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Basic Rifle Maintenance - Part 1
The pic below shows the angled cocking-ramp. This should be completely free of burrs to ensure smooth operation. You can put a tiny dab of grease on the ramp.

Basic Rifle Maintenance - Part 1

That’s it, apart from a visual inspection to see that the pin is not unduly worn or bent and there are no signs of rust anywhere. Dry off any excess WD40 with kitchen roll and re-assemble using the stripping tool to compress the spring.

The bolt is now ready to use but don’t forget to grease the back of the bolt-lugs lightly and a tiny bit of grease on the camming-point before use. Please be very sparing with the grease – do not get grease anywhere near the bolt-face.

Unfortunately, we need to take things a bit further with our Remington as we have a problem. Light-strikes can be due to a number of things:

Firing-pin protrusion: Generally we are looking for something around 0.05 inches (fifty thou.) The Remmy is spot-on at 51 thou. so this is not the problem.

Basic Rifle Maintenance - Part 1

Excessive headspace: If headspace is too great, it will have the same effect as lack of firing-pin protrusion – leaving a small gap between the bolt-face and case-head but when the go-gauge was inserted, headspace was spot-on. Again, if you over-bump the cases on re-sizing, it will shorten them and exhibit the same problem as excessive headspace.

Primer problem: This is rare but not unknown so worth checking. Duff primers are uncommon but if they get damp or oil on them, they won’t fire. The remedy is to replace a few primers and try again. I popped out the CCI primers (using a Lee universal de-priming die) and replaced them with Federal – no difference. There was an indentation from the firing-pin impact but not quite enough to fire the primer.

Basic Rifle Maintenance - Part 1

On taking the pin and spring apart, the problem is revealed. Moisture has found its way into the bolt and the pin is rusty. Look at the pic above and you can see that corrosion is particularly bad under the spring (I’d actually cleaned off the excess rust with steel-wool before this pic was taken) but we are more concerned with the bit that slides inside the shroud. It’s a close fit and the light corrosion was causing the pin to drag very slightly – enough to cause an ignition problem. The rifle had been laid up over the winter, allowing the corrosion to form. A good clean with wet ‘n’ dry paper soon had it looking as good as new and a light application of WD40 will prevent re-occurrence.

Whilst the bolt was in pieces, it was a simple job to fit a new spring. Springs for the popular rifles are available from www.brownells.com for a few dollars. For a few dollars more, you can buy a slightly stronger (longer) one which will in theory give you a shorter lock-time. It arrived within a week!

Basic Rifle Maintenance - Part 1

One last thing to check - particularly if your rifle isn’t as accurate as you think it should be. Check that both bolt-lugs are making contact with the action lugs. The back of both lugs should appear shiny. If one looks shiny but the other doesn’t, there’s not a lot you can do about it – it’s really a machining job to true ‘em up and it probably isn’t worth the cost as you could end up having to adjust the headspace but at least you know what could be causing the accuracy problem.

Finally, never store your rifle with the bolt cocked or the spring will soon lose its tension. If you prefer to leave the bolt in the rifle, close it on an empty chamber and pull the trigger to un-cock it. If you store the bolt separately – best for safety – de-cock it by twisting the shroud to drop the pin. Re-cock using the stripping tool.

Bolt stripping tools for popular actions can be obtained from Sinclair International in America. www.sinclairintl.com Barnard bolts come apart without any tools, as do RPA and Savage – except for an Allen-key. In the absence of a stripping tool, you can improvise (see pic below) with a bit of wire and a washer (or 5p coin) in the case of Remington bolts!

Basic Rifle Maintenance - Part 1

More basic rifle maintenance next month.

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