done to keep everything within the law..

    Now as the rifle was for myself and I did not intend to be doing this sort of thing often I chose to mount the barrel in an independant 4 jaw chuck and clock the 7x64 chamber up:-

    Not only for being concentric but parallel so the chamber is straight. The bolt head recess needed deepening and opening up slightly and the tenon lengthening to match that on the take off barrel. I did not get, buy or borrow any fixtures such as action wrench or barrel vice to do this as they are not likely to be used again. So to remove the ols barrel the 270 majestic was held by the barrel and run slowly and a sharp parting tool ran in slowly about 0.015" from the receiver face and the cut made to thread root depth thus relieving the pressure so the action could be spun off by hand easily. This also scraps the barrel. Not enough to satisfy the law though so i cut the chamber open like a cut away right along into the lead/throat of the barrel. No way it could be repaired to used again like that and I wanted to look at the erosion of the throat.

    You can see the glazed card used to protect the barrels finish from the hard jaws. The barrel was held thus and the receiver spun on then using brass and lead strips a large wrench was used across the flat bottom of the action ring to tighten the receiver onto the barrel. Not the best way but for a one off for my own build it worked and did not cost a fortune to do. Buying the reamer and gauges cost enough as it was. barrels do not actually need to be tightened up to a point where they stretch th threads. certainly not like those of the old P-14 rifle out o the Eddystone works where the barrels are to tight that often breaking them lose to remove a barrel can crack the receiver ring. Those on the screw in method of take down rifles are done up hand tight and have been proved safe.

    I believe that Lewis Potter may have a 6.5x54MS reamer or access to one at least as it was he who fitted the new Steyr made barrel in 6.5x54MS to my Model 1903. Sadly 6.5x54MS is not off ticket and neither is 6.5x53R . Lincs put my 270 BSA onto a temp permit and opened up the slot on a one for one to .280 Rifle. It took a lot of explaining and a long meeting at Nettleham with the licensing manager to arrange and get the go ahead. After all it's not an everyday thing that happens.

    When i get a bit of time later I will look up the Mannlicher barrel tenon thread as I might have it listed somewhere. It was in my NRA Gunsmithign Guide book butt hat is still in custody .

  10. #10
    I don't know anything about Mannlichers. I am going the Mauser route to make myself a simple hunting rig.
    I chose a 1909 argentino which cost around 200 Euro and ordered a new 308 Lothar Walther barrel which is
    pre-chambered for mauser at 190,- Euro. A friend is putting it together for me in Germany and getting
    the lot blued which is way cheaper than any polymer coating. Trigger will be tuned to 800 grams.
    I'll make myself an ultra light ambidextrous carbon stock for her. I am now looking for a very light simple scope.
    Overall this rig is going to cost me way under 1000 Euro but will have the best of bits on it.


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