Safety First!

Before attempting any type of activity with a firearm you must verify that the firearm is unloaded and safe to handle. Be certain that both the chamber and magazine are empty. Check again. It is also an excellent idea to handle firearms in an area without access to ammunition so that accidents can be avoided. Even if you have verified that the firearm is not loaded, always assume that it is loaded and ready to fire and handle it appropriately.

In the case of military surplus firearms, a thorough check by a qualified gunsmith is critical prior to using the firearm for the first time. The procedures and opinions presented in this article are not meant to take the place of a professional gunsmith's services and are presented only for the education of the reader.

After assembling the bolt of a Mosin Nagant firearm it is extremely important to verify firing pin protrusion before firing

General Disassembly

When you get a Mosin you need to know how to disassemble it and do a complete initial cleaning. Taking the Mosin apart is easy and can be accomplished with just a screw driver. Remember, you are not a trained gun smith nor do you or I play one on TV. and we darn sure didn't stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night! So, what we will be doing is performing field maintenance. Although some of you may be very experienced in fixing up firearms, try to remember that these rifles are old and age is not kind to metal or wood. A 50 year old stock is going to be as dry as firewood and very brittle. Forcing out a band spring can be all it takes to crack the stock. Likewise, a cross bolt that is been in the rifle for 50 years may be stressed just enough to snap. On war time produced rifles, the metal can be of lesser quality.

Note: Read Everything On This Page!!!

Lets talk about what needs to be disassembled.

First of all there is no reason to mess with the cross bolt or barrel band springs. Attempting to remove the cross bolt can result in its breaking. Removing the band springs can result in a cracked stock if not done correctly. We have beat this to death so lets move on...

To do a good inspection and cleaning, you will need to get the metal pieces separated from the wood pieces. Some of the instructions that follow will be model dependent so keep that in mind. Depending on the model, the pieces-parts disassemble differently. For now we will discuss the process in generic terms. The first thing you do when ever you pick up a rifle is to open the bolt and inspect the chamber to ensure it is not loaded! Each and every time you pick it up, you open the bolt, hold the rifle up so that you can see into the chamber (tilted slightly and at a 45 degree angle) and visually check the chamber. After you have satisfied yourself that it is not loaded, you grab the rear of the open bolt while pressing on the trigger and pull it back and out of the receiver.

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Set the bolt aside. At this time, you will remove the hand guard. Remember I said some information is model specific? No? Well pay attention dammit! I said that and if you read this article over you will see where I said it. No, don't start reading it over now! Take my word for it...anyways, here's the deal. If your rifle is a Model 1891, Model 24 or other M91 variant, it will have different barrel bands than the more modern Mosins. The barrel bands will have a screw in them. Now here's the deal, these screws are backwards from normal screws. To loosen them, you need to turn them clockwise. Stop! Don't try to think about it now, just pay attention...that means that they unscrew in the opposite direction a screw would normally unscrew. Why is this important? Because I get all this mail from folks who break their band screws. Do not break your band screw! It is embarrassing and finding a new barrel band can be darned difficult. Another thing, these barrel bands on the M91 type rifles were often pinned to keep the bands from creeping forward under recoil. Check to see if there is a pin or tiny screw inserted next to the barrel band and remove that. If it is a screw, this screw will unscrew in the normal fashion. Once you have the barrel bands unscrewed just enough to slide forward, remove them. Oh, did I mention that if your rifle has a cleaning rod to go ahead and remove that first? No? Well I didn't and I was just trying to see who was paying attention! After you remove the barrel bands, remove the hand guard and set it aside. Never mind gawking at the naked barrel, you have work to do and there is plenty of time to do that later!

Now, about barrel bands and later model Mosins...Again this will be model specific. On converted Dragoons, carbines, 91/30's and later constructed Mosins of other types like the 91/59 and 91/38, the barrel bands are held in place by the band springs which are under them and recessed slightly in the wood. They push up against the barrel bands to keep them tensioned so that they hold the hand guard on. They also like to collect all kinds of crap underneath them which makes it hard to depress them to remove the barrel bands. Your first task is to determine how much crap is under there and remove it. Push down on the band spring. Push hard because this isn't a job for the wimpy! If it resists depressing, get your self some round tooth picks and a syringe filled with hot water. Grab the one your significant other's or mom's that she uses in the kitchen. Just don't let her find out about it! Inject a strong stream of hot water under the barrel bands. Why hot water? Well, it will help to dissolve grease and cosmoline and will flush out loose crap. It will also dry faster and be less prone to corrode the band spring. Now, take your tooth pick and dig around as best you can under the spring and pick that crud out of there. Once you are satisfied you got all you that you can, try depressing the spring again. It should depress enough to allow you to slip the barrel band over it. If it doesn't, we go to plan B. I didn't tell you about plan B yet you say...well of course I didn't because everybody knows that B comes after A and we weren't there yet!

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Plan B is the screw driver in the cleaning rod trick and it takes a little finesse to keep from scratching the heck out of your stock. First, obtain a flat blade screw driver no wider than the cleaning rod channel. Turn your rifle upside down so that you are looking down at the cleaning rod channel. What's a cleaning rod channel? Its the slot were your cleaning rod was under the stock. Take your screw driver and a couple of cleaning patches. Fold the patches over the tip of the screw driver and insert the screw driver behind the barrel band between it and the wood of the stock behind the rear band. Do not force it! Wiggle the barrel band far enough forward to get the screw driver behind it. Now, this takes some talent because you are going to balance the rifle in your lap, while holding down the band spring with one hand and using the screw driver with the other to ease the band forward over the band spring. You need to do this in stages. Pry a little bit as you press down and then while still pressing down, push the opposite side of the band so that it does not bind on an angle. Keeping this up, gently walk the band over the band spring. I say gently, but realize that this will take a little force because what you will be doing is spreading the band spring a little. If you were paying attention to what you are doing, you would have noticed that the band spring is not connected underneath therefore it can spread apart. Again, don't mess up your stock while you are doing this!

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You can do the same thing with the front band. Now, remember I mentioned model specific differences? No? Well wake up! I did and here is another one. You cannot completely remove the barrel bands on a M44 Carbine. Don't try and as a matter of fact don't even think about it and don't write to me asking how to take the bayo mount/front sight assembly off to do so because that is even a dumber idea! Just slide the darned things down towards the bayo mount so you can remove the hand guard.

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Now that we have the hand guard off, we can turn our attention to separating the metal from the wood. Look at your rifle from the top. See that area where the bolt was? At the very rear of that area as you look down, you should see a screw head sticking out of the tang. You can't see the screw because the bolt is in the way? I thought I told you to remove the bolt? Failure to follow instructions is the sign of a weak mind so next time pay attention. Now go ahead and remove the bolt and look down there.

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Using a larger flat blade screw driver, remove this bolt. Turn the rifle over. Just in front of the magazine, you will see another big old screw head. Remove this screw but make sure you are holding on to the barreled receiver (the metal stuff) because the barrel and receiver may just drop right out in your hand.

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However it may not until you grab hold of the magazine and give it a sharp pull to remove it.

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After that, the barreled receiver should just drop right out but don't let it! Remove it slowly because there just might be shims in there that you need to note where they were.

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Most likely they will be under the pillar or the tang. If there was a shim in the pillar area, note if it was behind the pillar or under the pillar with the bolt that you took out running through it. Set these aside and don't loose them because I won't be telling you how to make new ones in this article. After you have removed the metal from the wood, set the wood aside for a minute because we are going to check out the metal. Start at one end and look for signs of active rust. Active rust will be brown or reddish in color. Check the receiver part (everything that is not your barrel) for cracks or deformities. Inspect the barrel for deep pitting and bulges. Deep pitting is anything that is deeper than your little brother's acne scars. Anything else should be checked by a gun smith. Of course a bulged barrel means that you have a wall hanger. After inspecting the outside of the receiver, it is time to get down to cleaning it and the barrel. See the Cleaning article.

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The Bolt

The Mosin Nagant bolt is frequently referred to by the uninitiated as over-complicated, poorly designed, roughly finished or just plain ugly. I must admit that, before becoming familiar with the Mosin Nagant series of rifles and their history, I too considered the bolt to be old fashioned and unsafe looking. The simple fact was that I had not learned to appreciate the bolt design for what it is – an incredibly efficient, robust design that is actually simple and easy to understand. This unusual organization of seven pieces of steel has withstood the test of time, battle and extraordinary political change.

In addition, unlike many parts of the Mosin Nagant series of rifles, the bolt has remained almost exactly the same – no matter if the firearm is an 1895 M91 or a mid-1950’s M44. Although aesthetic differences do exist between the various manufacturers, what other firearm design can claim a bolt design that remained essentially unchanged through its entire service life – of approximately 100 years! By unchanged I mean that nearly* any piece of the Mosin Nagant bolt can be interchanged without modification with a bolt from another Mosin Nagant rifle.

  • NOTE: Although bolt heads can be interchanged, the rifle’s headspace must be verified after such a change is made. In addition, because bolt heads are not generally marked with identifying numbers to match them to a specific receiver, it is critical to have the firearm’s headspace checked by a professional before firing a Mosin Nagant for the first time. This is true even if the bolt body has a stamped serial number matching it to the receiver. Remember, these rifles have been around for a long time and parts may have been swapped (perhaps many times) before you received the firearm. Safety first!

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The bolt is made up of seven individual pieces:

1) Cocking piece

2) Bolt body (also called the bolt handle)

3) Firing pin

4) Main spring

5) Connecting bar

6) Bolt head and extractor (2 pieces)

Safetycheck.gif;SAFETY CHECK!

Take it from someone that learned the hard way - the firing pin is under considerable spring pressure. If the firing pin is unscrewed from the cocking piece without being held in place, it may (will) fly in an unpredictable direction and cause damage to itself, you, or a bystander. Follow the directions below carefully and wear eye protection.

Never disassemble more than one bolt at a time. This will prevent the interchanging of parts, particularly bolt heads.

Bolt Disassembly

There are a number of methods to disassemble the Mosin Nagant bolt, all of which work and each of which has its advantages and disadvantages. The method I use does have an element of risk, in that the firing pin can be broken when the spring is compressed and the cocking piece is removed. Read the entire set of instructions carefully – if you are not comfortable with each step – and the possibility of breaking a firing pin if your hands slip (in Step 5), do not attempt this procedure.

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STEP 1: While holding the bolt in your left hand as shown above, grip the cocking piece with your right hand and pull it toward you slightly. Turn the cocking piece counterclockwise ¼ turn and then gently let the cocking piece move away from you. Keep the bolt head pointing upward or it could fall off of the bolt body!

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STEP 2: The bolt should now look like this. I call this the bolt's "fired position". Continue to hold the bolt head end upward!

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STEP 3: Hold the bolt as shown and pull the bolt head and connecting bar away from the bolt body.

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STEP 4: Put the bolt head and connecting bar aside. Now for the hard part…

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STEP 5: This is where you can break the firing pin. The photo above shows several “dimples” in my kitchen table that were created when I took the photography for this article. My wife does not know where these dimples came from and blames the kids. Please do not tell her the true story. Any HARDWOOD surface will suffice for this step, but be thoughtful of your marriage when selecting the “right spot”. Do not use metal – the firing pin will skid and (possibly) break. Softwood will not support the pressure and the firing pin will probably sink into it like a nail (and possibly break).

While holding the bolt body in your left hand as shown, maintaining a perfect 90 degree angle from the hardwood surface, push down on the bolt body, thereby compressing the spring, until you can turn the cocking piece in a counterclockwise direction without hitting the bolt body. This is a somewhat awkward procedure and considerable downward pressure on the bolt body is necessary.

Continue turning the cocking piece in a counterclockwise direction until you can remove it from the firing pin. SLOWLY raise your left hand and gradually release the spring pressure on the firing pin. When the pressure has been completely released, remove the firing pin and spring from the bolt body.

Hey – you did it!

  • note: Clean all of the parts while you have them apart, with special care not to forget the inside of the bolt body and the inside of the bolt head. Lightly lubricate the firing pin, spring and internal surfaces; however, try not to get any oil on the exterior of the bolt body. Your hands might slip later if you do…..

Bolt Assembly

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STEP 6: Put the spring back on to the firing pin and insert both (as shown above) into the bolt body.

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STEP 7: As in step five, while holding the bolt body in your left hand as shown, and while maintaining a perfect 90 degree angle from the hardwood surface, push down on the bolt body and install the cocking piece onto the firing pin by turning the cocking piece in a clockwise direction. After you have turned the cocking piece clockwise three full revolutions onto the threads, SLOWLY raise your left hand and gradually release the spring pressure on the firing pin.

Safetycheck.gif; SAFETY CHECK!

Keep the firing pin pointed away from anything important (such as your face) and wear eye protection. I have mistakenly turned the firing pin in the wrong direction in step 8, and it will fly off in a random direction if you do this. Safety first!

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STEP 8: Hold the bolt as shown above, and using the connecting bar as a wrench (as shown above), turn the firing pin CLOCKWISE until….

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STEP 9: the rear of the firing pin is flush with the cocking piece and the index mark is aligned, as shown above. Be certain that the cocking piece is in its “fired” position (turned 1/4 turn counterclockwise; see step #2). If necessary, adjust the firing pin again using the connecting bar as a wrench (see step #8).

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STEP 10: Put the bolt body assembly aside for a moment and pick up the connecting bar and bolt head. While holding them as shown above, slide the bolt head on to the end of the connecting bar…

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STEP 11: …and turn it ¼ turn counterclockwise to the position shown above.

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STEP 12: While holding the bolt body assembly in your left hand and the connecting bar/bolt head in your right hand as shown above, slide the connecting bar/bolt head onto the bolt body. Make certain that the connecting bar’s left end mates with the “nub” (cocking notch) on the cocking piece.

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STEP 13: This is what you should end up with. While holding the bolt head and connecting bar in place on the bolt body…

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STEP 14: …rotate the entire assembly and hold it as shown above. Grasp the cocking piece in your right hand, and while continuing to hold the bolt head in place, pull the cocking piece toward you and simultaneously rotate it ¼ turn clockwise…

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STEP 15: …until it clicks into place as shown above.

You have successfully assembled the bolt!

Safetycheck.gif; SAFETY CHECK!

Be certain to check the firing pin protrusion using the screwdriver / protrusion tool found in a standard Mosin Nagant Cleaning kit. If you do not have this tool, the cleaning kit is well worth the money and can be obtained from most of the better known Internet firearms vendors. Failure to check firing pin protrusion can result in insufficient protrusion and the awful "click........". Excessive firing pin protrusion can result in pierced primers and a sudden release of high pressure gas into the receiver. Both situations are extremely dangerous and can cause severe injury or death to you and bystanders.

First, verify that the bolt is in its "fired" position and that the firing pin is flush with the cocking piece (see step 2, above). The index marks must be aligned.

Second, as shown below, the firing pin must (at least) touch the top of the milled out area below the number "75" on the protrusion gauge. If it does not, firing pin protrusion is insufficient. Be certain that there is no gap between the bolt head and bolt body (hold them together) when performing this test.

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Finally, the firing pin must *not* touch the top of the milled out area under the number "95". If it does, firing pin protrusion is excessive.

Although it is possible to adjust firing protrusion in the field, a matched bolt should not have this problem, assuming the firing pin and the cocking piece are flush and the index marks are aligned. A bolt failing the protrusion test under these circumstances is suspect and must be checked by a qualified gunsmith.

Bottom line: Be safe and use common sense!

Cleaning Your Mosin

Now that you have successfully disassembled your Mosin, you are ready to clean it. You don't have it disassembled yet? Well go back and do it and make sure you read the article and not just go and try pulling it apart on your own! There are reasons for this other than increasing my page hits!

Now, for the rest of you that have properly disassembled your Mosin, lets talk about cleaning it. First of all, we want to clean it while preserving its collectable status. Using improper cleaning methods can destroy its value as a historic firearm. What do you mean its not historic because its just another old M44? Don't get me started! Just go look in your gun safe or closet and tell me how many 1903 Springfield rifles are in there or how many Mausers with all matching numbers and Waffenampt stamps? Probably not a heck of a lot because you can't find them any more. There were millions made and they were all either placed in collections or messed up and destroyed through home workshop projects and improper cleaning. Your M44 might be cheap rifle today but twenty years from now, it could be one of a hand full on the open market when you get ready to sell it for the money to pay your nursing home bill! Even though it might be mismatched, if you knew your Mosin history, you would know that when it comes to Mosins, they are expected to be mismatched. Now where the heck was I? Oh, and preserving the rifle's value. The first rule of thumb is (repeat after me...) Do No Harm. Do not do anything that will harm the finish of the rifle, it's markings or stock cartouches. Try to keep the original finish intact if at all possible. This means we need to select cleaning materials that are non-destructive.

So there you are with all of your Mosin parts spread all over the kitchen table and you are getting nasty looks from your significant other or parent. Hopefully you remembered to put a drop cloth or news papers down first! If not, don't blame me because I am not responsible!

Now, lets approach what materials we will need based on what we need to clean.

Cleaning the Stock

For the stock, you will need a non-abrasive, non-volatile cleaning product that will not remove the finish from your stock. Since finishes are either oil based or alcohol based, we need something that will not contain petroleum products or alcohol. We recommend Kotton Cleaner or a mild citrus based cleaner. Check your cleaner on a small un-noticable section of your stock before use of any cleaner. It should cut the grease and cosmo without harming the finish. You will need plenty of rags or paper towels and plenty of elbow grease to get the gunk off.

The stock, spray an area of the stock with your stock cleaner and remove the larger portion of crud and cosmolene. Methodically cover the the entire stock and get the major crud off and then go back and clean the rest and pay attention to getting the crud from around the outside of the cross bolt and out of the band spring inlets. Use a toothpick to for this job as it won't harm the finish. Allow the stock to dry.

Cleaning the Metal

For the metal, you need a good degreaser like break cleaner or Gun Scrubber. You also need some a solvent like paint thinner, turpentine or good old fashioned kerosene. Don't know where to buy kerosene? Look no farther than your corner gas station as diesel fuel is nothing more than upwardly mobile or refined kerosene. Once you have your cleaning products assembled, you can get started on the cleaning.

Spray the receiver and barrel as well as the magazine assembly inside and out with a degreaser. Wipe down the outside and then run a cleaning rod with a patch through the barrel to push the crud out of there. Go back over the inside and outside of the receiver with your degreaser and get the film off from it. Use your break cleaner to spray into the feeder/interrupter assembly to clean that. If you are really adventurous, you could disassemble that and the trigger assembly and clean these parts separately. Soak a patch in your break cleaner and run it through the bore to clean the residue out of there. Now, grab your chamber brush...what? You mean you don't have a chamber brush? Well go get one because you are going to need it. Did you read my list of Mosin tools? While you are at it, if you don't have one already, dig out your three piece cleaning rod and attach the chamber brush to just the handle piece as you would attach a jag for pistol cleaning. Squirt a health amount of break cleaner into the chamber and scrub the heck out of it with the chamber brush! Make sure the brush contacts every nook and cranny in there. Concentrate on the locking ring area and the chamber walls. When these rifles were placed in storage, they were packed with cosmolene. Over the years that cosmolene dried out and formed a nearly transparent film in the chamber. If you don't get that film, it will cause you all kinds of hassles later on with extracting rounds that are lacquer coated. When you are thinking it is clean, scrub it some more and then finish off with your chamber brush liberally soaked with Sweet's 7.62. I can't say enough about this product. It is the best bore cleaner on the market and it does an outstanding job on the chamber.

Now, before you go to the fridge for your favorite beverage or pour yourself a cup of coffee, get an old pan and fill it with solvent and toss your bolt parts and magazine assembly in there and let them soak. Go ahead and release the floor plate latch of the mag assembly and remove the floor plate by pinching it like one of those spring clothespins. Dump everything in th solvent. Go enjoy your coffee, smoke a butt or play with mamma and get back here to finish up. Done already??? Heh, heh, gettin' old huh? Well no matter...back to the bolt. All of those bolt pieces are hollow from the bolt head to the bolt guide, the bolt body and the cocking piece. That means that there are plenty of places for crud to collect. Get yourself a small Phillips screw driver (star point if you are from Podunk) and stick a patch on the end of it. Pull the bolt head out of the solvent it was soaking in and stuff that patch inside it and rotate it. You might have to get something to hook the patch back out with. Give the bolt head a final squirt of break cleaner (inside and out) and dry patch it. Do the same thing with the bolt guide, bolt body and cocking piece. when you are done, the metal should be dry and free of any oily or greasy film. Do the same thing with the magazine assembly. Coat everything with a light coat of your favorite gun oil. Pull the spring and firing pin out of the solvent and spray them down with the break cleaner and wipe dry and coat with gun oil too.

Now before you get all excited and want to put everything back together again, don't forget to clean the bore. Remember we only got the crud out but we didn't do any serious cleaning. I like to start out by using Sweets and I run several patches through to get out the last century's worth of copper fouling. What? You said the dealer told you this rifle was un-issued? Yeah, ok...if you want to believe that go ahead but trust me, use the Sweets. You will be surprised at what comes out of your bore. Now if you look down that puppy and it looks a little dark, I might suggest picking up some J&B Bore Paste not to be confused with JB Weld!!! Remember, J&B Bore Paste....are you listening to me??? Quit thinking about getting your gun out to the range and pay attention....J&B Bore Paste! Use as directed and you will be happy you did. I have resurrected some real sewer pipe bores with this stuff.

Now we are ready to put everything back together so clean up your mess before you end up sleeping in the garage and put your cleaning stuff away and go back back to the Disassembling Your Mosin Article.


For reassembling the bolt see article above ("Bolt Assembly")., pick up your stock and the barreled receiver. Hold the stock in a horizontal upright position. If there were shims in there before, put them back to where they were. Now pick up your receiver and lower it into the stock.

Turn the stock over and put the magazine assembly back on.

Clean 033.jpg, pick up your stock and the barreled receiver. Hold the stock in a horizontal upright position. If there were shims in there before, put them back to where they were. Now pick up your receiver and lower it into the stock.

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Don't forget to reattach the floor plate. Make sure the mag housing is seated properly and pinch it against the receiver assembly by squeezing it and the top of the receiver with the stock in between and drop the mag housing bolt in and hand tighten.

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Now rotate the rifle right side up and drop in the tang bolt and tighten with a screw driver and go back and tighten the magazine bolt with a screw driver.

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Now you are ready to put the hand guard back on. Place the hand guard on top of the barrel and line it up properly.

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Take the rear barrel band because it would be pretty dumb to put the front one on first and make sure the joint is pointed down and slip it past the front band spring and slide it back to rear and over the rear band spring until it clicks into place.

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Now do the front band.

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Remember the model specific stuff we mentioned before? On your M91, slide the rear band on with the crack pointed down and the screw head on the right side of the barrel as you are looking down range. Slide it all the way back and replace the pin or screw you removed earlier. Don't tighten it yet. Do the same with the front band. You did remember to put the hand guard on first didn't you? Now you know why I said not to tighten it yet! Now, you can tighten the rear band by turning the screw which way? Well...I'm waiting? Don't look up there on the page, you should know this by now! That's right...clockwise! Same goes with the front band.

Now, replace the cleaning rod and screw the darned thing in so it doesn't come snaking out of its hidey-hole while you are shooting the rifle at the range!

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When you are done with that, you can reinsert the bolt by depressing the trigger and sliding the bolt home.


Now....look at the table and tell me if there are any parts left over?

If not, you are done!

If there are, go to the top of this page and start over. LOL

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