It’s not unusual for an older rifle to make its way through the family tree and lose its bolt or mag along the way – especially .22s which can be used and abused. The other way no mag/bolt guns fall into our hands is through Trademe auctions, usually run by gun stores that have used older rifles for parts, and no longer need the barrelled action and/or stock. So, is it worthwhile trying to restore these firearms to their former glory?
What’s the value?
If it’s a family heirloom, it could have enough sentimental value for you to undertake the project regardless of cost. However, if you’re eyeing up an auction, it’s probably because you want to get a rifle together on the cheap. Depending on your scenario, it may or may not be worth the time, money and effort to restore the firearm.
A word to the wise – thoroughly research your intended purchase before assuming you can find the parts to complete the project. As an example, I wanted to put together a cheap shotgun and bought an SKB semi action and stock, missing the forewood and barrel. I had seen some barrels online, and figured it would be easy enough to put this thing back together.
However, I found out (like an hour after the auction), that the SKB factory had been shut down, and that the barrels that I had found in the States were not ideal. There are some available locally – for over $900. There goes the idea of a cheap shotgun. So I paid $29.50 for something that probably won’t ever be used for anything, except perhaps testing out gun blue or stock reconditioning products.
What’s the cost?
Sometimes you can source the parts, but you have to be inventive to keep the cost down. The thing is, if it was cheap to do, the gun store would have bought the parts and sold a complete rifle for more – so you know it’s not going to be a walk in the park.
A good example of getting creative is a rifle I got from my father-in-law. It’s a .22LR bolt-action from sometime around the ’70s or ’80s. It was sold by a trading house by the name of Wischo Kg Erlangen in Germany originally, essentially assembled from parts provided by various European manufacturers. The rifle is basically a Voere.
The rifle came into my possession for the princely sum of a nice bottle of wine. It had a decent looking barrel and a crisp two-stage trigger. However, it was missing the rear sight, magazine and bolt. By keeping my eyes open, I managed to spot a Voere parts auction on Trademe.
The auction was for an action and bolt, with about 8 inches of barrel attached. See below video of me firing this weird thing, after fitting it to the stock from the rifle I had acquired.
Included in the “barrelled” action was the rear sight – a stroke of luck. Also in the auction I got a 6mm garden gun without bolt, which is just a wallhanger in my office. Oh well. I’m never even going to try solve that mystery.
The issue then became whether the parts I bought on an (educated) whim for $40 would fit my rifle – as technically they were not from the same gun. Well, it turned out I was right with my assumption that the trading house rifle was a Voere in disguise, however the bolt wouldn’t close nicely and the rear sight was obviously different, as it had a larger dovetailed base.
A machinist/engineer friend of mine helped me take a small piece of metal off the action around the bolt, which got it cocking smoothly, and extended the dovetail to take the sight off the parts gun. This cost me a box of Heineken.
All that’s left to buy is a magazine, which I can get from here, or here, for between $100 and $150. So, all up, for the cost of a bottle of wine, a box of beer, $40 for parts and around $150 for a mag, I’ll have a nice wee shooter with a bit of character and a story worth telling. By throwing in some of my own time and effort, I can reblue the rifle and varnish the stock, and it will end up being a really good looking little gun too.
So, again, it can be worth it – but you’ve got have the time, and sometimes know the right people, to make it worthwhile restoring a non-functioning rifle.