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Thread: Steel for Action?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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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 Buddy
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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 Buddy
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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 Bub
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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 Buddy
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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?
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  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy 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

  15. #15
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    I've decided that the Ruger #1 is to complicated for me, as a beginner machinist, to tackle. So the project will be a Browning. I'm gathering drawings and dimensions and hope to begin as soon as the weather cools off. I'll make 2, one in 4140HT and the other in 8620. I'm think 32-20 and 25-20 for calibers.
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    “You only make one mistake in this business – you’re either an expert or you’re dead.”
    Col. Thomas J. Kane

    "EXPERT= Ex is a has been, spurt is a drip under pressure" Unknown

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    Are you planing on the classic model 1885 Winchester (not to be confused with the later Jap built Browning/Winchesters) or that original Browning Single Shot like in your illustration above? My first project was originally meant to be a copy of Browning's original Single Shot rifles but I decided to just build Winchester's version instead, several reasons for this but the biggest problem was lack of info and a total lack of any kind of detailed drawings and only sketchy dimensions. After searching and a few phone calls I became convinced that no usable drawings exist for these rifles and without an actual example of one of these very rare guns to work from it was just too impractical to even hope to get a reasonably close copy of one. Besides that I have been told by people familiar with them that of the relative handful in existence, all hand-built by John and his brothers in the early 1880's in Ogden Utah, almost all of them are somewhat different with some being significantly different than others.

    Winchester's version based on the early design and sold as the model 1885 is a MUCH improved version over the fairly crude rifles originally built by the Brownings before selling the design to Winchester and not only are good examples easy to find but detailed drawings can easily be found even on Ebay for only about $20 or so!

    Just a note about the drawings, it's been said quite a bit on various forums that the available drawings (all seem to be based on the same one) have serious omissions and errors that make them extremely frustrating to use and can lead to serious machining mistakes. I have worked with an Ebay version of these prints quite a bit while helping a buddy with his project and just recently had these prints given to me by him after he lost interest in the project, I can say with confidence that the rumors of omissions and flaws are way overblown! I honestly have no idea of what omissions they are speaking of since these prints appear complete right down to the smallest screws and springs including every detail, if anything is left out it must be unimportant because we never found anything at all! As far as errors we did find one and it seems to be the one that started the complaints, it seems if the receiver is built exactly to the drawing specs the breech block linkage will go over-center causing the block to fall back slightly after closing causing loose headspacing. The common reason given for the error is that the sear pin hole is located wrong and causes serious difficulties getting it right, this is NOT the case! The only error we could find is that the "ears" on the action lever are shown a few thousandths too long and angled slightly wrong, these problems are very easily corrected as long as the builder is aware before making that lever. I strongly suspect that some failed projects that blamed errors in the plans were not errors there at all but mistakes in either reading the prints or machining errors incorrectly blamed on the drawings or a combination of both.
    Statistics show that criminals commit fewer crimes after they have been shot

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    Oldred,
    Looked on ebay and found a bunch of posters and art. Can you get more specific so my search would be narrower? Or could I buy a copy from you.

    Shelly
    “You only make one mistake in this business – you’re either an expert or you’re dead.”
    Col. Thomas J. Kane

    "EXPERT= Ex is a has been, spurt is a drip under pressure" Unknown

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    Nevermind Oldred. Had someone help me shop and found it. Guess I don't shop enuff on the computer
    “You only make one mistake in this business – you’re either an expert or you’re dead.”
    Col. Thomas J. Kane

    "EXPERT= Ex is a has been, spurt is a drip under pressure" Unknown

  19. #19
    Boolit Master

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    Are you talking about the 1885 HighWall drawings that can be found on Ebay? If so that's the set I was talking about and except for that one error, easily fixed however, I think you will find those drawings to be very complete, very detailed and quite clear and sharp. The set I have is both the actual drawings received by my friend from the Ebay seller and the much larger copies he had made at a local printing shop. Although the drawings as they arrive are quite usable as they are the full "blue-print" size copies are easier to work with and printing service places like Staples, etc can enlarge them for you, not absolutely necessary I suppose but still much nicer to work from!

    Also too I just noticed that 1885 HighWall raw castings are available on Ebay again for $175, they are from the same seller that had them a few weeks ago I believe and the last time he listed them they all sold out in just a few hours!
    Statistics show that criminals commit fewer crimes after they have been shot

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy
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    Yup, found em on ebay. Ordered a set. I'll get copies made to work from. I learned not to allow the originals in the shop. I spill lotsa coffee. I've heard about the castings but this project is more of a personal challenge. I've got a good lathe and I'm cleaning and renovating my mill and will use these projects to learn on. I've got a retired machinist who's offered to help when I get stuck. I've got a chunk of 4140HT and a piece of 8620 from some great people on this forum. Just gathering info and materials til retirement in January 2019. Then I hope to have more time to devote to my looooong list of projects.
    “You only make one mistake in this business – you’re either an expert or you’re dead.”
    Col. Thomas J. Kane

    "EXPERT= Ex is a has been, spurt is a drip under pressure" Unknown

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BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
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