Gun's Magazine

    January 1995
Custom Gunmakers
Guild Gun
By Sharon Farmer-Dressel
Photography by Mustafa Bilal
This year's number 11 American Custom Gunmakers Guild (ACGG) Rifle is an example which shows just how the exceptional work of the gun builders has evolved.  Since the forming of the ACGG in 1983, the Guild has gathered to promote the highest standards of the gunmaking trade.  The “.405 American Double Rifle” will be raffled at the annual exhibition show in Reno, Nev., held in January 1995.
Metalsmith Tony Fleming, stockmaker Paul Dressel Jr. and engraver Ralph Bone have created a double rifle that is a rarity to the American gunmaking trade.  Any hunter would be confident to carry this rifle in his pursuit of big game.
Casemaker Marvin Huey has constructed a quality French-fitted leather case which merits such a treasure.  The interior of this case is a forest green ultra suede which shows off the overall high quality of the total project.
Some fortunate individual will win this .405 rifle for $20, the price of a raffle ticket for the drawing to be held in January of 1995.  The ticket holder need not be present to win, but missing the annual event constitutes a major mistake on the part of any lover of fine firearms.
Only 2,000 tickets will be sold and information on the exhibition can be obtained by contacting the American Custom Gunmakers Guild.  Also, any guild member may be called for further information.


Making An American Double
     Tony Fleming conceived of the idea of converting a Winchester Model 21 side-by-side shotgun to a .405 Winchester rifle.  Several problems presented themselves in undertaking this project.  The first was to obtain a suitable gun for reworking. A 12 gauge frame was chosen because of its greater strength, then 20 gauge barrels had two be found to suit the scale of the rifle.  
     Fleming started by disassembling the 20 gauge barrels and fitting then with .411 inserts chambered for .405 Win.  Fleming then had to reassemble the barrels, fabricate and fit loop, quarter rib, barrel wedges, sights, extractors and ribs.  
     He designed and fitted receiver discs (removable with spanner) to achieve replaceable, rifle diameter, close fitting, spring-retracted firing pins suitable for the higher pressure of the rifle cartridge and relocated the pins to the 20 gauge centers.  A larger hinge pin was installed and the barrels were fitted to achieve a tighter fit at breech and water table.
     In order to make this rifle more appealing to the eye, Fleming reduced the size of the fences to match the 20 gauge barrels and sculpted the top  of the receiver to match the quarter rib and lines of stock.  He also added beads to the barrels along the water table.
     The rear line of the receiver was changed from straight line to radius.  He drilled and tapped the hinge pin to accept screws from both sides of the action replacing the nut normally seen on the left side with an indexed screw matching that on the right.  The hinge pin was then secured with a set screw fitted from the front of the receiver at the knuckle.  
     Fleming then fabricated and attached over the comb a tang extension and extended the trigger guard.  A new safety button was styled and fitted.  He also made and fit double triggers (front articulated).  The exterior forend iron at the junction of the wood has been changed to general radius.  For a final touch all external screws were replaced with thin, slotted, indexed screws.  
     Winchester Model 21s typically have problems with the forend because the latching design of the wood is largely hollow and is prone to cracking and pulling loose from the metal.  Also, the barrel loop often comes loose in the barrels and damages the under rib.  The greater recoil of a rifle cartridge would aggravate these problems.  
     Fleming redesigned the forend to a through-end bolt system incorporating a front escutcheon and housing an Anson and Dealey latching system.  The advantages of this system are simplicity and solid forend wood security attached to the iron.  This also makes a clean canvas for the stockmaker to checker.  
     A scope would be detrimental to a short range, quick handling rifle, so scope mounts were not fitted.  Barrels and sights were regulated for 100 yard point of aim with a load of 56 grains 3031 behind a 300 gr. Barnes softpoints or 300 gr. Barnes X bullet.  The muzzle velocity is 2,150-2,200 fps measured with an Oehler model 35P chronograph.


The oversized English grip cap makes the
rifle easier to control on the second shot.
Classic Wood
     The stockmaker decided upon Bastogne walnut, which is half black walnut and half English walnut.  The reason for using this wood is because most double guns are of English and European origin and are stocked with European walnut.  A Model 21 Winchester is an American shotgun and Winchester used crotch-figured black walnut on these high-grade doubles.  
     Dressel had just the piece of wood needed for this rifle; a crotch feathered and so-called flame grained block which he donated for the rifle. The forend was taken out of the same block as the buttstock.  
     Dressel's basic stock dimensions were borrowed from an existing double rifle that he owns. This rifle handles well and is pleasant to shoot.  It is also universal which enables most anyone to shoot it from the same point of aim.  
     A buttplate was made from a block of horn and is of shotgun  dimensions.  This distributes the recoil quite well.  The .405 Win. is not a particularly heavy recoil cartridge, so Dressel saw on need for a rubber pad.  The butt plate is checkered with a 22 l.p.i. which makes for a non-slip surface.  
     A large English-style Dressel grip cap was used.  The width is greater than the cross width of the grip.  This keeps the hand from slipping down and makes for better control of the second shot.  The grip cap was made with no external screws so that Bone could put a grizzly's head on it.  It is attached blind behind the extended trigger guard tang.  
     The rear sling swivel is for English-style sling hooks and is mounted forward in the same style.  Dressel designed a forend that is not a splinter style nor a beavertail.  By incorporating panels at the junction of the receiver, it was possible to give a little more hand-feeling dimensions without the bulk of semi- or full- beavertail.  This lends itself to quicker handling and less bulk.  
     For the final touches of the stock, Dressel checkered on the main panels a 26 l.p.i. point pattern style with mullered borders.


For a touch of classic styling, all the number 11's external screw
heads have been replaced with slotted index screws.


Engraver's art


     When Ralph Bone was asked to engrave the American Double Rifle, he knew the scene he wanted to use for the main theme.  It would be patterned after a Haydon Lambson painting of a brown bear called “Unwilling to Share.”  
     Lambson was gracious enough to draw a black and white pencil sketch of the original oil painting.  This original pencil sketch is mounted in a hand crafted and designed solid Bastogne walnut frame which matches the stock which will be given along with the raffle to the lucky winner of the rifle.  
     Bone Chose a moose and bison for companion scenes which are framed in 24 karat gold line work.  The scenes are done in medium to deep relief engraving.  Bone designed a unique sculptured matting pattern that is engraved on the rib and is also used as a background for his bear head on the grip cap.  The rest of the engraving is on open leaf scroll.  
     Doug Turnbull donated his time and talents for the final finishes to this elaborate piece of art work.  He rust blued the barrels then polished the muzzle, breach face and action lugs.  Turnbull charcoal case hardened the forend tip and grip cap and coated it with clear baking lacquer.  The triggers, safety, buttplate screws, rear sling stud and forend were nitrate blued and coated with clear shellac.       He then polished the sides of both triggers brightly.  The receiver is charcoal blued and Ralph Bone did a French gray treatment to the scenes to make for a better contrast which adds to the final touch of the rifle.  
     Don Horsefield donated and hand crafted a sling and a four cartridge holder made of English pigskin leather.  
     A double rifle has a romantic aura about it.  This year's Number 11 American Double Rifle is the type of gun from which men from yesteryear would have felt safe stopping a raging grizzly, charging bison, or a rampaging moose. <>


Above: The piece of engraving
which sets the tone for all the artwork
on the Number 11 is the floorplate
which is based on a painting by Haydon
Lamson entitiled, "Unwilling To Share."

The Craftsmen

Ralph Bone
718 North Atlanta
Owasso OK 74055
918 272-9745

Paul Dressel, Jr.
5808A Summitview #200
Yakima WA 98908
(509) 966-9233

Tony Fleming
375 Hyacinth Street
Sparks NV 89436
(702) 331-1937
Marvin Huey, Jr.
PO Box 22456
Kansas City MO 64113
(816) 444-1637

Doug Turnbull
6426 County Road 30
Holcomb NY 14469
(716) 657-6338

PO Box 113
Terrace, B.C.
Canada V1C 4A2
(250) 638-7746
Fax:   638-7963

The number 11, a  .405 Win. double rifle made from a Winchester Model 21 side-by-side shotgun, features a Bastogne walnut stock by Paul Dressel, Jr.; the forend and stock are crafted from a single piece of wood.

Paul and Sharon Dressel ã 2003