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Thread: Bolt won't open

  1. #1
    Member SteveJCootie's Avatar
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    Default Bolt won't open

    I have a 1970's Weatherby Vanguard in .300 win mag and after firing a couple of shots the bolt won't open. It happened twice today. After the first time, I took the gun to a local gun shop and he asked me to leave it for a couple of hours and he would get it opened. When I went back, it was opened but the gunsmith was gone for the day and I never really got an exact answer as to what he did. The other guy there said they just lubed it good and worked the bolt open? No charge and away I went back home to shoot some more. First shot ok, 2nd shot was a miss fire with a new shell?? and third went off but the bolt is jamed again. This gun was my Dad's, I went to his house to talk to him about it but he is dying of lung cancer and could only say that the gun has done it since it was new. I will take it back to the gun shop tomorrow when they open (it's 6:40pm). but thought I would pick some brains.

    Thanks,

    Steve

  2. #2

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    Take it to the gunsmith and leave it this time. Have him check the head space. A 1970 Vanguard, wonder who made the Vanguard at that time, I sure don't know?????
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    Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveJCootie View Post
    I have a 1970's Weatherby Vanguard in .300 win mag and after firing a couple of shots the bolt won't open. It happened twice today. After the first time, I took the gun to a local gun shop and he asked me to leave it for a couple of hours and he would get it opened. When I went back, it was opened but the gunsmith was gone for the day and I never really got an exact answer as to what he did. The other guy there said they just lubed it good and worked the bolt open? No charge and away I went back home to shoot some more. First shot ok, 2nd shot was a miss fire with a new shell?? and third went off but the bolt is jamed again. This gun was my Dad's, I went to his house to talk to him about it but he is dying of lung cancer and could only say that the gun has done it since it was new. I will take it back to the gun shop tomorrow when they open (it's 6:40pm). but thought I would pick some brains.

    Thanks,

    Steve

    I'm surpriced that the Vanguard was chambered for the Weatherby ctg in the 1970's I well remember them chambered for the .300 WINCHESTER mag. I also remember a guy that brought a Vanguard in the .300 WIN and came back to our shop and talked to a different guy, who he told that he had bought a .300 Weatherby and needed a box of shells.

    I hope you can see where I'm going with this? Make darn sure the chamber ID is stamped on the barrel and you buy shells that are the same.

    The fellow that bought the Vanguard one day and the shells the next week, was going to sue us. It took a cheater bar and a sledge hammer to get the bolt open, the stock was split in two pieces, the floor plate and and the trigger guard blew off the rifle. Welded to the bolt face was the marks of the ctg. What a classic, .300 Whby. Funny how the the guy and his buddy that went out to try the new rifle had to beat the bolt open with a 2X4 after each shot and didn't think anything was wrong, just needed to be broke in.

    Is the ammo you are shooting, reloaded brass?
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    Member SteveJCootie's Avatar
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    Default

    I'm not sure if I understand either of these 2 posts. Maybe too much sarcasm, but the barrel is stamped .300 win mag and it is made in Japan. I'm only guessing at the age, but my dad definitely used the gun in the 1970's in Colorado, so it's at least that old.

    And I was definitely using .300 win mag ammo.

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    I think they mean that there is the possibility of getting the wrong ammo in the weapon based on the VERY similar dimensions noted below.
    Winchester Magnum case dimensions
    Bullet diameter .308 in
    Neck diameter .340 in
    Shoulder diameter .489 in
    Base diameter .513 in
    Rim diameter .532 in
    Case length 2.620 in
    Overall length 3.340 in

    Weatherby Magnum
    Case type Belted, bottleneck
    Bullet diameter .308 in = same
    Neck diameter .336 in = .004 smaller
    Shoulder diameter .492 in = .003 larger
    Base diameter .512 in = .001 smaller
    Rim diameter .531 in = .001 smaller
    Case length 2.825 in = .205 larger
    Overall length 3.562 in = .222 larger

    If this is not the case you may well have a head space issue. Head space gauges are sold on the net from www.brownells.com BUT I would suggest you get a qualified smith to check it. Make sure you let him know the pattern of the problem. I say this because it sounds like you have no issue until the chamber of the weapon warms up. Warmer steel = larger steel. Just some food for thought. Please let us know the issue when you find out.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveJCootie View Post
    I'm not sure if I understand either of these 2 posts.
    I think maybe Big Al misunderstood you to say you had a 1970 Vanguard chambered in 300 Wby???

    I think Beartooth is suggesting that there may be a headspace problem, which it sounds like to me. Was the barrel ever removed and put back? Is there any play when the bolt is closed?

    Take it to a good gunsmith and explain everything. He should be able to figure it out.

  7. #7

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    Yes, MontanaRifleman was correct in assuming that I was concerned about head space issues. I found out it is a Howa made rifle in 1970. You need to have it checked out before firing it again.
    A GUN WRITER NEEDS:
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    Member SteveJCootie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post
    I think maybe Big Al misunderstood you to say you had a 1970 Vanguard chambered in 300 Wby???

    I think Beartooth is suggesting that there may be a headspace problem, which it sounds like to me. Was the barrel ever removed and put back? Is there any play when the bolt is closed?

    Take it to a good gunsmith and explain everything. He should be able to figure it out.

    I had the barrel removed twice today in an effort to get the bolt loose. There is no play at all with the bolt closed.

  9. #9
    Member SteveJCootie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by beartooth View Post
    Yes, MontanaRifleman was correct in assuming that I was concerned about head space issues. I found out it is a Howa made rifle in 1970. You need to have it checked out before firing it again.

    Right now, I can't get the bolt unjammed this time, so no worries about firing it again. I am going to take it to a gunsmith Monday AM.

    Can this gun be made (trigger job, accurized, repaired, etc) into a reliable gun, or should I give up on her and look elsewhere?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveJCootie View Post
    Can this gun be made (trigger job, accurized, repaired, etc) into a reliable gun, or should I give up on her and look elsewhere?
    This really sounds odd to me. Howa's make a very good barreled action. My guess is something is not right... and if you don't know the whole story with this rifle since 1970... let the gunsmith figure it out. Hopefully there is no permenant damage done and a relatively easy fix.

    And let us know what you find out...

  11. #11
    Member Big Al's Avatar
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    This is starting to sound like a broken firing pin spring?
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    I tried to post on this today earlier and got zapped by the PC.

    I tried to say what Al was saying make sure the correct caliber ammo is used. Also if the bolt continues to lock up you definately have an excessive pressure issue and it will eventually destroy the gun. I suppose it is too late for that now as the gun is likely gone. For what ever reason, factory defect I guess, but chamber dimensions are wrong or other things, (actually chambered for 300 Wby and stamped 300 Win mag, I saw one of those once) but what I intended to say earlier today was don't shoot it.

    Now if you took it to a gunsmith twice to have the thing unlocked and he unscrewed the barrel to get it open and didn't advise you to not shoot it again, you need a new gunsmith.
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  13. #13
    Member SteveJCootie's Avatar
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    Default Responsse

    Thanks to all that have posted replys to this. Unfortunately, I still don't have an answer. I took the gun to a highly reputable gunsmith monday morning and he wasn't able to immediately get the bolt open and asked if I could leave the gun. It may be 2 weeks before my gun gets its turn with the gunsmith. They also mentioned that it might have to get shipped back to Weatherby in Ca.

    They offered me $240.00 in cash to use on a new gun? Cosnidering a Ruger M77 Hawkeye in .300 win mag. This includes the Ruger Rings, in Synthetic/Stainless for $610.00 less the Trade?

    thanks again

    steve

  14. #14

    Default Possibility

    Are you using hand loads? My friend would "hot" load for his .378 weatherby and it turned it into a single shot. It was almost impossible to open the bolt on it. Then the loads were so hot that the extractor wouldn't pull the casing out. I hope it is something simple as that.

  15. #15

    Default Here's your answer!

    I have a Vanguard in 300 Win, My uncle has one and I have a 300 Roy in a Mark V from this same era from the Howa manufacturing plant that built these guns in Japan.

    They are great guns. Accurate, light and great for hunting.
    However, during this time period Howa Manufacturing was making Vanguards and Mark Vs at the same plant.

    Some of the guns that were made when the cutting and die tools were fresh are tighter than tolerance. I have a Mark V that has very little free bore and sometimes has pressure signs but mostly works normally. It is super accurate.
    My uncle's rifle will not shoot cases unless they are full length sized and miked to exact specification.

    What this means is that you might have too tight tolerances for much ammo even factory. You should have your gunsmith rechamber it or send it to a Weatherby service center with your concerns and they will make it right.

    Sincerely,

    Thomas

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    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    Does the safety on the Vanguard's lock the bolt?

    The reason I ask is that I just fixed another rifle, an old Belgain FN, that was doing the same thing. The safety was sliding back during the firing process and it locked the bolt. Oddly enough it also locked the safety in the safe and locked position as well. I was supper weird because you would think the recoil would move it the other way. I just rebuilt the safety and put in a stronger detent spring. It seems to work now.

    I have also fixed another rifle, A 300 HH, that would not let the bolt open because the chamber had a line of corrosion along the bottom. The bolt would close on the loaded round and then not open unless you fired it.
    I buffed / polished the chamber and cleaned LOTS of rust off the firing pin and it was back in action. That rifle has spent too many years on a fishing boat.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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  17. #17
    Member SteveJCootie's Avatar
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    Default We may never know

    We may never know what caused the Bolt to jam up. I traded the gun today for a Ruger M77 .300wm. They gave me $240.00 as is and I took it. I have a Black Bear and Cow Elk permit this fall for here in Michigan and I needed to get shooting again and not waiting on a bad gun.

    Thanks for everyoned input though.

    steve

  18. #18

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    I hope he fixes it before passing it on!

    Just so you know ...never shoot a screw on barrel gun after taking the barrel off and then putting it back on without running a go and no go gauge through it.

    Kinda makes me wonder if it had the wrong bolt in it from the factory and even then hopefully Howa's tolerances are consistant enough from gun to gun that the head space wouldn't be that far out of wack????

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    Default Reloads

    First round I ever put in my 30-06 Howa made in the mid 90s was a reload. It went in smooth and then it was stuck like cement. I did not fire it. It was the night before deer season and was I nervous. I did finally get ahold of a gunsmith and tapped the bolt back with a hammer and finally came out. I never used another reload and never had a problem since.

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