What is a Rifle Action and What is the Purpose?

To follow the entire series on my custom rifle build, click here.  (The most recent will at the top of the page.)

I hope that by tomorrow I will be ready to discuss my comparison of a Surgeon 591 Action and a Big Horn Arms Short Tactical Action.  I have been working the info for a few days and it occurred to me that some of my readers are just learning, like I am, and may not know what all the parts of a rifle are for.  Some parts like a stock are more obvious, but I thought I would talk about the action a little bit so the comparison discussion will make more sense.

A action has several purposes, I found a good site that gave seven important general purposes, written by Chuck Hawks.

  1. FIRING–pulling the trigger releases the hammer or striker and fires the round in the chamber.
  2. UNLOCKING & PRIMARY EXTRACTION–the breech is securely locked closed during firing; after firing, the first operation is to unlock it. Autoloaders do this by means of gas pressure and an operating rod, other actions do this by manual movement of a lever, bolt handle, slide handle, etc. In addition, the brass case left behind after the bullet and powder are gone must be loosened from the chamber walls–this is called primary extraction, and it is accomplished mechanically as the action is unlocked.
  3. EXTRACTION–the case is partially or fully removed from the chamber so that it may be either lifted out by the fingers, or thrown out by the ejector.
  4. EJECTION–after extraction, the case is thrown from the rifle, or removed by hand.
  5. COCKING–The hammer or striker spring is compressed as the hammer/striker is drawn back, and then held back by the sear; it is now cocked.
  6. FEEDING–a fresh cartridge is chambered, either by hand, or by the forward travel of the bolt.
  7. LOCKING–The breech block is locked closed, and the rifle is ready to fire again.

I am going to keep this article simple, there are various ways each step above occurs, depending on the action, and each of the steps may not be in the same exact order from action to action.  When I compare and contrast the Surgeon Action and the Big Horn Arms actions I will go into more detail on some some of this.

 

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