Solid vs Removable Pilot—Which is Best?
Both solid and removable pilots do an equally good job–assuming proper clearance with the bore—and therein lies the problem. Solid pilots are ground to one size which is usually slightly smaller than minimum industry bore size; they will fit most commercial barrels closely enough to produce good results. Because there is less work to make a solid pilot reamer, they’re also about 25% less expensive.
Removable piloted reamers are made with a journal (spindle) on the front end that allows precision bushings of varying sizes to be fitted to the reamer. The gunsmith can then select a pilot bushing that fits the bore of a particular barrel with exactly the clearance he wishes. Although the reamer with removable pilot costs more initially, and buying a selection of pilot bushings adds to the expense, this arrangement allows fine-tuning of the barrel/pilot fit.
Years ago, we used to sell about five solid pilot reamers for every one fitted with a removable pilot. This ratio has changed to approximately two solid for every one removable. Firearms tooling–other than reamers–that uses pilot bushings (indicating rods, specialized form cutters, etc.) has become more popular and it makes sense to have a selection of bushings that can be used on both a chamber reamer and another piloted cutter that will be used on the same build.
In the end, your budget and needs will decide which system is “best”.
We manufacture standard tooling, which we always stock, and special-order reamers, which are made to specific order. Since “specials” are currently taking 12-14 weeks to complete, we’ve made one or more extra of calibers requested recently. Below is a list of the “extras” that are available immediately. They’re still priced as specials ($170 for solid pilot, $200 removable pilot-for most- and come in wooden boxes), but they can ship now. Maybe one of them is just what you need!
|5.7 x 28
||9 mm Nato
| 30 BR
| 416-408 Chey-Tac RPF
|| 300 Norma Mag
|375 Remington Ultra Mag
|| 348 Win
|| 20 Tactical
This week the postman and UPS driver brought us three packages that we opened and simply set aside, without doing anything with them. If any of them was yours, and you needed something done in a hurry, we won’t know because there were no instructions or contact information included—just a tool or two, or a dummy round.
You may have called and talked to someone about an alteration or sharpening you wanted. Last week, or two months ago–it doesn’t matter when you called, we simply can’t be expected to remember specific conversations because we talk to so many people.
When sending packages to us for whatever reason, please include your name, address, phone and email–if you have it. You must also provide specific instructions as to what you want done with whatever you sent (Dave doesn’t know what you need). Finally, please provide payment information so we don’t have to make an otherwise unnecessary call.
When we have the information we need, your work will be completed more quickly than if we have to guess at what you want done. And, your package won’t sit on a shelf, waiting for you to contact us.
In spite of adding machinery and personnel, our manufacturing times for special-order items are still much longer than we’d like. Special headspace gauges are able to be completed in fairly good time—2-3 weeks at most. Special chambering reamers, however, are currently taking 3-4 months to get through the shop.
The manufacture of chambering reamers is much more involved than making gauges, and that is a small part of the problem. The larger issue is the many orders for “specials” that are ahead of yours.
When quoting an estimated manufacturing time, we look at our backlog and make a “best guess”, based upon our backlog, the type of reamer and its similarity to other orders already in the shop. Generally, we come pretty close to our estimate.
What doesn’t help us to meet your expectation of when your tool will be finished, is having to answer calls asking about its progress, even though we all understand the frustration of waiting for something after having ordered it.
Calls about your tool’s progress won’t speed it through the shop and only serve to frustrate us and likely you as well. If we’ve quoted 3-4 months, please give us at least the 3 months before calling. We’ll have more time to devote to production and you won’t have to hear us remind you of the manufacturing time we quoted when you ordered.
Occasionally our tools are used by gunwriters for their projects. When they are returned, we offer them to you as “professionally tested” at prices much lower than catalog prices.
Please see attached list and prices for these tools. Maybe one of them would work for your project! Writers’ Tools
Titanium CarboNitride (TiCN) coating is a process that infuses a very thin (.0001”-.0002”) layer of TiCN into the surface of high speed steel tools. The coating is extremely hard and “slippery”. Because of these characteristics, it offers better surface finishes and at least twice the tool life of uncoated high speed steel.
Titanium Nitride (TiN), “gold” coating, has also been used for years in this role, but isn’t as useful for cutting tools as TiCN. TiCN is a light-to-dark grey coating, sometimes with a pink tint.
We offer TiCN coating of individual reamers @ $18.00 each, with discounts available for higher volumes.
Doubling the life of a $100.00 reamer for an additional $18.00 seems a good bargain to us, but may not be appropriate if you’ll only use a reamer a few times. If, however, you cut a lot of, say, 308 Win chambers, the extra cost begins to make sense. (For more information see FAQ “High Speed Steel, Carbide and TiCN Coating”).
Let us know if you’d like your next reamer TiCN coated and we’ll be happy to oblige.
How Do I Deal With Chatter?
The thought of reamer chatter during chambering strikes fear in the heart of even the most experienced gunsmith. This condition can ruin an expensive barrel and add unnecessary cost to what should have been a profitable job. With many possible causes of chatter, it’s not unusual for several to be present at one time. Please review our article Chatter on the types, causes, and cures of chatter for help troubleshooting this problem.
Questions we get from customers generally fall into two categories: (1) Specifications of the tools we make and/or how they’re designed to be used and (2) Gunsmithing/machining techniques.
Because we’re toolmakers, NOT gunsmiths, we’re happy to answer questions in the first category; questions in the second category cause us problems. As a service-oriented company, we want to provide answers to our customers, but aren’t set up to provide instruction in basic gunsmithing/machining techniques.
Our products are highly technical in nature–their successful use requires certain basic levels of machining and gunsmithing knowledge. We can provide information about our products, but can’t really bring the novice machinist to the skill level needed for firearms work. The beginner is much better off seeking instruction from schools set up to provide this type of education or reading gunsmithing books such as “The Complete Illustrated Guide to Precision Rifle Barrel Fitting” by John Hinnant found in our catalog.
We’ll continue to provide information on all our products, but hope you’ll understand if we refer you to other authorities for questions outside our area of expertise.
Our company has grown to the point that an improved site was clearly needed to answer your gunsmithing needs more efficiently. You will find a great deal of helpful information and answers to your questions throughout the site. But rest assured that the same dedicated staff stands behind our new look, waiting to provide the tools you need in your work. We look forward to serving you!