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Feeding Issues: by Bill McLeod

07/04/2023 7:53 PM | Bob McMillan (Administrator)

Got a rifle in a trade the other day and couldn’t wait to try it. Dropped a cartridge onto the follower and tried to feed it into the chamber. Didn’t go. Not unusual. The nose of the bullet hit the rear face of the barrel.  Pushed the cartridge into the mag and it fed perfectly. Continued shooting using that method of feeding rounds. No issues then a click instead of a bang. Opened the bolt, no round in the chamber, the round was still in the mag. Racked the bolt. Found that you had to bump the bolt stop quite hard on the ejection stroke to get the bolt face to engage the round in the mag. No drama, there weren't hordes of  enemies assaulting my position. It led me to think of other instances where feeding or jams had been noticed. 

When I went into the army to do national service I was issued a SLR. Great battle rifle, never jams was the official line. Our first instruction was on how to clear jams. I can’t think of  all the acronyms, just remembered Cock, Hook, and Look. They did jam. I’ve heard the claims that the  good old Lee Enfield never jams. Mine did. Mainly my loading errors but the rifle was still jammed. At a recent military rifle shoot at our range there were a number of jams and miss feeds, it happened. 

My working rifles were very reliable, I don’t recall any particular instances when they caused me grief. Some of my other rifles have. Feed from the mag in some of my bolt action 22s was an issue. In the early days semi auto 22s were very prone to jamming. When we got the 10/22 it was a revelation on how reliable a semi could be. Even they could have jams. A carboned up magazine was normally the issue. Gary McColl showed me how to clean them. When my cousin said his trusty Ruger needed replacing I cleaned his magazines. 

My superbly accurate Remington 223 which I used for competition used to jam. I mentioned it to Gary, he said you don’t know what you are talking about. He took the mag spring out of the rifle, held it behind his back, did something, then reinstalled it into the rifle. Told me to show him how it jammed. It didn’t. Gary said he had processed a heap of Remington police rifles to correct feeding issues. Was there a particular fix? He said he had to check each rifle to determine what the particular issue was then repair it. He was kind enough to show me a lot of the fixes. 

Another of our gunsmiths told me 700 bucks to re-barrel a rifle, 7,000 bucks to make it feed. My lovely Sako 300 WSM fed beautifully. I loaded up some 220 grain rounds for it, no way they would feed. The big round nosed bullet would pivot the rear of the case down and the bolt would ride over the cartridge every time. Fixed it by seating the bullets deep enough to stop the problem.

Rifles will jam. It is frequently an operator issue but it can be a rifle issue. Some rifles are more prone to jamming than others. A careful examination of how the miss-feed or jam occurred will normally indicate a possible fix. Correct loading of the magazine helps. Pulling the bolt completely to the rear on the ejection stroke helps. Short stroking is not unheard of. Sort it out before your big hunting trip. If all else fails, a competent gunsmith can sort out a lot of problems. 

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