Many years ago I acquired a most unusual rifle from long defunct but sorely missed San Francisco Gun Exchange. It is a 1913 Jeffery’s Express rifle in .280 Jefferies caliber. The gun, built on a magnum Mauser action, is a take-down model. The barrel and fore-end unscrew from the receiver, allowing it to be stored and carried in a short, compact case. To assemble, the barrel and forearm are screwed into the receiver until witness marks on the barrel and receiver line up. A thumb screw through the side of the receiver enters a mating hole in the threaded portion of the barrel locking the assembly, and preventing the barrel from unscrewing. The close fit up and fine overall finish makes this a truly remarkable rifle – particularly since it was produced 100 years ago.
As the SureStrike concept matured, the potential merger of the multi-caliber cartridge and a switch barrel rifle became obvious. To maximize the advantages of both concepts, several design criteria and goals were established:
- The barrel must seat against a trued front face of the action. This allows for consistent head spacing for all barrels.
- Barrel locking stud should be as inconspicuous as possible. Barrel removal and installation must not require tools and must be readily accomplished in the field.
- Quick disconnect scope mounts are standard.
- Stock should be a one piece design to allow true free-floating of the barrel.
- Barrel contour and barrel relief must allow barrel to move forward as it is unscrewed.
- Design must also allow for easy changing of stocks to optimize gun/cartridge/stock assembly.
- Appropriate stocks should allow for the mounting of a bi-pod.
- If the rifle is a repeater, the magazine must allow easily adapted to handle all five calibers interchangeably.
As mentioned earlier, the CZ527 is an ideal base for building small custom rifles, particularly since its action can readily be purchased as a component. After discussing the project with several knowledgeable gunsmiths, the project appeared quite achievable. Master custom rifle builder Dan Coffin in Victor Montana agreed to take on the task. He has converted a number of 527s, and likes working on them. He had already developed a fixture to hold the 527 action while milling the front normal (perpendicular)to the barrel’s centerline. We decided on 22” stainless steel Lilja barrels for this rifle. Although I am very fond of the CZ factory single set trigger, we decided to install a Timney adjustable unit. To explore the systems potential configurations, we decided on 3 different but interchangeable one piece stocks. The first is a “standard” style, walnut stock with pistol grip. The second is also walnut, but with thumb hole and a pronounced palm swell. The third is a CZ factory black composite stock produced specifically for the 527 by Bell & Carlson. Since this stock is intended for more challenging field use, it is equipped with a removable bi-pod. With 3 stocks and 5 barrels, the SureSwitch System is by far the most versatile varmint/small game hunting rifle available.