Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Barrel Change? Opinions Sought!

No Use Pissing Into The Wind If I Don't Have To...

I had an interesting conversation with one of my co-workers today about the custom rifle I just acquired. It was interesting for two reasons:

A) there's actually someone else here in this guv'mint building that's not terrified by the thought of armed citizens (this guy served in the Marines), and

B) It's a damned good idea that I had previously considered and discarded.

My co-worker was a bit baffled by my insistence on retaining such an obscure caliber on the Mauser, no matter how much a laser-quick tackdriver that caliber was. He didn't quite agree with the economics of setting up for reloading for one or two rifle cartridges, and challenged me to sit down and run the numbers.

Here's the argument: By keeping the rifle in .257 Ackley Improved, I'm pretty much consigning myself to having to invest in a fairly sizable reloading setup. Though I intend on reloading .45 Long Colt for economic reasons as opposed to scarcity reasons, there's a big difference in the ease of reloading pistol cartridges versus rifle cartridges. Heck, as far as .45 Long Colt is concerned, as long as you have the right powder charge and the bullet doesn't poke out the end of the cylinder when you load it, that dog's gonna bark when you drop the hammer. (Yeah, I'm making it sound easier than it is, but let's be honest, it's not THAT hard to do!)

Rifle cartridges, however, require case resizing, neck trimming, precise bullet seating, and are generally 8 times as finicky.

So, to reload for .257 Ackley Improved, (and eventually 7mm Mauser and 8mm Mauser...) I'm gonna need easily $500 worth of materials. Sure, I can scrimp here & there, but by the time you add up case tumblers & media, a good single-stage press, dies, trimmers, lubers, powder, trays, primers, decappers, bullets, powder scale and dippers, yadda yadda yadda, I've dropped a lot of coin.

OTOH, I can send the action to Krieger, Shilen, Pac-Nor or a host of other barrelsmiths, give them the taper dimensions of the existing barrel so the new one will fit the stock, and for $300 to $450 have a barrel put on in a caliber that's available off-the-shelf. I like the 7mm-08, but .308's even easier to find and buy in large amounts for comparatively little $$$.

Rockhauler's father had his own reasons for barreling the action in .257 Ackley Improved, and I don't have a clue what those reasons were. I'd like to think he'd rather see me getting a lot of use out of the rifle than going insane trying to scare up brass casings just to load the beast. (.257 Roberts, the parent cartridge, ain't all that common, either!)

I'm gonna need to talk to Rockhauler before I make a final decision, but when I read the 300 rounds per day suggested requirement for the NOR match in October, I nearly coughed up my skull. There's just no way to scare up that many .257 Ackley Improved rounds by October 2010!

So, whaddya think? Remain unique & obscure and face an uphill climb, or go along with the herd and maybe save some time and money?