Transitioning To A Blaser R8 - A Two Months / 500 Rounds Review

TheWhitetailNut

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A concession to classic looks, or an oversight?

I find it fascinating TOBY, that Blaser decided to put a front swivel barrel band on their Selous barrels, and I have been wondering if it is a concession to classic looks, or an oversight? Neither seem to align with Blaser's resolutely new design/new looks philosophy, nor attention to details...

Back to the basics, the only reason why front swivels are attached to a barrel band on high recoil DG rifles, is to prevent a front swivel stud from cutting into the palm web of the shooter's hand during recoil.

Blaser has addressed this with the other way to deal with the issue, which is to locate the front swivel stud at the end of the forearm, out of the way of a shooter's hand sliding forward on the forearm under severe recoil.

View attachment 381502
R8 front swivel stud located at the end of the forearm, out of the way of a shooter's hand sliding forward on the forearm under severe recoil.

A front swivel barrel band is therefore not NEEDED on a R8 barrel in this configuration.

All R8 wood stocks in non-DG calibers (R8 Jaeger, Luxus, Attache, Baroness, Intuition); all R8 Success stocks (wood and Pro synthetic); and all R8 Pro synthetic stocks come with a front swivel stud located at the end of the forearm. The lone exception seems to be the R8 Classic Sporter (see Red Leg's rifle), now discontinued.

Interestingly, it seems that there is little consistency in front swivel studs being attached, or not, to Blaser Pro Big Bore synthetic stocks (Blaser now apparently call it the R8 PH). I have personally seen R8 Pro Big Bore stocks (steel receiver, 22 mm Selous barrels channel) with and without front swivel studs... For example, BeeMaa's rifle has one.

The Kilombero and Selous wood stocks appear to consistently NOT have a front swivel stud. Since other wood stocks do have front swivel studs, it seems that only a concern for classic looks would have motivated Blaser to make the Kilombero and Selous wood stocks without a front swivel stud... As a result, one on the "Selous" type barrel (with front swivel barrel band) is needed with those... I wonder how people do when they install a non-Selous barrel (without a front swivel barrel band) on a Kilombero or Selous stock that does not have a front swivel stud... The argument that they do not for aesthetics reason is weak, because even the .300 Win Mag Selous barrel shows a 1/16th inch gap on each side in the Kilombero and Selous wood stocks, for it is only 19 mm while the stocks channel is 22 mm...

Anyway... I would not bother with a front swivel barrel band on barrels going onto a R8 stock with front swivel stud at the end of the forearm. It is not needed :)
That's not the only reason. High recoil DG rifle also have alot more steel north of the action screw (or what would be the balance point on a mere mortal turnbolt). I had the band put on because then my sling is hung 3" further forward. This will prevent the rifle from spinning off my shoulder all day. Little something I hated carrying a heavy Varmint rifle years ago and didn't wish to repeat in the heat of Africa.
 

TheWhitetailNut

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Hello Steve;

I know that it is easy to add (or remove) a front swivel stud at the end of a R8 synthetic stock, because it is easy to change the tip of a R8 synthetic stock. It only involves one bolt.

View attachment 381505

I do not know how the ebony tip is attached to a Kilombero stock. I suspect that it may be glued permanently in place with wood dowel(s), the way it is usually done.

It would be interesting to see how the ebony tip is attached on the R8 Jaeger, Luxus, Attache, Baroness and Intuition wood stocks. I would expect that a swivel stud rod is drilled fairly deep into the forearm, lengthwise, to act as a dowel for the attachment of the tip AND provide strength to the stud to avoid splitting the forearm/tip with a shallow swivel attachment.

@BeeMaa's wife has an Intuition. Maybe we can ask him to show us a picture of the forearm channel showing how the ebony tip is attached. My speculation is that there is not bolt to see, but I could be wrong...

I see no reason why a front swivel stud rod (or long screw) could not be drilled lengthwise and epoxied in place in a Kilombero forearm, but I would only have a very qualified stock-smith do that, or maybe Blaser could retrofit this for you. I suggest calling or emailing Andre Gorjup, their US Gunsmith and Technical Service Manager, at (210) 377-2527 / andrej.gorjup@blaser-group.us. Andrej is very competent and very pleasant to deal with :)



I looked into the custom barrels possibility when I bought my .300 Wby barrel. Initially I wanted a true 26" barrel (and I toyed with the concept of a 28" barrel)...

FYI, after discovering that some folks had issues with either J. Sip and Sons and/or Palehorse Zero barrels, I decided to ONLY use Blaser barrels, because loosing 1" of barrel length to the R8 barrel locking recess was not worth running the risk of getting an after market barrel that may or may not live up to my expectations as surely as a Blaser barrel would.

Maybe those issues were early teething issues and maybe both makers have things under control now... The machining (likely CNC) on TheWhitetailNut's barrel seems well done...

Considering that Blaser offers both a .416 Rem and a .458 Lott barrel, the safe path would be to go with either of these to make a R8 a .40+ rifle.

However, the Blaser $3,000+ pricing for these barrels is ridiculous in my view. It is hard to see in this anything other than Blaser taking advantage of their Safari-going customers (assumed to be wealthy I guess...). As I said before, call it misplace pride on my part...

Thank God, I did not need one of these barrels because my .40+ is a Krieghoff .470 NE double...
Some of the machining such as the fluting is spectacular, even the skip flute is exactly as I specified. PZ said Kreiger does all of that. Machining the final profile that mates into the receiver and the lockup recess (done by PZ) does have fine tool marks but you really have to be picky to see them.

I have much more shooting to do, but the barrel seems very accurate.
 

TOBY458

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I've been noticing some Pro S Safari rifles in 458 Lott on GB. They are going for $5500.00. Of course these are the rifles with the non detachable magazine. But in my view, this would be desirable in a heavy recoiling rifle meant for DG. The regular Pro Safari in the same caliber is $600.00 more. As for the non detachable magazine, I have yet to load my Professional by taking the magazine out. I always load from the top. So not sure I'd miss that feature.
 

BeeMaa

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We load both ways.
At the beginning of a shooting session we remove the magazine and load it.
As we are shooting, we reload from the top.
Try to practice both, because you never know...

The magazine lock allows you to make a removable magazine, non-removable.
However, it doesn’t work the other way.

If it were me, I’d spend the extra $ for the removable mag.
It just gives you more options in the future.
Including increased resale value.
After all, we are still talking about @TOBY458.
 

Ridgewalker

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I have yet to load my Professional by taking the magazine out. I always load from the top. So not sure I'd miss that feature.

The larger the cartridge, the easier to load from the top. The 223 is virtually impossible for me to load without removing the magazine. It may just be my old hands aren't as dexterous as they once were. The 6.5 Creedmoor isn't much easier. JMO&E
 

Newby

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We load both ways.
At the beginning of a shooting session we remove the magazine and load it.
As we are shooting, we reload from the top.
Try to practice both, because you never know...

The magazine lock allows you to make a removable magazine, non-removable.
However, it doesn’t work the other way.

If it were me, I’d spend the extra $ for the removable mag.
It just gives you more options in the future.
Including increased resale value.
After all, we are still talking about @TOBY458.
Agree. The last para is exactly why I stumped up the extra $$ for the detachable fire control/magazine.
 

TOBY458

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We load both ways.
At the beginning of a shooting session we remove the magazine and load it.
As we are shooting, we reload from the top.
Try to practice both, because you never know...

The magazine lock allows you to make a removable magazine, non-removable.
However, it doesn’t work the other way.

If it were me, I’d spend the extra $ for the removable mag.
It just gives you more options in the future.
Including increased resale value.
After all, we are still talking about @TOBY458.
I am utterly offended at your accusations that I might sell a rifle I don't even own yet in the future! Hahaha!
 

TOBY458

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We load both ways.
At the beginning of a shooting session we remove the magazine and load it.
As we are shooting, we reload from the top.
Try to practice both, because you never know...

The magazine lock allows you to make a removable magazine, non-removable.
However, it doesn’t work the other way.

If it were me, I’d spend the extra $ for the removable mag.
It just gives you more options in the future.
Including increased resale value.
After all, we are still talking about @TOBY458.
Bad part is, when you buy from the online dealers they are now collecting sales tax according to where you live. So add another $425 or so to the $6100.00 price tag for the Pro Safari.
 

BeeMaa

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Bad part is, when you buy from the online dealers they are now collecting sales tax according to where you live. So add another $425 or so to the $6100.00 price tag for the Pro Safari.
Cry me a river.
What are you gonna do...take it with you?
No you are not gonna cry, you are gonna pony up.
So that when I buy that sucker from you it has THE DETACHABLE MAGAZINE!!!!

Anyway, happy shopping.
 

VertigoBE

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Two outstanding design features of the Blaser R8...

Safety / cocking / decocking mechanism -
I was unfortunate to witness a few accidental discharges in the military and at the shooting range. Nobody was hurt, but these were scary. I also happen to know someone who was involved in an accidental discharge in Africa, that resulted in a fatality. A push feed rifle was handled by a group of people with live rounds being used to check a feeding issue. Unbeknownst to the rifle owner, in the process of checking the feed someone pushed a cartridge into the chamber and left it there. It was not picked up by the bolt extractor as the bolt was moved back & forth because the bolt was not closed on it and the extractor never engaged the groove. In the heat of the discussion the rifle changed hands several times before its owner checked visually that there was no ammo in the magazine, closed the bolt, and put the rifle back on the rear seat of the Toyota cruiser. The next time the rifle was taken off the vehicle, the person who took it touched the trigger when grabbing the rifle. The rifle fired. One woman died.

Of course, a long list of gun safety violations happened in succession in this sad true story, but the bottom line is that: had the rifle been a true CRF action, the bolt could not have been closed on top of the cartridge in the chamber (the main reason why I favor CRF over PF); and, had the rifle been a Blaser R8, the uncocked rifle could not have fired.

I always dry fire a rifle with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction after unloading it or handling it, and I ask my PH to witness and confirm the "click" of the dry firing, for his comfort as well as mine. I have also decided a long time ago NEVER to carry a loaded rifle when hunting, and to only chamber a round during the final approach when a shot is imminent. Following up wounded DG is obviously the only exception to that rule...

The Blaser R8 is as close to full-proof as possible, when it comes to safety and preventing accidental discharge. It automatically decocks when the trigger group/magazine is removed for loading; it does NOT automatically cock when a cartridge is loaded in the chamber; and it is physically impossible for the rifle to fire until it is manually cocked. In addition, the cocking piece requires enough physical effort so that cocking cannot be accomplished accidentally under virtually any scenario, and decocking the rifle on a live round in the chamber renders the rifle inert again.

Conversely, once manually cocked the R8 remains cocked when the rifle is repeated, thereby eliminating the weakness of the Blaser S2 that requires manual recocking after each reload.

I consider the R8 safety / cocking / decocking mechanism to be an immense improvement over traditional action-mounted, sear-blocking safeties that can allow the firing pin to jump the sear in a hard fall; and also as a significant improvement over bolt-mounted, firing pin-blocking safeties (a.k.a. Mauser "flag" safety or Winchester 3 positions safety) that still operate with the firing pin resting at the end of a fully compressed spring.

To owners of a Blaser S2 double rifle, and to people like me who favor the Krieghoff Classic Big Five double rifle, the Blaser R8 offers the additional great benefit of an identical "manual of arms" (i.e. identical manipulations in order to get the rifle to fire). This can be really useful in stressful situations when the conscious mind shuts down and the body reverts to the unconscious reflexes acquired during training...

View attachment 377383
The Blaser R8 safety / cocking / decocking mechanism: an immense improvement over traditional action-mounted, sear-blocking safeties that can allow the firing pin to jump the sear in a hard fall; and also a significant improvement over bolt-mounted, firing pin-blocking safeties (a.k.a. Winchester 3 positions safety) that still operate with the firing pin resting at the end of a fully compressed spring.


Barrel and scope mounts - Traditional rifles feature a barrel that is screwed into an action, and the action is bolted onto the stock. What this means is that during recoil the barrel pushes onto the action, and the action must be rigid enough to not bend between the barrel thread and the action screws. In practice, the action actually flexes minutely during recoil. This is the reason why the thumb cut in the left action wall of the Mauser K98 military action was removed in the Mauser magnum M98 commercial action; why short actions are used whenever possible on high precision rifles; and why benchrest actions do not have a magazine well cut in the bottom of the action.

Because the Blaser R8 does not actually have an action - the bolt locks directly inside the barrel, an outstanding feature of the R8 is that the barrel itself - not the action - is attached to the stock. There is nothing to flex...

How much does this feature contribute to the R8 accuracy, I do not know, but contribute it does...

Similarly, because the scope mount is attached to the barrel - not the action - the scope mount is not summited to flex forces as when the action of a traditional rifle flexes under recoil.

How much does this feature contribute to the R8 accuracy and scope QD repeatability, I do not know, but contribute it does...

View attachment 377390
The Blaser R8 barrel attaches directly to the stock - not to an action. The R8 scope mount attaches directly to the barrel - not to an action. This removes from the accuracy and QD repeatability equations the action flexing under recoil. Clever...

Hello One Day,

I was reading through your excellent review of the R8. Congratulations on such a nice write up!

I had a question about the safety that is actually de-cocking the rifle. You then mention that it is a different system yet tan the Mauser Flag style. Could you explain this a bit more?

Reason is I have a Mauser M03 Extreme. One of the main reasons I chose this one in the shop is because it had this de-cocking feature en lieu of a traditional safety. Or so I thought till I read your article. Am I missing something perhaps?

Thank you,

Vertigo
 

TOBY458

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Hello One Day,

I was reading through your excellent review of the R8. Congratulations on such a nice write up!

I had a question about the safety that is actually de-cocking the rifle. You then mention that it is a different system yet tan the Mauser Flag style. Could you explain this a bit more?

Reason is I have a Mauser M03 Extreme. One of the main reasons I chose this one in the shop is because it had this de-cocking feature en lieu of a traditional safety. Or so I thought till I read your article. Am I missing something perhaps?

Thank you,

Vertigo
I believe he was referring to the Mauser 98 safety, which is a traditional style safety, not a striker cocking/decocking arrangement like is on the R8.
 

BeeMaa

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Hello One Day,

I was reading through your excellent review of the R8. Congratulations on such a nice write up!

I had a question about the safety that is actually de-cocking the rifle. You then mention that it is a different system yet tan the Mauser Flag style. Could you explain this a bit more?

Reason is I have a Mauser M03 Extreme. One of the main reasons I chose this one in the shop is because it had this de-cocking feature en lieu of a traditional safety. Or so I thought till I read your article. Am I missing something perhaps?

Thank you,

Vertigo
The "safety" on a R8 is not a true safety in the form of the M98.
It does not block the sear, firing pin or the trigger.
The decocker on the R8 removes all the tension from the firing pin spring.
This makes the rifle inert, even with a round in the chamber.

It has been said that you could drop the rifle (loaded and decocked) from 50 feet without a discharge.
Personally, I've not tried it...but the Blaser system is extremely safe.
There are a number of other companies who employ a similar system on certain rifles.
The Krieghoff double rifles and Hubertus single shot come to mind.
Along with a few other continental rifle makers.

The Mauser M03 is NOT a clone of the M98.
It works very similar to the Blaser R8 system.
The M03 action decocks the firing pin spring and locks the bolt.
Most likely due to the fact that they share the same parent company.

L&O Holdings owns both Blaser and Mauser.
As such, I'm sure they share information.
FYI- They also own SIG, Rigby and JP Sauer & Sohn.
 
Last edited:

VertigoBE

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The "safety" on a R8 is not a true safety in the form of the M98.
It does not block the sear, firing pin or the trigger.
The decocker on the R8 removes all the tension from the firing pin spring.
This makes the rifle inert, even with a round in the chamber.

It has been said that you could drop the rifle (loaded and decocked) from 50 feet without a discharge.
Personally, I've not tried it...but the Blaser system is extremely safe.
There are a number of other companies who employ a similar system on certain rifles.
The Krieghoff double rifles and Hubertus single shot come to mind.
Along with a few other continental rifle makers.

The Mauser M03 is NOT a clone of the M98.
It works very similar to the Blaser R8 system.
The M03 action decocks the firing pin spring and locks the bolt.
Most likely due to the fact that they share the same parent company.

L&O Holdings owns both Blaser and Mauser.
As such, I'm sure they share information.
FYI- They also own SIG, Rigby and JP Sauer & Sohn.


Thank you BeeMaa! This indeed clears it up. I can rest assured that my Mauser still has the feature that decided for me to chose it :D

Cheers,

Vertigo
 

One Day...

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Hello VertigoBE.

Apologies for a delayed answer, things have been busy around here recently...

Essentially TOBY458 and BeeMaa beat me to it :)

I was indeed referencing the classic Mauser 98 safety, and I would only add a small caveat to BeeMaa's explanation: as can be experienced easily when changing a R8 bolt head, the firing pin is actually locked (it cannot freely float forward) when the system is not cocked.

Locked firing pin...

Locking the firing pin is what prevents the rifle from firing accidentally should it be dropped forward, when the mechanical inertia of a free floating firing pin could possibly fire the rifle - as occasionally happens on some military semi auto 7.62x63, 7.62x51 or 5.56x45 rifles that have a heavy steel firing pin floating forward with the inertia of the action closing, and slam-firing the soft primers of .30-06, .308 or .223 civilian ammo. I have seen this happen a few times myself...

Avoiding this, is the reason why most modern M4 carbines have a light firing pin, and why there is a market for titanium replacement firing pins for SKS, M1 Garand, M16, MAS 49/56, etc. and FAL or G3 on which the firing pin rebound spring has been lost. It is also the reason why military ammo typically have harder primers than civilian ammo.

In summary, the Blaser R8 safety system rests on:

1) Decocker releasing the spring tension on the firing pin.​
2) Decocker locking the action.​
3) Decocker locking the firing pin.​
4) Firing pin including a rebound spring at the forward tip (visible when changing the bolt head) to prevent the firing pin from floating forward in case of hard fall when the rifle is cocked.​

Empty chamber...

Even on a R8 I would argue that the safest way to carry the rifle is without a cartridge in the chamber: one can hardly argue about an empty chamber being the safest condition ;)

But I would also argue that the succession of unfortunate events to make a R8 fire accidentally is pretty unlikely. Yet, one could, I guess, imagine someone falling forward, the rifle barrel jamming itself on hard ground, the hand sliding on the stock wrist and inadvertently cocking the rifle, and the trigger somehow being hit as the fall completes...

I personally continue, even with the R8, my decades long practice of only loading a round in the chamber when a shot is imminent at the end of a stalk. The other cases when the rifle must be loaded would be sitting in a leopard blind in absolute silence, or following wounded dangerous game...

Who will bear responsibility...

When everything is said and done, if an accidental discharge happens and someone gets hurt, the person holding the rifle ends up in the accused box, not the myriad other people (including internet bloggers, or even the PH) who freely gave advice on how it is OK to carry around a loaded rifle...................

I have never missed an opportunity in 40+ years of hunting because my chamber was empty, but I do know someone who was involved in an accidental death by loaded hunting rifle, and I do not want the moral guilt, nor the legal and financial liabilities, so I play it safe...
 
Last edited:

VertigoBE

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Hello VertigoBE.

Apologies for a delayed answer, things have been busy around here recently...

Essentially TOBY458 and BeeMaa beat me to it :)

I was indeed referencing the classic Mauser 98 safety, and I would only add a small caveat to BeeMaa's explanation: as can be experienced easily when changing a R8 bolt head, the firing pin is actually locked (it cannot freely float forward) when the system is not cocked.

Locked firing pin...

Locking the firing pin is what prevents the rifle from firing accidentally should it be dropped forward, when the mechanical inertia of a free floating firing pin could possibly fire the rifle - as occasionally happens on some military semi auto 7.62x63, 7.62x51 or 5.56x45 rifles that have a heavy steel firing pin floating forward with the inertia of the action closing, and slam-firing the soft primers of .30-06, .308 or .223 civilian ammo. I have seen this happen a few times myself...

Avoiding this, is the reason why most modern M4 carbines have a light firing pin, and why there is a market for titanium replacement firing pins for SKS, M1 Garand, M16, MAS 49/56, etc. and FAL or G3 on which the firing pin rebound spring has been lost. It is also the reason why military ammo typically have harder primers than civilian ammo.

In summary, the Blaser R8 safety system rests on:

1) Decocker releasing the spring tension on the firing pin.​
2) Decocker locking the action.​
3) Decocker locking the firing pin.​
4) Firing pin including a rebound spring at the forward tip (visible when changing the bolt head) to prevent the firing pin from floating forward in case of hard fall when the rifle is cocked.​

Empty chamber...

Even on a R8 I would argue that the safest way of carrying the rifle is without a cartridge in the chamber; one can hardly argue about an empty chamber being the safest condition ;)

But I would also argue that the succession of unfortunate events to make a R8 fire accidentally is pretty unlikely. Yet, one could, I guess, imagine someone falling forward, the rifle barrel jamming itself on hard ground, the hand sliding on the stock wrist and inadvertently cocking the rifle, and the trigger somehow being hit as the fall completes...

I personally continue, even with the R8, my decades long practice of only loading a round in the chamber when a shot is imminent at the end of a stalk. The other cases when the rifle must be loaded would be sitting in a leopard blind in absolute silence, or following wounded dangerous game...

Who will bear responsibility...

When everything is said and done, if an accidental discharge happens and someone gets hurt, the person holding the rifle ends up in the accused box, not the myriad other people (including internet bloggers, or even the PH) who freely gave advice on how the rifle should to be carried...................

I have never missed an opportunity in 40+ years of hunting because my chamber was empty, but I do know someone who was involved in an accidental death by loaded hunting rifle, and I do not want the moral guilt, nor the legal and financial liabilities, so I play it safe...

Thanks One Day for this crystal clear explanation! Very informative!

You wouldn’t happen to know whether the Mauser M03 also has this ‘blocking the firing pin function’ or is this specific to the R8?

And I do agree that in general carrying should be done with an empty chamber.

Yet when seeing how modern striker fired pistols are carried, often with a round in the chamber... but the holster covering the trigger ensures the safety then I suppose.

V.
 

One Day...

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I do not know about the M03 system, so I cannot answer your question :cry:

As to striker-fired pistols, I only own Glock striker-fired pistols (17, 19, 20, 21, 30) and the Glock actually has a locked striker/firing pin, which is one of the reasons it passes the "throw/drop test". I do not know specifically about other striker-fired pistols...
 

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Thanks One Day for this crystal clear explanation! Very informative!

You wouldn’t happen to know whether the Mauser M03 also has this ‘blocking the firing pin function’ or is this specific to the R8?

And I do agree that in general carrying should be done with an empty chamber.

Yet when seeing how modern striker fired pistols are carried, often with a round in the chamber... but the holster covering the trigger ensures the safety then I suppose.

V.
Once the percussion cap was abandoned, revolvers have been carried for well over a century with rounds in the chamber and no "safety" mechanism at all. Proper handling of a firearm is the most certain way to prevent accidental discharges.

But I will agree with @One Day... the design of the Blaser cocking system is about as Murphy proof as any yet fielded.
 

One Day...

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Amen!

Interestingly though, prior to the advent of the transfer bar in revolvers, which is one way to achieve hammer "lock" (i.e. preventing it from striking a primer inadvertently), it was a widely accepted safe practice to carry the hammer down on an empty chamber, or to carefully position the hammer down on the cylinder chamber wall between two loaded chambers. This prevented true "accidental discharges" in addition to proper handling preventing what I think is more aptly called "negligent discharges" as I am sure you too Red Leg witnessed during your military career :rolleyes:
 

TOBY458

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One question I have for you guys. Do all of the Jaeger and Luxus rifles have aluminum recievers? It would appear that that they would just about have to be aluminum to me. So in that case, if a person wanted an even more versatile set up, you could use all of the available barrel profiles with a simple forend swap, and not have to contend with the heavy steel receiver, and or multiple receivers. Am I wrong?

Screenshot_20210123-061239_Chrome.jpg
 
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