The email was kind of a strange one and at first I did not know what to make of it. From a shooting acquaintance in Texas, the text read, “I have a Christmas present for you. Can you send me an
FFL?” The FFL request was a give-away that we are talking a firearm of some type here, but what I couldn’t figure out was “why”?
My answering email was basically, “Yes. I will have an FFL faxed to you pronto.” I also questioned him as to the reason for the present. He simply replied that he thought I would like it and it was something he wanted to do. Well, I thought to myself, we will see what this is, and waited for the big brown truck to deliver the goods.
When the packaged arrived it was easy to see this was a rifle of some sort. Unpacking it I found a Winchester 30-30 Trapper of early 1980’s vintage. Inspection revealed the barrel band was
blown apart but other than that the gun appeared in fine shape. Working the action it felt gritty like it was full of sand. Looking down through the top of the action did not reveal any dirt so I put that off for future inspection.
It turns out my friend had bought the gun used. The finish was worn pretty badly so he took it to a gunsmith in his area for a
reblue. When he got it back the gun would not function properly. The action was stiff and gritty. He shot it some but was real frustrated with it. During one of his shooting sessions the forward barrel band came loose, swung in front of the bore and not noticing it, the next shot he fired blew it apart.
this time he was really frustrated with the gun and decided to get rid of it. He did not feel right about selling it and knowing I liked to tinker with guns he decided to make a present of it to me!
OK! Thank you!
I started looking around for a barrel band and found a friend in Colorado who had a bunch of them. He was kind enough to send me what I needed. While waiting on the barrel band I stripped the gun to see if I could figure out what the grittiness came from. Imagine my surprise at finding the gun full of bluing salts residue! There was residue on the loading gate, on the frame rails, around the screw heads and in the spring detents. Whoever had blued the gun did not do a clean-up job on it.
I sprayed the insides with gun cleaner, scrubbed it with a small toothbrush and then wiped it out as clean as possible. While I had the gun apart I polished the underside of the bolt
and the hammer face. I also
lightened the spring detent in the lever assembly and polished a few places on the lever where parts moved against each other. I then lightly oiled the parts,
wiped them clean as possible and reassembled the little gun.
While waiting on the barrel band I went online to Brownell’s website (www.brownells.com)
and ordered a Williams 5D aperture sight. I like “peep” sights on my
leverguns. This would not be a gun for target use so I did not need the fine adjustment of
a sight such as the Fool-Proof model. A “fixed” sight would work just fine. The 5D is adjustable and once adjusted to the load I
will use I will lock it down and leave it. I also plan to use the sight
as a "ghost ring".
When the barrel band came in I installed on the gun, then walked down to my range to give it a try. Shooting the little rifle was a
pleasure, but it seemed “balky” when levering. It did not feed smoothly like my Model 94 Carbine and would often require working the lever 2 or 3 times to get a shell to feed.
Sometimes the cartridge would start up, hang up and then the subsequent
working of the lever would pop the cartridge out of the gun. At other
times it would feed into the chamber.
Back in the shop it took some time to diagnose the problem but eventually I
figured out that it was a carrier timing problem. I stripped the gun and re-cut the carrier (lifter) and that was that! Now it fed flawlessly as fast as you could lever it. The Williams sight had arrived and I took the time to install it. Then it was back to the range to get it sighted in. That was fairly painless and in no time the Trapper was ready for duty.
I test-fired the gun with 150 gr. and 170 gr. jacketed bullets as well as with handloads using cast bullets. Everything functioned through the little rifle with ease and shot pretty well.
I have settled on handloads with the Speer 150 gr. and 130 gr. jacketed soft points. This gun rides behind the seat of my pickup and does duty as a coyote gun when we are checking the cows. If need be it could be called upon for social use. Therefore it is sighted to hit point of aim at 25 yards. With the 130 and 150 gr. loads it’s still close at 50 and 75 yards.
When sighting the gun in at 25 yards it was common to have 3 shots almost
touching and 2 of the 3 touching at times with 150, 170 or 190 gr.
bullets. The gun is plenty accurate for what I will use it for. I
would have no qualms whatsoever taking it after deer if I so choose.
Zeroed at 25 yards, the 150 gr. loads are
approximately 1" high at 50 yards and a little over 2 1/2" high at
100 yards. I can basically hold "on" out to 150 yards.
For me this is practical trajectory.
I am thankful to my friend for thinking of me when he decided to get rid of the Trapper. I had never used one before this time and I must say, it grew on me rather quickly! I like the short rifle.
It is easy to use and very handy for the duty I have assigned it.
I used the Trapper to take a nice
deer Opening Day of Firearms Deer Season here in Missouri.
The load was the Speer 130 gr. FP
over 34 gr. 3031. The shot was about 100 yards. I put the bullet
through the point of the shoulder, breaking it. Got both lungs with a
nice hole about the size of your thumb through the heart.
The deer went less than 20 feet
after being hit.
The little Trapper works just