After all of the repairs were set, I rubbed in some raw linseed oil into the stock. The acetone had dried the stock out, and the oil would hydrate it.
After several coats of oil, the barreled receiver was still a bit sloppy in the stock, so I decided to bed the stock with Acraglas putty.
I slathered all of the gun parts in the supplied release compound, filled all of the voids where I did not want epoxy with clay, mixed up the Acraglas and got the stock bedded.
Since there is only one screw securing the receiver to the stock, I make sure that was coated with release compound, and used it to clamp down the rear of the receiver. I used latex tubing for the rest.
Did not take too many pictures during this part, but I found one. You can see where the acraglas is oozing out of the fairly substantial gaps between the stock and the receiver.
Once the bedding set, I took it all apart and cleaned up the bedding areas, and put the rifle back together.
I was pretty happy with how it looked, the stock had a rich brown shade that looked pretty good with all of the dings and dents.
It was time to take some of that surplus ammo and test fire!
Surplus ammo..... I have about 1000 rounds of it, All made in 1938, and mounted on Hotchkiss Machine Gun feeding strips. The rounds loaded for the Hotchkiss were "Balle N" rounds, and not safe to shoot in Berthier rifles or carbines UNLESS the receiver and barrel are stamped with a "N", which indicated that the throat of the chamber had been opened up wide enough for the round.
I grabbed 12 rounds off of a feeding strip, loaded them into 5 round clips and off to the range I go. My carbine is actually the three round model, but the new production 3 round clips are total garbage, and originals are near impossible to find. That said, you can use 5 round clips, and just load them with 3 rounds.
Berthier Ammo in 5 round clips.
I get to the range, and every single round I brought went "click". Nice strikes on the firing pin, just dead primers.
Get home, get online, order dies and brass, start looking into reloading.
No load data published by the major reloading people. The data that came with my Lee dies has been slammed up and down the internet for being too weak.
As a bonus, what load data there is assumes a bullet diameter of 0.323"...
8mm Lebel bullets are 0.3275", which is actually 8.3mm.
Time to get creative.....
Start pulling the bullets from the surplus ammo. First thing I did was laugh...
What old is now new again.... Looks like one of those new fancy pants match bullets.... only this is 81 years old.
First thing I did was take the powder from 5 rounds, take it out to the yard and put a match to it. It burned with considerable vigor.
So I started pulling bullets and weighing the powder charges in each round.
The powder charge weighed between 43.5 to 44.5 grains across 70+ rounds measured, with an average charge of 44.2 grains.
So I pulled about 75.
Bullet and powder from 1 round.
I would have to start making some assumptions. Since the closest I could get for lot information was the cartridge headstamp, which indicated that all of these rounds were made between April and June of 1938, I could assume that the difference in weight from round to round was probably caused by deviations in the loading equipment and not due to differences in powder, since the maximum deviation of weight between charges was 1.0 grain.
With the knowledge of an average charge weight of 44.2 grains, I felt pretty comfortable loading new brass and new primers with the original powder. I made a total of 12 rounds:
3 x 44.0 grains
3 x 43.0 grains
3 x 42.0 grains
3 x 41.0 grains.
Fat, dumb, and happy, I went to the range to give it a try.
Loaded the 44 grain rounds, donned my hearing protection, safety glasses, and gloves. I shouldered the rifle, aimed, tilted my head as far from the rifle and I could and pulled the trigger.
Loud boom, some smoke, a nice hole in the target, brass ejects clean, isn't blown out of size.
That all said, while I don't consider myself recoil sensitive..... This thing kicks like a horse.
Pressing on, I fire the other two rounds loaded at 44.0.
Nice holes in target. Shoulder a little sore
Load the 43 grain rounds. All good, shoulder is hurting I shoot 2, my friend that works at the range gives it a try. He is 5' 9" and probably weighs 160 lbs with rocks in his pockets. He shoots one round and declares "F*CK THAT!"
42.0 grains, shoot fine, we have progressed from "sore" to "painful".
41.0 grains. I am now wincing and pausing for a few minutes after each shot.
Last shot of the test, rifle goes bang, I feel the stock crack.
Look at the rifle and there are new cracks. Actually, we have sailed right past cracks and landed firmly in the realm of "pieces flying off the stock"
No real commentary needed, other than to say I was rather happy with how the bedding looked.....
You can see one of my repair pins in the newly broken area.
Continued next post.....