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Loading a bolt action rifle from the bottom

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by laea7777, Aug 2, 2020.

  1. laea7777

    laea7777 Member

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    Hello. I recently purchased a Winchester Model 70 Alaskan, chambered in .30-06. I've been practicing loading it and unloading it, mostly with snap caps. I discovered that I'm able to load it from the bottom, meaning that I open the hinged floorplate, turn the rifle upside down and drop five rounds into the magazine opening, then insert the magazine follower and close the floorplate. I've never seen it done this way before, but it seems to work just fine and to be a little bit faster than opening the bolt and loading them from the top, like normal. Is there any reason not to do it this way?

    As a side note, the Winchester website and several retailers' websites list this rifle as having a 3+1 capacity, but it definitely holds 5+1. I emailed Winchester regarding this, but they haven't written back yet. Thanks.
     
  2. horsey300

    horsey300 Member

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    Holdvsfunction is not the same, I can cram 4 into a 3 mag but first round doesn't chamber for beans. How's the function? And could this cause the spring to fracture?
     
  3. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    Be messed with loading from the bottom, it can be done with practice and seems to make a difference which cartridge and the mag length. Easier with the bolt closed,
     
  4. Kano383

    Kano383 Member

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    When you load from the bottom , the last round you load must line up with the follower, i.e. be on the right or the left of the action, as dictated by the follower. If not, you may not be able to close the magazine floorplate, or have problems chambering the first round, and have problems chambering the last round. In some rifles, the last round will fly up in the air as you open the bolt to chamber it, like the SKS does.

    The only way to load your mag properly from the bottom, is to carefully put the first round in the correct position (left or right) for the last one to be where the follower wants it - and this changes depending on how many rounds you are loading.

    In short, not a good idea if you want to be fast..........
     
  5. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    You're thinking outside the box that is for sure. That is a new one for me. Never seen it done, but if it works, it works. Off hand I can't think of any problems. You will lose the ability to load 5+1 unless you top it off again from the top and if you take the time to do that you gain no speed advantage in loading. I could see bottom loading as a plus with some scope mounts that limit access to the load/ejection port.

    One advantage of Winchester is the 5+1 capability of non-magnum rifles. Most other manufacturers are 4+1. Howa and Weatherby Vanguard are the only other 2 that I can think of. Even Winchester magnums are 3+1, and most of the Alaskans are sold as magnums. That is probably why Winchester lists them that way on their website. Someone forgot about 30-06 when doing the website. Never seen any of the magnum rifles hold more than 3+1 and in some cases are 2+1. To load the last round with any of them you have to load the magazine to capacity, drop the last round directly into the chamber then hold the rounds in the magazine down as you close the bolt.

    Even though my Winchesters work just fine loaded 5+1 I tend to just load 5 and chamber the top round when hunting. Needing more than 5 rounds while hunting is going to be rare. But on my rifles that are 4+1, I load them 4+1. If hunting something that might bite back I would probably load a 6th round.

    I once fired 3 shots at a running bear and put it down on shot #3. But it still made it into some thick brush. With the rifle I was using that day I only had 1 round left in the rifle and I wasn't going into the heavy brush to go after it without reloading.
     
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  6. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    Interesting trick, but I wouldn't do it. It could cause some type of malfunction, as it wasn't designed to be done that way. Even if it is "faster" to do it that way, if you need to "speed load" your model 70 this way for some reason, you would be better off using a rifle with a detachable box mag with a higher capacity, and probably in semi auto.
     
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  7. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    I do kind of the same thing- my 2 hunting rifles are a 700 (fixed internal 5 rd mag) and a Ruger American (detachable 5 rd mag). On both rifles, I load 3 rounds and chamber the top round (3 total rounds in the rifle). I've never needed more than 2 on a single sit (and only then a couple of times) but I also carry a fully loaded Glock in either 45 or 40 S&W. And a couple more rifle rounds in the pouch attached to the rifle stock. So far, so good.
     
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  8. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    LoL I tried that with an SKS. After trying multiple times and making the most reliable semi auto on the planet have issues. I went back to loading from the top.
     
  9. horsemen61

    horsemen61 Member

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    Not my cup of tea Per se but if it works for you then cool I’d worry something would go wrong if I did that
     
  10. Kano383

    Kano383 Member

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    Yep... Loading the SKS from the bottom gives you all sorts of issues. If you stick 10 rounds in there, and they stack the wrong way, you bend the follower, which then can't activate the bolt hold-open anymore. And the last round will fly out as the previous empty case is ejected.

    As you say, a good way to mess one of the best and most underrated rifles around... :)
     
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  11. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    My first thought is, will loading from the bottom regularly, is there an increased risk of accidentally damaging the plate latch or the spring?

    Everything breaks eventually, but juggling cartridges with the floor plate and spring flopping round just seems like there's an increased chance of accidental damage.

    That's not to say that you shouldn't do it. It's just one more thing to consider.
     
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  12. Bill M.

    Bill M. Member

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    I do not see a reason to do it that way. Even if you can.
     
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  13. laea7777

    laea7777 Member

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    I can fit five in the magazine with enough play left over to hold them down and chamber the sixth round and then cycle it empty with no problem. I'm pretty sure it's a mistake on their website. Consider the size difference between a .30-06 cartridge and a .375 H&H cartridge and that the same sized rifle holds 3+1 in .375 H&H. Why would the .30-06 only hold 3+1?
     
  14. laea7777

    laea7777 Member

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    Yes, when I said it's a little bit faster than loading from the top, I should have said that I meant only if I'm going to carry it with an empty chamber. If I'm going to top it off, it's probably slower to turn it over to load the magazine from the bottom.
     
  15. laea7777

    laea7777 Member

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    That is good point. As the hinged floorplate seems like it's probably one of the weaker parts of the rifle, the increased wear and tear might be a reason to not do it this way.
     
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  16. 792mauser

    792mauser Member

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    Tried this with a Mosin.
    Can only get 4 rounds in the mag instead of 5.

    And I dropped the rifle more than once I in my experiment.

    If you can make it work for you, kudos.
     
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  17. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    One of two things must be true to allow bottom loading of a hinged plate rifle: 1) the shooter must stack the rounds in proper sequence to leave the last round oriented to match the follower, OR 2) the mag box and follower allow sufficient slack to allow misalignment between the last round and follower. The former takes too much attention to be worthwhile; remembering the orientation of the stack before you start can be annoying, and can likely leave you shorting your Mag by one round (plate won’t close, strip one out, now it will). But if your rifle satisfies the latter and the plate closes easily, then it may be a faster alternative to top single loading.

    For a 5+1 rifle, it’s quite possible that the mag box yields enough slack to allow misalignment of the last round, and quite likely, absolutely nothing bad will happen. If the floorplate is closing easily, then you know you’re not exerting enough force to damage any components. I tell my 7 year old son on almost a daily basis - you’re a big boy now, so if you find yourself pushing hard on something, you’re probably doing it wrong, and you WILL break it if you push hard. But if the floorplate closes easily, what could bend/break? You’re a grown man, if it closes with only light finger pressure, scarcely more pressure than closing the plate empty (additional load on the follower spring), and you don’t feel any hard stop in the closing, then you should realize you’re not forcing anything to yield in closing the plate.

    Alternatively, as a counterpoint, I know that I cannot close the floorplate on my Ruger M77 MkII and Hawkeye rifles if the cartridge stack is not aligned to the follower. Such it takes too long and too much attention to stack the rounds properly, or I end up stripping the last round back out when it doesn’t close. I’ve done it for a long time off and on, since high school at least, so 20+ years, but it’s not my standard procedure.
     
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  18. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    A hinged floorplate is designed for convenient and safe unloading. It's not intended for loading. The comments in this thread show the disadvantages in trying to do so.
     
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  19. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    The Schultz and Larsen was said to be meant to bottom load. Its ejection port is minimal to stiffen the rear locking action and the magazine is a single stack with no Mauser stagger alignment to worry about.

    The best loading system for loose cartridges has to be the Krag.
     
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  20. Picher

    Picher Member

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    If I saw a kid loading my rifle like that, I'd take it away from him...especially if either the kid or rifle were mine!
     
  21. Picher

    Picher Member

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    When I load my rifle's blind magazine, I place each round carefully from the top and push it backwards to assure proper feeding if I pull the bolt back properly. If a round is too far forward in the mag., there's a greater tendency to jam. It's not worth losing an opportunity at a quarry to find out. With my luck, if it happened, It would be on the biggest buck I've ever seen. Enough stupid things can happen without taking more opportunities to screw up feeding obviously-needed subsequent shots.
     
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  22. daniel craig

    daniel craig Member

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    Cool idea! If it works for you, great. For me firearms are a “used as designed” sort of tool. My bolt guns are designed to be loaded from the top so that’s what I do. It doesn’t take THAT much time and if I was worried about reloading quickly I wouldn’t be using a bolt gun (because they’re not really designed that way).
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2020
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  23. Dave DeLaurant

    Dave DeLaurant Member

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    I used to use the underside approach to top up my Chinese SKS rifles -- seemed to work fine, but I never attempted to load this way from empty, just add extra rounds.
     
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  24. laea7777

    laea7777 Member

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    After a few emails back and forth, I got them to correct the Winchester website regarding the capacity.
     
  25. Steve S.

    Steve S. Member

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    I load my M70 (and Kimber M84) from the top - I only have the need to unload the mag area once a year when deer season has ended - I only carry three rounds (.308) in the rifle. At the end of a hunting day, I pull the bolt back gently on the chambered round and extract it into my hand, then take that round and load it back into the mag. I then push that top round into the mag area, start the bolt over the top round, squeeze the trigger and send the bolt forward and bolt handle down into home position. The rife is then rendered safe (empty chamber) and uncocked for the next morning; a bolt throw then readies the rifle for a shot the next day.
    At the season’s end, I extract the top round in the normal manner (I simply pull the bolt back enough to release it from the claw and roll into my hand), I then push the next round forward until it jumps into the claw (that happens prior to the cartridge leaving your sight), roll it into my hand and then the same with the third.
    I can say that I never use my floor plate for unloading, I do open it once in a great while to inspect the area for a needed wipe down. As with the OP’s (unorthodox but effective) loading process, my process has worked for me forever. Deer season is just around the corner; as an old man, I must say that I still get the excitement of a young child for deer hunting - I thoroughly enjoy that time in the woods!
     
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