February 17, 2010
Petzal: Building a Big Bore Rifle
By David E. Petzal
While cruising the aisles at the SCI Convention and suffering from Fine Rifle Burnout, I spotted something truly different at Booth 744—the stopping rifles built by Ryan Breeding. African stopping rifles are used on buffalo and elephant, and are designed to either save your ass when you are in bad trouble, or to keep you out of it. Mr. Breeding specializes in them. He will build you a rifle in any caliber you want, but his real forte is .40-caliber on up. Way up.
Ryan Breeding learned his craft from a gunmaker named Gil Van Horn, who specialized in big guns during the second half of the last century, and taught him that building a good one meant more than simply clapping a massive barrel into a massive action. The rifle you see here is a .505 Gibbs; 600-grain bullets at 2,350 fps and 93 foot pounds of recoil, which is nearly double the kick of a .458. When you subject a rifle to this kind of strain, terrible things happen to it, and Ryan Breeding goes to considerable pains to prevent them. And he does so with artistry.
In bare terms, this rifle is a .505 Gibbs, built on a Granite Mountain bolt-action, Turkish walnut stock, a 22-inch Pac-Nor barrel, and a weight of 12 pounds. Breeding himself made the trigger, the rear sight, and the front sight. The rifle holds five cartridges, one up and four down. There is a trap under the pistol grip cap for an alternate front-sight bead and an Allen wrench to install it.
Because there is nothing more embarrassing than having your floorplate pop open and dump all your cartridges, Breeding has installed a plunger-operated lock on the floorplate release button. You have to press on it, hard, to work the release.
Because the front sight hoods (even those with detents) come flying off their ramps under heavy recoil, Breeding built a hood that is catch-operated and pivots 90 degrees around a steel pin. It locks in place in both positions.
Because many express sights come with multiple leaves (which are useless; you need only one) and adjust via banging with a hard object, Breeding builds a one-leaf sight that is screw-adjusted and locks in place when set.
What he does not build are the Talley QD mounts that come with the rifle. This says a great deal about Talley mounts.
Breeding can build you a stock in fiberglass or Turkish walnut. He makes right-hand guns or left, all sorts of options, and his work is immaculate. More important: When building monster rifles like this, it takes a high degree of artistry to keep the gun from looking like a club. Breeding is a master of this. With all respect to the many wonderful gunmakers out there, when it comes to these brutes, he does about the best work I’ve ever seen. Rbbigbores.com