Saturday, February 5, 2011

Custom Rifle Part II

An easy way to customize any gun is to make it a different color. While there are several different options for accomplishing this, not all are practical for the home gunsmith. If you're only planning on doing this with one or two guns, then the purchasing a spray kit and paint plus the air compressor to run it, simply isn't very practical. However, if you plan on doing this on a regular basis, then it might be worth your expense to purchase this equipment, and it can be easily attained from websites like Brownells.

If you're looking to customize the color of your gun without purchasing all this equipment, then a good alternative for you is the DuraCoat EZ Finishing Kit, available from This kit comes with everything needed, plus your choice of one 4 ounce DuraCoat color all for only $49.99. This size can will typically cover 2-4 guns. With 195 standard colors, 16 tactical colors, and 7 electric colors, there's sure to be one to meet your needs. This system works off a can of propellant rather than needing an air compressor. The DuraCoat system is known to give excellent coverage with an easy application, while providing good looking coverage that will protect your gun from the elements.

Feel free to post pictures of your custom colored guns in the comments section.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Want a Custom Rifle?

This article is going to address building a hunting style rifle, as custom builds for AR-15s and AK style rifles are very different. These types of rifle builds will be addressed later.

Almost everyone who has messed with guns even on a small scale dreams of building a custom rifle. However, most of us are lacking the tools to properly create and mount a barrel and set the head spacing, as well as perform the intricate work that can be involved when working with a trigger.

An easy alternative to building one completely from the ground up is to purchase a barreled action. These assemblies come with the action and barrel already attached. This takes care of the hard work with the barrel and the trigger, as all these components are already installed. This still allows you to add the stock, scope, and whatever other accessories you'd like to add to make your custom rifle. Most of these come with good, user adjustable triggers installed, but if you'd like, you can also drop in a new trigger pretty easily.

There are several of these available, depend on the cost, caliber, and type of action you'd like to use. One of these is the Howa barreled action, available from These are fairly affordable actions, and have good reviews online. They are available in a wide variety of calibers from .204 to .375, as well as your choice of blue or stainless barrels.

Another option is the Montana Rile Company ( They offer a similar variety of calibers and options, and are a little more pricey than the Howa. You will find many people online, raving about how good these actions are.

Many people in the US love the German Mauser actions, and look for these when they want to build a custom rifle. If this is the action you'd like, check out Zastava barreled actions. These actions are made in Yugoslavia, and have been imported by everyone from Charles Daly to Remington. They are currently being imported by a company called European American Armory Corp ( These barreled actions are fairly inexpensive, and receive very good reviews. They are also available in a wide variety of calibers.

Stocks are available from many companies online. A quick Google search will bring up a plethora of companies that offer them. A few of the companies I've ordered from include and

Stocks and actions may require some minor modification in order to have a snug fit, but most of these mods are pretty simple.

Some of these barreled actions will come pre-drilled for scope mounts, will others will require that you drill to install them.

There are other companies that offer barreled actions, and a quick check on a website like will yield many results in lots of calibers.

The rifle is limited only by your imagination, so be as creative or simple as you want. Feel free to post any pictures of custom rifles in the comments section.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Final Decision

After mulling over my options, I decided to go with installing an aftermarket kit. I chose the Archangel 556 kit from Cheaper Than Dirt ( It runs just over $100, and is designed to give your 10/22 many of the characteristics of an AR-15 (hence the 556 in the name). While ordering my kit, I purchased a couple of 30 round magazines for it as well, since they can be purchased for less than $10.

Removing the factory stock was easy, as it simply involves removing two screws. I also had to remove the scope and scope rings. Make sure you are using hollow ground or parallel ground screwdrivers, as this lessens the possibility of damage to your screws, which can be vital when working with firearms. My cheap auction gun had some firing pin issues, but these were easily fixed by replacing the trigger assembly while I had the stock off. This is easily accomplished, as it is held in place by two pins which are easy to knock out with a brass punch and replace in similar fashion.

The next step is removing the factory dove tailed sights. On my rifle, the sights were broken, and were not going to be reused, so removing them were as simply as hitting them a few times with a plastic hammer. If you wanted to keep the sights, you would simply tap them off using a brass or nylon punch.

The first piece to go on is the front sight mount. Simply place the front sight over the barrel. The instructions say you can heat the part up in the oven if you have issues installing it, but I found that simply tapping it with the plastic hammer made it go on just fine. You simply knock it till it is flush with the end of the barrel. Once this is complete, install the pin on top of the barrel using a nylon punch. Be sure your holes line up before driving the punch, or it will bend.

This kit comes with an upgrade of the magazine release, which is nice, as is sticks down almost and inch parallel with the magazine, which makes magazine changes much quicker. To remove the factory release, simply drive out the pin. To install the new one, simply put it in place and reinstall the pin.

The next piece to install is the rail system. To do this, you simply remove the barrel from the action and slide it on. It will free-float on the barrel, you will finish it's installation last. After it is slid into place, you can replace the barrel.

Next slide the lower piece containing the adjustable stock onto the bottom of the action. It installs using the same screw you removed from the bottom of the factory stock.

The top piece with it's rail simply slides into place and installs with several screws.

Once this is complete, use the two provided Allen screws to attach the free floating rail on the barrel to the cover on the action.

All that is left to do, is to attach the bayonet, if desired. This piece is made from a polymer, similar to Israeli covert knives, and as such, the blade is not metal. This limits the bayonet to a stabbing weapon, and not a cutting one. But that's what a bayonet is for, right?

The completed rifle:

The bayonet:

Overall, the rifle looks pretty sweet, and I was able to mount a red dot scope to the top. It appears to vastly improve the functionality of the weapon, and I'm anxious to shoot it. Once I do, I'll be sure to write a review on how it performs.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Modifying a Ruger 10/22

I recently purchased a Ruger 10/22 at an auction. I got it for a cheap price, however it did have some physical issues. The stock has some very bad scarring on it, and most of the bluing was missing from the barrel. I went ahead and purchased the rifle, however, because I was aware of the various aftermarket parts and kits available.

Upon picking the rifle up for the first time, I was tempted to re-blue it and strip, fill, sand and refinish the stock. However, after looking at some of the aftermarket kits available, and considering my options, I decided to purchase one of them.

The reasoning for this stems from several different ones:

1. Cost: Aftermarket kits are widely available, and fairly inexpensive. While blueing requires tools and chemicals that are more expensive. I have done some blueing on small arms, like revolvers, and I've found that the cold blue kits such as Birchwood Cassidy offers work well for this application. I have not tried them on a larger scale, and while they may work for small jobs, I suspect that larger ones may prove significantly more difficult. Also, these kits are not cheap, and would be rather expensive to use on such a large job. The other option for this is hot-blueing, but that requires more chemicals and a knowledge that I simply don't have yet. I have read some good reviews of the DuraCoat system for putting a protective "paint" on rifles, and while this seems like a good option, it just simply wasn't what I wanted to do with this gun. As for the stock, you'd have to buy the removal chemicals, the filler, the sandpaper, and the finish you decided to put on it. Most kits come with stock and barrel options together.

2. Ease: As hinted at in #1, refinishing the barrel and stock would be fairly difficult to do.

3. Interoperability: Many aftermarket kits add a rail system, which will allow easier attachment of accessories, as well the ability to move these accessories to other rifles, such as my M&P15.

Plus, there's always the "cool" factor. :)

A picture of the basic Ruger 10/22, as it typically comes from the factory:

I will update this blog later in the week, with pictures of the finished product, as well as information on the work done.