As it happens I had several fairly exciting phone calls today. Of those, the one I was not expecting was the one from Gunsmoke in Denver, and boy, was that an exciting call. It seems that my last two 'smithing projects--the ones I left when we moved to Alaska nearly six years ago now--have now come up for completion, and I wound up talking with the smith actually working on each piece.
Want to get me giddy with excitement? Discuss the details of a 1911 or scout rifle construction project.
Heh...how about a twofer?
Sounds like the 1911 project (LW Officer's frame, Commander slide) is already nearly completed, and the smith felt the existing barrel should be replaced (locking lugs were worn), as long as we were doing all the extra work. This certainly should not hurt the accuracy of the piece, which is already probably better than I am, and as the saying goes I have never regretted an investment in quality in Things Gun. So, in addition to the frame slimlining (a feature I have become a firm believer in), improved sights, and general smoothing things up, this piece will now come with a handfitted barrel. Yeah, I'm looking forward to confirming that it runs; after that it will probably only rarely measure much below body temperature. :-)
That news was awesome enough by itself, but then I got handed over to the fella working on my 03 Springfield, which I'm having done up as a "Springfield scout" as the late Col. Cooper would have called it. After all this time it's almost hard to believe it's actually happening. The rifle was my grandfather's, and I wanted to turn it into something that I would reach for frequently--which is not a trivial consideration, given that my stable also contains the magnificent Marlin 45/70 (another Gunsmoke project from some years back) and a Steyr Scout. I had a definite image of what I was after here...and in the end it looks like we may do even better than that.
I'd requested an improved trigger and a more ergonomic safety than the 03's original swing-over design; I hadn't realized that the replacement trigger unit actually incorporates its own Remington M700-style safety, solving both problems at the same time with just a little fitting. The smith discussed how to feng shui the '03's bulky cockingpiece and removal of the original safety lever, and I think the result should both be very aesthetically pleasing and highly ergonomic. (I was impressed in listening to his eye for design--which sounds counterintuitive but it came through nonetheless.) We discussed the barrelband front and ghost-ring rear reserve iron sights, and the mount for the forward glass. After discussing it a bit, I think I will indeed have him acquire and mount one of the new Leapers glasses out there, and will revert to a standard Leupold scout scope if for some reason the Leapers doesn't work. He wanted to confirm that I really did want a short length of pull on my stock (I requested 12.5" even though I'm a pretty big guy; I became a fan of short stocks years ago and see no reason to change that now...), and we set the barrel and Ching Sling specifics.
Then he made a suggestion that I'm still squee-ing over a bit: he suggested that he might be able to incorporate a detachable magazine not just on the rifle, but in the buttstock as well, a la the Steyr. Oy vey! I'd figured I'd stick with the 03's standard, blind, 5-round magazine, which features the very clever cut-off system that permits single-loading above a full magazine, and simply use the 5-round buttstock cuff as the reserve ammunition supply. But hold the phones, now...a 5- or 10-round magazine in the rifle, and a 5- or 10-rounder in the buttstock as backup...that would indeed be quite a nifty feature. He asked me if I would consider converting to .308, since he might be able to adapt it to M14 magazines, and if I didn't already have the Steyr I'd be tempted to do that. But I want this to remain a .30/06, mostly because I want to run 200-grain bullets for hunting large critters, and while the .308 is essentially the same for most loadings, with bullets of 200+ grains the '06 really does have a measurable advantage...and critters up here do tend to run on the extra-large side.
I told him I'd mull that magazine idea, and he's going to get me an estimate of how much extra that would add to the cost of an already extensive project. I'm sure it will not be cheap, but again, I've never regretted spending for function, and if a detachable 10-round magazine can be done well, then...daang. I admit I'll then have something I've never seen before.
But the prospect here is so exciting, I may have to start loading for '06 starting, like...now...just to keep from getting overheated. :-)