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Old May 7, 2010, 04:35 PM   #1
Join Date: March 24, 2010
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how do I re-barrel an action?

Hi all,

my previous plan(s) had included the custom buildup of a 6.5 x 55 swede from the savage custom shop, but since money is so tight, I need to weigh steps/cost of a re-barrel. Due to two back surgeries and all the complications, I can't handle the recoil of my only deer rifle (browning stainless stalker 7 mag). Can you guys help me understand what's involved in a re-barreling job?

1) would my a-bolt long action be a viable candidate?
2) what are some good choices in after market barrels?
3) would anything have to be done to the action or bolt to accommodate the
smaller caliber?
4) if the action/bolt needs work, can any gunsmith make the changes?
5) what would you estimate the total cost would be for the above items?

Thanks so much for the help guys! I'm not very knowledgeable in these matters so I really appreciate it!!!
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Old May 7, 2010, 04:50 PM   #2
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1) would my a-bolt long action be a viable candidate?
Yep, but A-Bolts are not often used as donor actions. The barrels are glued in and it seems some smiths don't like to work on them for that reason.
2) what are some good choices in after market barrels?
Kreiger, Brux, Bartlein, Rock
3) would anything have to be done to the action or bolt to accommodate the smaller caliber?
Need a new bolt. The rim diameter of a 6.5x55 is smaller than your 7 Mag.
4) if the action/bolt needs work, can any gunsmith make the changes?
Maybe. I'd find one with a good rep, even if that means shipping. The cost of shipping is much less than the cost of a job done poorly.
5) what would you estimate the total cost would be for the above items?
$250 and up for labor, $250 and up for the barrel.

Because you'll need a whole new bolt, I'd just get another action. Since you can't shoot your 7 Mag, sell it and buy a long action 700 with the correct bolt face, Stiller, Surgeon, whatever and go from there. I think it'd work out in the end better than trying to remake your A-Bolt.

Last edited by zoomie; May 7, 2010 at 04:57 PM.
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Old May 7, 2010, 05:30 PM   #3
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If cost is a major factor you would be much better off to just buy a new utility rifle.
A used rifle would be even better.

I have looked at this a few times and unless you can do the work yourself, already own or have access to all the specialized tools, or just don't care about money, buying a new rifle wins out.
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Old May 7, 2010, 06:25 PM   #4
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"new" 6.5x55...

Drewdoo 41--Money's tight, you want a 6.5x55. For heavens' sake don't bother re-barelling an existing rifle!! Haunt pawn shops and gun shops and gun shows in your area, until an already-Bubba-ized Swedish Mauser shows up. They come as a 6.5x55, and used, and Bubba-ized, it will cost mebbe $150-200 depending. (My most recent Swede was a pawn-shop rescue for $150.) The worse it looks the cheaper it'll be--but Bubba usually doesn't mess with the internals.

BTW, I like your choice. The 6.5x55 is light-recoiling, can be very accurate, and is deadly on Bambi--if YOU are deadly on Bambi. The cartridge is well up to the task--In Europe it is routinely used on what they call elk and what we would call a moose.

The days of getting a Swede Mauser as a milsurp, from one of the big mail-order houses, for cheap, are over, I'm afraid. But you don't want a pristine milsurp, anyway, you want a "project gun."

Have a gunsmith check it out for safety, and to be sure it hasn't been re-chambered by Bubba, and then have at it yourself. If you want a 'scope mount, you'll have to have the receiver drilled and tapped, and the bolt handle and safety modified--neither of these are terribly expensive, but have the 'smith do the D&T and the handle modification unless you yourself are an experienced welder/machinist.

The Swedish Mauser is sometimes called the 1896 Mauser. The Swedes changed the model number a couple times, but all the Swede Mausers have the 1896 action, so retro parts that fit that action will do for any Swede Mauser model.

My preference is a Boyd's stock that you buy "unfinished"--Boyd-speak for not varnished--and glass-bed the action and varnish the stock yourself. Their catalogue doesn't specify Swede Mausers, although they do have several models for "small-ring Mausers," so I'd call 'em and ask--their 'phone people are very well used to talking people through to the correct choice. (605) 996-5011 is the number. They'll send you a catalogue for the asking. Nice people to do business with, and their stocks are nice, too.

BTW, Boyd's also has Bold triggers if you dislike the military 2-stage trigger--on a Swede, the trigger replacement is one pin push-out, remove old trigger, insert new trigger mechanism, and reinsert pin. Stupid easy. Me, I like the Timney trigger, having used them in several rifles. Brownell's has those. It installs the same as a Bold, in a Swede.

You can do this project in stages, which makes affording it much easier--Step 1 is simply to buy the rifle and have it √ed by a 'smith. If it's shootable as is, there you are. Then you and your pocketbook decide what and how much for Step 2, and so on. You can work on the thing for years, if you're so inclined.

Best of luck on the project, again, nice choice of cartridge, and PLEASE keep us posted, with pix, as you proceed through this!

ETA--The Timney Trigger I installed in my Swede Mauser did need a little modifying to fit the receiver--a bit of grinding with a dremel or similar tool did the job just fine. Note: I did NOT grind on any of the sear areas!! The Bubba stock needed some relief grinding also, to allow the Timney in. All this grinding and sanding took something less than an hour of time doing it carefully. First time for me that a Timney hasn't been a drop-in fit, but certainly no big deal.

Long's I'm adding stuff: Yeah, being a lefty with a righty bolt action sucks. Agree with the posters who say get a Rem 700 that's already a lefty. The Rem 700 has more retro parts available for it than just about anything else, barring the Ruger 10/22 and the AR-15. You MIGHT find a lefty 700 already barrelled for the 6.5x55, but I wouldn't bet on it. The lefty 700 is of course going to cost a lot more than a milsurp. Keep an eye out for one in ANY relatively light-recoiling cartridge, then use that "as-is" until more $$ is accumulated. Good hunting.
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Last edited by Smokey Joe; May 8, 2010 at 12:25 PM. Reason: The usual--had another thought.
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Old May 7, 2010, 07:25 PM   #5
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You could always try down-loading the 7 Mag. If you don't handload, make friends with someone who does and try some reduced loads.

If you get a buddy to do it, the most it will cost you is a set of dies ($25 - $30 if he doesn't have the dies), a box of bullets, a pound of powder, and some primers. The dies last forever, so you only have to buy them once.

Bullets $20 - $35/100, primers about $3.50/100, powder $22 - $30/lb. A pound of powder should load close to 100 reduced 7 Mag loads, maybe a few more.
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Old May 7, 2010, 07:53 PM   #6
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If money is an issue, shoot ammo with the lightest weight bullet you can find (120 or 140 grain bullets).

Buy a PAST strap-on recoil pad for your shoulder.

And have a muzzle brake fitted to your Browning.
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Old May 7, 2010, 08:08 PM   #7
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I'm betting you will need at least 1K for the re-barrel on an A-bolt. Most gunsmiths pricing I've seen is about $650-700 for a new barrel if they provide it and your action gets the full treatment, like square the receiver, polish the action, and lap the lugs. If you provide the barrel it is quiet a bit cheaper but then you pay ala-carte for everything.

zoomie touched on most of the stuff. Bushing up your bolt face to accept a smaller rim diameter is a lot of unecessary work when there are plenty of cheaper actions to work on. Plus you will need to change out the magazine because again the larger mag probably won't hold in the 6.5X55 cartridge.

If you don't want to do a .260 Rem on a Savage action which would be your cheapest route with a new rifle and basicly the same performance as the 6.5x55. You can always try to pick up a used rifle like this one Husqvarna 64B. Then it might be hit or miss about the accuracy of the rifle.
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Old May 7, 2010, 08:24 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the suggestions! If I weren't left handed, I'd definitely pick up a used military rifle. For those that reload, how much could recoil be reduced? I have the dies at my buddy's house and I bet I could persuade him to load some ammo for me. Given how much it would cost to re barrel my current rifle, I will have to look at other options.

Anyone have reduced recoil 7 mm loads they'd be willng to share?
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Old May 7, 2010, 08:43 PM   #9
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Your best course of action might be to make better use of what you already have - the 7mm Mag, by having the barrel Magna-Ported (or other muzzle brake installed), and reloading it with lighter bullets AND less powder, IOW "mid-range" loads.

For recoil reduction in the 7mm Mag, i would start with a 140 - 150 grain bullet, and RL-22 or RL- 25 powder.
You should be able to find joy at close to "starting" loads.

RL-25 fills a big case better than RL-22, BTW.

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Old May 8, 2010, 01:31 AM   #10
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"...since money is so tight..." If money is tight, not entirely unusual, forget about it. It's not inexpensive. The barrel alone can run $300 or more plus installation.
"...If I weren't left handed...definitely pick up a used military rifle..." Never been an issue for me. Mind you, I'm more interested in shooting the rifle than anything else. I don't care what the calibre or cartridge is. If I buy it, I also buy dies, a shell holder and as much brass as I can. A bolt action battle rifle won't help your back. A CMP M1 rifle, shouldn't though. Gas operated .30-06.
" much could recoil be reduced..." Depends on the cartridge. Using a lighter bullet makes a difference.
"...reduced recoil 7 mm loads..." They won't necesarily shoot well out of your rifle. Sell the 7mm Rem Mag. Too much felt recoil and seriously overrated as a hunting cartridge. No game requires a magnum of any kind. A .243 will kill deer with no fuss. Felt recoil is relatively light and you can get one in a semi-auto. Semi-auto's have less felt recoil than any other action.
Talk to your MD first though.
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Old May 8, 2010, 08:33 AM   #11
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The cheapest rebarrel I've seen is ER Shaw, they list their price around $300 everything included. But I agree with the notion that you can find a decent sporter in that same price range.
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Old May 8, 2010, 09:38 AM   #12
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Too much felt recoil and seriously overrated as a hunting cartridge.
Wow first time I've ever heard that....
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Old May 8, 2010, 11:55 AM   #13
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Well, now that everyone else has thrown their ideas up on here, I will add my two cents worth:
* Browning A Bolts are good rifles, but your desire to go to a standard head size cartridge pretty much says it's easier to start over. Not a lot of left-handed actions to choose from, but there are Weatherbys and Remington 700s available and they are relatively plentiful on the market.

* You can buy a left-hand Rem 700 action without breaking the bank simply by buying a used left-handed rifle. Look around at your local gun shops before buying one on line, on line sales are typically higher priced by the time you get the rifle in hand.

* Your "simple" rebarrel job will easily cost you $500-$750, possibly as much as $1000 ($300 for the barrel, $150 thread/chamber/crown, $100 true action, $150 for a trigger if you opt for one, $100 polish/blue if you go that route, +$ fit the barrel to the stock if needed, and add shipping costs). Not a cheap proposition, all in all.

* Unless you opt for the "whole package meal deal", you might just be better off trading in your A-Bolt and buying a rifle in the chambering you want. Although you will not likely find a rifle chambered in 6.5X55 on the shelf, you might get lucky.
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Old May 9, 2010, 11:17 PM   #14
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Another thought if $$ is tight.
GunGenie has 6.5x55's listed as available in Howa rifles in the $500 - $900 range.

just a thought
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Old May 10, 2010, 01:44 AM   #15
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Buds has a whole section dedicated to southpaws. For instance, this isn't a bad way to go:

And it's still got a 7mm projectile if you've got a favorite bullet maker in mind.
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Old May 10, 2010, 02:41 AM   #16
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Why not just have your local gun shop order you a CZ-550? They're less than $800.
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Old May 10, 2010, 11:06 PM   #17
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Does the cz 550 come in left hand? I thought it was right hand only...
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