Thinking about building a bolt action...


February 4, 2012, 01:46 PM
...does anyone have experience building a rifle on a milsurp action? Favorite instructional books/videos on gunsmithing? Right now I'm looking at large ring Mauser, m1917 and m1903 actions. I'm looking mostly for a cheap already botched sporter project with a smooth action that feels tight, and I'm thinking .257 Roberts Ackley improved for the cartridge. I know it's not cost effective to build your own, but that's not why I'm doing it. I mostly want to see how much work goes into building a custom rifle to richen my appreciation for them and learn in the process. I have access to a mill, lathe and other machine tools.

I'm open to any opinions on the matter, especially from other guys who have done this. Does anyone know a good supplier of surplus barreled actions?

Thanks in advance.


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February 4, 2012, 01:48 PM
Vz24 is cheap and strong i did a 6.5x55 over the summer and will probably never replace it for deer or elk.

February 4, 2012, 02:12 PM
I've done several on a 1903 Argentine action, a wartime Nazi action and a couple of VZ24's. One in .270, one in 25-06 and 2 in .35 Whelen. True, not cost effective, but a lot of fun and you can make what you want.

The Argentine action got a 26" Shilen barrel in 25-06 and is extremely accurate. The rest got barrels from Midway (Adams and Bennet I believe) and while not tackdrivers, are plenty accurate for hunting-their intended purpose.

All actions or rifles were bought for cheap at various gun shows in various degrees of already having been modified. All had turned down bolt handles and were drilled and tapped. That and the fact that all the rounds were very similar in size and shape (especially head size) made the conversions quite easy and none have ever had any function issues at all.

Good luck and have fun.

February 4, 2012, 02:27 PM
Thanks critter. Did you learn from books or did you have someone experienced give you some help on the first one?

February 4, 2012, 02:45 PM
This one little out of print book has more practical info on sportizing military rifles with basic tools then all the modern videos yet devised.

If you can find a copy that is affordable, buy it!


February 4, 2012, 03:18 PM
IMO the 98 and the 03 are the best choices. I prefer the 98. Only advantage to the 1917 is that it is a magnum length action for big calibers.

I have rebuilt several 98s that were already ruined as far as originality was concerned.

Went with a three leaf folding rear sight and barrel mounted front sling mount on this one. I like the laminated stock although not exactly classic looking.

This one is actually a commercial (BRNO) action that came with set triggers. A very classic Euro style walnut stock, steel butt plate and barrel mounted swivel make it right, IMO.

I didn't build this one, a smith in Bavaria did after the war. But I like it.

February 4, 2012, 05:31 PM
Rcmodel, that's a sought after book from the looks of things. I'll head over to the library to see if they have it. Any others?

Saxonpig, the second one, on the BRNO action, is exactly what I'm going for. Thanks for the pictures.

February 5, 2012, 08:18 PM
Any thoughts on the Yugo Mausers? They seem to be the cheapest out there and widely available. What should I check for in the action before purchasing?

February 5, 2012, 08:43 PM
Nothing wrong with the Yugos. And the price is right.

February 5, 2012, 10:06 PM
Do you have access to gunsmithing tools i.e. action wrench, barrel vise? Do you plan to true up the action while your at it?

I've always wanted to build a Mauser myself but after looking into what is involved with the tools and parts needed. Untill I'm flush with cash it will have to wait. I'd estimate to do it right $700 to 1K.

February 6, 2012, 10:58 AM
Jpwilly, I plan on buying the tools that I'll need. I have mill and lathe access and I do plan on squaring the action. I'm going to do my homework first, then go supply shopping. I think your estimate is about right or a little low, but that's what I had planned on. Plus I'm sure there is a bunch of nickel and dime stuff that I haven't considered which always adds up.

February 6, 2012, 11:12 AM
Are you going to try the rebarrel or farm that out? A lathe sure helps. Wood work is not too big a deal but the metal work is a tough go with just a set of files.

I had E R Shaw rework a Siamese Mauser in the 70s and from what I have heard, they have only gotten better. The alos did an Enfield P14 for me about that same time. There are others, Dan Pederson in Arizona is one.

February 6, 2012, 04:58 PM
check old western scrounger for actions

February 6, 2012, 05:18 PM
I have a Siamese 98 action with a barrel from Apex, from back in the early 90's. They are long gone but that ugly old rifle can really shoot. Me not so much. It's a featherweight profile in .280 Remington and I handload for. I did all but the barrel myself. Laid in a Fibre Pro carbon fibre stock. Black Teflon coating. I am going to rework the bolt to make it prettier.

February 6, 2012, 07:13 PM
I plan on buying a barrel. I looked at Dan Pederson's sight. Wow, he's barrelled some pretty fancy rifles, and he's only a couple of hours from me. I plan on doing all the receiver work and the barrel installation.

capmoto, any advice for a first timer?

February 7, 2012, 09:11 PM
I think I'm close to a decision on the action. I found a guy with a handful of Mauser "sporters" that are very reasonable. I'm down to a Gew 98 or a 96 Karl Gustov. (pardon me if my spelling is off). The 98 because of the large availability of parts and the 96 because of the quality of steel and craftsmanship. I know that the actions have there differences, but that's where I'm at right now.

February 7, 2012, 09:52 PM
The Yugos are very solid actions, but they are shorter than a standard 98 action. They are wonderful for 7x57 and 6.5x55, but will not accommodate a 30-06/270 length cartridge. This makes life a little more difficult when you try to upgrade the stock, as well.

If you start with a 96 action, you'll probably want to load a bit more gently. 55 KPSI is a widely used maximum on those. But they are light and with a good light contour barrel they make a great lightweight rifle.

I'm about half a bubble off level, but I think that a 7x57 or 6.5x55 operating at modern pressures in a Yugo action is about as good as it gets.

I'm sure you'll have fun. Keep us posted on your progress.

February 19, 2012, 06:40 PM
Mauser acquired. I snagged a yugo M48 that's like brand new. It's all matching and nearly a shame to dismantle it. I got a small handful of books from a used book sale last weekend and a bag of files and a bag of screwdrivers (to hand grind and harden) from an estate sale. First thing is to build a gun vice and get the correct action and barrel wrenches and a bolt jig.

February 19, 2012, 09:32 PM
Congratulations on your new rifle, Zor. The M48 is a durable and reliable rifle as is, or for converting to a sporter.
Be aware that the Yugo models have an extractor cut and chamber relief cut on the barrel's breech and is known as a "safety breech".

Here's a link to some information on rebarreling a M48 at Mauser Central, by a skilled gunsmith.


February 19, 2012, 11:20 PM
Thanks Smitty. That's a well put together explanation. That old South Bend he's using is near identical to the ones in use on 726 class submarines today. I happen to be real familiar with em.

February 20, 2012, 12:52 AM
Wish I had thought of this earlier...

Most Turkish Mausers are large ring actions with small ring barrel threads.

The cool thing about that is that there are a lot of new, take-off Remington barrels around for $40-50. Their barrel shank is large enough that it can be turned down to the Turkish small ring dimensions. It's a cheap source of quite good (but not necessarily great) barrels. I have a 30-06 like that. I call it a Turkington, and it's a very nice rifle.

Regardless of what you build, if you've got a lathe, you can do something a little different that does help. Get a copy of Rifle Accuracy Facts. There are a lot of good ideas in it, and one particularly interesting section on a different thread profile that probably improves accuracy. I've heard reports that it also works well if only the barrel has the special profile and the receiver has a normal profile.

Also worth noting, in many rifles the shoulder of the barrel meets the face of the receiver. In the Mauser, that isn't usually exactly so. The barrel rests on a face inside the receiver, and there may be a tiny space between the shoulder of the barrel and the face of the receiver.

You'll have a lot of fun. Keep us posted on your progress.

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