Hart Rifles Have Been Helping Hunters For Generations

November 18, 2018

If a deer hunter truly believes the bolt-action or lever-action rifle they have carried for years or perhaps inherited from a family member is “good enough” for them to tag a buck, chances are they may never take that “buck of a lifetime.” We have all heard the stories about — and perhaps even know — the hunter who had a 10- or 12-point buck walk out of thicket at less than 30 yards. Much to the chagrin of the listener, they often learn there is more to the story and the hunter was eating lunch or doing some other personal chore. Even in the Pennsylvania deer woods, however, the shot needed to down that buck is far more likely to be at 300 yards than 30 yards. For that reason, when Bob Hart goes deer hunting in Pennsylvania he reaches for one of his custom-built rifles that will be on target in every setting. When it comes to hunting with a custom rifle, Hart is not just a client, he runs the company known around the world for its firearms. He is a fourth-generation gunsmith at Robert W. Hart and Sons, which builds hunting rifles to the exact specifications of clients and customizes off-the-shelf rifles to achieve optimum performance. Since retiring as a teacher at Panther Valley High School, Barnesville native Ted Collins has pursued his love of hunting and fishing. When he booked a combination mule deer and antelope in 2012 with a Wyoming outfitter, his earliest preparations began with a trip to Hart’s shop. “Bobby has a nine-point plan for making guns shoot right, and I wanted him to work on my Browning A Bolt in .300 win mag,” Collins said. “He has recommended loads for various calibers that have been tested at the range. “I tried a load from the Barnes reloading manual and it was very accurate, so there was no need to tinker any further. It certainly paid off on my hunt when I downed a mule deer at 225 yards and an antelope at 275 yards.” There are six steps to the process Hart uses to improve the performance of production rifles. With practice at the range, quality production rifles are capable of hitting a target at 500 yards, but lack the attention to detail of a custom rifle to consistently make such shots. To achieve consistency Hart begins his customizing by lapping the bolt lugs to allow the lug surfaces to be in total contact with the receiver surface. This prevents crooked case heads, which will decrease accuracy. Hart then laps the barrel to remove any burrs or imperfections. This gives consistent velocities and less fouling of the barrel. Next comes touching-up the crown, which Hart said is the most overlooked step in creating accuracy by allowing each bullet to exit the barrel evenly and eliminates “flyers.”  When adjusting the trigger pull it depends if the rifle has adjustable triggers, such as a Remington, and they are set at a 3½-pound pull to be crisp. On rifles with non-adjustable triggers, work is done until a reasonable crisp pull is achieved. Skinning the bed action and two inches of the barrel will “marry” the action to the stock and eliminate uneven pressure or stress points.  Finally, the rings are installed and lapped and the scope is installed and laser bore-sighted. This process relieves stress on the scope tube. “Some of the extras that will help assure a successful hunt is to waterproof primers with nail polish, check the barrel for dirt and always travel with a cleaning rod,” Hart said. “I’d say 9 of 10 misses occur before the bullet leaves the barrel, so keep it clean. “Another tip that will improve accuracy is to keep the scope at low resolution in low light, then turn up the magnification after finding the target. I watch the target with both eyes until just before squeezing the trigger, when I close one eye. “When I’m hunting big game I still get excited, so to steady myself and my rifle I close my eyes and count to 12. When I reopen my eyes, I’m ready to shoot.”

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