15 Aug 99

At a recent Rifle/Shotgun Course on the East Coast, our students experienced significant problems with a Savage bolt-action rifle (their “Scout Rifle”) and a Mossberg autoloading shotgun (“Jungle Gun”).

The bolt gun was a 308 with a forward-mounted scout scope. On the rear of the bolt itself is a block which serves, as near as I can tell, as a gas deflector in the event of gas seepage along the length of the bolt.

As my student was engaged in a high-volume exercise, the block described above abruptly rotated as the bolt was at its rearmost position and subsequently prevented the bolt from going forward and chambering the next round. The astonished and frustrated shooter discovered himself suddenly unable to continue and was compelled to transition to his handgun in order to complete the exercise.

Subsequent examination of the rifle revealed that the block was, sure enough, free to rotate and thus impede the progress of the bolt. None of us were able to understand why anyone would design a rifle, particularly one which is designed for defensive purposes, like that.

When I saw the rifle earlier in the day, I thought about getting one myself, as I liked the lightness and shortness of the weapon. After the incident described above, neither I nor any of the rest of the people there had any further interest in obtaining one!

During the shotgun portion of the same program, one of my students was using a Mossberg autoloading shotgun (“Jungle Gun”). The weapon was perfectly functional, but one must push the bolt-release button in order to free the shell lifter and allow charging of the magazine tube. The shell lifter is locked in place the rest of the time.

As you can imagine, this “feature” makes speed loading and ammo swapping nearly impossible, as one can’t get rounds into the magazine tube without simultaneously pressing the button and feeding in the round, a perplexing task as the gun is held at eye level! My student was thus unable to complete several exercises without taking the shotgun off his shoulder and turning it upside down.

I’ve worked with the Mossberg autoloading shotgun before, and I don’t recall encountering the problem mentioned above. The shotgun used by my student had just been purchased. Perhaps I worked with an older version the last time. In any event, the Mossberg is now, for obvious reasons, also off my recommended list!