Sticky Opening

I recently purchased a used over and under shotgun, in 20 gauge. It is a Baikal IZH-23EM.

I loaded two factory shells of 1 Oz. #8 shot. after hitting both of my clay birds,I went to eject the fired shells, and I couldn’t get the gun to break open. I nearly had to break it over my knee. I fired two boxes of the same shell, and all were hard to get the gun to break open to eject the shells.Some worse than others.

The gun seems to break pretty freely without any shells. Is there something I can do to loosen the break action after firing? Is there something possibly drastically wrong?

I think the dealer would make the deal right, but I seem to shot pretty good with the gun and I like its feel, so I hope I can fix the breaking problem.

Any suggestions will be appreciated.


Dear Vaughn,

My guess is that you are experiencing firing pin drag on one or both of the spent shells. When the gun is hard to open only after firing a shell, make sure to carefully examine the primer of the spent cartridge. If there is a gouge running from the center of the pin strike to the rim of the primer, then you know what the problem is. The gouge may well be on one primer or both. Probably only one. This can happen in any brand of gun. Sometimes it is due to a shell having a primer cup that is too soft. Other times it is due to a problem with the gun. It might be that the pins aren’t retracting properly.

When the trigger is pulled, the firing pin moves forward, through the standing breech and into the soft metal of the primer. For a moment the firing pin might be sticking out in front of the breech 1/16″. Depending on the mechanism of the gun, the pin will then retract back behind the breech face before or early in the cycle of opening the gun. If the pin or pins don’t retract properly and stay sticking out into the primer, they will catch on the primer and the gun will be very difficult to open. My guess is that this is what you are experiencing.

Try some different brands of shells. That will at least tell you whether it is the shell or the gun. Make sure to include some premium brands of target loads as a bench mark. It may well be that a shell with a harder primer will cure the problem. If not, then it’s a problem with firing pin retraction or the length of the firing pin itself and a gunsmith ought to be able to fix it. It shouldn’t be a major deal.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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