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Having a custom bolt made?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by Nate0918, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. Nate0918

    Nate0918 Member

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    I was hoping to get advice on getting an old rifle I have repaired. I have 280 AI built on an old American Enfield, given to me by my late grandfather and have been using it for the last 25+ years or so. Upon taking it to a gunsmith to have the trigger adjusted, he tells me that it does not pass his go-no go gauge for head spacing and would not work on the gun unless this was corrected first. He actually told me it would cost the same to buy a new rifle as it would to get it repaired. Instead of having the barrel pulled, cut down, and rechambered, would it be possible to have a new bolt made and fitted to the action to provide the correct head spacing? 26" Hart barrel, #4 contour if i recall. The action itself looks great, but the bolt is a little pitted and the straightening job on the bolt handle looks bad. Is this possible? This rifle has sentimental value to me otherwise I would just move on. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    Having a new, custom bolt made would easily cost you over a grand, and the barrel likely would still have to be removed to set headspace.

    Your gunsmith is either an imbecile, or just didn't want to mess with it. Find someone competent and willing. No way it should cost you more than a couple hundred to re-set headspace.
     
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  3. LoonWulf

    LoonWulf Member

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    MachIV beat me to it....you could if your interested in replacing the bolt do so at the same time as your having the head space corrected. Have the smith also install what ever bolt handle you want.
     
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  4. boom boom

    boom boom Member

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    I am assuming that you mean the 1917 U.S. Rifle aka P17. Like MachIV and LoonWulf said, you can set back the barrel assuming that it has not already be done and it should not cost that much.

    BTW, if the smith is unfamiliar with 1917 actions, you should strip the bolt of extractor, firing pin, etc. before checking headspace with gages. You use fingertip pressure only as the 1917 has enormous leverage that can allow closing (and damaging) a no-go gage (see Hatcher's Notebook for examples). My suspicion, if you have not been firing hot loads, is that your headspace is fine.

    If you have not been noticing hard extraction, short brass life (look for a shiny ring around the brass web), accuracy issues, etc. then it doubles my suspicion that your gunsmith does not know what he is dealing with.

    Found another issue doing research--there are two different .280 AI chambers-one with a 30 degree shoulder and one with a 40. http://www.shootingtimes.com/ammo/ammunition_the_two_chambers_of_the_280_ackley_improved/
    Wrong gage gives wrong results.

    There are two ways to crosscheck what your smith claims--one is to use cerrosafe for a chamber cast and check the headspace with digital calipers or rent/buy the gages online to check--the problem with the second is if you do not know what the angle is.

    The second is to measure the brass before and after using the Hornady headspace comparator for changes in brass size. Use new commercial ammo to do this and I would advise at least substantial eyeprotection. You can also make a homemade headspace gage using Steve Wagner's method (google Steve Wagner gunsmithing or something like that).

    Check the headspace yourself before going to the trouble and expense of setting back the barrel. As long as you have not been firing very hot loads that deform the receiver lug recesses (hard extraction etc.) and you can use a dental mirror or cheap borescope to determine this, then my guess is that your rifle is okay. You can also get new old stock bolts for these but these are getting scarce and usually are parkerized WWII replacement bolts. As usual, YMMV.
     
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  5. Sav .250

    Sav .250 Member

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    Why didn`t you ask the Gun smith that question ?
     
  6. Kp321

    Kp321 Member

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    A 280 AI is a reloaders round so what's the problem with headspace? Set the sizing die to the chamber and proceed.
     
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  7. Sunray

    Sunray Member

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    "...easily cost you over a grand..." That's probably light too.
    "...would cost the same to buy a new rifle as..." I suspect that guy is confused or is inexperienced. His gauges may not be .280 AI gauges either. The fix is to take the barrel off and machine the barrel thread shank a bit and re-chamber, like boom boom says. The biggest issue is the reamers and headspace gauges required. If he buys one, you pay for it and he keeps it. Mind you, they can be rented for $29. Headspace gauges run $7 per 3 days.
    http://www.reamerrentals.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=280Ack.s
    "...what's the problem with headspace..." Headspace has nothing to do with reloading. Headspace is a rifle manufacturing tolerance only. Cartridges do not have headspace and you cannot adjust it by doing anything with the sizing.
     
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  8. Nate0918

    Nate0918 Member

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    Thanks for the replies everyone, I appreciate the insight. This brings up some more questions actually. I definitely got the impression that the gunsmith just didn't want to mess with it. Yes boom boom, you're right, this is a M1917. I've been on autopilot with the same load for so long I can't recall without looking at the books, but I believe I am running it right up to the max load. No signs at all of too much pressure, smooth extraction, good cases, shoots like a laser. I never thought of that, could I buy a better looking factory bolt and have the headspacing adjusted to the new bolt? How would the lugs line up?

    Kp321, that's a good point. You can buy factory 280 AI ammo, maybe this is the gunsmiths reasoning due to need to conform to default specs . That brings up a good question though, if it's fire formed brass, then wouldn't headspacing be set perfectly? I've never had any issues in the past with fire forming regular 280 rounds through the rifle. EDIT: I just saw your post Sunray, I'm sure you're right. I am curious though if the brass is fire formed if you would have any issues associated with poor headspacing.
     
  9. boom boom

    boom boom Member

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    My suspicion then is that your gunsmith did not know or did not care to know what he was doing. If you havent had accuracy problems, hard extraction, and brass showing short life, then I believe that it is okay to shoot. Lug setback usually results in rough bolt action. One quick check you can do is use marking fluid/sharpie/etc on the bolt lugs to check engagement and it will also often show if you have ridges or uneven engagement with the lug recesses in the rifle.

    WWII era replacement bolts can be found and some 1917 bolts have already been altered from the dogleg by previous gunsmiths which pop up on auction sites like ebay or gunbroker.

    Last one that I bought for a rebuild was as new was a parkerized USMC labeled bolt (not U.S. Marine Corp but United Shoe Manufacturing Company or some such). You might call Sarco which did have new old stock bolts. Right now offering new bolt plus other parts special http://www.e-sarcoinc.com/super-p17-enfield-parts-deal.aspx for $49.95. Stay away from Numrich as their m1917 bolts were converted P14 bolts the last that I checked. Ebay has quite a few including this item https://www.ebay.com/itm/US-Model-1...567712?hash=item3f8b64a1e0:g:O3YAAOSwnTdaA5Dd currently at $16.50

    Now, if you get a new bolt or new used bolt, you will have to check the headspace again with gages and possibly requalify the barrel via setting it back--occasionally reaming it out a touch depending on bolt length. Sunray above listed a good place to rent gages and reamers if necessary. However, it might shoot better or worse after doing so.

    Here is a picture of a well done sportered LH 1917 Bolt.

    BTW, let me know if you have any other questions. 1917's and their cousin P14's are fun to play with--they have the mauser strength with English eccentricity in operation. The ejector spring is frail (easy fixes are available for that), it is a heavy beast, and the U.S. version kept the coned breech which is rather pointless. The P14's can have an issue with rimlock if you use .303 cartridges. Ironically, your .280 AI is close to what the P14 was originally designed for a .276 Enfield round. Currently have built five back to military condition more or less and have a sixth action waiting for an install. They are fun.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.276_Enfield
     

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    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
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  10. fguffey

    fguffey Member

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    I have one that fails a field reject length gage by .002". If I chambered a new minimum length full length sized case round in that rifle and pulled the trigger I would have .011" clearance on a 30/06 case. Instead of forming and fire forming cases I size 280 Remington cases to 30/06 cases by adding .014" to the length of the case between the shoulder and case head.

    And then there is the large claw extractor. When I want to determine what happened to the case when fired I measure the length of the neck.

    F. Guffey
     
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