A couple stumbles, then success! Here’s how we swapped barrels on a Smith & Wesson 500 Magnum.
by Charlie Briggs and Mike Diedrich
As many of you know, several of my recent articles were built around a partnership with a good buddy and fellow gunsmith, Mike Diedrich. Some recent health problems (hopefully short term) have lessened the time I can spend in my shop. However, I can still type and Mike always turns out magnificent work, so the articles can still be produced.
For this article Mike had to think through every aspect of the project, one piece at a time. There was one small failure but a major success was finally achieved. Mike’s total machine time at the mill and the lathe alone was nine hours and his copious notes made this article happen.
A customer brought in a Smith & Wesson Model 500 Magnum X-Frame revolver with a four-inch barrel that he wanted changed a 8.375-inch barrel to reduce the awesome effects of recoil and lengthen the sight radius. The problem with this particular S&W model is that it uses a two-piece “barrel” which is actually a barrel sleeve covered by a barrel shroud. I believe at the factory these barrels are installed with a special expanding mandrel and likely why they say barrel swaps like this are a factory only job! Many of us would have told the customer, “thanks, but no thanks” but Mike, ever the “determined German,” combined his creativity and machining skills to accomplish the job.
“On my first effort to attempt to remove the four-inch barrel, I decided to make my own …
Read more in the February 2021 issue.
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