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Tentman
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Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Sep 2nd, 2017 at 11:35pm
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Hello Gentlemen (and Ladies if present)

I have recently been lucky enough to secure an original (ish) Stevens 44 1/2, in 22 Hornet.  These firearms are very seldom encountered here in New Zealand, I have been looking for one for at least 10 years . . . and the one I have coming is in fact from Australia, where they are also rare.

The rifle I have obtained was "discovered" by a Aussie in a pile of bits as a action and barrel, in 22 LR.  He obtained a stock and had an Aussie gunsmith reline the barrel and convert it to centrefire in 22 Hornet.  Currently I have only seen photos, and it will be months before I have the rifle in hand.

The overall condition is still pretty rough, but I'm lucky enough to have the confidence of a very good restorative minded gunsmith, in the past he has rebuilt a Mauser Oberndorf sporter (kurz model) to a very high standard for me.

I'm sure that with a good brief he can do the same for the Stevens.

I'm looking for ideas on getting the rifle to a nice usable state that suits our NZ hunting, while being sympathetic to the rifles history.

The rifle has some issues, the breechblock legs "hang" about 1/8 of an inch below the receiver.  I'm wondering if this is how the Aussie gunsmith may have "converted" it from RF to CF . . . maybe changed the linkage to drop the block a bit . . . it would seem an unusual way of achieving it ??

Because the action is so rare I'd like to shoot it as both a RF and CF, from what I've read on this forum my best bet for that is to get a CPA breechblock assembly for what ever the current one isn't . . hopefully its currently as RF because then the new "modern" Breechblock with a small firing pin etc would be a CF, and as I'm thinking of chambering it to either 30-30 or 25-35 . . . thoughts on this choice??

I have De Haas's book, is there another that would be a good reference for the 44 1/2?
  
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uscra112
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #1 - Sep 3rd, 2017 at 8:48am
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If the breechblock is hanging down when the action is closed, I'm betting that it's a centerfire converted to rimfire by installing a short link. The .22 rimfire firing pin in a 44 1/2 is at 6 o'clock to the chamber centerline by about 2.6 mm. Replacing the link with a correct one will make it a centerfire again.  Keep the .22 link, obviously. 

(Measured a standard link from my parts pile - hole spacing is .690"  or about 17.5 mm.)
« Last Edit: Sep 3rd, 2017 at 8:58am by uscra112 »  

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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #2 - Sep 3rd, 2017 at 8:52am
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I have only started my tour of the Stevens single shots and cannot offer any wisdom on the suitability of the 44 1/2 to the 22 hornet,  however on my thread on the Stevens favorite ( a 1915 model) you might see some ideas you would like to adopt.

I'll be cheering you on as I follow this thread.....I might have even mailed you a 6mm barrel years back IIRC.....best of luck to you.
  
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uscra112
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #3 - Sep 3rd, 2017 at 9:06am
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vapodog wrote on Sep 3rd, 2017 at 8:52am:
I have only started my tour of the Stevens single shots and cannot offer any wisdom on the suitability of the 44 1/2 to the 22 hornet.......


44 1/2 was offered in calibers up to .38-55, and used successfully for several hot .22 caliber wilcats, the .22 Lovell being my favorite.  Ned Roberts did much of his development of his eponymous .257 cartridge in a 44 1/2. Even though the barrel shank is a bit small for a case with a .470" base, it never gave him any trouble.  It will handle the Hornet with ease.   Along with any cartridge based on the .38-55 case - i.e. .32-40, .30-30, .25-35, .219 Zipper Improved, etc., etc.
« Last Edit: Sep 3rd, 2017 at 9:17am by uscra112 »  

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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #4 - Sep 3rd, 2017 at 9:16am
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Congratulations on your find.  I don't routinely encounter Stevens No. 44-1/2s here, either, unless somebody is displaying or selling a thirty-year collection.

Your gunsmith can make a new link with slightly larger hole spacing and, if necessary, modify the breech end of the barrel to raise the block, if you find the slight protrusion objectionable.  I see a certain amount of that "sag" at the bottom in specimens I find, perhaps due to the takedown system and replacement barrels, and perhaps due to wear.  Stevens parts were indifferently hardened, compared to other brands.  It doesn't seem to affect the shootability or accuracy, at least at my skill level.

You would definitely need an extra rimfire breechblock and extractor if you want to go from rimfire to centerfire.  If yours is a rimfire converted to Hornet, it should have a bushed breechblock and a centerfire firing pin conversion already.

The Stevens rimfires had the firing pin hit at the 6 o'clock position of the chamber, right over the extractor.  The block would have to be moved upwards for the pin to hit the centerfire primer.  This would not be practical on this action, as the block moves forward as well.

For mechanical aspects of single shots, DeHaas stands alone.  Other references cover collectibility issues, but very little on design.

  
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #5 - Sep 3rd, 2017 at 9:23am
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uscra112 wrote on Sep 3rd, 2017 at 9:06am:


44 1/2 was offered in calibers up to .38-55, and used successfully for several hot .22 caliber wilcats, the .22 Lovell being my favorite.  Ned Roberts did much of his development of his eponymous .257 cartridge in a 44 1/2. Even though the barrel shank is a bit small for a case with a .470" base, it never gave him any trouble.  It will handle the Hornet with ease.   Along with any cartridge based on the .38-55 case - i.e. .32-40, .30-30, .25-35, .219 Zipper Improved, etc., etc. [/quote]


Thanks for that.....can you recommend the Stevens 44 Ideal for the .22 Hornet or the .17 hornet?
  
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uscra112
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #6 - Sep 3rd, 2017 at 10:06am
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I cannot.  The old style 44 won't take that kind of pressure for long.  The link starts to collapse, and headspace grows. Once that starts, it gets worse in a hurry. 

Using smokeless powder, the .25-20 and 32-20 are about as far as would I ever go, limiting myself to 18,000 psi loads.  Even then, the breechblock and barrel have to be set up correctly, so that the rear of the breechblock bears tightly on the shoulders in the receiver, while at the same to there is about .003" interference between the breechblock and the barrel face as the action locks up.  Barrel fitting is tricky business, more than I can explain in a forum post. 

Stevens/Savage did offer the 44 action in .22 Hornet for a very short time.  They learned.
  

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marlinguy
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #7 - Sep 4th, 2017 at 3:08pm
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If you have  a great gunsmith, you might suggest to him to do an offset shank when he threads the barrel for your RF/CF setup. Seems that gunsmiths and gun makers today want to take the easy (more expensive) route of setting up the 44 1/2 with two breech blocks for RF and CF. But back 100-120 years ago great gunsmiths simply turned the shank off center enough to make the CF firing pin strike the rim to convert.
Turning the shank off center allows for quick, and simple barrel changes on a Stevens; as quick as changing two CF or two RF barrels. And since you only use one breech block, that cost is eliminated also.
I own two early single shots done this way, and they work great! One was done at the Zettler Bros. shop in NY City, and the other I have no info on who did it.
  

Vall
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #8 - Sep 4th, 2017 at 3:23pm
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marlinguy wrote on Sep 4th, 2017 at 3:08pm:
I own two early single shots done this way, and they work great! One was done at the Zettler Bros. shop in NY City, and the other I have no info on who did it.


Had a 44 that Peterson rebarreled this way, but quite a few other barrelsmiths did the same, so the technique wasn't any secret then, but I think it has become so now.
  
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #9 - Sep 4th, 2017 at 5:07pm
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I have a Peterson Ballard on a Pacific c.f. action with an offset bore.
  

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marlinguy
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #10 - Sep 4th, 2017 at 5:29pm
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Yes, as common as it was for the best gunsmiths back 100+ years ago, it seems almost unknown today. I've mentioned it to those I consider pretty good gunsmiths, and gotten a blank stare. Obviously an art lost to today's gunsmith.
  

Vall
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #11 - Sep 4th, 2017 at 6:13pm
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Maybe it is the lack of a canned digital program?  Roll Eyes
  

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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #12 - Sep 4th, 2017 at 6:16pm
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Would interchangeable links in a Ballard be easier, or would that mess up the lock up and cause lever dropping?
  

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marlinguy
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #13 - Sep 4th, 2017 at 7:26pm
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Schuetzenmiester wrote on Sep 4th, 2017 at 6:16pm:
Would interchangeable links in a Ballard be easier, or would that mess up the lock up and cause lever dropping?


Yes Bob, a link in a Ballard makes huge issues if it's not the correct length. So couldn't do a link on a Ballard to change firing pin height.
  

Vall
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #14 - Sep 4th, 2017 at 7:37pm
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I have a 44 1/2 in 25-35 that I just love.  I went with a 9 twist barrel and it shoots 120 grain jacketed bullets lights out.  Tom
  
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uscra112
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #15 - Sep 4th, 2017 at 8:04pm
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marlinguy wrote on Sep 4th, 2017 at 7:26pm:
Schuetzenmiester wrote on Sep 4th, 2017 at 6:16pm:
Would interchangeable links in a Ballard be easier, or would that mess up the lock up and cause lever dropping?


Yes Bob, a link in a Ballard makes huge issues if it's not the correct length. So couldn't do a link on a Ballard to change firing pin height.


Which is, I suspose, why Ballard had the reversible firing pin.
  

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uscra112
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #16 - Sep 4th, 2017 at 8:11pm
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Schuetzenmiester wrote on Sep 4th, 2017 at 6:13pm:
Maybe it is the lack of a canned digital program?  Roll Eyes


CNC lathes easily dispensed with the trick of offsetting the tailstock to cut tapers.  I can't recall any lathe designed for CNC that would allow that.  You'd have to work out a way to hold the breech end offset in the chuck.  And CNC operators/programmers don't think that way.
  

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marlinguy
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #17 - Sep 4th, 2017 at 8:29pm
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uscra112 wrote on Sep 4th, 2017 at 8:11pm:
Schuetzenmiester wrote on Sep 4th, 2017 at 6:13pm:
Maybe it is the lack of a canned digital program?  Roll Eyes


CNC lathes easily dispensed with the trick of offsetting the tailstock to cut tapers.  I can't recall any lathe designed for CNC that would allow that.  You'd have to work out a way to hold the breech end offset in the chuck.  And CNC operators/programmers don't think that way. 


The offset shank doesn't have anything to do with cutting tapers. It simply cuts the shank portion (prior to threading) off center, so the bore isn't centered on the CF firing pin. Allows the CF pin to strike the rim of a .22RF cartridge.
  

Vall
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marlinguy
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #18 - Sep 4th, 2017 at 8:32pm
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uscra112 wrote on Sep 4th, 2017 at 8:04pm:
Which is, I suspose, why Ballard had the reversible firing pin. 


A small part of the reversible firing pin design. They could have easily done like everyone else and made two different firing pins for RF and CF. The main reason for the reversible firing pin was the calibers that were offered at that time in both RF and CF offerings. The .32 Long, .38 Long, and .44 Long all had RF and CF cartridges, so that was the real reason for the reversible firing pin system on Ballard rifles.
  

Vall
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #19 - Sep 4th, 2017 at 8:46pm
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marlinguy wrote on Sep 4th, 2017 at 8:29pm:
uscra112 wrote on Sep 4th, 2017 at 8:11pm:
Schuetzenmiester wrote on Sep 4th, 2017 at 6:13pm:
Maybe it is the lack of a canned digital program?  Roll Eyes


CNC lathes easily dispensed with the trick of offsetting the tailstock to cut tapers.  I can't recall any lathe designed for CNC that would allow that.  You'd have to work out a way to hold the breech end offset in the chuck.  And CNC operators/programmers don't think that way. 


The offset shank doesn't have anything to do with cutting tapers. It simply cuts the shank portion (prior to threading) off center, so the bore isn't centered on the CF firing pin. Allows the CF pin to strike the rim of a .22RF cartridge.



Mm'OK.   That would leave the barrel OD offset with respect to the receiver.  Wouldn't show on a single shot.  I'm remembering a Krag I saw at a show in MIchigan that had the offset bore. The offset should be obvious there.  Maybe I just didn't notice.   Embarrassed
  

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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #20 - Sep 4th, 2017 at 9:48pm
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If the bore were off center full length, it probably wouldn't really matter in a heavy target barrel.  Any thoughys?
  

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marlinguy
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #21 - Sep 4th, 2017 at 10:52pm
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Schuetzenmiester wrote on Sep 4th, 2017 at 9:48pm:
If the bore were off center full length, it probably wouldn't really matter in a heavy target barrel.  Any thoughys?


Both of mine have the bore offset, but since it's only the threaded shank the bore is still centered in the barrel. They both sit low to the receiver, but since it only takes 1/8" offset to strike the rim, it's not noticeable as it sits to the receiver. I had to look it over closely to see whether it was up or down. Of course the bore is centered on the outside flats of the barrel, so you don't notice it anywhere else.
When I bought the Zettler Ballard I pulled the breechblock to see how they converted it to RF. I was surprised to see it wasn't converted, so I looked further to see what was going on. With the breech block out of the way it was easier to look at the barrel shank at the rear and see the bore looked offset.
I'll try to get a couple pictures tomorrow with the breech block removed so it will be clearer than my explanation.
  

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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #22 - Sep 5th, 2017 at 1:11am
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My Ballard is obviously off center at the breech end.

I am wondering if there would be any issues having the bore off center full length other than muzzle aesthetics?
  

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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #23 - Sep 5th, 2017 at 1:45am
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Hey thanks folks for the input.  Its going to be a long project requiring much thought and consideration.

How does the extractor work out for this sort of arrangement (offset bore) from 22RF to something like the 30-30 case.

Cheers
  
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #24 - Sep 5th, 2017 at 9:46am
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Schuetzenmiester wrote on Sep 5th, 2017 at 1:11am:
My Ballard is obviously off center at the breech end.

I am wondering if there would be any issues having the bore off center full length other than muzzle aesthetics?


I can't see how it would hurt, but seems like a lot of metal to remove to contour the entire barrel off center to the bore. Might be an issue on a lighter weight barrel, but not on one of around 1" or larger.
But it could really affect the value, as everyone who saw the offset of the bore to the outside dimensions would think something was wrong.
  

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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #25 - Sep 5th, 2017 at 1:40pm
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Offsetting the bore to the outside of the barrel, is easy, using a 2 jaw chuck.

You just indicate the chuck center on the milling machine, offset in the axis of one of the jaws and bore through at the barrel diameter. Nothing else to do and it repetes at the same offset, anytime you want to do it again, by just putting the jaws back on the chuck.

Frank
  

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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #26 - Sep 5th, 2017 at 3:17pm
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frnkeore wrote on Sep 5th, 2017 at 1:40pm:
Offsetting the bore to the outside of the barrel, is easy, using a 2 jaw chuck.

You just indicate the chuck center on the milling machine, offset in the axis of one of the jaws and bore through at the barrel diameter. Nothing else to do and it repetes at the same offset, anytime you want to do it again, by just putting the jaws back on the chuck.

Frank


But then you have to rifle it, and do all the other steps of making a new barrel. And as I mentioned, you have a weird offset hole at the muzzle end. If you're starting out with a .22RF barrel already bored center, it's a simple thing to just offset the barrel shank, thread it, and chamber for .22RF.

Here's the pictures of my #6 Schuetzen, converted to a .22 match rifle by Zettlers. Notice how the top flat sits a bit low to the receiver top?

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The muzzle end of the barrel:
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Original Ballard CF breech block:

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Offset shank, which is high, and sits the bore center lower to strike the 12 o'clock position on the rim:

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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #27 - Sep 5th, 2017 at 3:31pm
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Vall! What have you been shooting in that thing? It's done split the block right half in two!
  
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #28 - Sep 5th, 2017 at 4:05pm
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oneatatime wrote on Sep 5th, 2017 at 3:31pm:
Vall! What have you been shooting in that thing? It's done split the block right half in two!


I've got these really hot .22 Shorts! I think they're some sort of "assault rifle" ammo Chauncey! I just added some screws to the two halves that split, and it's all good again! Charles Ballard should have done that in the beginning!
  

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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #29 - Sep 5th, 2017 at 5:01pm
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frnkeore wrote on Sep 5th, 2017 at 1:40pm:
Offsetting the bore to the outside of the barrel, is easy, using a 2 jaw chuck.

You just indicate the chuck center on the milling machine, offset in the axis of one of the jaws and bore through at the barrel diameter. Nothing else to do and it repetes at the same offset, anytime you want to do it again, by just putting the jaws back on the chuck.

Frank


Seems like that should be a lot easier than converting an action to RF.
  

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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #30 - Sep 5th, 2017 at 5:30pm
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Complicated yet simple.... I have some round stock laying around. I may give it a try.


JMH
  
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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #31 - Sep 5th, 2017 at 7:26pm
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Seems to me that any 4 jaw chuck on a lathe could be set to turn the shank off center. Just calculate how far off center to change the strike from dead center to the edge of the .22 rim.
  

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Re: Stevens 44 1/2 Project
Reply #32 - Sep 5th, 2017 at 8:01pm
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I have one of those. I'd think two setups. One to turn and thread the shank, and a second to chamber. My muzzle is centered, so there must be a slight angle between the bore and the face of the breech, but it doesn't seem to matter when it comes to shooting it. I'd think indexing it correctly would matter.
  
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