My bolt won’t close! Troubleshooting seized ejectors

Imagine buying a new car and never changing the oil, inspecting the tires or maintaining it? This kind of neglect sounds crazy doesn’t it? Many gun owners fail to perform basic maintenance.

Lack of preventative maintenance can cause a number of issues with firearms. In this post, we’ll look at a fairly common cause of problems: a seized ejector.

While ejector problems aren’t a regular occurrence, they typically manifest in one of two ways; the ejector is either stuck all the way out or it is stuck flush with the surface of the bolt face. When the ejector is stuck out, usually a bolt won’t close on a live round. When it is stuck flush with the surface of the bolt face, the gun won’t eject.

I had an early Ruger 77 that was brought into the shop with a bolt that wouldn’t close on a live round. It would close on an empty chamber. Inspection of the bore found it was clean and clear of obstructions. Inspection of the spring ejector found it was solid and seized in place. This prevented the bolt from closing on a live round.

Most spring loaded ejectors are retained in place by a pin that runs perpendicular to the axis of the ejector. The pin is simply removed from the bolt body so the ejector can be removed. When I removed the ejector on this gun, I immediately saw the problem. The entire ejector channel was filled with rust. The rust prevented the ejector from sliding in and out of the bolt face, which prevented the bolt from closing on a round.

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I began by soaking the bolt face (vertically) with some Kroil. Kroil is an excellent penetrating oil that we use extensively for disassembling stuck parts.

After cleaning the ejector hole with a small drill bit, lubricating and then replacing the parts, the rifle was ready for service.

We’ll encounter seized ejectors and extractors at the shop with some frequency. The best way to prevent this problem is to make sure you are properly lubricating and maintaining your rifle. In the event you encounter a rifle that won’t close on a round, it is an area that you should inspect.