Waiting Until the Last Minute to Check Hunting Rifles
Kevin Felts 12.10.19
Chalk this up as a lesson learned. We all know we should not wait until the last minute to check our hunting firearms (shotguns and rifles). Surely at least one reader has heard about something breaking or going wrong, just a few days before season opens. However, we think it will never happen to us.
Our story begins in the summer of 2018. I was looking for a lever action rifle so I went to a local gun store that sells used firearms (we already know where the story is going). Rather than buying a new lever action, I wanted something a little older. Maybe something that looked like it had some history behind it. The local gun store had 13 used and new lever action rifles which consisted of Marlin and Winchester.
While looking through the rifles I found a Marlin 336 with a serial number that said it was made in 1976. It would be cool to have a lever action that was made 200 years after the United States was founded, so the rifle was bought. Things happened in life and I was unable to sight the rifle in last hunting season. During the summer of 2019, my job required me to be away from home for five months. So here we are at the end of November, which is when I like to start my hunting season, and the rifle is finally taken to a local sandpit and sighted in.
While at the pit, the Marlin 336 had a double feed which required the rifle to be partially disassembled to be fixed. I knew the rifle could not be trusted until the issue was resolved, so the Remington model 700 in 280 Remington / 7mm Express was sighted in. There is just something about those bolt actions rifles that make them reliable.
Upon arriving home I got on the Internet and looked up causes for the double feed. After sifting through numerous articles and forum posts, I came across a suggestion saying the screw holding the magazine gate could have came loose. Sure enough, the magazine gate was loose and tightening the screw fixed the issue. After considering the Marlin 336 malfunction, I wonder if the rifle was traded in because the owner did not take the time to research a fix?
Thankfully, this was a quick fix with a small flathead screw driver. My son on the other hand had to order a part for his 1948 Remington Speedmaster.
Even though one firearm may have been out of commission, we had several backups. If something had happened to both the Marlin 336 and Remington 700, there is another rifle chambered in 308 Winchester.
- Check the firearm in plenty of time to get it fixed before hunting season, and
- Have a reliable backup in case there is a issue with the main hunting firearm.