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Old 03-10-2018, 07:23 PM
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Sako P94S Custom Project: Work in Progress (Picture heavy). Now Completed



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I've just seen a thread or two on the Anschutz and Cooper subforums detailing the building of a rimfire custom rifle, and thought some of you might be interested in a similar ongoing project with a Sako P94S.

In the past, I've made mention of a custom project involving a Sako P94S rifle. The rifle began life as a Finnfire HB Varmint model. After some experimentation with the barrel (and trying a Lilja, which was no better than the original Sako barrel), I had the gunsmith, Ed LaPour, set the original heavy Sako barrel back and cut a Win. 52D match chamber. He also installed a Jewell trigger. After this the rifle shot very well, producing average 5-shot 50-yard groups of around .30" with the ammo it shot best. This was all done 20 years ago.

Fast forward to a couple of years ago. I decided to have the gunsmithing team--metalworker Ed LaPour and stockmaker/engraver Bruce Farman--both in Bremerton, WA and members of the American Custom Gunmakers Guild, use this rifle as the basis for an all-out custom project. The goal: a handy super-accurate .22LR hunting rifle. I wanted to emphasize aesthetics in this project, and Ed and Bruce were just the guys to do this with. I've had Ed and Bruce build a number of custom rifles for me in the past.

In the pictures below, you will see some of the steps in carrying this project forward.

First some metal work. Since the barrel was a heavy one to start with (and shot extremely well), I had Ed octagon it. This left plenty of metal and resulted in a nicely tapered light-medium weight barrel mic'ing .640" across the flats at the muzzle of the 21.5" barrel. (This equates to a round barrel mic'ing about .658".) Here it is after octagoning and with the custom scope bases that Ed made and shaped to blend with the receiver, soldering them in place (these to accept the Talley ring mounts). The rings shown are not the ones that the rifle will end up with, and were clamped on just to give the impression of how it would all look; I'll use slightly re-contoured, single-screw rings. The trigger is a Jewell with the bottom safety. This safety version was chosen in order to be able to fill in the narrow opening in the metal on the side of the receiver that is there to accommodate a sliding side safety lever. Filling in this gap was done to allow the wood to meet the metal with no gaps anywhere. A new bolt handle was fashioned with a teardrop knob.


Next, I wanted to improve the bottom metal aesthetics of the rifle. Most rimfires just have an opening into which the magazine fits and to my eye look improperly finished underneath. So Ed took a Blackburn bottom metal unit (trigger guard and hinged floorplate) designed for the Win. 52 and modified this to work with the Sako action layout. Here is a picture of the unit with the floorplate not yet shaped and fitted. When completed, the button in the trigger bow will activate the hinged floorplate, causing it to spring open, exposing the magazine which will drop out.


I've had Ed and Bruce work on a couple of Kimber M82 rimfire projects where they installed hinged-floorplate bottom metal, although employing a somewhat different treatment from that on the present rifle. Here's a picture of one of the Kimbers, where pushing on the release button behind the floorplate causes it to open:



Ed also crafted a steel bolt shroud to replace the polymer one on the original Finnfire.

When it came to the stock, I wanted a really nice piece of English walnut, which I purchased directly from Watts Walnut. Actually, I purchased two blanks that were almost identical--coming as they did from the same location on the same tree. The second will be used in an Anschutz project.

Here's the blank before any work was done on it:


The action has been pillar-bedded into the stock, with the barrel free-floated.

Now a few pictures of the stockwork in progress. It will have a skeleton grip cap and butt plate.





Bruce got to the checkering stage about a month ago, and here are some pictures of that work in progress:





This is where the project stands at the moment (3/10). Finishing work still to be done includes:

1. A full polishing of all the metalwork, followed by a slow rust-blue of all metal parts (including two sets of Talley rings--one for 1" scopes and one for 30 mm. scopes).

2. Engraving of a squirrel on the hinged floorplate--this in keeping with Sako's practice of engraving caliber-appropriate animals on the floorplates of their deluxe-line centerfire rifles. Bruce is an accomplished engraver and will do this, along with some scroll engraving on the action, bottom metal, screw heads and scope mounts. He will also checker the bolt knob.

3. Completion of the wood work--final finishing and polishing.

Bruce has removed some wood from the inside of the buttstock area and barrel channel (5 1/2 oz. in total) to keep weight down. The goal is a light and lively hunting rifle.

The scope I purchased for the rifle is the March 1-10x24mm., with 30 mm. main tube, which are made entirely in Japan with Japanese lenses. With the overall concept here being a light .22LR hunting rifle, this scope seemed to offer almost all one would want for the purpose: a compact form (only 10.3" long) that will sit low on the rifle and keep the rig well-balanced and not top-heavy (although some additional weight is imposed by the 10X erector system), wide FOV (105 ft. at 100 yards) at 1X, sufficient top end at 10X for all anticipated hunting purposes with a .22LR, focus/parallax adjustment down to 10 yds., and top-quality Japanese ED glass. The finish on the March scope is a sort of soft matte--not as coarse or granular as some matte finishes--but is not a really close match to the rust-blue finish that the metalwork will have, an aesthetic compromise that appears unavoidable.


I also have an older gloss Leupold AO "VARI-X 3 x 9 E.F.R." (that's how it appears on the objective ring) kicking around, which, at a mere 11 oz., could suffice where extreme lightness is required. I could have the Leupold set up in the 1" rings and the March in the 30 mm. rings, with both being able to slide into the bases as needed.

Once everything is completed, I'll post some pictures of the finished product.

Last edited by South_Pender; 05-04-2018 at 05:56 PM.
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Old 03-10-2018, 07:48 PM
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looking good!
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Old 03-10-2018, 07:53 PM
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Thumbs up

What a BEAUTY --Old World Craftsmanship @ it's finest

Jim
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Old 03-10-2018, 07:56 PM
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Really good looking rifle! Looking forward to seeing it finished and how it shoots!
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Old 03-10-2018, 08:09 PM
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WOW seems like a real understatement but with my limited vocabulary I am at a loss for anything else requiring more than my NW SD country boy education. Quality and ingenuity are impressive I might say.
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Old 03-11-2018, 07:10 AM
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Very nice
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Old 03-11-2018, 08:50 AM
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In for a penny, in for a pound! That rifle is going to be awesome! Keep us posted!!
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Old 03-11-2018, 09:11 AM
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Wow!
Can't wait to see the finished product. I love English Walnut.
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Old 03-11-2018, 07:02 PM
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I remember your telling me about this project awhile ago, SP, and here it is. All the right pieces and assembled by true artisans. I love English Walnut, so a great choice there. Looking forward to seeing the final product -- as I'm sure you are.

Doug
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Old 03-11-2018, 10:26 PM
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A beautiful rifle in the making! Please keep us updated.
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Old 03-24-2018, 03:21 PM
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An update on the Sako P94S project

Here are some pictures of the engraving work currently being done by Bruce Farman on the Sako, in case anyone is interested in this phase of gunmaking. In the second picture you can see the reshaped steel bolt shroud that Ed LaPour made to replace the original polymer one, and in the second-to-last picture, you can see the reshaped tang that Bruce checkered on the top. In some of the pictures, you can also see the scope bases that Ed made and blended into the receiver. They are set up to take Talley vertically-split rings. The last picture I just got from Bruce and is the squirrel motif on the floorplate. Bruce had mentioned that he would gray parts of this engraving to get the image of the squirrel to stand out. The engraved circular piece sitting in the middle of the skeleton buttplate in the second-to-last picture is the back end of the bolt shroud that Ed made up.





I had Ed and Bruce make up two sets of action screws--one set with hex heads for more general use, and a second set with thin slots more, perhaps, for show. The action has been pillar-bedded, so that there shouldn't be much need to adjust the action screws.

Still to be completed: Some final engraving by Bruce on the scope rings, engraving which will be similar to that on the trigger guard.

After this, the metalwork will be rust blued. Then everything will be sent back to Ed for final assembly and thorough function testing.

Last edited by South_Pender; 03-25-2018 at 01:04 AM.
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Old 03-25-2018, 04:08 PM
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Oh, my, Ralph! With that wood, checkering, and that engraving and the other special features (like the magazine cover in the bottom metal), you will have a truly exquisite and unique rifle. Looking forward to seeing the final fully assembled rifle.

Doug
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Old 03-25-2018, 05:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbr65 View Post
Oh, my, Ralph! With that wood, checkering, and that engraving and the other special features (like the magazine cover in the bottom metal), you will have a truly exquisite and unique rifle. Looking forward to seeing the final fully assembled rifle.

Doug
Thanks, Doug. When the project was in the early planning stages (well over two years ago; work stoppages occurred due to unforeseen circumstances that were not the fault of Ed or Bruce) I had (half) jokingly suggested to Ed and Bruce that I wanted it to be Gun Digest cover-worthy--this because a gun the two had contributed to (along with one or two other artisans, I believe) had been featured on the cover of a Gun Digest some years earlier (I believe it was a 100th Anniversary model Springfield, but I can't recover the details). The present rifle won't rise to those heights, but it seemed like a good way to convey my hopes!

The rifle will probably be completed within a month or so, I think, but it will be another two months after completion before I will have it in my hands--this due to the burdensome ITAR cross-border import/export regulations.

However, I'll have Bruce and Ed take some pictures when it is all put together just prior to shipping, and I'll post them here.

Edit. Just thought I'd inject a little gun porn here: a Sako L461 in .17 Rem. on which Ed LaPour did all the metalwork. (Some of you guys have probably seen this gun before.) Bruce wasn't involved on this one--the stocking and engraving were by other guys--but Bruce did stock many of the guns on which Ed did the metalwork. This gun was described in the 2013 Gun Digest, but wasn't the cover gun. In the Custom & Engraved Guns section of GD/2013, author Tom Turpin stated:

"The rifle shown here is a most unusual one. Believe it or not, the project started with a 1960s-era Sako L461 action. Ed LaPour did all the metal and barrel work, and it was an extensive job. He reshaped the action, hand-built the bottom metal and magazine box and installed one of his three-position safety and shroud units, among the many modifications. He also machined the barrel to its half-octagonal, half-round configuration."

The wood is California-grown English walnut.




Last edited by South_Pender; 03-26-2018 at 03:13 PM.
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Old 03-29-2018, 04:51 PM
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Just got some pictures from Bruce Farman, with the metalwork finished with the cold rust-blue process. Cold rust bluing produces a different finish than the more-common hot blue--more satiny, less shiny. It's the metal-finishing you see on English shotguns. As for the wood work, all checkering is 24 lpi.

Ed machined the scope bases so that the bottoms of the rings are flush vertically with the sides of the bases. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough depth of threading in the top screw holes of the Talley rings to make them blind, and so the screw ends were rounded.

The rifle will now go back to Ed LaPour for final fitting, tweaking, bolt jeweling, and full function testing.






Last edited by South_Pender; 03-29-2018 at 10:31 PM.
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Old 04-15-2018, 01:58 PM
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INCREDIBLE ARTISTRY!!!!

This is wonderful and a welcome change from the newer alloy, plastic, and stainless rifles.

The people (for this more appropriately - artists) involved had truely great skills, taste and vision.
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