We are now coming towards the end of the game shooting season and, as ever, we have been very busy with gun repairs and the shop sometimes feels like an A & E department with customers needing their guns for the next big day. Some can be fixed quickly, some take a bit longer! Occasionally some are terminal with the cost of repair outweighing the value of the gun. Many of the emergency repairs could have been avoided if potential problems had been spotted earlier during routine gun servicing.
We are always surprised by the customers who say that they put their gun away after the last shoot in January and don’t get it out again until the day of their first grouse, partridge or pheasant shoot. Imagine having a vintage, classic or even modern car that you don’t have serviced or checked over once a year! Guns, like cars, have moving parts, often metal against metal, and cleaning, lubrication and adjustment are essential maintenance for smooth operation.
Annual gun servicing cannot of course totally prevent all mechanical failures – springs, strikers and pins can break at any time – just as the clutch on your car could fail the day after an MOT and service. Many factors contribute to breakages – extreme variations in temperature, old age, constant use, unsuitable cartridges or just plain bad luck. However, looking after your gun – Lock, Stock and Barrel, can only help. Regular gun servicing means that many potential problems can be spotted and hopefully nipped in the bud.
Gun servicing essentials – LOCK (The Action)
When the action is stripped down many different parts can be checked and examined. Some common faults are – bridle cracked, bridle pins loose, swivel cracked and also mainspring claw broken. If these faults are not addressed then potentially the mainspring can be released leading to a break in the underside of the stock and a costly repair.
During a regular gun service, strikers and the associated mechanisms are also closely checked. The strikers themselves are checked for cracks and “mushrooming” and the striker retaining pins and return springs are checked for cracks and breaks. If a gun doesn’t get serviced and these potential problems are not picked up then this could result in the striker staying out in the “fired” position only to then be broken off on closing or worst case scenario – firing on closing. A worn striker is easy and inexpensive to repair at a routine service but very inconvenient if you are out on a shoot!
Another common breakage in the field is the top lever spring. These springs can crack or break at any time and yet keep working for a while due to being held in position in the woodwork. Stripping down the gun at the service means this can be checked – as can the tumblers which if they were to break “in action” could damage other parts or even the understock.
Gun servicing essentials – STOCK and FOREND
The most common problem with stocks and forends is obviously cracks. However a crack can start very small and not be obvious at all to the customer. If spotted early during a routine gun service they can usually be repaired, but if left can ultimately mean a new stock. Cracks to the stock can often be caused by a loose handpin or bridgepin causing damage to the head of the stock or even a crack through the hand. Splits in the forend wood are also common and often identified during a service. Another common problem with forends can be a loose Anson tip pin, which if not repaired can lead to the tip falling off in the field and getting lost. This can be very expensive to replace.
Gun servicing essentials – BARRELS
During a routine gun service the barrels are examined in great detail as they often pick up small dents which don’t get noticed by the customer and if left untreated this can possibly lead to bulges or rivelling. Rust in the chambers can cause ejector problems as well as general pitting. We also can often diagnose potential problems with the barrel ribs before the situation gets terminal – water ingress can lead to a loosening of the ribs and in extreme circumstances the rib can be blown off when shooting – possibly causing injury (another reason why regular gun servicing is a good idea)!
Gun servicing – RIFLES
Although rifles have fewer working parts than shotguns they should get some care and attention every year or two depending on the amount of use. Bolts should be stripped and oiled and the bores need to be checked for ring bulges and wear, especially at the throat and muzzle. Stock pins and barrel float is also checked. A loose pin on either the scope mounts or rings can cause a missed shot or at worst broken reticules due to vibration. Trigger pulls can also be checked and adjusted, especially if they are too light and potentially dangerous.
Gun servicing – SEMI AUTO SHOTGUNS
Often seen as a “working tool”, semi auto shotguns still need servicing as does your Land Rover or tractor! Bolts need to be washed out and oiled and sometimes even need to be polished up if badly corroded. Bores should be cleaned and gas ports flushed out. There’s nothing worse than a semi auto that jams when it’s most needed and a regular servicing should keep on top of it.
At Castle Gunmakers we can take care of all your gun servicing needs and help spot potential problems before they occur. For your Lock, Stock and Barrel, prevention is definitely better than cure! Just get in touch or come in and see us.