Omar Gets a Hit
Well then! This storyline might end up interesting.
This post is going to be interesting only to a small percentage of readers, but I really do feel a need to get the word out on this.
QUICK SUMMARY: IF YOU HAVE AN SKS RIFLE, DO NOT INSTALL THE OLD MAN MURRAY SPRING-LOADED FIRING PIN. RIFLE IS FINE. THIS FIRING PIN FAILED ON ME MOST SPECTACULARLY IN EVERYDAY PLINKING.
I purchased an SKS 5 years ago from a friend. Fell in love with it quickly. The gun is solid as shit, a glorious piece with very, very little wear and tear – interesting, since the markings and serial number put it at about the Korean War in age. It went bang every time, and I’ve gotten damned accurate with it. Originally wanted to bubba it up, but after firing it a few times at the beginning of my ownership… nope, I want to keep it just as it is.
*does the math* …in the first year of ownership, I put somewhere between 3000 and 3500 rounds through this rifle. Mostly rebranded Tula, Ulyanovsk, or other cheap USSR rounds. Fuck it, this gun eats bullets no matter how dirty they are. Not a single FTF, although the third time I took it out, I experienced one single FTE, when the action got caught on a shell that didn’t eject properly. That’s IT. This rifle is solid as hell, easy to clean, and I love it a lot.
But the floating firing pin bothered me. Looking back, it was a stupid worry – I’d put about 1200 rounds downrange with it, before a local friend noted that if the firing pin jammed in the forward position, I might experience the dreaded SKS SLAM-FIRE.
Now keep in mind: I had never had this happen. Ever. And common sense says that this would only happen if you let the firing pin channel get clogged with crap and dirt. The idea that the firing pin, on racking the bolt, would “jump forward” (as the kids in that video say) and “tap the primer” hard enough to set it off… that’s a really stupid idea. But once the idea was in my head, it wouldn’t go away. And said friend noted that there’s a solution for this: the Old Man Murray Spring Loaded Firing Pin.
God. “Make your SKS safer and more reliable!” MY ENTIRE ASS.
Installation was quick and easy, aside from having to hit the bolt retaining pin with the wrath of god to get it out. Once it was in, the firing pin no longer floated – it was held in place by a spring. Awesome! And yeah, I immediately ran out and tested it. No light strikes, no popped primers. I figured everything was totally cool.
I was so, so wrong.
Most recently, we dragged my SKS along with the rest of our guns for a day at the ranch. We had some new shooters, and I got to tell them all about how failsafe and sturdy the SKS is. And for the first 40 rounds, the new shooters loved it.
Then, suddenly, a click instead of a bang.
I walked the rookie through clearing a jam. The cartridge ejected had an extremely light strike on it. The next round went bang just fine.
The one after that went click. This time, the primer was only barely grazed.
And the one after that clicked too. Barely a mark on the primer.
So I retired the gun from the firing line that day, figuring the firing pin channel had gotten so dirty that it was no longer functioning correctly.
I am typing this Sunday night. I just got done fixing the way this stupid fucking aftermarket piece of shit totally boned the rifle.
So I go to clean the rifle, knowing that the bolt needs special attention. Upon cracking the action apart, I find that yeah, just 40 rounds of Silver Bear dirtied the gun up a lot. I pulled the gas tube and piston, cleaned the black crap out of them, then checked the bolt. The firing pin was frozen in the bolt. Would not extend beyond the face of the bolt, no matter how hard I pressed. OK, it’s dirty, dag nabbit, I need to beat that fucking retaining pin out and clean the sucker. Which I did, using a sledgehammer. The pin was still frozen, and required the use of pliers to remove it from the bolt.
At which point, two little dots fell onto my gun cleaning mat. They fell out of the firing pin channel. “What ho,” said I, “these two dots doth be most alaruming.” I inspected them closely. They were two tiny beads of melted metal. And that ain’t good.
Upon further inspection of the firing pin, I realized the spring had not come out of the pin channel. It was stuck in there somewhere. Probing with steel picks told me that yes, something was jammed into the firing pin channel. Something about .75″ long. Trying to insert the original, Russian firing pin resulted in a blockage three quarters of an inch from flush. The OMM pin seated in, but encountered light resistance in that same amount of space.
I tried Break Free. I tried WD40. I tried various picks and probes. I scraped and hammered and whacked and screamed at it. In the end, I had to BOIL the fucking bolt in a pot of water for half an hour, then use a Q-Tip with its end tangled into the spring, to remove it. When it finally came out, the relief I felt was like removing a long-hated ingrown hair. And what came out seriously pissed me off. The spring was crushed, and had melted into one tiny tube.
Keep in mind: We were not bump-firing this rifle. We weren’t torture testing it, or anything like that. It’s not full auto, and we were lighting off about one round per 2-3 seconds. I did note that it was running hot when the failure occurred, but that happens when you blow 40 rounds of 7.62×39 out of a rifle. But it wasn’t glowing yellow or smoking or any of that jazz. It certainly wasn’t producing enough heat to melt a spring, if that spring was made of an alloy that should reasonably be expected to complete the firing pin mechanism of a goddamned SKS.
So fuck that. I made sure the channel was clear as hell, then put the original, matched serial number Soviet firing pin back into it. Floating firing pin be damned, that pin never fucked up this royally. I feel like I got ripped the fuck off. Old Man Murray is going to receive a package in the mail containing the melted spring, OMM firing pin, and beads of metal. And a note requesting a fucking refund. This shit seriously pisses me off.