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Old July 25, 2012, 04:14 PM   #1
dj_28
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Ruger M77 7mm Rem Mag

The gun has a stainless receiver and barrel. The gun has been in a house fire and the synthetic stock has been melted. The barrel looks straight and the action is free to move. The guy wants it repaired (new stock and whatever other parts it may need).

My concerns are: is it going to be safe to fire after being in a house fire?
is the metal going to be fatigued to the point of failure?
of course liability and getting my butt handed to me in court.
getting myself or someone hurt.

I know I could always just take the gun out and test fire it to see if it will hold up. And thats kinda what I'm thinking about doing. If it will hold up to shooting a few hot loads through the gun as is it should be fine to restore. If not it will be like a granade going off.

And just to be clear (I don't want people writing to tell me not to shoot the gun from the shoulder) I would put the gun in a lead sled, strap it down and lay sand bags over the gun, and fire with a string tyed to the trigger from a safe distance.

What are your thoughts on this situation?

DJ
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Old July 25, 2012, 06:38 PM   #2
10-96
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The funny thing about metal fatigue once it's had it's temper tinkered with by such things as house fires is- there is no set rule to when it will stretch, crack, or totally let go.

Whether you shoot it 5 times or 500 times- you don't know if something bad will happen the 6th or 501st shot. And just for sake of argument, if the worst happens to your customer- who do you think his survivors will line up to sue first?

If nothing else, send it back to Ruger. They may do hardness testing, etc- or they may do you a favor and scrap it as unsafe. Let the folks who've been building firearms longer than us make the important decision.
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Old July 25, 2012, 07:57 PM   #3
dj_28
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Yeah, I hear you. I was on edge about this project from the moment he told me it was in a house fire. Sending it back to Ruger sounds like a good idea but don't know if he will like hearing it. Don't think he will send it back to ruger but I know he wants me to fix it.

As a smith I can't tell him that it will be safe to shoot without having alot of text done on it that I can't afford. And I'm sure he wouldn't want to drop that kinda cash into it before we even start to repair it.

What to do?

DJ
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Old July 25, 2012, 09:22 PM   #4
10-96
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What's the liklihood of you taking possession of the rifle and sending it to Ruger yourself and have them make an initial inspection prior to doing anything that will start to stack up the fees/bills?
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Old July 26, 2012, 12:08 AM   #5
wyop
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The M77 started life with an investment cast receiver in which the steel was heat treated to a pretty high level of hardness (and strength).

Being in a fire at an unknown temperature for an unknown period of time and cooled in an unknown way will leave you with a receiver that has unknown hardness and yield strength. The barrel steel wasn't originally heat treated to such high levels of hardness (and strength) as the receiver was. A cast receiver can be as good or better than a forged receiver - provided the cast receiver has close attention paid to it's heat treatment. And at the factory, Ruger does pay close attention to the heat treatment.

Then there's the bolt in the M77 (and most all bolt guns): the front nose and lugs of a bolt is also typically heat treated up to higher levels of hardness (and strength). Now the bolt is compromised as well.

The starting point might be to call Ruger and ask them whether the receiver and bolt could be heat treated successfully again. If they say "no," then that's pretty much the end of the road for the rifle unless you want to take on a huge liability. If Ruger indicates that they can re-heat treat the receiver and bolt, then it might be possible to salvage them.
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Old July 26, 2012, 12:50 AM   #6
mete
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Guns can be re-heat treated successfully as is done with Mauser M98s . You have to know what you're doing.

If you know the type of plastic you can get an idea of what temperatures have been reached.
But the best way is to check the springs .If they are soft that's a bad sign. Does the steel have black scale formed on the surface ? If so scrap the gun !!Even if you could repair the gun it may be that the cost would not be worth it .If not done properly it might be an accident waiting to happen.
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Old July 26, 2012, 02:58 AM   #7
wyop
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Yes, steels can be annealed (or normalized) and re-quenched/tempered. Mausers are an excellent example. Been there, done that.

This is a stainless steel action (see dj's original post) and I don't know what stainless alloy Ruger uses in their receivers. If someone knows for certain what the stainless alloy is, then one could think about performing a heat treatment on it.

Without knowing the alloy, heat treatment of stainless can become more complicated than that of carbon or simple(r) alloy carbon steels, hence my suggestion to ask Ruger. They know what alloy they're using and what heat treatment protocol they put it through. If they re-treat the receiver, the liability is back on them, not on dj.

I'm thinking of dj's liability situation.
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