Remington 581 Converted to .32 S&W Long
Today, I’ll talk about a low dollar custom gun that’s been in my safe for several years. I was introduced to the idea of a small Remington action being converted to centerfire and chambered for a low pressure small diameter round some time ago by reading of a project undertaken by Col. Ed Harris. His rifle was a Remington model 580 with a new bolt head and barrel, and chambered in .32 ACP.
Within a year or two of that, I became aware of a Remington model 581 that had been converted to .32 S&W long. The previous owner had given up on the project, and I was able to purchase the gun for very little money.
The Remington 540, 580 and 590 series of rifles were significantly overbuilt for the rimfire cartridges they were chambered in. Having 6 locking lugs on the bolt, it’s no wonder that a number of people started converting them to higher zoot calibers. I still buy any that I can find for a reasonable price with an eye toward future conversions.
Back to the rifle at hand. As I mentioned, it was someone else’s abandoned project. Abandoned projects can be anything from awful, to wonderful, depending on the specifics. This one turned out wonderfully. When I received the rifle, it had no throat in the chamber, and poor bedding.
With a little bit of bedding work, and running a throating reamer of the proper diameter into the barrel, I suddenly found myself with a .32 caliber rifle that would put a hole wherever I wanted it to, every time. The gun regularly turns in groups of 1/4″ or less from a rest at 25 yards.
About the rifle: Remington 581 with floating bolt CF conversion, wire extractor, no ejector (makes keeping my brass easier) The rear of the bolt came from a 541 with it’s bent handle. The barrel is 17″ long and cut down from an Argentine Mauser barrel with 4 lands and grooves slugging at .311 in the groove. I size to .313. The barrel is pinned to the receiver with 2 cross pins and 2 set screws. The scope is a vintage weaver steel tube 1.5-4.5x variable with fine cross hairs.
If I was building the rifle myself from scratch, the only thing I would change would be that I would thread the receiver and barrel, and use a Sako type extractor. But beggars can’t be choosers, and with how well the rifle shoots in it’s current configuration, I would never think of messing with it!