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Clean your guns carefully because doing it wrong can be costly.

Case in point is a pair of Remington Model 700 BDLs that I haven't fired in eight years. One is a 7mm-08 Remington, and the other is a 280 Rem. The 7mm-08 was my preferred deer rifle from 2004-08. I am very fond of the 280, but I was in the middle of developing loads for it right about the time a certain Ruger M77 in 6.5x55 Swedish came into my life. The 280 never cracked my starting lineup.

While doing routine rust checks, I noticed the trigger on the 280 wouldn't cock. I worked the bolt, but the trigger remained in the discharge position.

I couldn't remove the bolt from the 7mm-08. It releases by pressing a tiny metal tab behind the trigger which lifts a detente that allows the bolt to slide backward out of the action. The tab would not depress. It was locked up tight.

This puzzled me. I take meticulous care of my firearms. I don't just clean them after every shooting session, I clean them after every five shots to minimize copper fouling. I consider rust on a gun to be a moral failure, so I keep them well oiled.

Therein lay the problem.

I took the rifles to my gunsmith, Bill Pool at Arkansas Gun Traders in Benton. He said the works were probably gummed up from gunk getting down into the trigger assemblies during cleaning. Gunk coagulates, dries and glues mechanical parts together.

He confirmed it when he removed the trigger from the 7mm-08. As he disassembled the trigger assembly, he demonstrated how its components work and explained why Remington's triggers are susceptible to this malady.

Unlike Winchester triggers, which are exposed, Remington triggers are enclosed within an aluminum housing, or box. Cleaning solvent and oil can drain into the housing, and they can't escape. Dirty solvent contains carbon fouling which creates a cement effect when it dries.

"The way you avoid that is to use a bore guide," Pool said.

A bore guide is a tube that is the same diameter of your chamber. It slides into the chamber and aligns your cleaning rod with the rifle's throat. This prevents damaging the rifling.

"The most important sections of rifling are at the muzzle and at the throat. The throat is more important because that's where a bullet makes first contact with the barrel.

"If you damage the rifling there, it'll damage every bullet that goes down the barrel," Pool said, "and that can affect accuracy."

Some bore guides are made of steel. Some are made of aluminum and some are made of Delryn and other synthetic materials. Some even have an O-ring at the end to form a seal that prevents solvents and oil from backflowing into the works.

Next up was the 280. Pool's first question was whether the trigger had ever been altered.

"Not to my knowledge," I replied.

"I ask because people that don't know what they're doing can get in there and really mess things up," Pool said.

He cycled the bolt and it cocked. He pulled the trigger, and it snapped.

"That tells me it's gunked up," Pool said. "The spring that pushes that sear up isn't very strong, and it doesn't take much resistance to keep it from pushing upward."

He cycled the bolt again, and it didn't cock.

"There's just enough junk in there to impede the spring and sear from moving freely," Pool said. "If it has enough time, it will lift up very slowly, and it will cock once. If you cycle the bolt immediately after releasing the firing pin, it won't cock."

Another complete trigger cleaning was the remedy. I asked Pool if I should replace the Remington triggers with aftermarket triggers from Timney or Jewell.

"You can, but they're the same design, and they're subject to the same problems," Pool said.

To my surprise, Pool praised the old-style Remington triggers that my guns have. Prominent gun writers long bemoaned Remington's triggers. That fraternity is like a flock of mynah birds, though. They repeat each other until their collective opinion becomes accepted doctrine.

Pool said Remington's old trigger is a precise, well-designed mechanism that simply must be kept clean to work right.

It's embarrassing to need professional help for what essentially is neglect, but you live and learn. I'm just glad I noticed the problems during a routine inspection instead of during a hunt.

Sports on 02/18/2018

Print Headline: Gunked triggers prompt visit to gun doctor

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