Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Using the Flex-Hone on a Winchester 92 Clone

Some of you may remember that earlier this year, I had tried handloading the the Hornady FTX Bullet in .44 Magnum for use in a Rossi "Puma" Model 92 lever action (a Winchester 92 clone). When I shot some of the handloads, I discovered evidence of too high of pressures. I planned on reducing the loads and trying again, which required me to pull the bullets from the remaining cartridges (at least from the rounds wherein I had used 2400 powder).

I haven't returned to the project yet, however, because of something else I found when examining the shell casings of the rounds I had fired. I had noticed that extraction was sometimes difficult with this firearm, and was extremely difficult with a few of the high pressure rounds. In examining the cases, which had fire-formed to reflect the walls of the chamber, I discovered some ridges indicating that the chamber was not as smooth and polished as it should be. So, before testing any other loads, I decided to see about polishing the chamber.

Although there are instructions on the internet for making your own polishing tool using emery cloth and a spent casing, in looking around I found a product specifically for polishing chambers: the Flex-Hone.

The Flex Hone (unused).
I purchased my Flex-Hone through Midway, but I'm sure that other sellers carry it. Basically, it is a brush of the appropriate diameter with abrasive beads on the ends of each wire tip. The brushes are available in 400 or 800 grit, depending on the application. I would note that Flex-Hones are available not only for polishing chambers, but also for smoothing and polishing shotgun barrels. Obviously, they are available for different calibers and gauges, as well as different lengths. This particular brush was supposed to be the rifle-length brush for the .44 Magnum, but it is still fairly short.

The Flex-Hone is intended to insert into a drill, with oil applied to the brush, and the brush run at speed in the chamber. The brush needs to already be rotating as you insert it into the chamber, and moved back and forth during the polishing process. The depth that it needs to be inserted depends on the firearm, but you want to make sure you do not contact the rifling in the barrel. I used a spent shell casing to gauge how far I could insert the brush.

The Flex-Hone manufacturer recommended using its proprietary oil, but since I hadn't ordered any with it, I turned to just standard cutting oil. Not knowing how much time I should take, I tried to err on the side of caution and only ran the drill for about a minute, figuring I would test it out and do more polishing if necessary.

Flex Hone in Drill with cutting oil.

In any event, to use the Flex-Hone, I had to disassemble the firearm in order to remove the bolt to allow easier access to the chamber. I won't go into details on disassembling the Model 92, but I relied on a video from Gun & Shot TV entitled "Rossi R92 50 Cent Action Job (Winchester 92 Clone)" that describes the disassembly and assembly process. (I have also embedded the video below). However, I do have a couple comments regarding reassembly of the firearm that are not covered in the video.

The problem with reassembling the firearm is getting the hammer assembly to fit together correctly with a cutout on the bottom of the bolt and the arms of the trigger assembly. The trigger spring on the 92 is also used as the catch on the sear, so it is easy to bind up the trigger if it is not inserted correctly. To make it more interesting, on my particular rifle at least, the fit of the grooves that guide the trigger assembly into place were tight enough that I needed a light mallet to tap it back into place.

In any event, after several failed attempts, I figured out that the correct method of reassembly required that the hammer be in a full upright position (i.e., resting against the back of the firing pin), and the trigger needs to be kept depressed (i.e., pulled to the rear) so the trigger spring/sear catch did not get caught up behind the hammer assembly or in one of the sear cuts. Also, the hammer spring needs to be on its guide rod and compressed so that the tip of the guide rod can be seated into its catch on the trigger assembly/bottom stock tang.

To compress the hammer spring (which is a coil spring), you should note that there is a tiny hole near the end of the guide rod. Insert a wire or pin (a regular size paper clip works perfect) all the way through so it extends past both edges of the spring, then twist the spring so it screws down along the wire. You want to compress it so about 1/8 inch or so of guide rod is exposed. To hold the trigger back, I recommend just wrapping a rubber band around the front of the trigger and run behind the projection into which the hammer spring seats, tightening it until the trigger is fully depressed. I'm sure a piece of string would also work.

If the bolt, the lever and the hammer assembly is positioned correctly, the trigger assembly/lower tang should slide into place without difficulty. Once it is in place and the screw/pin for the hammer and trigger assembly replaced, just remove the paper clip and the rubber band and everything should operate correctly. Then you can replace the butt stock and be done.

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