Originally Posted by Prairie Dog50
Since were on the topic of my first build and I have a pretty good idea that alot of you guys have ample experience on these types of builds, I would like to ask several more questions.
1. If there was an order as to what to do first and so on and so forth from there...what would it be??? Or does this really matter?
2. Are there any common pitfalls that a new builder might run into?
3. Were should I not sacrifice quality for price or vice a versa when it comes to this build (I want a rifle that will hold 1/2 moa out to 500 yds, and I would like to keep the overall price under $1200) Should I invest more money in a great scope, or more money into the best trigger, barrel, muzzel brake and stock that I can get my hands on for the price I'm willing to pay?
My response to your post is very lengthy. I apologize if I went too far in trying to answer your questions. So, here goes:
You have already defined your performance goal (which is both reasonable and achievable) and selected the action to be used as your build platform (VZ-24). Let's call that step one.
Before you go any further, I strongly recommend doing some reading on the subject. The previously mentioned book by Jerry Kuhnhausen is an excellent place to start. Take the time to inspect your action (the Kuhnhausen book will walk you through this) and get firmly in mind how you intend to modify it to reach your performance goal.
Next, honestly evaluate your skills, interest, and available resources. If you are a skilled machinist and welder (or have a willing accomplice that is) and have access to the necessary tooling, you can do the entire build yourself. If not, you will need to farm some of the work out and must plan your budget accordingly. You should also consider how many mauser rifles you plan to build. If you plan to build several rifles, it may be worthwhile to acquire the tooling necessary to do more of the work yourself. If this is a one shot deal for you, it may be more budget friendly to have a gunsmith do most of the work for you.
Your level of interest in this project and your motive for wanting to do it should also be carefully considered. If you are doing this to save money, you would be best served to simply buy a rifle off-the-shelf. If you are doing this to learn something and have the personal satisfaction that comes from building and shooting your own rifle, by all means, press onward.
Available resources that deserve to be considered include available tooling and workspace and the knowledge base that you have access to (such as willing friends with technical know-how and/or equipment).
Once the logistical side of this has been examined, you can begin to consider parts and materials. To sporterize a mauser, you will need at minimum: barrel, stock, trigger, safety, bolt handle, scope, rings, and mounts. Depending on what you choose to do yourself, you will also need to consider materials for metal finish, action bedding, and stock finish (if you choose to use a wood or laminate stock).
Now for the basic gunsmithing involved. Regardless of who does the work, most of the things that need to be done to sporterize a mauser are best done after the original barrel has been removed and before the new one is installed. Examples of this include truing the action/barrel mating surfaces, truing the bolt face, lapping the bolt lugs (a controversial subject when it comes to milsurp mausers), and drill and tap the receiver for scope mounts. Before the drill and tap operation is done, the stripper clip boss should be removed, if desired. This would also be a good time to have the new bolt handle welded on and a new safety fitted.
Once the action work is done and the new barrel has been fitted, the desired metal finish should be applied. There are a host of options here, each one requiring different preparation, different methods of application, and different tooling. Whatever choice is made here, make sure that the metal finish has been applied before doing any bedding or inletting work.
Regardless of which stock you choose for your mauser, you should expect to do some inletting work to achieve a good fit. This takes a few simple tools and a lot of patience. Personally, I have succeeded in getting my barreled actions to fit and have a barrel that is free-floated. However, I suck at making my inletting look good. I am still trying to get better at this. If you are a perfectionist in terms of appearance, I encourage you to either have the inletting done by a true professional or have someone who really knows what they are doing guide you through the process. Once the inletting is completed, the appropriate stock finish should be applied if you are using a wood or laminate stock. Be advised that if you choose a stock that is inletted for a commercial mauser action (such as a Bell & Carlson Medalist w/aluminum bedding block, Charles Daly, or something intended for a Remington 798) you will also need to obtain bottom metal for a commercial action.
The next step is bedding the barreled action. Your method of bedding will be highly dependent on what stock you have chosen. There are many options in technique and materials and a lot has been written about this elsewhere, so I won't detail the process here.
Once the action work has been completed, the barrel fitted, all finishes applied, the stock has been fitted, and the action has been bedded into the stock, it is time to install the scope mount(s), rings, and scope. Boresight the scope, if desired. With the rifle assembled, the final steps involve barrel break-in and load development.
In general, my mausers have cost me about $700-$850 in parts and labor to build, including the cost of the action (which was far below what they are going for now) I am not a skilled welder or machinist, so I had to pay to have the barrel fitted and the bolt handle welded on. The other things I tackled myself, with satisfactory results. I am not including optics or tooling. Plan to handload to get the most out of your build. If the emphasis of your build is accuracy, spend your money on a good barrel and good machine work. A decent aftermarket trigger will cost you between $50 and about $100, depending on features. A good laminate or synthetic stock can be had for between about $70 to about $250, again depending on included features. I am not an advocate of spending a lot of your money on a scope right out of the gate for the following reasons:
A good, serviceable scope can be had for $300 or less.
You can always upgrade your scope when your skill level and budget can justify doing so.
Optics technology advances more rapidly than anything else in the shooting sports. Undue emphasis placed on a high dollar scope now will result in dollars being spent on technology that will be obsolete in a short time in comparison to money spent on a better barrel, good machine work, or practice ammo. The best scope in the world will not make a so-so barrel shoot like a top grade match barrel.
In summary, my priorities, in terms of what to spend my money on, would look something like this:
1. quality barrel
2. quality machine work
5. optics and mounts
Another thing worth considering, if you have not already purchased an action, is to base your build on a commercial mauser action. The commercial action will cost more to purchase, but the additional cost will be offset by reduced gunsmithing and parts costs. You will also get more modern steel in the bargain, reducing the risk of a failed build resulting from problems with heat treating of the older steels. An additional benefit is the better bottom metal that comes with a commercial action. So far, my build on a Zastava commercial action is the most accurate among my stable of mausers.
This concludes my shotgun blast style attempt to answer your questions. I hope that I provided some information that proves to be useful to you.