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Monday, January 2, 2012

Monday Gunday: Happiness is a Mounted Bayonet

I took my brother to the range with me this past Christmas Eve, which was a nice bonding experience as he and I have such dissimilar tastes and experiences that we have precious little in common. I also gained some richly-deserved respect in his estimation of me, though I'm not certain if it's because his flighty little sister now has a "grown-up" hobby or if it's because I managed to finally beat him at something. Either way, I'm not complaining.

I shot some, he shot some, then I shot some again.
I claim most of the good ones, including the two pasted-over bullseyes.

However, as I was shooting my Mosin I noticed that the muzzle had a tendency to jump and buck. This probably isn't a recent development; I likely didn't notice it until now because up until this point I was still getting used to the recoil. But when the rifle's bipod leaves the shooting bench, though, that's something to take note of and worry about. Not that I think the rifle will break (Ha! I could throw this thing off the roof and the only damage would be to the scope), but because it was messing with my sight picture. I can hit targets at 25 yards with no problem, but at 50 I have to re-seat the rifle into my shoulder each time.

So I talked to my comrades from the Mosin Militia about how to remedy this situation. Fellow blogger Linoge informed me that

Apparently sporterized Mosins have a horrible tendency towards "barrel whip", in that the barrel is absurdly long and narrow when not supported by the wooden stock.  When you fire, there are all kinds of torsional forces at play, and harmonics build up and down the barrel as the bullet twists its way down. 

Barrel whip! This is a marvelous term which perfectly describes what I have been experiencing. But how to fix it? I wanted to avoid the expense of shortening or recrowning the barrel, and I was unable to mount a recommended anti-vibration device because I can't remove the front globe sight. I had heard about muzzle brakes/recoil compensators for the 91/30, but everything I've read about them suggests they are cheaply made junk with a dangerous tendency to fly off downrange after a few rounds.

Linoge's final answer was the solution:  just put the bayonet where it is supposed to be, and I would imagine all your ills will be cured.*

I liked this idea. I've wanted to mount the bayonet for some time, but I was unable to get it more than halfway down the barrel. This prevented me from locking it into place. So I went to fellow Brosin** Doug Parkhurst with my dilemma and asked if there was a way short of a Dremel tool to loosen it up. He replied,

Aye, those things are pretty damn snug - out of my 5, I could only fix the bayonet on 2 of them without some sort of grinding, and one of those 2 was only after about a week or two of persistence. Before resorting to a Dremel, you can try a good scrub with Break-Free CLP and a stiff gun brush. Sometimes just trying it over and over will eventually loosen it to the point where you can get it on and off without tools. But if it's especially stubborn, a Dremel used sparingly on the inside of the socket will work. Try to avoid hitting the spring latch; if you grind off too much of that, it won't lock onto the front sight post. FYI, the teardrop-shaped hole in the wide end of the combo tool in the cleaning kit can be used as a handy wrench to aid in removing it if it gets stuck. Hope this helps!

It did indeed help. If nothing else, this gave me permission to be as rough as necessary. This is one thing I've noticed about my Mosin: at times it practically requires manhandling, which is why I have a rubber mallet in my tool kit for when the bolt is feeling frisky.***

So I went it at with a will, using Break-Free and a bronze brush. That only amused the bayonet, as the brush left little bronze residue everywhere. Then I got serious with some steel wool, which I think maybe removed some of the bluing.

By this point I had lost patience and was ready to introduce power tools to the mix, so I went to Home Depot to look at Dremels. Sadly, they're too expensive for me (the cheapest was $80) but I did find a nice set of medium-coarse files for about $6. Choosing the round file, I sat down in front of the TV with it, the bayonet, and a bottle of CLP, and went at that sucker like it was a marital aid.

A couple of hours later, the bluing had come off and I was looking at the shiny steel underneath. Sure enough, it went down over the barrel, but I couldn't twist it to lock into place. Sure, I could get it to move with application of the rubber mallet, but that would be inconvenient (not to mention conspicuous) at the range. I took the flat file to the sides of the front sight and worked on them until -- FINALLY -- I was able to mount the bayonet.

This is the fruit of my labor. Izzy is now suitable to act as a boar spear, and if I pull the trigger I can make instant bacon.

Long gun is long.
And now I can, in the words of Doug Parkhurt, "twirl gaily through the house with [my] 65" pointy bang stick of doom (but watch out for the ceiling fans)."

* This has to do with the aforementioned barrel harmonics and torsional forces. The short simple answer is that the bayonet acts like a counterweight and the barrel thinks it's a foot longer than it really is.

** A brony who also likes Mosins, naturally.

*** "Yob tvoyu mat! And you'll get more of the same until you decide to work!"

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