Pull Trigger, No Bang

by
posted on November 5, 2013
bs_2015_fs.jpg (16)

The Problem
On a recent range trip, I experienced numerous failures-to-fire with a rifle that I was about to take hunting.

The Background
I was a few weeks away from heading to western Wyoming for a high-country mule deer hunt that I’d been planning for 3 years. This hunt involved lots of hiking at altitudes of 8,000 to 10,000 feet (I live at sea level) so took the lightest big game rifle I own. My Remington 700 Titanium in .270 Winchester is bedded into a McMillan EDGE graphite stock and weighs just over 5 pounds naked. To save additional weight, I had the factory bolt shroud and triggerguard replaced with aluminum ones from PT&G and even traded the firing pin assembly for an “ultralight” model. The rifle carries like a feather and is unreasonably accurate, even with factory ammo. It’s become one of my “go to” hunting rifles.

The week before I was to leave, while practicing for my hunt with some handloads, I experienced light primer strikes that failed to ignite the cartridge approximately 50 percent of the time. I’d been using only factory ammo previously, and never had a problem.

The Culprits
Obviously, the non-factory firing pin assembly was suspect—anytime that you mess with a rifle’s fundamental design, you can run into problems. My handloads were also on the list of variables since the rifle functioned just fine with factory ammo. It’s possible that the primers weren’t seated deep enough in the tight primer pockets of the virgin brass, or that I overzealously bumped the case’s shoulder to accommodate the rifle’s tight chamber. My working theory was that it was a combination of all of the above: Limited firing pin protrusion/inertia combined with handloads which were a bit too “sloppy” in the chamber, “stacking tolerances” if you will.

The Diagnosis
Gunsmiths are many things, but fast isn’t usually one of them—I needed someone that I could count on to fix the problem fast. Karl Feldkamp at Kampfeld Customs had Cerakoated and bedded the rifle for me, so I called him for help. Karl had me mail him the bolt and he determined that there were two problems working against me: the firing pin protrusion was .009” under ideal specs and the firing pin spring was undersize. The combination of those two issues and the hastily assembled practice loads were enough to interrupt the rifle’s function.

The Result
Karl turned the project around in record time and the rifle went on the hunt (as always, with a backup rifle in the case).

The Lesson
Don’t wait until the last minute to test your equipment and, when in doubt, leave your rifle alone! Customization is great, but only if done correctly.  Like race cars, custom guns can get finicky which is something that you want to find out long before you take the rifle afield.

Latest

Draper Shooting Ruger Super Redhawk 22 Hornet
Draper Shooting Ruger Super Redhawk 22 Hornet

#SundayGunday: Ruger Super Redhawk in .22 Hornet

Get a closer look at the Ruger Super Redhawk in .22 Hornet, the latest addition to our #SundayGunday series.

Review: Ruger Super Wrangler

The Super Wrangler is reliable, accurate and affordable. It may well be this generation’s best of the best for a “woods” gun and is an excellent rimfire handgun choice for any hunter.

Traditions Launches Outfitter G3 in 360 Buckhammer

Traditions Firearms has announced the release of its Outfitter G3 single-shot rifle line in 360 Buckhammer. This caliber will be available in both the standard and all new Pro Series models.

Head to Head: .375 H&H Magnum vs. .416 Rigby

The .375 H&H Magnum and .416 Rigby are both capable of taking the entire spectrum of game animals, in any climate, on any continent. But which is the better choice for the hunter? We investigate.

New for 2024: Heritage Manufacturing Heritage 92 Line

Heritage Manufacturing has launched its line of Heritage 92 lever-action rifles. Rooted in tradition, the Heritage 92 series is designed to pay homage to the iconic firearms of yesteryear while delivering the precision and performance demanded by today's enthusiasts.

Accessing Peak Performance

On a West Texas hunt, where shots can go long, a capable rifle is only part of the equation. Success requires peak performance from the shooter, too.

Interests



Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.