High-Priced Screwups

This past week I tested a factory bolt-action rifle that proceeded to break with fewer than 60 rounds through it. The ejector jammed and a gas baffle rotated out of position so you couldn’t close the bolt.

I was going to whine about this, and then point out that if you spend all that money for custom guns you don't have to put up with such malfunctions, but then I realized that I've had plenty of trouble with rifles that cost a lot of money. Here’s a short list:

  • A cheekpiece carved on the wrong side of the stock. The maker ignored the left-hand bolt.
  • A .222 that wouldn't extract.
  • A .338 whose tang cracked.
  • A .375 H&H whose bolt stop didn't work most of the time.
  • A Ruger Number One, restocked and rebarreled to .22 Hornet that came out of the bluing bath with a pit on the receiver flat that an armadillo could crawl into.
  • A very, very high-priced .30/06 with an oversized chamber.
  • A .458 that had so many things wrong with it that the list took two single-spaced typewritten pages. I wrote the maker about it in August and heard back in May of the next year.
  • A .375 H&H whose ejector worked only occasionally.
  • A 7mm Weatherby Magnum that arrived with the rear action screw missing. It shot MOA groups anyway. When I called the maker, he said "My life is such hell."
  • And so on.

The moral is that high price is not always a guarantee that everything will work. But usually it is.