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With deer season closing in it's time to get my deer-rifle out and remind myself how to shoot it. Of course being me I can't have something normal... A couple of years back my Uncle Jim passed and left me his tools and firearms. Among these was a crudely sporterized M38 7.35mm Carcano. He probably bought this rifle for $6-$8 from an ad in the back of American Rifleman in the 60's, or later got it from someone that did. He had several hundred Berdan-primed rounds for it, all preloaded in the now-rare clips. This one is similar but in better shape-
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According to Aunt Mary the rifle had stood in a corner for the last four decades, and it looked it. Coated with pitting and an amalgam of dust and long-dried gun oil it was a sight, but for a miracle the bore was good. On a good day it might be worth $60. I asked around the family and no one needed it, so I figured, 'what the hell.' I mean. it's a functional rifle, I've got ammo for it and it doesn't take up that much room.

One day a buddy of mine stopped by with a large chunk of walnut he'd come across and wanted to know if I could maybe use it for knife handles. I had a different idea... I'd never made a rifle-stock before but why not give it a shot? I stripped the rifle and cleaned up the metal, bobbed and re-crowned the barrel at 16-1/4" (after carefully looking up ATF regulations about how they measure this.) I fabricated a new front sight, placing it at my best estimation of the location of the original sight. I used my Uncles inherited wood-working chisels and other wood-working tools to make a Mannlicher Carbine stock and finished it with hand-rubbed Carnauba wax. I made a steel butt-plate for it to maintain a 'military' look. The results-
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By something I can only attribute to Divine Intervention the rifle shoots dead-on to point of aim at fifty yards. Recoil is noticeable but manageable. I haven't bedded the stock yet, but the barrel is free-floating from the action forward. At fifty yards accuracy is more than good enough for deer at that range; shooting off-hand I can reliably hit within an inch of POA.

I'll be buying reloading dies and new brass- there's only one outfit producing factory ammo for this cartridge, so I may just buy a bunch of that and accumulate brass as I shoot it off. Since the bore is a genuine .30-cal (.299-.300) bullets are a bit thin on the ground, but I can resort to resizing .308 Bullets.

It makes a handy little carbine, perfect for the close terrain where I hunt. Ballistically speaking the 7.35x51 Carcano soft-point ammo I have is on par with .30-30 and should be more than adequate for local Blacktails. So my Uncle's rifle, rebuilt with his tools. I like to think this is a project he'd have undertaken himself if it had occurred to him. A fitting tribute I think- and my Aunt and cousins agree. When I pass it down to my heirsI suspect they will be much happier to receive it than I was initially!
 

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