Introducing Maeve - Remington Model 14 - Custom "Signature Pump Action Rifle"

by Steve Tracy

February 14th, 2024

Click pictures for a larger version.

 

 

The shortened barrel (16 1/2-inches) makes Maeve a handy woods gun. 

 

 

Scroll engraving enhances the rifleís name "Maeve" engraved on the left side. 

 

 

Remington Model 14 rifles had brass cartridge heads embedded in the left side of their frames to designate their caliber. 

 

 

Remingtons were made in Ilion, New York since their inception in 1816. 

 

 

Skinner Sights rear aperture sight was color case hardened to match the receiver. 

 

 

Scroll engraving symmetrically cut around the Remington trade mark name on the top of the barrel. 

 

 

Scroll engraving on both sides of the Skinner front post sight adds flair. 

 

 

Right side ejection port with action closed. The bolt tilts downward when the action is opened. 

 

 

Spiral magazine tube allows use of pointed (Spitzer) bullets. 

 

 

Steel butt plate is color case hardened to match the receiver. 

 

 

Custom

The uniqueness of a "one of a kind" makes me happy. It doesnít have to be my gun for me to appreciate it. I enjoy seeing everyone elseís custom guns and hearing their story. Some custom guns might not appeal to my personal tastes, but I respect their distinctiveness and the thought and effort that went into creating a firearm that stands out from the crowd.

Mass produced, run-of-the-mill, factory assembled firearms are okay for many, but customizing with engraving, handsome finishes, better sight systems, fancy wood, ivory, or antler stocks, and slicked up triggers combine to create guns that give their owner pleasure beyond just shooting. 

Oftentimes custom guns becomes an heirlooms to be passed on for generations. 

"Signatures" 

Nick Rukavinaís Gunblast article (December 2022) showcased what he termed "Signature Lever Actions" and detailed the creation of several custom Marlin lever actions. I had the pleasure of laying my hands on several of them in person and they gratified my tastes as well. "Stella" was Andy and Sheila Larssonís (of Skinner Sights) .44 Magnum Marlin 1894 and "Spartacus" was Ed Headís (our late, great friend who was a legendary lawman and Gunsite instructor) version of the same make, model, and caliber. Iíd seen these two handsomely color case hardened lever guns on social media, but they were even more stunning in person, with the sun bouncing off their gleaming steel. They lit a fire within me and I began to consider a named, signature long gun of my own. 

The very first gun I ever bought was a used Marlin 1894 .357 Magnum at a gun show back in 1986. My summer job earnings were earmarked for just such a purchase between my junior and senior years of college. My dad cut that Marlinís barrel to 16-inches for me and I gently sanded the stock and forearm before coating it with LinSpeed oil. I wanted a satin finish, more like the lever guns made a hundred years prior. I still have that treasured Marlin and Iíve since added several more in various calibers, along with a couple Winchesters too. Several of them have been customizedÖbut they donít have names. 

Part of the lever gunís allure is due to the requirement that we manipulate the action ourselves. We use our hands and wrists and arms in unison to work that lever down and back up for each shot and it inherently connects us to the firearm. This "hands on" nature requires a little bit of skill to be smooth and fast. 

Bolt action rifles also provide the physical effort of working the bolt handle and that contributes to the bolt gunís appeal as well. The same goes for single action and double action revolvers. There is a certain mechanicalness to our human/tool interface that many shooters find satisfying. We are somewhat disconnected with semi-automatics, because most of the contact between man and gun is simply our index finger pulling the trigger itself. Itís a little boring when you really think about it, right? 

In addition to lever actions and bolt actions, a third mechanical style of centerfire rifles are the pump actions. Working the forearm pump back and forth in a trombone manner is another mechanical firearm action many of us find enchanting, just like working a lever or bolt action. Pump rifles provide sleek lines that make for a good looking profile that is also practical because it carries well and is handy in the field. However, they are a disappearing breed. 

"My Dad Had One of Those" 

My dad had a Remington Model 14 chambered in .30 Remington. He bought it way back when you could stumble upon ammo for it at gun shows and even buy a box at a reasonable price. The Model 14 was offered in .25, .30, .32, .and .35 Remington, while the Model 14 1/2 was made to chamber the handgun cartridges of .38-40 and .44-40. 

The Model 14 was introduced in 1912 and was the design of genius engineer John D. Petersen (John M. Browning once stated to Julian Hatcher that Pedersen "was the greatest gun designer in the world" - high praise!). The Model 141 succeeded the 14 and eventually morphed into the Model 760 and then the 7600 until Remingtonís most recent bankruptcy couple years ago. Today, there are no American made centerfire pump action rifles currently produced. Rimfire pumps are still made by Henry and others, but youíll have to buy used if you want a larger caliber than .22. 

I was fascinated by my dadís old Remington pump. We often desire guns that our fathers or grandfathers or uncles owned (or maybe even mother, grandmother, or aunts too if your family was that awesome) and we drift towards and desire those firearms because they connect us to those cherished memories. We recollect the "good ole days" when we hold a similar make or model from yearsí past and warm remembrances wash over us. I can hear my dadís voice when I think about him describing that old Model 14 pump. 

The magazine tube under the barrel is distinctive because it of its spiral design. My dad explained to me that the twist aligned pointed (spitzer) style bullets so that the tip would not rest up against the primer of another cartridge in front of it within the tube. Usually tubular magazine rifles require the use of flat point bullets to prevent a chain fire under recoil. The Remingtonís configuration allowed pointed bullets, which could travel further and more accurately, due to their lower aerodynamic drag. 

Most wood forearms on pump action rifles move back and forth while riding over the magazine tube. But the Model 14ís magazine tube actually moves with the wood forearm and the entire tube retracts toward your shoulder and then returns forward toward the muzzle when the action is cycled. Petersenís engineering mind at work, indeed. 

The Model 14 is a takedown rifle and the round, knurled knob just above the trigger guard on the left side is slotted for a big screw driver or coin. The frame and barrel remain together while the butt stock separates, sliding vertically upwards from the stock. Itís a simple system that works well for quickly taking the rifle down for compact storage, transport, or cleaning. 

Another unique hallmark of the Remington Model 14 is the brass case head imbedded into the left side of the steel frame that designates its caliber. Identifying the rifleís caliber takes just a glance at the case head and is easier to see and read instead of the roll marks on the barrel. The Remington Model 14ís sales were slower compared to its contemporary lever action competition. This was likely due to the fact that Remington refused to offer their guns in calibers other than their own proprietary cartridges. The inclusion of the popular .30-30 Winchester or .300 Savage may have resulted in more demand, but Remington refused to include them. All of the old Remington cartridges chambered in the Model 14 are now obsolete, except for the .35 Remington. Itís still being made at the big plants by Winchester, Remington, and Hornady. 

The .35 Remington happens to be a favorite cartridge of mine and I have a 16-inch barreled, custom Marlin Model 336 equipped with a Leupold scout scope. I used it to take a 215 pound red wild boar in the Smoky Mountains at just over 50 yards. The 200-grain bullet weight is the most common and has been a terrific medium to large game getter (boar, whitetail deer, black bear) since the cartridgeís inception in 1906. Hornadyís LeveRevolution ammo gives a bit more distance beyond the 150-200 yards maximum range considered acceptable for the .35ís bullet drop. 

I Found One! 

The idea of a "Signature Pump Action" cousin to the Signature Lever Actions inspired my imagination and led me to search Gunbrokerís online offerings for a Remington Model 14 chambered in its namesake .35 caliber. I already had a considerable amount of ammo as long as I could find the right candidate. I got a feel for current prices as a result of my research, but an upcoming local gun show in Tennessee was right around the corner. Who knew, maybe Iíd find one there before resorting to Gunbroker? 

I had a table at that gun show, so I was able to reconnoiter the offerings before the show opened to the general public. Alas, no Model 14s were for sale (not a real shock as theyíre certainly not common). Then a weird thing happened an hour into the show. I glanced over at the table next to mine where an older gentleman offered his handmade custom knives for sale. An area had been cleared in the middle of the sharp pointy sticks and a pump action rifle took up the space. Where in the world had that come from? It was a Remington too! 

Before I could inquire, another attendee picked the rifle up and looked it over. From my view from the side, it looked to be in pretty good condition. The wood looked especially nice. I thought to myself, "Thereís no way it would be a .35 Remington. I just donít have that kind of luck." I held my breath until the rifle was set back down among the knives. I quickly side stepped over and asked to take a look for myself. 

I immediately read the stamp on the brass case pressed into the receiver and saw that it was, in fact, a .35 Remington. Outstanding! I carry a bore light with me at a gun shows just in case so I pumped the action open to make sure it was clear and then peered down the muzzle with my light illuminating from inside the action. The bore shined back at me with no signs of any wear, it looked as if it just came off the factory line. Someone had cared for it properly and the action was in tip top shape as well. 

Two glitches interrupted my excitement. The rear sight was missing its elevator and holes had been drilled and tapped in the top of the barrel and frame to mount a scope at some point during its life. But I didnít want a pristine rifle to begin with anyway. I wouldnít want to customize a mint old Remington, nor would I want to diminish a collectibleís value. 

I requested the sellerís asking price and then pointed out the negatives of the rear sight and the ugly holes. The man dropped his price by one hundred dollars. This deal was meant to be! I agreed and became the proud new owner of the old Remington whoís serial number suggested it was made around 1930 (the records are not super clear). 

Later that day, back home on my workbench, I utilized the takedown feature to quickly separate the Remingtonís two halves. The gun was already cleaned and oiled, but I still like to do it myself, whether guns are old or brand new. But I didnít shoot it. I held it and cycled the action and looked it over for a few days. My mind considered just how I wanted to have it customized. I also had to come up with a name to give my old Remington. 

Tyler Gun Works and Finks Custom Gunsmithing 

I fancied a cousin to the Signature Lever Actions. The conduit to make it happen would be Bobby Tyler at Tyler Gun Works (Friona, TX) and Dave Fink at Finks Custom Gunsmithing (the Gunsmithy at Gunsite in Paulden, AZ). Bobby and Dave had recently joined forces and their partnership offers customers access to both of their talents, while allowing each to focus on their specialties. Both gentlemen are in high demand and wait times can be quite long. 

When I presented my rifle case to Bobby Tyler he said, "Oh, that looks like someone wants a Signature named lever action rifle." He knows me well I guess. I unzipped the case and said, "Well, a Signature but not a lever action." I handed over the Model 14 along with the list of modifications I wanted to have incorporated. 

I preferred the barrel to be shortened from its factory 22-inches to just over the legal minimum of 16-inches. I like short and handy rifles and the thick woods in my area of Tennessee excludes long distance shots on deer (another reason I like the .35 Remington cartridge). Itís also easier to climb into deer stands and blinds with shorter barrels. 

I like Andy Larssonís Skinner Sights rear aperture sight a lot. While there are screws at the rear of the factory frame on the Model 14 for vintage era, rear mounted peep sights, I prefer the look and function of the modern Skinner rear sight. A tall, new front sight would also be required. 

To add panache, vintage style scroll engraving on the barrelís muzzle and where it meets the frame, along with matching engraving on both sides of the frame, would set off the rifleís style perfectly to my tastes. 

TGW is known for their color case hardening and the multicolored hues on the frame and steel butt plate would make the Remington special. Color case hardening the Skinner rear sight would make it match perfectly too. The original riflesís edges and barrel had some blueing wear, so the entire gun would need to be re-blued after the holes in the top of the barrel and frame were filled. 

However, the wood stock and forearm had minimal dings and scratches and I didnít want to have the wood refinished. It had acquired a patina over its past 90+ years that just canít be replicated so the decision was made to leave it original. 

Introducing Maeve 

I considered several names for my Remington. I knew the history of Stella and Spartacus (in the Larssonís care since Ed Headís sad passing), as well as Nick and Marcia Rukavinaís Valkyrie, Boomer, Belle, and Scout (named after their dogs, how great is that?). Lucrezia is another Signature Lever Action that Rob Leahy (of Simply Rugged Holsters) and his wife Jan take pride in. I had named my cars over the years and their monikers often came from characters in books I had read, so it seemed only natural that my rumination to name my custom Remington would drive down that road again. 

I am of partial Irish ancestry and Maeve is the name of the Warrior Queen of Irish mythology known for her strength, resilience, ruthlessness, and great power. Iím also a devoted fan of the author Clive Cussler. His Dirk Pitt adventure novel "Shock Wave" concluded unlike any his other stories and the character of Maeve was truly memorable to me. 

Maeve struck me as the ideal nickname for my Remington Model 14ís as a "Signature Pump Action" cousin to the lever actions that came before. "Maeve" is proudly engraved on the receiverís left side, in marvelous fashion. 

The Customized Rifle Returns 

If patience is a virtue, I suppose Iím a virtuous man by that definition. The many months passed slowly and turned into a year and a half while the Remington was in Tylerís and Finkís custody. But when Maeve arrived back at my local FFL, I was as excited as a five year old on Christmas morning to open the shipping box. 

The refinished blue is deep and dark. The scroll engraving on the receiver is handsome to my eye without appearing "overdone" and covering every inch of flat steel. The color case hardened finish on the frame and steel butt plate is gorgeous with its striations of wavy colors. 

The scroll engraving around the Remington name on the top of the barrel is exquisite in its symmetrical execution. It matches the additional engraving on the barrel, near the front sight. Iíve always found scroll engraving appealing with about 75% coverage as the maximum my eyes like to see on a fine firearm. 50% or 25% or even less (like Maeveís) works well and adds just the right touch of enhancement. 100% engraving can sometimes please my eye, but more often itís overkill and too much for me. Maeveís engraving by TGW is superb. 

The Skinner rear sight is also color case hardened to match the rest of the rifle. It matches up well with the serrated Skinner front post. With its cut down barrel, the pump rifle feels more like a carbine and handles better due to being lighter and shorter. When shouldered, the sights come naturally and intuitively to the eye and line up quickly. The front post is bold and simple to position its tip in the center of the rear aperture. 

I told Bobby Tyler I wanted the Remingtonís barrel cut to just over 16-inches, the minimum legal length. I had measured the barrel length as it was originally 22-inches from the factory. I believed that if the barrel was shortened to 16 1/2-inches and the last portion was threaded, then I could attach a silencer to it that would not interfere with the moving tubular magazine. I was wrong. I should have had the barrel shortened to just 18 1/2-inches. 

The decision was made to screw on a muzzle brake to cover and protect the threads and to give better visual appeal with the location of the front sight. In the end, the reality is that I wonít be reloading .35 Remington ammunition and all factory loads are sonic, so hearing protection would be needed anyway, even with a silencer. The muzzle brake looks modern and turned out well, even though it wasnít my initial plan. 

With the fastest muzzle velocity of the 200-grain bullets coming with the Hornady LeveRevolution ammo at 2225 fps (muzzle energy of 2198 ft/lb), a rubberized butt pad isnít needed with the .35 Remington. Firmly planting the steel butt pad in your shoulder is all thatís needed to manage the relatively light recoil of this cartridge. 

The original rifle had a sling attachment mount under the barrel, just in front of the magazine tube. Attempts to weld one onto the band that keeps the tube under the barrel were unsuccessful. I may have to contact Rob Leahy at Simply Rugged Holsters to see if one of his "no drill slings" will work. 

Shooting Maeve 

Loading the Model 14 is accomplished "shotgun shell" style by pushing each round underneath the gun and into the magazine tube. I could actually feel the Hornady LeveRevolution cartridges twisting in the tube as their pointed noses followed the spiral contour inside. Five rounds fit in the magazine. 

For anyone who owns a bottom loading Remington pump shotgun (or any other brand), the procedure is familiar and makes these old pump action rifles an excellent companion that matches up well with a similar scattergun. Of course, a .22 caliber pump rifle would be another great companion gun along with this centerfire rifle. 

Below freezing temperatures were coming so I shot the Remington Core-Lokt and Hornady LeveRevolution ammo I had on hand, both with 200-grain bullets. I shot Maeve off a rest at 25 yards to see how well the old Remington would group with its new Skinner sights. Of course the engraving and case hardened finish must add some style points to accuracy at least, right? 

I was pleased with both types of ammo since they fed, fired, and ejected well. I was also gratified with the resulting groups. Sight adjustments on the Skinner rear aperture are simple by loosening the set screw on the right side and then twisting the circular peep a half turn or a full turn up or down. 

Marvelous Maeve 

Maeve will receive more test firing at various distances once the weather warms up again. Deer season just ended here in Tennessee, so Iíve got another ten months before it comes around again. Taking a whitetail with it is an obvious goal of mine. 

This new Signature Pump Action Rifle pleases my soul. Itís an ode to my dad that makes me smile. Itís also a cousin to the Signature Lever Guns of friends Andy, Sheila, Ed, Rob, Jan, Nick, and Marsha. I sure wish Ed Head was still with us so I could pass Maeve over to him for inspection and shooting. I know he would appreciate Spartacusí new cousin. 

Steve Tracy

 

 

Steve Tracy is a Shootist and a retired police officer, having served his former department for 30 years, and he was a certified firearms instructor for his department for 28 years. His father and grandfather were shooters and collectors before him, so itís pretty much in his DNA and he's been a firearms enthusiast since birth. Steveís interests in guns lean toward blued steel and walnut, while nickel-plating, ivory handles, and tasteful engraving please him even more. From old guns (he has fired the 300+ year-old Blunderbuss that hangs on his wall) to the latest wondergun Ė handguns, rifles, and shotguns Ė he likes them all. He retired with his wife Robin to a log cabin in the Volunteer state of Tennessee ("Patron state of shooting stuff," as the character Bob Lee Swagger stated, in the movie Shooter), he keeps busy shooting cottonmouths, armadillos, and beavers that invade his property.

 

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

 

Wood stock and forearm pump were left "as is" because they were in such great shape for a rifle made in 1930. 

 

 

Replica manual for the Remington Model 14 explains take down procedure. 

 

 

Tyler Gun Works and Finks Custom Guns work together to produce outstanding custom firearms. 

 

 

Beautiful color case hardening continues on Maeveís underside and trigger guard.

 

 

The Model 14 takes down with the loosening of a single screw on the left side of the receiver. The frame and barrel stay together and lift straight up off the stock and trigger guard. 

 

 

The sun plays on the Remingtonís color case hardening. 

 

 

Loading the Model 14 is similar to Remingtonís shotguns that load from underneath, pushing five cartridges into the magazine tube. 

 

 

Hornady LeveRevolution .35 Remington 200-grain ammo functioned flawlessly and printed this three shot group at 25 yards. 

 

 

Remingtonís own .35 caliber Core-Lokt 200-grain rounds functioned without fail and printed this three shot group at 25 yards.