Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Just The Basics - What Makes It Go BLAMMMM!!!! Pt3 - The Action Is Where “The Action” Is


In Part 1 we discussed the development of gun powder, different types of early firearms and finally how all that lead to the development of the modern day cartridge.

Next, in Part 2, we discussed the characteristics of the barrel – the component that contains and focuses the energy of the cartridge and then increases the accuracy of the projectile after the cartridge is fired.

With this post, I want to discuss Part 3, the Action. As I say in the title, the action is where “The Action” is. What you see in the photo is the major components of the action of my .45 Long Colt saddle gun. I want to discuss the action in generalities first, and then we’ll poke our noses into the details a bit more.

The action knits five major elements together into a usable weapon. Those components are the stock, the barrel, the magazine, the mechanical components needed to eject a spent cartridge, insert a new cartridge in the chamber, cock the hammer, release the hammer to strike the firing pin – firing the cartridge and, finally you, the shooter. These elements are present in the Action regardless of weapon system. Here I am showing a lever-action rifle. Yet you can find matching or equivalent components in a single action revolver, double action revolver, semi-automatic pistol, 105 howitzer – they are all there.

In the modern day carbine, the metal housing that holds these major components together is called the Receiver. Yet, its purpose is the same – to join stock, barrel, magazine, mechanical components and human together into an effective and useful weapon.


Let’s talk about common components of the action:

The Lever is the mechanical component used to eject expended casings from the weapon and push a new round into the chamber.

The Breech is the area of the weapon where an expended cartridge begins its exit from the weapon and a new cartridge is placed before it is rammed into the chamber.

The Breech Bolt acts as the ejection tool to remove a spent casing, the ram to insert a new cartridge into the chamber, it contains the Firing Pin which will fire the cartridge when the Trigger is pressed and it is part of the containment system to contain the energy of the cartridge and help force its gasses down the barrel and out the muzzle.

The Finger Lever is the component that harnesses the work done by the shooters hand and allows them to expel an expended cartridge and ram a new cartridge into the chamber.

The Trigger is the component that releases the firing pin.

The Trigger Guard is provided to protect the shooter from an unintended discharge due to clothing, brush or other item the Trigger may bump against.

This particular weapon has dual safeties – one just rear of the Breech Bolt and one between the Finger Lever and the Stock. The lever must be gripped and the safety released for the weapon to fire.

The Stock attaches to the rear of the Receiver and the Barrel with a Tubular Magazine (for this particular weapon) attaches to the front of the Receiver.

Thus, with Stock, Barrel, Magazine, internal components to eject, insert and fire cartridges, and a shooter to firmly grasp the weapon and aim, shoot and operate it – the weapon system is complete.

Now, picture in your mind’s eye the weapons we have detailed and discussed earlier. It’s not difficult to see how either the exact same component (think Trigger), or very similar components (think Breach Bolt) are present in all of them.

With the addition of the Action to a weapon, all elements are there . . . . finely tuned . . . . finely crafted . . . . specifically made for each other . . . . so when the time is right . . . . it goes . . . .


Yet, there is a final component absent . . . . and that will be the topic of our next – and final – installment of . . . .

What Makes It Go . . . . BLAMMMM!!!!

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