One of my favorite activities is restorations. Now before I show some examples of my craftsmanship, allow me to discuss restoration. Restoration means many things to many different people. In the case of a cruffler (someone who collect C&R weapons, often military weapons) they don't normally want the weapon to look like the day it came off the assembly line. In fact, do so can destroy the value of the weapon. In this case, restoring is often limited to cleaning and when possible replacing broken or missing parts with original ones. The stresses of war is reflected in the condition of the stock and the removing of dings and scratches is close to sacrilege.
With that having been said, before I will undertake any restoration job, we will have a long conversation about what you want done to your weapon. It's your property and I'm certainly not going to tell you what you can and cannot do with it. But I don't want anyone coming back on me later because this weapon is not worth what was percieved due to having been restored. This conversation will ensure that what you get is what you want in the long run.
A case in point is this fine old Mauser. Manufactured in 1937 in Berlin, it was captured by the Soviet forces at some time during the war. The Sov's cleaned these guns up, put a heavy coat of shellac on the stock, and packed them in cosmoline for future use. When this one came to me it showed the stresses of having seen hard use as a combat weapon. If only the nicks and dents in the stock alone could tell us their story. In cleaning the cosmoline from the gun, I noted that the shellac was cracking and flaking off. Not only was it unattractive, but it made a real mess. I decided to remove the shellac but to protect the underlying wood and original finish in order to perserve the originality. Five coats of hand rubbed BLO (boiled linseed oil) and you can see the weapon as a young Wehrmacht private, 75 years ago, would have seen it. Having performed a full safety inspection of the weapon during teardown it was taken to the range and proved it was still a deadly accruate rifle. Here the restoration consisted mostly of cleaning and restoring it to a servicable condition much as it had been before but also ensuring it was safe to assume its' prior life.
Other people have grampa's (or gramma's) squirrel rifle that's been setting in the back closet for years. They remember how it looked when grampa had it and they'd like it to look the same again. Often they want it to be safe to shoot as well for their grankids. Here a rebluing or touch-up bluing, stock refinish, clean and lube with safety checkout will give them what they hope and remember. Sadly, sometimes it just can't be made safe to ever shoot again, but it's still a family heirloom and will be passed down to the next generation as grampa's (or gramma's) squirrel rifle.
This one was a bit extreme. Usually when someone brings in grampa's rifle it'll have a lite coat of rust, a bore that hasn't seen a brush in decades and a stock in serious need of refinishing. But I like a challenge and after reading up a bit on this rifle decided to retore it to its' original condition or as close as I could. This rifle, altough not in demand as a collectable, has many interesting and unique qualities. Manufactured by Marlin in 1932 through 1934 and marketed as the Marlin 50, it had the unique honor of being the first ever semi-automatic rifle intended for the civilian market. This rifle fired from an open bolt which attributed to its' demise. Even a small amount of wear on the sear can result in this rifle going full auto on the unaware. In total only a couple thousand of these rifles were ever produced. Over a period of time I managed to find an original stock and some missing parts with the exception of a magazine. Magazines for this rifle are worth more than the rifle and even harder to find. I found a comparable magazine and with a little smithing was able to fit it and make the rifle functional once again.
And then there is that rifle you picked up at a yardsale only to find it it had been shot seven ways to Sunday. The stock is in terrible shape, the rifle works but man what you'd really like is to turn it into something fun. Not really a restoration project but yet it is since you'd like to return it to some form of service.
Thus was the case of this Norinco SKS. This rifle had been imported into the States prior to the ban as a commercial rifle. The previous owners had shot it seven ways to Sunday and it showed in worn parts along with gunpowder residue throughout. The stock was in terrible condition and made from some type of extremely soft wood, even softer it seemed than white pine. In this case part of the challenge, since it is an imported weapon, was in meeting the demands of 922r. After having torn the rifle down and cleaning it throughly, the gas piston, bolt with firing pin, magazine and stock were all replaced with U.S. made parts. A nice scope augments the original iron sights which also adds to its' versatility. In the case of the bolt a special firing pin was added to prevent slam firing. Lastly a muzzle brake and a bi-pod were added. Altogether, the part count met the criteria for 922r. The end result was a like new weapon that anyone could be proud of on the range or in the field.