Monday, September 25, 2006

Push feed vs Claw extractors

Someone asked me the other day about bolt action extractors, and basically we have two choices. I figured a picture is worth a thousand words, so I went down to the local pawn shop and talked with my favorite counterman, who let me take pictures.

Paul Mauser, years ago, perfected the claw extractor. It is a big heavy honking claw of metal that grabs the rim of the cartridge when it feeds from the magazine. The cartridge is held against the face of the bolt on chambering and extraction is very, very positive. Folks who hunt dangerous game insist on the Mauser claw extractor for game that might decide to wander over and stomp you. The rifle will feed a cartridge positively, from magazine to chamber, even if the rifle is inverted. The cartridge is captured and has no place to go. Winchester went back to the claw extractor on a series of rifles in the past 15 years, and called it the Controlled Round Feed, like it was something new. It wasn't. Herr Mauser perfected it years ago. The bolt on the right is from a Ruger rifle and is fitted with a claw extractor, at 1:00 on the bolt. You can click on the picture for the larger version.

The bolt on the left is out of a Savage rifle, and is a common push-feed type. The extractor is housed in the locking lug at 2:00 on the bolt. The push-feed is easier to manufacture and is perfectly serviceable for most hunting rifles. The push-feed works by stripping a cartridge out of the magazine, then when the cartridge is chambered, the extractor snaps over the rim of the cartridge. The rifle may or may not feed inverted, which is why the dangerous game guys prefer the claw extractor. Some maintain that the bolt of a push-feed rifle is stronger. All of my rifles are push-feed and I haven't had any problems at all with chambering or extraction. Some gurus maintain that the push-feed gives better support to the head of the cartridge and is safer in case of a cartridge rupture. That may be so, but I think the jury is still out on that question. Case ruptures are bad juju, regardless of extractor type. Push feed bolts are normally found on Remington, Savage, Weatherby and other fine firearms.

There is not a lot wrong with either type, but knowledgeable riflemen should know the difference.

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