Stuck case removal
******Warning: the information in this article are for informational purposes and the procedure described in this article is strictly for informational purposes only. do not attempt to try this at home. Ken Kraushaar Firearms Service will not be held liable for any damage which occurs to your firearm if you attempt a stuck case removal in the manner described below*****
Hope everyone is happy and safe this weekend. Things are going good here at the shop and I've had some really good discussions with people who have been misquoting firearms stats in terms of trying to push for bans of "assault weapons" and certain ammunition because of the perceived danger of them, but largely they have remained civil, and even if the person misquoting ballistics information in this case, still disagreed, I was at least able to inform them about why they were incorrect thanks to the training I received from Daniel O'Kelly's IFSA program, as well as my on personal education in the realm of ballistics, but that's for another article at another time.
Anyways, on to the interesting stuff. as part of my job, I get to see a lot of older guns, and had the privilage of working on a Remington 552 speedmaster which came into my shop. the gun is a good 50 years old from what the owner had said (he'd had it since he was 16 and I'm assuming he's not in his 70s.) at any rate, as is often the case with an old gun, the owner stated that it wasn't working right and wouldn't chamber.
some of the issues that could cause this to happen would potentially be, but are not limited to:
- the magazine spring is bent or faulty
- the inner or outer magazine tube is bent or faulty
- the carrier is adjusted too high
-the cartridge ways in the receiver, and in the barrel to insure they aren't smooth.
-the cartridge ramp is damaged or missing
-carrier is binding
- the carrier spring is damaged or missing
-carrier feed is too low
-the breech cuts in the barrel are damaged
When the gun was first taken apart, it probably had at least 50 years worth of grime and carbon on the inside. unfortunately with these guns, it's pretty common to not take them apart like they should be, and cleaned regularly. most people don't realize that these guns are modular, and each module contains different part (barrel, magazine tube, charging spring and handle, and bolt; the trigger group, and the receiver/ butt stock)
once the gun was cleaned, and the ramp was polished, the firearm still wouldn't feed properly and chamber the dummy round. I also addressed some mushrooming on the hammer, but again, this wasn't the cause of the feed failure.
I then inspected the chamber with a borescope and lo and behold, but there was a brass cylinder shaped object in the chamber.
I determined that this cartridge had failed and the remaining part of the cartridge had been separate from the base and stayed stuck, likely due to a dirty chamber. you can see in the picture above, the base of the suck case, and further in the barrel, the end tip of a cleaning rod I had used to try to tap the case out. unfortunately, the diameter of the rod was smaller than the interior diameter of the stuck case, so it simply passed through instead of tapping it out.
at this point, I secured the barrel assembly and then carefully chucked up a 7/32nd drill bit, which is just slightly smaller than the external diameter of the case (.2188") than the inner diameter (approximately .22" of the of the cartridge. note, the 22lr is stopped by the base of the cartridge as opposed to the shoulder as in the case of a 45 auto, or other straight walled cartridges.
I then slowly applied pressure to the drill while I slowly turned the drill bit to find some purchase in the brass, likely less than a 1/16 of an inch. I then put the drill in reverse and slowly pulled the drill backwards, which removed the stuck case remnants along with the drill bit.
it should be noted that there ARE stuck case removal tools which you can get for this task, but I didn't have any on hand. so again, don't try this at home. you can see from the picture the head of the cartridge on the right, where the bullet would have been, and the base where I drilled in. you can also note some turning marks from where the turning of the case had applied friction in the removal process.
once the firearm was together again, I again tested the firearm with dummy rounds and the round now chambered and the hammer now dropped.
final prep before testing will be to look at the chamber again and insure it's clean and has no pitting, and of possible polish it to make it smooth again.
after that, all that is left is a testing and final cleaning and this good old gun is ready to go back to it's owner.
remember folks, especially with these older guns, clean them often, especially if they are a rimfire, as 22 is notoriously dirty and as such, you get a lot of build up pretty quickly.
that's it for tonight.
stay safe and happy shooting!
Ken Kraushaar is a Gunsmith and Certified Firearm Specialist. He has over 30 years of shooting experience and lives in beautiful Sonoma County, California.