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Guns, parts, quality and relative price.

 
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  #1  
Old 04-03-2003, 10:06 PM
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Guns, parts, quality and relative price.

After having responded to a scope question and reflecting on another day spent fixing more problems with the nesika action I spent way too much for, I thought back to the number of times on this forum I have heard someone claim that price was a leading issue in the decision on purchasing a scope. Think about this for a while....

We can buy a Rem 700 adl syn new for $400, then steal the action to build a gun.
A nesika action like mine is $1485 and then another $2000 have it trued and to fix all the problems with it and you have an action.
Scope for the gun will cost $400-1500, depending on what you buy.
Trigger, $80-220.
Scope rings and bases, $40-200.
Stock, 80-500.
Barrel $200-500
And so on and so forth. Many of the hand tools we buy for mundane things like neck turning or primer pocket uniforming or measuring powder, are SO varied in price and quality.

But....

From a manufacturing standpoint, those out there who do any machining will appreciate what I am about to point out...

What part of a gun should cost the most. A barrel is just a hunk of steel with a hole drilled in it, then some grooves smashed in. An action is just a hunk of steel with a hole drilled in it and some grooves smashed in. A trigger is made up of parts out of a punch press. Polished, yea. A stock is a hunk of wood or some crap glue squirted in a mold for 400 bucks. Scope mounts are knocked out like **** through a goose.

A scope is a perversly precise instrument that is made to withstand a lifetime of sheer abuse, have beautifully crafted glass, waterproof, shockproof, repeatable to gazillionths of an inch and costs about the same as any other part of the gun. We pay $400 for a barrel and then have some guy drill a hole in with tolerances of about 1 mile and end up with the same money as we pay for the scope that we complain about being "inaccurate". How about the star shaped chamber job, that's ok?? How about the action that's not hard, lugs gall, extractor doesn't work, threads are .008 out of concentricity to the bolt bore, face is .003 out of square, firing pin bore is too small, firing pin sear is the wrong one for the action, recoil lug is a $50 option, and to top it off, screws are not included. All for the bargain deal of $1485. (that's a nesika action folks...)

Now, I don't care if you're a nightforce guy, or leupold, or nikon, burris, tasco, zeiss, whatever. Even the worst scope is made to tolerances so much greater than all the other parts, most people can't truely immagine it. While looking through my black diamond yesterday, with the gun stuffed in a vise in the milling machine (to set it up) I was playing around with the power ring to see if the point of impact would change if I moved it around. Well, my crosshairs were on a building 100yds away, (for what it's worth, it's truely 1 0 0 yards from the table) and the crosshairs didn't even move when I yanked sideways and up/dn on the eyepiece. Amazing. I was thinking about the manufacturing tolerance that had to be held to alow me to spin the parallax ring, spin the power ring, and have everything point to the same spot. I positively cannot make something to those tolerances and neither can 99% of the people here. Perhaps 100%. Yet, we will all complain about the cost of a scope. In truth, at any price, it's the best VALUE we get in gun related parts. Try having your gunsmith make a better one for you. At any price. Or even improve an existing one. Even a El-Cheapo scope.

I liken it to the person who complains about the price of a gallon of gas at $1.60 while sitting drinking water, barley, hops, and malt for $2.50/12oz. $1.60/gal for something we can't possibly make at home is too much, yet, $26.50/gal for something we can get mostly for free from our faucet is A-ok.

This is one business where I would say that price and quality do not, necessarily go hand in hand. I'm not even sure what the prices of items are based upon...
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  #2  
Old 04-03-2003, 10:17 PM
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Re: Guns, parts, quality and relative price.

Enlightening and frightening at the same time. Good post.
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  #3  
Old 04-04-2003, 12:45 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Palmer, Alaska
Posts: 2,539
Re: Guns, parts, quality and relative price.

Sounds like the Nesika was in a sad state of affairs! You didn't send it back?

Somethin's worth what someone's willing to pay for it...

I'd put the scope right up there, but what's a good scope worth if your action is a POS, then how much are you willing to pay for one that isn't? Same goes for a good barrel, good stock, mounts & rings, and don't forget the recoil lug and bedding job.

Most often we pay for time. Raw material involved with making guns or scopes are often very inexpensive but the equipment needed to form and make the finished parts such as glass, erectors, coating, barrels actions, stocks and all the tiny little parts, those are what cost mucho bucks, and still with those consume huge amounts of time to make everything.

Time, tooling and tech is what we really pay for in the end. Ain't no component made cheap if you figure the labor. As my gunsmith says, "if you're willing to pay the shop rate I can do just about anything for you, I got to eat too, so I don't work for free either! [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

We're lucky we get any of this stuff for as cheap as we do, really... A couple grand for a rifle and another couple grand for a scope could be the norm just for a starter rifle! [img]images/icons/shocked.gif[/img]

25 bucks a gallon for drinking water! Ha! Feel sorry for the people that need to buy water, that would suck! From what I hear, in some places it's absolutely necessary the drinkin water is so bad.
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  #4  
Old 04-04-2003, 08:46 AM
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Re: Guns, parts, quality and relative price.

4mesho63

Nesikas are normally very good actions. If you had to spend $2000 to true it up something was drastically wrong and it should have gone back to mftr.

My 10" BAT with dual ports, fluted bolt trigger guard, and firing pin tool cost $1200. As it was the first one that was built in a 300 WSM, we found it would not eject rounds out. Port had to be modified and now that is standard on all their actions. But Bruce Thom offered to do it for free if I sent it back. Just food for thought, Stiller actions, the Python, Viper etc are one of the best deals on the market right now and Jerry stands behind his actions 100%.

You have seen me many times state that a good used gun LR/1K BR gun is the place to start for most people. You can purchase for $800-1400 everything including heavy guns. That is less than 50% of new costs. Max cost to make it a new gun is normally a barrel and chambering, less than $500. Too many guys want to get into this and think that they have to dump big $ on a rig when they do not have the skill in shooting and reloading to match the guns potential. Much better off to learn on a gun that has a year left on the barrel and then rebarrel once they know what and how to do LR shooting.

As for scopes, you are right, you can spend as much or little as you want. With tapered bases, a little bit of thought, almost any LR caliber can reach 1400 yards with a good quality $400 scope such as the B & L 4200/3200. Good used Weaver T series in 16-20 x are available. I bought a Unertl BV-20 for $340 and spent $80 to have Unertl go through it. I will put it against my NF or leapolds for quality and with external adjustments it will farther than anyone can shoot. I am in process of testing a Millet 8.5x 25 x 56 with mil dot that cost under $200 wholesale, retail $327. It is a spittin image of the NF BR models. Only 40 MOA elevation, but with thought it can work very well to long ranges. It is as clear as my NF and leupolds, tracks very well. Time will tell if it will hold up and is good/decent quality or junk.

A good local gunsmith that knows LR guns is essential!!! You find all kinds of gunsmiths that make claims, "Nothing to building a LR gun" etc. Issue is seperating the guy who claims and the guy who has proven he can! Use the guy who has proven he can. Kind of like going to a shade tree mechanic to build a NASCAR race car engine. Why pay for hype and BS, when same money buys you a proven product. Now conversly some big name smiths are at the point where they charge rates comperable to their name. Key is finding someone local that you can work with that will "guide" you in your choices and is honest and fair. All are going to charge a "reasonable" labor rate, just as you expect to get paid for your work. Parts all cost the same, the "art" is putting it together where its synergestic effect is greater than the sum of the parts.

As for lugs galling, think you will find that about 90A% of the time that is "operator headspacing", ie not lubing lug engagement areas before shooting, especially magnums.


BH

[ 04-04-2003: Message edited by: BountyHunter ]
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  #5  
Old 04-04-2003, 09:03 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: North Idaho
Posts: 66
Re: Guns, parts, quality and relative price.

Would you please tell us who did what to a Nesika and charged $2000 for the work? $2000 will buy a BAT action, barrel, Jewell and pay a good gunsmith to put the pieces together. At $50 per hour, that is 40 hours of billed shop time. The complete story should be quite interesting.
I've visited Lilja's shop and BAT's facility and can say that very little is done by "smashing" steel.
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  #6  
Old 04-05-2003, 12:44 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 374
Re: Guns, parts, quality and relative price.

Well, I see everybody liked the nesika rant, so, I'll at least clarify the points that were questioned above.

Brent, No, I did not send it back. To be honest, it was the only thing I had to shoot at williamsport and simply didn't have the time, nor the interest, nor the confidence in them to waste more time sending it back. I was allready out of the 10 match agg because of them, then had the gun not fire to miss another match, so, I couldn't afford to have the action back in thier hands forever (like the original build time). More on this later.

I'm very aware that we pay for time. Thankfully, people pay for my time. I do think at least in some cases, I provide a lot more for a lot less. In the case of a gunsmith however, I would say that they all work for free. There positively is no money in smithing. As you point out, the cost of tooling, the persons time, and the money they spent to have the "tech" experience is what we pay for. Unfortunately, they don't get a profit margin anywhere near that of the companies manufacturing cheapo parts and do a lot more work to get it. Work that is generally guaranteed, and rather costly if they happen to make a mistake. I talked to Bruce Baer recently about a problem on my gun that He has had a few times and I could tell from the tone of his voice, He wasn't thrilled when it happened to him and He had to purchase a rather expensive replacement piece for a customer. He said, it only takes a few times before you make darn sure, that doesn't happen again. I won't get into details, but it amounts to is the typical gunsmith who takes pride in what they do making absolutly sure thier customer is not hosed at any cost. I'm afraid big business does not normally do that, and that is the gist of the entire post.

Bounty,

No, I didn't spend $2000 to true it, but as 308Hawg astutely pointed out, if our shop rate was applied, and I was paying it, it would have been a great deal more than $2k.

Lugs Galling. Hmmm, no it's not operator error. I have nice diamond marks in my action where I rockwell tested it 12 points below what nesika says it should be. I would say mine was annealed! Action 28RC, Bolt 30. I have greased the lugs for EVERY group that has ever come out of the gun. I am now using Lubriplate, You know, the die pin stuff. That, is helping.

OK, here's the story.

I decide to get serious about 1000yd shooting at the Williamsport club. Not just an occasional match, but actually build a REAL gun and go shoot a few seasons. Previously, after being told by ___ ____not to build a 6.5/300Wby I built one that was problematic for match shooting at 1K.
Now, he doesn't come out and say "don't do it", but if you read between the lines, he'll basicly say, there could be a better way. Well, when he said he "wasen't sure" about buying a nesika, I knew exactly what he meant. So, I bought a nesika. Model M, 1.470 (Long, 416 Bolt Face) ect, ect. I was told a delivery time that was WELL within my schedule and proceded with the order. Eons later, I asked where the action was and I was told that an FFL would be needed before they could send it. Hmmm, didn't call me to ask for it and it's been sitting. Well, you have the FFL. Where is my action. Several calls later I'm told, it must have been "lost in the mail". OK, I'll have another one sent. That one was lost. Now, I'm getting a little pissed. A third one was sent, (From a dealer they "had on file" anyhow). OK, HEY, it arrived, we'll get it right out. 10 more days, no action. I call back, it's supposed to have been sent but there's no tracking no. My buddies suspicion about paying 100% up front is being confirmed. Finally, months late, the action arrives. I can get started on the gun. I'd better, the shooting season already began!

While getting ready to put the gun in the stock, I had trouble with finding the 1/4-28 screw locations. I can measure, but, what happened here. These measurements don't make any sense. So I called to ask what the dimensions were so I could type numbers in the mill and have the holes line up in my stock. I can't remember how many days and calls it took before I got a response, but, I know it was around a week and several (4+) messages before Mike Allen got back to me about the hole locations. From the receiver face, go 1.1973 to the center of the first hole, then go another 3.6714 to the next one and some other equally ridiculous prime number, you'll find the next hole. I said, 1 19 73, is that your kids birthday? Where the hell did you come up with that??? You got Vanna While standing at the mill spinning the wheel!! Scope mount locations were just as bad. And inequal as well. I'm reassured that the stupid ass threads they chose are because of "design", but, the "designer" forgot to move the bolt locations away from the lug recesses so more than a couple threads could catch on the very ordinary, 1/4-28 bolts that hold the gun together. That went on a while also, had the same issues gettig a scope on till I had to make bases for the gun myself.

I get the gun together, and I've got 1 day till the next match. It's about 55Deg outside and I go to get an idea of how the thing shoots. There's a problem getting the gun to fire. I'm trying different seating depths because it is a case I've reformed and perhaps I'm not back against the bolt face enough to hit the primer. Well, it's about every 3-5 cases need hit a few times to get them to go off. I'm not liking this. Slowly the problem ceases and I figure, it's just the seating depth I had too short. I sight the gun with a flashlight on the target at 100yds (neighbors loved that) OK,let go to the match tomorow. I get to the match. It' has cooled off considerably, snow and rain together. I get to the firing line, click. click, click, click. The gun will not fire. Now, I'm not very happy. I must have done something wrong. I don't know what. My relay comes and goes and I never fire a shot. After putting my gun away, without cleaning it mind you, While walking aroud, a gray haired guy motions to me and says, "You have a nesika action on that gun?". I replied Yea. (real happy that he knows I have a nesika without lookin because it didn't go off!) He says, "I saw you having problems up there, you got the bolt?". Sure, I go get it. He says "Here, see you have the wrong firing pin sear on that. They're sending out ****. I just talked to Jim Borden the other day and he's seen a lot of this." Well, 2 more weeks pass till the next match. OK, 1 problem fixed, lets see this thing work. Half way through my record string, the bolt opens and closes REAL hard. Now, I'm shotin 210 30cals at 2650 cause the bolt has been so hard to open in the past. Inexplicably! Now the lugs gaul with a peashooter load! I'm thinkin, what the hell is going on. I regrease the lugs, work the bolt a while to "lap" them on the spot and continue. Shot bigger than Texas cause I waited around all day in the wind messing with the bolt. Ok, back to the shop. Make fixtures for lapping, go back to the range for sunday. Same thing. This time a case gets stuck and breakes the extractor. Now it's a muzzle loader cause I have to get 10 rounds down there. I put a cleaning rod in and Hmmm, that case wasn't even stuck. Broke the extractor???? What now? Shot real well this day too.... Holy vertical batman! It bacame my practice to take 7mm bullets along to the matches because after the extractor would break, I'd just drop a 7mm 168 down the barrel and knock the cases out. Really stuck, huh. Dan Frazier got a good laugh out of that one day. He didn't beleive me and thought I was shooting it hotter than hell. So, I installed a speedlock extractor. The season more or less went the same. EVERY single week the gun needed torn apart to fix some problem that was action related. Firing pin problems, ejection problems up until the speedlock, trigger engagement, on and on. OK, I can do the work myself and I have time while I'm working to do it. Etc.

OK, I finally get the gun shooting regular 93's and over, 9 - 11 inches, win some relays with it. The season ends. I order a new barrel and decide to rechamber to a different case configuration. I would have done it earlier but all my budgeted money plus a bunch has allready been spent on buying tooling to fix a nightmare action. My 416 brass thank god, lasted almost 50 firings and was still going strong, so at $180/100 at least one thing worked good. The next batch didn't but that's beside the point. So, I get a new barrel and go to rechamber. Things go well, I'm relatively happy. I make some brass and get 20 of them turned. They don't fit as they should. I know they have fall in or the lugs will gaul again. OK, take it apart and check the test chamber again. Screw it in and all of the sudden my action sticks on the test barrel. Gauls, and yep, it's seized in the action. Scrap the test barrel, and go chuck up the action, cut off the test piece and bore it out of the action. GREAT!! Now the threads are hosed and I need to tap the thing. So, I buy an undersize tap for a mere $65 and tap the action threads. Really pissed now, I decide to rockwell test this thing because it has just been a pain in the posterior a few too many times. Suspicion confirmed, the action is softer than marshmallow cream. Most likely, never heat treated. PH stainless shouln't have an affinity for 4130 like this anyhow, something had to have been wrong and by now, I had tried every immaginable finish on the lugs to keep them from gauling. Nothing worked. Same for the threads. I'm really surprised the first barrel never seized on cause it was a lot tighter than the test peice used here.

Now, I'm thinking about chasing the threads cause they're just not perfect. I've run the tap in by hand until the gaul point about 12 threads in, then lightly with a tap handle to finish. I'm just not happy with them. So, off to the Okuma, make a plug and screw the action on it (with neverseize of course). I put my indicator on the action just past the ejection port and HOLY COW, my indicator is out of travel! I put it on the face, .003 out of square to the bore?? .008 out of round at the barrel junction??? I sure as hell didn't do THAT by hand. I think about the numbers and.... there is no way to fix this. I'm gonna have to scrap the barrel to fix this one... (I can't chase barrel threads in this CNC Lathe. I have to cut the entire threaded area off and start over. A previous error made on my barrel dimensions has left me no room to work with as the order on that was fouled up as well. I had to cut off an inch of major diameter in order to be legal in my class as it was. Then they made the muzzle diameter exactly .950 but roughed the extra inch I paid extra for so I had to cut it off as well. 30" barrel, now 28". I can't afford it to go to 26.75") In any case, I have a choice, I can either have the receiver face square but out of cylindricity, Or leave it alone and bore a new pilot in the action face and make a new recoil lug to replace the one nesika made for a mere $50 with a matching pilot to force the barrel off center square to the bolt bore, then grind the whole mess square. I like that better....

I put it back together and shot it today and you know, it shot pretty darn good. That doesn't seem like an unreasonable amount of work to do to a top quality, higest price action I know of, does it.

Well, I'm sure the saga has not ended. I didn't bother with many of the other small issues like the firing pin saga or the remachining of the extractor , the action timing is a huge one. That's what causes the broken extractors and the hard ejection problems I have. My bolt it almost completely open before it attempts to pull the cases out. Forgot to get into that but I'm gettting tired of typing. Suffice to say, that was pointed out to me by another nesika owner who knows Jim Borden real well and also has an action that had a major timing problem on a PPC. This same person told me (as we were admiring his new CNC mill) that nesika's are all job shopped out now. Very little to no in house work. Obvoiusly no quality control, or coordination. I can LOOK at my bolt and see with the naked eye that the bolt lugs are not the same size, nor shape.

I admit, I was new to this and ignorant of what to expect. I did not expect to find an action so well marketed, so lacking in quality. Many of my problems stemmed from the fact that even though I had troubles with the action, I never considered checking to see if it was square, round, you know, all the things you pay an arm and a leg for. Who could have figured that an action that was EDM'd (so they say) would have threads .008 eccentric to the bore. Yea, I realise that they don't EDM the threads, but, they don't edm the pilot either. That's true to the OD and ID. How in hell did the threads get off center. and crooked. Was there a chip or a shim in the chuck jaws???

While reading a post here a while back I saw someone mention about a review on the Lilja site about nesika's so I went to read it. I liked the fact that Dan Lilja said, "I've been barreling actions since .... and I don't know where they came up with this 1-1/8-20 thread for the barrel?" Well Dan, I know where.... There's .003 room between the major diameter of 1-1/16-18 and the minor diameter of 1-1/8-20. It's not a "Design" idea. If they "Design" much more, they're gonna have to go to 1.600 actions because of the receiver snout getting thin. They went to 1-1/8 because they scrapped a bunch of 1-1/16 actions, reworked them and shipped them out so some poor bastard like you and me can pay the big bucks for seconds so they don't take it in the shorts for thier mistakes. They've got a whole bunch of time in the blanks and don't want to throw them out so they say they have now "Designed" them to be stronger by going to another bastard thread. Pretty soon, the barrel will be held on by a peice of shim stock, a potato chip with threads! I bet they were mad about the 1.350 actions that they couldn't pawn off on the public! That's probably what mine is. I wouldn't doubt they TIG welded the face shut and reworked it. That would explain the 28RC and the straightness.

Sorry if I forgot someone.
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  #7  
Old 04-05-2003, 12:46 AM
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Re: Guns, parts, quality and relative price.

PS. bounty,

My Bat to replace this thing will be here very shortly. The new barrel is already here. By match 3 or 4, I should be shooting a dual port R/L BAT.
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