Hunting as teen triggers odd hobby for machinist

Staff writer

Mike Carroll is a machinist by trade. He’s used to fabricating parts that fit together. But while his job at Marion Manufacturing gives him some insight, it did not prepare him for the challenges of building his own rifle. Currently he is undertaking a project to rebuild an 1898 Mauser action rifle.

“Building my own rifle is more about testing my abilities,” Carroll said. “Sure I could get something just as good from a gun shop, but it wouldn’t be mine. By the time I complete it, it will fit me exactly the way I like it.”

Carroll completed several modifications to parts so they fit him exactly, like cutting the wood stock to the perfect length to fit his size and arm span.

“I could probably buy a new rifle for the same or even less money than I will have invested in this one, but there is just something about being able to show it to people and tell them, ‘I did this,’” he said.

Carroll has been building the rifle from pieces that have to be precisely set so the rifle will shoot straight.

“I’ve been collecting parts for about two years,” he said. “I still don’t have everything I need for this rifle.”

The majority of the parts came from a friend who found them while cleaning his workshop and another friend who happened to have parts. A few others he got online.

“I’m sure that others will have to be found and bought or traded for before I’m finished,” he said.

Carroll learned about putting the gun together from coworkers who previously worked for Wichita Arms and learned gunsmithing from their fathers.

“It hasn’t been as easy as Tinker Toys, but with my work in machining, most of the things are what I do every day,” Carroll said. “My biggest tip would be to not rush things.”

The scariest part will be taking the first shot. Something could mess up and misfire, Carroll said.

“That one will probably be done with the rifle clamped to a bench with a string tied to the trigger,” he said. “The shooting correctly thing may take months to get the recipe for the load just right. I’m sure there will be more than one trip to the reloading bench to get things figured out.”

Carroll has a family history of hunting and shooting.

This is the first time Carroll has built a gun by himself. He partially reconstructed a 1903 Springfield rifle he inherited from his grandfather.

“It had been left un-cleaned for too long, and the barrel was full of corrosion,” he said.

Carroll hunted with his dad and grandfather as a teen and takes his children hunting now. He hopes to use his Mauser to shoot a trophy buck, which has eluded him the past two seasons.

 

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