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Handloading Beyond The Basics
Rifle Magazine
March - April 1999
Volume 31, Number 2
ISSN: 0162-3583
Number 182
On the cover...
The Remington Model 700LSS (Laminated Stock, Stain
Rifle Magazine
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Rifle Magazine

Bill Simmen
Custom Stockmaker

Like most gunsmiths and stockmakers in this country, Bill Simmen has always been interested in guns and hunting as a hobby. Bill started making muzzleloaders, which according to him, was probably influenced by watching too many Daniel Boon movies as a kid! After almost a decade as an auto worker at the failed Volkswagen plant in Pennsylvania, he decided to try and make a living at gunmaking. He pursued his career by attending Pittsburgh Gunsmith School, and after graduating and setting up shop the work started to come in - slowly at first, now at a better pace.

According to Bill, he prefers to work in the American classic style combined with a strong prewar European influence. The majority of his work these days is in sporting rifles, fine upland shotguns and antique restorations, but his true love in guns is quality British and German antiques.

Along the way Bill picked up this original Kurz type K Oberndorf Mauser. The stock was in very poor shape, and the scope and claw mounts were missing. Deciding to keep the rifle and to use it as a starting point to show clients (his excuse to his wife he says), he went to work.

Starting with the stock, he profiled a piece of really handsome English walnut that included a European style pistol grip, a pig skin covered recoil pad and 26-lines-per-inch checkering. He also included a castoff of ¼ inch, added a forend tip, a cheekpiece complete with a shadow line and finished it off with a real smooth tung oil finish.

For a caliber he chose the 8x51 Kurz and from there added convenience items like a Model 70-type safety, three-bladed sights on the barrel, a front barrel band for class and an octagonal barrel for that European flair. A set trigger was added as the crowning touch, which when set broke as quiet as a whisper. There is a lever on the floorplate instead of the usual American-type release. New EAW claw mounts were installed, and the bolt handle was lowered to allow for a very low scope mounting. To this he added a Leupold 1.5-5x scope. Finally, all the metalwork was rust blued to perfection. Upon completion, the rifle, complete with a scope and sling, checked in at 7½ pounds.
After obtaining the correct dies and .318-inch bullets, he found cases were easily made from common .308 WCF brass. The rifle turned out to be quite accurate and, according to Bill, can group from ¾ to 1½ inches with five rounds at 100 yards.

Bill Simmen can be reached at RD 1, Box 210A, Vanderbilt PA 15486.
Blackhorn Powder
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