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Author Topic: Rebarrelling! It's not that hard.  (Read 697 times)

Offline Dutch-Hunter

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Rebarrelling! It's not that hard.
« on: March 06, 2013, 03:08:58 PM »
Changing Savage Rifle Barrels (By Paul “Dutch-Hunter” Holland)

If you own a Savage bolt-action rifle, you can replace your barrel or change calibers by doing it yourself. Why? You may ask; well let’s say you have a 243 win and are either not happy with its groups or you want to extend its range for coyote hunting. The out of the box barrel is 22”, to extend the range you want to put a 26” varmint contour barrel on it. For whatever reason you want to change your barrel the tools and technique will be covered here. Remember if you select a heavier contour you are going to have to float your fore stock. Also now would be a perfect time to bed your action (just a suggestion but worth it).

The assorted tools and equipment required to switch barrels include Wheeler Engineering’s action and barrel nut wrenches, a set of Forster “GO” and “NO-GO” headspace gauges, oak barrel blocks to mount the barreled action in your bench vise and a large rubber-headed mallet may come in handy. All of these tools are readily available from online shooting suppliers or possibly your local gun shop or store.

The steps:
1.   Start by detaching the scope to gain clear access to the barrel nut. The front scope base (or rail if so equipped) must also be removed if the action wrench is needed to securely hold the action while loosening and tightening the barrel nut.
2.   Remove the bolt assembly from the action.
3.   Remove action barrel assembly from stock. Using a 5/32-inch Allen wrench with an extended handle is used to apply adequate torque to loosen the action screws. The rearmost screw secures the trigger guard in the stock, so it does not need to be removed.
4.   Slide the barrel nut wrench over the barrel, making sure you have the right size of the wrench to engage the barrel nut. Place the action barrel assembly and barrel nut wrench into the oak barrel block and clamp it in your bench vise. Use sufficient squeeze to hold assembly firmly.
5.   Engage the barrel nut wrench with the barrel nut’s multiple notches, center it, and loosen the barrel nut. Use the rubber-headed mallet if need be. Sometimes the barrel nut is very tight (stuck), rather than repeatedly wrapping on the wrench, try a little heat with a propane torch, usually does not require much.
6.   After backing the barrel nut off a bit, you simply unthread the action from the barrel. Be sure to note the orientation and relative position of the recoil lug so you can reassemble these parts correctly later. Warning: If your action is also stuck, use a single layer of a cotton rag around it and apply gentle force with a crescent wrench as close to the barrel as possible.
7.   When you’ve finished taking the rifle apart, you will have the complete action assembly, recoil lug, barrel nut, and barrel.
8.   Remove the old barrel from vise and blocks.
9.   Positioned new replacement barrel between the oak blocks with the barrel nut wrench in the proper place, and securely mount it in the vise, clean the barrel threads and apply a thin coat of anti-seize compound evenly over them. Wipe off any excess material and make sure the barrel chamber face is 100 percent clean.
10.   Thread the barrel nut fully onto the barrel and slide the recoil lug on with the key properly oriented relative to the notch in the action. Carefully thread the action on the barrel several turns. Install the bolt assembly into the action.
11.   This is a critical procedure. Take your time! Use of the “GO”  gauge fit-up steps:
               a.   Carefully insert the “GO” headspace gauge under the extractor into the chamber. Close the bolt completely. As the gap between the barrel nut and action is closed, be sure to position the recoil lug on the face of the action so its key engages the corresponding notch in the action. Continue to thread the action assembly (counterclockwise) until the “GO” headspace gauge is firmly seated in the chamber.  Make sure the recoil lug is still positioned correctly and turn the barrel nut clockwise, by hand, until it jams the recoil lug flat against the action face. Hold the action and barrel together firmly and remove the bolt from the action. Be sure to catch the “GO” gauge when you retract the bolt. (This step is much easier to do if a friend helps.)
             b.   Finally, snugly torque the barrel nut (clockwise) with the wrench to securely “jam” the barreled action assembly together. You must make sure that the barrel and action do not move (rotate) relative to each other. The Savage Barrel Nut is engineered to not exceed 50 foot pounds of torque (I get more accuracy if I stay around 35 -40).
              c.   Here’s where both headspace gauges are used to verify if the barrel and action are mated correctly. After you install the bolt assembly, insert the “GO” gauge into the chamber, and gently attempt to close the bolt. It should close completely with minimal effort. If it doesn’t, then the chamber headspace is too short (tight) and you won’t be able to chamber a round of ammo. Back the barrel nut off and repeat the barrel/action/bolt/ “GO” gauge fit-up steps.
              d.   When you pass the “GO” gauge check, the next step is to try the “NO-GO” gauge. It is machined to be a few thousandths of an inch longer than the “GO” gauge. When you insert the “NO-GO” gauge into the chamber and gently attempt to close the bolt, the bolt should only close about halfway if the barrel and action are assembled correctly. If it closes completely, there’s too much headspace, and it may be unsafe to fire the gun. You must loosen the barrel nut and repeat the “GO” gauge fit-up steps.
12.   Assuming the headspace gauges indicate you got it right, all that remains is reinstalling the barreled action into the stock. Align the trigger and magazine with the stock inletting and insert the barreled action into the stock. Be sure to hold everything together by hand and bump the buttstock sharply on a rigid surface to assure the recoil lug is fully seated in the stock. Drop the two action screws into the appropriate holes and turn them in with the Allen wrench until they’re firmly hand-tight. There’s no need to over torque! Remount the scope, bore sight it and you’re ready to take it to the range.

This method is nearly identical for all bolt action rifles. The tooling and techniques may vary slightly between manufacturers but overall they are almost identical.

If you have an OOPS! Don’t worry about it just take it to your gunsmith and ask for their help and have them double check your work. Most gunsmiths will be glad to help you; some may even let you watch them check your work. For goodness sake ask questions.

Well there you have it. It is almost as easy as it sounds. A new gun can run $400 and up, while a new good quality barrel will be between $150 and $300. There are several ways to buy barrels; from online dealers like Midway, Browells, Gander Mountain and others, or from barrel makers like Lilja, Bartlien, Krieger and more. Just start looking and ask questions.
Gun Geek! Proud of it!
Old enough to know better!
TO old to care!


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