Return to April 25, 2012 (log)

Session #3

Didn't shoot today; today was for cleaning.

When we went into the basement, my gun mentor unrolled a work pad on the bench in front of me, arranged a few tools and a single 30-06 round, and handed me my rifle. "Go ahead," he said.

So I put the buttplate on my thigh, turned the gun so that the trigger guard was facing up and the muzzle was pointed at the ceiling at an angle, and pulled the rear end of the trigger guard back and out. It unlatched, the guard rotated forward, and as I pushed it towards the muzzle the trigger assembly levered itself out of the receiver. Laying that on the bench, I held the stock with one hand and swung the barrel and receiver up away from the stock. It came free. The stock went onto the workbench. Laying the barrel and receiver flat, I pulled the follower rod forward, away from the follower arm. Once it was free, I let the follower rod and follower spring slide out.

Then I took the round and used the tip of the bullet to push the follower arm pin free, and pulled the pin out. The follower arm, operating rod catch assembly and bullet guide swung free of each other, and I removed them. The follower slid out of the receiver along the magazine guides. Then I pulled the operating rod back to the disassembly notch and pulled the the end of the rod outward and up, detaching it from the bolt. Sliding the operating rod off the gun, I laid that aside, then pulled the bolt from the receiver.

Surveying the bits, as instructed, I put all the pieces into a pan of Hoppes #9. Lifting and inspecting the barrel and chamber, there was some visible fouling; so first I pushed a bore brush into the chamber and spun it several times. Then I pushed several patches soaked in solvent down the barrel, and finally I took a brush which strongly resembled a toothbrush and spent fifteen minutes scrubbing every metal surface I could find free of carbon buildup and powder residue and brass shavings.

That done, we dunked all the small scrubbed parts into a can of brake cleaner and sprayed more of the same down the barrel and over the metal I'd scrubbed. Afterwards, we laid all the pieces out and dried them (and the barrel) with compressed air.

Once that was done, we disassembled the bolt, removing the extractor plunger, the detent spring, the extractor spring and the firing pin. Cleaned those, rinsed them in brake cleaner to remove the solvent, and then reassembled them using grease on all bearing surfaces.

More grease as we reassembled the larger pieces.

"Can you imagine doing that in a hedgerow in France at night in the rain?"*

I could imagine it, but I couldn't imagine what it would be like.

Finally, over an hour after starting, I picked up the stock, fitted the barrel assembly and receiver into it and then inserted the trigger assembly and rotated the trigger guard down until it clicked into place.

Then I pulled the slide back and watched it lock, released it by pressing down on the follower, and watched as it slammed forward.

The tensions were back. The balance was restored.

The gun went back into the cabinet, there to slumber in a haze of Hoppes and oil until some time this weekend, when it will again feel the touch of sun and open air and the cold sharp noses of cartridges in its heart.



* Disassembly of the bolt was not considered 'soldier-level' maintenance in the U.S. Army. Disassembly of the bolt was supposed to be left to your unit armorer at least, or depot service for the weapon. Apparently this was because reassembly of the bolt required a tool which soldiers weren't issued (I dunno what. We reassembled it by pressing the extractor spring against a hard surface while twiddling the detent spring and chamfer on the extractor spring rod with a knife). I could imagine, though, that it was specifically because there were small parts under spring tension that would go POING! off into the dark night given any opportunity.

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