P-17 Enfield build
I was going to post an update on the P-17 build, but I guess I forgot to mention it here...
This is the oldest gunsmithing project I have - I acquired the rifle in 1986, got run over by a DWI, spent a bunch of time in rehab, and just put the gun stuff aside (major life-changing experience there) until a couple of years ago when the bug hit again.
My original plan was to build a heavy bull barrel sniper rifle in .300 Holland & Holland Magnum. When I resumed the project I decided .45-70 might be more useful, and I started searching ".45-70 Enfield". Google urped up hcpookie's .45-70 AK build. Heck, the Web didn't even exist when I leaned the P-17 in the corner to collect dust... I smurfed through Gunco, got turned on to the whole AK thing, and the gun bug returned in full force. The .45-70 P-17 morphed into the Beowulf AK build.
The new P-17 plan is to retain the original .30-06 barrel, which is in perfect condition, reshape the bubba'd stock into something more pleasing, and rechamber into something a little different - .30 Gibbs.
I've finished the receiver wrench, which is a bit more complex than the others I've done recently. And I've acquired some .30-06 dies and a #8-40 threading die.
The .30 Gibbs is basically what you get if you take a .30-06 Ackley Improved, and then "improve" that. Short neck, steep shoulder, straight case. Gibbs claimed it was a "Magnum without a belt" and loaded them up to pressures that, by modern standards, are unsafe - if the primer didn't back out and ooze a ridge into the firing pin hole, you weren't loading it right. I don't plan to load it like Gibbs recommended, which probably makes me a pussy.
Gibbs also had two variants of his .30. One was just an ordinary cartridge; the other used what he called "front ignition." You had to drill and tap the primer hole and run a brass tube up through the case, so the primer flash was directed up to the top third of the powder charge. He claimed all sorts of benefits for this. Few people followed his path, though some cannon shells use a similar system. Personally, I think it was a crutch to deal with really slow burning powder, which he was probably using to keep from extruding cartridge brass out the vent holes in the receiver...
I have the brass for the tubes and a die to thread them. Prices for 8-40 taps vary radically, the tap purchase is waiting until I order some tooling from a place that has them for a more reasonable price. ($28 for an 8-40 from the last vendor I ordered from, or $3.48 from a place online, except they wanted $12.95 shipping...)
I have the O-1 steel to make the chamber and die reamers from, and some .30-06 dies to modify. Rocky Gibbs' little pamphlet on the cartridge shows pictures of his hydraulic case forming setup; the Gibbs is apparently too extreme to form by shooting a .30-06 in a Gibbs chamber; you have to blow the case out and the neck forward with a special die and oil, load that, and then fireform to finish it.
Online searching found a couple of other people who'd experimented with Gibbs' forward ignition system. Neither thought it gave any real improvement over an ordinary rear-mounted primer, at least with modern powders. So I'm going to try it just from curiosity. I'd really need a chronograph and pressure sensor to have any real data - Gibbs had only a chronograph - but I can track accuracy closely enough.
I *like* the P-17's peep sight, and I guess I got used to the batwing sight ears. The dogleg bolt handle still looks strange, but the ball is right where it needs to be, which was probably the whole point. I'll probably eventually put a scope on it, but I might bypass the usual sight bridge milling and grinding - and mine has the bothersome lightening hole in the bridge - and make up an AK-style sidemount scope bracket. So I'll skip most of the usual P-17 "sporterizing" gunsmithing. Seems almost indecent, considering some of the other projects...