help me pick a barrel

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by matt85, May 21, 2014.

  1. matt85

    matt85 BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    im looking to have a friend build me a 404 Jeffery. he has a mauser action he is willing to part with so that's taken care of. now I need a barrel, my thoughts are Lilja or PAC-NOR but im not really sure what I want beyond that. what rate of twist? number of grooves? contour? length?

    whats ideal for a 404 Jeffery?

    thanks
    -matt
     
  2. Velo Dog

    Velo Dog AH Fanatic

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    Matt85,

    Incredible big game cartridge, good choice.
    Not sure what the most ideal twist rate would be for the .404, or even what the historic standard is for it.
    I had fired a Pre-War Oberndorf, single square bridge one that, sadly had been shortened and a NECG front sight ("Griffin & Howe Style" which is also what Ruger No1 front sights somewhat resemble) installed, buffed and hot-tank blued, stock sanded and re-varnished right over the checkering, a white line spacer/ventilated recoil pad installed and generally ruined overall.

    However, it was very accurate.
    Therefore, if I were having one made, I'd go with whatever rate the oldies were rifled at and however many lands and grooves were standard.
    I will guess those are standard with Lilja or Pac-Nor in .423 diameter to this day.

    At this stage, I will ad a twist.
    Most Pre-War .404 Jeffery Mausers were 3 shot magazine / rather plain working rifles on surplus Model 98 actions, originally designed around the 7x57 and 8x57 cartridges (unlike the true Magnum size actioned one I had fired).
    The back of the action was milled out to accept the fatter cartridge and longer box magazine, (the .404, although not belted, is about the same length and diameter base as the .375 H&H's belt).

    The one I fired, although hacked up by some moron, did have a "drop box" magazine, holding 4 shots.
    In certain parts of the USA, it is AKA a "belly magazine".
    At any rate, if I were to have a .404 Mauser 98 built from scratch, I would insist on the deeper "drop box" profile.
    Not because I think an extra round is so extremely important but, more because it looks more "African" to me.
    I think Blackburn makes such magazines for Mausers and no doubt there are others as well.

    As far as Lilja or Pac-Nor, they both have very good reputations.
    Last but not least, contour/length:
    For contour, a bit on the heavy side is best for me.
    A slight muzzle heaviness is my thing for general hunting conditions.
    Yours Truly prefers no shorter than about 23" and no more than about 24" on a general use bolt action.
    For a "Thick Woods/Brush Carbine" type bolt action, AKA: "Jungle Gun", about 22" is handy for myself and slightly lighter contour would be tolerable but even a slightly muzzle-heavy "carbine" (I'm about 6' tall, medium build) would be OK with me .
    Several of my friends prefer 20" for thick cover hunting so, I am the oddball, whatever.

    Cheers,
    Velo Dog.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  3. matt85

    matt85 BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    thanks for the info. id be interested to know what the common twist rate was for this caliber.

    as to barrel length, I generally prefer longer barrels. the 25" barrel on my CZ 550 chambered in .375 H&H is nice but I wouldn't object to a 26" barrel. a 23" barrel would be my absolute minimum as I really did not like the 22" barrel on my Winchester in 7x57. this opinion comes from a history of shooting black powder guns with 40+ inch barrels. in my opinion longer barrels usually lead to increased velocity, less muzzle blast, and a more stable shot off a tripod/monopod.

    -matt
     
  4. Velo Dog

    Velo Dog AH Fanatic

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    Matt85,

    Good to hear you are not going to make this rifle into a carbine.
    I'm sort of with you on barrel lengths, including the Mod-70 in 7x57.
    I never did like Winchester's "Feather Weight" model 70s with shorter barrels.

    If I was having a .404 built, I'd want a 24" pipe on it.
    25" would be a good looking rifle but where I would use it, (primarily Limpopo District / Lowveld - forest / brush) 24" is about all I'd want personally.
    One of my friends had a .404 done up on a MK X action with 26" barrel, express sights only (no scope), at about 9 lb and loved it.

    One man's bread is another man's poison.

    Also, most folks say a .404 should weigh 9 to 9.5 lb but I'd like mine around 10 lb.
    Putting a small scope and mounts on it would likely make a typical 9 lb Mauser into about 10 lb.
    10.5 would not be outrageous scope and all but 10 even would be my choice.

    Have your Gunsmith take a look at Recknagel front sights (made in Germany but imported by NECG).
    Not to be confused with NECG's signature "Griffin & Howe" style (nothing wrong with those either but just look at the Recknagel for grins).
    The Recknaegel is pretty much a copy of the old Pre-War H&H and other English best repeater makers, etc., front sight.

    They're not cheap but they sure look purdey (James Purdey & Sons, London......sorry for the pun).
    Also, a sleeved rear sight base, dovetailed to fit one standing and 3 folding blades, ads a touch of class that I have had done to a couple rifles of mine.
    A single standing rear blade is all that's needed but those extra folding ones just really complete something like a .404.
    I also prefer the older style Mauser bolt handle "Pre-War Orberndorf" sporter type.

    There is a .404 "working rifle" for sale in the classified section of this forum and it has such a bolt handle (beautiful rifle overall for that matter).

    Out,
    Velo Dog.
     
  5. matt85

    matt85 BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    i would be interested in the working rifle for sale but importing the rifle from RSA would be too much money and work.

    my weight goal will be 10 pounds and i will be putting a leupold 1.5-5 VXR on it so the end weight will probably be around 10.5-11 pounds. i dont think ill be putting express sights on it simply because its extra cost that i dont need. it will liekly have very simple back up irons for if something goes wrong with the scope.

    -matt
     
  6. Velo Dog

    Velo Dog AH Fanatic

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    I totally get all of that and therefore agree with your reasoning.
     

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