Is Your Rifle Ready?
Virtually every small hamlet or village has an auto parts house or Walmart close by. These outlets can easily provide the specialized products required to keep your “shootin’ iron” in good working condition. An aerosol can of carburetor choke cleaner will remove the gum and sludge that can accumulate in their trigger and firing pin assembly. The combination of toluene and acetone quickly dissolves the most stubborn build-up of 3 in 1 oil, WD-40 and dust, rendering the aforementioned parts squeaky clean. Use this product to clean your trigger group at least once a year. Our next item to purchase is a can of dry molybdenum disulfide spray. This dry film lubricant is great for the firing pin assembly and acts as a corrosion preventative as well. It is best applied to a clean surface. I like to warm the parts to be coated using a hair drier until they are warm to the touch. I then spray a uniform coating over the pin assembly and inside the bolt body. A can of M/D spray should last the average hunter/shooter several years.
Cocking Cams And Locking Lugs
These are two of the most overlooked areas for maintenance with most shooters. These are the only two areas where we apply a generous amount of grease and anti-seize compound without fear of causing a mechanical failure. The locking seats in the receiver and the locking lugs should mate well in a good rifle. We’ve all heard of lapping the lugs for better contact. When we increase the contact area between the lugs and the locking seats in the receiver, we need an anti-seize compound to prevent galling. This galling occurs when the two surfaces are dry and under pressure, either from tight headspace or firing pin spring tension on the bolt. A thin film of anti-seize compound on the back side of the locking lugs prevents this galling from occurring. Grease does not work as well and should not be used as a substitute, unless it’s an emergency.
Cocking cams require a sticky high pressure grease to keep them in working order. Again galling occurs when these surfaces are dry and excessive spring pressure/tension is present in the cocking stroke on our bolt action rifle. It is a good idea to have the cocking cam and cocking piece polished as well (smoother surfaces work better). These modifications, along with a little cam grease, will eliminate galling and hard cocking. I’ve seen galling so severe that the shooter was bending the bolt handle trying to cock the rifle. Holland’s Shooter Supply offers a nice kit containing cam grease and anti-seize compound. These round sealed tins will last the hunter for years and fit nicely in your cleaning box.
Action Screws And Scope Mounts
We often hear complaints of loose action screws and wobbly scope mounts. Really? Being aware of your rifles scope mounts and action screws seems elementary to some, but every year we hear tales of woe as to how a loose scope mount cost the hunter a buck of a lifetime! Get into the habit of checking the rifle prior to going to the range for zero confirmation. This simple check can save a lot of grief as well as ammunition.
Action screws should be torqued uniformly. On pillar bedded rifles 50-55 inch pounds is best. On aluminum bedding blocks as seen in Remington, Winchester and Weatherby rifles, 60-65 inch pounds is best. Always tighten the front and rear screws the same. On 3 screw guns like the Winchester Model 70 and Ruger 77's, tighten the front and rear screws the same and just snug the middle screw. Over tightening the middle screw can affect the bedding and accuracy of the rifle. Make sure the action screws when properly tightened do not interfere with the closing of the bolt. If you feel a slight hesitation, or if the bolt fails to close, it is an indicator that the front guard screw is protruding into the locking recess, which will prevent the bolt from closing completely. This can be disastrous to accuracy. Filing or grinding the screw shorter will remedy the problem.
Getting a Perfect Zero
Confirming our rifle’s zero should go without saying, yet countless hunters go afield with the confidence that their rifle is dead on with out actually confirming their zero. How many of you have heard the following: “Hells bells, why I sighted the rifle in last season and never fired a shot. It’s gotta be zeroed. Besides, these new shells are expensive and I’ve only got a half box left!” Sounds like a caption to a Far Side Cartoon. I can’t wait to hear the stories at the end of the season.
Without exception, you should confirm your zero prior to hunting. Should you stumble or fall, check your zero. What are the odds of the maid fessing up to the rifle clattering to the floor when she is cleaning the closet? It doesn’t take much of a bump to move our point of impact several inches at 100 yds. On a recent trip to Africa, I confirmed zero twice in as many days and was damn glad on the second time, since the rifle’s point of impact had indeed changed. Failure to have done so would have resulted in a 6 inch error at 200 yds. Knowing that you have confirmed a perfect zero gives you confidence in your rifle. Failure to do so can result in a long march back to camp.
Each and every time we remove the barreled action from the stock we should check the rifle’s zero. Anytime we tamper with scope mounts or screws, confirm zero. Slip, stumble or fall with the rifle, confirm zero.
In closing, I’d like to leave you with a final thought. Know your limitations! If you are not comfortable with shots over 400 yards, stalk and get closer. It is better to pass on a difficult or iffy shot. Wounding or losing an animal is a poor way to end the season.
Until next time...
Darrell Holland is a Custom Riflesmith and designer of Advanced Reticle Technology in Leupold, Schmidt & Bender and NIGHTFORCE rifle scopes. Darrell offers an intense 4 day shooting school that is ideal for long range hunters and tactical enthusiasts.
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