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Assembling a Knock-Around Rifle

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Several years back, I took a small ring Mauser 96, in 6.5×5,5 and turned it into a scout-type rifle. It later became a more traditional rifle with normal scope mounts and a turned-down bolt. In that configuration, it became my loaner, backup, knock-around rifle for friends and relatives that asked to borrow a rifle for impromptu hunts. Later, I further modified it by taking the barrel from the 21 inches that I originally cut it to, to 17 inches and having it threaded for a suppressor. The rifle has proven boringly accurate and extremely consistent in its ability to maintain zero and accuracy throughout its life. It still gets used but is no longer relegated to knock-around status.

The loss of the Swede 96, as my knock-around gun made me want to put another together. The idea was to put another small ring Mauser together, preferably a 96. In looking for a suitable rifle it became clear that “cheap” 96 Mauser’s were not as readily available as before. I did want a caliber that would be suitable for general hunting and was reasonably available for the folks that would borrow the gun. I intended to have it sighted in for factory ammo this time so that I didn’t have to supply ammo along with the rifle. This also caused me to rethink using a small ring Mauser. 

I happened to have a receiver from a Remington 742, and after working on a pair of  Remington 760s and 742’s that had been given to nephews for first deer rifles, I thought I could convert it to a pump Remington 760 if I could find all the correct conversion parts.

As luck would have it a company called “Every gun part” had a demilled early style Remington 760 in 30-06. This made the conversion easy, in theory, all I had to do was remove the torched receiver from the connected parts and install everything onto my receiver. My theory proved correct — the receivers are close enough to the same to allow converting from auto to pump. Upon discussing the project with a friend, I was informed that years ago this conversion was quite popular in his area of Minnesota and Wisconsin. 

Once I made sure all the parts would fit and function, the only visible difference in receivers is the cut to allow the cocking handle to reciprocate on the 742 receivers. I went about cleaning and repairing some minor issues. The fore-end was cracked in the back, so I trimmed away the split wood and shortened the overall length. 

The firing pin was broken so a new one was ordered, the stock was shortened and a rubber recoil pad from an old Benelli shotgun was installed. A scope mount came with the parts kit and a scope was installed.

Since this was going to be a general-purpose loaner and camp gun, I had originally chosen a Leupold European 1-4x that had been collecting dust. However, I also had an old vintage Redfield 2.75x with a post-reticle and switched to it. The only thing needed to make this a complete retro hunting rifle would be the addition of “see-thru” mounts or a Weaver pivot mount. I do not need the ability to have both optics and irons available simultaneously and have never really cared for those types of mounts. 

Everything was once again assembled, lubed, and function tested. All that remained was firing and sighting in, I decided to load 180gr. RN soft points since I had plenty and the 180gr. weight should do everything that was asked of the gun. I picked a relatively low loading from the loading manual for the first few rounds to go through the gun. The first shot was triggered with a bit of trepidation,…..would something go awry? Did my figuring not work out safely? I had no issues and the brass and primer showed no signs of problems, the next 3 shots all showed the same results.  

Then I switched to factory ammo and was able to get it zeroed at 100 yds. I’ll recheck zero at 100 and then rattle can a new “finish” on it. The barrel has been cut to 18” and made a carbine out of it. The front sight was replaced with an old barrel band sight that will be fitted with a fiber optic blade. Those parts came from my personal stash of old spare parts and gun show finds so no output of new money. I may look for some aftermarket synthetic stocks, but for now, I’ve got just over 200.00 dollars invested in it.   

Now with the new “finish” applied and Redfield scope mounted it is ready for use or loaning. Everything appears to be tight and safe, functioning the sliding fore-end was smooth, and ejection was positive, feeding on the magazine was problem-free. It seems we have a new knock-around gun after all. It’s in a caliber that is the epitome of all-around practicality and availability, and it shoots very acceptably. If anyone has a project rifle or gun of any kind, look up everygunpart.com they may have something to help bring that project to fruition.   

Since it operates basically the same as a Remington 870, it seems logical to pair it up with a spare 870 I have and use them together as camp guns. They’ll travel well in camper, truck, or trailer and should serve their purpose perfectly.

Having a gun that can serve as backup for friends and relatives, or serve as a camp gun that has no special sentiment to it or isn’t pricey can be quite useful. Having one that is chambered in a universally available caliber or gauge is handy for the person you’re loaning it to.  Having it be accurate and reliable is the best of all.

Retired Firefighter of 28 years, and a lifelong shooter, competitor, hunter, and outdoorsman. Currently an outdoor bum, taking advantage of all my free time, and enjoying our great outdoors.

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