Browning BLR action disassembly.

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Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by GQshayne » 03 Jun 2022, 10:03 pm

Browning recommend that owners do not disassemble the action of the BLR. I would strongly suggest that this advice should be followed. Failure to follow this advice may result in pain and suffering for the owner that disregards it. :crazy:

So anyway, I stripped down a pre 81 short action BLR. :roll:

I was well aware it was a bad idea, however circumstances led me to it. I have an old BLR for spare parts. A previous owner had stuffed it badly, so it is only useful for spares. As an aside, I am not sure why anyone would use an angle grinder on a rifle receiver. :wtf: My dad has recently acquired the same model, and we needed to replace the plastic/nylon cocking lever stop in the action. My spares rifle had the part needed in it, so I needed to strip it down to get the part out. I figured if that went ok, and I could put it back together and time the action to within factory spec, then I could try it on dads rifle. This would save us having to go to a gunsmith, which we do not have handy to us.

So I stripped the old gun, and put it back together, and followed the factory instructions on re-assembly. It is fiddly, but it only took me an hour or so to get it timed to .08". Factory spec is .01" to .015". I have feeler gauges in imperial, so there was no need for my usual trick of converting everything to metric. Seeing as it was an achievable task, I decided to do dads rifle. What I did not realise was that I had been VERY lucky with the old rifle. Trying to time dads rifle netted no result after about 4 hours. The following morning another 2 hours still had me in the same spot. Not good. :(

The internet will tell you that many people have passed before me, and tips and tricks abound on how to do the job. However there are a few variations of models, and all the tips I could find did not apply to our rifles. Any mention of marking the gears before removing them, setting the lever or bolt in a certain spot etc etc, do not work on the Pre 81 or Model 81 short action rifle. I tried everything I could think of, and every tip I could find. Nothing works. The factory method is to time the action with it closed, so you cannot see the gears. This is why other methods are not useful on this model. No marks can be seen, so they serve no purpose. On other BLR models, and long action models, things are different, so other methods apply.

Here is the Browning manual for the short action Pre 81 and Model 81 BLR.

https://www.midwestgunworks.com/field_s ... manual.pdf

No need for me to repeat any of what is in this manual, as I found it to be easy to follow, and all information is correct. However, after many hours of following it, I had to have a think about the job. They simply instruct you change the position of one of the gears and then check the bolt clearance to check timing. It is noted that adjustment is "trial and error", and this is because you cannot see inside. You move and check it.

My thinking led me to consider how I could make this process simpler. The "cocking gear" has a large gear and a small gear, the large gear engages with the bolt, and the small gear engages with the lever. As the bolt is fully closed when timing the action, and the cocking gear has even tooth spacing for 360 degrees, it can go in any position. So I did not have to worry about its position. If the lever is fully closed, and the bolt is fully closed and locking lugs engaged, then that is all you need to do with it.

The part that needs setting is the small gear on the cocking gear, which engages with the lever. The small gear has teeth for 360 degrees, but the lever does not. This position is what is critical, and this is what you need to change in order to change the action timing. I found a simple way to allow this to happen in a shorter period of time. Using this method, I have done a second BLR in about an hour or so.

Follow the factory manual, but when altering the position of the cocking gear, have the rifle upside down on your bench, or in your gun vice. By that I mean have the magazine well facing up. When moving the cocking gear, do so by moving it up and back towards the rear of the action. The reason this helps is that the cocking gear falls away from the teeth on the lever, so gravity is helping you move it to another spot. With the rifle upright the teeth are fully engaged, so having it upside down helps. You are trying to disengage the gear, and move it to a different spot on the lever gear. So lift it up and move it back a bit, and often you can see it rotate as it moves on the teeth. After each change, check the clearance on the bolt.

I found the clearance would be nothing at all, or about 16 thou on most occasions. But keep trying and after a while you can get an in between tolerance, and you will spot it straight away. The difference is enough to spot by eye, and a feeler gauge will confirm it. I found that on the three rifles I have done, each one ended up at about .08".

I realise that this will not be very useful for our members, however given that many hours of searching the internet did not help me much, I wanted this to be documented somewhere. Hopefully it will benefit someone in the future.

Here are the basic components. You can see the lever gear only has teeth on the bottom, and the cocking gear has a large gear and a small gear. The large one has an even amount of teeth and the small one has an uneven amount I believe.

DSCN1383 (2).JPG
DSCN1383 (2).JPG (358.73 KiB) Viewed 317 times


In this pic you can see the approx position of the gear in the lever when the lever is closed.

DSCN1384.JPG
DSCN1384.JPG (276.55 KiB) Viewed 317 times


This is how you move the cocking gear to a different position in the lever. The manual mentions using a size smaller punch, but I found a small jewellers screwdriver was easier. With the elver closed, using this technique, you can get a few different positions and tolerances. Trying to put the bolt or lever in a different position has no effect, you need to leave the action closed, and move this gear in the lever.

DSCN1386.JPG
DSCN1386.JPG (648.98 KiB) Viewed 317 times


This is where you check the tolerance after each adjustment. Take the hammer pressure off the bolt and see what you have.

DSCN1387.JPG
DSCN1387.JPG (602.7 KiB) Viewed 317 times
Last edited by GQshayne on 04 Jun 2022, 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by Billo » 03 Jun 2022, 10:58 pm

I know I love stripping things down to every single part but even I'm not stupid enough to pharrk around with a BLR :lol: :drinks:
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by Blr243 » 04 Jun 2022, 7:54 am

Once , when carrying a fallow bac to camp I got a lot of blood in my action. I attempted disassembly to clean but in the process I was out of my depth. I took it to a gunsmith ... at the end of the job he demonstrated with a couple of different sized steel headspace gauges that the bolt was in the correct forward position when the lever was closed ... is that part definitely correct shayne with what u have done. ? I only ask in the interests of your safety and well being
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by Wyliecoyote » 04 Jun 2022, 10:25 am

I have no idea why this process is so confusing to BLR owners. Remove the lever assembly as a whole, insert go guage or fully sized case into the chamber, insert the bolt and push it fully home, the head will rotate into the locked position, install the lever group in the locked position.
If your headspace is out it was always out because the lugs to chamber set your headspace, not the gears, they set your timing where a full tooth on the gears goes from unable to close, to unable to rotate and lock the bolt head. Think of it as cam timing on an engine. Piston (bolt) at TDC, lever(crank) at the timing mark ( hard up against the pistol grip). Once you get it, you will disassemble the rile each time to clean it like a regular bolt gun or Marlin 1894.
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by Blr243 » 04 Jun 2022, 12:20 pm

Still too scary for me. I would attempt a heart transplant on myself with a Stanley knife and a bottle of betadine before I took my BLR apart again
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by GQshayne » 04 Jun 2022, 3:43 pm

Blr243 wrote:Once , when carrying a fallow bac to camp I got a lot of blood in my action. I attempted disassembly to clean but in the process I was out of my depth. I took it to a gunsmith ... at the end of the job he demonstrated with a couple of different sized steel headspace gauges that the bolt was in the correct forward position when the lever was closed ... is that part definitely correct shayne with what u have done. ? I only ask in the interests of your safety and well being


The main issues that you read about have to do with the timing of the action, from stuck cases to misfires. Browning state that if it is outside of the specified tolerances that issues can occur, including damage to the rifle.

So you are right it is critical, and this is what I have set. It depends on the model too, as later models have much different/smaller tolerance than the early ones. They also have different adjustment methods. Long action models are different again too.
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by GQshayne » 04 Jun 2022, 4:22 pm

Wyliecoyote wrote:I have no idea why this process is so confusing to BLR owners. Remove the lever assembly as a whole, insert go guage or fully sized case into the chamber, insert the bolt and push it fully home, the head will rotate into the locked position, install the lever group in the locked position.
If your headspace is out it was always out because the lugs to chamber set your headspace, not the gears, they set your timing where a full tooth on the gears goes from unable to close, to unable to rotate and lock the bolt head. Think of it as cam timing on an engine. Piston (bolt) at TDC, lever(crank) at the timing mark ( hard up against the pistol grip). Once you get it, you will disassemble the rile each time to clean it like a regular bolt gun or Marlin 1894.


You must be referring to a different model BLR. The lugs do not engage in the chamber on my model (on some they do). There are a number of model variations.
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by Wyliecoyote » 04 Jun 2022, 10:07 pm

Goshayne, nope I have the right action, done heaps with them. The bolt head rotates in the main slide body by way of a helix and locks into the machined lugs in the action. The headspace from bolt face to chamber datum CANNOT be altered by the timing gears when the bolt head is fully rotated and locked The go gauge or sized case in the chamber prevents the bolt sliding too far forward and going past the datum and rotates the bolt head fully preventing you from getting your timing out. From there the gears are assembled on the lever, you may have to adjust a tooth or two by trial and error to get the lever to sit right but the lever will go into position, from there insert the pins and cycle it.

That destruction manual with talk of feeler gauges has nothing to do with headspace, that is to with bolt head to slide clearance. All this tells you is how much wear is on the gears. This has nothing to do with headspace because the lugs of the bolt head and action determine that. If you are one tooth out either way the action won’t close because it is trying to drive the bolt head too far where it is blocked by the action lug in front or more likely the cartridge head. Or the lever locks in place and the bolt slide is still protruding at the rear and the bolt head is not fully rotated in which case if it were fired, the firing pin probably wouldn't strike the primer because the slide is going to prevent the hammer striking the pin.
What BLR owners need to understand is that there is only one correct gear position of a rifle in good order. There is no plus or minus one tooth unless the wear is so drastic that it is possible to advance the slide one tooth forward. Even if that was the case, there is no real drama because I won't be there for the first shot. But seriously excessive wear in this area does cause a problem with full bolt head rotation, exact same issue with soft slides in M16s and ARs where the bolt doesn't fully engage from wear in the helix and so the action opens a little prematurely. To find evidence of this you look for the lever staring to open a little during firing like 1894s with worn locking blocks do, or like some new Remlins do. To get to this stage the rifle would have had to have fired 10s of thousands of rounds, numerous barrels in adverse conditions. The pre 81 BLRs are the pick, never seen one worn out, just abused.
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by GQshayne » 05 Jun 2022, 7:41 pm

I was only following instructions to set the action timing after disassembly. That is all.
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by GQshayne » 06 Jun 2022, 8:31 am

I have reviewed this, and given it further thought. As far as I am concerned, setting the tolerance with a feeler gauge, as the manual instructs you to do, is necessary.

With the lever fully closed, and the bolt fully locked into the lugs in the receiver, there is a tolerance that Browning stipulate must be in the rack and pinion gears, measured at the breech bolt slide. With the lever locked, and the bolt locked, you can vary this tolerance by altering the cocking gear position, as instructed in the manual. With a sized case in the chamber, this tolerance is the same as without a case in the chamber, as measured in my rifle.

Browning instruct that the clearance must be between a minimum and maximum - 0.01" to .015". They state the following "If no clearance exists, the gearing of the action may be damaged upon firing. If clearance is too great the bolt will not be properly locked" I have checked three rifles now, two of them had the minimum clearance that Browning state is needed, and one of them did not. Two of them were in good order, and the one with no clearance had damage to the action, just as Browning warn can happen.

I have followed the instructions that Browning provide. The only difference is that I have tried to explain it a bit better, and add a bit of info on how to adjust the cocking gear position. If you do not check it, it can easily be too much or not enough. All three rifles I have done took multiple adjustments in order to get the Browning specification correct. The rifle with no clearance has had the damaged gear replaced.

I would not advise anyone to ignore the factory instructions.
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by deanp100 » 13 Jun 2022, 8:48 pm

I can usually get mine done in a few minutes but I do have to put my glasses on.
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by GQshayne » 14 Jun 2022, 7:38 pm

deanp100 wrote:I can usually get mine done in a few minutes but I do have to put my glasses on.


Like anything else, once you know how it is not so difficult. Different methods for different models though, some appear to be easier than the Pre 81.
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by deanp100 » 16 Jun 2022, 3:32 pm

Everyone is scared of them and the internet talks them up, but humans put them together. I’m sure we can do it again. I’ve never had the newer models but my old MLR is supposed to be hard to do.
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by GQshayne » 16 Jun 2022, 7:34 pm

deanp100 wrote:Everyone is scared of them and the internet talks them up, but humans put them together. I’m sure we can do it again. I’ve never had the newer models but my old MLR is supposed to be hard to do.


I have an FN BLR, and dad has just bought an MLR. So it was those that I was doing.
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by mickb » 19 Jun 2022, 11:31 pm

On a good day I can remove the bolt from a variety of bolt actions and also unscrew stocks and forend wood from a variety of lever actions so the above all sounded pretty impressive. And it was news to me guns have gears too. :D
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by GQshayne » 20 Jun 2022, 7:48 pm

mickb wrote:On a good day I can remove the bolt from a variety of bolt actions and also unscrew stocks and forend wood from a variety of lever actions so the above all sounded pretty impressive. And it was news to me guns have gears too. :D


Bit different from my old Tikka, for sure.
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