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Thread: Steel for Action?

  1. #1
    Boolit Man
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    Steel for Action?

    I've decided to build a single shot drop block action. I'm still in the research phase. I would like opinions on the steel to buy. I want it to be easy to machine, accept blueing, and not unobtainium. I will have it professionally heat treated if necessary. It may be a 3/4 scale Ruger #1 since I have a few patterns in the safe. Thoughts and opinions will be appreciated.

    Shelly
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  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    If you are gonna case harden it then use 8620 same as on the M1 Garand. If bluing then use one of the 4100 series of steels. 4130-4150. Frank

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    4140 PH (Pre-Hardened) is hard to beat. It machines well, and is already HT'd so you don't have to worry about it. A great many guns have been made from 4140 PH.
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  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Second on the prehardened 4140.
    Heat treating after machining can cost a small fortune.
    EDG

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Sent you an e-mail on some 8620 that I have.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    I was thinking of making a 10-22 action from steel and decided to use 12L14 and have it case hardened. The decision was made because it is the easiest to machine and plenty strong enough for the application. 8620 is used a lot for cast actions and will take color case. 4140 will probably hold more pressure but takes special care in heat treating, it can become as brittle as glass if not properly tempered. 4130 is good for hammer forging and welding but does not machine as good as I like. 4150 machines nice but I have not had a chance to machine any that was heat treated. 4140 PH is used for making rifle barrels. A little tough to machine with HSS but does nice with carbide.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    The choice is simple really 8620 if you want color case hardening or 4140 PH if you are going to blue, 4140 PH for maximum strength also. I have built several HighWall type rifles and all have been done using 4140 PH with the first two being done using only my lathe and a home made milling attachment, I mention that to show the machinability of the 4140 PH. 4140 PH is just crazy strong and as long as you use the Pre-Hard no follow-up heat treatment is necessary, the Pre-hardened 4140 machines quite nicely using HSS with coolant. Even dry HSS can be used but go slowly or better yet just use carbide, if I didn't have carbide I would still use the 4140 PH and just spend the extra time. 4140 should NOT be color cased, I know folks have done it but they ARE trading strength off for those colors as case hardening of these alloys goes against all industry practice and recomendations. 8620 machines nicely with carbide or HSS and colors well when properly cased, it's quite strong also but with 4140 PH you have the advantage of no heat treating step with it's added expense, effort and possible warping issues plus it is quite a bit stronger to boot!
    Last edited by oldred; 05-14-2018 at 11:36 AM.
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  8. #8
    Boolit Mold
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    I've not found heat treating from commercial companies, knowledgeable in firearms, to be expensive. Most go on weight with a minimum charge. My last treater did 4 pre 64 Model 70 receivers for $43 total, which included return shipping!

    RB

  9. #9
    Boolit Master

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    I have not found heat treating of small items particularly expensive either (I had several small machinery parts treated before I bought my own oven) but when building that first rifle I ran into a problem that might bear consideration. I was also debating metal choices and finally settled on annealed 4140 thinking it to a better choice than the Pre-Hardened version but fortunately I checked with the local treating shop first and found they wouldn't touch it! When they were told it was for a home built gun he declined to do it, said he didn't want to take the risk, so I suppose some shops will assume it to be a liability risk since it won't be a factory firearm.

    I eventually settled on the Pre-Hard 4140 and glad that I did! Sure it's somewhat harder than annealed alloy but there's more to machainability than hardness and what little difference there is between the two is not worth the hassles of having the finished receiver heat treated.
    Statistics show that criminals commit fewer crimes after they have been shot

  10. #10
    Those are good recommendations, but there is a lot to be said for an air hardening steel, such as A2 or D2 (or possibly A-2 or D-2 in searches), which should simplify the heat treatment process. Not all of the single shot actions require heat treatment, either.

    This item from my projects backlog will someday be my own small Martini in D2. I bought some pieces of D2 very cheaply on eBay from a British engineering company which had them left from an end of contract, and had the mortice cut by an electrolytic milling firm at a cost of £80. I have a more or less jewellery-size electric furnace with a 7in. maximum dimension, and I know I can heat-treat this steel myself. For some others, in thin sections, I would want to have a close-fitting temporary dummy breechblock to avoid distortion in quenching. But that would impede hardening of the inside surfaces.

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  11. #11
    Boolit Man
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    Thank you all for the input. Does anyone have a source of supply for 4140HT in small quantities? I need a piece 1.125x2.25x4.5 And why is all I find is round stock?
    “You only make one mistake in this business – you’re either an expert or you’re dead.”
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  12. #12
    Boolit Man 55fairlane's Avatar
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    Google metals supermarket....there everywhere, you can buy small lots there....

    Tool steals such as 0-1 (oil hardening) w-1 (water hardening) a-1 ( air hardening) are good choices, D7 and S7 hard hard to machine.....

    4140 is most found as rounds as the application is for parts mostly round such as shafting.....square stock is out there, but you must search for it, or place a special order....

    Aaron

  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    Speedy metals has always had everything I have needed, they have a wide selection of flats in about any size you need and will get it to you in a couple of days.

    https://www.speedymetals.com/c-8316-category.aspx

    They have a "Fire sale" section that often has odd&end items at less than half cost, I found a piece of 4140 PH (sometimes listed as 4140 HT both are the same) 1-1/2"x3"x6" that was perfect for one of my HighWall receivers. About the cheapest to found seems to be Ebay, several regular vendors sell various "drops" at really good prices, for example the last one I bought was piece of round stock (4140 HT) that was 4"x7" long for less than $22 shipped.

    Round stock does seem to sell for a lot less than flat bar and is easier to find but then it needs to be cut end to end to make a usable flat piece, this is not nearly as hard to do as it might sound and I have done it several times using a Porta-Band saw from Harbor Freight. I had a bunch of these short bars that I had acquired as "drops" from a steel supply and for various projects that needed flat stock I cut several of these rounds this way. Just rough cut oversize with the saw then true up the surfaces on a mill or lathe with a four jaw chuck.
    Statistics show that criminals commit fewer crimes after they have been shot

  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    This is priced for a foot of the stuff but unless I am mistaken they will sell you less than a foot of it,

    http://www.speedymetals.com/pc-1436-...t-treated.aspx
    Statistics show that criminals commit fewer crimes after they have been shot

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