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

DSCN1384.JPG
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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
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This is where you check the tolerance after each adjustment. Take the hammer pressure off the bolt and see what you have.

DSCN1387.JPG
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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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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by AWOODSKNIFE » 27 Feb 2023, 7:05 am

Just instaled the gear on a browning lever gun 308 from 1973, works and fires a cap but I have a small gap between the bolt and rotating bolt face ? I also get bolt movement when it is cocked when I push the bolt where the hammer strikes. I did find that you can not move the rotating bolt and so it appears to be locked in place and like I said it does fire a shell that is primed only. It's that gap that bothers me but after several hours it appears that one more tooth on the gear prevents the lever from closing all the way ? I would appreciate any feed back from some who knows ?
Thanks
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by drone » 04 Jan 2024, 8:58 am

GQShayne,if you're still o the forum and still have the blr would you be so kind as to post two images of the action with a loaded cartridge in battery please, one from the bottom of the rifle of the locking bolt with the magazine removed and the other from the top showing the hammer end of the sliding bolt, mine is proud of the action here and I'm not sure this is correct.
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by Blr243 » 04 Jan 2024, 2:10 pm

Is it easy to buy a headspace Guage ? Aka steel dummy round. I’m pretty sure there’s a fine line between right and wrong with these and getting it wrong might end up being dangerous and/ or costing you money , and if something happens on the range , embarrassing too
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by deanp100 » 05 Jan 2024, 8:18 pm

I’ll add something to this little saga. I have probably taken my Mlr apart 20 times in history and I thought I had it down pat. I recent,y started getting weird problems, stuck cases at lower pressures etc. someone suggested I get headspace checked and it was way out. Took it to a smith and the problem, while significant in headspace terms was indistinguishable to the naked eye.
Seems as though the guest 19 times I did it perfectly and the last time wasn’t quite right. My technique was good but I didn’t use a fired case in the chamber. The bolt looked like it was locking up perfectly but it had a fraction to go and I didn’t check.
So all timed, assembled and measured correctly it’s back to its old self
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by deanp100 » 05 Jan 2024, 8:19 pm

drone wrote:GQShayne,if you're still o the forum and still have the blr would you be so kind as to post two images of the action with a loaded cartridge in battery please, one from the bottom of the rifle of the locking bolt with the magazine removed and the other from the top showing the hammer end of the sliding bolt, mine is proud of the action here and I'm not sure this is correct.

Hi Drine, if GQ doesn’t have a photo handy I’ll grab some over the weekend. Your bolt should be flush with the end of the action.
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by drone » 07 Jan 2024, 2:15 am

Hi Deanp, thanks bro.
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by deanp100 » 07 Jan 2024, 5:54 pm

drone wrote:Hi Deanp, thanks bro.
pmate, do you want to message me an email address. All the photos I took are too big to load .
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by GQshayne » 13 Jan 2024, 7:35 pm

I have had the same problem with photos recently. I cannot post them any more.

Drone, what I have desribed above is correct for Pre 81 Browning BLR & Miroku MLR. Is this the model you have??

What is the bolt clearance when you measure it with feeler gauges??
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by drone » 21 Jan 2024, 12:52 am

I thought I'd replied to dean in the message section but somehow it seems my message didn't make it. Many thanks Dean,the images clarified the situation for me and I managed to sort my issues out. The confidence that those pics gave me help me to isolate what my problem is/was.
Shayne about 0.002" is the clearance. The serial number says the gun was shipped in 1982 but it has the multi locking lug bolt that is incompatible with some of the mega magazines you can allegedly buy for it nowadays.
My problem is/was the bolt needs a good wack on the lever to get it closed tight, I'm aware the gun has been stripped down by a previous owner and I'm not sure if the latching lug has been incorrectly re-assembled or had the spring doctored in some way as it's all too easy for the gun to slip out of battery.
bar11.jpg
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The pic shows the latch as it is on my rifle.
The fault I think I discovered was twofold, the gun wouldn't fire and the cartridges would stick in the chamber.
The first problem was sorted with brake cleaner, compressed air and silicon oil as the firing pin was crudded up. The second problem was of my own making, my previous deer rifle that I sold last year was a ruger #1 in 308, as such it didn't need full length resizing. I had resized the cases BUT they sprang back and caused the second issue, 5 minutes with a mike told me the story it took 3 or 4 resizings to get the diameter of the base of the case within 0.001" of the diameter of some factory fresh match ammo.
Just back from the range where I was extremely pleasantly surprised when short range groups of ragged hole size were the norm.
The gun has had very little use in terms of ammo fired but lead quite a difficult life probably down to being owned by a Mr Nosey.
I know the clearance is a little on the tight side but I'm happy to live with that.
Once again thanks to Dean and your good self I really appreciate the help I've gotten from the pair of you and I hope you don't regard me as another ignorant Pom as my previous message didn't seem to make it.
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by drone » 21 Jan 2024, 1:03 am

Just checked back through Shayne's images and it seems my latching lug is assembled correctly it's just that I can easily depress it with finger pressure whereas the latch on my win mod 94 30/30 from 1958 is nearly impossible to depress by finger pressure, probably just me.
Just noticed Dean and self corresponded by e-mail that's why I didn't find any reference on the forum. What a plonker I can be, I put it down to being 80 years old and senile!
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by GQshayne » 21 Jan 2024, 7:33 pm

OK, first up my rifle and all pictures I put on here are of a BLR made BEFORE the Model 81 you have. They are not exactly the same. The service manual covers both models, so the measuring of the tolerances looks to be the same method.

The bolt clearance is within the Browning spec of 1 to 15 thousanths of an inch. As you can understand, a rack and pinion set has teeth, so infinate adjustments is not possible. All you can do is move it one tooth. On the Pre 81 models I got 3 options depending on which tooth I picked up - 1, 8 or 15 thou.

My experience is the best thing you can do with your BLR is use new brass that has never been fired in anything else. RCBS also make what is called a Small Base Die Set, specificallly designed for lever actions. Many people have found that these work great in BLR's.
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by drone » 22 Jan 2024, 4:52 am

Thanks GQshayne, regards the small base die, a chum of mine used one it appears to overwork the base and contributes to shortened case life. I won't say that's definitive but LEE is adamant his dies will definitely squeeze the brass down to match the SAAMI spec.
I use Lee dies and what I will say is that I've put nearly 100 rounds down range since the multiple size procedure without a hint of a hang up and subsequent resizing has been easy whereas previously it was a two handed job to get the dies to squeeze the rass down.
Don't get me wrong, what I'm saying is what happened before I received your advice, I should act on it but good brass (I exclude most American products) is like rocking horse crap in the UK as most of it is away littering the Ukrainian landscape.I'm waiting for Lapua to recommence selling their Palma 308 brass as I've abundant small rifle primers but only about 1900 large rifle primers as they, too, are being swallowed up in the Ukraine.
TBH the problem seems more acute with the lithuanian GGG match brass as it is 7.62x51 NATO spec which is meant for fully auto fire hence the case heads are much more sturdy than, say, PPU or GSF or even IMI given they are Israeli military cases. The other issue, at least one that continues to affect me, is on the GGG brass the primer is extremely heavily staked in with a concentric swage ring that reduces the bore of the primer pocket markedly, requiring a HD reamer to open the bugger up.
This is solely my own experience and it's unfortunate as one of the clubs that I belong to sells this stuff, albeit match with a 155 grain Sierra BTHP natch bullet much cheaper than I can reload it for. The downside is that the projectile doesn't meet the code of practice requirement for "a suitable expanding bullet" when used for hunting. I hope the mods won't object but here's a thread I started on the gun prior to my finding this site- https://www.shootersforum.com/threads/n ... st-2351280
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by deanp100 » 22 Jan 2024, 3:59 pm

My MLR is of course the oldest style. It started life using Lee loader loads and it worked like a sewing machine for decades. I bought a chronograph and started pursuing more performance . With speed came pressure and ejection problems coupled with the little headspace problem mentioned above. I’ve now backtracked completely to were the gun works well and I’m now back where I started, gun runs well , case ps eject with the flick of the fingers and accuracy is great. Should have just stayed where it was happy originally.

Drone, I’m glad you got it sorted. They are great guns and deserve to work well.
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Re: Browning BLR action disassembly.

Post by bladeracer » 22 Jan 2024, 4:11 pm

drone wrote:This is solely my own experience and it's unfortunate as one of the clubs that I belong to sells this stuff, albeit match with a 155 grain Sierra BTHP natch bullet much cheaper than I can reload it for. The downside is that the projectile doesn't meet the code of practice requirement for "a suitable expanding bullet" when used for hunting. I hope the mods won't object but here's a thread I started on the gun prior to my finding this site- https://www.shootersforum.com/threads/n ... st-2351280


I think the Matchkings have a pretty good reputation as a hunting bullet, much like the ELDM's.
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