Mauser re-heat treat

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by benchracer, May 4, 2013.

  1. benchracer

    benchracer Well-Known Member

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    I have a VZ-24 action that tested soft when my gunsmith did his initial inspection. It is an otherwise very nice action and my smith feels that it is worth saving.

    From what I have been able to find out, it looks like Blanchard's in Utah offers the heat treating services that I will need.

    However, being a layman, I don't know a lot about the processes involved. I know that the type of heat treat that is needed is case hardening. My smith indicated that the current receiver hardness is only testing to about 25 and that it should test in the low 40's before he would consider it to be safe to use in a build.

    When I discuss the work I need to have done, what should I be asking for? Should I send in the receiver only or would it be advisable to send in the bolt to be hardness checked, and possibly heat treated, as well?

    I would appreciate advice from anyone with some experience dealing with heat treat issues related to the steels used in the older mil surp military rifles.
     
  2. westcliffe01

    westcliffe01 Well-Known Member

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    Is it financially viable ? A new Savage target action is about $500. A new custom action is just under $1000. A Shilen Barreled action is about $1800 although I don't know how the wait times are. The Shilen actions are made by Stiller.

    The best thing you can do with your current action is to use it for a light caliber build. That way it would last a very long time without any costly (and potentially problematic) processes being needed. There is a significant chance of warpage occurring during heat treatment which could be very costly or impossible to remedy.
     

  3. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

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    Get a second opinion/test on the hardness of what you have. 40c is quite hard for case hardened low cabon steel, 35c +- is more realistic, IMO. Blanchard Metal has re-heat treated many Mauser '98 actions. They know how to do it, what hardness is achievable, and how to keep it from warping (to extremes). Mausers make fine classic rifles. Having the receiver re-heat treated will not increase its value to anyone but you.
     
  4. benchracer

    benchracer Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, shortgrass, for commenting on this. I had hoped that I would hear from you.

    My smith said the same thing you did about getting a second opinion. He was using a tester designed not to leave marks and felt that I should take the receiver to a machine shop to have it hardness tested with more accurate equipment. So, it seems that would be the wisest first step.

    From there, assuming that the receiver tests soft, I am reassured to know that Blanchard's will know how to proceed.

    I have no illusions about the value of the receiver to anyone but me. I just want to make sure it is a safe basis for a classic rifle. I would like to build a 338-06AI on the action, but that remains to be seen...
     
  5. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

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    Have the receiver drilled and tapped for the scope mounts you'd use if the receiver is OK (Leupold makes a nice 2 piece set for the '98). Installing the mounts will give a flat surface so that the bottom of the receiver can take the "dent". Also, keep in mind that "traditional" Rockwell hardness tests, on case hardened parts, is kinda' iffy' and may not be reliable like it would be if testing a hardened alloy steel. Many thousands of aftermarket barrels have been installed on '98s without the hardness being checked, including magnums and others with high chamber pressures, that are just fine. A couple of 'proof' rounds fired, with the barreled action mounted in a simple 'fixture' to hold it, will tell the story as the barrel is then removed and the receiver re-inspected for 'set-back' before before any stock work is started. "Cheap re-assurance" that the receiver is good. "Time" has weeded out many of the 'soft' Mauser rifle actions, but, it still makes sense to play it safe.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2013
  6. benchracer

    benchracer Well-Known Member

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    The receiver is in excellent condition. Nice tight, smooth action. No pitting. The locking lug surfaces on the face of the action look great. There is not even a wear mark left by the trigger on the underside of the receiver. No worries there.

    I have the tooling to do the drill and tap myself. I can take care of that and the mount install before I take the receiver in to be tested again. It is useful to know that the standard Rockwell tests may be iffy on something like this and that the definitive "court of last resort" would simply involve proof testing to check for lug setback.

    Your comment about time weeding out many of the "soft" Mauser actions mirrors something that had crossed my mind that seemed to me to be common sense-ish, but I wasn't sure if the thinking was valid.

    While the action itself, the bottom metal, and all of the stock metal was in excellent condition, the interior of the barrel was the worst one I have ever seen. It literally did look like a "sewer pipe," with chunks of the rifling missing. It was beyond pitted and shot out.

    The condition of the barrel, IMO, was very suggestive of a high round count (with corrosive ammo, no doubt). Additionally, a lot of the military ammo of that era that I have fired has seemed to be loaded pretty hot. Given those two factors, I was wondering how the rifle could have seen such hard use while the action shows no signs of abuse. It made no sense to me that a soft action would survive much use in combat without suffering in the process.

    In the end, I don't know if that logic will hold up. But, I do feel that the question behind it is worth considering nontheless.
     
  7. arkrunner

    arkrunner Well-Known Member

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    I had same issues with FN commercial made in 60s someone had messed with action prior to me getting. and it tested at 25 also. I sent to Ed. Lapour for saftey and he sent it on to be hardened. Someone local to him. He sent bolt and action . You might give him a call. He has a local show do all of this saftey hardening.
    Elton
     
  8. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

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    I don't know near as much about the Mauser action as Shortgrass does so take this for what it
    is worth.

    I steer away from Mauser's that were manufactured between 1942 and 1945 because they were
    not worrying about quality (They just wanted to turn out as many as possible). Some of these
    actions are probably good but some are not so I just avoid them. All of the other years are good
    as far as I know. Maybe Ted will comment on this. I would find out what year it was made and
    go from there.

    Mauser's make fine rifles and millions have been used on custom rifles. The only advice I have is
    to use them on standard pressure cartridges (45,000 to 50,000 CUPs) I don't like using them on
    the new high pressure cartridges (55,000 to 65,000 PSIs) because they were not designed to handle
    pressures that high (Not that they wouldn,t) Just being cautious.

    J E CUSTOM
     
  9. Clark

    Clark Well-Known Member

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    I have been sporterizing Mausers for 48 years.
    Mausers do not need heat treatment to be safe to shoot.
    The strength does not come from heat treat.
    They are case hardened to prevent corrosion.

    The Keunhausen book on Mausers suggests sending Mausers out for heat treat. That is not a good book. Judging by the Mauser book, he was neither a bright nor organized man, yet he wrote an extremely good book on double action Colts. I suspect he had help from the Colt factory. He needed help on Mausers, and evidently did not get it.

    I have tested VZ24s to the point of failing. Converted to magnum bolt face and running ~ 110,000 psi, the abutments start to constrict and the bolt body behind the lugs starts to widen. This interference can be lapped out, and the action is still good.

    All this sporterizing Mausers has taught me that most people should not be sporterizing Mausers.
    I do it for fun, not because it is cost effective.
    Kimber rifles are as good a rifle as I can build from old surplus Mausers.
     
  10. benchracer

    benchracer Well-Known Member

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    I had always understood the cutoff to be late 1943, but who really knows? My other mausers are BRNO's made in the early 1920's. They are good to go.

    This particular action, as far as I was able to determine, was made some time in 1942. It was a contract rifle made for Hungarian units bound for the eastern front.

    I am a sucker for mausers and I enjoy messing with them. I generally agree with you regarding cartridge selection for them. All but one of mine have been chambered for cartridges such as 7x57 and 6.5x55. The lone exception is a 22-250 which has shown itself to be very solid. It shoots really well now that I finally have a decent barrel on it.

    Shortgrass once suggested that going with a Mark X type action made of modern steel is the best route to a mauser sporter build. I tend to agree with that for a variety of reasons. Those are the actions that can safely handle modern cartridges with no doubts. The older mausers can be capable of it, but it can be a bit of a judgement call whether or not an individual action will handle it. I'd rather err on the side of the sure bet.
     
  11. benchracer

    benchracer Well-Known Member

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    The Kuhnhausen book was one of my primary references when I first started messing with milsurp mausers about a decade ago. An experienced mauser smith such as yourself probably does know enough to recognize places where Kuhnhausen went wrong in his writings. I don't fit in that category. His work was a useful starting place for me, though it did seem to me that the book was written in a defensive, lawyered up manner.

    I started doing it because I wanted to learn a bit about gunsmithing and didn't want to experiment on a $500-$700 rifle. At the time I started, I was able to get my hands on worn out 98/22's with solid actions for less than $70. I figured that if I trashed one of these while learning, I could live with the loss.

    I learned a lot and developed a deep affection for the old warhorses. It ended up being a gateway drug to much more expensive pursuits. I still mess with them for fun from time to time. Once in awhile, a stray, unloved mauser will follow me home.

    You are right that the mausers are probably not cost effective, especially relative to some of the very inexpensive (and surprisingly accurate) factory sporters that can be had these days. I don't pretend that there is anything rational about my gun affliction in general and my mauser addiction in particular. I just like 'em.