This little project has been in the back of my mind for some 7-8 years; I have had the rail setting here now for over a year and decided to do it this week. This is a 64 Silhouette that I purchased back in 1985, at that time I put Redfield rings and mounts on it and they have never been of since that day. The rail is an EGW blank that was purchased directly from them; it is an extrusion rail that comes in 16 inch or 32 inch lengths with the 16 costing about $25. Well first off the base of the rail is square and needed a 1 inch radius cut in it, I have a friend that has a mill but at the time he was unavailable so I decided to use my router. I guess this is for all of you that do not have metal working equipment or have it available to you to perform this operation but do have wood working equipment.
With a 1 inch round bit in the router I made a makeshift jig to contain the rail as I passed it over the bit, now I don’t advocate using a router this way but as you will see it can be done and very well. I first off cut the rail to length and also to have two pieces or setting up the jig on the router table then cleaned up the ends on the belt sander.
I ripped two strips of ½ inch plywood and clamped them to my router table to form a channel that the rail would slide in then run the bit up into the bottom for a fine cut on the first pass. The rail was 9/16 in width so I used a 9/16 bit to center the jig to the bit being used. I use wax on the rails so everything slides well without binding. I have taken many passes, for each setting I pass the rail over the bit at least 4-5 times until I reached the depth I wanted. The photos below show the first depth setting, the next shows finished depth and the last shows the uniform 1 inch radius that fits nicely to the receiver. In a later photo the mating surface has been polished with some 400 grit paper wrapped around a dowel.
Now that the first hurtle has been passed we move on to the second hurtle and that is marking and drilling the mounting holes. This is probably the most difficult thing to accomplish without good equipment such as a mill with a digital readout. The hole spacing is ½ in apart and the front to rear, outside holes are 4 inches apart. The EGW rail has 10 ribs in the center so finding the center is pretty simple, I determined where the first hole was to be and marked from there. Using the calipers from the first spot I marked the other locations. Setting up the drill press I used a # 1 center drill to spot all hole locations then moved to #3 and repeated the steps again making sure that drill size for the next operation had a c-sink to follow. All the counter bores were done with just a drill for I do not own a cap screw counter bore set, all holes were copied from the Redfield mounts.
Success!! I must admit that I had my doubts for I have attempted drilling hole spacing on the drill press before with little success but this time it couldn’t have been any better with a digital readout and a mill. This is the first time that I spotted all the holes with a #1 center drill and I think it was the key to getting all started in the right place; it is small enough to be able to pinpoint the mark and see what you are doing. All the screws dropped in place without any binding or having to enlarge the holes.
The loading port area has to be opened up to allow loading and shell ejection, this no time to get fancy using minimal equipment so a square notch will do. Back to the router with a ¼ inch straight bit, the use of a miter gage and stop block. Make sure that the piece is supported very well and enough surface that you can hang on to it easily and take minimal depth cuts with multiple passes. After the notch was to depth it was clamped in a vise and hand radius with a file then blended with a blending pad to finish.
Now to complete the job I am going to lap the rings before mounting the scope. The leftover piece of rail came in handy for this; it was clamped in the bench vise to hold it secure. I suppose there many ways of lapping rings and right or wrong this is the way I do it and have done it this way for 20 years. The lap I use was made for me and probably is the only one like it in existence; it is cast iron that was ground between centers @ .996, under the inch mark. I use Clover 320 lapping compound and cut it with the good old high sulfur pipe threading oil, if no oil is added it gets too dry. Once the bottom part of the rings is cleaned up good I install the top portion and lap them minimally, mainly to find the high spots and even them out.
The finished product mounted and bore sighted. I never liked any of the mounts offered for the 64 Anschutz; either they were Redfield dovetail or the style for grooved receivers and were limited in being able to move the scope forward or back. The Picatinny rail is the cat’s a$$ for changing scopes or removing and reinstalling a scope to maintain zero.
As with all my projects I am just showing what can be accomplished with minimal tools and a little time. A word of warning, using a wood router to mill aluminum can be very hard on the tool, to cut 6061-T6 works very well but if you get a piece of tooling plate it will destroy everything, I know because it happened to me. Good luck in all your endeavors………..
Do you really need to lap Leupold rings? I thought lapping the rings was only for lower quality rings?
I recently received a set of Leupold QD rings that were not aligned with one another. They were so far off no amount of lapping would have worked… the dovetails had to be re-cut. I mounted them to a 1″ rod, indicated in a vise, and removed the crossbolts, and cut the dovetails until they were in line.
I never pick up the rifle by the scope, but after about 600 plus rounds through my rifle and those rings I haven’t lost zero. I was watching the Magpul Precision Rifle DVD and Todd Hodnett gave his opinion on lapping rings. He basically said that the quality rings didn’t need them, but he only uses LaRue so maybe he’s speaking about their rings?