That’s 100% in function, appearance, parts and on the target.
100% in every respect.
As you may recall, I wanted a single-shot, bolt action 22 caliber rifle. I went to a store that carries a good supply of used firearms and looked at the dozen or so they had out on a rack. But while I could probably “make do” with any of them, none really hit the nail on the head.
Somewhat discouraged, I described why I wanted it, for my granddaughter’s first experience. One of the guys at Legendary Guns said, “Let me get something.” He went to the back of the store and brought out this rifle.
It’s first appearance wasn’t good.
Uhm, I thought, not pretty. That’s gonna be a problem.
You see, my youngest granddaughter is, well, she’s much more of a girly girl than my older granddaughter, the soccer player. The younger one for whom I was rifle shopping has pretty dolls with combed hair and she has blue horses with rainbow manes. And she dresses (!) each day for Catholic elementary school.
She is the quintessential “girl”.
I was afraid she might turn up her nose at this rifle.
For starters, the butt end of the stock was bleached completely white from a water stain. And there were scrapes of white paint here and there on the steel.
Those will come right off, I knew, but that water stain on the stock, that’s a real problem.
I continued the inspection.
The bore showed evidence it hadn’t been cleaned from the last shooting, who knows when that might have been. And to my somewhat inexperienced eye and hand at such inspections, there was a rough, rusty patch on the bottom of the barrel near the muzzle that worried me.
When removed, would there be any bluing left in that spot or would it turn rust brown on the otherwise blue barrel?
To the rifle’s credit, however, when we dropped a bore scope down the barrel, the rifling looked sharp and clear. And the bolt operated freely, locking snugly in place when closed.
And the trigger — those I know a little about from a few years of Bullseye pistol — was crisp and clean.
And the breech area was clean and free of rust.
Looking again, I noticed the bluing — it actually looked quite good. Turning it this way and that, I’m sure I said aloud, “this bluing is really in good shape.”
And the price was within the range I wanted to pay.
So I bought it for $150.
They threw in a soft case and let me rummage around in their junk bin for a trigger lock. I added a box of ammo to complete the deal, filled in the necessary paperwork, showed my Arizona concealed carry permit so they wouldn’t need to make the call, and I was soon out the door.
At home, I removed the stock and went to work on it. I lightly sanded the damaged area using three grades of paper then 4-0 steel wool, checking how it felt between the damaged and undamaged areas.
Then, after conferring with the boss whose eye for color and antiques is much better than mine, I used some of the left-over furniture refinisher she suggested to liquify the remaining finish and spread it over the bleached area. This was tricky as the old finish tended to clump and run so I ended up removing the excess and carefully smoothing what was left as it slowly dried.
The result is a touch lighter than the original but, frankly, you’d have to see old and new next to each other to see it.
In the picture at the beginning of this article, you can still make out two darker arcs on the side near the butt where the water that bleached the wood pushed dirt up and darkened the wood at the water’s furthest reach. That’s dirt embedded in the wood and it’s staying.
But now, after redistributing the finish over the whole stock, the area to the left of each arc where the stock had been bleached white is now the same shade as the remainder of the stock. (Way to go, Minwax!)
The stock was then allowed to dry in a shady, protected spot but in the full Arizona heat — about 100F — for two days.
Tuesday evening I temporarily put the rifle back together and went to the range for a test firing. I put about thirty rounds through it and, as with my handguns, it shoots better than me — a lot better!
Returning home, I removed the stock again and cleaned the bore.
To the stock I then applied the first of two coats of Danish oil. Each of those got 24 hours to dry.
What you see in these photographs is the final result.
My original intention was, as I mentioned before, to have it drilled and tapped for a scope but, now that I see how gorgeous it — let’s make that “she” — now that I see how gorgeous she is and coupling that with the fact that she has all her parts exactly as they were in March 1936 when she was born, well, she’s just too perfect to change.
There will be no drilling on this babe!
But she won’t be sitting in a gun case gathering dust. Oh no, she’s gonna be doing what she was intended to do. She will feel the bang and she will spit lead.
No doubt about it.
She will be teaching my grand kids, my kids, myself and my guests at the range. That’s what she was made to do, and that’s what she will be doing again.
And if my granddaughter wants to bring a blue horse with a rainbow mane to the range to watch, I’m sure that’ll be just fine with everyone, rifle included.
She — the rifle — may be a bit old fashioned in style, but that pretty little horse will have nothing on her.