Saturday, April 16, 2011

Why oh why...?

I deal with a number of people on the retail side of firearms and militaria. Being interested I willingly engage just about anyone in a discussion on either topic. As it happens, I learn or at least hear a lot in these conversations. Sometimes I get a bit irritated in spite of myself. Yes, I have several pet peeves.  A recent conversation made me aware of another one...

Why is it that so many people will buy something and then immediately change it? That bothers me. I am not talking about the many people who have experience in use of or repair of a given thing such as a gun. I'm not talking about people who understand the mechanical workings of a given machine and seek to improve it or modify/mitigate its faults. I'm talking about the newcomer who is completely ignorant about the subject who immediately seeks to insert the latest most faddish modifications because of something that they read or heard. Women don't tend to do this. This sort of behavior seems to be a "man" thing.

To give you a "fer instance". There was a fellow who just bought a Marlin Model 1894C rifle. So what did he do? Did he go out and shoot and learn his rifle? Did he clean, disassemble and reassemble it a number of times noting the simple but effective parts and how they interact to create a reliable shooting tool? Nope. The first thing this fellow apparently did was to replace the Marlin firing pin with a one-piece pin. He then proceeded to tell us about it without actually having yet fired the gun. When it was pointed out that there were reasons that Marlin had a "two" piece firing pin, he proceeded to lecture us on how the mechanism (all guns are just a mechanism) worked. However, we finally came to understand that, as he said, "...this rifle is new to me and I just like to understand the mechanics of it all." In other words, he didn't know much at all before he felt he had to modify the gun.

The original Marlin two-piece firing pins have a forward long pin and a short rearward "striker" which is pushed down out of contact with the forward pin by a short flat spring until the locking bolt is fully in the locked/closed position. (Note:  Marlin calls these the front and rear firing pins.)It is the locking bolt that pushes the rear "striker" up into alignment with the forward firing pin so that the blow of the hammer can be transmitted to the primer. The intent is to ensure that the firing pin can't set off the primer until the bolt is fully locked. Some people believe that this system has too much friction and that this friction makes the gun cycle too slow to be used in certain shooting sports such as cowboy action shooting.

An old original cut-away action, see the locking bolt through the hole in the upper rear

To counter that the one-piece firing pin was "invented" by gamers (going back to a version of a design that the Marlin folks deliberately left in the interest of safety). In that highly controlled environment on the shooting range where the loaded guns aren't much jostled about the firing pin can't take a run at a primer and cause a problem. It is from the gamers that the hunters and shooting neophytes have learned of the on-piece firing pin. There are some that apparently believe that the Marlin was incorrectly engineered low those many years ago and they are going to "fix" their gun. It isn't as if that extra hundredth of a second in cycling the action is going to matter to a hunter or plinker but let's not get too bogged down in reality.

Brownells' image showing relationship of parts in Marlin action

Yes, I do know that there are some, even many, knowledgeable shooters and competitors who so modify their Marlin rifles. That's fine. They've thought it out, maintain their guns well and keep them clean. They can actually feel and appreciate the improvements large or small that they have worked on their firearms. They are more than welcome to do so. I also know that there wouldn't be a lot of gun stores in business if not for the more fickle and ignorant of the shooting public. Their changes of firearms, accessories, and so forth are literally the bread and butter for shops all over the country as well as for several large and not so large mail order firms.

- Long Hunter Shooting Supply
- Evil Roy Shooting School
- While It Was Out by Jim Taylor

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