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Custom Rifle Build #3: The 450 Ackley Project

by Matt Siemens

SAIT Lathe
Via Matt Siemens

It was finally time in this project to start assembling the rifle once again. All the work up to this point was basically dis-assembly. With the correct thread pitch of the receiver checked multiple times, and the blank checked for trueness, the barrel blank was chucked up in the lathe and we started to “make chips”.

We faced off the end of the barrel and cut the chamber with the reamer that I had ordered, what seemed like an eternity ago. This process was pretty straight-forward even thought it was done a little at a time and did take the better part of an hour. I am sure that if I wasn’t there slowing him down, Jeff would had this chamber cut in a fraction of the time. Cutting the threads was done a meticulously, just removing a little amount of barrel material with each pass. Timing the barrel so that that rear sight island would be at 12 o’clock when assembled did take a number of attempts. A very simple process of cutting, then trying it to the action on the threads to see where it stopped and we were done.

Once it was assembled, we verified that it fell within the correct headspace tolerance and we were done with the metalwork project of this rifle, other than using the lathe to assist in polishing the barrel. I am the first to admit if there hadn’t been a true machinist there calling the shots I would still be there trying to figure a few of the procedures out.

Back at home that evening, I was anxious to get the barrelled action bedded into the original factory stock. This proved to be a game of patience, which I was starting to run out of. I had ordered the barrel to the original specs as the factory barrel, however the finished project proved to be just a smidge longer in a few areas. I had made a valiant attempt at it but after a few hours and several attempts called it quits. A man has to know his limitations. There is just too much at stake here; wood stocks on larger caliber rifles are a temporary fixture at best, if they are not bedded properly their life cycle can be very short. I have seen first-hand factory .458s never survive the first box of ammo at the range and I do not want to be in that situation.

At this point I shipped the rifle off to Shane at Reliable Gun, he has bedded many rifles and knows how to extend the lives of wood stocks on heavy rifles.

The rifle at this point is theoretically complete, or at least functional. Bluing and sights are required to finish it 100% but as I am planning to use a scope on it I can count it huntable. I will be at the range with it here very shortly, fire forming brass and then to sight it in. Hopefully in time for spring bear!

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