When you chamber (or fit) a barrel blank to a rifle you have to cut it on a lathe. There are two basic ways to do this: one is to mount the barrel blank through the headstock, the other is to turn the barrel between centers. The method a gunsmith uses is typically determined by his equipment. If a headstock has a small through-spindle diameter, the through the headstock method will not work. Likewise, if you are chambering a short blank, you will not be able to secure the muzzle end of the barrel on the back end of the headstock. Certain lathes, and conditions, call for chambering between centers.
I chamber most of my barrels through the headstock of my lathe (check out the projects guns page). Occasionally, I will chamber barrels between centers. Current trends have most guys dialing the chamber end of the blank to within .0001″ and indexing the muzzle. This is sometimes referred to as the Gritters method (Gordy Gritters is an outstanding gunsmith). Some precision rifle builders look down on chambering between centers. I don’t understand the hate. If the Marine Corps Precision Weapons Shop and McMillan Custom Rifles both chamber between centers, how bad a method can it possibly be?
The barrel used in this post is a Shilen #7 contour Select Match .308 1:10 twist. This barrel had previously been threaded and chambered for another rifle. I mention this, because you may notice the pre-existing threads on the muzzle.
The action is a factory Remington 700 short action. The bolt has been fluted by Kampfeld Custom. The factory recoil lug has been replaced by a Hollands.
This post is designed to show the basic setup for chambering between centers. For more specific information on how to chamber a barrel, see Chambering a Rifle Barrel.
Before starting work, I cut the old tenon off. The plan is to end up with a 16.75″ barrel.
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Brownells provided the following tools for this project:
- Shilen #7 contour barrel
- Hollands recoil lug
- 3/8″ high-speed steel turning kit
- 1/2″ high-speed steel threader
- High-speed steel 35 degree profile kit
- Depth micrometer
- Manson chamber reamer
- “go” and “no-go” gauges
- Remington 700 action wrench
I am using a 4-jaw chuck in this post. Using a collet system, if your lathe is equipped with one would work well. Alternatively, fabricating a drive dog with a system holding the barrel against a dead center in the head stock would work.
A Badger FTE brake was mounted on the muzzle end of this barrel. You can see how that was installed here: Badger Ordnance FTE Brake Installation
Time to clean the barrel, stamp the caliber and torque it onto the action.
Does it shoot? Not bad for the first 5-rounds downrange (below).