Bolt Action Torture Tests


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elktrout
November 13, 2012, 12:22 AM
Shooting Times did a test earlier this year on six different brands of bolt action center fire rifles, but it hardly qualified as a test of their function during bad conditions.

Have any torture tests been done on bolt actions? For example, hunters often encounter rain, wind, dust, snow, freezing temps, etc. What kind of tests have been done that truly document how the typical bolt actions fare under such conditions, especially if exposed to adverse conditions for an extended period?

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taliv
November 13, 2012, 12:28 AM
dunno about torture tests, but i can tell you from shooting in and hosting many sniper and field precision rifle matches, that bolt guns malfunction more than AR15s.

they never malfunction when clean, or from the bench, or if you are just shooting 1 round at a deer or something. but get sand in the mag or on the ammo and stick it in the action and watch what happens. a lot of it is user error though

jmr40
November 13, 2012, 08:19 AM
Not surprised by that at all. Modern semi-autos are pretty relible. Especially military pattern rifles and shotguns. I'm not convinced of the hunting semi-auto rifles yet.

Most all malfunctions are from operator error whether talking about bolt actions, pumps or levers. The semi's remove operator error from the equation. While in theory the manually operated actions should be more reliable, they are often not.

Get sand, mud, dirt, snow, ice, etc in the action and eventually anything is going to malfunction. If the operator does his job I'd bet a quality CRF bolt rifle will continue to work longer than any other action type before failing though.

elktrout
November 13, 2012, 09:05 AM
I can believe what Taliv says, because it makes sense. Dirt and grit can blow in the ejection port and work its way down into the magazine around the sides of the bolt, even when it is closed. Conversely, a semi-auto has a more enclosed magazine and bolt set-up, which would help prevent that from happening.

I am looking more at the potential issues for a hunting situation in the West, where we get a lot of dry weather going into hunting season. I have noticed all kinds of dirt in the action and all over the gun, even though I try to keep it as clean as possible.

I am curious if tests exist that show how push feeds versus CRF's from different makers fare. thanks.

rbernie
November 13, 2012, 09:11 AM
Most any action design that uses forward located locking lugs is going to more susceptible to grit-caused stoppages than those with exposed locking/rear lugs. Once you get grit/mud into the barrel extension/locking lug recess area, it's dang hard to clean it out. Interestingly, most bolt guns seem to be more sensitive to this than AR's - it may be the size/shape of the locking lugs relative to the recess, but I really cannot say for sure.

This is one of the reasons that the Enfield lived along in service for so long - you can pack it full of mud and literally wipe the action clean enough to use with one muddy paw.

I am looking more at the potential issues for a hunting situation in the West, where we get a lot of dry weather going into hunting season. I have noticed all kinds of dirt in the action and all over the gun, even though I try to keep it as clean as possible. Most of what blows onto/into the actions where I hunt isn't large grains of sand; it's fine dust and lots of blowing dead vegetation bits. I've not had any issues with my Rugers in that kind of environment, but I've certainly not compared their reliability against any other gun. I tend to keep the bolt guns dry, and that helps with not picking up too much actual grit.

fatcat4620
November 13, 2012, 10:30 AM
WWII was a good test.

CHighfield
November 13, 2012, 12:03 PM
WWII was a good test.

^^ This. haha

Tim the student
November 13, 2012, 03:00 PM
Taliv, out of curiosity, what types of user error are you seeing?

SlamFire1
November 13, 2012, 03:19 PM
dunno about torture tests, but i can tell you from shooting in and hosting many sniper and field precision rifle matches, that bolt guns malfunction more than AR15s.
I can believe this for modern designs. Older military bolt actions had to be reliable. A lot of time and money was spent in the design, development and field testing of military bolt actions. Great emphasis was placed on feed and extraction. Look at older Mausers, feed lips are milled into the receiver and the feed lips correspond to the cartridge being used.

Pre 64 M70ís had feed lips machined into the receiver but that all went away in the 60ís. Cheap stamped sheet metal boxes replaced the integral feed lips. As time went on, bolt action design centered around a cost point and reliable ignition, feed and extraction became incidental goals. As long as the rifle is shiny, and gun writers shill well, people will buy.

When bolt actions ruled the National Match firing line, the most common commercial actions were M70ís and M700ís. Pre 64 M70ís were preferred as few parts broke, perhaps the common breakage was the firing pin. For the post 64 M70, extractors would eventually wear out and the firing pin would break in the back. M700ís had lots of extractor problems and a lot of tinkering went into making the stamped sheet metal box work. I heard of auto ejections with M700, the shooter would stripper clip five rounds only to have all of them eject out the top.

Semi autos following military designs should be thoroughly wringed out, literally millions have been spent getting AR15ís to feed and extract reliably. If a manufacturer builds it close to military print, it should work fine with good magazines.

taliv
November 13, 2012, 04:07 PM
Taliv, out of curiosity, what types of user error are you seeing?

everything you can imagine. a lot of it is pushing the bolt forward and the round catching under the ramp, so it doesn't go forward, or nosing up too high. often, there's something in the action that makes bolt travel harder and so people push gently, then pull back, then push harder, which attempts to load two rounds. simple stuff like not seating the magazine. magazine fit is often poor so pushing on the magazine will drag on the bolt, and you can tilt it as well. a LOT of times, people close the bolt with no round in the chamber.

people sit at the bench and smoothly chamber rounds, but then they get excited and stressed in a match on the clock, and they go to "grip it and rip it" and "slow and smooth" goes out the window.

Kachok
November 13, 2012, 07:58 PM
dunno about torture tests, but i can tell you from shooting in and hosting many sniper and field precision rifle matches, that bolt guns malfunction more than AR15s.

they never malfunction when clean, or from the bench, or if you are just shooting 1 round at a deer or something. but get sand in the mag or on the ammo and stick it in the action and watch what happens. a lot of it is user error though
Nonsence, I have cleared countless of jams from ARs and M16s, never once in my many years ever had a jam in any one of my many bolt guns, and I have fired many thousands of rounds through them. If you somehow find a way to muck up such a simple and reliable mechinism you are doing something very very wrong.

sawdeanz
November 13, 2012, 09:10 PM
This is an interesting discussion. I've always wanted to get a military bolt action, it sees simple: They are sturdy, reliable and cheap (even if adding modern conveniences is more difficult). Some day I want to get an enfield in .308 but have heard they had problems with extraction.

i'm curious about the malfunctions experienced at the matches, are these even with modern military bolt guns? I'm just imagining all the features on a accuracy international with keeping ice etc. from stopping the gun only to have inferior magazine design cause a feed failure.

VA27
November 13, 2012, 09:30 PM
WWII was a good test.

WWI was even better.

fatcat4620
November 13, 2012, 09:33 PM
WWI was even better.
Tru dat, tru dat.

taliv
November 13, 2012, 09:38 PM
Nonsence, I have cleared countless of jams from ARs and M16s, never once in my many years ever had a jam in any one of my many bolt guns, and I have fired many thousands of rounds through them. If you somehow find a way to muck up such a simple and reliable mechinism you are doing something very very wrong.

a far more likely explanation is that you have poorly chosen/assembled your ARs and are not shooting your bolt guns under time constraints or in any sort of dynamic, stressful environment.

as always, you are welcome to attend any of these matches. they are open to anyone. if you need help registering, send me a PM.

Kachok
November 13, 2012, 11:05 PM
a far more likely explanation is that you have poorly chosen/assembled your ARs and are not shooting your bolt guns under time constraints or in any sort of dynamic, stressful environment.

as always, you are welcome to attend any of these matches. they are open to anyone. if you need help registering, send me a PM.
If it were just one M16A2 or AR15 that was jamming I would agree, but it was several, in fact every M16 I used in the Army jammed on me repeatedly, as well as the ARs I used in Law Enforcement. Only reason I am looking to get one now is everyone swears they have gotten alot better over the past decade. I have owned many bolt guns, and the only time one failed to chamber a round was a defective Remington 700 that would not chamber a round at all. Would like to shoot matches too, sending PM.

elktrout
November 14, 2012, 09:38 AM
Although I did not know this post would bring a discussion on AR reliability, I do have a related question. Does anyone make an AR type rifle (impingement or gas cylinder system, either one) in 30-06?

eastbank
November 14, 2012, 11:57 AM
there were several times i would have traded a boat load of m-16,s for one of my springfield sporterized o3a3,s in vn and don,t tell me i didn,t treat it right. every time i got a chance i broke it open and cleaned and wiped it off.eastbank.

Jon_Snow
November 14, 2012, 02:20 PM
I wonder how many reliablity issues arise from chambering and relaoding practices. Custom bolt guns often have tight chambers for accuracy and many people neck-size for them. Both result in a increased sensitivity to dirt/grime. Semis you generally have to full-length size for and often have more generous chambers.

Taliv, what's the break-down of AR-pattern semis vs bolt guns at these matches? I wonder why people still run bolts if an AR is more reliable AND just as accurate (as many claim).

Sam Cade
November 14, 2012, 04:30 PM
Does anyone make an AR type rifle (impingement or gas cylinder system, either one) in 30-06?

Cobb used to but they got gobbled up by TFG.

1858
November 14, 2012, 04:37 PM
I wonder how many reliablity issues arise from chambering and relaoding practices. Custom bolt guns often have tight chambers for accuracy and many people neck-size for them. Both result in a increased sensitivity to dirt/grime. Semis you generally have to full-length size for and often have more generous chambers.

I think it's a bigger issue than that. Most hunting rifles aren't built to be cycled rapidly since that's not the primary use of a hunting rifle. Many manufacturers simply add a heavy barrel and different stock to what is still a hunting rifle and call it a tactical rifle without addressing the feeding issue. The only rifles I have that are able to operate reliably as fast as I can work the bolt are my Accuracy International rifles.

1858
November 14, 2012, 04:42 PM
There's a reason why D'Arcy Echols charges a small fortune for his custom rifles. His clients might be staring down the nostrils of a charging buffalo and a factory hunting rifle simply can't do this!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAr7d3acMYo

It takes a lot of work and engineering and money to make a rifle feed properly under a wide range of conditions, including the rate of operation.

taliv
November 14, 2012, 07:07 PM
wonder how many reliablity issues arise from chambering and relaoding practices. Custom bolt guns often have tight chambers for accuracy and many people neck-size for them. Both result in a increased sensitivity to dirt/grime. Semis you generally have to full-length size for and often have more generous chambers.

Taliv, what's the break-down of AR-pattern semis vs bolt guns at these matches? I wonder why people still run bolts if an AR is more reliable AND just as accurate (as many claim).

it probably depends on the match as some are more semi-friendly than others, but my guess is 10% semi or less. in my experience, they're not just as accurate, and they're a bit more difficult to shoot accurately. so the more the event incorporates tiny targets and longer range, the more bolt guns you'll see. the more it has short times and large targets, the more semis you'll see

cactus02
November 14, 2012, 10:21 PM
The most extreme torture test was a rechambering of a 6.5 jap. Nambu to 30-06. The owner thought it was the 7.7 rifle. A 30-06 reamer was run in and when a round would not chamber a throating reamer was run in till a cartridge would chamber. The owner fired it and complained it kicked like hell. The gun ended up at the N R A who examind it and fired it multiple times and disassembeled the gun. After firing multiple 30 cal bullets down a .264 bore barrel there was no damage to the action. Lets see a modern action do that.

Dr.Rob
November 15, 2012, 05:59 PM
I managed to double feed a bolt action rifle once... missed a shot at a really nice antelope prancing at 25 yards while I struggled to use a Swiss army knife to strip the jammed rounds out of my rifle.

Blind magazine + mounted scope = not much room to work.

Savage 110B in .30-06.

Never had the same jam again, pretty sure it was all operator error.

I've seen a bolt action rifle frozen shut from melting/freezing snow getting into the action.

Stuff CAN happen to bolt action rifles.

Still Shooting
November 16, 2012, 12:12 AM
I had inherited a nice little carbine built on a Swedish Mauser action in the 1950's. It was my Granddad's rifle, built for him in the 1950's by a friend who was an engineer/machinist at Knowles Atomic Research Lab, and a very good "hobby" gunsmith. I took it hunting in the Adirondacks shortly after it came to me, and decided to use it one morning. On that particular day, the morning temperature was in the low teens, with a cold wind.

Just to be sure of everything, I set up a tin can on the camp dump, loaded a round and shouldered the rifle, pulled the trigger, and......Nothing!:confused: I extracted the round, fed another, tried again, and again Nothing!:cuss: As I lowered the rifle, I saw the bolt body slowly sliding forward (ever so slowly). Turns out my Granddad had lubricated it with gun grease - he was one of those guys whose motto was "If a little bit's good, a whole lot's better!" I discovered this after taking the gun back into the cabin (unloaded) and disassembling the bolt/firing pin. I cleaned it thoroughly, replaced it, and the gun performed great from there on out. Glad I decided to take a couple of shots before heading out to hunt!

Dr T
November 16, 2012, 04:35 PM
You might want to take a look at this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4AqMl1A4aQ

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