Dragging Firing Pins

Dear Technoid:

I have a Winchester 101 made in about 1969. The gun is in very good to excellent condition. I have owned the gun about 5 years and now am starting to use it more often for trap shooting. The problem is that after firing the gun is difficult to break open. I have thoroughly cleaned it several times but have never attempted to take the action apart. The gun will break easily if simply opened and closed but if dry fired it is difficult to open and even more so when a round is fired.

I know this may have something to do with the cocking mechanism but the gun appears to have had very few rounds through it. Needless to say this is an aggravating condition on the trap field. I consider myself capable of disassembling the gun myself.

Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


Dear David,

Well, this is only a guess, but the price is right.

After you have fired both barrels, examine the primer from each fired hull. Does it have a little scratch running from the firing pin dent to the edge of the primer? If so, you have a dragging firing pin and it should be replaced with one that fits properly. The situation is not uncommon, especially on the lower barrel of mass produced Over and Unders.

When the firing pin is struck by the hammer, the pin is pushed forward out through the face of the standing breech and onto the face of the primer. The pin is then supposed to go back into the face of the breech after having done its job. If it doesn’t return and stays stuck in the primer, it will catch on the edge of the primer when the gun is opened. This makes the gun hard to open after firing. If you fire with a live shell or even an empty shell, this dragging can occur. If you dry fire with the chambers empty, the gun should open normally if I have guessed right and dragging pins are the problem. Of course, I could be wrong, but if I am we aren’t going to tell anyone, now are we.

Personally, I would have a gunsmith perform the work as there could be several reasons why the pin is failing to retract fully. He can tell at a glance. The repair is relatively simple if you know what you are doing.

There it is. Hope you got your money’s worth.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

This entry was posted in Shotgun related, Shotguns. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Dragging Firing Pins

  1. James Jones says:

    I don’t understand how you “dry fire with a live shell.” Please elaborate.


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