No 1 375 H&H stock
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Last year I asked John Stewart of Kiote Corp to start work on my dream rifle, the “last rifle I’ll ever need“, a highly customized Ruger No. 1 in .375 Holland and Holland Magnum. Quite a bit of work has been done so far, and we don’t have long to go . . .

First, Owen Armstrong at Rifles Refined (formerly Armstrong Precision) way up north in Canada threw away the old stocks and got to work carving this masterpiece from a piece of Black Walnut.  If you look closely, you’ll see the hidden riser so that I can get a solid cheek-stock-weld whether I am using glass or iron sights.

Ruger No. 1 Armstrong Stock Blank (image courtesy of JWT for

The article headline photo shows what the stock is like now that it’s finished. The fore stock is no less spectacular.

Ruger No. 1 Armstrong forestock (image courtesy of JWT for

That gorgeous and gorgeously carved wood will add some much appreciated weight to the Imperial Magnum, and a whole lot of class and comfort.

While Mr. Armstrong was slicing out a masterpiece, Pac Nor was working on a custom barrel for the No. 1.  It finally came in, after many months of waiting.  But man, it was worth the wait.

Kiote Corp head gunsmith John Stewart emailed me once he was done with the barrel.

He wrote, “Here’s the original barrel’s rifling.  How the hell did this pass inspection? Looking beyond the dirtiness, you can easily see how the rifling is jagged and just plain nasty. This isn’t from age.”

Ruger No 1 old bore (image courtesy of JWT for

He’s right, it’s not from age. That is a brand new barrel with a total of 20 rounds of commercial ammunition through it. It was cleaned every five rounds, so he’s only looking at five rounds worth of grit.

And here’s the new barrel’s rifling, nicely cut. Stewart put on a few strokes of hand lapping just because he had to, but he admits the barrel didn’t really need it.

Ruger No 1 new bore (image courtesy of JWT for

Here’s the old barrel’s chamber.Stewart pointed out the excessive tooling marks on the breech face. Also note the chatter marks from the reamer inside, accentuated by the blueing.

Ruger No 1 old chamber (image courtesy of JWT for

Peep the new barrel’s chamber, with a near mirror finish and a nicely polished breech face.

Ruger No 1 new chamber (image courtesy of JWT for

Finally, here is the old barrel compared to the new barrel.  The new Pac Nor barrel is the same contour, but 2” longer overall. That will also add a tiny bit of weight up front, as well as give me another 40fps or so. That little extra velocity on a 300gr pill is non-trivial.

Ruger No 1 old vs new (image courtesy of JWT for

Mr. Stewart’s next steps are drilling and tapping for a scope base, installing the barrel band for sling mount and installing the front sight ramp. He will then have the rifle reblued and polished. Once all that’s done, it will be ready for the trigger install and mounting the new wood.

With a bit of luck and the wind in the right direction, it’ll be just a little bit longer before my Kiote Corp rifle’s in my hands.

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  1. Um … Not to be a downer, but that new barrel breech face isn’t what I would call close to mirror finish, and the chamber also looks to have scoring and tool marks.

    Maybe it looks better in person.

    That stock is gorgeous! Gonna do a recoil pad?

      • Wouldn’t a brass plate not do much for helping with recoil? Like I know real men ENJOY recoil, but this isn’t a .30-30 we’re talking about, either.

        • Yea, I know, I’m just a sarcastic SOB. If he was going to go with the brass plate he should have had it chambered in .450 Rigby or .500 Nitro-Express.

  2. Sweet. Looks like the cheek riser is cut directly from the st ock. Curious how they managed that. I’ve got a mag num #1 on my short list, but I think I’ll settle for the sto ck version. Hopefully I’ll luck out and get one that actually was inspected and passed though. You see a lot of lightly used .375H&Hs on Gunbroker for under a grand.

  3. That a bespoke rifle is the crown jewel of any collection goes without saying. It means the owner has arrived at a level of appreciation for his chosen hobby to appreciate the value of a weapon made specifically for him and no one else. It also means he has enough money to spend on it without having to settle for “off the shelf” products. Some of you out there may think your customized and tricked out MSRs rise to the level of a true Custom Rifle, and in only a very general sense – yes, they do. But those platforms are meant to be modular, with easily interchangeable parts that can for the most part be done at the kitchen table. That is not a bespoke rifle – nice, sure… but not bespoke.
    So here’s the question for the rest of us: not “would you like one?”, but only “what chambering?”
    .375 H&H is more than I’ll ever need, and I’ve no reason to insist on a custom wildcat load, I’m thinking I’d stick with .30-06 or .300 magnum and rely on handloading to take me up or down the power scale as needed.

    • You sound like you’d plan on actually taking that jewel out of it’s display case and go hunting with it.

      • *smiling*
        Well, Gov. – lemme put it this way: I may appreciate a beautiful piece of workmanship as much as anyone else, but I don’t believe in safe queens. I feel that if a gun had a soul and could make a wish, it would be to say to its owner, “lets go shooting!”.
        If it can be fired, I will fire it. If I cannot fire it, I will not own it. It’s that simple.

        • I’m not saying I wouldn’t fire it. Once a year I’d take it to the range, put 3 rou nds through it and take it home and spend a couple hours cleaning it. So the .375H&H is probably perfect. What other caliber would satisfy your annual urge to shoot something with just 3 rou nds per year?

      • I will be shooting the hell out of this one. And hunting all over with it. I’m taking it to Africa this summer.

    • 7mm Mauser.

      That’s a beaut of a rifle. Worth the wait and expense. But .375 is too much round for me. I’ve promised myself to never leave the US again.

      So it is written. So it shall be done.

  4. Certain you saved a lot of money by not having real checkering on stock. Glock stippling I guess is the new fade.

    • I get the impression that Jon has adequate resources for the purchase of most any guns he wishes. This most certainly isn’t criticism, maybe a bit of envy, but no negative vibes at all. If its stippled rather than checkered, I imagine that it is that way because he prefers stippling:-)

    • It’s more practical, especially in hot and muggy areas, than checkering. This isn’t the rifle or round you want a sweaty grip on.

      Additionally, homeboy just had a custom, one-off stock made from a highly figured slab of walnut. A highly figured piece of walnut with a custom riser in it. You’d be a fool to hand this off for hand checkering and carving unless they were world renowned and it was going to set you back a house payment. Highly figured, burled, spalted, and birdseye woods are finicky beasts, and you only get one shot. The CNC route is too laborious, and not ideal with nice wood, either. Trust me, I’ve worked with it. It doesn’t matter the feed rate, spindle speed, depth, etc. – you’re going to lose your best looking wood due to vibrations fracturing it.

      I’m also thinking JWT must have direct or indirect access to a laser engraver. He’s put it on several of his builds.

    • Johnny, that piece of wood was $2,000. Nobody is saving money on anything. That pattern, well it’s been a fad on high quality rifles and fowing pieces for about 400 years now.

  5. I also wonder how the original barrel made it through inspection. The barrel on my AK that was made in a Warsaw Pact shithole in the 80s, through brute force, a hammer, and vodka, has a better looking barrel.

    • “The barrel on my AK that was made in a Warsaw Pact shithole in the 80s, through brute force, a hammer, and vodka, has a better looking barrel.”

      It helps when the Com-Bloc factory cranks out millions of the exact same items without change day-in, day-out for long stretches. The workforce becomes robotic. QC limits are known.

      Ruger produces *dozens* of different barrels in different lengths, calibers…

    • Like Geoff said, a large run of no.1s in a particular caliber is maybe 300 or 400. Then they won’t make another in that caliber for 5 or 10 years.

      Also, I don’t think the original bar rel is as bad as it’s made out. It’s a really bad photo compared to the one of the new ba rrel and you ca n see the light shining directly through into the lens. It’s way grainier and there was 5 rou nds worth of crud in it. And JWT said it had shot 1-3/4″ 5 shot groups with that barr el. –

      • I thought the same thing, seems like a case of a craftsman going (needlessly) overboard to justify his price.

      • It’s really difficult to discern the quality of a barrel from looking in the end(s) of the barrel.

        I just had a barrel on a .243 in my shop. From the ends, it appears to be a clean barrel. But with the bore scope, I can see that the throat is burned up, and there are large pits in the lands mid-way down the barrel. In some places, the edges of the rifling groove are broken down.

        When you really want to determine the quality of a barrel, you need a bore scope.

  6. Jon, that’s beautiful. Looking forward to seeing the finished product.
    That factory barrel should be an embarrassment to Ruger.
    Speaking of the barrel, did you change the rifling to a slower twist?

  7. “For a one-rifle safari, the .375 H&H Mag. is the only choice. No finer cartridge has ever been developed.”

    — Harry Selby

    This from a man whose legend was made shooting the .416 Rigby.

    • The .375 H&H is a very interesting cartridge in the development of smokeless cartridges.

      It was developed to be used in both double rifles and bolt action rifles.

      The dramatic taper on the .375’s case is to ease extraction on double rifles – and it serves the purpose here (ie, in a Ruger #1) as well.

      Bolt action rifles have tremendous extraction force compared to double guns and falling blocks – but because the bolt action can also ram home a round with the same sort of camming force, you need something more positive in the way of a headspace datum on the cartridge. So tapered cases like the .375’s would be easily crammed into a too-short chamber. So they added the belt as the headspace datum.

      A clever design. Lots of “magnum” cartridges were then built on the .375’s pattern, and they used the belt, without realizing that they had no need for the belt. Cartridges like the 7mm RemMag, the .264, .300 .338 WM’s – don’t need a belt. They could be headspaced off the case shoulder.

  8. Things like this, to me, are like old Jags. I’m so glad someone takes up the task of keeping such beautiful things in the world, and paying the price too. I get to see it without the unspoken headaches that come with it.

  9. My 300 win mag #1 is way more accurate then me. Factory barrel and all. If someone crowds me at the range I get it out and the muzzle blast makes them move down a bench. Hold on to that baby when you shoot it. The recoil can detach the retina in your eye.
    I hope you hunt it. It would be a shame not to. If it gets scratched from honest use, so what.

  10. Not to brag, but I can do a better finish on the stock, for one the wood is opened grain, could have used more filler. The riser ain’t hidden if I can see it, more sanding, rub with pumice. Just a wee tiny bit of walnut stain to hide the youth of the tree. Nah I can beat this.

  11. I guess this isn’t a gun he intends on shooting. Maybe put it in a glass case in the living room?

    • You would have guessed very wrong. I will absolutely be shooting this gun, and hunting with it as my primary rifle, probably for the rest of my life.
      Why else would I have it built?

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