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Ever make your own wildcat?

Discussion in 'Rifle Discussion' started by orygun, Nov 28, 2010.

  1. orygun

    orygun West Linn Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I've got an idea and I'd like to get some info from anyone that has ever made a wildcat round themselves, or had a rifle built on a wildcat.
    I'd like to have one custom rifle before I'm done and why not make it my own cartridge?
    I'm considering necking down a .375 Ruger to (most likely) 30 cal. I believe I would have to move the shoulder back some to keep a reasonable length neck. In doing so it looks like I'd basically be doing an Improved version of the old .30 Newton.
    I realize this is going to be expensive.....
    Any advice?
     
  2. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Actually, you are on the right track for a "first wildcat", and it may not be as expensive as you think.

    If you are using the .375 Ruger as a base, and only necking it to .30, you will probably need no modifications to the magazine rails, certainly will need no modification to the bolt face. This is where the money goes in a conversion.

    As I see it, you will only need a barrel installed, chambered in your new cartridge. You can save money here by buying a "take-off" barrel in 30 caliber, chambered in something of smaller/shorter case than the .375. A good smith can ream the chamber to the .375 case, without going far enough to modify the eventual cartridge neck area of the barrel, then throat it for .30, according to your specifications.

    First step would be to make your cartridge. Get a few .375 Ruger cases, and fish around for any .30 die of proper length that will take that neck to .30, while allowing the fat .375 case to enter the die. (This might be a bit more problematic than I am describing: I am not totally familiar with the body diameter or case length of the .375, but all you need is to get that neck to the neck sizing portion of a .30 die.). Dont worry about the expander button: a good boattail .30 bullet will do that inside diameter for you when seated with the inside of the neck lubed sufficiently. My search would perhaps look for something along the lines of a .300 Short Mag die set, begged, borrowed, or ....stolen?

    This die set might also serve for your initial seating process. You are not building a live round: only a deprimed .375 case, necked to .30, and a .30 bullet seated.

    Look at your new cartridge, hold it, fondle it, and imagine the possibilities.

    On a smaller scale, I did exactly this method of conversion. I bought a 7.62x39 Mini Mauser. I had it rebarrelled to what I call ".25 Pronghorn Pursuit Cartridge". (PPC is in honor to Palmisano/Pindell for developing the 6mm PPC, and my .25 is exactly that, but of slightly larger diameter bullet).

    No feed-rail mod was needed, no bolt face mod needed. Dennis Olson of Plains, Montana did the work. He used a 6mm PPC reamer in the new Lilja barrel of .25 bore, and throated it to specifically accomodate my inert cartridge I had sent him with a 85g Ballistic Tip as the projectile, seated to a depth that would work in the Mini-Mauser magazine, and achieve chambering with the bullet just off the lands.

    This differs from your idea only in that I went to a bigger diameter bullet than the "convential cartridge" (6mm PPC) reamer: you are going to a smaller one.
    I may be all wet in thinking a .375 Ruger reamer could be modified and/or stopped before it interfered with throat. Any good barreling smith could instantly answer this question. If I am wrong, you will have added expense in the building of a .30-375 reamer from the outfits that do this.

    When I finally assembed a loaded cartridge (using dies of other calibers I had on hand) and fired it in the gun, I sent Huntington (custom division of RCBS) the fired case, and they made a die set specifically to the fired case dimensions. Alas! they also said one other person had already done this. So, get ready: someone probably beat you to it. Consult Huntington and/or Redding: they may put you in touch with your predecessor. He might have the reamer, or know where it can be had. Reamer rental is a very common trade practice. (You save money again!)

    What I ended up with is a gun that weighs less than 6 pounds with the Leupold Compact 3x-9x installed, duplicates the velocity of a .250 Savage (3000 fps with the 85g Nosler), in a tiny-actioned gun. The rifle carries like a wisp on my shoulder: I do all my antelope hunting on foot, much running involved. It shoots true to its parentage: the 6mm PPC is THE premier benchrest cartridge, and my gun is scary accurate.

    I will not ask you why you want to do this conversion. You already know that your resulting ballistics are probably already duplicated in a factory cartridge of some sort.

    But that is not why we wildcat. For me, it is in the knowledge that you have something no one else has (or maybe a very few). I am relatively confident that I took the very first Pronghorn with a .25PPC, and I know that I have taken more with it than anyone.
     
  3. gehrheart

    gehrheart fidalgo island Well-Known Member

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    The last time I did a wildcat, I did not invent it, was my .35 Whelen (before it became a standard offering). Built up on a Winchester P17, Hart barrel, jewel trigger, dayton trister cock on opening conversion, teflon/moly black T-kote, beautiful piece of custom walnut, and Old redfield pep sights.
    I think it's stunning.


    Something about a gun that you have built. Haven't done my own design for a wildcat, have thought of a few only to find some one else has already tried it.
    Yours sound interesting though.....

    Look forward to hear how it came out for you. I'd like to know how you come out with the loading dies.
     
  4. orygun

    orygun West Linn Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Spitpatch,Thanks for the great input. Gehrheart, thanks for the encouragment.
    I'd like to build this on a Model 70 action. Push feed isn't something that I'd consider to be an option and I'd prefer it to be stainless. That pretty much leaves me looking at a newer Winchester. To start with a gun that is a 375 Ruger makes a lot of sense. Winchester doesn't make one. Ruger does and it comes in the Hogue stock that I really like. There is a fair amount of bolt "wobble" in the Ruger 77s that I'd really like to get away from. If it wasn't for that, starting with a Hawkeye Alaskan would be the ticket. I have several other Ruger rifles and the wobble doesn't bother me so much. But hey, if I'm going to go all out, why settle?
    A gun chambered in 300 Win Mag would have the correct size of bolt face and a 30 cal barrel.....Hmmm. Might be alright but I've given some thought about using a custom barrel. Probably wouldn't take too much tweaking to make the 375 case feed out of a mag that the 300 Win comes with.
    The idea of finding a 30 cal die to do the primary necksizing is brilliant. I think that a 300 RCM die would be the ticket. Probably has exactly the dimensions that I'd like on the front end of the case and should be fairly inexpensive plus easy to find. I already have a 375 Ruger and 30-06 I reload for, so I've got brass and bullets on hand.
    This still won't be cheap, but it just might end up costing less than I imagined.
    When I get started I'll post about it.
    Thanks again.
     
  5. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Just about any controlled feed action will have the "wobble" you speak of. "Newer" versions (can we call the M70 "newer"?) may have some less than a military Mauser, but it is the nature of the beast, with the accommodation for the big extractor.

    I am a Rem 700 devotee, but as compensation to my brother in Alaska for being our base camp on hunts there (and a "guide" of sorts), I usually take him up a new gun. One year, he had made noises about a Win 70 in .30-06, and so I procured a stainless 70 Classic (controlled feed) in that caliber, outfitted it with a good Leupold 1.5-5x and worked with it for the summer. This was shortly after Winchester revamped the 70 to controlled feed, and those guns/actions took the bolt rifle market by storm: and with good reason.

    That 70 Classic shot like a dream. It is tragic that the quality dropped off some years later for those models. Barrel problems, etc. But his '06 is a real gem. Moose tremble.

    Huntington cranked out the dies for the .25PPC with no trouble at all. You pay a premium for custom dies. I think I paid around $75 (15 years ago).

    Orygun, your best friend in all this will be a good barelling smith. Pac-Nor is right here in Oregon, make top flight barrels, can search for the reamer, and might do this for you, or put you in touch with a smith that they recommend. I will put in another plug for Dennis Olson in Plains, Montana as well. He likes working with Lilja barrels (a neighbor of his), and those barrels are nearly unequaled. Any smith that does this type of work regularly will be your greatest resource, advise you of kinks to be aware of, recommend action type for the purpose, etc.
     
  6. The Cheese

    The Cheese somewhere special Member

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    all you need is a good drawing and you can have all your stuff made for you if you have the $$$. Pacific tool and Gauge can do the chamber reamers and your go/no-go gauges. They are super knowledgeable and can be of good help. Who knows, someone may have already done something similar and they can just whip it back out. Plus they are in OR. RCBS, Redding, and I think Hornady can all make custom dies for reloading. IIRC its somewhere between $75-150. Call and ask. Once you have all that, you run to a decent smith and get you a 30cal barrel chambered, then have fun working up your loads.
     
  7. orygun

    orygun West Linn Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    This is all great info. Thank you all for the input. Once I get past Christmas, I'll start in earnest.
     
  8. Bigfoot

    Bigfoot Clack Co. OR Well-Known Member

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    Hornady builds custom 'hydraulic forming dies' for your brass. IIRC you can send them the reamer print and they will send you a die that you set your parent case in, fill with water and hit with a mallet. Out pops brass formed for your chamber instead of fireforming.

    Don't know how you feel about Savage but thier WSM rifles are CRF. They used to chamber RUMs, I don't know if those were CRF but the same feed and ejection system used in the WSM rifles could be used in a long action.

    I'm sure that you know how easy Savage rifles are to rebarrel. If for some reason you don't like your new baby or if it's too much rifle for blacktail :laugh: you can swap a 25-06, 6.5-284 or a 270 barrel onto it at home. The bolt heads swap with just a single pin.