Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Ok, it's a late BAG day buy; K31

I'd looked these things over a number of times, but always held off on buying one. Heard lots of good things about them: accurate, well-made. But kept putting it off, even though prices were good.

Well, when I was in Texas a couple of weeks ago I went by Military Gun Supply in Fort Worth to look around, and noticed a BIG area of one wall empty. That had been full of K31 rifles last time I was down. I asked about it, and the guy said a lot of people had decided to buy them all of a sudden. After I got home I checked around on some of the gunboards and read several references that the supply of them was running out.

So I checked a few places, and found that AIM Surplus had some for a hundred dollars listed as "Excellent bores, expect stock and finish wear". So I ordered one, and it came in today:

Swiss K31 in the(as Kim puts it) manly 7.5mm Swiss cartridge. Square-profile blade front sight, notch rear marked from 100 meters to 1500. That ring in the back of the bolt is the cocking piece and safety(such as it is); when cocked, pull it back and turn clockwise about 1/8 turn. And it's a straight-pull bolt, grab the handle and pull straight back; it unlocks, the body rotates to disengage the lugs and it slides back. Push forward to close.

Looked it over real good. First thing, not much grease on it. Second, there are a bunch of little dents and a few dings in the wood, but not bad at all. Third, crown is shiny; wings of the front sight worn shiny at the top; barrel just behind the sight has a slightly shiny patch; blueing on the receiver is quite nice; the usual worn edges on the trigger guard and barrel bands; overall quite nice condition. Now, even though AIM has done well for me in the past, comes the part that really makes me nervous: is the bore as promised? Open the bolt and look down, and yuck, it's icky in there. But it looks like mostly grease, so to the table.

Dry patch through, which came out nasty. Oily patch, then a dry patch and look again and shazam! Beautiful! Mirror bright, sharp rifling, you could use a picture of this to illustrate 'excellent bore'! Much relieved, I took the thing apart( has a section on the rifle in general and the bolt) and found the condition to be very good. Tight, fast working action. And on the barrel & receiver covered by the stock, the only worn area of the bluing is on the barrel where the front edge of the stock & handguard bear on it; a band a little over an inch wide. Otherwise, looks damn near new.

I mentioned the straight-pull bolt, three other different things about it. One, to adjust windage you move the front sight, but not side-to-side; it's in a diagonal track in the sight base. so you drift it back and it moves to the left, forward and moves to the right. Second, the magazine holds six rounds instead of five or ten. Stripper clips are available, made of metal and paper(I'll have to get a few). And the trigger mechanism is unique: trigger, sear and a link are fitted together as a unit with a coil spring with long arms providing tension. The link fits over a pin at the rear and the sear slides vertically. I'll try to take a picture of it later, it's a very nice design.

One last thing: I dry-fired it a few times, and wow! Long first-stage takeup, solid stop, then a clean break at- I'd guess- about 3.5 pounds or so. No drag, no creep. It's like the M39 I wrote about a while back, I've handled expensive new rifles with inferior triggers to this.

So now I need time to hit the range. I've got some ammo and it's cleaned, oiled and ready. After sighting in and testing, I'll kitty-litter the stock- it's got not enough grease soaked in to be a real problem, enough that it has that smell and feel to it- and do a little refinishing to it, but the metal I'll leave alone, it's quite nice as is. Range report will follow when circumstances allow.

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