Rifle Surgery

Some years ago, Jim Rawles casually mentioned that he’d had the muzzles on all of his bolt-action centerfire rifles threaded to accept flash hiders like the Vortex design. I made a mental note that someday, whenever I stopped playing with specialty pistols long enough to give my poor neglected rifles a long-awaited gunsmith tuneup, I’d be sure to include muzzle threading in the scope of work.

Phil’s gunsmith, Mike Palazzo, did amazing work crafting Phil’s rifle “Barak,”* which is accurate enough to nail the center of pool cue chalks at distance with boring regularity. You occasionally see a rifle Mike crafted for sale on the web. Not often; they’re keepers.


Range Day 06smaller by PhilatRNS

When I felt the unbelievable smoothness of the trigger job Mike did on my wife’s Boomershoot .223, I knew where my rifles were going when the time came.

So last year, six rifles accompanied me to Boomershoot, and when I left, six rifles were on their way to Mike Palazzo. More than one of those rifles, I might add, had never been fired by me. I bought them knowing they were diamonds in the rough, waiting for the polisher’s art. They all got trigger jobs, shortened stocks, glass bedding where appropriate, muzzle threading and Mike’s signature muzzle brakes and thread protectors. When it’s difficult to even spot the seam where the muzzle brake meets the barrel, you know you’ve found a fine machinist.

I had Mike shorten the riflestocks to Jeff Cooper’s preferred 12.5″ Scout rifle length-of-pull, but not because these are intended as Scout rifles. Rather, I’ve got short arms, and when I felt the utter handiness of the 12.5″ LOP Mike crafted for my wife’s Boomershoot rifle, I was smitten.

Mike doesn’t do flash hiders, but I should be able to use the various Vortex or Rawles-recommended Hurricane designs.

I also fulfilled a longstanding urge to add the Pachmayr flush-mount sling swivels in three-position Ching Sling configuration (leaving the original front sling stud in place for bipod attachment — when I’m not using the sling, of course).

Such work, when done well, is (cough) not inexpensive (cough) — hey, the mortgage company can wait a month, right? — but for me, it’s worth it to finally have my favorite rifles configured the way I’ve wanted for a very long time.

If you are looking for a precision gunsmith, email Phil or me for Mike’s contact info.

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*Yes, it means “Lightning, and he named it in 2005, well before any similarly-named politician came to prominence, so any resemblance to a certain celebrity is purely coincidental, albeit still freakin’ hilarious.

If you ever meet Phil and his rifle at the range, be sure to ask him in a loud voice if he’ll let you “shoot Barak.” That frozen glare is his way of joining in the hilarity, trust me.

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7 Responses to Rifle Surgery

  1. Tango says:

    Rather, I’ve got short arms, and when I felt the utter handiness of the 12.5″ LOP Mike crafted for my wife’s Boomershoot rifle, I was smitten.

    Does that mean you’re bringing her to Boomershoot or does it mean you already did sometime in the past?

  2. Davidwhitewolf says:

    She attended a couple years ago and loved it. Her work schedule is always a problem (she works in the public school system) but we’re going to try to get her out there again in 2013.

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