View Full Version : Almost ready to start my summer projects....

05-23-2014, 04:09 PM
Now that I can shoot again, I think I'm about ready to run the lathe and do some real work. After we get the garden planted I will start with threading some cast bullet sizing die blanks, then drilling and polishing their insides as needed. I need one for .25-20's (must slug barrel for exact size), a .325 for the Mauser, and I want to make one that will reduce a .270 bullet down enough (or maybe only seat the gas check depending on the size the mould actually drops in my alloy) so I can load it in the Carcano with some accuracy. Picklehead sent me taps and a die to significantly speed up the outside threading of the sizers (so they fit in a standard 7/8-14 loading press), so I'll be spending more time working on the insides than the outsides. That will get me warmed up, just as the blackflies are at their peak I'll be working in the basement.

Then we'll get the barrel vise mounted on the cellar post again and make a cheater bar for the Savage barrel nut wrench. 10" of flat wrench cut from bar stock ain't gonna cut it, I have seen it written somewhere that they employ actual mountain gorillas to tighten those barrel nuts at the factory. 4-5' is more what I was thinking, I can bolt something that long onto the flat bar of the wrench. I have a 1x3" maple board that might work. I have a great piece of black iron pipe that fits over the round bar handle of my Mauser action wrench; that won't work with the flat bar of the Savage nut wrenches, but they do have other holes presumably one can put bolts through to secure some better leverage to it.

Then the .223 barrel comes off the Savage Axis and gets replaced with a 20" .30/223 1/10"twist barrel for deer hunting. It will have some kind of red dot on it for field use after I work out what it likes best with some decent glass on it. At some point I might also make 6.5 and 7TCU barrels for it, but I tend to "not fix it" when I hit on a good combination. I have been wanting a wildcat bolt action deer rifle in this chambering for about thirty years, since I first read about the cartridge. If I like the result I will be unlikely to want to mess with it once it's properly set up and sighted in with its favorite load for deer hunting.

The cartridge is balistically slightly hotter than a .30-30 with bullets of up to 150gr, if you go heavier then you sacrifice powder capacity. A nice flat point cast 150gr FNGC bullet has a mv of 2300-2400 (sight it in for 100yds, 6" drop at 200), a pointy jacketed one only 2200-2300. 120gr FNGC cast and 125 jacketed max out around 2500-2600. 110gr RNSP's for the .30carb scream out at up to 2700. Hotter than a .30-30, much hotter than a 7.62x39, but also much more efficient, burning 2/3 the powder for comparable velocity. This is out of my 24" barrel.

Shooting a .30-30 out of the Contender carbine with hunting loads is not a lot of fun as the recoil is intense and sharp with the ultra light little carbine. I didn't want to shoot more than ten rounds offhand without some kind of recoil shield before my shoulder started getting sore. 15 rounds would leave bruising. I am 6' tall, but not heavy of frame nor overweight but in decent shape for my age considering, still after three major spine surgeries I use a magnum recoil shield at the bench for everything bigger than .224's, and often while shooting offhand in warmer weather.

But spit that same bullet at the same velocity out of the .30/223 and it's a completely different story. I can shoot it all day, the perceived recoil is about half that of the .30-30, and I have shot over a hundred rounds from it in a day with no ill effects the next day. Calculations will tell you that the recoil energy is actually reduced by 1/3, but it is enough of a difference in the pounding on my shoulder and back to make the light rifle a pleasure to shoot many rounds from instead of a flinch-inducer (I have a 16" .35Rem barrel carbine for that). I have been shooting it now for six years and like it better the more I use it. I understand what it can do, and what it can't do. It shoots just about any jacketed or cast bullet from 110 to 150gr, but the pointier/heavier the bullet, the more likely it is to impinge upon the usable powder capacity of the case. Forget anything heavier or longer than a flat point 150gr, you get yourself down into the capacity range of the Whisper/Blackout when you try to load those longer heavier bullets. But they generally have more different purposes than simply filling the freezer and are irrelevant to me.

In point of fact I don't need bullets 170-200gr to kill deer and varmints, or even bear and moose, I need them between 110-150gr, depending on how flat a trajectory I'm trying for and the size of the game. Even in the .30-30, the heavier 170gr+ bullets drop way too much out at 200yds to make them as reliable hitters of live quarry. Jacketed or cast, there is no difference in performance of either on game when the correct bullet is properly sized and fired in this cartridge within its attainable working velocity range with the appropriate powders. H335 or its surp equivalent for both jacketed and cast bullets and Alliant 2400 for some cast loads are my favorites so far in the carbine, who knows what bullet or powder the new barrel will prefer? I have a LOT of .30cal moulds. 8)

With 4" less barrel length on the new rifle I am not expecting to get quite those numbers, but I'll be looking for the most accurate loads anyway, after finding out its preference for bullets. This is not that wimpy stunted target round designed for an AR and a silencer :mrgreen:, that extra case capacity of the full length .223 case makes it basically a highly efficient, light, fast, non-recoiling 200yd deer, bear, and varmint killer, maybe more if your eyes are up to it, or you put some magnification on it. Probably not a workable choice for the wide open spaces or really large game at any but the closest range (most moose here are shot within 35yds of the hunter), but in the puckerbrush and thickets it's just the ticket, like the .30-30's we've been relying on for many generations, only now we load 150 and 125gr bullets in them for the flatter trajectories.

My current .30/223 is a 24" rechambered .300Whisper Contender carbine, but I've wanted a repeater for hunting for a long time and bought the Axis with its detachable mags for the rebarreling. It will feed and function the longer OAL of the .30/223 versus the standard .223. I won't know the exactities of how long it will work until after I rent the reamer and cut the chamber then start actually loading for it.

As to the barrel that came on it, I must say that this is the first Savage rifle of several dozens that I have owned and/or loaded for over the years that hasn't shot to expectation or more. Three powders, five different bullets (3 different brands), and I could get close to MOA 5shot@100yds, but never quite reach it. 1.125-1.5 was about the best I've been able to do with it. To me that's not accurate enough for small targets at varminty ranges, but I already have a real varmint rifle for that anyway. If I had bought this Axis as a varmint rifle though, it would have found a new home after about two months of component testing. Another Axis I saw in -06 was capable of excellent sub-MOA accuracy with factory ammo, so it's apparently not a general trend, just a cheap barrel on this particular one. Easily remedied. I wanted a bolt action hunter with a .223 boltface in my favorite .30 wildcat in a synthetic stock with detachable mags that will stand up to New England weather and be fun to shoot the rest of the year. It was just a matter of finding which of the .223 bolt actions on the market would work with the full length .30cal round. I was looking around for a used (or even abused) Savage for the project, having given up after trying for too many years to find a reasonably priced mini-Mauser or right-handed Rem788 with the correct boltface for the project. I would still want either or both of those actions, too.

Anyway the Savage Axis came on sale as a package deal with the scope (a cheap Bushnell 3-9 that has already been given to someone I don't like) for under $300, when I had cash from selling my M1A. Perfect timing. And it will feed dummy rounds of not only the pointy Sierra 125's, but also 150 and 120gr cast FNGC bullets through the unaltered .223 mags and into the action until the greater diameter stops them, and then it ejects them all neatly without gagging up and misfeeding. I will probably shoot nothing but cast in it after a few tests with Sierra 125 SP and FNHP's to get a baseline on its accuracy with jacketed bullets and working loads for both bullets if. I am expecting 2-3MOA and it would be perfectly adequate as a deer rifle but hoping for MOA or better as this barrel blank looks decent inside with not a lot of tool marks unreamed when left by dulling deep hole drills. I got this little Bergara 20" blank really cheap on sale, the reamer rents for $35, and even with the cost of a decent red dot I'll still only have about $500 in it plus my labor. And if I'm not happy I can simply put the original .223 barrel back on it with another cheap scope and sell it.

Thoughts and comments appreciated throughout the planning and execution. I will probably turn this project into an article, how much easier it is with the barrel nuts on these Savage actions versus rebarreling a traditional action with a shoulder to stop the slightly torqued barrel. Sam was making barrel nuts for Mausers, don't know if he still does but it was a stroke of genius and I would like to include one on every future Mauser project. I will post some pics of rifle and raw materials when I get started on it in a couple of weeks.

05-24-2014, 11:41 PM
Just heard back from Sam on the FB RLB Group. He doesn't have the 98 Mauser tap anymore but he can get another and make some of them for me for future projects. Anyone else interested in one or more of them?