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Lefty manipulating a bolt

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Skribs, Mar 29, 2016.

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  1. Skribs

    Skribs Member

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    Due to my eye dominance, I shoot lefty pretty much exclusively. I don't own any rifles yet, but I was wondering what the preferred method of shooting a bolt gun left-handed is. From what I can tell, there are 4 ways left-handed shooters approach a bolt-action rifle:

    1) Keep hold on the grip with the shooting hand and use the support hand to cycle the bolt. I can see this being a lot easier if the weapon is supported with a bipod or bench, but for normal shooting slower than a right-handed shooter. It also looks like the bolt handle and the hand get real close to your face, whereas with a right-handed shooter it's to the side of your face.

    2) Use the shooting hand to reach up and over the grip and cycle the bolt. It looks a little awkward but overall doable.

    3) Buy a left-handed bolt action gun and make your right-handed friends and range buddies figure out how to shoot it.

    4) Buy a levergun or semi-automatic, because those don't have a requirement to cycle a right-handed bolt every shot.

    For some reason I'm thinking a bolt gun looks fun (which is odd for me, because I generally prefer things that are a bit faster), but as a lefty I'm not really sure what approach is best.
     
  2. taliv

    taliv Moderator Staff Member

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    you've got the gist of it. if you're going to shoot exclusively off a bipod or benchrest, it really doesn't matter that much. if you plan to shoot field positions or traditional positions slung in, definitely get a left handed bolt gun
     
  3. stoky

    stoky Member

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    I'd say go with option 3). I realize this limits your options some, but one thing to consider is where the gas will come out of the breach, if something goes wrong.
     
  4. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    With open sights, I find it faster to reach over and manipulate the bolt with the left hand. This is with heavy, full-stocked military rifles, that are too heavy to leave on the shoulder with just your left hand on the grip to allow the right to run the bolt. With scoped hunting rifles I use my right hand and am very careful.

    I've never shot a lefty bolt gun.

    If you're interested here's a video I shot of a 3-gun match where I ran my Ishapore Enfield left-handed. Lots of crappy shooting but you can see both left and right-handed bolt manipulation.

    https://youtu.be/LLCRkzY4fWw
     
  5. desidog

    desidog Member

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    Definitely.

    Yes and no. Generally the OEM controls are for righties, although there are definitely some ambi-dexterous guns available. There's too many options to get into, but i will say on a S/A that ejection angle is very important. I have a circular scar roughly .223 in diameter on my upper right forehead from a casing that acted like a cookie cutter...
     
  6. Bart B.

    Bart B. Member

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    Southpaw shooters using northpaw (right handed) bolt action rifles have won matches and set records at the NRA high power nationals. They reach over the pistol grip with their left hand to operate the right hand bolt. Shot perfect scores shooting 10 shot rapid fire strings in 50 to 60 seconds.

    Then there's those who are opposite-eye dominant and their sights (metallic and optical) offset to the side 2 to 3 inches from bore center.
     
  7. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    My brother had the same issue. He had a left handed bolt rifle briefly, but didn't like it. Very few options for lefty's and he likes none of them including pumps and levers. He does have several AR's however. He'd rather shoot a right handed rifle that he likes from the other side rather than be stuck with a rifle he doesn't like.

    He uses option #1. I often practice shooting my right handed rifles from the left side and prefer that method too. As a hunter it isn't uncommon for game to approach from an unexpected angle and it is easier and quieter to shoot from the weak side than try to turn the whole body. As long as the rifle isn't really heavy like a varmint rig it isn't too hard.
     
  8. Skribs

    Skribs Member

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    I am cross-eye dominant, so #1 has appeal based on that.

    I am pretty dextrous with my left hand considering it isn't my dominant hand, though.
     
  9. joem1945

    joem1945 Member

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    My GD shoots lefty. She reaches over the top and works the bolt. That kid is fast to.
     
  10. matrem

    matrem Member

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    Left eye dominant as well as left handed here.
    Own bolt rifles catered to both sides and don't plan to buy another 'lefty'.

    Your option (2) has worked well for me over the years.
    It is a split second slower than having the bolt on the correct side, but bolt guns aren't exactly the best for rapid fire anyway.
     
  11. I6turbo

    I6turbo Member

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    I'm a right hand/right eye shooter. I own some LH bolt action rifles because one of my sons is a left-hander. From the bench, a LH bolt actually is BETTER for me than a RH, IME. It's better to cycle the bolt with the support hand, not the trigger hand. Therefore, you should be just fine from the bench with a RH action.

    Now, shooting off-hand, a wrong-handed gun is terribly awkward for me. In that case, if I were you, I'd DEFINITELY buy a LH gun.
     
  12. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    I'm a righty, but all of my lefty students when I was a sniper instructor would manipulate the bolt with the right hand prone bipod supported. No lefty guns in the mil.
     
  13. Rodentman

    Rodentman Member

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    I am completely right handed but I shoot rifles lefty. Have no idea why, just been that way ever since I picked up a rifle in 1970.

    I shoot lefty but operate the bolt with my right hand. Oddly, it seems perfectly natural to me. A left handed bolt would not.

    I am limited however because many nice rifles and custom stocks have cheek pieces that are on the wrong side. But I'm mostly a handgun person and the few rifles I have work fine for me as described.

    Just my $.02
     
  14. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    #3 is ideal if you can find what you want. Otherwise, #2 is the best option if the rifle is unsupported.

    Absolutely!

    I would think lefties would love RH rifles for bench work.
     
  15. littlelefty

    littlelefty Member

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    I use methods 1, 3, and 4, depending on rifle.

    Method 1 - I've never timed myself or compared to the right handed folks around me, but it kind of just happens without much thought, and no bipod or rest. For the short time that the rifle is in the left hand alone while cycling the bolt, it's not been an issue.

    I like method 3 also, and I suppose it is a bit easier, but I mostly went with it because I got a decent deal on a lefty bolt action.

    And option 4 is also easy - my lever gun has a center tang safety. It rarely gets used, but it's in a place that works equally well either handed.
     
  16. gotmine

    gotmine Member

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    I've been reaching over forever. Tried a lefty rifle once and didn't like it at all. Even the wooden desks in school were all made for righty when I started school, so you just learn to live in that world and adjust to it.
     
  17. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    I think that every right handed person who says left handed people should just get over it and either learn to shoot right handed or just be happy shooting right handed guns left handed should have to spend the next ten years shooting only left handed guns.
     
  18. vkeith

    vkeith Member

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    I've always used my right hand to work the bolt. It just seemed natural as a lefty shooting right-handed guns when I shot my first bolt gun at age 8 (Mossberg .410 bolt action).

    The only issue I have ever had using this method is that on guns with very flat grips, I have to be careful that the bolt doesn't catch the web of my left hand when I cycle it.
     
  19. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    While a crass way to put it, it's a fact that more adaptive Southpaws will live longer than those who resist and complain. 90% of the population is right handed; the bias in equipment design isn't gonna change.

    Me? I train with both hands. Mostly righty for recreational, but defensive and tactical drills I do left handed regularly with shotguns, rifles and handguns. And I truly don't find it much more difficult lefty. In point of fact, many handgun magazine releases are better suited to lefties, as right handed manipulation requires repositioning the gun in the hand to use that shorter, fatter opposed digit. With the left hand, though, one can simply use the middle finger without breaking one's grip. Same for slide release with left index finger.
     
  20. Skribs

    Skribs Member

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    We're starting to get into a bit of a different topic, one that I actually really like (that gun manufacturers are generally ambivalent of the plight of the lefty), but it's a bit off topic for this post. I generally prefer my firearms to be truly ambidextrous, although it's hard to find ones that are. Truly ambidextrous to me is where a lefty and a righty can manipulate all of the controls you might need in combat in the same way.

    Obviously a bolt gun is going to be far from ambidextrous by that definition, but for some reason I just have an itch that says "get one". It will probably go away before I find my way to an LGS, but I was just curious what others think about lefties and bolt guns.
     
  21. USAF_Vet

    USAF_Vet Member

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    Southpaw, too. Shooting from a supported position, I can shoot RH bolt actions all day long. Offhand, it's not bad if using a shorter rifle, like my old M44, to come off with the support hand to cycle the bolt. I would usually take it off my shoulder, though, and cycle it with my left hand, reshoulder, aim and shoot. It took longer, but for plinking, it didn't matter much. A shorter action, like with my Arisaka T38, keeping it shouldered and working the action coming over the top works just fine.

    I actually am in the market for a LH bolt gun, short action .223, though.
     
  22. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Member

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    I'm right handed, left eye dominant (ipsilateral is the technical term).

    I use right hand on light hunting rifles. Made many multiple kills on jumped deer. Favorite rifle is a Rem. M-7 in 7mm08.
    Shooting my Enfield MK 4#1, I reach over when slung-in...
    I also have multiple semi autos. Be sure to button the top button, especially shooting a Garand!
    However, I have a larger assortment of lever actions, and they are my favorite "solution" to the delemma.
     
  23. Txhillbilly

    Txhillbilly Member

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    I grew up shooting right handed rifles left handed,but now own a bunch of left hand bolt actions. It doesn't matter to me what side the bolt is on.
    I taught myself to shoot both strong and weak side with every type of firearm,it just takes a little practice.
     
  24. hot chili powder

    hot chili powder Member

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    Lefty on left/righthand rifle choice

    Being totally lefthanded (except for batting/golf ) I've put up with everything being "wronghanded and having to adapt to it so......since they make lefty rifles I for one ain't put up with no stinkin' righthand bolt gun, just sayin'!!
     
  25. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Way back when, there was a Cavalry NCO who was a champion rifleman. He got kicked by a mule, and it damaged the sight in his right eye. He showed up at Camp Perry shooting left handed. Everyone knew he'd lose it in rapid fire, but he didn't drop a point.

    When someone asked him how he did it, he reached over the receiver and flicked the bolt open and closed and said, "I just do it like this -- a hundred thousand times."
     
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