Winchester 1897 redo

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  • Mongo59

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    This is going to be a "how to" series to show people just how simple it can be to 'gussy up' some old firearms that are not particularly valuable. I use this term to ease some of the staunch 'it ruins the value' people out there into the world where bluing actually provides a needed service to the firearm by chemically controlled oxidation of the steel. This is not intended to 'get over' on someone for a larger cash payout thinking it is a 'pristine' or 'near pristine' example of a weapon. I have been doing 'stabilization' to firearms for quite some time and I have been learning ALL along the way. What I post here is the culmination of that learning to make it as simple and easy as I have been able to accomplish through time. This is by no way where I started but where I ended up...

    This is the 'KISS' of metal working a firearm:

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    The 'KISS' of wood:


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    The subject (the one in the middle):

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    This last pic is the take from the last gun show I attended. The culprit is the Winchester Series 'D' 1897 12ga in the middle.

    For the metal and the wood you want some steel wool with some bite to it, none of that Charmin grade stuff, we aren't wiping out butts we are resurfacing them!

    Next is Blue Wonder Gun Cleaner. Amazing stuff! If you want to take off rust but leave all the blue just use a small pea sized drop on the corner of a coarse grade steel wool pad and go to town. you can't rub hard enough to get the blue off with this stuff, it will kill the rust and leave all the existing blue. If you do want to go down to bare metal then use the same stuff with a Scotch Brite pad. It will take everything off down to the 'white'. Notice there is NO SAND PAPER. Every maker has it's own milling/prep of metal. Sand paper obliterates these unique qualities of the metal. Some metal will have pitting, clean it out with the Blue Wonder on steel wool and possibly use a dental pick to get really stubborn or embedded rust but what you are left with is what your weapon IS. You aren't gonna be smart and say, "I can just sand out this small place and no one will know..." It just won't happen. It will be like the car or truck that has a big place in primer and the rest of the vehicle looks fine. All you see is the primer and shake your head. Don't do it.

    Metal prep is 90% of the end product. If you aren't getting sore shoulders from scrubbing so hard, then you aren't doing it right. The steel wool phase will be 99% of the time it takes to get a good product. The rest is easy. Beer improves this process.

    Once you have the metal as uniform as it gets (no rust bumps, old varnish spots, red remaining in the bottoms of pits) wipe it off with the blue shop towels (no lint) and use cotton balls with a pea sized spot of Blue Wonder to rub it all down. You will see how fast the cotton turns brown/black when wiping. I turn the ball over, apply another pea sized spot and go again. It is best to do this systematically as to not rush over or even miss spots. Repeat this process and you will notice the cotton balls are getting less and less brown, all that brown is what will keep you from getting a good looking bluing. The more you get off, the better the outcome.

    Once you get the metal to where you only have a hint of discoloration, use a cotton ball wet with the alcohol to once again wipe down the total surface. This is to make sure all the oils are removed from the steel. Not pictured are a box of disposable nitrile exam gloves. This will be when to dawn a pair (if you haven't already) as to insure you do not have skin to metal transfer of oils. Wipe it a second time just to be sure and if by chance you are getting discoloration to the cotton ball, wipe it a third time. Cotton balls and alcohol are cheap.

    This should all dry before your very eyes. When dry, open the bottle of G96 Gun Blue Cream. Do not get this on your exposed skin unless you think blue, scaly dry skin is attractive. It will make your skin as dry as a popcorn fart. For right handers, while holding the item in your left stick the tip of your gloved right index finger onto the top of the cream, take whatever little bit was transferred onto your finger and wipe it on a small part of what you are bluing and rub it on. Without allowing it to dry, grab your terry cloth towel and wipe off the bluing. You will notice the color change is already starting. The proprietary steel will regulate whether it turns blue, black or green to match the original bluing. Do small portions at a time and overlap like shingles as you go to get a uniform color wiping as you go. If some were to accidentally dry, wet it again with another application of the G96 and rub until the dark spot vanishes, then wipe off. Once it is the color your heart desires, spray it with the PB Blaster Multi-Purpose Lubricant. DO NOT USE THE PB BLASTER PENETRATING OIL as it has rust inhibitors that will strip the blue back off the metal before it 'cures'. (I get the Multi-Purpose at Tractor Supply for around $3 a can) Hand rub the oil all over the finish with your gloved hands getting into all the nooks and crannies. If there are places where you see small amount of the blue still adhered, use a small nylon brush wetted with the lubricant to carefully brush it away.

    This process is the same if you are tearing down for a full weapon reblue or just doing a small part of a gun like touching up muzzle wear on a pistol. The Blue Wonder and coarse pad wont steal any of your blue and the color will match, if not at first with a reapplication. Practice on a junker and your eyebrows will go up on seeing the finished product.

    It will take a few days to cure. I leave it out, do not reassemble, and apply more oil as needed to dry looking parts. If there is a hint of surface rust then it either got dry of oil or you did not adequately wipe it down with the lube. If it snuck up on you and you didn't catch it in time to where it rusts, then repeating the process from the beginning is the answer. The oil will keep the oxygen in the air from reacting with the steel before the bluing has the time to lock up all ports of entry.

    The next post: wood.
     
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    Mongo59

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    This is a simple 'want it to look better' redo of the stock. Once again, look at the pic in the previous post and there IS NO SAND PAPER. If the stock is just dull and lifeless and you want it to 'glow' more then spray the mutipurpose lube onto the steel wool, yes WD40 will work in this application but not on the metal. Softly rub the stock, with the grain, and watch the dirt and dullness lift. Scrub a little harder on the bad spots taking care not to gouge the wood, this is a back rub not a trip to the chiropractor. Wipe off nastiness with one of the blue lint less shop towels to evaluate the need for more rubbing. Don't stop short of your desires. Yes, by now your shoulders will hurt, take a beer break and get back in there. I am an old fat man and if your give up then know you were bested by a geriatric.

    Once it is where you desire, you have a choice: you can either apply Tung oil to it and keep it as is, or, apply stain and make the color more uniform. If you choose stain, do not use a commercially available hardware stain like Minwax, it is water based, takes forever to dry and still wipes away. I use Laurel Mountain Forge stain made right here in Indiana. It is a glycol ether base and will dry with a simple light blowing. Wear gloves unless you think colored fingers are stylish. I use a cotton ball wetted with the stain of your choice of color and wipe it on to make a uniform color to the wood. Once it is dry (or if you chose not to stain), take a small amount of Tung oil (I use the Minwax as pictured in the other thread although about any other product could be considered superior) and pour it in the palm of your hand and rub your palms together. Pick up the wood piece and using a messaging like motion rub it into the wood for a few minutes. You can feel the wood sucking up the oil and it getting drier in your hands. After about 10min wipe off any unabsorbed oil that remains on the surface and let dry. If your stock is as dry as the Amish stocks I get to work on, the will be dry to the touch in an hour or so. If I apply a coat in the morning, I can do a second before bed. Depending on the condition of the original stock, one or two coats will return you to 'military' appearance. If gloss is desired, apply coats for 2-3 days using 'Charmin' grade steel wool between coats and wiping down with a blue shop towel. When you get to where some areas are taking up the gloss but others are still grainy, use the tip of your finger like a paint brush to 'paint' on the Tung oil where there is less gloss, do not wipe, and let dry overnight. The next day, if dry, repeat the process for all the less glossy parts until they look glassy all over. If it is looking 'distorted', wet sand with a high number sand paper, like 800, then wipe with a blue shop towel. I then do a final hand rub, getting it as even as possible, do not wipe off and let dry.
     

    Mongo59

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    The test subject: Winnie, an 1897 series 'D' 12ga shotgun born in 1909. His main claim to fame is that he has a 28" Modified choke barrel which sets him apart from all the Full chokes out there. No major illnesses save the JC Higgins butt plate he had applied while on a bender. This too can be remedied with a modicum of knowledge.

    Mug shots:

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    As you can see, nothing majorly wrong save that hideous Depends of a butt pad. In the third pic down you can see how he began life like 80% of his siblings with blued internals. Most want to think they are like the model 12 with a nice shine to the bolt, but in fact four out of five left the factory blued.

    You can see this is a take down model. It would be worthy to note that ALL World War I 1897 Trench guns were non-take down. The .gov was worried if the separation joint could take the strain of having a usable bayonet attached. When considering a megabuck purchase like that this would be a good thing to keep in mind as there are many more trench guns in existence today than were ever made for military service. So much so that you could hardly find a stock, non-take down, pre war serial numbered example of the 1987 that has not already made that journey to fake military service. At the end of the war congress sent a letter to Winchester inquiring how many of what they had produced. The reply to this request is the only way we have to know that they were all non-take down. I read a lot of Winchester books...

    If you look at the creases where parts join you will notice hardened gunk. This is where the use of dental picks are of use. I use the metal ones, no use to be delicate with something we are going to scrub and blue. I have many sets, some new sharp ones I use to clean out the lettering on the barrel or receiver, duller ones to get red rust out of pits and totally used up to get the big hard globs of goo that have dried where no other dare to tread. It will amaze you how much better just cleaning out the slots in the screws will make a gun look. Do not neglect to clean out the slots of the screws before disassembly, it saves the finger tips later. You will be brushing them later.

    The fore stock really doesn't have a problem other than minor grime. I use a gouge from a Harbor Freight carvers kit that is dull as a spoon but just the right size and shape to drag through the groves to clean them if necessary. A light going over with mild steel wool and WD40 will probably be all this one needs.

    The butt stock has character! Once again, refrain from sanding. It removes a whole lot of good to get out a very little bad. I know, I tried and have deleted this from my practice. If it has more character than you desire, use a coarser grade of steel wool and bring the top of the finish around the problem down but don't dig and gouge out more, it is counter productive. I do not call this a restoration as nothing short of replacement wood could 'restore', this is a stabilization. I never poly. It is bad for the wood, it cracks over time, it requires a total do over to fix 'oops' and is like a magnifying glass to any imperfection the wood has. All those love marks are going to shelter in place. This butt stock is suspicious to me as most the guns of this age have a rounded knob for a pistol grip rather than a flat one. Either way it came with the gun and there it is going to stay.

    This may be one of my new 'most favorite' guns. I am a sucker for a modified choke model 12 and this is the next best thing!

    There was a day when I would wrap emery cloth around a flat file and polish the flat sides of the receiver smooth to get rid of wear marks like you see in the sixth pic, but a smooth mirror like side plate looks way out of place with a stabilized gun. I want all the mill marks to show and have the character added in, it is a much more natural appearance...
     
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    Mongo59

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    I had to do the same as I am doing here to two other firearms yesterday so I wasn't able to work on my own. Now you can see the tore down version. Certain qwerks to the D series. The two shell stops on the D do not have manual release buttons like the revised E series. They tend to stick in the receiver from years of varnish. Don't try to pry them out, they have delicate leaf springs on their backs. Instead when you unscrew them maintain pressure downwards as you turn to use the screw to leverage them loose. Once they are cracked free from the receiver you can carefully lift the edge with a pick to remove.

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    Magnetic bowls are your friend. You can see the patina on the barrel, that is a nice word for rust. We will be removing that with steel wool and, if necessary, a Scotch Brite pad. If the steel is bound to oxygen then it will not receive the bluing. The more uniform the metal, the better the bluing will look. All the crusty crud will obviously be evicted...

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    The stock already looks better without the Depends on it. On the toe, that is a scratch not a crack. As we modify the surface most of that will go away. A sense of restoration in us will want you to scope lock on the worst part of the project and really go to town on it, don't. Approach the stock as a 'whole' acting like it just needs cleaning and let that take care of the majority of the problem and address the remainder of the issue later. You can always take away more but you can't put it back. This is why we aren't using sand paper.
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    You can remove the button but it could damage the spring which is a single thread. I will push it down and use a pin or pick to keep it depressed while working around the button. More speed, less drag...

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    A word to the wise on the hammer/carrier group: Don't start removing screws to get it apart for a resto. Two of these are adjustment screws that can seriously hinder function. Brake cleaner and high pressure air, picks to the stubborn areas and it is ready for blue. The wear areas will be loosing blue from the first time you rack the gun or load it. Don't worry, it will look natural...


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    You can see all the crap hiding down in the bottoms of the letters. We will be using a dental pick that isn't very sharp to clean them out. If all you have is a new set of picks they will work but require much care as to not gouge the lettering or surface. A cheap pair of the lighted magnifying visors from Harbor Freight helps with this chore. This is not quick but done right it is very rewarding. Once you are done with the pick a fine stainless steel brush, brushing from all directions will be all that is needed. The steel wool and Blue Wonder cleaner will not fill them back up with crud. The Blue Wonder is water and alcohol soluble and comes out of the crevices with normal cleaning. Time to get back to work...
     

    TheJoker

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    A word to the wise on the hammer/carrier group: Don't start removing screws to get it apart for a resto. Two of these are adjustment screws that can seriously hinder function. Brake cleaner and high pressure air, picks to the stubborn areas and it is ready for blue. The wear areas will be loosing blue from the first time you rack the gun or load it. Don't worry, it will look natural...
    Interesting. I have a Norinco copy of the 1897T. It always functioned flawlessly until last summer when the same 12ga target load I've always used began to hang up in the ejection port when ejecting. It is almost like the bolt suddenly isn't coming back far enough on the back stroke. I wondered if there was some sort of adjustment that had worked it self out of adjustment. Can you tell me more about these adjustment screws? Could that be the problem??
     

    Mongo59

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    Interesting. I have a Norinco copy of the 1897T. It always functioned flawlessly until last summer when the same 12ga target load I've always used began to hang up in the ejection port when ejecting. It is almost like the bolt suddenly isn't coming back far enough on the back stroke. I wondered if there was some sort of adjustment that had worked it self out of adjustment. Can you tell me more about these adjustment screws? Could that be the problem??
    That sounds more like a travel problem. The whole hammer/carrier group pivots on the pin above and behind the release button on the right side of the receiver. The only thing holding that in is the small screw just to the left of the hammer when you are looking down at the top of the receiver. If something were to get lodged between the trigger group and the hammer/carrier group it would inhibit travel. That could be your problem. Have you had it apart before?
     

    Mongo59

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    I won't be able to finish today due to a scheduling issue. I was able to get the first coat of Tung oil on the furniture and do the barrel/magazine. Pics:

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    Disassembled and ready to start on the wood.

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    I did say the Blue Wonder gun cleaner was alcohol soluble, didn't I?

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    Before
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    After. All that was done was rubbing with the grain using a coarse steel wool pad and WD40. All the darkness around the neck of the stock was then removed with alcohol on cotton balls. It will suck the oil right out of the stock. Acetone can be used also, I just prefer the smell of alcohol, except if I don't know where it is coming from...

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    This is the pad I used to give you an idea of what I mean by coarse.
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    First coat of Tung oil applied. Just pour a puddle into the palm of your hand, rub your palms together and massage the oil in. I wiped the whole stock down with alcohol to make it thirsty before I applied the oil. Always wash your hands before doing this, thirsty wood will absorb any oil but I haven't seen a stock done in hamburger grease before...
     

    Mongo59

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    Now the metal:
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    This pic is to see the crud that hides in the bottom of the lettering. Lettering is like screw heads, you will be amazed when you see them cleaned out and how muck better it makes the gun look. I will be using a dental pick to go in all the letters and along every edge to get out all the crud.
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    This looks different. All cleaned and ready to blue...
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    After using steel wool and BW gun cleaner, even after wiping off with a clean towel, BW on a cotton ball will still get this off what look like clean metal. I keep using more BW and cotton balls until the color transfer is minimal. This is the stuff that is bound to the metal surface that will inhibit the steel from binding to the blue. After the metal is clean ALWAYS wipe it down with alcohol before bluing.
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    This is as much BW as you need to use, just a pea sized drop. Any more is just a waste.
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    This is the mag tube scrubbed, wiped with cleaner and then wiped with alcohol.
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    Mag tube blued. It will tend to darken over the next couple of days, you will need to keep it covered with the PB Blaster Multi to prevent air from causing issues.
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    This is to show you how many times this gun was improperly assembled over its life. The two screws are suppose to fit into the provided notches...
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    All the lettering cleaned, surfaces scrubbed and cracks and crevices dug out with the pick. Most Winchester owners would not realize there are numbers stamped into the metal between the barrel and magazine because they are always obscured with crap.

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    I reassembled it without the fore stock and you can see all my prints all over it. As I say, it will continue to darken for a few days and by then my furniture should be done.
     

    TheJoker

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    That sounds more like a travel problem. The whole hammer/carrier group pivots on the pin above and behind the release button on the right side of the receiver. The only thing holding that in is the small screw just to the left of the hammer when you are looking down at the top of the receiver. If something were to get lodged between the trigger group and the hammer/carrier group it would inhibit travel. That could be your problem. Have you had it apart before?
    I have not. I'm a skeert! Maybe, I can find a youtube video and make myself more familiar. But, just looking at your pictures tells me I'd probably be in over my head.
     

    Mongo59

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    I have not. I'm a skeert! Maybe, I can find a youtube video and make myself more familiar. But, just looking at your pictures tells me I'd probably be in over my head.
    There are only three main pieces inside the receiver. The hammer/carrier group, the bolt and the trigger group. Take off the stock, push out the trigger pivot pin and move the trigger housing backwards and it is out. Remove the small screw to the right of the hammer and push the hammer/carrier group pivot pin out. The carrier slides out the bottom. Look through the ejection port and low on the front of the bolt is a screw, remove it and the action rod hook comes off allowing the bolt to be pulled out the rear of the receiver.

    The place of interest is the top of the trigger group and the bottom of the carrier group. If there is crap in there it will limit the travel and shorten the stroke. Your problem could be assessed by taking off the stock, push out the trigger pivot and moving/tapping the trigger housing backward. Once the trigger group is out you can see both areas of interest.
     

    Mongo59

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    I won't be able to work on it until this evening. I have applied the third coat of Tung oil. Usually about 5 coats will restore the stock to original glow. You can get them to look like a Browning high grade if you want to put in the time and effort but I am going for a used stock look. All the deep character on the wood is preserved so the metal should match the furniture rather well.
     

    Mongo59

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    Had to go with another coat to the furniture this am. For the last coat: wipe the stock down with a clean dry lint less cloth. I hold the butt of the stock by the cloth in my left hand and have an open container of Tung oil within easy reach. I put my right index finger over the open top and tilt it until it wets my finger tip. I use my booger hooker as a paint brush wiping with the grain towards the neck (receiver end) of the stock. Make several passes as it won't go far and feather each wipe into the last. I go round and round working my way toward the butt end. If the neck sucks in the oil where the grain is showing just go back and swipe on more with the same feathering action. When I get to where it is hard to hold I place it on a stand (I use a fold up music stand as seen in the pics) and finish the job always wiping toward the neck. Keep inspecting the job and feel free to add more where the grain shows.
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    This is the receiver reassembled and waiting for the furniture to dry. If you place it under intense light you will be able to discern the mottled discoloration from before the bluing. It gives it a well kept but used appearance which is what I was going for. This is a stabilization and not a restoration. Not a bit of wood or metal was taken away from the original weapon, I just got it to the place I would have hoped to have had when I purchased the weapon but at the cost of a neglected piece of history. I will post assembles pics when the wood is good and dry.
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    Mongo59

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    How does this stack up to a Norinco?
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    Still no butt pad but that is in the works. Probably 8-10 hours invested, not for pay out but in accomplishment. This one will always be 'mine' as I know every inch of her.

    If I wanted to add to the preparation phase I could get rid of every metallic discoloration and the blue would look as new. The formula of the steel determines the color. I could also sand out every imperfection in the wood but you will never get back that dimensional look they gave it at the factory. Both these things require taking something away from the piece where what I did removed no wood or steel. I feel the character and history is still with this gun...
     

    Mongo59

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    PS: If you were to continue to add more Tung oil with your booker hooker like the last phase you can build up a glossy layer, the more layers the glossier it gets. Also, if I were to mar the surface in an accident, just use steel wool to smooth out the spot and build it back up in layers like before. Just add it to the spot where necessary and it will blend in...
     

    Mongo59

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    I think it looks great Mongo! Very nice work!
    Thanks DD, I am just trying to show some people that the fear that holds them back is unwarranted. If you don't grind up the metal and beaver up the wood you can simply start over, nothing lost but time. The Blue Wonder on a Scotch Brite pad will take any blue off right down to the metal and the WD40 and steel wool works on new finishes just as well as old finishes.
     

    Mongo59

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    Joker, remind me, is the Norinco a take down model or not?

    To see where your problem lies: cock the hammer all the way back, take out the screw beside the hammer, push out the pivot pin and push the front of the carrier down from the bolt. It will now slide down out of the loading port and you can see everything in the whole receiver! A great way to clean and look for issues.

    The trigger is a bit of a pain getting back in and there isn't anything to the bolt you can't see from the bottom. Reassembly is just the reverse, just remember to cock the hammer all the way back for starters.
     
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