Aluminum Bottom Metal on a Big Bore

mdwest

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Im in the middle of a 416 Taylor build (significantly more recoil than a 375 H&H, but less than a 416 Rem..)..

I found a really nice vintage (70's?) Parker Hale bottom metal that I would like to put on the gun... Its decorative, with lots of scroll work, etc.. all over the magazine floor plate and the trigger guard.. and has an oberndorf style hinged floorplate...

I get that I'm giving up some weight by replacing the original steel mauser bottom metal (Im building the gun on a LR mauser action) by going with aluminum. I'm ok with that. We're only talking a few ounces, and the gun is already being built pretty heavy (#3 profile barrel, steel bases and rings, heavy scope, heavy stock, etc.. So, I estimate this will bring the gun down from roughly a 10.5# rifle to around a 10# rifle when its all said and done..

My concern is strength..

Im assuming that aluminum is strong enough that the recoil wont have any impact on the gun (other than a slight increase in felt recoil), and that a 416 taylor isnt going to cause breakage or bending of any kind..

I've also thought about pillar bedding the action (in addition to the glass bedding).. which would beef things up around the contact points between the action, bottom metal, and wood..

Pillar bedding is typically done with brass inserts.. which are softer than aluminum.. so again, huge assumption on my part.. but I figured if brass can hold up to big bore recoil, aluminum should be able to hold up as well.. and using this parker hale bottom metal shouldnt be a problem...

It really is too pretty not to use on something.. and since the 416 is the build I am currently working on... :)

Thoughts?
 

IvW

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I thought brass was harder than aluminum?

Personally I would stay on steel for larger bore rifles. My rifles work hard and get a lot of handling and bumping around on and in the Cruiser so anything plastic ar aluminum I stay away from.

As for strength I do not think you will have any issues on that side.

I am looking at a Heym O/U combination gun that has the entire action made from aluminum and the trigger guard is from some hard "plastic?" or similar material. The action is strengthened with steel pins where needed. I had some reservations about this but after some googling I am convinced it will stand up in the strong enough department. It is super light weight and will be a joy to carry especially when hunting mountainous areas.

Granted it is 7x57R/16ga calibers nothing near a .416!

Hopefully somebody with more experience in this regard will come up with the answers.
 

Boyd Brooks

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Mdwest, as you can see by my profile pic I am a fan of the 416 Taylor! Mine is a Parker Hale commercial Mauser action with aluminum bottom metal and I have never had any issues with this rifle. It is in a composite stock that has been bedded and thats all. You will be pleasantly surprised by the lack of recoil from this large bore. I shoot 400gr Hornady projectiles with 70grs of Reloader15 and would rather shot these than my buddies 338 win mag any day. Please post some pictures of your finished project would love to see them.
 

mdwest

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Thats great news @Boyd Brooks ... thanks for your inputs as well @lvW and @Shawn.54 ...

Ive been tempted to go back and grab a couple more of these Parker Hale bottom metals.. they are from a limited run of 150 (each one numbered) that I am guessing was done back in the 70's... Im not 100% certain on the date of production though, nor is the guy selling them..

Ive got two other LR mauser sporters that I think they would look really nice on.. and I was sure they would be absolutely fine on those rifles (both smaller caliber mid-bores).. but was questioning whether it made sense to use one on the 416..

As the 416 build progresses, I will certainly post pics, etc.. Im mostly in the parts procurement phase right now.. I picked up a timney trigger, A&B barrel, a decent walnut stock, a nice unblemished LR mauser action, the above mentioned bottom metal, warne maxima bases and QD rings, etc..etc.. Hopefully Ill start getting things cobbled together pretty soon.. I'd like to have the rifle complete by the end of the year.. then spend Jan-June working out any bugs, practicing, etc.. before I take it to Africa next summer..

Thats the plan anyway... :)
 

ChrisG

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Thats great news @Boyd Brooks ... thanks for your inputs as well @lvW and @Shawn.54 ...

Ive been tempted to go back and grab a couple more of these Parker Hale bottom metals.. they are from a limited run of 150 (each one numbered) that I am guessing was done back in the 70's... Im not 100% certain on the date of production though, nor is the guy selling them..

Ive got two other LR mauser sporters that I think they would look really nice on.. and I was sure they would be absolutely fine on those rifles (both smaller caliber mid-bores).. but was questioning whether it made sense to use one on the 416..

As the 416 build progresses, I will certainly post pics, etc.. Im mostly in the parts procurement phase right now.. I picked up a timney trigger, A&B barrel, a decent walnut stock, a nice unblemished LR mauser action, the above mentioned bottom metal, warne maxima bases and QD rings, etc..etc.. Hopefully Ill start getting things cobbled together pretty soon.. I'd like to have the rifle complete by the end of the year.. then spend Jan-June working out any bugs, practicing, etc.. before I take it to Africa next summer..

Thats the plan anyway... :)
I feel like asking "Is aluminum strong enough?", is like asking "how big is an animal?" There are so many grades of Aluminum and Aluminum alloy, that it would be hard to say. Pure aluminum is fairly soft and not all that strong. It is very strong for its weight though and that is why it is widely utilized. I would say somewhere around half as strong as steel depending exactly on the grade of each, with high grade, abrasion resistant steels being much stronger than the highest grade aluminum alloys. It is however, incredible ductile and formable. The thing you will have to take into account is that steel can be blued quite easily, but touching up aluminum requires specific treatments and chemicals, unless you have it all cerakoted. Blued steel gains a nice fade and patina to it as it wears. Aluminum tends to look junky when the finish wears or it develops a ding. That would be my concern. As to the strength, if the floorplate is constructed properly, it should be just fine. In the case of a floor plate, proper geometry and design is more crucial that what material it is made from in regard to strength and more importantly, rigidity.

Pillar bedding is usually done with aluminum but I imagine you could use whatever you wanted if you had a metal lathe. brass would be a viable option and would be stronger than aluminum if you picked the right alloy. The downside is that it is slightly denser than steel. So you may make up for your aluminum floorplate by pillar bedding with brass... Definitely post pics when you are done!
 

mdwest

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All good info.. thanks @ChrisG

I do plan on either cerakoting or duracoating.. so there shouldnt be a problem with bluing steel vs aluminum..

Its an assumption on my part.. but since the bottom metal was made by a pretty well regarded company (Parker Hale).. I am assuming its constructed properly.. there should be no issues there..

The more I think about it.. I think I'm going to pillar bed, whether I use the Parker Hale bottom metal or the original steel bottom metal, in addition to glass bedding the action.. Its probably not necessary.. but its not expensive or difficult to do.. so... why not?

Will definitely post pics once I start putting everything together.. The action is being worked right now so that it will accommodate the 416 Taylor cartridges.. The bolt face is being opened and the rails are being opened as well.. Once that is done, everything should come together pretty quickly.. I've got all of the parts on hand that I intend on using.. and all of the tools in place I need to get the work done.. Once I get the new trigger installed, barrel installed, final inletting on the stock done, etc.. I'll just need to finish the chamber... and I'll be able to take it to the range and test it for reliability and accuracy..

Assuming it passes those tests, I'll get the fixed sights installed by my local gunsmith (I already have them on hand as well.. but I lack the skills and the tools to do that work myself).. have a finish put on the gun.. and put some glass on it (I originally planned on topping it with a Zeiss V4 Conquest 1-4X with illuminated reticle.. but am now considering some other options).. then I'll be ready to start practicing and training with it for the big trip next summer..

My hope is to have everything above done by the end of the year.. so that I have from Jan-June to get a couple of hundred rounds down range and at least 8-10 range sessions with it to work out any kinks with either me or the gun..

Will definitely take lots of pics along the way and document all progress..
 

Shawn.54

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The thing to remember when using aluminum bottom metal is it’s function is a magazine and a bearing surface under action screws and trigger guard. It should not be part of recoil absorbing process.
Shawn
 

bruce moulds

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a concern could be the tendancy for the magazine rerlease to do just that when you fire the gun.
if the thing you press is in the trigger guard this can be of concern.
being a 416 might suggest a little recoil, and targets that might come towards you.
put the two together and life could suddenly take on a different complexion.
the original military floorplate is failsafe, but lacks elegance.
a mod 70 mag release holds tighter under recoil.
bruce.
 

bruce moulds

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i am serprized that noone has picked up on the pitfalls of in trigger bow floorplate releases.
bruce.
 

mdwest

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I have heard a lot of people talking about the pitfalls of a hinged floorplate over the years....

But after 35+ years of shooting rifles with them.. and thousands upon thousands of rounds down range from rifles that have them.. I have yet to see a floorplate open under recoil..

I am sure it does happen.. however IF it does, that would be an indicator of a damaged or malfunctioning floorplate.. no different than any other part on a gun that can become damaged (trigger return spring, cocking piece, etc.. both of which I have seen hang up an action several times..)...

The solution is to keep your weapons maintained.. and to shoot your weapon a lot in preparation.. and know if its developing a burr somewhere or if a spring has gotten weak.. or if a part is beginning to get out of tolerance.. BEFORE your hunt.. and fix it then...

Hinged floorplates are not designed to malfunction any more than an extractor or an ejector is designed to malfunction.. although they all can... to my knowledge ejectors and extractors malfunction a whole lot more frequently however.. I've seen a lot of ejectors and extractors go tits up on rifles over the years while in use.. but like I said before.. I've never seen a floorplate die under recoil either at the range or on a hunt in my life....to include hinged floorplates on big bores..

Winchester's safari magnum has a hinged floorplate.. Ruger's guide gun has a hinged floorplate.. the Remington 700 Safari has a hinged floorplate... Numerous commercial mausers built in 375H&H, 458 WM, etc.. have been factory built by FN, Interarms, Parker Hale etc.. with hinged floorplates..

Personally, Im not seeing a problem..
 

Certus

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Cogswell and Harrison, and I believe even Holland and Holland, used aluminium for floorplates too at one point.
 

One Day...

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Well... here is the reason why I insist on having only steel bottoms on my rifles...

Aluminum Wby bottom.JPG


Coming from a .340 Wby. Did not open during recoil, just broke at the hinge...

I am not sure if it is aluminum per se, or whatever 'pot-metal' alloy, but it definitively was a cast part. I suspect a machined aluminum part could/would be stronger, but still not in the same category as steel.

Happily replaced with an earlier all stainless steel '3 screws' two-piece bottom, luckily found on ebay for $200...

Steel Wby bottom.JPG


I would not even consider an aluminum bottom on a .416, because this is the part that will bear the consequence of any slightest imperfection in the bedding of the pillars. If you torque the screws at 45 inch/lbs to 65 inch/lbs (as is common/desirable on pillar bedded guns) the aluminum/pot-metal bottom will simply bend, if you are lucky, or, more likely, break if there is the slightest imperfection in the inletting.

Just my $0.02 based on actual experience.
 

Eric Anderson

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Unlike steel, aluminum has no safe deflection angle. Having said that, a hinges floor plate if properly installed will have negligible stress on it during firing.
 

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