Pushing through myths and misconceptions: The Push Feed Action

Bob Nelson 35Whelen

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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.
@Kano
Keep both clean and maintained and you won't have problems with either . Takes 5 minutes a day to wipe them down and clean the action.
Bob
 

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As someone who has been hunting a great deal of dangerous game as part of Problem Animal Control work for the last 48 years , here is my approach to this matter .

I personally own and exclusively use a control round feed rifle for most of my hunting applications ( a custom made .458 Winchester Magnum which is built on a Winchester Enfield Model 1917 action ) . However , I have used all manners of rifles ( either borrowed or rented ) for my hunting applications whenever I am hunting in foreign countries . This includes a good amount of push feed rifles .

It must be remembered that the development of push feed rifles has come a long way since the 1950s , when Remington first made them popular ( by introducing the Model 721 , 722 and 725 which preceded the Model 700 ) . One cannot make a fair assessment of 21st century push feed rifles , by simply looking at push feed designs from the 1950s - 1970s .

I would not hunt dangerous game with a heavy calibre Remington Model 700 or a post 1964 Winchester Model 70 or a post 1962 Browning Safari . The extractor on these designs is too small and unreliable , when large calibre shell cases need to be reliably extracted in a hurry . However , I would not hesitate to use a Blaser R-8 for hunting dangerous game . I have hunted my largest Himalayan ibex with a Blaser R-8 in .338 Winchester Magnum ( employing a 250 grain Nosler Partition soft nosed factory load ) and ( while a Himalayan Ibex is by no means dangerous game ) I would not hesitate to use a Blaser R-8 in .416 Remington Magnum to hunt marauding Royal Bengal tigers .

I have observed that most currently manufactured European rifles ( such as Sako , Sauer , Blaser or Steyr Mannlicher ) employ a push feed action , these days . If the issues of reliability were too great , then I doubt that any of these companies would be thriving today . Personally speaking , I am an old soul and I prefer the Enfield Model 1917 action ( simply because I have had extremely successful results with this action , even since 1976 ) .
 
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WebleyGreene455

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As someone who has been hunting a great deal of dangerous game as part of Problem Animal Control work for the last 48 years , here is my approach to this matter .

I personally own and exclusively use a control round feed rifle for most of my hunting applications ( a custom made .458 Winchester Magnum which is built on a Winchester Enfield Model 1917 action ) . However , I have used all manners of rifles ( either borrowed or rented ) for my hunting applications whenever I am hunting in foreign countries . This includes a good amount of push feed rifles .

It must be remembered that the development of push feed rifles has come a long way since the 1950s , when Remington first made them popular ( by introducing the Model 721 , 722 and 725 which preceded the Model 700 ) . One cannot make a fair assessment of 21st century push feed rifles , by simply looking at push feed designs from the 1950s - 1970s .

I would not hunt dangerous game with a heavy calibre Remington Model 700 or a post 1964 Winchester Model 70 or a post 1962 Browning Safari . The extractor on these designs is too small and unreliable , when large calibre shell cases need to be reliably extracted in a hurry . However , I would not hesitate to use a Blaser R-8 for hunting dangerous game . I have hunted my largest Himalayan ibex with a Blaser R-8 in .338 Winchester Magnum ( employing a 250 grain Nosler Partition soft nosed factory load ) and ( while a Himalayan Ibex is by no means dangerous game ) I would not hesitate to use a Blaser R-8 in .416 Remington Magnum to hunt marauding Royal Bengal tigers .

I have observed that most currently manufactured European rifles ( such as Sako , Sauer , Blaser or Steyr Mannlicher ) employ a push feed action , these days . If the issues of reliability were too great , then I doubt that any of these companies would be thriving today . Personally speaking , I am an old soul and I prefer the Enfield Model 1917 action ( simply because I have had extremely successful results with this action , even since 1976 ) .
It might not be quite the same as hunting rifles, but the Russian M91/30 push-feed has been around for decades and is still very much in use with militaries, insurgents, militias, and law-enforcement around the world. I'm pretty sure it's the longest-lived battle rifle in history and I don't doubt that there are rifles running perfectly fine in terrible conditions and using horrible ammo. By comparison, the Kar98k and its brothers are much less common (but then again, the Russians were churning out rifles by the truckload so there are plenty to go around now). The USA switched to the Remington 700 for its new USMC sniper rifles during Vietnam and stuck with the action ever since.

Granted, those examples don't usually have more than a .30-calibre bullet (.338 Lapua and Norma being two exceptions) in military service, and they don't necessarily need to worry about fast follow-ups, but if they can withstand combat use and be used to exceptional effect by trained personnel?

Personally, and I say this without any hunting experience, I'd still prefer a CRF for dangerous game, especially if I was using a cartridge designed specifically for a particular rifle (i.e., 9.3 Mauser in a 98 action). I think I'd feel better using it and knowing the combination of the two had been used for a long time with great success.
 

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My two favorite rifles are my CZ 550 in 500 Jeffery (CRF), and my late 60s vintage Rem BDL in 270 (push feed). The CZ took some work but it feeds, extracts effortlessly now, is accurate and the recoil offhand isn't a factor at all. I've taken a cow elk and a black bear with it but that's it so far. Alaska and Africa hopefully in the future. The 270 I guided with, finished off two grizzlies clients wounded, killed 9 black bears a couple of dozen elk and more deer and javelinas. On it's 3rd barrel, 5000 rounds through it, it's still accurate never jammed, failed to feed or extract. Still shoots nickel sized groups at 100 yards. The only work I ever had done on it was to have Norm Thompson adjust the trigger to 2 1/2 lbs and put a Pachmayer Decelerator recoil pad on it. I'm not say today's Remingtons are as good, they aren't, but I'd trust my life with it and I have. I would do the same with my 500 Jeffery.
 

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Some threads just never go away. I see the differences between the push & catch systems are:
Push may require the cartridge to be completely chambered, bolt closed before the extractor will snap over the rim. Catch will have the rim behind the extractor as it comes up from the magazine. In a shooting situation both extractors will have grasped the rim.
The catch systems that I'm aware of have fixed ejectors that do not contact the cartridge until it is ejecting the cartridge. the push system has the ejector in constant contact with the cartridge and under spring pressure. The ejector button is generally at the top of the chambered cartridge so is applying pressure to the cartridge, pushing the bullet to the bottom of the chamber, and doing so consistently. I have read that some believe that this is one of the reasons push systems are thought to be more accurate than catch.
The third difference I will note is the push extractors are generally mush smaller than catch. So in a situation where the rifle has been fired and minute degrees of accuracy are not needed, this difference seems to be the most important as the extractor may be pulled through the rim of a stuck case whereas the larger bite of the catch would have sufficient grip to remove the case.
 

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If the extractor is your only concern then convert to a Sako or better yet an m14/4 claw type. Have done so on many from 300 Wby to 458 Lott.Started converting more then 50 years ago and all conversions still fault free. Simple conversion.
 

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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.
In the last 55 years I have only seen one bolt action rifle fail at a critical time. My PH had a push feed .458 which failed to feed when a cape buffalo got up and started to close on him. His rifle went "click." Mine was on a Mauser action, and I broke the bulls neck. He had fired a shot and worked the bolt, which ejected the spent shell but didn't feed up the next one. I think I'll stick with CRF for dangerous game.
 

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That sounds like a magazine failure... or that the shooter short stroked the action... not something related to CRF vs PF?

CRF controls the round from the time it leaves the magazine vs PF simply pushing the round into the chamber once it leaves the magazine..

But if the PH got a "click".. that sounds like no round ever left the magazine in the first place? and he squeezed the trigger on an empty chamber?

The most common failures that typically get referenced in the CRF vs PF debate are tied to the gun never going "click" because of some problem that prevents the PF from going into battery (a double feed.. or the round not aligning with the chamber properly and therefore not feeding due to the shooters angle/axis, and various extraction arguments which prevent the next round from feeding into the chamber...
 
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Gringocazador

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I’m of the don’t believe anything I hear camp and only half of what I see.

I have Mausers, 550 CZ’s, and they feed really good with the exception of one. I also have a bunch of push feed Weatherbys, Win, Browning etc., Remington too. They all seem to work just fine, except a 375 Steyr built on a large ring Mauser which was built by one of the best gunsmithes in the US known to be able to make a rifle feed and has been worked on by another really good one and it still does not always feed. I would not take my 376 Steyr on a serious hunt. But I would my Remington 700 375 H&H.

My Remington 375 feeds slick as can be.

I had a PH tell me me my Remington was just fine. He said he had seen his share of Remington’s and they did was well as all the rest.

I bear hunt d with a Savage, it feed just fine.

I have a Winchester XPR in 325 WSM and way the magazine holds and guides the round into the camber appears to be very reliable.

Lot of good feeding and working rifles and not all of them are Mausers which are one my favorites.
 

375 Ruger Fan

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I posted this video on some other thread on the same topic.

 

bruce moulds

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That sounds like a magazine failure... or that the shooter short stroked the action... not something related to CRF vs PF?

CRF controls the round from the time it leaves the magazine vs PF simply pushing the round into the chamber once it leaves the magazine..

But if the PH got a "click".. that sounds like no round ever left the magazine in the first place? and he squeezed the trigger on an empty chamber?

The most common failures that typically get referenced in the CRF vs PF debate are tied to the gun never going "click" because of some problem that prevents the PF from going into battery (a double feed.. or the round not aligning with the chamber properly and therefore not feeding due to the shooters angle/axis, and various extraction arguments which prevent the next round from feeding into the chamber...
you raise a good and valid point.
there are many who credit crf actions with the ability to raise from the dead and cure cancer,
if the round does not come up from the mag properly, no system will feed it.
if the action rails are wrong for the cartridge, or the feed ramp is wrong for the cartridge, a crf action will jam where a push feed will work.
strictly speaking crf only does 2 things.
the extractor claw should hold the rim as the round goes forward.
this stops the round from falling or bouncing out of the action prior to being in the chamber enough to not feed.
should you fail to turn the bolt handle down, it will, because the rim is captured, eject the round on the backpull of the bolt.
while the latter does not sound much, it is the major advantage of crf.
with a pushfeed, if you forward stroke the bolt a round will chamber in front of the extractor.
it has been known that under pressure people have the pulled the bolt back, and tried to close the bolt again.
but it cant happen as there is already a round in the chamber, and a jam happens.
the crf will eject the first round.
as far as feeding in, crf can be a pain if the geometrics of the action do not match the cartridge.
with the round captured 1/2 under the claw and crooked it will just jam, whereas a pushfeed just lets the round rattle around until it goes in.
altering tapered cases like 7x57 to ackley improved can often cause this problem.
all the other things about crf like big extractors are irrelevent in a comparison between crf and pf, as they are issues unto themselves.
bruce.
 

Doug Hamilton

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That sounds like a magazine failure... or that the shooter short stroked the action... not something related to CRF vs PF?

CRF controls the round from the time it leaves the magazine vs PF simply pushing the round into the chamber once it leaves the magazine..

But if the PH got a "click".. that sounds like no round ever left the magazine in the first place? and he squeezed the trigger on an empty chamber?

The most common failures that typically get referenced in the CRF vs PF debate are tied to the gun never going "click" because of some problem that prevents the PF from going into battery (a double feed.. or the round not aligning with the chamber properly and therefore not feeding due to the shooters angle/axis, and various extraction arguments which prevent the next round from feeding into the chamber...
Yes, he closed the bolt on an empty chamber, but he had not short stroked the bolt as it had ejected the empty shell. It may have been a magazine failure but I like the controlled round feed. Most of my hunting rifles are push feed but a deer or plains game are not likely to kill you in an action failure. I still think that the heavy claw extractor is more reliable than the little clip extractor.
 

bruce moulds

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just watched the video, and will make these comments.
firstly, any bolt action should function fast and slow with equal reliability.
second, the ring of steel on the pf action is a zig to counter a zag.
in actual fact mauser breeching is superior, as the entire case head is supported in the barrel, whereas some of it is not with the pf.
and thirdly, the heading of the video contains the term accuracy.
both forms of action can be just as accurate.
bruce.
 

bruce moulds

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doug,
a push feed can eject a case with the bolt not pulled fully to the rear if the ejector is spring loaded.
this could mean that the boltface was in front of the rim of the next round in the mag.
a crf would not have ejected in such circumstance, and closing the bolt would have rechambered the empty case in a good feeding rifle.
again a "click".
we need to train ourselves to pull bolts fully to the rear, whatever style.
this can be a problem when owning different length actions, as muscle memory can override all sorts of things.
bruce.
 

Doug Hamilton

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you raise a good and valid point.
there are many who credit crf actions with the ability to raise from the dead and cure cancer,
if the round does not come up from the mag properly, no system will feed it.
if the action rails are wrong for the cartridge, or the feed ramp is wrong for the cartridge, a crf action will jam where a push feed will work.
strictly speaking crf only does 2 things.
the extractor claw should hold the rim as the round goes forward.
this stops the round from falling or bouncing out of the action prior to being in the chamber enough to not feed.
should you fail to turn the bolt handle down, it will, because the rim is captured, eject the round on the backpull of the bolt.
while the latter does not sound much, it is the major advantage of crf.
with a pushfeed, if you forward stroke the bolt a round will chamber in front of the extractor.
it has been known that under pressure people have the pulled the bolt back, and tried to close the bolt again.
but it cant happen as there is already a round in the chamber, and a jam happens.
the crf will eject the first round.
as far as feeding in, crf can be a pain if the geometrics of the action do not match the cartridge.
with the round captured 1/2 under the claw and crooked it will just jam, whereas a pushfeed just lets the round rattle around until it goes in.
altering tapered cases like 7x57 to ackley improved can often cause this problem.
all the other things about crf like big extractors are irrelevent in a comparison between crf and pf, as they are issues unto themselves.
bruce.
That all makes a lot of sense, but as I said, I've only seen one bolt action failure at a critical time and it was with a push feed action. And then we have the issue of over pressure from hot climates causing the bolt to stick. Would you rather try to pull out a stuck case with a heavy claw or a little clip. It wasn't at a critical time but I did see that at a range and Model 700 extractor snapped over the rim. I don't think that a CRF will cure cancer but I do think it gives a little bit of extra reliability in a dangerous game rifle.
 

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I've hunted bear on Kodiak a few times and once while waiting for the Mountainhouse dinner to get warm, I asked my outfitter why he used a PF. He said: "When a bear charges me & I have to cycle my rifle hanging upside down from a tree I'll get a CRF. 'Til then I'll just keep on using my (.416 Rem) Sako."

As long as it (and YOU) feeds reliably, that is all that matters. Me. I only hunt with Winchester Mod 70s, mainly Pre Wars and a few Classics.
 

bruce moulds

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for many years i used rem 700s with total satisfaction.
they were in fact easier to reload on the run without looking than a brno 600 which somehow drew blood while doing this.
then a m70 pushfeed was even easier to reload.
now using dakota 76, win 70, and mauser 98. the space between my ears is comfortable, and i have other features as well.
i think one of the things i like is the big extractor, which while it comes with crf is a seperate issue.
i like the breeching of mauser and dakota, but find win m70 so user friendly.
i converted the crf m70 from std length to h&h length myself by buying a boltstop and ejector and a mag box.
then had it rebarreled to a long cartridge.
bruce.
 

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This is certainly a hot button topic for campfires from Alaska to Africa and beyond. Taking user error out of the equation which would account for 99% of all failures...it's the particular rifle that is reliable or not reliable and has nothing to do with PF/CRF. Short stroke being the most common user error. In a CRF, it will not eject and the bolt will be closed on an already fired cartridge...then click. In a PF, the fired cartridge will eject, but a new one will not be picked up...again click.

Rifle actions can be fixed to become more reliable, smoothed and tuned. It's much more difficult to fix a problem that originated from behind the trigger.

Shooting is a skill, a perishable skill that needs to be practiced to be maintained. Constant proficiency with dry fire practice and range sessions is needed to hone those skills. By doing this properly you will not only become a more skilled hunter, but will determine if a rifle is reliable or not. Practice with what you will be shooting for a hunt regardless of the action type, and you will be better equipped to deal with any adverse situation.

For those looking to take their hunting skills beyond the campfire, seeking a professional class like those offered from FTW Ranch is a great place to start. Stay humble and stay open to learning and growing. That is the key to great shooting.
 

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@BeeMaa I am with you on practice. You have to grab the rifle days before the hunt and make sure that you and the rifle are working properly and in harmony. What are you going to miss out on by taking that time? Listening to songs on the radio for the hundredth/thousandth time? Watching a YouTube video?
Planning and Preparation cannot be beaten.
 

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