Last year was my daughter Aubrey’s first year hunting, so preparation was of the utmost importance.
Opening morning, I spotted a deer coming across the field and told Aubrey to get ready. It was foggy, but I could tell it was a buck as he approached. At about 300 yards, I asked Aubrey if she could see it. She couldn’t find it in the scope. I told her to take her time and I would whistle and stop it. The buck got to the opening, and I stopped him on a dime, but Aubrey still could not find him in her scope. He then turned and looked away from us, and I knew he was nice. I again asked if she could see it. When she said no again, I told her to put her gun down because I was going to shoot. At the shot, the buck did a mule kick and ran into a nasty thicket.
My best friend Dean came to help us track. “Holy cow,” he said after finding it. “Get in here,” What a buck.
Unbeknownst to me, Aubrey was puffing photos on Facebook as we loaded up the deer. Soon my phone began ringing. Everyone knew about it before I even made a call. Making the season even sweeter, Aubrey later killed her first deer, a nice doe. A guy couldn’t ask for much more.
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Alter reading the December 2011 issue I noticed in the article “Scope Mounting The US Model of 1917 Eddystone/Enfield Rifle” by Norman Johnson the rear screw hole of the front scope base is positioned in the top receiver locking lug. On any two locking lug action no holes should be drilled into the lugs. In Europe any action drilled like this is automatically rejected as being “out of proof” and is considered unsafe to use. We don’t know what the SAAMI regulation is but it’s better safe than sorry. There is ample space to position the screw holes further forward.
The recent article on scope mounting the M1917 clearly shows pictures of a tapped hole in the rear of the front receiver ring. Unfortunately, this is a problem because the rear portion of the front receiver ring includes the locking lug seat that supports the bolt lugs. In a M1917 receiver this would include about the last 0.420 inches of the front ring. Receivers drilled through the bolt support can be ruined by the screw hole and the practice has long been considered unsafe and unnecessary. See an admonition by authors Wallack and Hawley on pages 90-91 in The National Rifle Association Gunsmithing Guide.
Avoidance of the bolt support zone also allows an open hole for easier tapping and permits spot annealing for those receivers that may require it. Drilling and tapping holes in bolt action rifles should be done only after careful measurement to identify no-drill areas such as locking lug seats, and in the case of M98 Mausers, the inner shoulder used to headspace the barrel. Kuhnhausen’s The Mauser Bolt Actions: M91-M98, A Shop Manual identified the remainder of the front receiver ring as a “safe drilling zone.”
In the case of the M1917 and M1914 Enfields the front receiver ring excluding the lug support and all of the rear ring would be considered a safe drilling zone. This leaves plenty of room for standard hole patterns and allows the use of mounts such as the one piece M70-AH, which can use the existing rear sight hole in appropriately contoured receivers. For those that lack access to a milling machine Weaver-style front bases can be used on same-height receiver rings. Blank M98 Mauser bases also can be cut to proper length to cover milled slots (which can be filled by soldering a steel insert in place) in those receivers that have them.
Author Norman Johnson responds:
As indicated in the article, the same scope was remounted using the existing 6-48 size screw holes using a tap to clean up the existing threads. Loctite Threadlocker was used to lock the new screws in place. Aside from aligning the bases, the scope was essentially re-mounted on the rifle just as it was brought to me. I do not know who the original gunsmith was who performed the work on this rifle. The customer has used this rifle quite extensively without incident. I will, however, pass this information on to the owner of this rifle.
In an effort to be thorough, I explained in detail the work I performed to the rifle as reported in my article to Dave Bennett at the Brownells Technical Department. When asked if he saw any problems with this, he said the scope mounting as done would have no weakening effect on this very strong action regardless of rearward screw placement. He further commented on this exceedingly strong action and that one could do virtually anything you want with it.
In “Manhandling the Magnums” by Kelly Ross (November/December), Mr. Ross writes, “A longer length of pull than you would normally use will let your cheek contact the stock while still keeping your neck fairly erect. The longer length also helps to keep the shooter from crawling the stock, which reduces the chance of getting smacked in the forehead by the scope or smashed in the nose with the thumb of the pistol grip hand during recoil.”
Although Mr. Ross is correct that a stock for heavily recoiling rifles requires a longer than normal length of pull his reasons for this are faulty and his suggested shooting technique could result in bloody noses and scope cuts above your eye. If the shooter’s neck is erect and the head is not well braced with a good cheek weld, heavy recoil will drive the shoulder backward while the moment of inertia will cause the head to fly forward into the thumb or back of the scope. The correct reason we use a longer length of pull for recoil management on large bore rifles is that the extra length allows the shooter to fully extend his shoulder to the rear, ready to accept recoil, and to crawl his head forward and establish a firm cheek weld with the comb of the stock. Thus braced, the shooter’s body is ready to accept and roll with the rifle’s recoil. The position of the rifle relative to the shooter’s body doesn’t change and there are no bloody noses or scope cuts.
Mr. Ross’s more serious error is recommending the use of cast – off in the buttstocks of heavy recoilingrifles. He writes, “Cast – off directs the upward thrust away from your cheek.” Nothing could be further from the truth! Cast – off on a buttstock directs the comb of the stock inward toward your cheek and should never be used on heavy recoiling rifles.
For readers not familiar with the term, cast is simply the angling of the buttstock to the right or left of the vertical plane running through the center of the bore – line of the rifle. If the center of the butt is moved to the right of the vertical plane of the bore (cast – off) the gun will pivot to the left, into the cheek. Conversely, a pad moved left of the vertical plane (cast – on) will pivot to the right, away from the shooter’s cheek. It can readily be seen that to correctly manage heavy recoil a large bore rifle requires cast – on in the buttstock.
David L. Wesbrook
Junction City, Wisconsin
Editor’s note: Wesbrook is a member of the American Custom Gunmakers Guild and author of the book Professional Stockmaking.
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Wesbrook, David L.