“THE PRECISION RIFLESMITH”

A DOCUMENTARY FEATURING MIKE BRYANT

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Benchrest

Ihave been active in benchrest competition since 1982, shooting primarily in the Mid-Continent  and Gulf Coast Regions of the NBRSA.  I did the stock work on my rifles from the very beginning. Starting with bedding the stocks using the glue-in method in the early years, I moved on to pillar bedding my personal benchrest rifles in 1985 and shoot both styles of rifle construction, today. I have found that a quality pillar bedded rifle is as accurate as a glue-in while still offering the convenience of being able to remove the action easily.  Either method has it advantages, however, and I am at ease using either method of construction.

In 1987, I obtained a Jet 13×36 belt drive engine lathe that was capable of doing benchrest quality work. Since then, I have also been doing all of the barrel work on my rifles. Over the years, the lathe has been improved and modified by replacing the spindle bearings with higher quality Temkin bearings and adding a DC variable speed motor. The DC variable speed motor was replaced in 2003 with a Hitachi VFD and Baldor 2 HP inverter motor. The VFD allows full torque at slow rpms that the DC motor and controller would not allow. The lathe is now capable of turning 60 RPM on up by the twist of the VFD controller knob without having to be in back gear to turn slow rpms. This has improved the threading and operating qualities of the lathe tremendously. I also added a DTM BXA tool post to it soon after I purchased the lathe.

In my barrel work, I work to a maximum tolerance of 0.0002″ in setting up the barrel for chambering, threading and crowning. Everything is checked and rechecked with a Swiss Interapid 0.0001″ test indicator with interchangeable points from 3/4″ to 2 1/2″ long. In setting up the barrel for chambering, the appropriate point is selected to be able to dial in the run-out to 0.0002″ at the finished throat of the cartridge. With the longer points, it has to read even closer.

In the summer of 1997, I built a new 30×50 shop building with the purpose of expanding my rifle building capabilities. It has worked out very well and is an excellent facility for building top quality rifles, as well as building a few knives as time permits.
In 2001, I added a Leblond Regal 15×54 lathe that I’m presently using for action truing and anything that is a little larger than what the Jet will handle.  Its a very smooth running lathe even to the point of being able to place a tenth test indicator point on a fresh cut receiver face under power without the indicator even wiggling. I’ve added an Aloris BXA tool post to it and can use the same tool post holders on either the Jet or Leblond lathes.

At the end of 2004, I replaced the Jet lathe with a Kent TRL1340V toolroom lathe. Using variable frequency drive on the Jet spoiled me and I opted for the frequency drive version model when I bought the new Kent lathe. So, far I like it very well and am sure that it will be a big help with continuing high quality work.

The benchrest rifles that I build are capable of sub 1/4 moa. The heavier caliber hunting rifles will usually shoot 3/4 moa or less. While there is no difference in the methods that I use to build either rifle, there is a difference in the accuracy potential of various cartridges. Let’s face it. A 6 PPC is easily more accurate than a 7 STW.

Personal Information

I have lived most of my life in the Texas Panhandle and am located about half way between Amarillo and Oklahoma City, just inside the Texas state line. I graduated from Texas A&M University in 1977. I met my wife, Beverly, in 1980 and we were married in November of 1980. We have a deep faith in Jesus Christ and are members of the First Baptist Church in Wheeler.

We have four children, Gary, Greg, Lacey and Josh. Gary works in Oklahoma City as a computer programmer and graduated from WTA&MU. Gary is married to Regena Whitney and they have a daughter, Sarah and a son, Cameron. Greg went into the Navy after attending WTA&MU. He made two West Pac tours while stationed on the USS Carl Vinson air craft carrier. While he was in the Navy, he tied the marriage knot with Jennifer Long, a former Wheeler girl. His first West Pac was cut short when they were sent to the Persian Gulf area shortly after 9-11. Greg and Jennifer have a son, Seth. Lacey attended culinary school at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI where she met her husband, Thomas McKeown on her first day at college. Thomas is the executive chef of the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta. They have two sons, Aidan and Connor and a daughter, Erin. Josh graduated from OSU in Stillwater with a degree in Ag. Economics. He and his wife, Jordan are currently ranching on the family ranch that was originally founded in 1910. They have two daughters, Denna, Devyn and a son, Jenson.

Our Faith

My Personal Testimony

When I was young, we went to church every Sunday morning, every Sunday night, and every Wednesday night. Anytime that the church was having anything we were there. Its kind of hard to see how you can attend church that much and miss Christ. When I went to college, attending church was the last thing that I had on my mind. Texas A&M was pretty party oriented in the 70’s when I was there. I went with a friend, one time and one time only, to a Catholic church while I was at A&M, which was pretty different from my background. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do there. When they would stand, I would stand. When they would sit, I would sit. When they would kneel, I would sit. Anyway I graduated and moved back to the panhandle and pretty well continued the life style that I was living at A&M.

Three years after graduation, I was introduced to Beverly on a blind date. We dated a little while and I started attending church with her. She was going on a youth camp trip that summer as a sponsor and invited me to go along with her as a boys sponsor. Going as a sponsor wasn’t much of a thrill at the time, but the fact that I would get to spend a week with her was.

They didn’t just let us be sponsors at that camp. We had to attend bible studies and that kind of thing. God got to working on me. The night before we were getting ready to leave, I couldn’t sleep. A radio was making too much noise. The wind kept slamming the screen door. The funny thing about it was radios weren’t allowed at this camp and they certainly wouldn’t have been playing that early in the morning. I was under conviction. The pastor that was staying in the same cabin that I was, got up and shut the slamming door. He wasn’t sleeping either. I got out of bed and walked over to the pastor’s cot. We knelt there and he led me to Christ at 4:30 am in Pine, Colorado. Basically, I prayed asking Christ to forgive me of my sins and asked him to become Lord and Savior of my life. The radio wasn’t playing any more. I went back to bed with not a worry in the world and safe in the belief of where I will spend eternity.

After Beverly and I were married we joined a Baptist Church in the small community where we lived and later moved our membership to the First Baptist Church in Wheeler. One of the primary joys that we get to experience every year is that our church is active in church mission building programs. For one week during the summer we get to go work on helping other churches build new church facilities. Our team consisting of from 25 to 40 people who usually hang sheetrock on the mission trips. The projects range in size from 8000 to 12000 square feet. We work as hard as we can to try to get as much done as we can while we are there. It is a tremendous blessing knowing that we have helped these churches in other states accomplish building projects that they wouldn’t have been able to have done on their own. The main thing is that through our efforts, though miniscule as they are, these churches have been able to reach other people for Christ and are growing.

Roman Road(NIV)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23

But, God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

That if you confess with your mouth”Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Romans 10:9-10

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:12-13

If you haven’t accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, all you have to do is the same thing that I did. Pray, confessing that you are a sinner and ask Christ to be your Lord and Savior. You can do that wherever you are, by yourself or with a Christian. It makes no difference. After you accept Christ as Lord and Savior, you need to find a good Bible believing church and speak with the pastor for instructions. I personally would go to a Baptist church as that is the way that I believe.

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