Long Range Hunting Online Magazine

Basic Rifle Maintenance - Part 3

Basic Rifle Maintenance - Part 3

By Vince Bottomley
©Copyright 2009, Target Shooter Magazine

In part one we covered the bolt, then the barrel in part 2, so now let’s take a look at the action/stock.

We can divide our maintenance into three parts:

The action itself
The trigger
The action-bed

Let’s start with the action. Most actions will be retained in the stock with two or maybe three screws. This method of retention dates back well over a century so it looks as though someone got it right pretty early on. By removing the action-screws we can separate the barrelled-action from the stock. If your rifle has an integral box-magazine, be prepared for a few bits to jump out. You can pre-empt this by releasing the floor-plate – usually achieved by operating a catch near to the trigger-guard.

basic rifle maintenance 3
This type of integral box-magazine cum floor-plate and trigger-guard is standard on most factory hunting rifles.


If we put the stock to one side for a moment and concentrate on the action, we will probably see a recoil lug somewhere – usually sandwiched between the barrel and the action or maybe part of the action. The very name gives a clue to its function - it transfers the recoil to the stock rather than exerting a shear force through the action screws. If your action has a deep rear tang, that may also absorb recoil.

There is little we can do with the action itself beyond a thorough clean. With access now available from top and bottom we can give it a good clean internally, especially in the lug recesses. A large amount of debris can accumulate here and it often gets overlooked when we clean the barrel. Remove it with a proper cleaning tool or improvise with a bit of bent wire and a few cleaning patches. A squirt with WD40 will help loosen the crud. Don’t forget to pass a patch or two through the barrel afterwards – it’s easy to leave a patch or debris in there!



Now for the trigger. This is one bit that we can apply a little TLC to but don’t get carried away. We like a clean trigger but we don’t want it lubricated with oil. Oil will affect the function of the trigger and will also attract dust and grit – the enemy of our trigger. If your trigger is working satisfactorily, I would say leave well alone. If you attempt to clean it you could easily disturb grit or debris and end up jamming the trigger.

basic rifle maintenance 3
Zippo petroleum based lighter fuel is as good as anything for flushing triggers. This particular tin has accompanied me to Italy, New Zealand, Sweden, Austria and America – and I’ve yet to use it!


If the trigger looks really grungy, then it’s a good opportunity to clean it. Start by removing it from the action. It will be fixed by one or two screws or it may be retained with a couple of pins – as in the case of Remington style triggers. Drive out the pins with a suitable punch – they should come out easily – but get ready for springs to fly! Although you will remember where the main screws or pins go, safeties can be another matter so, before you do anything, take a pic or two with your digital camera, then you will know how it all fits together.

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