Pushing through myths and misconceptions: The Push Feed Action

TokkieM

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I am the other kind of stupid, the kind that takes nothing at face value and seldom believe everything unless I have tried it or done it myself, in short I like to learn the hard way. Up until a few years ago I believed that the CRF rifle was superior in many, many ways to the Push feed rifle, too many books and opinions were taken as the gospel as far as the topic was concerned, I don't know how it came about, it may just have been that stubborn streak of mine, but for the past six years I have tried to break the mold on the superiority of the CRF rifle in my mind. What I have found is limited to rifles I have owned or rifles that I have used extensively, it is not hear say it is thousands upon thousands of rounds of testing and observation. I own several rifles, both in CRF and Push feed, each of them have a specific task and they all get the job done, both types have let me down and both types have never failed me, below is my take on a few misconceptions out there regarding Push Feed rifles.


Let’s start with the most common reason for the anti push feed rifles, reliability. The simple reason for Mauser type rifles being seen as unstoppable lies in the design, you just need to pick up a old M98 and open the bolt to find it is probably one of the most sloppy and loose bolts you will ever find on a rifle, the amount of bolt movement left, right, up and down is simply astounding, but close that bolt and it locks up as tight as a vault. The ability for the CRF rifle to function under the most extreme conditions is exactly its design features; the tolerances are tight in the only area it matters, the lock up. Dust, dirt, mud and other things simply do not jam the action it needs less maintenance to keep going. No doubt that it will keep working with almost no maintenance and that use to be its great selling point, times have unfortunately changed. There are very few rifle owners around that do not take care of their rifles, many clients now bring along rifle cleaning equipment and almost daily take care of their rifles before the next day’s hunt. In short rifles do not receive the pounding they did years and years ago. I have yet to see a clients rifle fail while hunting.

I have seen Sako/Tikka rifles run strings of 2000 rounds with no cleaning except for a wipe down. The same rifles had their barrels cleaned for the first time at around 4000 rounds, at no stage was the action cleaned up until the rifles were retired at 12 000 rounds. The only failures that come to mind was the plastic magazine of the Tikka that stopped feeding. Setback on the Tikka recoil lug, a common problem with the standard aluminum recoil lug. The rifles were all fired in rapid strings of 20 to 40 shots per session, time in between strings was around 5 minutes. I ran another CRF gun next to the Sako/Tikka rifles, after 2400 rounds it failed to eject, new extractor was fitted and gave no problems after that, rifle retired at 4000 rounds. I have had a new Sako fail to eject and I have had a new CZ fail to feed.


It is common to hear that a CRF rifle will feed upside down and at any other possible angle you may find yourself in, unfortunately it is not only the CRF that will feed like that, the Push feed action will do exactly the same, I have tried this with Sako, Tikka and Sauer rifles, they feed at any angle.


Then there is the good old argument that during reloading the CRF action will hold the cartridge in place when the shooter is swinging the rifle from left to right or the other way around, now I have tried on more than one occasion to purposely make a loose round drop out the Push feed action rifle by swinging it both left and right. I tried this both slow and fast, what always happens is that the force generated by the swing forces the cartridge to travel forward and into the chamber of the rifle, if anything it only assists the push feed rifle.


Another common argument for the CRF action is that it is stronger than the Push feed action. I find it very hard to believe by simply comparing a CRF rifle next to a Push Feed rifle you will notice that the Push Feed rifle has way more metal around the body, often just the ejector port cut out that stops the Push feed action from being totally enclosed, compared to the CRF there is way more metal to take the stress on a Push feed action.


Push feed rifles are inherently more accurate than CRF rifles, although this has very little impact in hunting situations. Both are more than accurate enough in a given caliber for hunting it all will come down to the ability of the shooter. I owned a FN Mauser action rifle that would shoot 10mm 5 shot groups at 100 meters and have a Push feed rifle that shoots 3mm 5 shot groups at 100 meters. The Push feed action normally has a far larger bottom surface area which makes it easier and more stable to bed. As above the enclosed action is also more rigged, making it a more stable platform to launch a bullet from.


All Push feed actions are not created equal, I owned a Sauer 202 rifle that was the smoothest action I have ever had the pleasure to shoot, no doubt the smoothness was due to the very tight tolerances within the action and the full size bolt body.. The same thing that made it good, also made it bad, a bit of dust and dirt and the action would grind closed and it would feel like I was dragging a spade across a concrete surface. The Sako and Tikka rifles I own have a more mechanical smoothness, it is simply because they run on the lugs and have an undersized bolt body, dirt and dust does not affect them in the same way it did the Sauer. Another example of tolerances being too tight was with a Steyr Mannlicher rifle, due to extreme climate changes and humidity, the wood stock managed to distort in such a way that it cracked both the trigger guard and magazine to such an extent that the rifle was useless, it did not help that they were in plastic.


For all the good things a CRF brings to the table, it also has some short comings when it is compared to the modern Push feed actions. It has longer lock time and takes more skill to shoot more accurately. Bolt throw cannot compare to the latest offerings in Push Feed rifles and in general scopes can be mounted lower on Push Feed rifles. Follow up shots are quicker with a Push feed than with a CRF rifle, I can bang 4 rounds down range with a split time of 1,24sec with a Push feed, it takes me 1,6sec to do the same with a CRF in the same caliber, this is for aimed shots at 80 meters. Push Feed actions come in specific caliber size actions, Sako make actions caliber specific in length, most CRF actions come either in Medium or Magnum actions, rifles can be built lighter on caliber specific actions.


I agree the non rotating extractor on a CRF is hard to beat with a sticky case; you are also less likely to double feed with a CRF action if you short stroke the bolt. It is far easier to load a CRF action from the top without taking your eyes off the target than trying to get a round into the narrow ejection port of a Push feed action. It is also easier to get your fingers into a CRF action if there is a problem than with a Push Feed action, that is if you do not have a scope mounted. There is no doubt in my mind that there are advantages to both types of actions just as there are disadvantages to both. The gap is however not as great as many make it out to be. The best would be to know your rifle and stick with it.
 

Kano

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Agreed. For 99% of hunting, the difference between the two systems (in a GOOD rifle) is mostly academic.

Where I'd see a difference is at the extremes of professional "hunting" use: long range sniping, and daily use as a DG backup rifle submitted to all sorts of mistreatment. There I'd pick a push-feed for the former, and a CRF for the latter.
 

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…………………...

It is far easier to load a CRF action from the top without taking your eyes off the target than trying to get a round into the narrow ejection port of a Push feed action. ……………...

Can you please show me what you mean by this statement.
 

lcq

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Can you please show me what you mean by this statement.
I was wondering that myself. Some rifles, Tikka comes to mind have very narrow ejection ports for receiver rigidity. They are a bear to single feed but that is why they have mags
 

TokkieM

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Can you please show me what you mean by this statement.

The CRF action enables you to slam a round in the top without much effort, the Push feed action has a narrow ejection port that makes it harder to place a round in the action, Tikka,Sako and Sauer rifles come to mind. You need to focus more when loading a round from your ammo clip in them. The CRF action is pretty much a open top action, its just easier.Sorry if I did not make that clear:)
 

lcq

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The CRF action enables you to slam a round in the top without much effort, the Push feed action has a narrow ejection port that makes it harder to place a round in the action, Tikka,Sako and Sauer rifles come to mind. You need to focus more when loading a round from your ammo clip in them. The CRF action is pretty much a open top action, its just easier.Sorry if I did not make that clear:)

Savage and remington 700 (not the new 783) push very easily from the top, lots of room. you can also just drop a round in an empty rifle and chamber it. I load a lot of long bullets for range work
 

TokkieM

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lcq I am sure they do, as said at the start of the post, it is based on the rifles I have used, have not owned a Rem yet:) CRF actions can have the extractor modified to "Push feed" a round too, not advised, but it can be done.
 

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lcq I am sure they do, as said at the start of the post, it is based on the rifles I have used, have not owned a Rem yet:) CRF actions can have the extractor modified to "Push feed" a round too, not advised, but it can be done.

Ok, I get the limitations on the statement now. Obviously manufacturer rifle design is a huge factor.
 

enysse

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I agree with the your argument. I have a Rem 700 BDL....that is very finicky, it is essential a single shot, it doesn't feed right, the bolt has to be worked just right and if the bullets move in the detachable magazine....God forbid the damn thing won't pick it up. Is it an accurate gun yes, FINICKY....YES. I won't buy another...no matter what. I have a buddy that has fits with his Weatherby doing the same damn thing. Have I ever had a problem with a Ruger or Win....nope....never. Does the CZ need some work YES it does, I'm not going to lie, but once fixed it works like a dream. And I don't own Savage, not because I hate it, but because I have better options. For me Ruger will usually be option #1, then Win,...then CZ.

I think a lot of push feed rifles work like a dream, shoot like a dream and they are accurate. But bad performance by a few rifles I know of have me swore off from buying one again.
 

TokkieM

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Sorry to hear about your Rem, have not had a feeding problem with my push feed actions. Failure to eject due to a sticky ejector pin on the Sako, but that was a quick fix. The Sauer had a single stack mag so no issue feeding and my Tikka's well they keep ticking over shot for shot. Only ever had a issue with a Winchester model 70 once, but that could have happend on any rifle, the trigger was soft and spongy, took the gun apart and sure enough a piece of rubber from the synthetic stock was stuck in the trigger, must have been a shaving from when they did the cut out. QC is just not what it use to be, friend of mine just got a very expensive Sako, 10 shots later and the safety stops working, send it back and once he gets it back 5 shots later same problem. I have owned both ZKK and CZ 550 rifles, had feeding problems in the big bore calibers and no problems at all in 375H&H, found the meduim action CZ is just too big for a 308 Win, not like the old ZKK 601, which also had some feeding issues.
 

richteb

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lcq I am sure they do, as said at the start of the post, it is based on the rifles I have used, have not owned a Rem yet:) CRF actions can have the extractor modified to "Push feed" a round too, not advised, but it can be done.

I think your explanation here is a little wrong. On crf (Mauser or mauser derivative actions) the extractor claw angle is such the it allows the head of the case to slide up and against the bolt face when picked up from the magazine. However, due to this angle there is an issue if the round is only dropped on top of the magazine and the "pushed" into the chamber with the bolt. When the bolt is closed the extractor is cammed over the bade of the case and into the groove. This can lead to broken extractor claws. It is a simple fix in adjusting the shape of the extractor claw to allow this sort of loading without the risk of damage. This modification has no effect on the strength, accuracy, or reliability of the action. I have done this mod ( as have others) to several mauser actions without any problems.

One of the main reason that the old mauser actions are so sloppy is because they are built on military actions, unlike today these actions are manufactured for the sporting market, hence tighter tolerances.
 

TokkieM

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richteb the extractor on the CRF was never designed to snap over a case, it can be done as you say by altering the shape of the extractor face, it needs to be sloped and thus some material removed. I did this on a ZKK 602 action twice in 837 rounds (one seasons shooting) they eventually stop working. It also plays havoc with brass, often cutting slivers of brass off the case rim.

New CRF actions are buildt to tighter tolerances I agree. I also own Mauser actions buildt for the Mauser sporting rifles and by FN Mauser ( a supreme action considered by many as the finest Mauser action ever made) they too are sloppy, but I have never had a feeding or ejection problem with them unlike the newer CRF actions.
 

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Great post and should be some interesting continued discussion.

Like many, I have both types of rifles. As you state, they both have a purpose and both have advantages, even if miniscule.
 

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Excellent writeup, very good points for both.
I think in the long rung, Pushfeed/CRF both work although I lean towards CRF but in the end as long as its a Winchester I'm good;)
 

lcq

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I agree with the your argument. I have a Rem 700 BDL....that is very finicky, it is essential a single shot, it doesn't feed right, the bolt has to be worked just right and if the bullets move in the detachable magazine....God forbid the damn thing won't pick it up. Is it an accurate gun yes, FINICKY....YES. I won't buy another...no matter what. I have a buddy that has fits with his Weatherby doing the same damn thing. Have I ever had a problem with a Ruger or Win....nope....never. Does the CZ need some work YES it does, I'm not going to lie, but once fixed it works like a dream. And I don't own Savage, not because I hate it, but because I have better options. For me Ruger will usually be option #1, then Win,...then CZ.

I think a lot of push feed rifles work like a dream, shoot like a dream and they are accurate. But bad performance by a few rifles I know of have me swore off from buying one again.

You may be surprised by Savage. They have come a long ways from the old model 10. I have 3 and every one was a shooter right out of the box, all sub moa and reliable as trains. My old 20" 10fp in 308 has about 3000 rounds and it still shoots sub moa, isn't picky about ammo and puts the first cold bore shot with the last hot and dirty one. Too bad it weighs so much.
 

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richteb the extractor on the CRF was never designed to snap over a case, it can be done as you say by altering the shape of the extractor face, it needs to be sloped and thus some material removed. I did this on a ZKK 602 action twice in 837 rounds (one seasons shooting) they eventually stop working. It also plays havoc with brass, often cutting slivers of brass off the case rim...

Oddly, the owners manual for my Rem 798 specifically describes putting three in the magazine and then holding them down while putting one in the chamber. This is a Zastava CRF so I thought it was basically unchanged since the 1920's.

...New CRF actions are buildt to tighter tolerances I agree. I also own Mauser actions buildt for the Mauser sporting rifles and by FN Mauser ( a supreme action considered by many as the finest Mauser action ever made) they too are sloppy, but I have never had a feeding or ejection problem with them unlike the newer CRF actions.

I had a Parker Hale and found that action much sloppier than the one I am enjoying with the Zastava Action. I have no experience with Zastava other than this Remington version so perhaps they did tweak it?

One thing I do like about the CRF is at the range I have more control over ejecting the spent brass so I am not chasing my casings from under other people's shooting benches. My Sako would send them into the next county. The design of the bolt is just really useful in a lot of situations!
 

TokkieM

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Pheroze, cant say why they advise that, the original Mauser design did not, neither did Brno/CZ and Winchester. Your Parker coild have had a number of different actions, Zastava actions were used on them later.The Zastava actions I have used have been pretty good, I have not had feeding issues with them, but I have only used them in 300 Win Mag. It was the only action with which I had a safety issue. Safety would work fine for the first pull on the trigger, but by the second pull the safety would disengage and the gun would fire. Could have been rifle specific, but I did not keep it long enough to find out.
 

richteb

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I am pretty sure from what I have read and from the actions I have played with, military version of the Mauser actions were designed to be loaded from stripper clips and therefore there was no real reason to single load. This is evident by a thump sized section machined out to the side of the action to facilitate this. From my experience Mauser actions (from various countries) were manufacture before about 1960 vary hugely in quality. The type of metal, quality, case hardening varies considerably. From what I have seen, actions from ww2 are the worst. When I fooled around with them, the first one that I sporterized was an old Columbia military mauser action from the mid 50's . Did the usual, new bolt shroud and safety catch, reshaped bolt handle, machined trigger guard ect. As at the time I did not have mill drill so I got a gunsmith to drill scope mount holes and reshape the extractor claw to allow single loading (without inserting round in magazine). I ended up using this gun for 15 years and I am not sure how many rounds it fired. Even though it was not the most accurate gun I have owned I never experienced any failures.

Also from my own experience, all the new rifles with crf that I have bought over the years (cz & ruger & Winchester) all had issues from the box. All the push feed one (browning, ruger, sako) did not. In my opinion to get crf actions to feed reliably it is much more important that final build quality (metal finish) be higher on crf rifles then push feeds. Usually a good polish of the action internals will do the trick.
 

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You may be surprised by Savage. They have come a long ways from the old model 10. I have 3 and every one was a shooter right out of the box, all sub moa and reliable as trains. My old 20" 10fp in 308 has about 3000 rounds and it still shoots sub moa, isn't picky about ammo and puts the first cold bore shot with the last hot and dirty one. Too bad it weighs so much.

I have a friend that loves his Savage. They are super accurate and from my understanding, they feed flawlessly. I just prefer a Ruger over a Savage.

Also from my own experience, all the new rifles with crf that I have bought over the years (cz & ruger & Winchester) all had issues from the box. All the push feed one (browning, ruger, sako) did not. In my opinion to get crf actions to feed reliably it is much more important that final build quality (metal finish) be higher on crf rifles then push feeds. Usually a good polish of the action internals will do the trick

I respect your experience and opinion on the subject. I have 2 Browning A bolts that feed flawlessly.
 

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