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Thread: Polishing The 336 Action...a.ka. Basic Action Job How-To

  1. #1
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    Polishing The 336 Action...a.ka. Basic Action Job How-To


    *Pics and details on next post*

    Action Job...It's a term we hear often in the "gun world" and we get the concept but for many folks the details of what an action job is all about are blurry at best and often a mystery. This can lead many people to thinking such a thing is far beyond their capabilities. And if you think it is, that's okay. In fact, if you aren't comfortable with the idea, then by all means, don't do it. But, there are things I think many unsuspecting people can do to enhance their rifle that just take a little patience and a decent amount of education.

    When I decided I was going to try it for myself, I first read every scrap I could scrounge up, here and elsewhere (though this is by far the best resource for info). I encourage anyone considering doing this to do the same thing. The "SEARCH" function on the home page and general internet searching is a wonderful thing. Anyway, one of the first things I found I ran into was confusion over terms. We as individuals often refer to the same part by different terms. For example, one guy may say loading spring and another guy loading gate. While there may be a technical difference in the exact location, the part is still the same part. Or carrier and lifter, same part. My best advice for this is two things, first study the exploded view drawings of your gun, either in the manual or in the disassembly sticky (1895 but works just as well for 336) in the Gunsmithing section. Then, disassemble your rifle. It will all start to make sense.

    What does polish mean? Are they buffing it up like silver or brass? Polish? What does that mean?! Well, it means polish. Basically, when you see the word polish, they mean to "slick up" the surface without actually changing the shape. In other words, real light stuff just to smooth things out.

    So, maybe you are thinking about trying an action job but aren't too sure about all of it. Well, I thought I'd share what I did and hope it helps some.

    This is a very lay person's take. I make no claims of expertise, far from it. I do hope and expect that any mistakes I make in this writing or points needing clarification will be made by those far more knowledgeable and experienced than myself.

    DISCLAIMER: Do not attempt any of what is written here if you aren't comfortable doing so.

    First, for those unfamiliar with disassembly I again HIGHLY suggest this thread:,26786.0.html

    Second, pretty much every part I touched is readily replaceable. The exception to this is the bolt. You can buy a replacement bolt easy enough but it will require head spacing to ensure safety. I think this is important to keep in mind, at least it was for me. I knew that if I screwed something up, I could replace it. Having that kind of reassurance in the back of your mind helps give you confidence to get started. Just don't get overconfident.

    Some general discussion/thoughts...

    The Action Parts: There are six major components in the action.

    1) Lever
    2) Bolt Assembly
    3) Carrier
    4) Locking Lug
    5) Hammer
    6) Ejector

    The Action Cycle. I look at the cycle of the action in four main phases: 1) Initial engagement, 2) The throw, 3) The return, and 4) The lock-up.

    1) Initial engagement: This when your fingers first break the action. The bolt just pops out but does not engage the hammer and the lever pops loose.

    2) The throw: This is when the lever moves forward, the bolt engages/depresses the hammer, the carrier and locking lug drop (and if there is a chambered round it is extracted and ejected).

    3) The return: The lever is coming back, bolt runs back over the hammer pushing it down as it does so (a.k.a. over travel), carrier (picks up round if loaded) and locking lug moving up.

    4) The lock-up: Just that, everything clicks into place and tightens up. Bang time.

    All the parts work together to complete the action cycle. And where ever these parts rub, it can create friction, stumbles, pressure, etc. By smoothing these contact points, it can therefore obviously smooth the action cycle.

    It is my experience on my lever guns that all four phases have "interruptions" to a smooth cycle. Perhaps the more noticeable of these issues are the lever plunger, extractor riding in the bolt, and the bolt riding over the hammer, especially on return. However, I do not advocate any attempts at hammer work unless you are experienced and very well versed in the proper way to tackle such things. Hammer alterations require the actual removal of metal and in a very precise manner.

    Remember that removing metal and changing shapes can be detrimental. There are instances when this is needed and recommended. But I consider any such activities advanced and therefore do not discuss them here.

    This is about just smoothing things up.

    So on to the details...

  2. #2
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    Re: Polishing The 336 Action...a.ka. Basic Action Job How-To


    DISCLAIMER: Yeah I know, but again, this should only be done if you are comfortable. Again, this is just what I did and what works for me. And quite obviously ensure the firearm is unloaded.

    First things first. Whether it's a brand new gun or just a new to you gun, clean it up. Disassemble it, give it a good cleaning, put it back together, make sure the screws are tight and then see how she runs.

    Next, if it is a new gun, cycle the action about a jillion times. This will smooth out a lot of things on it's own and show wear marks on parts. I highly recommend getting some snap caps for this process also. These allow you to cycle dummy rounds safely and also to fire the rifle without damaging anything.

    Then, cycle the action slowly and deliberately through the four phases. Pop the lever and stop. Pop it back in and do it again. And then over and over. Throw the lever and feel it, pay attention to the return. Then slowly feel the lock-up. Do this as many times as you like, the more the better. Having disassembled the gun and knowing the parts and how they interact and what they do will help you understand what is going on and may give you a sense of problem areas.


    I used nothing more than a knife sharpening stone and mostly 600 grit sandpaper. It is very important to remember here, that if dealing with stainless steel, you do not use steel wool. Just wanted to toss that out there.

    Remember, go easy on all of this. Better to do a little and reassemble, test and then disassemble and do a little more work over and over than to take away too much at once and screw it up. You'll find you can tear the rifle down in a matter of a few minutes after you've down it a couple times so it really isn't a big deal to put it back together and take it apart again and well worth the efforts.

    The Lever:

    A lot of good can come from touching up the lever. It has several contact points and a couple significant ones such as the plunger and the tip of the lever.

    I polished all the points shown.

    1) The Lever Plunger. This locks over a pin in the trigger plate and keeps the lever from popping open under recoil. A little polishing on both the top and bottom of the angle will help release and lock-up (phase one and four).

    2) The "hook" marries to the hook on the locking lug. Polish the bottom and front edge (phase two and three).

    3) This curve engages the slot in the bolt. My 336W had a bad machining nick that bound up phase one of the cycle pretty bad. It would catch in the bolt groove and I had to force it past. This did require me to remove some material to eliminate the nick but again, that is a special circumstance and not the norm. But I still think there's benefit to polishing this area (phase two).

    4 & 5) Five is the more important as it is this "point" that snaps the bolt in place (phase four).

    Then I did some general polishing where ever I saw wear marks like along the sides and such.

    The Ejector:

    Very light polish on the "nub" that rides in the bolt.

    The Locking Lug:

    Don't take metal off the top or bottom surfaces! The purpose of this part is to retain the bolt under recoil, don't compromise that! I polished the underside and face of the "hook" and the inside and outside where it rides along other parts.

    The Carrier:

    I polished all the points shown and any other wear marks discovered.

    The Loading Spring (Gate):

    This is the only part of the job where you do actually remove material. I lightly stoned and then polished the back of the long skinny portion (the spring). This is really a piece of spring steel and not a coiled spring as the term may make you think. Hopefully, in the pic you can see two lines that were prominent on the spring. I'm honestly not sure why they are there but if it is for added strength I kind of have to laugh because IMHO, that piece is plenty damn strong. I stoned that down and then polished the skinny length. It made it a touch easier to feed shells but I want to work on it more. But as I said, better to take a little at time. Patience. I surely don't want it too weak so there's likely only so much to be gained here.

    The Bolt:

    As I said before, this is the one part that is more involved if you make a mistake so choose wisely.

    For the most part, I see no real reason to polish the outer surface of the bolt. Hold the hammer all the way down and use your fingers to run the bolt in and out of your rifle and you'll feel drag. Then pop out the ejector and do the same thing, I bet it feels much smoother.

    So, I polished the BOTTOM of the ejector groove. Take care not to remove metal from the sides of the groove. You want the ejector to stay in place as it rides along. But the bottom, where the nub of the ejector runs can be smoothed up. Don't forget the angled part at the front of the bolt. It's my experience that this area is generally pretty rough and a little smoothing can have a significant positive impact on the cycle.

    I also lightly polished the angle that runs over the hammer.

    And that is what I consider a basic action job. I can't say this enough, GO SLOW and TEST.

    I'm hesitant about cutting and tweaking springs as I'm not convinced of the long-term benefits. But that is my own personal opinion and defer to the more knowledgeable on such things.

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