Fixing a short chambered rifle

caberslash

Well-Known Member
Hi all,

Recently bought an L461 Sako 'Vixen' (late 60's early 70's) which was is in good condition for it's age.

Was given the impression that it was factory chambered in .223, which would have been extremely rare for that time period.

Went to inspect before final fee paid, turns out it was a .222 reamed out to .223 (the last '2' was crudely stamped into a '3', as I feared!).

20201015_121633.jpg

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Condition otherwise great (so I thought at the time), functioned OK on the one snap cap they had so paid in full. The other Vixens I have seen in the UK (only two others) have been screwcut and were comparative rust-buckets. Blueing on mine is probably 80% or a slight but better (cabinet marks!)

It has been proofed at the London proof house, but one of the locking lugs has been galled slightly. I presume this is due to an over-zealous proof house worker cranking the bolt down.

20201015_120332.jpg

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Hardly seen any use otherwise, bore is pristine with sharp rifling and good crown.

Picked up some factory Sako ammo and rifle from local RFD, found that the bolt won't close on any of the unfired brass cases I have or the Sako factory stuff (older black and yellow box).

Thankfully a friend is helping me to get a definitive answer by lending me some headspace (go/ no-go) gauges.

However, I really do worry about sending it off again, will I get a fully functioning rifle back, if at all?

They offered to refund me but I refused as I actually want the rifle despite the bother and don't want to mess about with taking it off ticket and getting a new one.

Would be a sad end if the rifle gets sent back to the dealer and bodged just for the sake of resolving the issue (don't have a high degree of faith in them after they failed to inform me that it was an obvious re-chamber, despite me asking about it!), so need it done properly.

Could anyone recommend (or self refer!) a reliable, rifle-smith who can resolve this issue in a proper manner, without declaring that I need to buy a replacement stainless match barrel and pay £1k for their services?

(I have considered hand-reaming the last bit but I 1. Don't have a reamer 2. Don't know if this is advisable and 3. Am unsure of the legal grounds of such DIY)

Thanks.
 

Pontfathew

Well-Known Member
Are you sure the chamber is clean? I can't close my bolt on any catridge after a quite few shots (usually on a range day). I then just give the chamber a clean and I'm good again!

Other than that good luck with re-machining your rifle. I believe you are allowed to work on your own gun, but obviously you need to know what you're doing.
 

caberslash

Well-Known Member
Are you sure the chamber is clean? I can't close my bolt on any catridge after a quite few shots (usually on a range day). I then just give the chamber a clean and I'm good again!

Other than that good luck with re-machining your rifle. I believe you are allowed to work on your own gun, but obviously you need to know what you're doing.

Yes, the chamber was cleaned and patched out.

The general condition of this rifle indicates little use, would suspect the short chamber may explain this...
 

Heym SR20

Well-Known Member
My advice for what it’s worth.

1) First consider the offer of a refund before you do anything else. Once you start working on it - its yours.

2) I wouldn’t read too much on new brass. Most new brass is not accurately sized. Run some through a full length die set up so that it meets the shell holder.

3) If it has been sent to the proof house after rechambering there will be a second set of proof marks. If it would only chamber my ramming a cartridge in it probably would not have passed proof.

3) If you decide to keep I would give the whole rifle a really deep clean. Get into those locking lugs and get the years of dried Grease crud out of there. Ditto for the chamber. Lighter fluid is pretty good at removing such crap. It will only take a bit of congealed WD40 to cause all sorts of problems.

4) Strip the bolt down and get all the old grease out of the firing pin. If it has a plunger style ejector - these should be free running. Can cause all sorts of issues if gummed.

5) reassemble the action using a light gun oil sparingly applied. Use a dot of gun grease on the back of bolt lugs.

6) Now check it with “go-nogo” guages. The bolt should close on the “go” guage. If it doesn’t we have a problem, if it does but its a bit tight there are things you can do:

7) full resize your brass, and make up a dummy cartridge - no primer, no powder. Make sure bullet is well seated so not hitting lands. Does this chamber? Does it chamber easily.


8) if it is a touch tight, get the shell holder and on the face that touches the mouth of the die, polish it on a sharpening stone to remove a thou or ballhair of thickness. Try again and repeat. I have a tight chamber on one rifle and have done this. You don’t need much to make it work

9) and / or the bolt lugs. Clean them free of any grease, and colour the locking face with a sHarpie pen. Put bolt back in, put a cleaning rod down from muzzle, and with a little pressure open and close The bolt. Now examine the locking faces. If you perfect engagement they should be evenly polished. Chances are they won’t be, and indeed may be only limited contact on one lug. You might consider lapping the lugs so they are of even contact. WARNING - only do this if you really understand what you are doing. This will increase headspace a bit.

10) if the chamber looks at all rough a finishing reamer should clean it up pretty easily. Not a chamber wall should have a matt finish so brass can grip the walls.
 

Ronin

Distinguished Member
First off use “go / no go gauges” to establish if they chamber is in spec

With a clean chamber and bolt / rear lugs put in go gauge (bolt should close , remove and put in no go and try and close the bolt (it shouldn’t )

Assuming go fits and no go doesn’t

Use split case necked piece of brass to establish the length of the leade

Measure and check that against factory ammo

If the leade is short then this might be the problem and resolved by someone with a throatibg reamer in .224” calibre

The galled lug

Could be resolved with lapping compound but I’d measure with accurate micrometer the amount of that measures in tenths -galling can be removed but will affect head space and if close to closing the bolt on no go gauge might put the chamber out of spec

In any regards the rifle should be re proofed as you have altered a pressure beating part

If the falling is bad the bolt lugs could be set back in the lathe on a fixture but chances are the lug abutments may also be marked

That would require barrel off and turn back in the lathe

Costly and possibly ruinous of the factory barrel to remove
 

Fosbery Holster

Well-Known Member
If after re-chambering it wasn’t re proofed it shouldn’t have been offered for sale, (I’m sure that’s against the law), l would definitely take them up on their offer of a full refund, cut your losses and look for another rifle !!

Personally on examination l would have walked away after rebuking the vendor for a wild goose chase !!!

If you keep the rifle and in the future you decide to sell you as the vendor would have to have it re proved before a legitimate sale could proceed, l may be wrong in all my assumptions, l stand to be corrected.
 

Daddy The Skunk

Well-Known Member
Hi all,

Recently bought an L461 Sako 'Vixen' (late 60's early 70's) which was is in good condition for it's age.

Was given the impression that it was factory chambered in .223, which would have been extremely rare for that time period.

Went to inspect before final fee paid, turns out it was a .222 reamed out to .223 (the last '2' was crudely stamped into a '3', as I feared!).

View attachment 178109

View attachment 178110


Condition otherwise great (so I thought at the time), functioned OK on the one snap cap they had so paid in full. The other Vixens I have seen in the UK (only two others) have been screwcut and were comparative rust-buckets. Blueing on mine is probably 80% or a slight but better (cabinet marks!)

It has been proofed at the London proof house, but one of the locking lugs has been galled slightly. I presume this is due to an over-zealous proof house worker cranking the bolt down.

View attachment 178111

View attachment 178112

Hardly seen any use otherwise, bore is pristine with sharp rifling and good crown.

Picked up some factory Sako ammo and rifle from local RFD, found that the bolt won't close on any of the unfired brass cases I have or the Sako factory stuff (older black and yellow box).

Thankfully a friend is helping me to get a definitive answer by lending me some headspace (go/ no-go) gauges.

However, I really do worry about sending it off again, will I get a fully functioning rifle back, if at all?

They offered to refund me but I refused as I actually want the rifle despite the bother and don't want to mess about with taking it off ticket and getting a new one.

Would be a sad end if the rifle gets sent back to the dealer and bodged just for the sake of resolving the issue (don't have a high degree of faith in them after they failed to inform me that it was an obvious re-chamber, despite me asking about it!), so need it done properly.

Could anyone recommend (or self refer!) a reliable, rifle-smith who can resolve this issue in a proper manner, without declaring that I need to buy a replacement stainless match barrel and pay £1k for their services?

(I have considered hand-reaming the last bit but I 1. Don't have a reamer 2. Don't know if this is advisable and 3. Am unsure of the legal grounds of such DIY)

Thanks.
I think this can be solved by a good gunsmith with a clean up pass with a chambering reamer, factory ammo should chamber if the chamber is correctly cut.
 

caberslash

Well-Known Member
Another revelation.

The older Sako L series rifles had adjustable firing pins with dog point grub screws at the base of the bolt collar to lock the adjustment.

This one is missing the screw and firing pin protrusion is way over recommended spec.

Thankfully I haven't fired it yet...
 

Daddy The Skunk

Well-Known Member
Another revelation.

The older Sako L series rifles had adjustable firing pins with dog point grub screws at the base of the bolt collar to lock the adjustment.

This one is missing the screw and firing pin protrusion is way over recommended spec.

Thankfully I haven't fired it yet...
Glad you noticed! A long firing pin can pierce primers and that is never good.
 

caberslash

Well-Known Member
I would take the refund, there is too much wrong with it !!

I will be having a very long conversation with the RFD I bought it off tomorrow and make it clear that the rifle is not in a 'fit to fire' state and yet they happily let me walk out the door with it.

Will insist on having it rectified my a competent, neutral party; but we will see what happens.

If things go badly I will be naming where I got it from lest someone else gets into this situation.
 

srvet

Well-Known Member
Does it have the second set of proof marks? Old Fosberry is spot on that in their absence it is illegal to sell. That should gain you a bit of leverage to strike a deal!!
 

caberslash

Well-Known Member
Does it have the second set of proof marks? Old Fosberry is spot on that in their absence it is illegal to sell. That should gain you a bit of leverage to strike a deal!!

As far as I can tell the only proof marks are the ones pictured in the first post.

There is one mark on the bolt too, from the London Proof House.

Weird thing is the rifle bears the importer's mark of 'Garcia Washington' (the U.S Sako importers) on the underside of the barrel underneath the stock.

I'm sure the rifle has an interesting (and perhaps sad) story behind it as it appears it has not been out much.

Suspect the seller got it at auction for what seemed like a profitable price, and without taking due diligence happily got a nice profit off me buying it...

Thank a higher power that I checked it over myself!

Have a feeling that if I did get refunded the rifle will be sold on as a project or deactivated (the worst of all worlds!).

Would rather hang onto it and have it sorted, as I paid for a functioning rifle and it isn't!
 

srvet

Well-Known Member
If you like it that much get a chrome moly barrel put on it to original contour and get the other bits sorted. May not be economically viable but hey, its your money and if it makes you smile!!
 

caberslash

Well-Known Member
If you like it that much get a chrome moly barrel put on it to original contour and get the other bits sorted. May not be economically viable but hey, its your money and if it makes you smile!!

True, that will be the most costly yet probably most practical approach.

Hopefully there will be a suitable resolution.
 

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