This topic contains 27 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Goodsteel 3 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #27050
     Goodsteel 
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    Many of you watched as Bjorn, Larry Gibson, and I had our adventures with the XCB (eXtreme Cast Bullet) project on various forums with all the victory, discovery, tribulations and betrayal that went along with it.
    Through the entire project to this point, no single rifle has been so instrumental in demonstrating a mans walk from standard 1800FPS loads to over 3100FPS XCB excellence as Bjorn and his rifle Bertha. Truly, no single person contributed so much to MBT and the XCB project as Bjornb. His tenacity and incorrigible curiosity along with his stalwart commitment to posting the whole truth and plenty of it was truly the wind under the wings of the XCB project and all that we were able to accomplish through it.

    Bertha is his rifle. I remember when I first saw her for sale on the castboolits website. It was an extraordinary example of a vintage target rifle. Dressed out complete with a Unertl target scope and a 1.2″ bull barrel and a custom walnut stock, it was indeed a sight to behold. However the thing that really took my breath away was the fact that it was a Blind FN Mauser. I don’t have to tell any of you that for any Mauser collector, this would be a very hard item to add to the collection.
    I’m not going to lie. I wanted it.
    Have to ever had the experiance of seeing something truly grand and realizing that even though it would be a wonderful thing to own, it would be even more wonderful in someone else’s hands? This was the case for me. Sometimes I have a real nack for setting people up with the perfect rifle for them. It’s just one of the things I’m good at sometimes. Well, i just knew this one was perfect for Bjornb. I remember the conversation clearly. I called him and told him about this awesome rifle. His exact words were: “Tim, I need another rifle like I need a hole in the head” or something to that effect.
    I believe I pointed out the fact that it was a blind Mauser and the fact that with a barrel like that, I could make it any 30 caliber he desired with ease (originally it was a 30/338).
    It wasn’t too long after that, the rifle was in Bjorn’s posesion and was destined to be one of the first official XCB test rifles, and certainly the most famous.

    I rechambered her, and she was indeed “all that and a bag of chips”. a real vintage tack driver, and she demonstrated some impressive shooting with the original barrel.
    Here she is just after being rechambered and test fired by me. I took great pains at that time not to alter the look and feel that she had carried so well for the past decades:

    This rifle performed like a juggernaut but Bjorn is an insatiable experimenter being of the most purely curious minds I have ever known, and he insisted that I rebarrel Bertha with a true modern target barrel. A Shilen Select Match barrel was chosen and ordered, and none of us will forget the groups this rifle delivered after returning home to Bjorn, from the bugholes he produced almost immediately to the epic target filled with over 300 shots at the same POA.
    It seems obvious to me that this rifle was destined for greatness. We may be missing the story of her life before she brightened our sphere, but if it was anything like the past couple years have been, it was indeed a sight to behold.

    Unfortunately, she is a very old rifle, and being owned by a man like Bjornb means that many thousands of shots will be fired, and that much use takes it’s toll. The Canjar trigger broke, the stock bedding was getting very well used, and the stock itself was not suitable for shooting with a modern benchrest and rear bag.
    It was horribly obvious that it was time for a makeover.
    Bjorn told me he wanted a switch barrel. He insisted on a new stock. He wanted a new trigger. And a proper scope mount.
    I suggested also a trip through the bluing tanks, and I asked for full permission for artistic licence which Bjornb granted.

    Gents, of all the rifles that have come through MBT, this one was indeed one of the greatest, and I intended it to be a “Top Ten” rifle no matter what.
    It took many hours of work to bring it together just perfectly, but I am very pleased with the result.
    Here are some photos for your veiwing pleasure.
    The last thing I want to say is a very heartfelt thank you to Bjornb and his rifle Bertha.

  • #27052
     uber7mm 
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    Mere words escape me. That is beautiful, Tim,

    and it a Mauser!

  • #27053
     tomme boy 
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    Awesome Tim! Same cal.?

  • #27055
     Wright Arms 
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    I have had the privilege of looking on as many of these details unfolded. It is indeed a work of art, in anybody’s book.

  • #27058
     Goodsteel 
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    tomme boy;n5834 wrote: Awesome Tim! Same cal.?

    Not at all. The barrel it is wearing in the pictures is the latest of the XCB Wildcats. I call it the 35XCB-Long. There are two SS bull barrels that went along with it, both chambered in 30BR (different twist rates).
    Here are the test groups I shot with this rifle as configured above in 35XCB-Long.

    Bullets used were the Hornady 200gr FTX:

    And while I’m on the subject, I just want to give a great big shoutout to JES Reborring. The barrel that made the above groups possible was hand cut by JES in three groove 35 caliber tightbore. I told him I needed a barrel cut for a bench gun and he didn’t flinch. I lapped the barrel once it arrived and this is the result.
    JES is the real deal. I believe this pretty much proves that succinctly as we can all agree: This aint your JM 30-30 here. This is a true MBT bench rifle and JES delivered in spades.
    I never had any doubt in JES’s abilities, but I’m very impressed nonetheless.

  • #27059
     Reg 
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    I like that buttplate !!!!

  • #27061
     bullet maker 
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    I want one.

  • #27062
     Bodean98 
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    Goodsteel,
    How did you get that dragonfly to sit still long enough to get him traced?:)
    Nice rifle!!

  • #27065
     MTtimberline 
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    What a masterpiece with such attention to detail! What is the typical wait time on a MBT rifle? Is that a T-36 or T-24 sitting on top?

  • #27067
     bjornb 
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    MTtimberline;n5848 wrote: What a masterpiece with such attention to detail! What is the typical wait time on a MBT rifle? Is that a T-36 or T-24 sitting on top?

    That’s Tim’s T36 scope. I have an identical one that the rifle will be wearing once she gets to the range.

    When I unpacked Bertha part deux I must say I was rendered speechless. I knew that she had been a work in progress for some time, but a few details (such as the buttplate) were not revealed to me ahead of time. The dragonfly is especially poignant, since it has become a symbol of the struggle we have gone through since the death of our son from cancer a few years ago. The dragonfly, among other things, symbolizes survival, having stayed literally unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs.

    Returning to rifle shooting, and with that also entering into the great brotherhood of likeminded shooters, has been a tremendous therapy for me, and continues to fill my days with pleasure. Guys like Tim, Larry and Sgt. Mike, and several others, have offered their camaraderie and expertise and made it possible for me to advance at a pace that I would never have aspired to had I tried to go the course alone.

    So thanks Tim, again, for a tremendous work of art. I’ll try to make you proud by posting up targets; right now I’m converting brass: hoping to have a couple of hundred rounds ready for fire forming tomorrow.

  • #27068
     Doc Highwall 
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    That is the type of work that shows that a man enjoys what he is doing, nice work Tim

  • #27069
     Goodsteel 
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    Thank you for the kind words.
    Typical wait time on a build like this is over 9 months.
    That is the T-36 scope.

  • #27070
     Goodsteel 
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    I put him in the freezer. Why make hard work worse? LOL!

  • #27077
     dverna 
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    Perfection

  • #27078
     Waksupi 
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    Nice project!

  • #27093
     Artful 
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    Nice groups, cast boolit?
    – so the above 35XCB-Long is it just a longer neck or more powder room
    – Tell us more.

  • #27094
     Goodsteel 
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    Nice groups, cast boolit?
    – so the above 35XCB-Long is it just a longer neck or more powder room
    – Tell us more.

    OK, the 35XCB was my attempt to improve on the 358Winchester. The 358WCF is almost the perfect cast bullet cartridge, but it has a short neck, and it lacks the case capacity to push it to the speeds it wants to run at.
    35XCB accomplished this goal well, and I was easily able to push my self designed 35XCB cast bullets to 2590FPS and hold 2″ groups for 10 shots (that may not sound very impressive speed-wise, but I have yet to see someone else accomplish this feat with any 35 caliber rifle shooting cast bullets of any design. (If any of you have, I would like to hear the details.))

    The 35XCB LONG was designed to solve the problems with the 35 Whelen. These problems are as follows:
    1. Chamber is too long for the brass that can be made from 30-06.
    2. wretched freebore is unnessisary for short cast bullets.
    3. Too much case capacity

    I solved these things by utilizing a cast friendly throat with no freebore, reducing the OAL of the cartridge, and setting the shoulder back which produces an extra long neck, and less case capacity than the Whelen.
    In calssic XCB style, the neck is tight, allowing a solid cleanup of any donutry.
    The tight neck also makes it so that a standard FL resizing die will not overwork the neck at all. After FL sizing, the expander ball just barely kisses the neck on its way out of the case, expanding it a mere .001-.002. Doesn’t get much gentler than that.
    Subsequently, this also makes it so that there is less pressure on the expander/neck flaring tool so things don’t move to the point of being plastic, then go where they want to when performing this precision operation.

    The neck is long enough to sheath most Lovern style bullets that you might own or dream up. There is one in particular that was provided to my by Waksupi that I wanted to cater to as much as possible. It’s a 285 grain Lovern with more bearing surface than a Ward’s school bus.

    All of this is still in the development stages, but I am very excited about the progress we have made so far. My biggest fear is that I will design a cartridge that works perfectly with a powder that does not exist. The 35XCB is a slamdunk with Leverevolution, but I figure that powder is a bit of a flash in the pan. This 35XCB Long version is really blowing my skirt up though. With R15 4895, 4064, and 3031 being the powders of choice, I’m very excited. I plan to hunt with this caliber later this year, and I expect the results to be intriguing (assuming CWD doesn’t destroy our deer hunting this year.)

  • #27097
     DeadWoodDan 
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    Well I couldn’t say enough about the “new” rifle as I don’t have the words. Have been hooked on these projects since first finding the post’s last year and still love to see the progress!
    Good Work Gentleman, Ladies, and Scholars
    I must add the photography is also excellent!! so hats off to that individual.
    Thank you for sharing
    Kevin

  • #27145
     bjornb 
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    I’ve been prepping brass for Bertha ever since she arrived last week. 211 pieces of once fired W-W 30-06 cases were deprimed and wet tumbled, then run once through the FL sizing die that Tim described in a previous post. Cases were then trimmed to 2.430″, necks turned down to .010″ thickness, flash holes deburred, primer pockets uniformed and case mouths chamfered. Ready for fire forming.

    Next I primed them with S&B primers (got them dirt cheap) and loaded them up with a caseful of Trail Boss (about 20 grains). I had a coffee can full of soft NOE/RCBS 360-200 FN, cast from 50/50 alloy way back, and some old Lyman gas checks, so I was soon in business.

    After sighting in and firing 4 shots over the chronograph to see how slow this load was (it was slow), I fired 200 shots into one group:

    I have to say that I was pleased with this result; and also with the fact that the case necks gave virtually zero expansion after firing. I could not push a .360 sized cast bullet into the mouth of a fired case. So what I’m basically saying is that these fired cases can be just deprimed, tumbled and reloaded without any further sizing. The low-pressure load caused very minimal case expansion.

    Next up is fire forming for the 30BR barrels. I’ll be back with more.

  • #27164
     lead-1 
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    Awesome looking rifle with groups to match.

  • #27169
     Velocette 
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    I have had the honor of personally marvelling and actually picking up, my friend Bjorn’s rifle, Bertha.
    I have built many rifles, mostly sporters, (photos of one are on the military rifle section of this blog)
    some competition AR types. I currently compete
    at the master level in several NRA rifle competitions and have been shooting for about 60 years.
    (Yeah, I’m an old fart) I have seen many a rifle and many a
    custom rifle. Bertha is not the fanciest, most engraved nor is it gold plated or gold filled here and
    there.
    Bertha is a work of art on its (her?) own level and a true display of craftsmanship.
    Where else might you find a Norwegian flag stippled on the pistol grip of a rifle, along with
    the in color Norwegian on both sides of the rifle? The dragonfly inlaid in the butt is deeply appreciated
    here in south Florida because dragonflies eat mosquitoes (the Florida state bird) The rifle’s fit is proper and accurate.
    The finish is properly fitting for ‘her’ intended use.
    Well done Tim, Well done indeed.

  • #27265
     Sgt. Mike 
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    bjornb;n5956 wrote:

    After sighting in and firing 4 shots over the chronograph to see how slow this load was (it was slow), I fired 200 shots into one group:

    Not really a 35 cal fan but having held this rifle before Tim shipped her I remarked if Bjorn was not happy I would think he is off his rocker.
    The target above with the 200 shot group is proof of her inherient accuracy, and tribute to the builder talents and skill.

    Glad to see her debute on these pages and look forward to her amazing us with some groups and data

  • #27266
     Goodsteel 
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    I count roughly 82 bullet holes visible. That means that 118 of them went into that jagged 2″ hole. This was while fireforming brass with a charge of trailboss? With cast bullets?
    Oh yeah. I’ll take that any old day of the week. That rifle is going to be a real shooter.

  • #28517
     goody 
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    Awesome job!!! Is this rifle a barrel switch action? If it is, is there a nut on that barrel like a savage? What ever it sure looks sweet.

  • #28518
     Goodsteel 
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    goody;n7653 wrote: Awesome job!!! Is this rifle a barrel switch action? If it is, is there a nut on that barrel like a savage? What ever it sure looks sweet.

    The rifle is a switch barrel, but it’s a custom made here. Each barrel is headspaced so that when it’s tight to the action, the headspace is correct. It’s incredibly consistent. No headspace gauges are necessary. Just screw in the new barrel, seat it with the custom wrench, and shoot what’s stamped on the side of it.
    The action can stay in the stock and the scope can remain attached as well. The only thing that moves is the barrel.
    Not a bad bit of gunsmithing if I do say so myself.

  • #28546
     goody 
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    I had a sneaky feeling that’s what you might have done. Sure keeps a nice clean flow to the contour of barrel and action. It is a joy to watch your display of jobs. Thanks again for the forum!

  • #28552
     uber7mm 
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    Goodsteel;n7654 wrote:

    The rifle is a switch barrel, but it’s a custom made here. Each barrel is headspaced so that when it’s tight to the action, the headspace is correct. It’s incredibly consistent. No headspace gauges are necessary. Just screw in the new barrel, seat it with the custom wrench, and shoot what’s stamped on the side of it.
    The action can stay in the stock and the scope can remain attached as well. The only thing that moves is the barrel.
    Not a bad bit of gunsmithing if I do say so myself.

    Tim,

    How cool is that? (rhetorical!) Is this “no headspace” process unique to Savages, or can you perform this on other actions: Mausers, Win 70s, Rem 700s, etc,… as well?

  • #28561
     Goodsteel 
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    It can be done with any action. I would submit to you that the rifle that is the subject of this thread is in fact a FN blind Mauser. It’s simply a matter of lapping all the barrels to the action at once to remove all of the crush from the threads. Simply screwing the barrel in till it stops and giving it a snug bump with the wrench seats it to exactly the same depth every time.
    With a Savage, you are doing the same thing, except you screw the barrel in till it contacts a headspace gauge, after which, you tighten the lock nut which pulls the barrel forward .001 or so, establishing perfect minimum headspace.
    The problem with the Savage nut, is that it gives no direction to the barrel. It is virtually impossible to get the barrel to point the same way twice without a perfectly square shoulder to seat against, and a lock nut is no such thing. That doesn’t mean it’s not accurate. It just means that it’s not consistent time after time.
    Add to this the fact that you have to remove the scope from the action, and the action from the stock, and you can be sure that every time you switch barrels, you have a totally new rifle. Close but no cigar. That bugs me. Since this rifle had three barrels of identical profile, I saw an opportunity to correct this problem at least once, and I did so.
    Cool huh?

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