Choice For Chokes

Simple Tools Can Be Used To Change The Choke Of Your Shotgun On The Kitchen Table!

REGARDLESS of how they are used, the words choked, choking, choked up, choked down, choked back and choked off all mean basically the same. Daniel Webster defines these terms as meaning: 1. To strangle; suffocate; smother or stifle. 2. To block up or clog. 3. To hinder the action of and hold back.

All these definitions apply to the situation at hand: owning a shotgun with a nasty habit of shooting like a rifle when a little wider shot spread or cleaner pattern is desired.

Let's take the example of one man who acquired a fine double-barrel that had been designed specifically for trap shooting. He found that while the full choke of the trap gun was capable of getting the job done on game birds, he still

Left: Prior to actual use, the reamer should be honed on an Arkansas stone to assure it has a perfect cutting edge. In a pinch, the reamers can be used with barrel in horizontal position, if care is taken. The final honing operation should be accomplished, however, with barrel secure in a vise.

Gunsmithing Hand Tools

The best means of storing edged tools in your box or chest is to place each in a plastic tube alter it has been given a preservative coating. (Right) The correct and safest way to assure a perfect job is to place the shotgun barrel in a bench vise in the perpendicular position, then run the reamer straight down the bore.

had to aim the thing like a rifle to hit anything with it The shot spread out to forty yards or so was so concentrated that rifle-like aiming was mandatory.

In desperation, he took this fine shotgun to a competent gunsmith, who opened up that extreme full choke to throw a wider pattern. Following this treatment, the owner found he was losing far less birds than before due to the improved shot pattern of the opened-up choke.

In the past, the tedious job of altering any shotgun choke — and doing it properly — was one best left to a competent gunsmith; one especially well versed in the fine art of shotgun barrel work. However, Brownell's Gunsmithing Supplies of Montezuma, Iowa, now has available a set of tools so advanced in design that they can be used in choking situations by the gun owner himself.

This does not mean that every Tom, Dick and Harry should rush out and purchase a set of these tools for the purpose of altering their fine Parker A-l Special or L.C. Smith trap-grade shotguns. It does mean that any man with a reasonable knowledge of shotgun bores, infinite patience and some know-how in the use of precision tools, not to mention regard for his guns, can open up a super-tight choke to throw an improved pattern in as little as twenty minutes.

Opening up any choked shotgun tube involves two basic adjustments. The hunter's adjustment will be com-

Once the choke has been reamed to specilications, the hone is placed in a drill motor, then spring-loaded stones are inserted in the bore to polish. Author has tound that use of a lubricating oil will speed process.

paratively simple in that he will want his barrel choked from full to improved modified or some other straightforward boring. Too, most hunters will use standard factory ammunition.

On the other hand, the claybird shooter probably will want the choke opened up just a trifle to give a slightly enlarged shot pattern. This, most generally, is with his special breed of handloaded shotshells.

The tools mentioned consist of special-angle blade choke reamers in appropriate sizes to fit 28-, 20-, 16- and 12-gauge shotguns.

Also needed for a perfect job will be an adjustable barrel hone with flexible drive for a one-fourth-inch electric drill and one of the new barrel comparison calipers. The four reamers listed as well as the barrel hone and caliper will handle any choke requirements from cylinder bore in the 12-gauge on through the full choke of a 28-gauge. Only one of these reamers is required for each gun. The complete outfit, including the barrel hone, calipers and reamers, is available from Brownell's.

The actual working dimensions of each reamer will exceed factory maximum/minimum specifications slightly. The angled blades of these reamers provide a perfectly flat slicing cut at all diameters. The blades remain absolutely true at all sizes and adjustments and do not bulge or curve, thus assuring proper bore configuration. As with most reamers, the cutting edges of each blade should be honed with an Arkansas stone for best performance. If you do not know how to handle this sharpening, seek professional help.

Prior to beginning the job, the barrel should be removed from the action. If this is not possible, precautions must be taken to assure that no metal cuttings drop into the action during the reaming operation. I have found that by inserting a tight-fitting patch or patches about six inches down the bore, the possibility of this is eliminated to a great

extent. When the reaming operations are completed, the patches are pushed out the muzzle from the opposite end of the barrel, thus clearing all cuttings from the barrel.

The barrel is placed in a padded bench vise in a vertical position, muzzle toward the ceiling and about waist high. This is important, as cutting with the barrel in a horizontal position has a tendency to remove more metal from the bottom due to the weight of the reamer.

Let's assume that we are doing a 12-gauge and using the No. E 12-gauge reamer. Adjust the reamer by backing olT the rear adjustment nut half a turn maximum at a time and tightening the front adjustment nut Adjust the reamer a small amount at a time in this manner, until it just touches the sides of the choke. Apply cutting oil and make the first cut by rotating the reamer — now held in a tap wrench — in a clockwise direction allowing the weight of the reamer and wrench alone to furnish the pressure. When the reamer has cut its full length, continue rotating in the same direction and, at the same time, slowly withdraw it from the barrel.

Brush the reamer and clean the chips from the bore. The bore now should be measured with the calipers and, if necessary, make another cut if additional metal is to be removed. It is best to test fire the gun occasionally during the reaming operation, using the loads normally shot in the gun to assure the correct percentage at a given yardage.

When the correct pattern is achieved, the final .001-inch should be removed with the hone to assure a satiny sheen and glassy smoothness to the reamed area.

The adjustments of the reamer are gauged by the flats on the adjusting nuts. Position this flat between two of the blades on the cutter for the initial cut. For each additional cut, the reamer is removed from the choke as outlined above, the adjusting nut is moved to the next setting located between the next two blades. The second cut will remove .002-inch from the choke diameter.

The Brownell choke adjusting kit is available in tour gauges: 28, 20, 16 and 12. Each of the angle-blade reamers is capable of doing a perfect job if used correctly and with care. The furnished hone and calipers are necessary.

The barrel comparison caliper is used to measure the amount of metal removed from the choke by the reamer. One end is inserted into the barrel and opened to maximum. The screw lock is tightened, then the opposite end of the caliper may be miked from the information needed. While these calipers may appear simple in construction, they are extremely difficult to manufacture and are capable of measurements within a plus-minus of .002-inch. This is overly sufficient when bore diameters of various makes of shotguns vary so greatly.

As with most things new in the gunsmithing line, I like to findoutthe potential for myself. My initial experience with the tools just described began with a muzzleloading shotgun from the Dixie Gun Works of Union City, Tennessee.

On the first hunt with this gun, I found the shot was choked so tightly that the spread couldn't have been much over a foot or so at about forty yards. This meant that I had to handle this gun like a rifle for all my bird shooting. Consequently, I missed far more birds than 1 bagged.

1 found that the No. D 16-gauge reamer was a perfect fit into the choked muzzle of the old charcoal burner, so I went to work exactly as outlined here. The only difference was that I did the entire job afield sans the niceties of a bench vise or workbench. Two passes through the muzzle of the shotgun and I had a near-perfect thirty-six-inch pattern of shot at about forty yards. This pattern opened up slightly after I had honed the choke to a high polish, but it was still ideal for downing pheasant, chukar and quail at up to sixty yards.

The angle blade choke reamers are simple to use. They do a clean, professional job in a fraction of the time necessary for other tools designed for the same purpose. A complete book of detailed instructions for use of these reamers also is available atS3 per copy from Brownell's. And if you are capable of close tolerances in handcraftsmanship. an ardent shotgunner who wishes to improve the potential of some of his guns, then or more of these reamers to fit the various guns you want improved is money well spent

Like all precision tools, these choke reamers deserve kind treatment. Keep them clean and well oiled during storage.

The hone is simple in design and the spring-loaded stones lit snugly into the bore to polish away possible roughness.

The hone is simple in design and the spring-loaded stones lit snugly into the bore to polish away possible roughness.

Chapter 25


Knowing What You Can — And Can't Do — With The Various Solders Is The Key To Success


Le/i: Sweat soldering a ramp on a rifle barrel is fairly simple, if one has the right equipment. Author uses his Presto-Lite torch to install a ramp held in position with Brownell's ramp soldering jig. (Above) Force 44, a silver-bearing solder, is preferred by Bish for most soldering work on firearms. It can be worked successfully with an electric soldering iron such as the Dremel model shown here or one can use a small torch to melt the solder.

ONE OF the most misunderstood yet fundamental phases of gun work is the chore of soldering two pieces of metal into a lasting union.

Such components as custom bolt handles, hammers, triggers and other working parts of the gun's mechanism made of steel cannot be joined satisfactorily with soft solder. To be bonded properly, these parts must be welded using an oxy-acetylene torch and the proper welding rod, preferably one with 3Yi percent nickel steel.

Yet over the years, I have seen at least ajillion gun parts that had been soft-soldered together by some neophyte to the gun fixin' business. These same parts held together, if at all, only until the first time the joint was placed under stress. In gunsmithing, both soft solder and the harder silver solder have definite uses, but one must know where and how it may be used with satisfactory results.

The gun craftsman is faced quite oftqn with such chores as repairing sight beads, resoldering ribs that have come loose on shotguns, installing new barrel liners in shot-out barrels, repairing broken brass and silver patchboxes and inlays on Kentucky-type rifles; there are countless similar repairs for firearms, both modern and antique.

The common solders such as rosin core and others used in other trades are not necessarily adapted to gun work. Among working professional gunsmiths, the most extensively used soft solder is Force 44, which is available from Brownell's. This solder is used in conjunction with #4 Comet Flux to produce a soldered joint that is durable and strong, even after being immersed in a hot bluing tank. The advantage of Force 44, when properly used, is that it flows smoothly at 475 degrees Fahrenheit. A mixture of four percent silver and ninety-six percent pure tin, it successfully joins such metals as steel, stainless steel, copper,

The metal that is to be soldered must be cleaned, then polished. Bish favors the Dremel Moto-Tool with either a wire brush, emery disc or a buffing head. He has found this combination ideal for small, intricate solder jobs.

brass, silver and nickel-silver into a lasting unit. However, it should not be used on steel gun parts that will see extensive stress or wear. There are limitations. It even sounds foolish, but I have seen heavy mainsprings that had been broken with attempts at repair done with Force 44. It cannot be done! Springs cannot be welded or soldered together and be expected to retain their tension. The welded or soldered joint will always rebreak when the spring is bent.

The secret of soldering, whether with soft solder or the harder, more durable silver solder, is to make certain the two components are absolutely clean and the metal bright To attempt to solder together two pieces of metal that are dirty with oxidation, rust, dirt, grease or any other foreign substance is a waste of time. The joint will not accept the solder in a smooth flowing manner as it should. The result is a sloppy-looking job and one that is weak.

While there are several methods for applying heat in soldering, I prefer either a small acetylene torch, or for small jobs such as installing new beads on gun sights, a soldering iron.

The soldering iron I have used for some years with great success is the Dremel electric soldering iron which doubles as a woodburning tool. It is great for soldering and, by merely changing the tip, it is ideal for antiquing gunstocks and striping ramrods on muzzleloading rifles using the woodburning tip that comes with the kit

Force 44 solder is available in rolls of one ounce, one-quarter- or one-pound spools. It also is available in fluxed form, having its own flux right in the core of the wire. A solder known as Swif 50-50 is a tin/lead alloy and comes in a paste form. I have used this solder to some extent with good results for tinning a new barrel liner or installing ramp front sights.

With careful workmanship, such components as front sight ramps, shotgun ribs, sights and sweat-on type European sling swivels can be installed on a perfect blue job withoutmarringthe finish in the least. Minortouch-upwith cold blue may be necessary along the hairline soldered joint. However, jobs such as this do require that the craftsman have a good working knowledge'of the process.

For the most part, soldering jobs involve only small areas, as with the installation of new beads on front sights

Left: Small front sights that have had their beads knocked off can be repaired easily with the soldering methods outlined in this chapter. (Below) The Force 44 silver-bearing solder, when used with #4 Comet Flux, produces as fine a soldered joining as possible. It flows smoothly at 475F degrees and proves strength up to 25,000 pounds per square-inch. It can be blued with cold gun blue.

or sweating a ramp front sight onto a rifle barrel. I have found that my Dremel Moto-tool is ideal for getting these areas immaculately clean, using the appropriate sanding disc, wire brush or metal bun- chucked into the tool. This is far faster than attempting to do it by hand and it does a better job.

It is common during soldering jobs to have the solder run into areas where it isn't wanted. This necessitates cleaning that solder run from the forbidden area. Modern technology has taken care of this with an item known as Brown-ell's soldering talc. This metal workers' talc is packaged in < a form resembling a crayon. Merely rub the area with the talc where solder is not wanted and it will prevent the solder from adhering.

If installing a front ramp sight on a rifle, first trace the outline of the ramp onto the barrel where it is to be installed. Then remove the ramp and rub the entire area outside these lines with the talc crayon. Presto, a perfect no-run solder job. Incidentally, great care is needed in using the #4 Comet Flux, a cleansing acid, to prevent blued surfaces of the gun from being streaked or bleached out. Use this flux sparingly; a drop at a time does wonders.

Another aid to good soldering is a product known as Heat Stop, which is a heat control paste. Applied properly, this paste acts as an anti-flux when soldering and prevents heat flow into previously soldered areas. Heat Stop will not damage blued surfaces and is cleaned from the work easily. This substance is even used by emergency crews to protect victims who must be cut from wreckage with acetylene torches. Just follow the directions on the container.

A compact tank setup such as this is ideal for both soft and hard solder, work. With this Presto-Lite unit, the tank will last several months before refilling is required. This Tor-It torch has been used for 30-odd years.

Soft solders are those containing various mixtures of tin, lead and in the case of Force 44, some pure silver for added strength. The harder silver solders are just that; an alloy of silver capable of brazing steel, stainless steel, copper, copper alloys, nickel and its alloys or any combination of these. The silver solder I've found best suited to gun work is Silvaloy Silver Solder or Silvaloy 45. This solder is available in ribbon form measuring .005-inch thickness by one-half-inch in width or in wire form 1/32-inch in diameter. Silvaloy has a melting temperature of 1125 degrees Fahrenheit, and the flow point is 1145 degrees. A standard silver soldering paste flux is used.

The question will arise, as to which to use for a specific job — soft or silver solder. Lightjobs such as installation of new beads on front sights or ramps on barrels where minimum heat is desired call for soft solder with a melting and flow point of only 475 degrees. For heavier metals, such as steel triggers, hammers and the like where more strength is desired, one should use the harder silver solders with its flow point of 1145 degrees.

While silver solder cannot replace a good oxy-acetylene or heli-arc weld on iron or steel parts, it is acceptable for repair of cracked or broken parts, such as triggers and hammer spurs. These repairs are hardly detectable once the silver union is colored with the Solder Black produced by Birchwood-Casey. Also, most cold gun blues can be used to darken the soldered seam to the point that it is undetectable.

In gun work, a solder often is needed that has an extremely low melting point, yet is capable of making a strong bond. Such a solder is Tix Soft Solder which has a melting point of only 275 F — more than 100 degrees lower

Swif 50-50 solder, packaged in four-ounce jars and one-pound cans, is a favorite with many gunsmiths for sweating on ramps, ribs, sights, et ai. In paste form, this solder is applied in a thin coat to one side of the surface to be soldered. Applied heat creates strength of about 2000 psi.

than lead/tin solders. Often called "The hardest soft solder on earth," its bond strength is 4000 pounds per square-inch (psi) and it can be used to solder gold, silver, stainless steel, alnico, pewter, most alloys and all of the other sol-derable metals.

Tix soft solder will not tamish, so it can be left in the white if desired, or can be blued with Brownell's T-4 bluing solution. It contains no silver or bismuth and works beautifully for attaching ribs, ramps, precious metal inlays and overlays. For electronics and radio buffs, it is ideal for soldering solid state components without a heat sink and will not damage print boards.

It is common these days for some armsmakers to produce certain firearms components of aluminum or aluminum alloys. Included are such parts as trigger guards, butt plates, cartridge magazines and clips, scope rings and mounts. On occasion, these parts may be broken or badly cracked through abuse or accident and require repairs.

Most professional gunsmiths will recommend that such a damaged gun component be replaced, but the occasion still arises when it is necessary to repair the original part due to factory shortages or a refusal to replace such parts on short notice.

A good gunsmith should be capable of repairing damaged gun parts made of aluminum with a product known as Multicore solder. This product consists of atin/lead/silver alloy specifically formulated for soldering aluminum. It is highly corrosion resistant and no precleaning or sanding of the parts to be soldered is necessary. It includes an extra-active flux that prepares the surface for soldering.

The melting range is 354 to 518 degrees Fahrenheit and the actual soldering range is from 600 to 700 degrees. Mul-ticor solder also may be used on brass, copper, tin plate, nickel and steel. Properly used, Multicor solder will produce repairs to aluminum gun components that are undetectable. Once the job is done, and the repaired section polished, it may be colored using Aluminum Black, a Birchwood-Casey product

Any number of other solders are available, but those solders discussed should handle any firearms work.

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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  • Harry Young
    Can i open fixed shotgun choke with rotary tool?
    3 years ago
  • Marcel
    How do gunsmiths open a choke on a shotgun?
    1 year ago

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