Shooting Clinic I | Shooting Clinic II | Mauser Safety Check
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Mauser Safety Check

This site is NOT intented to be a subsitute for a knowledgable gunsmith. Remember your are the final judge of whether a tip is safe or not!



OK, you have that new (old) Mauser, and you’re dying to go out and shoot it, but first you need to look it over, and make sure it is safe enough to shoot. Before we do anything else, we need to perform what is called the


First, make sure the gun is unloaded. I know, you’re not a dumb kid, but I am the safety guy, so bear with me. Turn the bolt handle straight up, pull the ejector housing to the left (see photo 1), and pull the bolt straight back, and out of the receiver. Look down the barrel, if you see light at the end of the bore, we’re cool. Now, put the bolt back in, on many models you will have to push down on the magazine follower to push the bolt fully forward, and turn the bolt handle down. Now turn the safety lever to the right (safety on) (photo 2-rifle on right). Pull the trigger, if nothing happens, we’re still cool. If the gun fires, it is unsafe, we are not cool, do not put ammo in this gun!!! Email me. Now, assuming the gun did not fire, WITHOUT TOUCHING THE TRIGGER, flip the safety lever to the left (safety off)(photo2, left). If the gun fires without touching the trigger, the gun is unsafe, do not put ammo in, EMAIL ME. Still without touching the trigger, smack the side of the buttstock with the heel of your palm. If the gun did not fire, we are still cool, and can proceed.

Photo 1


Photo 2



OK, assuming the rifle is still cocked, turn the safety lever straight up. This is called the bolt disassembly position (photo 2, center). Turn the bolt handle up, pull ejector housing to the left (photo 1, left), and remove the bolt from the rifle. Looking at the rear left side of the bolt (photo 3), you will see the bolt sleeve lock plunger sticking out of the bolt sleeve. You need to push this in (aft) and unscrew the bolt sleeve in a counterclockwise direction. You will then have the bolt body in one hand, and the bolt sleeve/firing pin assembly in the other. Many Mauser models have a bolt disassembly washer in the buttstock (photo 4, top), some have a hole in the cupped edge of a cupped buttplate (photo 4, middle),

Czech models have a depression in one side of the recoil lug (photo 4, bottom), all of these devices are used to disassemble the firing pin from the bolt sleeve. If you don’t have any of these, you can use a plain hardwood block, called the Mauser Bolt Disassembly Device, Mark I (MBDD MkI) (photo 5). Rest the firing pin tip on the wooden block, straight up and down. Hold the bolt sleeve in your right hand, with your thumb on top of the safety lever. CAUTION: We are dealing with spring pressure here, keep your face out of the way! Push the bolt sleeve down firmly, compressing the firing pin spring til all the coils touch each other. Now the cocking piece will be exposed at the top of the firing pin (photo 6), turn it ¼ turn in either direction, and slide it off the firing pin. CAUTION: Your right hand and thumb are still holding the bolt sleeve down, release the spring pressure slowly, and remove the bolt sleeve assembly from the firing pin..

Photo 3


Photo 4

Photo 5

Photo 6



During this whole process, you must be careful not to bend the firing pin, especially if you have it in a hole, the firing pin is heat treated, it will not bend, it will break. (They are currently about $20).

You can now slide the firing pin spring off the firing pin, and remove the safety lever from the bolt sleeve, by turning the safety lever to the right (safety on position), and pulling straight back on the safety lever. The only thing left to remove is the bolt sleeve lock plunger and spring. This is not strictly necessary, unless you want to do a complete strip down and clean. First, turn the bolt sleeve over so you are looking at the bottom of it, with the threaded end to your left. Push in on the plunger about halfway, so the key lines up in the slot (photo 7). Then use a needle or other small pointed object to push the key inboard and out of the slot, then let the plunger ease forward under spring pressure, and remove it. The spring is often stuck in old grease, use your needle to dig it out of there. Oh, one other thing to remove, the extractor from the bolt body. There is a slot about halfway around the front end of the bolt body, the extractor rides in this groove, and we must get it out of the groove. Sometimes you are able to push in hard at about the middle of the extractor, and spring the front end out of the groove, but usually, you need to wedge a small piece of wood underneath the front end to lift it out of the groove (photo 8). You then rotate the extractor around the bolt body, until the front end of the extractor is resting on the ungrooved section of the bolt body. You then push forward on the rear end of the extractor, until it pops off the extractor collar. It is not recommended to remove the extractor collar, due to the fact that it is very easy to damage without special removal tools.

Photo 7

Photo 8




OK, the best thing to do now is to get a metal bowl or pan, put all of the bolt parts in it, and pour in enough acetone to cover them, then let them soak for 15 minutes. It is now time to break out your old toothbrushes, beat up old bore brushes, or what have you, and get all these parts bare metal clean. Be sure to get rid of any old cosmoline, paying particular attention to the firing pin and its locking lugs, the bore of the bolt body, the bore of the cocking piece, the bore of the bolt sleeve, and the recess in the bolt sleeve for the locking plunger and spring. All the parts are laid out and labeled in (photo 9). Make sure you spin the extractor collar around the bolt body a few times while it is wet with acetone, to remove any crud from the groove.

Photo 9





Now that the firing pin is all clean and pretty, we need to inspect the firing pin tip. It should have a smooth radiused ball shaped end with no pits. It should not be pointed or sharp in any direction, or it can cause pierced primers. The next thing to look at is the firing pin safety shoulders, this is the shoulder about 1 and ½" aft of the tip. These shoulders prevent the firing pin moving forward until the bolt reaches the 95% closed position. Start by holding the bolt body in your hand, turn it so that the bolt lug with the groove is uppermost, this simulates the locked bolt position. With the firing pin in your right hand, and with one of the flat sides toward you, insert the pin into the back of the bolt, while watching through one of the gas escape holes in the left side of the bolt body. Slide the pin in until the shoulders contact the stops inside the bolt body. While holding at this position, look at the firing pin port in the bolt face, the tip of the firing pin should be recessed a minimum of .010 below the surface of the bolt face. While holding the bolt body steady, slowly start to rotate the firing pin, as you get close to 90 degrees rotation, it will start to move forward, but the firing pin tip should not clear the bolt face or protrude from the bolt face until 90 degrees rotation. Now turn the firing pin 180 degrees and recheck. (P.S. while I am writing this, I am holding a bolt and firing pin in my hand, the firing pin failed this check. It protrudes from the bolt face about .015. You can remove a small amount of material to shorten the pin, but I recommend taking it to a gunsmith and having him do it on a lathe, preserving the original "ball" shape of the tip.)

The next thing to check is the firing pin tip/port clearance. Using a micrometer or vernier caliper, measure the diameter of the tip of the firing pin. It should be approximately .075. Then, using the tips of the vernier caliper, you need to measure the diameter of the firing pin port in the bolt face. If you don’t have a caliper, you can use small drill bits, finding one that fits snug in the hole. Ideally, the pin port should be only .002-.003 larger than the firing pin tip. Larger clearances can allow more gas leakage in the case of a cartridge failure, so in this case, tighter is better.

The last thing to look at on the firing pin is the condition of the locking lugs on the aft end. The edges of the lugs should be sharp and crisp, with no obvious galling. Put the cocking piece on the firing pin, and check for easy rotation. If it is tight, make sure you got all of the cosmoline out of the inside of the cocking piece, use a dental pick if necessary. If it is still too tight, you may have a mismatch between the cocking piece / firing pin, replace one or the other. If it is just slightly tight, put a dab of fine lapping compound on the lugs on the pin, reassemble, and turn it back and forth until it frees up. Make sure you remove all traces of the lapping compound from the pin and the bore of the cocking piece.


For as small as this part is, it can cause more problems and headaches than any other part on a Mauser. See Photo #10 for a side view and top view of a typical cocking piece. These parts can vary in length and overall configuration, depending on your particular model, so don’t get all freaky if yours doesn’t look exactly like the picture. There are basically 3 surfaces on this part that we are concerned with from a safety standpoint, the first is the sear ledge, shown in the side view. This part is made from a soft, tough steel that is then case hardened for wear protection. The sear ledge is frequently "modified" by "Bubba" in an attempt to change the trigger pull weight. The problem is that "Bubba" doesn’t reharden the part after grinding, the case is only a few thousandths thick, and this part must be rehardened after any grinding. The edges of the sear ledge must be crisp and sharp, no worn or rounded edges. It should also be at 90 degrees to the axis of the cocking piece. If it is not, replace it, they are only a few bucks. The second, and most frequently modified, surface is the safety engagement surface, shown in the side view of photo #10. If there has been any grinding done here, you have SERIOUS trouble, replace the part! This part is frequently ground in a mistaken attempt to make it easier to engage the safety. What the problem is, is that it allows the firing pin / cocking piece assembly to ride forward over the sear. If you have the safety engaged and pull the trigger, the pin / cocking piece assembly can ride forward over the sear, and actually hold the sear down, preventing re-engagement of the sear when you release the trigger. When you then flip the safety off, the gun will fire, ready or not! This is the main reason for the "safety off" check. This surface should be straight and square, with only a light chamfer on the corner, the chamfer should be consistent in width around the forward face.

The third is the cocking ramp surface. Light wear polishing is OK here, but there should be no galling or scratching. If it is galled, the heat treat is no good, replace the part.

Photo 10




Ok, not much can go wrong here, other than rust pitting. Turn the safety lever to the right and insert it into the hole in the bolt sleeve, check the clearance between the safety shank and the hole in the bolt sleeve, it shouldn’t be tight, but you don’t want it to rattle, either. Check the buttress threads on the forward end of the bolt sleeve, the crests of the thread should be sharp and angled, not rounded or worn. Going back to the safety lever, look at it from the side, the lever portion should be at 90 degrees to the shank. When you insert the safety lever into the bolt sleeve, turn the safety lever straight up, it should turn easily with no binding, and there shouldn’t be more than .010 fore and aft play. Check the front end of the safety lever shank, about ¾ of the forward face is ground away, forming a cam that engages with the bolt body when everything is assembled. This prevents turning the bolt when the safety is on. These faces should be clean and sharp, some wear is permitted, but they shouldn’t be "boogered". The last thing to look at on the safety is the chamfered ledge that engages the cocking piece when assembled. Looking at the safety lever from the rear with the flag up, this will be on the lower left hand side, it is a c-shaped, chamfered cut. It should be smooth with no evidence of galling. If it is difficult to engage your safety, a little light filing and polishing here can make all the difference. It is not recommended to remove more than .010 on the chamfered surface, none on the flat surface. If the safety lever fails any of these inspections, replace it, it is cheaper than your face.


The main thing to check here is the front bolt lugs, the rear faces should be smooth with no evidence of scratching or galling, DO NOT remove any material from these faces, it will adversely affect your headspace. Take a look at the front face of the bolt, there is often a "smoke ring" around the firing pin port, this is caused by corrosive primer leakage. If there is heavy pitting, replace the bolt, or take it to a gunsmith, and have him TIG weld the pits, and regrind the face to the original level. DO NOT remove any material from this face, headspace again. Taking a look at the back end of the bolt, on the bottom there is a V shaped notch, this is the "cock on opening notch", the faces should be clean and smooth, minor wear polishing permitted, no galling. On the top side of the bolt at the rear edge, there is a small semicircular notch milled here, this is where the safety lever engages to prevent bolt rotation with the safety engaged. Light wear OK, no "boogering". The threads inside the bolt body should be clean and sharp. The last thing to look at is to look for cracks in the bolt locking lugs. This is hard to do reliably at home without access to magnaflux or dye penetrant equipment, but look over the corners where the lugs meet the bolt body with a good magnifying glass, if any cracks are detected, DESTROY THE BOLT! Cut it up with a hacksaw, or put it in a vise and bend the h*ll out of it with a big hammer, just make sure that nobody will use that bolt.


OK, on the extractor collar, you are basically looking for free rotation. It should rotate around the bolt body freely and smoothly. The little lugs that engage with the extractor should be in good shape. Probably one of the most trouble free parts on the gun.

The extractor is another story, however. The very forward face, called the hook, can become worn. Looking at it from the front, the inboard edge is beveled, to snap over a chambered cartridge. The bevel should be in good shape, not obviously worn away. About ¼" aft of the forward face is the guide foot. The forward edge is ground at a slight angle, this mates up with an angled groove in the bolt body. The purpose of this set up is to prevent the extractor from "springing away" from the bolt body during extraction, causing a failure to extract. The angled leg or guide foot must be in sharp and good condition, if it is worn or rounded, replace the extractor. The guide foot being worn, or the hook being worn, will account for about 95% of all "failures to extract" on a Mauser action. The other 5% will be caused by the lugs on the inside of the extractor, or the lugs on the extractor collar being worn. This will cause too much freeplay between the extractor and the bolt body. With the extractor installed on the bolt body, you should have about .005 clearance between the bolt body and the extractor foot in the lug area. You don’t want this foot to rub the bolt body, but excessive clearance can cause failure to extract. If you have more than .005 clearance here, you can lightly peen the keys (lugs) on the extractor collar, which will pull the extractor in toward the bolt body a little more snugly.

While we have the extractor back on, snap a cartridge case into the bolt face. The sharp edge of the hook should contact the bottom of the extractor groove on the case, in fact, it should spring the extractor out about .004 from the bolt body. Pull straight forward on the cartridge case, this will engage the angled guide foot in the groove on the bolt body. In this position, you should not be able to deflect the extractor away from the bolt body. Remove the cartridge case, push straight back on the front face of the hook, now the extractor should be free of the angle in the groove, and sideways deflection is possible.


OK, If you have the extractor off, let’s put it back on first. First, use a small paintbrush to put some good quality grease in the groove for the extractor collar. Work it around, and make sure it is totally lubed. I use the M1 rifle grease in the plastic 2.5 cc plastic tubs you can get at any of the gunshows, but you can buy it by the box (144 tubs) at TAPCO for about $10. Turn the lugs of the extractor collar to the bottom of the bolt, slide the extractor on to just start engaging the lugs, (make sure the extractor will slide onto the ungrooved section of the bolt), then use your thumb to spring the extractor guide foot over the front face of the bolt, pushing it aft at the same time. When it clears the bolt face, rotate the extractor around until the guide foot snaps into the groove.

Now take the bolt sleeve, thoroughly grease the buttress threads, and install the sleeve lock plunger and spring in their recess, push back until the key lines up with the slot, and use a toothpick to push the key outboard into the slot. Install the safety lever into the bolt sleeve.

Now take the firing pin, thoroughly grease the safety shoulders, the shaft section where the spring will go, and the locking lugs where the cocking piece will go. Put the firing pin tip down on a hardwood block, slide on the spring, and then the bolt sleeve. Make sure the safety lever is in the center bolt disassembly position, then push down the bolt sleeve with your thumb over the safety lever, and slide the cocking piece on, rotating it 90 degrees to lock. Making sure the safety is still in the center, slowly release the pressure until the safety engages with the cocking piece.

Now all we have to do is screw the pin/sleeve assembly into the bolt body. On most Mausers, you will have to push in on the sleeve lock plunger to get the last ¼ turn.



OK, at this point, you should be holding a completely assembled bolt, that is cocked with the safety in the center (bolt disassembly) position. We are now going to check the firing pin protrusion, and to do this, we have to uncock the bolt. This is the easy part, just flip the safety to the left (safety off) position. OK, you may notice that the cocking piece didn’t go all the way forward, and the firing pin is NOT protruding from the bolt face. You were wondering what the "hold cock" face was for on the cocking piece? This is it, the bolt is actually in the "open" position right now. Now we need to push in on the bolt sleeve lock plunger, and rotate the bolt sleeve ¼ turn counterclockwise. OK, now your firing pin should be protruding approx .060 or 1/16" from the bolt face. If it is more than .065-.070, it will probably pierce primers, if it is less than .050, it will probably not fire reliably.

To recock the bolt, catch the sear engagement ledge on the bottom of the cocking piece on the edge of your MBDD MkI, or the edge of a workbench. Pull down on the bolt body, until you can engage the safety, put it in the center position. Then push in on the bolt sleeve lock plunger, and turn the bolt sleeve ¼ turn clockwise. The bolt is now ready to reinstall in the gun.

End of part I, part II will cover barrel and chamber inspection, checking headspace, and probably some other stuff.

The bear

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