DIY shooting rest and a Blue Wonder followup report – Part 3
by B.B. Pelletier
Today we have a short guest blog and a followup report on the Blue Wonder cold blue project I’ve been working on. First the guest blog.
This is Mike’s first guest blog. He needed a rifle rest, so he decided to make one instead of buy something ready-made. His uses simple, everyday items that are inexpensive and readily available. Even if you have to buy some of these things, it’s an economical project.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.
Bloggers must be proficient in the simple html that Blogger software uses, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them) and they must use proper English. We will edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.
by Mike S.
My Gamo CFX resting on my homemade shooting rest.
Every year I go on a trip where a group of us target shoot for the weekend. I use my .22 Gamo CFX, and the rest of the crew shoots .22 rimfires. The range is about 75-90 yards, and we all shoot from a benchrest position. For years, I couldn’t come close to matching the accuracy of the rimfires. In fact, I couldn’t consistently hit a 5-gallon bucket at 75 yards.
I knew my gun was capable of better accuracy. After doing hours of online research, I learned that firing a springer from any hard surface will completely ruin accuracy. The vibrations caused by the mainspring will shift your aim before the pellet leaves the barrel.
So, I made cushions on which I could rest my rifle. They’re designed to absorb the vibrations. My accuracy improved to where I was up to par, and–in some cases–out-shooting the rimfires. The cushions are very cheap and easy to make from stuff around the house. They’re weatherproof and can be built in less than 20 minutes.
It’s not a showcase item, but it’s functional and does the job!
Just assemble a few inexpensive, ordinary items from around the house to make your rifle rest.
Climb into your attic or crawlspace and cut a 5″ strip of fiberglass insulation. Most insulation is about 16″ wide. I used R13, but whatever you have should be fine. Cut the insulation in half so you have two 8″x5″ pieces. Place one half on top of the other half.
A chunk of fiberglass insulation…yours may be pink or some other color.
Slide the inslation into the bag. Take the slack out of the bag and tape it on the bottom. Don’t pull the bag too tight. You want the fiberglass to be uncompressed.
Assembly is a cinch!
Tape the bag to the piece of wood, taking up any additional slack in the bag. I cut a few additional pieces of wood so I could change the height of my rest. Now, lay your rifle on the bag and fire away!
[Editor’s note: When handling fiberglass insulation, be sure to breathe through a half-face respirator with replaceable HEPA filters. A paper dust filter is not considered adequate filtration for fiberglass particles. Brief exposure is not likely to cause any damage, but handling and cutting the fiberglass batts may expose you to particles that have been shed into the air you breathe. If any part of the fiberglass in your shooting bag becomes exposed, re-cover it right away. Prolonged exposure to fiberglass insulation can cause nosebleeds and other respiratory problems.]
Blue Wonder update report – Part 3
Well, I thought I was going to have to eat some crow on this one. In Part 2, I blued a new barrel for a .17 HM2 rifle a friend put together for me, and the job turned out so beautiful that I raved about it. Then the comments came in. Some shooters were concerned about the job rusting fast and one person asked about matching the old blue. I answered the matching question to the best of my ability, but today I will shed some new light on both topics (rusting and matching).
About four days after I did the barrel, I happened to pick up the gun in my closet and was astounded to see that it had rusted almost 100 percent! The rust was extremely fine and even over the surface. When I picked up the gun and held the barrel my hands turned dark brown.
I was very disheartened by this. I knew I had to tell all of you, especially after recommending the product so highly in Part 2, but I wanted to think about it for a few days. I had also bragged on the job to my friend who rebarrelled the rifle for me. And now he wanted to see it shoot, so I had to show the rusty blue job to him also.
Then it hit me. Blue Wonder couldn’t possibly have remained in business for all these years if their product always rusted. Surely, by now, there would be a great hue and cry about it and the internet would be full of warnings not to use it. I did find some warnings, but you can find warnings about almost anything if you look. There weren’t the number of warnings I would expect if this product were pure snake oil (no slight meant to the oil by that name), so I reckoned I must have done something wrong.
Let’s see. I cleaned the surface with acetone that several of you said wasn’t good. That might be it. So, I read the Blue Wonder instructions online once more and found that they made no mention whatsoever of de-greasing the metal after cleaning it with Blue Wonder gun cleaner. Okay, so that step was unnecessary and wrong.
They also cautioned you about which oil to use after the job is finished. They said to use Break Free. I used Ballistol. So, that was point of departure number two. On the next go-round, I would not use acetone and I would finish with Break Free.
I removed the action from the stock and went to work removing the rust with 0000 steel wool. It came off immediately (1-2 minutes) and left the gun looking almost as it did after the initial bluing job. I toyed with the idea of stopping right there, but decided to go on and redo the whole barrel because I wanted to report on the entire application, not just a patch job.
After the steel wool treatment, the metal surface was free from all rust. I then cleaned the entire surface with Blue Wonder gun cleaner, just like the directions said. Then, I heated the barrel with a propane torch, again following the directions. Like before, it was hard to get the entire barrel up to the same temperature, but I got it all very warm to the touch. Speaking of touch, you are cautioned in the directions not to touch the metal with your hands at this point, so I had plenty of paper towels to use when I held things.
Next, the Blue Wonder bluing solution was applied. I remembered to shake the bottle before every application. Although the barrel did not seem to get any darker this time, some of the imperfections close to the muzzle around the front sight went away as I applied the solution. The last step was to apply the developer. Then, the metal parts were set aside for a couple hours to fully develop. Remember–this is a chemical process related to photography.
When it had developed, I wiped down the whole surface with Break Free and set the still-wet barreled action aside for the rest of the evening. The next morning, I dried the barrel and installed the action in the stock. I took the rifle out to the range, where I shot a 3/4″ five-shot group at 50 yards using peep sights. Yeah–this rifle can shoot!
The guy who installed the barrel got to see the job and was very impressed. So was I. This was the first time I’d seen the job in bright daylight, and it was even better than I had reported before–though some of that was undoubtedly because of the second application.
I noticed in the sunlight that Blue Wonder has a bronze undertone to it. That must be due to the gold in the solution. The color doesn’t match any blue job I’ve ever seen. But back under incandescent or fluorescent lighting (normal house lights) it does match. So you have to make a choice. If you plan to re-blue the entire gun, it will stand up even outdoors; but if you’re doing a spot job, there will surely be a color difference in the sun. With indoor lighting, I cannot see any difference, but I’m colorblind, so proceed at your own risk.
This photo shows the bronze or gold undertone of the Blue Wonder blue. Compare the color of the barrel to that of the front sight that was blued by a hot salt bath black oxide process. Any uneveness that you see in this picture is the result of fingerprints–not the blue job, which is remarkably even.
As I write this, it’s been four full days since I did the second job, and the gun still shows no signs of rusting. The blue is still dark, even and very shiny. I’m still very thrilled with the results. However, the one thing we still don’t know is how well the blue will hold up to handling. The best test for this might be a revolver carried in a leather holster. Nothing wears blue faster than a leather holster. But since I don’t carry holstered guns, this isn’t going to work for me. Besides, I don’t have anything to compare it to, so any report would simply be conjecture. I guess I need a cowboy action shooter to test this for me.
Speaking of cowboy action shooters, a friend from 40 years ago when I was a gunfighter at Frontier Village in San Jose recently contacted me with a request. Seems I sold him a Colt single-action for $150 and it recently lettered at Colt! That means Colt has a record of the gun in their files and can tell when it was sold, who it was sold to, the barrel length, caliber and original finish of the gun. It might be worth $3,000-3,500 today. He sent me a copy of the letter of authenticity, asking me for the details of how and where I came by the gun.
Here is a lesson in gun etiquette. When you find that a gun you acquired is better than you thought, do not have the insensitivity to ask the person you bought it from any questions about it, and for gosh sakes don’t tell him what it may be worth. That’s like taking a trophy wife to your high school reunion and introducing her to the girl who turned down your proposal 40 years ago.
Unless, of course, that is your intention. I wonder?