Buehler Custom Sporting Arms LLC

Maker of Fine Sporting Rifles

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Happy New Year!!

And here we are, in 2017. Happy New Year and best wishes to all of you! I would like to take this opportunity and thank all of my customers for supporting my business and for allowing me to do what I like doing most, the building of custom firearms. It is such a privilege to working with all of you!

2016 has been a bit of a difficult year for me and my family. We certainly experienced a few ups and down and a surgery has kept me from working in the shop for the last 7 weeks. We are however doing really good and I’m delighted to be working fulltime again, praise the Lord!

For us in the gun trade, the new political landscape offers a breath of relief. I don’t expect any new regulations imposed on us for some time to come. This will allow for many of us to plan much better for the future. I hope the country will be able to heal it’s wounds and come back together again.

In 2017 I’m planning to complete a few nice commissions. I have currently in process a .470 side-lock double rifle, a falling block rifle in .17hmr and a few bolt  and falling block rifles of various calibers. A few unusual projects are awaiting attention, among them an Express rifle in .22lr. and a falling block rifle in .218 Bee. There is no shortage of variety. For my personal amusement I’m planning to build in “my time off” an electric guitar, made off walnut and maple. Something that has been floating around in my mind for years.

.500 Jeffery rifle in process.

Well, there is lot’s to be done, lets get on with it.

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

Leather covered recoil pads – a nice touch

On many occasions I have been asked to leather cover recoil pads on guns belonging to customers, or on one of my custom rifles.  If it is done well, it really is a nice upgrade. It glides smooth on the shoulder and many customers have been enjoying the looks and the feel of it. I use almost exclusively natural pig skin. I know of people that have used goat and ostrich skin and achieved great results. Mostly I use on my rifles Pachmayer Decelerator pads. If they are thicker then 1/2″, plugs for the screws can be cut out. On thin pads I cut two small slots into the leather to reach the screws.

So, the first step typically is to soak the leather for a time in water in order to make it more playable. The recoil pad will be installed and ground to fit the stock, then ground further down, to compensate for the thickness of the leather. The plugs are then cut out on the back and everything is being rounded and re-shaped on a disk grinder.

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The next step is to stretch the wet leather over the pad.

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After the leather has completely dried, I peel the leather off the pad, and glue it on with contact cement. The excess is cut off, but enough is left to tuck it under the pad.

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Little cuts are made so that the bottom fold can be glued on smooth. Also the leather is cut at the plug area, then folded and glued into the plug holes.

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If all has worked out as desired, the leather is ready to be stained. Plugs are made of rubber and are also leather covered.

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One of the final steps is to burnish decorative groves into the leather at the bottom of the pad.

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Finally the pad is polished with shoe polish and installed on the gun stock.

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The leather covering of recoil pads is one of those odd skills one picks up over the years.

 

The model Helvetia

Helvetia is the old Latin name of Switzerland, going back to Roman times. In the 17th century it became popular again, and similar to Lady Liberty, “Mother Helvetia” became a symbol of virtuous and vices of the confederacy.

I would think many immigrants have the desire to honor their roots and would like to be good representatives. So to pay homage, I named the first completely in house build rifle model “Helvetia”.

I always loved the European break open single shot rifles. When a pre-war Merkel 180 Carpathian rifle arrived at the shop, I was captured once again and decided to make a rifle very similar. Over the course of over 2 years I devoted one day a week to computer drafting and the building of several parts sets and finally to the first complete rifle.

The rifle is based on a traditional Anson and Deeley box-lock with a Purdey style under-bolt and Greener third fastener.

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The pictures above are of the machining of the first receivers. The receivers where milled to profile and the internal slots cut with an EDM process.

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As always the case, different manufacturing methods will be employed in the future, as it evolves.

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Milling of the barrels presented a challenge in itself. The picture is of milling a barrel with an octagon profile and full length rib. With a project like this, it seems more time is spent building special set-ups then the actual gun. So it is wise to plan for several pieces versus one of a kind.

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Many hours of filing and fitting where spent on the first rifle. This one is in the caliber 8×57 IRS.

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The really fun part is to file up the action and barrel. This is the creative stage of a project like this.

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Many hours later, the picture above is of the rifle roughly shaped by filing and chiseling the fences.

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Fast forward, the picture above is of the rifle roughly stocked. This one has a 22″ long barrel, a two piece full length forearm and an automatic ejector system.

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After the stocking the receiver and parts where sent to John Vukos for engraving. He engraved it with a fine English rose and scroll pattern.

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After many hours of labor the receiver was finished by color case hardening and the barrel and parts where rust blued.

8x57 IRS single shot rifle

These rifles are the ultimate take down and can be taken apart in seconds. Because of its light weight I find they are best suited for standard calibers, such as for example a 7x57R. Traditionalists such as myself would prefer a rimmed cartridge, but the extractor can be modified for rimless cartridges. In the future I would like to offer a sidelock version as well. They are available with and without automatic ejector and stocked with short or full length forearm.

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Two mighty .600 NE. rifles

Over the years I have had many chances to work on some really interesting guns. Firearms built by the top English and European makers are coming regularly through the shop for this or that reason. Recently we received a vintage W.J.Jeffery double rifle in the caliber .600 Nitro Express. I took the liberty and asked my photographer, Brian Dierks, to take a couple of pictures.

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This rifle weights a whopping 14 1/2 pounds and has 24 ” barrels. Jeffery developed the .600 NE cartridge, but made only about 25 rifles in this caliber.

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The rifle features automatic ejectors and the classic Jeffery under lever. It was made  in Birmingham and has all the typical Birmingham features.

At one point this rifle had seen professional restoration and is all in all in fantastic shape.

 

Last year we had another W.J.Jeffery .6oo NE rifle in the shop. This rifle didn’t have automatic ejectors but was also of excellent quality and in original condition.

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I think the rifle was made by Leonard in Birmingham, as the action is shaped in their typical style. It weights 14 pounds and also has 24″ barrels.

These rifles are really neat and rare, but I found the handling of them heavy and a bit cumbersome. Personally I would prefer a double in .470 NE. and with the top lever versus the under lever.

Political effects on the American gunsmith

On July 22 the Obama administration filtered down through the State Department a new ITAR  (International traffic in arms regulations) “policy guidance”. As is often the case in this political climate, no new laws where issued, just existing  regulations where tweaked to further assist the political left and their gun banning agenda. The new definitions will require that nearly all companies involved in basic gunsmithing operations have to register with the State Department as firearms manufacturers and pay an annual registration fee currently set at $2250. This despite the fact that most are not defined under BATF rules as manufacturers or exporters of firearms.

ITAR regulates the export of primarily heavy armament, such as tanks and missiles. Yet it all comes down to the definitions of defense articles, and the bureaucrats have decided that companies such as mine fall under this clause.

I have had a gun manufacturing license for several years and have been registering with the State Department already for as long. The new rules  will not immediately re-impact me, but for thousands of gunsmiths this will be a huge change. No doubt, many micro businesses won’t be able to comply and especially for start ups, this will make it almost impossible. Possibly many home based businesses might get also into conflict with zoning laws. As usual, when the left meddles in the private sector, effects of their actions ripple through small companies and hardly impact any of the big ones. Just like with the coal miners in PA, there is no doubt in my mind that the left will further pursue to drive out any business sector that they don’t like. If you like your gunsmith, you can keep your gunsmith, right?

I never intended to make this blog site political and I would much rather write about fine guns and gunmaking. However, sometimes a person needs to take a stand. If you care about the second amendment and still have representation in Washington, it would be good to inform your representatives of these new rules.

For further information please visit the State Department website:

http://www.pmddtc.state.gov/index.html

 

The W.J.Jeffery connection

For about the last 6 years I have been an agent for the British company W.J.Jeffery. Jeffery still has its headquarter in the UK, but has been under American ownership for some time. Jeffery is a small company and only builds a very few guns per year with the focus on quality and function. I usually have a small inventory of rifles for sale at hand.  Besides representing the company in the United States, I have been involved in doing repairs and restorations on Jeffery guns and have occasionally done some work for W.J.Jeffery as an outworker.

The rifles below are currently available:

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.W.J.Jeffery,  Magnum Mauser bolt rifle cal. .416 Rigby with case.

 

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W.J.Jeffery box lock, cal. 470 NE.

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W.J.Jeffery, cal. .404 Jeffery, Mauser Magnum bolt action rifle, engraved, color case hardened and with custom case.

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Please contact me directly for more information on these rifles at (541) 664 9109.

 

 

http://info@customsportingarms.com

 

Stock checkering

There are two types of checkering you will find on my rifles. Either diamond point or flat top checkering. Diamond point is probably what you might be most familiar with and it is what is found on most modern guns. The tools used for cutting this style have a 90 degree V shaped profile. Flat top checkering was often used in the old days on German and English guns, and recently it seems to have made somewhat of a comeback in the custom gun world. The tools used for cutting flat top have a different cutting profile and cut U shaped grooves. Currently no commercial tools are available as far a I know and mine have been made in the shop. The feel of the 2 styles of checkering is different, but they work equally good. I personally don’t favor one over the other. For a small caliber gun I probably prefer diamond top, simply because the flat top spacing of the lines is usually wider then on diamond top. So I think the appearance lends itself better to larger caliber guns. However, on a very fancy piece of wood, flat top checkering really showcases the wood’s beauty. I usually leave the decision up to my clients.

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The pictures above are of a stock I have currently in process. The caliber of this rifle is .416 Ruger and features diamond point checkering.

I don’t have a checkering machine and I cut my checkering with hand tools. Good checkering machines are hard to find these days and I have had a machine on order for a few years. I’m sure it won’t be an easy switch, once I receive the machine, but it will certainly be easier on my wrists. The initial layout is always a little tricky. Once I get into the “groove” of cutting, I find checkering actually relaxing and enjoyable.  My motto always is to fight one line at a time.

This rifle features flat top checkering.

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An unusual .30-06 rifle

4 or 5 years ago I built a .416 Rigby rifle for a client, and that rifle was based on a vintage Rigby model #5 rifle. Basically it had many of the features of the vintage Rigby’s, such as the barrel contour, single square magnum action and overall look, but stocked to the customers dimensions and with a cheek piece. I had sent pictures of it to another great client of mine and we decided to build a rifle with the same features of the Buehler #5 in .416, but scaled down, and in the caliber .30-06.

The action used on this rifle was made by Granite Mountain Arms and is a light weight, small ring 33/40 style square bridge action. I cut a thumb cut into the receiver to give it more of a vintage look. Rigby used on their #5 rifles two different barrel contours. The first was with a very heavy barrel, integral rib and stepped down at the sling swivel band. The second had a long, heavy shank with an integral sight rib, but was overall somewhat lighter. This is the contour we decided initially on the .416 Rigby and I used the same contour but much smaller on the .30-06. The barrel started off oversize and I machined the integral rib into it.

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The banded and flush fit front sight ramp and the sling swivel band I machined from solid and soldered to the barrel.

A Blackburn drop box magazine was added to the action and the rifle was stocked with a nice Turkish walnut blank. The scope mount on the rifle is my cam-lever mount and it is detachable with a 1/4 turn on each ring lever. This scope mount is especially well suited for square bridge actions, as the rifle still looks very clean with the scope removed.

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The stock was made to the customers dimensions. After checkering and finishing the rifle was, as always, tested at the range for function and accuracy.

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And here is the final result:

.30-06 # 5 rifle

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Modern technology and old fashioned gunmaking

Do we apply modern technology in building our custom guns? You bet. To be honest, it does not come easy to me. I received my training in the 80’s and the novelty of CNC machines and Cad designs was pretty foreign and unaffordable to the small shop where I worked. My first inclination is always to reach for a hacksaw and file when making a part. In the early 2000’s I worked for a short time for Sigarms and became friends with a manufacturing engineer. He really opened my eyes and introduced me to computer aided drafting (CAD) and to basic CNC (computer controlled) machining.

In our shop we have 2 CNC milling machines. The perception often is that you just push a green button and the machine spits out a part. That is pretty false, as it is not that easy. But I must say, the machines have given us the opportunity to make our guns more unique and the quality more uniform. Parts, such as our front sight ramps, scope mounts, barrel bands, grip caps, extended tangs, and many one of a kind projects we make on those machines.  I utilize a 3D cad software almost daily and it has also turned into somewhat of a hobby of mine The question may arise, does this technology quench the creative process of a craftsman? In my opinion, the opposite. 3D Cad allows to look at new designs and alter them before ever machining it. Also it is possible to assemble parts in the computer and play with the geometry and function.

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CNC improves the quality, saves time and also allows for making parts that would be most difficult to do on manual equipment.

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Small shops such as mine can rarely justify the investment into state of the art equipment, such as wire and sinker EDM (electric discharge machining) machines. So it makes sense to outsource certain parts to specialized machine shops. DSCN0684

The picture is of our scope rings wire edm machined.

Despite modern technology, at least 80% of my time is still spend on the bench. What can’t be re-placed with technology is an understanding of traditional designs, and the ability to make a rifle “flow” with style and grace.

 

 

Stock making and shaping

One of the advantages that you have when you order a rifle with us is that your gun is truly going to be built for you, and each rifle is a one of a kind. For example, we try our best to make each stock to the customers dimensions. Factories don’t have the flexibility to do that. To determine the customers stock dimensions, it is always best to meet in person. We have a fully adjustable try gun which aids us in establishing proper fit.

When making the stock, most custom gunsmiths depend totally on pre-made patterns which they use to copy the stock on pantograph machines. We also utilize a Hoenig pantograph machine and some patterns, but primarily the machine is used for the inletting and often just for roughing out of the outside contour. Depending on the stock, about up to 85 % of the inletting can be pre-carved on the machine and it saves a lot of time. The remaining inletting is done by hand with chisels and scrapers.

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The picture above is of me working on a butt stock.

The outside dimensions on our stocks vary from client to client. Most of the time it takes me less time to shape the inlet stock by hand versus to alter the outside of a pattern or spend a lot of time on making a new pattern. So the outside of the stock is carved oversize on the machine, or sometimes left completely as a block.

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This picture is of the re-stocking of a vintage Holland & Holland Paradox. The metal is inlet and the stock is being shaped with hand tools.

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The picture above is of the stocking of a custom Ruger #1 rifle.

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The 2 pictures above are of the rough shaping of the Ruger stock.

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Once everything is rough filed, I usually spend another full day to re-fine everything and to prepare the stock for the first sanding. The shaping of the stock is a lot of fun, a process that I enjoy very much. And my clients enjoy receiving pictures of their stock taking on it’s final form.

 

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