Hagn .30 ~ 06 Project in a 14 Photos
When I began this custom rifle project I decided to document as many phases as possible with still photographs taken in the workshop as each procedure was actually happening. We have all seen set-up workshop photos with some guy holding a bastard file next to a fully engraved rifle showing a completely phony view of work taking place. For the most part these photos were taken as the actual work transpired although in a few instances I shot the picture immediately after the fact.
I have literal hundreds of photographs of this project, and some individual processes such as rounding the forend tip and nitre bluing are captured in quite some detail. I have distilled them down to a mere 14 photographs showing the major operations with the notion of presenting views not often seen in photos or by anyone other than the craftsmen themselves. Photo caption accompany each photo.
The client purchased a medium sized Hagn action from Martin Hagn and we enlisted Ralf Martini to machine and install a cut rifled octagon barrel with integral (quarter rib, full-length rib and front sight base) features in .30-06 caliber. This is a wonderful beginning for a custom rifle and the metalwork was superbly attended to.
1. This was the second Hagn I created in my shop so I had an existing pattern stock for duplication. As I never use exactly the same pattern stock it was altered to suit the clients dimensions, fit to the new metalwork and proportioned for the .30-06 caliber. This photo shows my original full-scale drawing for the project with the freshly machined buttstock. The drawing shows:1. grip cap angle, 2. Toe line angle, 4. middle of cap over comb nose and 5. Pitch. Note drawing dated April 2007.
2. The head of the stock after inletting with chisels and scrapers until 95% contact between the metal and wood was achieved using transpher inletting blue (prussian Blue).
3. A steel buttplate was fit to the stock. After sawing and rasping to rough shape, chisels and scrapers were used to fit the curved buttplate to the stock. The scraper in use was made in 1976, my first year at Trinidad State as part of the required project of forging, filing, hardening, tempering and sharpening 14 inletting tools. Buttplate inlet about 60% completed as shown.
4. After the buttplate and trap grip cap were fit to the stock the excess wood was trimmed down, the cheekpiece and the rough stock panels were shaped. One side panel was filed to form and then traced to make a template for the other side as shown in the photo. Looking closely one might see pencil lines for further refining the cheekpiece shaping.
5. The ebony tip was installed to the machined forend. The forend pattern (on the bench underneath the forend) was left considerably oversized so after the forend was fit and attached to the barrel and action it require extensive shaping. Note the swamped bottom line of the forend and the flat beginning to form of the oval contouring. The panel in front of the action was roughly shaped as well.
6. After shaping the details are refined and perfected with fine files then sanding. This photo in shadow to present what I think is the most interesting part of the rifle stock. The curvature and contour of the grip, stock panels, front of the cheekpiece, the deep V behind the grip and subtle comb nose fluting must all be melded harmoniously, geometrically and ergonomically.
7. The stock was lightly stained to enhance the background color then two coats of sealer and many coats of filler were applied to the raw wood. I store the stock in a drying cabinet while drying between coats to protect it from dust and damage as much as to promote drying. At this stage the stock wood has the pores nearly filled and is hanging from welding rod wires.
8. Checkering a previous Hagn rifle project in a dimly lit room, with direct incandescent light close to the work to create shadow helping to see the individual lines. Typically the action and metalwork goes out for engraving at the same stage as checkering is accomplished.
9. I do my own rust bluing requiring multiple cycles of rusting, boiling and carding. The small parts are hanging from wires on the side of the stainless steel tank while the barrel is suspended from wires in the middle of the tank without contacting the tank or other parts.
10. For twenty years I have been carding rust bluing using a horizontally rotating fine wire-brush wheel in a drill/mill with variable speeds. The first couple of cardings are at very slow speed then I increase the RPMs to provide an almost shiny, burnished look in the later stages. Note extra light, gloves, magnifying lens and dust mask.
11. The small parts, in this case the safety wheel, trap grip cap and lid, scope rings and forend lug were rust blued were. The screws and peep sight were nitre blued. All parts are shown curing in a bath of light oil.
12. In this picture the barrel, held tightly in the bench vise, as it is being installed onto the action and tightened with an action wrench. The final assembly of the custom rifle is an exciting time for the gunmaker. The project has been reduced to individual pieces and parts, sometimes for a few months while they are engraved, checkered and blued or case colored. Final assembly is a metamorphosis as the rifle comes together in a finished state totally unlike it appeared prior to disassembly. Hopefully it is now completed, but often some small details remain to be attended to. It will soon be time to test fire and function test the project.
13. The action has been assembled, stock attached and the trap grip cap is being screwed in place. (By the way: the screw head in the bottom of the trap was rosette engraved like the other screws.)
14. The completed Hagn .30-06 rifle at the gun range being tested for accuracy and function. It this case the first three shot group measured 7/8”. A supremely satisfying moment for the gunmaker!
A custom Hagn actioned .30-06 from the workshop of Steven Dodd Hughes, Gunmaker. Action by Martin Hagn, barrel work by Ralf Martini and engraving by Larry Peters. Test fire groups measure .875” and .600” with custom loaded ammo.