View Full Version : barrel removal

February 5, 2011, 08:15 PM
Ive read alot of threads over the past few weeks on removing a mosin nagant barrel. I purchased a barrel vise and action wrench, and used heat but no avail. So i have also heard that you can make a relief cut in the barrel to save the action, However none of the forums have pictures and i cant seem to find a video of some one doing this. So my question is can anyone here provide me with a picture and details on how and where I should make a relief cut, or a video or link to a video. I also have read how difficult it is to remove the barrel on one of these and how stupid it is to waste the time and money to do it but I am using this project as a fun/practice sorta thing and would really appreciate any advice someone could give me.

February 5, 2011, 08:54 PM
I don't know about a relief cut, but I used to mill or grind 2 flats on the barrel at the chamber so I could get a better grip on it. I don't know what kind of receiver wrench you are using, but I usually use a 2 piece split-block type that goes around the outside of the receiver. Whichever part you are trying to move will require a large hammer on the wrench handle to break it loose. These guns have a bad reputation when it comes to barrel removal and it is well deserved.

James K
February 5, 2011, 09:00 PM
The normal way of making a relief cut is in a lathe using a cutoff tool but cutting only in past the receiver shoulder. You don't cut right to the receiver, you leave a tiny amount of barrel, just to make sure you don't cut into the receiver. You could do it with a hacksaw and a lot of care but I don't recommend that. Of course the relief cut usually ruins the barrel for replacement, so it is used only on barrels that will be scrapped or rethreaded for use on some different rifle.

Are you putting enough pressure on the receiver wrench? Rifle barrels are often on very tight and it takes muscle and a good heavy bench setup, plus often a long bar on the wrench to break them loose. Soaking things in a penetrant often helps.


T. O'Heir
February 6, 2011, 02:43 AM
"...enough pressure on the receiver wrench..." And have the right one? Bashing it in the right direction? You may just need a bigger hammer.

February 6, 2011, 03:44 AM
There is no way to decently hold a Russian in a lathe to make such a cut and they usually fight you all the way out anyway. You need a small sledge hammer to break it loose and then if lucky, a bar to turn it off the rest of the way. There is nothing wrong with using a hammer as it simulates an impact gun.

February 6, 2011, 11:26 AM
Yeah im putting alot of pressure on the wrench but ive crushed two sets of oak blocks already so I dunno what else to do.... would a pipe vise be an option?? and i do not have access to a lathe anyway?? so it would have to be a hacksaw I made the cut with... do i just cut the barrel off?? or how do I make the cut?

February 6, 2011, 12:34 PM
If you cut the barrel off you will really be screwed because it sounds like you don't have much to work with. It also sounds like you only bought part of the barrel wrench set. If you are clamping one part of it in a regular bench vise with wood, I doubt if you will ever break it loose. *It is hard to explain the cut to someone unfamiliar with machining. Right in front of the receiver, cut the barrel about 1/8" deep all the way around the barrel. If the barrel is screwed against the front of the receiver, this will take some of the pressure off. As I said before, I doubt if it will help because the barrels on them usually are tight all the way.

February 6, 2011, 02:34 PM
I bought an action wrench the split block metal kind and a barrel vise from midway.... Im pretty sure that I know what you mean by cutting all the way around the barrel it sounds simple but im trying to avoid that if possible I guess. I just dont know what else to try and break it free. and a hacksaw would work to cut the barrel wouldnt it?

February 6, 2011, 02:41 PM
If it's anything like a .303 it takes a tremendous amount of pressure to get it loose. Cutting the barrel isn't going to help you any, the threads are still going to be super tight.

February 6, 2011, 03:03 PM
Yeah im putting alot of pressure on the wrench but ive crushed two sets of oak blocks already so I dunno what else to do..

Use metal blocks.

Sometimes you even need a large press to clamp the blocks tight enough, along with a decent length of pipe on the action wrench.

I have actually gone so far as to weld blocks onto a barrel if it is headed for the trash anyway.

James K
February 6, 2011, 03:05 PM
Let's recap. On most rifles, the barrel has a shoulder that fits up against the front of the receiver ring. When the barrel is installed, that shoulder is tightened up to provide what is called a "crush fit" to the receiver. That fit is part (not all) of the resistance to barrel removal. By making a relief cut, you relieve the tension of the crush fit and make barrel removal easier. The relief cut should leave only a very thin part of the shoulder, just enough to keep from cutting into the receiver ring. But the threads themselves still provide tension and resistance and in many old military rifles moisture has gotten into the joint and rusted the threads in place. No relief cut will change or alter that.

Yes, a relief cut can be made with a hacksaw, but you have to be careful not to cut too deep and not to cut into the receiver ring. Fortunately, the M-N barrel at that point is not contoured, so it might not be too difficult.

The relief cut has only to get down past the barrel shoulder; it need not be any deeper; cutting the barrel off will make things a lot worse since then you will have no way to grip the barrel for removal. (Yes, you can get the stub out, but it is not easy and not something I would even suggest to a newbie.)

Now to the nitty gritty. What do you plan to do once you get the old barrel off? A relief cut, no matter how made, will ruin it and it can't be reinstalled. Are there new pre threaded barrels available? I don't know of any, so where do you get a new barrel that you would have a hope of installing yourself without a lathe and other tools? Buying a new .30 barrel, threading, installing and chambering it would apparently be well beyond your capabilities and equipment, and would cost quite a bit ($400?) if done by a competent gunsmith.

So what are your ideas and where do you want to go with this project? Even if you spend a ton of money on making a "sporter" out of that rifle, you will still have one of the less desireable rifles, with a magazine suitable for only one cartridge, a stiff action not well suited to scope mounting, and a horrible trigger. An old M-N is a fun gun to tinker with, but when it comes to spending a bunch of bucks, the money would be better spent on just buying a sporter or in working with a better baseline.

NOTE: Yes, I read Reid Coffield's article in SGN. But he is a skilled and experienced gunsmith, with a fully equipped shop and the time to take on a project just for fun (and remember, he gets paid for those articles, so he is not really working for free). I have corresponded with Mr. Coffield; he is a fine person and I would like someday to meet him in person. He knows, and says, that his projects are not for most home workshops, but they do show what can be done. It just takes a hundred thousand dollars or so worth of tools and a lifetime of experience to do it.


February 6, 2011, 07:06 PM
For tightly threaded items in general, ( machine parts, tools ) a quick pull can be better than a steady pull, this makes a very solid vise a must. If the vise is bolted to a wood or thin steel bench, the vise will flex and absorb the impact.

Be sure to use a long enough lever, no use struggling with a short one. Also a T handle is much better than a wrench as the forces are now purely torque rather than torque and tilt of the joint.

For a item that can distort, grip very close to the threaded ends of the part to prevent twisting damage.

Sometimes hammering the two parts together can help. Hammering on the head of the bolt can compress the joint a bit allowing tension to be relieved. This is similar to slotting the joint to relieve tension.

February 7, 2011, 07:27 AM
I am going to guess that the barrel vise you are using has no split bushing in it, hence the oak block. I made a tapered split bushing for the barrel and undercut the middle of it. Mr. Keenen is right, if it is just a screwing around project to learn, go ahead. If you are going to sink money into it, maybe you should reconsider. A lot of us had stuff laying around to play with these projects and it did not get expensive except for time.
*Mr. Keenan, years ago I converted one to 30-40 Krag and it fed perfectly. I used a '03 springfield barrel I had laying around and made a new bolt head. It shot pretty good.
I don't get shot gun news, what was it converted to?

February 7, 2011, 10:40 AM
Some military actions had thread in the receiver not cut to the same length as the barrel.

When a barrel was torqued on if crushed a few threads and locked the barrel VERY tightly to the action.

Even after you get one of these started out, it takes a lot of work to unscrew the barrel the entire way, and often the receiver threads are at least slightly damaged as the barrel unscrews.

This is were removing as much of the barrel using a lath to inside bore the barrel from the receiver comes in handy.

It takes a lot of care to get almost to eh top of the receiver threads when cutting the barrel out.

I have had the very end of the barrel with damaged threads collapse inwards as the barrel was unscrewed after cutting away as much as possible of the barrel.

Metal blocks and a 15 ton press will grab the barrel very nicely.
Make sure the press is bolted down adequately.