Bolt action safety item!

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The Annoyed Man
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Bolt action safety item!

Postby The Annoyed Man » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:49 pm

Moderators, I wasn't sure where to put this, so please move it if this isn't the right forum.

I was talking to my son this afternoon, and he was on his way home from having visited the gunstore he used to work at. He related a strange tale to me, which I thought I would share as a safety warning.

That store has a regular customer who collects a lot of old mil-surp rifles, and is apparently quite knowledgeable about them. In fact, the store often calls this customer in whenever they need an appraisal on an older military rifle. Anyway, the store sold this customer a very collectible mil-surp Mauser rifle a while back, unfired, in mint condition with all matching numbers. (My son didn't tell me if it was a 93, a 95, or a 98.) Said customer took said rifle to the range to fire it, and a catastrophe ensued. For those who don't know, bolt action rifles typically have a gas relief vent hole drilled into the front receiver ring, to provide an escape for gases in a safe direction in the event that there is a case rupture when the gun is fired. I've provided four images below to try and illustrate this. In three of them, the rifle pictured is my .308 Ruger Gunsite Scout, chosen because it's action is kind of similar to a Mauser action. Sorry about the image quality. The lighting was makeshift.

You can see the gas relief vent hole drilled in the front receiver ring. On my rifle, the hole mic's out to 3.8mm ID. I'm a lefty, so the vent is located on the left side of the receiver, pointing away from my face. The barrel/breech face is to the left, and the bolt body to the right in this picture:
Image

On this Mauser, the gas relief hole is visible on the right side of the front receiver ring because the rifle is right handed and the shooter's face would be on the left side of the receiver:
Image

My rifle again.....this shows the retracted bolt (the case is an unloaded, unprimed case), and you can see that there is nothing blocking the vent hole:
Image

In this closeup picture, the bolt has been closed. You can see the forward edge of the claw extractor butting up against the breech face. The case is hidden by the claw extractor, but the brass is chambered, with just the rim sticking out beyond the breech face and retained by the extractor. Again, on a right handed Mauser, this would be on the other side of the receiver, and you'd see the extractor on the left and the breech face on the right:
Image

Apparently, the gas relief vent in the side of this collectible Mauser's receiver had been improperly drilled, and it was located forward of the breech face instead of behind it. So with a round chambered, there was an unsupported piece of brass at the inside mouth of the hole, instead of the end of the extractor as in the above photo. The owner fired the rifle offhand, using his left hand to support the weight forward of the trigger. However, he had his support arm/hand pulled in very close to his body, just in front of the trigger guard, with the fingers of his support hand sticking up alongside the forward receiver.....right over the vent hole. When he fired the rifle, it drove that unsupported disc of brass right out the vent hole at some ungodly velocity, and it severed a part of one of his fingers and made a mess of the rest of it.

My son saw the pictures of the shooter's hand, and he said it was a mess. He also saw the fired case, and it has a round hole in the side of it, forward of the case head. The gunstore's owner (his former employer) says that my son has handled that rifle before as it was in the shop for a long time. Since they unknowingly sold a defective gun, the store's insurance is handling the guy's medical bills, etc., and according to my son, as the buyer is a long time friend and customer of the store's owner, there's no hard feelings either way. I suppose they refunded his money and took the rifle back, although I don't know for sure.

The point of this story is this: the defective location of that gas relief vent on that receiver escaped the notice of the German factory that built the rifle. It escaped the notice of any of the manufacturing QC steps along the way. It escaped the notice of the German army unit's armorers to whom the rifle had originally been released. (Since it was never fired, it was probably never issued to an individual soldier.) It escaped the notice of the importer's QC processes when it was brought into the USA. It escaped the notice of both the wholesaler AND the gunstore from which it was sold. The store's owner is a long time gunsmith, and it never occurred to him to check it. It certainly never occurred to my son on the occasions when he handled it. And, just like any other gun owner, it never occurred to the eventual buyer to check it. And since the rifle had never been fired before, it naturally escaped detection. This is a rifle that was presumably manufactured in the 1930s or early 1940s......and nobody checked to see if the gas relief hole was correctly positioned in the receiver. It certainly would have never occurred to me before today. This is just one of those tiny details that most of us just assume was done right at the factory, and it doesn't have to be off by more than a fraction of an inch to be a problem.

One of the thoughts that occurred to me is that maybe this rifle was sabotaged during manufacture by a jewish slave laborer working in a factory where Mausers were produced. It is fairly well known that Jews who were being worked to death in nazi factories, making ammunition, bombs, artillery shells, even V2 rockets for the nazis, were known to have deliberately sabotaged the products of their work so that they would either fail to fire/explode, or maybe explode prematurely, to do their part for the war-effort against the nazis. The thing is, there are lots of stories of American soldiers who had dud German artillery shells land right next to them and fail to explode, but you would think that there would be lots of similar stories about defective rifles, if in fact this kind of sabotage was going on. If that is what happened, it is a devilishly clever piece of sabotage.

Anyway, this tiny detail is something that I will never overlook again when buying a bolt action rifle.......especially any old mil-surp rifle. If any of you have such a rifle that you have not yet fired, I would strongly urge you to take a close look at that vent hole, and make sure that you don't see unsupported brass showing through it with a chambered (empty) case. If you do see it, don't fire it! Take it to a gunsmith and explain the problem - preferably at the store where you bought it.
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DEB
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Re: Bolt action safety item!

Postby DEB » Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:15 am

I collect old MisSurps and never would have thought of checking to see if the Hatcher's hole was drilled in the proper area. The ones I do collect, at least so far, have been well used. That to me is part of the fun, to work on them and get them to a good condition. I will sure check from now on as well as pass on this information to my friends. Thanks TAM :tiphat:
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Re: Bolt action safety item!

Postby bblhd672 » Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:09 am

Makes me wonder if the reason it was "never fired" is because the flaw was detected and the rifle was never issued.
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Re: Bolt action safety item!

Postby Liberty » Mon Jul 31, 2017 10:26 am

Informative post. It's not something I would have noticed.
I do wonder about the awkward position of the victims left hand. If he had fired the weapon a few times and the blowback had happened a few (many) times before he made his catastrophic shot.

Sad ending for such a rare find.
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DEB
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Re: Bolt action safety item!

Postby DEB » Mon Jul 31, 2017 12:31 pm

bblhd672 wrote:Makes me wonder if the reason it was "never fired" is because the flaw was detected and the rifle was never issued.


That's a great point. Someone thinking logically would have perhaps thought, "A country that is loosing the war, is issuing Volksturm last ditch 98Ks, Norwegian Krags and etc, and this weapon has never been fired?" Again, something I wouldn't have thought about, as it would have been, "Wow, I have just found and purchased a never fired K98K", without thinking, "Why hasn't it been fired?" Logic and Covetousness have always been at odds with me, with Covetousness usually always winning out. Great job there TAM. This thread even has me thinking about one of the 10 Commandments as well as the rest of the Bible, as I was writing my response.
Unless we keep the barbarian virtues, gaining the civilized ones will be of little avail. Oversentimentality, oversoftness, washiness, and mushiness are the great dangers of this age and of this people." Teddy Roosevelt"
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