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#6161397 - 01/29/16 05:17 PM Hacked off 6 inches of barrel on my Howa 223
charlesb Offline
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Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 1408
Loc: West Texas mountains
Today I hacked off and recrowned my Howa's barrel from 24" to 18".

Here are pics as I reduced the barrel and re-crowned it: - Click image to see it larger.

Hack-sawed 6" off!


Crowned, de-greased, ready for cold blue.


The finished 11 degree target crown.


One reason I shortened the barrel is so that factory loads would work well with this Nikon P-223 4-12x40 scope designed for an 18" AR. Note the elevation turret markings. With the proper load, this can be dialed in to any range accurately. (allegedly)

To do its thing, the scope requires a 55 grain polymer-tipped bullet traveling at a MV of 3240fps.


A few views:






It handles much better now, and is light enough to shoot off-hand. A detachable magazine box conversion, and this gun will be finished.

I'll probably lose interest in it after it's done, and sell it so I can build another. - I'm bad about that.

Weather permitting, I'll take it out tomorrow for accuracy testing and to chronograph the load I am now using.


Edited by charlesb (01/29/16 05:22 PM)
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#6161407 - 01/29/16 05:22 PM Re: Hacked off 6 inches of barrel on my Howa 223 [Re: charlesb]
cabosandinh Offline
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Registered: 08/12/13
Posts: 1156
Loc: Dallas, TX
what tool did you use to crown ?

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#6161419 - 01/29/16 05:36 PM Re: Hacked off 6 inches of barrel on my Howa 223 [Re: charlesb]
charlesb Offline
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Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 1408
Loc: West Texas mountains
I used this tool from Pacific Tool and Guage:

PTG crowning tool, 22lr-6mm

This tool uses a pilot sleeve on the end that protects the bore and aligns the tool as it is turned. The sleeve stays still in the bore, and does not turn, like the sleeve on a chambering reamer. There are several pilot sleeves available for the tool, for different bore sizes.

After putting a patch 2" down the bore to catch any oil or shavings, I drove the crowning tool with an electric drywall screwdriver until the cut reached out to the edge, then cut 1.25" squares of 320, 220, and 400 grit wetordry paper (wet) with a hole punched out in the middle so it would fit on the end of the crowning tool. These polished out the tool marks and prettied it up a bit. Then I used a mill bastard file to knock the sharp edge off of the outside diameter, and a cone-shaped stone used carefully by hand to relieve the edges of the bore. When a Q-Tip inserted in the bore and dragged out showed no trailing fibers, it was smooth enough. After that, it was time to de-grease it and cold-blue.

PTG makes crowning tools in a variety of shapes. I prefer the straight 11 degree crown as it cleans up easily and I superstitiously believe that it provides the best accuracy.

I have another of these tools, for 25, 264, 277, and 284 bore sizes. - You can get the tool in either tool steel, or carbide. They work well, are worth every penny.


Edited by charlesb (01/29/16 05:51 PM)
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#6161499 - 01/29/16 06:53 PM Re: Hacked off 6 inches of barrel on my Howa 223 [Re: charlesb]
BassCat'99 Offline
Tracker

Registered: 02/15/13
Posts: 921
Loc: Stratford Texas
Nice job Charles, first dibs's when you get ready to sell!
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#6161505 - 01/29/16 06:57 PM Re: Hacked off 6 inches of barrel on my Howa 223 [Re: charlesb]
Sneaky Online   content
The "Grouch"

Registered: 10/22/12
Posts: 15874
Loc: Winters
What in the world are you doing to get such a fine looking cold blue?
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#6161540 - 01/29/16 07:41 PM Re: Hacked off 6 inches of barrel on my Howa 223 [Re: charlesb]
P_102 Offline
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Registered: 09/23/08
Posts: 517
Loc: Grapevine
I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind modifying a rifle to meet the 'needs' of a BDC scope. Don't get me wrong, I have a 25-06 at the 'smith' ritght now being cut to 20", but it has nothing to do with with the scope I will use. Doesn't modifying a rifle around a BDC scope limit you to the rounds you use? P_102
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#6161548 - 01/29/16 07:47 PM Re: Hacked off 6 inches of barrel on my Howa 223 [Re: P_102]
FiremanJG Offline
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Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 17893
Loc: Wolfe City, TX
Originally Posted By: P_102
I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind modifying a rifle to meet the 'needs' of a BDC scope.
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#6161721 - 01/29/16 09:50 PM Re: Hacked off 6 inches of barrel on my Howa 223 [Re: charlesb]
RiverRider Online   content
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Registered: 11/11/07
Posts: 6220
Loc: Wise Co.

I wouldn't do it either, but I would say that "because I want to" is a good enough reason. Not everyone thinks like I do, or you do, or JG does, or...

I used to have contact with a guy whose deal was to experiment and find out what it takes to blow different guns up with hot loads. Not something I'd do, but the guy had his reasons. To criticize him for it would be stupid.
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#6161733 - 01/29/16 10:01 PM Re: Hacked off 6 inches of barrel on my Howa 223 [Re: charlesb]
kmon1 Online   content
junior

Registered: 09/27/06
Posts: 20293
Loc: Texas
Agree RR, his gun and shop. Do what he wants with it.

If nothing else comes of the rifle it will be with the longer barrel.
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#6161827 - 01/30/16 02:12 AM Re: Hacked off 6 inches of barrel on my Howa 223 [Re: charlesb]
BigPig Online   content
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Registered: 08/27/09
Posts: 9519
Loc: Forney, Tx
Nikon has a Ballistic App for scopes and ammo of differing makes fir guns that produce different speeds. I have found this pretty accurate, my dad even competed with his last year at JG's match. I think evening the correct data into their system would have been easier than cutting/crowning/blueing a barrel, and still give you the same lack of precision
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Ever spit it out rather than swallow it?

Originally Posted By: pegasaurus
Enjoy it while you can. One day you might be complaining about NOT getting random pop-ups in the morning. grin

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#6161828 - 01/30/16 02:13 AM Re: Hacked off 6 inches of barrel on my Howa 223 [Re: charlesb]
BigPig Online   content
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Registered: 08/27/09
Posts: 9519
Loc: Forney, Tx
And don't AR's have a drastically different scope to barrel alignment than a bolt action, which would make the scopes BDC still be off?
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Originally Posted By: bill oxner
Ever spit it out rather than swallow it?

Originally Posted By: pegasaurus
Enjoy it while you can. One day you might be complaining about NOT getting random pop-ups in the morning. grin

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#6161842 - 01/30/16 03:56 AM Re: Hacked off 6 inches of barrel on my Howa 223 [Re: charlesb]
Ramball36 Online   content


Registered: 05/11/09
Posts: 8963
Loc: McKinney
Seems reasonable
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#6161851 - 01/30/16 05:21 AM Re: Hacked off 6 inches of barrel on my Howa 223 [Re: BigPig]
FiremanJG Offline
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Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 17893
Loc: Wolfe City, TX
Originally Posted By: BigPig
And don't AR's have a drastically different scope to barrel alignment than a bolt action, which would make the scopes BDC still be off?


No. Sight height will not effect holds beyond 100 yards. It would effect inside 100 trying to hit MOA.
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#6161856 - 01/30/16 06:01 AM Re: Hacked off 6 inches of barrel on my Howa 223 [Re: Sneaky]
charlesb Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 1408
Loc: West Texas mountains
Originally Posted By: Sneaky
What in the world are you doing to get such a fine looking cold blue?


Well, it's just a small area. Cold blue is usually OK for that.

What I did was to de-grease the area with Berryman's Chem-Tool, then immediately apply a soft cotton cloth soaked with Birchwood-Casey's "Super Blue". I gave it a few moments to act, then cleaned with Chem-Tool again, doing my best to remove the cold blue by rubbing it briskly.

Then I applied the cold blue again, let it sit a few minutes, cleaned with Chem-Tool and this time followed up with 3-in-One oil.

The oil somehow tends to deepen the blue and give it more durability, dunno why but I have seen it happen many times. It works the same way when you are putting on a phosphoric acid finish, it deepens and becomes more durable after being oiled. Some oils are better at this than others, I have developed a preference for 3-in-One oil for cold bluing. For phosphoric acid finishes, dirty used engine oil seems to give the best results.

Normally I use G-96 paste blue, but I decided to give the Birchwood-Casey stuff a try, this time.

Note that it is often said that rubbing with steel-wool is a good idea when using cold blue. This is true - but only if the protective grease on the steel-wool has been removed by either a solvent or a flame. Grease and oil is your enemy when applying cold blue. - Even skin oil! You don't want any kind of oil on there until the job is all done.


Edited by charlesb (01/30/16 07:44 PM)
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#6161878 - 01/30/16 06:59 AM Re: Hacked off 6 inches of barrel on my Howa 223 [Re: P_102]
charlesb Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 1408
Loc: West Texas mountains
Originally Posted By: P_102
I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind modifying a rifle to meet the 'needs' of a BDC scope. Don't get me wrong, I have a 25-06 at the 'smith' right now being cut to 20", but it has nothing to do with with the scope I will use. Doesn't modifying a rifle around a BDC scope limit you to the rounds you use? P_102


Yes, that's the idea. - Or at least part of it.

I could have developed a hand-load to produce the velocity required in the original 24" barrel, but that was not the goal. Instead, I wanted the scope to behave as advertised with commonly available factory ammunition. To get that effect, the barrel needed to be at or near a typical barrel length encountered on AR's, otherwise the velocity with the factory loads would tend to be too high.

Also, you'll notice that the scope is mounted very low, almost touching the barrel. ( I had to grind a flat on the bottom of the front scope-cover so that it would go on.) - This was done to make the rifle easier to use on very close shots, as sometimes occurs when calling a coyote for example.

Another factor that I did not particularly stress in my OP but is still important was the rifle's weight and handling qualities. Everyone who has handled the rifle before and after the barrel reduction has remarked about how much nicer it handles now, even with the Harris bipod attached, which brings it back up to its original weight. The balance point is now just ahead of the floorplate as it should be, instead of being several inches forward of that. - So now, the gun can reasonably be shot off-hand instead of requiring a rest. Again, this can be important when you suddenly find yourself looking at a coyote 25 yards away, and off to the side or even behind you.

So, now the velocity of common factory loads theoretically matches up with the requirements of the P-223 scope, and the rifle is no longer too heavy and ungainly to be effectively used off-hand, in a pinch. It looks kind of funny, but that is often the result when form follows function. I made some effort to make the gun look nice, but job #1 was to have it function as required for its intended purpose. ( Range gun and coyote rifle, useful with factory loads, not absolutely requiring a rest for close-range shots of opportunity, good for several hundred yards if used in conjunction with a range-finder. )

Note that with the scope slammed down low, this is not a gun that is ideal for volume shooting. If you heat the barrel up on this rifle, mirage is going to be an issue. Also, it is not set up for extreme ranges. The barrel twist is one in 12", so it is not going to shoot anything heavier than 55 grains. It will do whatever you want to do though, with a 55 grain or lighter bullet. A scope and rifle comprise a system... I have found that rifles modify easily, but scopes do not.

If you want the scope's BDC feature to work, you'll use a 55 grain load at or near 3240 fps - but this does not prevent you from using lighter bullets or higher velocity if you are ready, willing and able to roll your own bullet drop estimation.

I hope to get out and test-fire it today, and see what the chronograph says about velocity. Weather permitting.

Once the rifle is tested and finished, it will be posted on the "Sales" page at my website and also at Guns International, where I do most of my online sales. The scope and bipod will go with the rifle, it will be offered as an integrated package.


Edited by charlesb (01/30/16 08:41 AM)
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