Gun maintenance tips: Follow up on action cleaning

Our final edition of this series offers more detail on action cleaning during your gun maintenance lockdown session.

Citori action before cleaning

It is quite straightforward to remove the stock and check, clean and lubricate the action. This isn’t required often, but it’s worth doing every two to three years or so.

With time on our hands, now might be that time – but bear in mind this is one of those jobs you should do only if you feel confident and have appropriate tools. Here’s how it’s done.

Support the stock (in a soft jawed vice if available, otherwise clamp firmly between the knees. Locate the two butt pad retention screws and note if they are cross head or slot type head.

Put a little sunflower or olive oil on the screwdriver shank to prevent marking the holes in the pad. Remove one screw completely and loosen the other, allowing the pad to rotate, and locate the stock bolt. The stock bolt is often a 10, 11 or 12mm hexagon head. The appropriate socket requires an extension bar and ratchet handle to undo. Bolts can be tight, so grip firmly if the stock is between your knees!

Raise stock and the bolt should fall free. Put it safely to one side. Now the important part: do not force the receiver from the stock! My preferred method is to hold the pistol grip firmly and pat the intersection between stock and receiver gently, then increasingly firmly until you feel the receiver come loose.

Precision oil application

Then separate the two carefully, over a cleaning mat or other soft surface in case any loose parts should drop out. Put the stock down safely. Closely inspect the action and parts, looking for loose screws or signs of wear.

With a jeweller’s loupe or magnifying glass, inspect the sear and bent engagement faces on the sear tips, the tumblers, the firing pin tips and the wear surfaces of the locking bolt.

Blow loose particles out with canned compressed air or a camera lens blower. Brush the parts lightly with a feather or very light brush, taking care not to stress any of the small action springs.

With an oil bottle with a very fine tip, apply a tiny drop of oil on all pivot points. Locate the underside of the shaped spring that positions the safety catch/barrel selector. This can have a small amount of gun grease applied to the contact surfaces. This can smooth the operation even on some new guns!

Cleaning with brush

Now to reassemble. Carefully mate the receiver and stock together. Hold it butt-up, drop in the stock bolt and jiggle it to locate the threads in the receiver. Carefully tighten, ensuring the receiver is pulling smoothly into position.

Do not force it if you feel resistance – check why before progressing. Once the parts are closely together tighten firmly, relax and tighten a fraction more – but do not overtighten.

Check stock bolt tightness occasionally, even if you haven’t altered it, because wood can shrink and the bolt become loose. A loose stock can be prone to crack, so is worth checking.

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