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"...'Ackley' can best be described as a mindset, not just the straight wall, sharp shoulder design he made famous..."-- Mike Bellm

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-- Photos courtesy of Mike Bellm --

  A new reloader isn't reloading very long before repeatedly encountering the name "Ackley" in books, magazines, and websites. Many modern wildcat developers tailor their designs with concepts that seem intuitive and basic but only because P.O. Ackley challenged an entire industry with "Improved" versions of their own designs. Today, Ackley's ideas can be found in many high-performance commercial products.

P.O.'s long-time associate Mike Bellm of Mike Bellm TC's applies years of Ackley-inspired experience and knowledge to produce expertly tuned fireams of unmatched quality. Mike has provided a wealth of information to us about P.O.'s rounds as well as his own and his contributions are deeply appreciated. As Mike related memories of the "Great One" from his years in Salt Lake City, I knew many AmmoGuide visitors would enjoy them as much as I.

Mike, it's a privilege to host these pictures and stories that you have generously shared. Thanks for allowing us get to know Parker O. Ackley a little bit better.

Mike Haas
AmmoGuide author and owner


A c k l e y    o n    A m m o G u i d e
.22/30-30 Ackley Improved
.225 Win. Ackley Improved
.22 Ackley Improved Jet
.22-250 Ackley Improved
.220 Swift Ackley Improved
.223 Ackley Improved
.22 HP Ackley Improved
.244 (6mm) Ackley Improved
6mm-06 Ackley Improved
6mm/250 AI
.25-06 Ackley Improved
.25-35 Ackley Improved
.257 Ackley Improved
.260 Remington AI
.270/.257 Ackley Improved
.280 Ackley Improved
7mm-08 Ackley Improved
7x57 Ackley Improved
.30-30 Ackley Improved
.30-40 Ackley Improved
8mm/06 Ackley Improved
.338-06 Ackley Improved
.348 WCF Ackley Improved
.35 Whelen Ackley Improved

The Bellm Series of Cartridges Includes:
5.6x50R Bellm     7mm Bellm     .30 Bellm 1.4"     .308 Bellm     .358 Bellm     .375 Bellm


Mike Bellm here.

P.O. giving serious consideration to a question I posed to him
Yep, that's me with color in my hair yet, early to mid-30s.

I had ingested every "Gunsmith Column" by Ackley throughout grade school, high school, and college in Illinois & then Logan, Utah, never dreaming I would someday walk through the doors of his shop in Salt Lake City at the right time and end up doing the work I only dreamed about for years. His shop was on one side of the Salt Lake Valley, mine was on the opposite side. We never actually worked together but visited each other's shops. And we talked - a LOT.

"Ackley" can best be described as a mindset, not just the straight wall, sharp shoulder design he made famous.

Ackley is an analytical, realistic way of getting into problems and finding solutions. It is a love of rifled sporting firearms and the guys who use them.

It is also an attitude that looks at the "common wisdom" put out by the shooting industry with a jaundiced eye and challenges it when it does not stand up to the light of day.

For me..... it is also apparently an addiction.

The fixture I fastened bolt action barrelled actions into for test firing down through the shop floor.

P.O. laid the foundation for me to work from, but most importantly, he taught me to think through things. It was not a matter of learning to do things just one way. P.O. was a chronic experimenter, continually challenging all the accepted "truths" that turned out to have flawed logic that did not hold up in the real world. That is what has pretty much set my course. It also tends to set one at odds with the rest of those in the gun trade that don't agree with what I can easily demonstrate when it flies in the face of "common wisdom" or accepted practice.  

P.O. and his daughter, Jackie, had a system autographing his books. She laid them out, and he signed them, one after another.

I should have more pictures than I do, but was not into the notoriety thing that much. I was just doing what I did for the most part. The really upsetting day was the day Jackie said they had thrown out several pickup truck loads of old correspondence. That in itself would have been the basis for a graduate course in barrels, chambers, & metal work.

Taken about 1986-87 (?) in P.O.'s backyard shop on Arbor Lane, Salt Lake City. This is where most of the work that made him famous took place. His hand is on the hand-built, hand-operated cut-rifling machine he built back in the 40's. He's describing it to James Scuderi of Salt Lake City and no doubt was including the story about cut-rifling 20 barrel blanks for Roy Weatherby in one day on it.

James Scuderi and P.O. outside the shop.

Scuderi brought one of the Ruger engineers to the shop one time. Talk about a hailstorm of concepts filling the air - everyone else in the group drifted out of the picture as we let it all fly. I learned a LOT about Ruger's operation, castings, and moulds.

For many, many years, I turned guns and ammo around in my head after reading about them in Ackley's writings and others. I was told by my high school counselor I tested very high in "spatial ability" and this seemed to develop more fully trying to conceptualize details about guns. Stimulation and challenge by P.O. pressed it to the limit. He would explain anything but never showed me anything. That left me walking away having to figure out what to do. He gave me the concepts, but I had to do it.

It wasn't until a few days after he passed away August 23, 1989 that it dawned on me what he had done. He made me learn to think. He could only tell me so much about so many things, but learning how to think was the foundation that has proven invaluable.

Mike Bellm
Mike Bellm TC's