Educational Zone #26 – Great Firearms – Swiss K-31 Rifle

I recently obtained my C&R License and have the “bug” bad.

One of the rifles I always wanted to try was the Swiss K-31, Straight-Pull Bolt Rifle.

I get a couple from AIM and they were just what I expected: Almost perfect steel and rough wood.

Here’s one, right out of the shipping box.

With a little bluing touch-up and a refinished stock, you have a new rifle.

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With the help of my old buddy, Tman, we took it apart and Tman refinished the stock for me.

He stained it a dark reddish color, per my request.

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The bluing just took a little touch up. It came out just the way I wanted it to.

We used Birchwood-Casey Super Blue. It works great.

We’ve tried the regular Bluing, and been disappointed. Get the Super Blue.

Clean the part well, with either lighter fluid or carb cleaner. Then use a Q-tip to “pool” some bluing on the area. Kind of work in around on the spot until it get as dark as the surrounding area. Take your time.

Then, dry the area and wipe clean. Be sure to coat the area with a light oil. Practice on less conspicuous areas until you get good at it.

It’s not as hard as some think it is.

Here is another one Tman finished today with a “cherry” finish on beech.

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This from Tman himself:
A number of “purists” seem to think you should never refinish you K31. Get a grip folks, it’s a hundred dollar rifle with shooter, not collector value in this condition. We are really impressed with the way these rifles shoot but would like it to look nice also.

Most folks believe the original finish on the K31 is shellac with some stain added to the shellac. A very dated and ineffective finish. The condition of the wood on the K31 rifles demonstrates it does not hold up well or offer much protection to the wood.

The most popular top coats with refinishers of military rifles seem to be boiled linseed oil or tung oil. I have tried both with mixed results. Here is the Texas gulf coast, nothing seems to completly dry. These finishes look correct and are easy to repair but often remain gummy long after application. They don’t offer the best level of protection available.

O_P and I are longtime woodworkers/furniture makers and have come to rely on poly coatings to seal and protect wood stocks. I like water based or alcohol based stains followed by Wipe on Min-Wax satin Poly applied in 3-4 thin coats and rubbed with steel wool between coats.

This gives a “military” look of low gloss that seals and protects the wood. The more you degloss, the more military it will look. I like something in between. Sometimes, like the stock above, I will use a Min-Wax oil stain as a top stain coat for the color I want. The options are unlimited, just where ever you taste takes you. Takes about two hours plus dry time in direct sun to do a stock like this using an orbital power sander.

Lots of ways to do this job, this is just where our experience over about 50 years has taken us.

For the job, I used a 5″ power orbital sander with 120 and 220 grit discs and a deft touch. Careful to keep the original lines and don’t make the metal “proud” to the wood. 5 minutes of hand sanding around the pistol grip and finger groves. I put that part in to rankle the “purists” a bit. I am sure they are writhing on the floor and foaming at the mouth when they read this. I would not use this technique on a pristine military select walnut stock, you tailor the technique to the job at hand.

Did I mention 50 years of experience practicing? 

Wipe on satin poly need not look plastic. The key is thin coats and 0000 steel wool. It’s all in what you like and what your objectives are.

We decided to take them to the range today to see if they shot as good as they looked. 

These rifles have an excellent reputation for accuracy.

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These fascinating rifles are in 7.5 Swiss, which is actually a 174 grain .308 bullet.

Here is a round between a 7.62 X 51 NATO and a .30-06 Ball round.

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The ammo we shot was Swiss milsurp and is excellent ammo. The Swiss loaded it with a band of beeswax in the cannalure of the bullet, as seen here.

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This ammo is truly excellent quality and may be part of the reason these rifles have such a reputation as tack-drivers.

Here I am shooting a group.

We were only shooting at about 45 yards, because that’s how deep our range is and also because we shoot better at shorter ranges with iron sights, due to these 58 and 65 year old eyes.

The triggers are excellent two-stage triggers.

Very nice.

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Here’s my five shot group.

A very nice group for iron sights and these eyes.

But it seemed to be shooting a little to the right.

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The sights are adjustable for windage with the front sight. It is really an ingenuous device. 

Here it is. 

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You just drift the sight forward or back in the groove to adjust windage.

We made a slight adjustment and I shot another group.

I believe we’re going to call that right on.

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Cleaning these rifles is a snap, because you can just pull down on the bolt release and the bolt slides right out of the action.

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This allows cleaning of the bore from the chamber and prevents damage to the muzzle.

The straight-pull action takes a little getting used to, but once you do, it is really smooth. 

Ejection is “positive” to say the least.

The rounds go straight up and over your head.

Here’s Tman ejecting a round, which you can see in the air about 6 feet over his head.

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These are great military surplus rifles, and, at least for now, cheap.

Mine were $109 plus shipping. 

Ammo used to be scarce, but is now readily available. 

Reloadable brass is also available, if the milsurp ever gets scarce again.

If you are interested in C&R firearms, give these a good look.

They are fine rifles.

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Conclusion:
These are great rifles. Fun to shoot. Loud and cheap.
How you gonna beat it?