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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I mentioned this in passing a couple weeks ago in another thread, and several people wanted me to post a thread on it.

Kind of a long story, So, Here goes:

Back in the mid 80s I was manufacturing subcaliber adapters to use various pistol rounds in shotguns (don't ask why; Not particularly practical, but they were sort of a fad back then.) Most of the ones on the market were smoothbore, but I wanted a little more accuracy, so we made them with rifled barrel blanks.

Anyway, I had an old single shot Ithaca Model 66 lever action break shotgun that I had since I was a kid.. Kind of neat, 'traditional looking' but ultimately boring. I noticed that the 1 in diameter barrel blanks we were using for the .357 / .38 _ 12 ga adapters were the same diameter as the first few inches of the breech of the shotgun barrel, and a light went on: Instead of using a 3 inch adapter in it, why not rebarrel it so that you have some significant accuracy.

So I got out the torch, heated the barrel / mounting lug up enough to melt the braze (good thing it wasn't welded, would have been lots more work), then brazed the 16.25" . 357 barrel on. Drilled the original extractor hole in the lug out a bit, and made a new extractor out of 1/4" 0-1 steel rod, hardened it, re-used the original extractor spring, then reamed the chamber for 357 Magnum.

Refinished the stock and forend (Also; Had to inlet the forend a bit more to fit the larger barrel diameter).... I think I used a 'blowtorch' to heighten the contrast on the wood, but can't remember for sure. While the finish was drying, I painted the metal with some of that old school bake-on gun kote, and cured it in the oven.

Hmm... What to use to aim. Didn't have a milling machine to cut dovetails for iron sights... Didn't want to spend money on a decent rifle scope, and long before the days of red-dots. Have this old Tasco rimfire scope laying around, and some blank scope base in the junk box. Profile the mount base to fit the barrel curve with sandpaper wrapped on a 1 inch dowel. Drill and tap the barrel, screw the scope mount down, Put the wood on, mount the scope.

This is what I ended up with:


You say : "what kind of idiot would use a rimfire scope on a centerfire rifle?"....
Well normally I'd agree, but after all it is only a .357 and that IS a very heavy bull barrel.
And the scope is one of those rare ones that has an oval field of view, and I kind of like that. A little faster for me to get on target than a round one.
And it has held up for several thousand rounds, including some heavy ones.... My favorite load for it was 180 grain JTC Sierras, loaded at hotter than revolver loads . .... afterall, there is about 1/4 inch of steel around that cartridge

Took it out to the range and was surprised that after only a little sighting in, I could pretty much hit anything within a hundred yards that I wanted to, and at least come darn close at 150-200.

Had a lot of fun with it for a couple of years, then I kind of lost interest.

It gathered dust in the garage for a few decades, then a few months ago I hauled it out, and decided to see if it would still shoot. It did,, despite my ancient handloads that needed steel wool to take off the corrosion, although extraction wasn't good I guess the spring 'took a set. after being compressed constantly, for so long..

Decided to rechanber it to .357 Maximum for a little more range and a little more hard hitting.. Beefed up the extractor spring, put on the hammer extension from my Circuit Judge so I don't have to squeeze my finger under the scope to cock it and headed for the shootin' area. Worked like a charm; Didn't even have to adjust the scope but a couple of elevation clicks to account for the higher velocities from what it was 25 years ago. ......

.....

.....Well, all except primers flowing through the firing pin hole. I didn't modify that previously, was the big fat shotgun firing pin hole with a fat but sloppy firing pin coming through it. Running some pretty high pressures with the Max, compared to the more sedate magnum.
Had to weld the hole up, nice and thick to handle the pressure, Redrill the hole much smaller, and machine the firing pin to fit.

OK, NOW it works like a charm, and with the beefed up extractor spring, sometimes the extractor actually turns into an extractor /ejector.




So far, just shooting 180 grain Sierras FPJ (Which I think is the same projectile they used to call JTC (Jacketed Truncated Cone)), 180 grain Hornady XTPs, 200 gr Hornady FTXs, and some cast, gas checked linotypes from a 180 grain RCBS mold, mostly over H-110, 296 and Reloader 7.

Keep forgetting to take my chronograph when I go shootin' so I don't know how fast they are going. Probably around 1800 - 1900 fps.
I'll try to to update this post with actual velocities when I get a chance.

I like what they do to a gallon water jug:
waterjug357max - YouTube

I've shredded water jugs more, with hotter cartridges, but mostly they just stay within a few inches of where they were hit. This one jetted about 12 feet, and water droplets were falling on things 35 feet away.

Someone asked for a target group to prove my claim that it was an accurate firearm. I tried to provide one, but am embarrassed to say that I was only able to get about a five inch group at 75 yards. But then, EVERYTHING I shot that day was grouping about the same, including some inherently accurate rifles, and my .30 carbine pistol, everything was in the 4-6 inch group range. Gotta be the shooter's fault.

If I have a better day for accuracy and set up a bench, I'll see if I can get a group that won't embarrass me to show you.
 

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You have a very interesting project gun. May not hurt to tig weld the lug to the barrel. I built Contender barrels for myself for years. Brazing worked fine on low pressure rounds. One of the custom shop builders warned me that brass would turn loose from stress after a while. I bought lugs from them to save machine time. Your lug is larger with more surface area than Contender blocks. The 357 max runs some healthy pressure. Great deer and hog round. Been shooting it in Contenders and Ruger revolvers for years. You have built a fun gun in a fun round, a better scope may help groups. I say have fun with it. It will be a lot more accurate than the inserts for sure.
 

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Looks like fun! Wish I had the time. :thumb:
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
....May not hurt to tig weld the lug to the barrel.........
Good point. Although with the mass of the barrel itself, I think there isn't much shear force from the recoil, and I did use a nickel braze, which has pretty high tensile strength.. But I'll keep an eye on it.
Thanks.
 
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