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If I had a range like this in my back yard, I may divide my time slightly differently.

Swiss 300 metre shoot – Any Sights Any Rifle

There are a few centrefire rifle events every year that are just thoroughly enjoyable and worth attending. The Auckland NZDA Prize Shoot is one, as is the Thames NZDA shoot. The Hangiwera Station Sniper Shoot is definitely up there, and so is the Swiss Club’s Any Sights Any Rifle 300 metre shoot.

This year was my first shoot at the Swiss Club, although some of my shooting buddies have been going for years, and I attended on their recommendation.

An enjoyable shoot

The shoot is well organised, and is accommodating for younger or inexperienced shooters. There are club rifles available and the RO is very helpful with sighting in. The club rifles are either straight-pull Karabiners (K31s), chambered in the venerable 7.5×55, or modern semi-autos in 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington.

If you’re bringing your own rifle (as most do), you can use anything you like. If you’re really ambitious, you can try your open-sighted SKS and see what it will do at 300, but you’ll be going up against Bench Rest rifles that hit 10.1 more often than not. Most rifles on the day were a mix of F-Class, BR, sporting and service rifles. Because there is such a variety of shooters and equipment, it’s more likely that you will be competing amongst your group of friends than with the top of the table – unless you’re an excellent BR shooter.

The variety of rifles on the range is a joy in itself.
The variety of rifles on the range is a joy in itself.

Although I knew there was no way I could beat the top BR shooters with my modest sporter, this did not diminish my enjoyment of the day at all. I’m pretty competitive by nature, but found myself comparing my scores to my wife’s and those of the other Howick shooters. It also meant I got to see a bunch of really cool guns that you wouldn’t usually see in one competition.

Three-hundred metres is a pretty challenging distance if you haven’t shot past a hundred before. There were even a few who had not shot at all before. However, with the help of the club’s rifle master, these young shooters were hitting paper in no time.

The cost of the shoot is not prohibitive, with a range of $20 on the day, and of the cost of 25 rounds of ammo. The Swiss Club has a really good website for the ASAR shoot, which lets you book your position on the mound ahead of time. With several details across a few days of shooting, you’ll definitely find a time to shoot, and you may even try and better your score on another day.

Swiss Club target.
Swiss Club target.

The format

The shoot starts with 5 individual sighters. Each shooter on the line takes a single shot from the prone position (all shooting is prone), after which the targets go down and the scorers call back the score and location of the round to the RO via radio. A notepad and pen are handy, as you try and figure out where your sighters are landing. The shots are called out like “9 at 3 o’clock” or “7 at at 1 o’clock”, with the first number being the score (1-10) and the position on the clock helping you to identify which segment of the target you are landing on.

After you’ve gone through your 5 sighters, there are 10 individual scoring shots, shot in a very similar fashion. Each shot is still called out, helping you adjust your shot placement, especially if the wind picks up downrange.

A notepad is essential to sighting in at 300 metres.
A notepad is essential to sighting in at 300 metres.

After the individual shots, you have “rapid” groups of 2, 3 and 5. I say rapid, but it’s really not. It’s simply a few shots in a row. There is no pressure to hurry up, and there are plenty of people single loading their shots.

All shots are still called out, except for the final group. This means you can adjust your shot placement right up the last minute.

How hard is it to hit the 10 ring? You’ll need to be shooting around MOA (just over) to consistently hit the 10 ring at 300 metres. If you want to notch up a bunch of 10.1’s, you’ll need to be shooting around between 0.5 and 0.66 MOA.

The experience

I thoroughly enjoyed the shoot. I went a bit early to watch some of my mates shoot, but also to familiarise myself with the format and calls. I did end up waiting around a bit, but I ended up being there for most of the day, as I had some “technical difficulties”.

After watching the 11 am detail, I hung around over lunch time before taking up my spot on the mound. I was a bit nervous as I was shooting my rifle in its complete configuration for the first time. Since the last time I had shot, I had fitted and bedded my Boyds Prairie Hunter stock, had a new bolt handle machined, and modified my magazine follower. Also unfamiliar to me was a 6-24 scope that I had been sent to review.

One new bolt handle coming up, thanks to my mate Thomas.
One new bolt handle coming up, thanks to my mate Thomas.

Unfortunately the scope did not perform and was unable to be zeroed on the day. This meant I had to wait through an entire detail, pushing out my wife’s shoot as well. However, I used this time to fit my trusty Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 BDC, which I brought just in case. I have learnt my lesson with taking unfamiliar equipment to a shoot.

Unfortunately this meant I had to sight in from scratch, however, I was on paper on my 3rd shot, and the rest was just fine-tuning. By the end of my shoot I had it right were I wanted it, which meant my wife had the rifle ready to go for her shoot, and actually did quite well. Results can be seen here.

Overall I was very happy with the my complete sporter set up, and with some more powerful glass, I think I’d be comfortable taking this rig out onto the F-Class range.

Looking forward to some Norma brass at the end of this.
Looking forward to some Norma brass at the end of this.

I think the load development still has some way to go, particularly as the barrel on this rifle is quite short. Not having developed a satisfactory handload, I shot this competition with factory 6.5×55 ammo. I used the Norma-Sierra 144gr HPBT, and the round seemed to perform pretty well. To be honest, I was more interested in the brass than anything else, as I think this rifle will prefer lighter projectiles, in the 130 – 140 grain range. Over the holidays I’ll be testing out the 129 gr Hornady Interlock and 140 gr A-max. I’ll be comparing this projectiles side-by-side with the 142 gr SMK and the 144 gr OEM projectile in the Norma-Sierra load.

At the end of the day, the shoot was enjoyable, and definitely an experience worth repeating. You can shoot multiple times on one day, or on multiple days across the competition. If I have the time next year, I’ll probably try shoot it on a few days. Being located only 45 mins or so north of Auckland, the range is really accessible, although it is also rarely accessible. The Swiss Club is, of course, a club for Swiss nationals, and as far as I know, this shoot is the only time of the year that the range is opened up to the general public.

If you would like to try a different range and format, and perhaps a longer distance than you usually get to, you’ll definitely enjoy the Swiss Club’s ASAR shoot.

Voere 22LR Bolt Action

No bolt, no mag – what to do?

It’s not unusual for an older rifle to make its way through the family tree and lose its bolt or mag along the way – especially .22s which can be used and abused. The other way no mag/bolt guns fall into our hands is through Trademe auctions, usually run by gun stores that have used older rifles for parts, and no longer need the barrelled action and/or stock. So, is it worthwhile trying to restore these firearms to their former glory?

What’s the value?

If it’s a family heirloom, it could have enough sentimental value for you to undertake the project regardless of cost. However, if you’re eyeing up an auction, it’s probably because you want to get a rifle together on the cheap. Depending on your scenario, it may or may not be worth the time, money and effort to restore the firearm.

A word to the wise – thoroughly research your intended purchase before assuming you can find the parts to complete the project. As an example, I wanted to put together a cheap shotgun and bought an SKB semi action and stock, missing the forewood and barrel. I had seen some barrels online, and figured it would be easy enough to put this thing back together.

However, I found out (like an hour after the auction), that the SKB factory had been shut down, and that the barrels that I had found in the States were not ideal. There are some available locally – for over $900. There goes the idea of a cheap shotgun. So I paid $29.50 for something that probably won’t ever be used for anything, except perhaps testing out gun blue or stock reconditioning products.

What’s the cost?

Sometimes you can source the parts, but you have to be inventive to keep the cost down. The thing is, if it was cheap to do, the gun store would have bought the parts and sold a complete rifle for more – so you know it’s not going to be a walk in the park.

A good example of getting creative is a rifle I got from my father-in-law. It’s a .22LR bolt-action from sometime around the ’70s or ’80s. It was sold by a trading house by the name of Wischo Kg Erlangen in Germany originally, essentially assembled from parts provided by various European manufacturers. The rifle is basically a Voere.

The rifle came into my possession for the princely sum of a nice bottle of wine. It had a decent looking barrel and a crisp two-stage trigger. However, it was missing the rear sight, magazine and bolt. By keeping my eyes open, I managed to spot a Voere parts auction on Trademe.

The auction was for an action and bolt, with about 8 inches of barrel attached. See below video of me firing this weird thing, after fitting it to the stock from the rifle I had acquired.

Included in the “barrelled” action was the rear sight – a stroke of luck. Also in the auction I got a 6mm garden gun without bolt, which is just a wallhanger in my office. Oh well. I’m never even going to try solve that mystery.

The Wischo rifle sporting the Voere sight, pictured next to the Voere bolt, action/barrel and trigger group.
The Wischo rifle sporting the Voere sight, pictured next to the Voere bolt, action/barrel and trigger group.

The issue then became whether the parts I bought on an (educated) whim for $40 would fit my rifle – as technically they were not from the same gun. Well, it turned out I was right with my assumption that the trading house rifle was a Voere in disguise, however the bolt wouldn’t close nicely and the rear sight was obviously different, as it had a larger dovetailed base.

A machinist/engineer friend of mine helped me take a small piece of metal off the action around the bolt, which got it cocking smoothly, and extended the dovetail to take the sight off the parts gun. This cost me a box of Heineken.

All that’s left to buy is a magazine, which I can get from here, or here, for between $100 and $150. So, all up, for the cost of a bottle of wine, a box of beer, $40 for parts and around $150 for a mag, I’ll have a nice wee shooter with a bit of character and a story worth telling. By throwing in some of my own time and effort, I can reblue the rifle and varnish the stock, and it will end up being a really good looking little gun too.

So, again, it can be worth it – but you’ve got have the time, and sometimes know the right people, to make it worthwhile restoring a non-functioning rifle.

Auckland NZDA Prize Shoot

The annual NZDA Auckland branch Prize Shoot is a great day out for Auckland shooters of all abilities. Falling in September each year, the weather can be a bit hit and miss, but aside from that, it’s a perfectly pleasant day on the range with your favourite rifle and some mates.

This year – the 46th Prize Shoot – I shot for my second time and my wife completed her first centrefire competition. We both did fairly well, but she truly excelled. I’ll claim that it’s because I sighted the rifle in through my shooting (we shared a rifle). However, all credit to her, as she outshot some great shooters.

The field

That’s another thing that makes the day enjoyable – there are shooters of all abilities. I placed well ahead of some very experienced shooters, but was beaten by someone shooting for their first time ever. And vice versa. It really is a great field of competitors, where everyone can benchmark their performance against others.

NZDA 100 metre standing shoot
100 metres is more than enough from the standing position.

At the top of Division A were the usual suspects, including Paul Carmine. My wife, Kassie, took out Division B – which got her called up second in the order of prize recipients, allowing her to choose a really nice Hunting and Fishing backpack for her prize.

This year there were four ladies and two junior shooters. In total, there were just under 40 shooters, making up two details. Last year there were around 60 shooters (despite the inclement weather), and apparently previous years have had a similar turnout. Perhaps timing a competition to coincide with Bathurst wasn’t the best move…

The format

The format of the shoot is very simple and easy to follow. Once the safety instructions and competition rules had been read out, the first detail (Squad A) went to the mound for sighting in and the prone target shoot.

Rest and bipods are allowed for sighting in, however, you want tomake sure you're sighted in before competition day if possible.
Rest and bipods are allowed for sighting in, however, you want to make sure you’re sighted in before competition day if possible.

Sighting in is done on a target on the right hand side of the frame, and five minutes are allowed for unlimited sighters.  The range for the competition is 100 metres. I got 13 rounds off in this time, trying to get my rifle on point. The lesson here being to always sight your rifle in before competition day if you’ve done some work on it. After 13 rounds, there was a decent amount of mirage created by the heat of the barrel and my new MAE suppressor. However, by taking my time this didn’t affect my prone shoot.

You can use a rest or bipod to sight in, however the rest of the competition is shot without any aids (aside from a shooting mat and a kneeling roll).This means no slings, jackets or gloves.

The prone shoot is 5 shots in 7 minutes – plenty of time. After this is finished and the rifles are cleared and removed from the mound, scorers go forward to retrieve targets. Squad B is next, but in the meantime, people stand around chatting and enjoying the all-day sausage sizzle.

After Squad B, the same process is followed and Squad A goes up for 5 rounds in the kneeling position, also in 7 minutes. Rinse and repeat for Squad B. The last shoot of the day is 5 rounds standing, again in 7 minutes. This is what separates the men from the boys. Some of those scoring in the 40’s in the prone event struggle to scrape 20 together in the standing position.

In between these, there is a 5 round rapid shoot on the 25 metre range, to be completed in 40 seconds. Again, making sure you know your hold under/over and your parallax settings before competition day is invaluable. If you’re sharing a rifle with your partner or buddy, you will be accommodated with an extra rapid at the end – although you’ll probably have time in between while targets are retrieved and people yack on about how they pulled that one shot. Targets are also given out once scored, so there is plenty to talk about during the day.

The rifles

Generally speaking, the rifles are hunting rifles in hunting calibres. There are some rifles that would look more at home in an F-Class shoot, and some that would be quite comfortable in the lineup for a military service rifle shoot. The most exotic calibre of the day was probably .310 Cadet, with one .22 Hornet and a 6BR making an appearance.

As far as I could see, the only semi-auto was a Norinco M305 (the Chinese version of the M14), whereas last year a couple AR-15’s placed very highly in the field. At the 2014 Prize Shoot I did take an SKS – what a mistake. The iron sights had not been sighted in and after I took the muzzle brake off, the scope’s zero was so off that I wasn’t on the paper. It was an exercise in frustration, and using the iron sights and a whole lot of compensation, I managed to get some scoring shots in the kneeling and standing events.

This year I went armed with my 1943 Husqvarna M38, chambered in 6.5×55. This rifle was sporterised when I got it, and has since been modified even more. Over the last ten or so months it has a new matte black coating applied, the bolt has been replaced and the cocking piece cut down to reduce lock time. I’ve also installed a Vortex Diamondback BDC 4-12 x 40, and a new adjustable BOLD Trigger, which was kindly supplied by Boyds. Completing the setup was a brand new MAE suppressor, which thoroughly impressed my shooting buddies as well as those that heard it perform.

I also have a new Boyds Gunstock waiting to be fitted to this rifle, but I didn’t want to rush the bedding and finishing before this shoot. It should be ready before the 300m Swiss Club shoot in November. And I’ve learnt my lesson – sight in beforehand!

The load I was shooting was as follows:

Projectile: SMK HPBT 142 gr
Powder: ADI AR2208 34.7 gr
Brass: PPU (twice fired)
Primer: Federal Gold Medal Large Rifle Match

Aside from my wife and I, there was one other person shooting 6.5×55. The most common calibre by far was  .223 Remington, with 14 shooters using this round. There was one .243 and three .270s, with eight .308 rifles as well. The winning rifle was a .222. There were also four other rifles in this calibre on the day, two placing very low in the field and the other two coming in near the top.

The MAE suppressor cut down felt recoil and the loud crack of the rifle, making it a pleasure to handle.
The MAE suppressor cut down felt recoil and the loud crack of the rifle, making it a pleasure to handle.

The prizes

The prizes for the shoot are kindly donated by several sponsors, including major Auckland gun stores, as well as private individuals and club members. Also on offer was a one-year membership to the club, as well as a couple magazine subscriptions.

There were some great prizes to be had, including four of these Leupold knives.
There were some great prizes to be had, including four of these Leupold knives.

Dotted along the prize table were all sorts of cool items for the garage, range, shed, field or bush. Ranging from knives and a machete to ammunition, books, cleaning products, car accessories and even a leather-working voucher.

Everyone walked away happy, having picked a prize that was probably worth more than the $25 they paid to enter the competition. With free sausages all day, and a lot of shooting to do, it adds up to a very worthwhile day.

With the prizes on display all day, everyone eyes up what they want, and probably spend a fair bit of time vacillating between equally awesome prizes. Last year the knives were first to go, however this year they stuck around for a bit. There were a fair few on offer, and myself and two other members of HSSRC managed to score three out of the four limited edition Leupold hunting knives. The first place junior made a bee-line for the machete, which was clearly something he’d been eyeing up all day.

Whether you only break out the centrefire rifles a few times a year or you regularly enjoy taking your hunting rig out, the NZDA Annual Prize Shoot is a rewarding experience in more ways than one, and is something I’d definitely recommend.

The tools needed for this job are pretty simple and should all be in your tool box already.

Installing an aftermarket triger

Modern rifles with their out-of-the-box accuracy guarantees usually come with adjustable triggers, but if yours didn’t, help is on the way. Whether it’s an old military surplus rifle that you’re modifying or a modern hunter that needs a little bit of work, installing a new trigger is easy and worthwhile.

A stiff trigger pull can be the difference between a bullseye and the 9 ring, or the difference between a clean kill and a long walk through the bush chasing a wounded animal. If you want to see the difference a good trigger can make, one of the best examples you could have would be to try a 10/22 with a match trigger, and then shoot one with the standard trigger. After shooting with a lightened trigger for so long, I thought the safety was on when I tried to pull the standard trigger.

The tools you’ll need

There’s not much to this job really. Most stock triggers are removed by driving out the pin that holds the unit in place. This pin also acts as the fulcrum for the trigger set and reset. To drive this out, you’ll need a hammer and punch – or a filed down nail if you don’t have a punch to hand.

Depending on the trigger unit, you may need a small spanner or wrench to adjust lock nuts, and probably some allen keys or screwdrivers to adjust pull and sear engagement. Depending on your rifle, you’ll probably need a large flat head screwdriver to undo your action screws.

The tools needed for this job are pretty simple and should all be in your tool box already.
The tools needed for this job are pretty simple and should all be in your tool box already.

The trigger of choice

Of course all of this is moot if you don’t have a trigger to install. There are a few options out there, depending on your breed of rifle. Ruger 10/22s, AR15s and Rem 700s have a multitude of aftermarket bang switches, however if you’re improving an older rifle you may have to do some digging to find the trigger you need.


Nice new trigger thanks to Boyds Gunstocks.
Nice new trigger thanks to Boyds Gunstocks.

My most recent trigger install is a BOLD Trigger from Boyds for my Husqvarna M38. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like using a safety – an empty rifle is the best type of safety – so I went for the version without the side safety. However, if you do like to use your safety in addition to safe gun handling practices, the side safety is much more convenient than the toggle on the back of the bolt on the old Swedes.

The 94/96 trigger fits the M38 perfectly. Boyds also stocks triggers for the 98-family Mausers, as well as a Mosin Nagant trigger. Other hardware obtainable from the gun stock manufacturer include trigger guards and floor metal, as well as sling swivel studs and action screws.

Extra inletting

Depending on your trigger, action and stock, there could be some extra in letting to do. Thankfully with the Boyds stock this rifle is destined for, there is ample space for the trigger. However, before I get round to bedding and finishing that stock, I’ll be taking out a bit of material from the current stock to allow the larger trigger unit to fit.

For this job you may want to use a mill. However, hand tools or a dremel will do just fine.

The easy part

The easy part is the install itself. For most triggers, all you’ll need to do is punch out the retaining pin, put the new trigger in the old one’s place, and insert the pin again. That’s almost all there is to it.

With the BOLD Trigger, there’s a grub screw forward of the pin which, when tightened, keeps the unit in place. The mechanism is quite different from the original trigger, so you won’t need the old spring or any of that. If there is any issue with fit (as there can be with the many variations of these beloved milsurp rifles), the instructions that come with your trigger should tell you where you need to add or remove material.

Adjusting the pull and sear engagement

This is where your new trigger comes into its own. It will have its usual factory setting – 3 pounds for the single-stage BOLD Triggers – and an adjustable range. The range on my new trigger is 2-4 pounds, and the sear engagement can be altered too.

On my model, this is done by loosening the locking nuts and adjusting the grub screws with an allen key. In the photo below, you can see I’ve started on this in the photo below, as the factory seal yellow paint has been broken.

The yellow factory seal on the adjustment screws is broken.
The yellow factory seal on the adjustment screws is broken.

I’ve adjusted my trigger to the lightest it will go. This rifle will be a range-only queen, so the heavier pull you’d want on a hunting rifle is not necessary. When adjusting sear engagement, work the bolt rapidly to make sure it won’t fire on closing – too little sear engagement and you could end up with an unsafe rifle.

Once the trigger pull is where you want it – I shouldn’t have to say this, but obviously you’re testing this on an empty chamber or dummy round – it’s time to tighten up the locking nuts. Your particular trigger may have different instructions or mechanisms, so make sure you follow the included install directions.

Of course, the number one concern when modifying a rifle is safety when operating, as well as during the install process. If you’re unsure of how to properly install or set your trigger, your local gunsmith should be able to help you out for a very reasonable fee, as the the work involved is not onerous.

Modified M38 bolt.

Why I will never use my safety

If you’ve gone through the effort of getting your firearms licence, you’ll have come across seven neat rules that should dictate the way you handle guns for the rest of your life. These are the foundation of the arms code and are as follows:

Rule 1: Treat every firearm as loaded
Rule 2: Always point firearms in a safe direction
Rule 3: Load a firearm only when ready to fire
Rule 4: Identify your target beyond all doubt
Rule 5: Check your firing zone
Rule 6: Store firearms and ammunition safely
Rule 7: Avoid alcohol and drugs when handling firearms

You’ll notice, not one of these is “apply the mechanical safety on your firearm”. Why is this? Mechanical objects fail due to wear and tear, extreme conditions and pure bad luck. If you’ve read the instruction manual that comes with your new rifle or shotgun (highly recommended activity), you’ll notice that while new and improved safeties are always created for weapons and mentioned in these manuals, they usually discourage you from relying solely on these little switches.

How does a safety work?

There are two ways that most safeties work. The first is that they block the trigger from being pulled back, or even disconnect the trigger mechanism. The other is that they block the striker or hammer from moving forward and contacting the firing pin. There are many, many other types of safeties, and they can be in different places on your firearm, but they all have one thing in common – they are small bits of material upon which a large responsibility hangs.

That is why you never rely solely on a safety. Now – this my preference – I prefer not to use the safety at all. Some ranges will require your safety to be applied, and that’s fine. But, I personally don’t want to build up a reliance on a little switch.

What do I do instead?

When on the range and not using the rifle, I have it pointed in a safe direction with the action open, magazine out (or empty) and a breech flag in the chamber. This indicates to everyone that firearm is unloaded and safe.

When carrying a firearm to or on the range, same applies. Magazine out or empty (if fixed), and safety flag in or thumb in the chamber – muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

When firing on the range – well, you’re firing. What good is a safety when you want it to go bang?

When carrying a rifle in the field… This is where it gets a bit tricky. I leave my ammunition in my pocket, as well as my bolt if it’s a bolt action, until I’m near where I want to be shooting. When I am in the area in which I want to shoot, I fit the bolt (or close the action on a semi), and load the ammunition.

At this point, I do not chamber a round. I close the bolt on an empty chamber by pushing the top round down with my thumb or inserting the magazine on a closed bolt. When you’re ready to line up your shot, rack the bolt and get ready to squeeze the trigger.

If your quarry eludes you – drop the magazine out and remove the chambered round. Double check to see there’s nothing in there and close the bolt on an empty chamber before inserting your magazine again. Or, push the top round down on your bolt action.

This is just my personal procedure – you may have different feelings on the matter, or experience to the contrary. Leave a comment below with your tips on firearm safety.

Check out the arms code here.

Modified M38 bolt.

Mauser bolt modification

Spend any time exploring gun forums and corners of the internet dedicated to military surplus firearms, and you’ll quickly encounter the opinion that Mauser’s bolt design is the standard by which all other bolt actions should be judged, and that most subsequent “improvements” were purely cost-saving modifications.

As a big fan of the small-ring Mauser variants, especially in the super-accurate Swede, it was only a matter of time before I started pulling apart my Husqvarna M38 to see what I could improve. Most Mauser bolt mods are bent handles to allow for scope clearance – something which has been covered ad nauseam all over the place.

So, instead of going over the same ground about oxy-acetylene torches, vices and hammers to get your military Mauser into sporting condition, I’m instead going to look how to reduce lock time by shaving some material off the cocking piece and firing pin. As always, remember that modifying your firearm is dangerous/irreversible/stupid, etc.

What is lock time?

Lock time is the minuscule period of time between when you pull the trigger and when the firing pin crushes the primer to set off the powder inside the cartridge. In other words, how long it takes the firing pin to travel to the primer from the time it is released by the pull of the trigger and the disengagement of the sear. The term lock time comes from the age of muskets – flint locks and wheel locks – the time it it took for the lock to work.

Essentially, the longer the lock time, the more likely it is that the shooter’s natural movements will move the rifle off target. The other period of time that is quite significant is how long it takes the bullet to leave the barrel, as again, the shooter can move slightly during this time.

So, naturally, it’s in a shooter’s best interests to have as short a lock time as possible. Modern bolt actions are incredibly quick compared to old military surplus rifles, and the chief ways in which lock time can be decreased are through eliminating excess material which causes resistance, friction or drag, and making modifications to the main spring, or replacing it and/or the firing pin. There are a few “speed lock” products out there, which are kits aimed to help you reduce the length of travel of the striker, and usually the trigger pull as well. Often, they will also convert your cock-on-closing Mauser to a cock-on-opening action.

Personally, I quite like the cock-on-closing action on older rifles, as it allows you to “feel” more of the chambering and extraction process – a real plus for reloaders.

Removing material

This is something you can’t afford to do wrong, especially if you’re working on a rifle with hard-to-replace parts. Fortunately for me, I had recently bought a replacement bolt due to a different issue and had some good parts on the old bolt to work with.

If you’ve spent any time on Mauser-related forums, you’ll have come across Dutchman, or Dutch. A very knowledgeable gentleman with his own website dedicated to everything Mauser. I came across one of his posts, in which he showed the modifications that were made to cocking pieces and firing pins in order to produce the bolts for the super-accurate CG63s and CG80s. With this as inspiration, I set off on my own bolt-modification adventure.

I removed the thumb piece on the back of the cocking piece to reduce weight and drag, and made the firing pin short enough to match. As you can see in the picture below, the previous owner of this rifle cut down the main spring to decrease cocking effort on the rifle, but this can lead to unreliable firing and pierced primers, so I’ll be swapping that spring for the one on the blued bolt I recently bought.

Modified Mauser firing pin.
Modified Mauser firing pin.

As you can see in Dutchman’s post, there is more material that can be removed in order to reduce friction, as he shows some rifles with scalloped bolt sleeves. Whether I attempt this or not is still yet to be seen, I’d like to see the difference this makes first before going any further. The sear engagement on the cocking piece can also be altered according to his pics, but it looks like a welder would be needed to reinforce the sear engagement section. There’s also the fact that you’ll need to case harden this section again, as a cut-up sear piece will quickly wear away, creating a dangerous firearm.

I’ve opted to leave this bit for now, as I’m planning on replacing the factory trigger with a Timney trigger in the near future. I want to see what it’s like with the new bang button, before I go and make any permanent changes.

It’s all about the looks

The flush fit of the cut firing pin is much more attractive than the thumb piece.
The flush fit of the cut firing pin is much more attractive than the thumb piece.

Well, not all about the looks, but it does play some part. I’ve got to admit, the cut down cocking piece looks a lot more modern and svelte than its military-style counterpart. I’ll take this opportunity to remind you that this rifle was not in collectors condition when I got it from the previous owner, so it is purely a project – no one is cutting up a pristine M38 here!

Another thing I wanted to do was break up the solid black of my rifle. The “new” bolt I bought had been blued and combined with the matte black paint job I did on the action and barrel, it was starting to look pretty boring. For a bit of contrast I took the un-blued extractor and extractor collar from the original bolt and added it to my new hybrid monster. The end result is a little bit of flair, with no real practical relevance. Be warned though, that while the extractor is easy enough to remove, the collar does not spring back into shape nicely for you to put teh extractor back on. You’ll need to hold it shut while sliding the extractor over – which isn’t easy without the armourer’s tools. I used a pair of circlip pliers, which while tricky to do, managed the job in the end.

The blued bolt body creates a contrast for the polished extractor and extractor collar.
The blued bolt body creates a contrast for the polished extractor and extractor collar.