Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by TimH, Apr 30, 2003.

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  1. gvnwst

    gvnwst Member

    Mar 17, 2008
    I understand your pride perfectly:neener::D
  2. Boston T. Party

    Boston T. Party Member

    Feb 6, 2006
    McClung and his investment cast steel rifles

    Since my last post here, I have continued to search for any
    supporting evidence for McClung's theory, with no success.
    If anything, it gets "curiouser and curiouser".

    Up until May 2001, McClung was touting the (investment cast) CZ550 safari rifle.
    Not only that, he had planned to rechamber his (investment cast) Ruger #1 from .458 Win to .460 Weatherby.

    June 4, 2000, 03:50 PM

    April 14, 2001, 07:32 PM

    May 4, 2001, 06:48 PM

    Not a single mention on the entire thefiringline forum about alleged weaknesses in cast steel guns,
    much less "carbide dendrites" being "built in failure paths".

    Then, between May and July 2001 some unexplained enlightenment had evidently taken place,
    with the first appearance of his "carbide dendrite" theory, as posted by then partner Steve Morrison:

    07-06-2001, 01:19 PM

    Had I known back in 2007 that McClung had owned/praised certain
    investment cast steel DG rifles (and still owns one, to my knowledge,
    a Brno ZKK 602 in .375 H&H which he rebarreled to .505 Burns),
    I would have caught the obvious paradox and questioned his theory.

    I regret having published it, and will soon update www.javelinpress.com accordingly.
    I cannot stand by a theory I no longer believe, especially when I am now
    given to wonder exactly when its author first believed in it himself.

    Kenneth W. Royce/Boston T. Party
  3. Dane Burns

    Dane Burns Member

    Sep 15, 2004
    Funny conversation. Glad to see the truth get squared away.

    For the record McClung's "505 Burns" was a rebarreled 416 Rigby the I had rechambered and rebarreld from a new rifle. McClung bought that barreled action from me.

    When MD Labs starting claiming their most recent polymer paint for firearm finishing was "as durable" as hard chrome I stopped taking anything they said seriously.

    Cast and forged? Caspain builds some of the very best 1911 frames and slides (from castings) and AFAIK still hasn't had to replace any. Understanding the stress required of a slide or frame is a helpful bit of info before looking too much farther. I'm still shooting my CZz, Rugers, Winchesters and Caspian slides.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2010
  4. Boston T. Party

    Boston T. Party Member

    Feb 6, 2006
    At this point, I'm curious where McClung dredged up his theory in 2001.
    I've not found a whiff of it anywhere else.

    Perhaps it's correct only for +0.83% carbon knife steel but he didn't realize that
    and misapplied it to 0.40% carbon gun steel.

    All these "failure paths" amongst investment cast guns would have shown up by now.

  5. migkillertwo

    migkillertwo Member

    May 29, 2010
    I think we're talking about AR-15 receivers. I personally have never heard of a cast receiver for an AK-47, but I have heard of people inadvertently buying a cast-receiver AR-15 from a fun (gun) show.

    With an AR-15, its absolutely important to have a forged receiver. Cast aluminum is just too soft and brittle to work as a receiver.
  6. Boston T. Party

    Boston T. Party Member

    Feb 6, 2006
    migkillertwo, the whole thread has been about steel, not aluminum.
    Different metals, different properties.

  7. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

    Dec 29, 2006
    I really resent the forged fanatics. They read that dendrite crap and then insult me by parroting the uninformed opinions of other forged fanatics.

    My most negative experience with a forged fanatic was at Camp Perry. I had just purchased two Springfield Armory receivers at a great price and this forged fanatic just appeared when I left the Springfield Armory building. Maybe he was waiting for me, otherwise I don’t know how he would have known that I had just purchased SA receivers. This rude young man paced me, proceeded to tell me that cast receivers were junk, and just how superior forged receivers were: TRW receivers will last 500,000 rounds, and etc, etc. This person then went into the Bushmaster building where he might have been working. Maybe he got back on the web to express his outrage with the other ignorant idiots of his clan.

    Forged fanatics are a sub set of Mil Spec fanatics, neither of which knows the slightest about their subject beyond the large print in glossy advertisements.

    Forged receivers can also be crap. Good design, process controls, and quality control are far more important to making a good part than just "forging" it, and this forged receiver shows it.

    This forged receiver would not accept four different military bolts. I tried one TRW, two Winchester, and one SA bolt, and they all bound. You could not get the lugs to rotate into battery. And yet, this is the holiest of holies, a forged M14NM receiver! :what:


    I will take a good cast receiver that accepts Military parts without lapping, grinding, any day, over a forged receiver like this.

    Maybe the Forging Fairy missed sprinkling her pixie dust over this receiver.
  8. Boston T. Party

    Boston T. Party Member

    Feb 6, 2006
    Smith Enterprise investment cast M14

    Quite true; thanks SlamFire1.

    Here is a quote from a very in-depth M14 study, and one which I wish
    I'd found in time back in 2007. (bold emphasis mine)

    Fake reputations, habits of glib and clever speech, and glittering surface performance will be discovered.
    -- President Eisenhower
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2010
  9. Boston T. Party

    Boston T. Party Member

    Feb 6, 2006
    A thorough review of my email history with McClung reveals that
    even after a lengthy January 2005 exchange about his theory, he
    still apparently didn't know that the Brno/CZ rifles were made
    from investment cast steel. (Neither did I back then, else I'd
    have asked him about the evident ignorance -- or hypocrisy.)

    In 2007-2008, pages 2-5 of this thread featured McClung's first challenger
    -- Daniel. McClung refused to engage this credible detractor, leaving me
    to try to fill the gap. I've spent dozens of hours of research on this, and
    have concluded that the entire "dendritic carbides" (McClung phrased it
    in reverse) issue stemmed from the knifemaking world and their casting
    of high carbon (called "hypereutectoid") steel.

    Here's an example of exactly that:

    McClung himself admitted the point, which I published in Safari Dreams on page 9/42:
    Only once did he use the term "high carbon", thereafter asserted that
    all cast carbon steel was subject to "carbide dendrites". Now, of course, I
    notice the disparity; back then I did not, sorry.

    Once Daniel refuted the notion that such applied to medium carbon
    steels, McClung emailed me that:

    I have not found A SINGLE REFERENCE to this issue with the steel used in
    modern firearms. Medium carbon gun steels are hypoeutectoid, not hypereutectoid.
    As best as I can so far know, McClung's theory simply does not -- cannot -- apply
    to receiver steels as 4140, etc. of <0.83% carbon content.

    For those of you interested in a good general primer on metallurgy:
    Verhoeven's Steel Metallurgy for the Non-Metallurgist (written for blademakers):

    Barring any new information, I must herewith consider the controversy settled.

    Although I do not personally gravitate to cast steel firearms, I now think
    that publishing McClung's hitherto unsupported theory was unfair
    to the manufacturers of such guns. I regret the error, and will
    attempt to recover it as best I can.

    Last edited: Jul 8, 2010
  10. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

    Dec 29, 2006
    McClung sent you on a Fools Errand.

    For ideologues, this is the best position to be in. Get someone else to fight your battles.
  11. Boston T. Party

    Boston T. Party Member

    Feb 6, 2006
    Wondering where else McClung had referred to "high carbon cast steel" in his forum,
    a search was made and these two posts were found (bold emphasis added):

    Again and again, McClung refers to "high carbon" cast steel as suffering from dendritic carbides.
    OK, fine, nobody is arguing that point . . . because it's irrelevant. Gun receivers are not made from such steel.
    How he managed to then assert that medium carbon cast steel similarly suffers has never been explained.

    Also inexplicable was his inclusion of Ruger frames into the "high carbon" cast steel class.
    Does he truly believe that a Blackhawk frame or M77 receiver is cast from something like O-1 or 1095?
    In retrospect, the whole thing is just bizarre.

    from SlamFire1:
    It certainly feels like it now.

    I will say that I believe that McClung sincerely believed his own theory, at least
    up until it was challenged/refuted here in 2008. He wouldn't have allowed
    me to publish what he knew (or strongly suspected) was false or incomplete.
    (He had also previously posted his theory on his own forum, before 2005.)

    Whether or not he still believes it after this evidence is unknown; we no longer
    communicate with each other. (I was summarily booted off his forum for criticising
    his unsporting offhand 265+yd shot on a 35+mph gemsbok herd bull, and for
    mentioning this THR thread and my imploded belief in his cast steel theory.)
    If he ever comes to acknowledge himself wrong about all this, he will have an
    extremely difficult time admitting it publicly -- knowing him very well as I did for over 16 years.

    An illuminating story comes to mind: McClung once used the word "acerbic"
    in conversation with me, pronouncing it with a hard "C" as in "akerbic".
    I corrected this; it's pronounced with a soft "C". He disagreed, claiming that
    "acerbic" came from the same root word as "ascorbic" (as in the acid).
    I chuckled, shook my head, and urged him to look up both words in his dictionary.
    He flatly refused, saying
    "Dictionaries have been known to be wrong."

    A capstone quote from McClung's (variously fictional?) autobiography:
    So, all this considered: No, I don't think that he will ever admit error or defeat about his theory.
    One thing he and I are no doubt agreed upon -- we both wish I'd never published it.
    Ah, well, live and learn.
    MORAL: Be wary of single sources for information; confirm from all angles.

    I heartily agree, and thus hereby make the following offer:

    If anybody can provide me conclusive proof that hypoeutectoid (i.e., <0.83% carbon, such as 4140 AISI)
    cast steels commonly used in firearm receivers:

    1) unavoidably contain (as a result of the casting process) dendritic carbides which act as "failure paths",
    2) to the significant detriment of that receiver's tensile strength during normal usage

    I will mail such person within 30 days my sincere thanks along with a postal M.O. in the amount of $500.
    Not a bad wage for an afternoon's work . . . if you can find it.
    I couldn't.

    Last edited: Jul 9, 2010
  12. Dane Burns

    Dane Burns Member

    Sep 15, 2004
    Hey Boston,
    Been a long time since McClung dropped this theory of his and let it float by.

    Not to rub salt in the obvious wound but has it ever occured to anyone that while McClung was telling everyone just how good forged steel was and how bad cast steel is, that he makes his knives by stock removal from plate steel and synthetic, glued on handles?

    Compare an actual forged Randal # 14 to a ATAK and the answer to that issue is answered very quickly. Having had both knives I don't question the real skill set is in Florida.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2010
  13. Boston T. Party

    Boston T. Party Member

    Feb 6, 2006
    While I respect his pattern steel knifemaking ability, he does not
    cast and forge his own material for knives (and certainly not for gun
    receivers). McClung has no degree in metallurgy or engineering or science,
    yet few can discern that from his ex cathedra pronouncements.

    Dane, regarding your rightful credit to the .505/.416 Rigby, I apologize for taking
    McClung's word that you had plagiarized the ".505 Van Horn" (which doesn't even
    exist, and the .500 Van Horn Express uses a .510" bullet). I believe that you wildcatted
    it first (or in unknown parallel development to some unknown originator). There is no
    evidence that you willfully "plagiarized" it from another person. I will correct
    this in chapter 9 of Safari Dreams.

    For those interested in the .505 Burns backstory:


    During the 2008 debate in this thread, I told McClung that it was incumbent
    on him to publicly defend his theory. He refused outright to do so. Well, I'm
    not the one who termed his theory as "thesis" -- he did:

    A "thesis" inherently requires support from its author:

    "a proposition stated or put forward for consideration,
    especially one to be proved or maintained against objections

    My $500 offer of 8 July 2010 applies to "anybody", including McClung.
    Friends of his are keeping abreast with this thread, so after due time I'm
    sure they'll wonder why he didn't cough up the facts to collect the money.

    As Daniel once asked, "Where's the 'science'?"

    Last edited: Jul 13, 2010
  14. Welding Rod

    Welding Rod Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    On a side note, there seems to be an interest in gun parts machined from bar stock. I am not sure what exactly they are calling "bar", but in my industry, "bar" is rolled. Rolled bar stock, or plate, or beam, etc is not necessarly perfect. I have seen some hideous seams and laminations in these types of materials.

    Additionally, I would think grain direction could be quite important in a part. I can't imagine it would be a big advantage for a machined from bar stock slide release to be machined with the grain running parallel to the gun's bore axis.
  15. Boston T. Party

    Boston T. Party Member

    Feb 6, 2006
    CZ 550 rifles being cast vs. forged?

    When I wrote Safari Dreams, I believed that the Brno 602 and CZ 550
    Magnum rifles were of forged steel receivers. After publication, I began
    to find many reports that they might be investment cast (especially the 550).
    Because of the CZ's bargain price, it seemed very likely that they had saved
    money through the investment cast process.

    de Haas of Bolt Action Rifles wrote in an earlier edition that
    he was not sure if the ZKK 602 was investment cast or forged.
    Jeff Cooper thought his ZKK "Baby" .460 G&A was investment cast. Etc.

    Yesterday I spent a good hour trying to iron it out, with conflicting info.
    The CZ website does not specify (though mentioning hammer forged barrels).
    A friend got on the phone today:

    Although factory reps vary in their technical acumen, I will take this rep's
    word on the matter barring definitive countering information.
    That the non-Magnum bolts are not forged was likely a source of confusion,
    as well as the cast-like appearance of the ZKK 602, which Jeff Cooper
    mentioned on page 165 of Fireworks:

    Thus, McClung's recommendation/ownership of the Brno/CZ rifles for DG
    was no paradox to his preference of forged steel receivers.
    I regret the misstatement.

    The remaining and glaring paradox of his investment cast .458 Win Mag Ruger #1
    "Elephant gun", however, has yet to be understood.

    Ruger has never produced a forged #1.

    Last edited: Jul 14, 2010
  16. Boston T. Party

    Boston T. Party Member

    Feb 6, 2006
    It's been two months now, and still no takers.
    In this economy, $500 is nice coin for proving such a theory.

    Will some hungry metallurgist step up?
    Unless . . . it cannot be proved . . .

  17. Meta

    Meta Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I won't bother to address any particular individual post with regards to what I am going to say. However, I will direct this at those that are blaming `big greedy corporations' and `profit' for the lower quality guns of today vs the hand-fitted, assembled by a craftsman pieces of years past. First I will dispense with a few myths.

    First, a `working man' can buy an average priced rifle or pistol with a few days wages. Can you say that for a 1950's pre-64 model 70 in the 1950's? Not a chance. People also didn't have a dozen pairs of shoes and racks of clothes either unless they were rich, but that's another topic with the same theme.

    It took LABOR and lots of it to produce a hand-fitted firearm from forged and machined parts. It still does.

    Labor is NOT cheap and it never was. That is why it was SO expensive to buy ANY rifle back then because there was NO castings or MIM or mass production techniques that were anywhere near as efficient as what we have today, not even close.

    At least today a `working man' can buy a rifle or pistol that will serve 95% of the shooting population perfectly well, for a few days labor. It will likely last a lifetime of shooting. Not everyone shoots 500 rounds per week! Most shoot a few times per year.

    Lastly, if you think there is some massive profit margins in the firearms industry, you're mistaken. Profitable, yes, lets hope so! Maybe they will INVEST the PROFITS that you helped them earn by VOLUNTEERING your money in exchange for a product in research and development so that they can produce a better firearm for less money. Capitalism, it works!

    Oh, one more myth. If it were possible to lovingly forge and machine the parts to a rifle or pistol, have it hand fitted and assembled by a craftsman, and have it cost only $500, you should go into business yourself and make a killing selling more rifles and pistols than ANY custom manufacturer. Don't forget the profit after you pay those highly skilled artisans who crafted such marvelous creations that the gun community will just love, all for just $500. After all, each gun probably only has ten hours labor into it, right? $50 per hour sound fair for a highly skilled craftsman?

    The fact is that if ANY company could manufacture a better firearm for less money than Savage/Remington/Ruger/Marlin, etc. they would do it. If margins were SO good and it was SO easy to make money, you could tool up and crank out mass produced junk that will hold MOA at 100 yards all day long and only have to mark up (insert huge profit margin number here) minus a little bit to beat up the more greedy evil capitalist corporations. You would be rich and then you could re-distribute the money you stole from those evil, greedy capitalist pigs back to the workers in your collective.

    Enough of the sarcasm, it's time for bed.
  18. Boston T. Party

    Boston T. Party Member

    Feb 6, 2006
    Meta, I agree that Capitalism can produce superlative products . . .
    but only when the market demands them.

    For a Dangerous Game rifle, I can have (in my qualitative order) a:

    Ruger M77 African
    CZ 550
    BRNO ZKK 602
    Win M70 Classic Express
    Ed Brown M-704 Express
    Dakota 76 African Grade
    a custom rifle by Ryan Breeding

    In that spectrum, to each his own.

    My mistake was dissuading readers from even considering the Ruger
    due to its (allegedly inferior) investment-cast steel receiver. While I
    prefer the CZ and M70 over the M77, that's just me, as the M77 (if
    a reliable feeder, as not all of them are) is fine for the budget-conscious safarist.

    In business, there is a famous maxim:

    "You can have a quality product, excellent service, and low price.
    Pick any two.

    I continue to urge DG safari hunters to buy the best that they can painfully afford.
    For me, in 2005, that was a Win M70 in .416 RM. It did just fine, and still would.
    Today, it's a Dakota M76 in .450 Dakota -- not that I really needed one; I just wanted one.
    Tomorrow (maybe), it'll be a Ryan Breeding gun in either .470 Mbogo or .505 Burns.

    Last edited: Oct 1, 2010
  19. surfinUSA

    surfinUSA Member

    Apr 24, 2003
    By the ocean
    I'm no metalurgist and I usually won't respond to vampire threads that rise from the dead.

    Although I prefer forged guns and believe they are stronger (hey, I'm old enough that this was the case, but I'm intellegent enough to know manufacturing procesess evolve and improve over time), I also know that one of my favorite rifles the FN-FAL began with forged receivers and then supposedly went to cast receivers with no ill effects.

    My question is does any major firearms manufacturer use a cast barrel or are they all forged. Also what makes a barrel that is "cold hammer forgered" better than any other quality barrel or is this nothing more than advertising hype?
  20. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

    Dec 29, 2006
    Why cast a tube when steel manufacturers produce hot rolled round bar stock direct from the mill?




    That is a difficult question. If you conduct a web search you will find discussions on hammer forged barrels. My only experience is with a hammer forged barrel is on my Ruger M77 Tactical in 308. The barrel is excellent.

    I believe hammer forging reduces cost per barrel. However the machine is hugely expensive. Most aftermarket barrel makers are small shops and cannot afford the cost.
  21. Boston T. Party

    Boston T. Party Member

    Feb 6, 2006
    The only thing I've heard about Ruger M77 barrels is that they apparently
    wear more quickly than other mfg.
    I've not read any actual comparative testing on that point, however.

    It's been 6 months since my 8 July 2010 offer, and still no
    metallurgist or "materials scientist" has confirmed McClung's "thesis".
    It's surprising that such "engineering truths" would be so difficult to corroborate.

    Perhaps my $500 offer was not sufficient for such an expert's time?
    I'll now raise it to $1000.

  22. Boston T. Party

    Boston T. Party Member

    Feb 6, 2006
    ZKK-602 may be investment cast

    Although a CZ factory rep stated that the 550 Magnum rifles are forged,
    one source believes that the ZKK 602s are investment cast:

    So many conflicting sources about this.

    btw, my vintage Mad Dog knives are for sale:


    Last edited: Jan 17, 2011
  23. BrocLuno

    BrocLuno Member

    Oct 26, 2010
    Kalif Kollective
    Right on ...

    I'm right behind you - let them eat this - phew :neener:

    I'm also glad that the discussion is getting resolved and the issues being worked out.

    Now, for those of you who have not seen any of Mr Hubels creations :what: take a look at some of his threads. Some of his 12 bore rifles are so scary, I would not think of pulling the trigger on one - yet I know they are tested, and tested, and tested with rounds that are truly impressive and make .50BMGs look like toys :eek:

    Metal testing does happen around here - and in very short increments - but, oh my :D

    Last edited: Jan 14, 2011
  24. Boston T. Party

    Boston T. Party Member

    Feb 6, 2006
    2011 SHOT Show update on investment cast-steel

    I dropped by the CZ-USA booth to speak with somebody knowledgeable about their
    rifle production. According to Intl. Sales Mgr. Richard Zapletal, all ZKK-602 and CZ-550
    rifle receivers are investment cast
    . He was quite sure about this, knowing the factory
    processes well. He also said that they were very satisfied with investment casting,
    and had no quality issues with it.

    (Somebody needs to quickly sell off his "carbide dendrite"-ridden investment cast CZ-550. :uhoh:)

    Next, I spoke extensively with Product Manager Mark Gurney of Ruger in regards
    to McClung's "thesis". Gurney has had much experience at Ruger's Pine Tree investment
    casting plant, and detailed to me accounts of testing-to-destruction of Ruger M77 actions
    which held up under much higher pressures than some forged bolt-actions. He was
    gracious in understanding that I published something in good faith, though in error.
    I will be posting his upcoming rebuttal on my website as part of my way of setting all this right.

    The larger lesson I learned was to investigate vigorously to learn the facts, vs. taking the view
    of only one person -- however self-annointed and stubborn he may be in his opinion.

    Kenneth W. Royce
  25. rbernie
    • Contributing Member

    rbernie Member

    Jan 21, 2004
    Norra Texas
    And, on that note, we'll let the curtain draw to a close on this eight year long debate (especially since most of the original protagonists have long moved on).
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