I’ve seen making gunstocks just about my entire life. I’ve been having trouble though with a project that involves a 1892 Krag Jorgensen 6.5 x 55. It is more common in the US to find one in 30/40 Krag. WWI issue and the US’s first smokeless powder issued firearm. It has a uncharacteristic side box that drops open. You now just drop your ammo in and close. Work the bolt and your ready to fire. The unique mechanism works as though gliding on butter. I mean it is smooth.
My problem is the stock. When my great uncle gave it to me it was sitting in a shed that had lost most of its roof gone and the rifle butt was sitting in dirt with oil and mud….yeah it had rained on it several times. I’ve cleaned it up considerably but I’m not willing to blue it until I can find a stock. I’ve looked everywhere from east to west and online more times than I can count. It has been one of those projects that just has been gnawing at me.
I’ve taken every part I could remove off and put it back after cleaning. The front sight is missing but the rear sight has graduated marks in meters. When I cleaned it I found brass inlays at specific yardages. I don’t even want to get into how t remove the bolt on this gun. Let’s just say I figured it out after a lot of trial and lots of errors. I know of nothing else that works like this one.
While I was studying the history of the rifle I found out that it was well known by hunters going to Africa. What, a little pip squeak 6.5 used on big game? NAW! I said to myself, it can’t be true! I couldn’t believe it and spent a little time in denial on how it was used. Now comes the hard part of my history lesson for me anyway. Until the modern 30 calibers like 3006 and 308 the mighty 6.5 x 55 held all the world records for the 1000 meter shooting championships and many in between.
I won’t bore everyone with statistical ballistics but lets just say it acts better than most 30’s as far as handling (low recoil) and penetrates targets of interest better than its new cousins. Many European hunters still use it for Moose hunting because of its ability to penetrate the large animals to put them down humanely. To put it another way it is a balanced weapon, with low recoil, highly efficient rounds that are inherently accurate in a good gun. I want a good gun. I’m not going to win 1000 meter championships with it but I could use a little help ever so often, well maybe more often than not.
Now my search found me evaluating duplication systems and the third listing under “gun stock duplicator” was a listing for a shop and not a duplicator manufacturer. Ok, now where is this shop? Well I called and thinking it was on the east coast but it turns out the shop is over in Vale Oregon just outside of Nyssa…anyway some of my old stomping grounds. In talking to the proprietor I found out that we are about the same age (and that is all I’m saying here on the subject as I need no more reminders of my mortality status) and we had a lot in common and a lot to talk about.
Here is some of Randy’s story and how he ended up where he currently resides;
Randy’s Dad, Harold F. Murray, retired from the Navy in 1965 he opened a gun shop in Encanto, California. In 1968 he moved to Portland, Oregon to work for Roberts Gunstocks on 148th and N.E. Sandy Blvd. In 1971 Roberts moved to Marysville, Ca. and then they opened Murray’s Gun Shop in their old location on Sandy Blvd.
Currently they are located in Nyssa, Oregon. Right on Oregon,/Idaho border, 60 miles east of Boise ,Idaho.
Randy moved with his family from San Diego, Ca. in 1971 when he was 16 years old. He and his father operated a gunsmithing, custom rifle, gunstocks and retail gun store there. That’s where he learned the intricacies of building and duplicating gunstocks. Under his father’s expert tutelage Randy began to excel in his work.
His first duplicating machine was a Northstar Carver, single spindle machine with a 20 inch center, that was designed to carve larger pieces than gunstocks. He learned to duplicate gunstocks on that old belt driven machine.
After a while he went out and bought a Don Allen “Dakota” duplicating machine in 1992 and that is what he’s been duplicating stocks on since then. It is a very well built duplicator, two spindles, with articulated spindle head that will hold tolerances to within thousands of an inch. Now that is a tight fit and really helps in the fitting process. I don’t want to pay for a lot of work only to find out I still have to work on it to get it to fit. I was really liking what I was seeing on his website and what he was sharing with me on his process.
“When it comes to duplicating gunstocks, we know what we’re doing,” Randy says. “You can send your wood to us with confidence that it will be precision cut to very close tolerances. You will be able to get excellent wood to metal fit with a minimum of hand fitting.”
“We use a high quality duplicator (Dakota), have excellent patterns and many years experience duplicating gunstocks. We cut very close tolerances without gaps or overcuts. We also duplicate from your pattern or original stock. If you have a broken stock, we can make that into a good pattern. Pattern building is in addition to duplicating prices. Please call or e-mail with questions.”
“We offer High Quality Military Gunstock Duplicates. We use Original Military Stocks for our patterns and ALL Stocks are EXACT Duplicates of Original.”
He also uses the correct type of Wood ( Laminate, Walnut, Arctic Birch, ETC. ) He has a lot of the Military Gunstock Patterns and can duplicate from your Original Stock.
I like it, I like it a lot! So now it was time for the big question, at least for me. “Do you have a template stock to work on a Krag Jorgensen stock?” I started to hold my breath but it wasn’t needed as he without hesitation said, “I think there is one hanging up right here.” Now inside I’m starting to act like a little kid that has found his first Easter Egg! Yeah, sure enough he’s got it!
This story is going to be an ongoing project with my ongoing 6.5 x 55 rifle project with Randy Murray. I’m making arrangements with Randy to send him a stock blank that I’ve already purchased through Bishops Stocks. Randy knows what I want. More importantly he knows the rifle and the caliber and has worked on them before with tremendous results.
I’ll put up a few pictures of his past work and some of my project as it unfolds. Hope this information and the contact with Randy Murray helps more than just me. Randy is a proven artisan with clients across the North West and in the Canadian Provinces as well. I think his secret lair has now been exposed. I’ll have no problem I’m sure in giving him referrals. In fact I know a local gunsmith that could use his services A LOT! Oh and I have a 150 year old double barrel shotgun that no longer has any wood and then there is the ………..I gotta save up some money and hey, honey, you know what I want for Christmas? Hint Hint! Hmmmm?