Rifle storage – cocked bolt or uncocked?
Random thought on rifle storage, specifically do you store rifles with cocked bolt or uncocked?
I was watching something on YouTube about dry firing and immediately thought about bolt springs and storage… I was wondering about longterm rifle storage – with cocked bolt or uncocked; and whether it would have any practical impact on bolt springs.
So you’d think, hey, releasing the bolt spring without dry firing in almost any bolt-action rifle is pretty simple. Half close the bolt, hold it, squeeze the trigger and guide it down. However, nothing is ever this simple. For example, some bolts cock on close and others on open. And since I am short on storage space, I store bolts separately (leaves a lot more room in the safe that way). This means that bolts that cock on open remain cocked. It got me thinking about long term consequences of having the firing pin spring under tension for extended period of time. So is this a bad thing?
The initial ‘sniff test’ says no – it makes no difference to the spring. Pretty much all manufacturers ship bolt action rifles with bolts out and cocked. Rifles are stored cocked for decades and they shoot just fine. And of course the spring, when cocked, is not at it’s threshold and the pressure is reasonably small (for the firing pin to travel). So, evidence based approach would suggest that it makes absolutely no difference. I’d like to say ‘at least in my lifetime’. But, as a matter of fact, I own rifles that are more than triple my age, with original springs and they too work just fine.
On the other hand, a sprinkle of common logic and things start to look gloom. It would be reasonable to think that by keeping springs under constant tension would negatively impact their elasticity. An oversimplified point of view, that completely ignores the metallurgy (most important), but makes sense.
So here we are… Uncocked makes sense, but taking a more evidence-based approach and there’s nothing to suggest that cocked or uncocked makes a difference. I guess for now, bolts will stay as they are, until I make friends with a gunsmith and a metallurgist, who are hopefully the same person.
Food for thought.