Thursday, 15 March 2018

500 / 416 Nitro Express ammunition slide

10 Round 500 / 416 Nitro Express

I was commissioned to make a 500/416 Nitro Express ammunition slide and belt a couple of months ago, not having a round in that calibre I asked a few friends if they had an empty case or if they knew any body who used one, but they all came up blank.  It was while I was talking to Mike Norris of Brock Norris that he suggested I try Alan Rhone as the calibre is a Krieghoff calibre and as Alan Rhone is the main importer in the UK they might have one.  I rang up and spoke to a very helpful member of staff who thought that they might be able to help me, ten minutes later he rang me back confirming that they did have some once fired cases, and I was able to purchase a couple very reasonably.  By using the cases I was able to make a ten round slide which the customer and I were very happy with.

Safari Leather 500/416 Nitro Express colour chocolate.

458 Win Mag ammunition slide. Part five

The home straight.

After completing the looped front panel and the rear panel with its belt loops, it is now time to bring the two halves together.  The first thing to do is to glue the front to the back, care must be taken in order to get the two pieces lined up, and avoiding getting glue where you don't want any.  

Then using a pricking iron I punch through the holes in the front panel to create the holes in the back panel.  We are now ready to stitch the two halves together, using my stitching pony to hold the leather firmly I prepare two needles and a length of thread.  This thread must be around four times longer than the length of stitching required.  Passing the first needle through the leather I centre the thread, now I start, I pass the needle in my left hand through the next hole in the leather, I cross the thread and then pass the needle in my right hand through the same hole, first stitch!  I now need to carry on all the way round, ensuring a similar amount of tension is applied to each stitch to make them all look uniform.  

After I have finished stitching I sand the edges smooth, if done correctly the two pieces of leather that form the front and back will have the appearance of a single piece.  This affect is improved upon by slicking the edge which lays all the fibres in the same direction and with the application of some edge coat and dubbin a beautifully smooth edge can be achieved.  All that is left to do is to apply a good quality leather polish that will keep the leather supple and water resistant.  I recommend that at least once a year a similar product be applied to keep the leather in good condition. made gun leather

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

458 Win Mag ammunition slide. Part four

Loops or pockets?

I had already decided that this ammunition slide would have pockets not loops before I had even started.  As a rule of thumb the large big game calibres from 375 Holland and Holland up I prefer to stitch pockets, that is to say a longer loop with a stitched closed bottom end.  The reason for this is that the pocket can be a looser fit as it does not have to hold the round as securely as a loop.  The loop relies on tention to hold the round and stop it from coming out, while in the longer pocket the round is stopped from falling through by the stitched closed end.  The advantage of this is that rounds can be more easily and quickly removed should a fast reload be required.

In the case of smaller calibres that would not be used for dangerous game, a fast reload would seldom be required as most rifles of this type have a magazine that holds more than enough to get the job done.  That said if your preference is for pockets that would not be a problem.

458 WIN MAG LOOPS                       458 WIN MAG AMMUNITION SLIDE

Another thing I do with the larger calibres is to space each round out with two rows of stitching, this makes it easier to extract a round as its easier to get hold of an individual cartridge.  I sew all of my products up by hand, using English saddle stitch.  It produces a far stronger and more reliable product, it does take considerably longer that a sewing machine would take, but I do not mass produce, my products are bespoke and made to last.

SAFARI LEATHER                 HAND MADE QUALITY                                          
After stitching all the loops, I stitch close the ends to form the pocket.  The next step is to round off the corners and mark out the stitching line that will hold the front to the back, then very carefully punch the holes.

Monday, 12 March 2018

458 Win Mag ammunition slide. Part three

Cutting and pricking.

After cutting the back and belt loops I mark out the stitching holes and using a pricking iron start punching the holes in the leather.


The holes in the front panel must line up exactly with the holes is the back panel, other wise you will not be able to stitch the two parts together, accuracy is a must, if you don't mark the lines correctly the loops or in this case the pockets will turn out different sizes, which would result in some being too tight and others being loose.  

I decided to stain the natural veg tan leather wallnut, it goes well with the darker waxy pull up.  I like to stain after the holes have been punched as the stain can get into the holes and you don't end up with undyed holes showing.


I also emboss the Safari Leather logo onto the leather while it is still damp from being dyed, as the leather is a little softer and i get a better result.  Once the back panel is dry I stitch the belt loops on, two rows of stitching at the top and a single row at the bottom.

458 Win Mag ammunition slide. Part two

The lay out.

Having now got the dimensions to stitch the pockets to, I make a stencil to aid marking out.  It's a little time consuming, but in the long run it saves a lot of time and reduces the risk of making a measuring error.

I cut a strip of leather to the correct width and length and mark out the stitching and cutting lines, care must be taken when cutting as it is all to easy to cut a stitching line by accident.  

 At this point I cut the back and the belt loops out of some 3mm veg tan leather.  This is more ridged than the waxy pull up used for the pockets and gives the finished product a feel of quality and sturdiness that you would not get if you made the whole thing out of the pull up leather.  The veg tan leather I use is not dyed, so I can pick what colour I want, but I tend to stick to three colours, light brown, wall nut and chocolate. I find these all go well with the colour of the waxy pull up used on the front.

458 Win Mag ammunition slide. Part one.


Having just purchased a side of leather I decided I needed to make an ammunition slide to see how well this new leather would perform.  I have for the last couple of years been using a waxy pull up of 2.4 mm thick and not being able to get hold of the same again I had opted for a leather that seemed to be very similar but not exactly the same.  I had also just taken delivery of a couple of inert 458 Win Mag rounds, these I had purchased to enable me to stitch either loops or pockets of the correct size for this calibre.  So it was an easy decision, I would make an ammunition side in 458 Win Mag calibre.

The first thing to do when approaching a new project is to make a prototype, this will confirm the dimensions required to produce the correct fit, too tight and the rounds wont go in, and too loose and they are going to fall out.  Experience has taught me a little so I marked out and cut a single pocket and a back to stitch it to.

But with all that experience it still came out too small! Back to marking and cutting another one, this time perfect, and with only the addition of 1mm of extra leather to form the pocket.  The new leather seemed to be ok, but a little more ridged than the old.