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Bolt Disassembly/Assembly without Bolt Tool

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    Posted: Mar 02 2016 at 2:05pm

March 2016-A

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The below article was scanned from the Army magazine, The Ordnance Sergeant, dated March 1945. Thanks to John Spangler for contributing this interesting bit of carbine tinkering. Readers must bear in mind that the clever M5 Bolt Disassembly Tool was not available until after WWII ended.

The only tools necessary for rapid assembly and disassembly of the Bolt, U.S. Carbine, Cal. .30

I. The U.S. Carbine, Cal. .30, Ml, is an excellent weapon, but in common with all firearms, proper functioning requires proper care. After 200 or even 100 rounds, the head of the bolt and particularly the extractor surfaces and the recess in which the extractor is seated, are carbonized to a degree that calls for thorough cleansing if malfunctions are to be prevented.

These malfunctions are not limited to simple failures, but include serious ones, especially broken extractors and failure to extract due to worn-out extractors. Both the early wearing out of the extractor claw or lip, and the breaking of the extractor from the spindle are caused by the accretion of carbon on the various extractor and bolt surfaces. Of the two failures, the wearing out of the extractor is far more common, and is clearly attributable to the accumulation of carbon in the groove of the extractor claw. It is in this groove that the rim of the cartridge must seat if the extractor claw is to fully engage the cannelure and thus guarantee proper extraction. Progressive accumulation of carbon at this point results in only partial engagement of the extractor claw and the cannelure, and thus with the whole force of extraction concentrated upon the thin edge of the extractor claw, it soon chips or wears smooth with consequent failure to withdraw the fired round from the chamber.

Avoidance of such wear, breakage and resultant malfunctions, positively requires the removal of accumulated carbon. For this, no amount of mere soaking in solvent and brushing the bolt face is adequate. The bolt must be disassembled to give access to the several surfaces involved.

The frequent disassembly and assembly of the bolt so necessary to sure functioning and to avoidance of undue wear and breakage, calls for a quicker and easier method than that described in the manuals.

Disassembly and assembly are commonly found difficult even by Ordnancemen. And it must be remembered that shop facilities and experienced personnel are not always available when most needed. An easy method of disassembly and assembly, however, is possible.

This method does not require dismounting of the weapon and detail stripping of the trigger group assembly in order to use the hammer pin as is suggested by the manual, (TM 9-1276, Par. 19-c). Only the bolt need be removed from the receiver. For the bolt disassembly and disassembly, no tools are required beyond two empty cartridge cases and the stiff wire oiler cap rod or applicator. Every carbine is, of course, equipped with an oiler which also serves as anchor pin for the rear end of the carrying sling. Thus, under even the most adverse field conditions, one has with him all the tools necessary. The method is so simple that the whole operation - removal of the bolt from the weapon, disassembly, assembly and return of the bolt to the weapon - can be performed by anyone in less than five minutes. The author has repeatedly done it in less than one minute.

The following paragraphs and accompanying photographs illustrate the method fully and completely.


(1) Hold the piece at the small of the stock with the left hand, rest the weapon on any convenient surface or simply support the butt of the stock against the front of the body. With the bolt completely to the rear, grasp the operating slide handle between the thumb and forefinger of the right hand, allow the operating slide to go forward slowly as pressure is exerted up and to the right until the operating slide lug disengages at the operating slide dismounting notch in the operating groove of the receiver. Place the left thumb against the head of the bolt and push the bolt forward until it is clear of the operating slide, (Figure 1). Retract the operating slide fully and lock it back by pressing down the operating slide stop.

Fig. 1 -- Disengaging bolt from operating slide.

(2) Insert the edge of a flattened cartridge case or small screwdriver between extractor and extractor spring plunger. Compress the spring and plunger into the spring well (Figure 2). Thus, disengaged from the locking shoulder of the extractor spring plunger, the extractor is easily pried up with the oiler cap rod or similar instrument, (Figure 3). Hold forefinger over the face of the bolt to prevent loss of parts as the spring tension is released.

Fig. 2 --Insertion of flattened cartridge edge between extractor spring plunger and extractor to compress plunger into well. A knife blade or small screwdriver may be used instead of the flattened cartridge.

Fig. 3 -- Prying up extractor while plunger is compressed into well by cartridge edge.


Fig. 4 -- Removal of bolt after components have been disconnected.

(3) Grasp the operating lug between thumb and forefinger of the right hand, press lightly to the left, move the bolt forward until it disengages, then turn to right and lift bolt clear of the receiver, (Figure 4). All bolt parts are now readily removed for cleaning or replacement, (Figure 5).

Fig. 5 -- Bolt components, oiler cap rod and flattened cartridge case, the only tools necessary for disassembly.


(1) Assemble the bolt, taking care to insert ejector with the cutaway facing right toward the operating lug. The flat face of the extractor spring plunger, positioned on top of the extractor plunger spring within the well, must be faced down so as to engage the shoulder of the extractor, because it is only when so placed that all bolt components can finally be locked together. (NOTE): To save time and avoid danger of loss, place a bit of vaseline on the upper end of the extractor plunger spring to hold extractor spring plunger in place during assembly. Lacking vaseline, the tip of a blade of grass or a tiny strip of paper inserted in the spring will hold the plunger in place until assembly is completed.*

[footnote- * The design of the present extractor spring plunger should be modified to bulge at the shank tip as is now done with the ejector shank. This bulge would hold plunger and spring firmly together and thus overcome repeated dropping during assembly.]

(2) Insert empty cartridge case in barrel chamber. (This is absolutely necessary for compressing the ejector so as to permit complete insertion of the extractor shank by means of which the ejector and firing pin are secured in operating position.) With all bolt components in position but as yet not locked together, grasp the operating lug and extractor between thumb and forefinger of the right hand and return bolt to the receiver, (Figure 6). With the bolt seated and the left locking lug engaged in the bolt guideway, place left forefinger on the extractor to hold parts securely in position, slide the bolt forward until the ejector comes in contact with the head of the empty cartridge case in the chamber. With the right hand release the operating slide and allow it gently to come to rest against the operating lug of the bolt, (Figure 7).

Fig. 6 -- Return of bolt to receiver prior to locking the components in position. Note cartridge case in chamber against which ejector will be compressed.

Fig. 7 -- Advancing slide gently against operating lug of bolt.

(3) With the left forefinger resting lightly on the extractor, place the left thumb on the vertical surface of the operating slide just forward of the operating slide handle. Press forward with the thumb until the ejector acting against the head of the empty round in the chamber is fully compressed into the bolt, and hold in this position. With the right hand place the tip of the oiler cap rod against the shoulder of the extractor spring plunger. Using the barrel extension as a fulcrum, compress the plunger and plunger spring sufficiently for clearance, and then with the left forefinger press down on the extractor until it snaps into locked position, (Figure 8).

Fig. 8 -- Compressing extractor spring plunger to permit pressing of extractor into locked position, thus completing reassembly of bolt. Note use of barrel extension as fulcrum.

(4) Grasp operating slide handle between right thumb and forefinger, pull to the right sufficiently to permit re-engagement of operating lug into the bolt camming recess of the operating slide, (Figure 9).

Retract operating slide, and through the dismounting notch, seat the lug in the operating slide handle guideway. Test for proper functioning by retracting operating slide handle and extracting empty case from chamber.

Fig. 9 -- Re-engagement of bolt operating lug and camming recess of operating slide.

Editorial Note: In tests made at The Ordnance School, the disassembly and assembly method described in this article was found quite useful. However, two suggestions resulted from these tests. The empty cartridge case used to depress the extractor spring and plunger bends rather easily, and it was found that a small screwdriver works very well for this operation. The oiler rod used to pry out the extractor also bends after a few operations, especially in dealing with stubborn cases. A rod made slightly larger in diameter would prevent such bending.


Postscript: The second paragraph on page 2 contains a reference to Carbine Technical Manual 9-1276, wherein the hammer pin was used to disassemble the bolt. John Spangler researched this curious idea, and learned that the 1947 edition of TM 9-1276 was the first to discuss use of the common M5 Bolt Disassembly Tool. The previous editions in 1942 and 1943 utilized the hammer pin to assist in assembling the bolt. The first mention of this technique can be found in Ordnance Field Service Technical Bulletin No. 23-7-1, Carbine Cal. .30, M1, dated March 17, 1942. A portion of page 39 is reprinted below. Note that this was written for the early “cone or pyramidal” type extractor.

26. BOLT GROUP, DISASSEMBLY - The spindle of the extractor locks all other components of the bolt group into the bolt. To disassemble, hold thumb over face of bolt to prevent the ejector and extractor spring plunger from flying out when released, and punch the extractor out from the under side of bolt. Withdraw ejector and spring, extractor spring and plunger, and the firing pin from bolt.

a. Insert firing pin into well in rear of bolt so that tang on rear of firing pin fits into aperture in rear end of bolt.

b. Assemble ejector spring to ejector so that it is locked in groove in ejector shank, and insert ejector assembly, spring first, into ejector well in lower front face of bolt.

c. Align cut in firing pin with extractor spindle hole in bolt. Compress ejector in well and align cut with that in firing pin and with extractor spindle hole. Insert hammer pin or similar pin into extractor spindle hole, from bottom, far enough to hold ejector and firing pin in place.

d. Assemble extractor plunger spring to extractor plunger and insert, spring first, into well in forward face of cam lug on right side of bolt.

e. Start extractor spindle into aperture hole in top of bolt and press extractor into aperture, camming extractor plunger back into its well. Continue to press extractor home until it pushes out the hammer (or holding) pin and seats in its aperture, flush with top of bolt. Test spring functioning of extractor and ejector.


Carbine Club Editor’s Note: The extractor is indeed the weak link in the reliability of the Carbine. A toothpick works well to clean underneath the extractor lip and around the ejector. The small end of a modern GI rifle-cleaning “toothbrush” also works well to scrub underneath the extractor, but a follow-up scraping with a toothpick or two is recommended.

The below document was part of an after-action report by the 4th Marine Raider Battalion following their combat operations in the Solomon Islands from June-August 1943. Note that the Marines obviously attempted to dismantle their carbine bolts without benefit of a tool or a proper technique without tools. Our thanks to Don Hillhouse for submitting this report to the Carbine Club.

Beginning collectors: Be sure to view the detailed instructions and photos of the M5 Bolt

Disassembly Tool that Jim Mock put on the website at the bottom of the Parts/Bolt section.

Thanks again to John Spangler for his support of the Carbine Club.

  Marty Black


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wd4ngb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Mar 11 2016 at 8:19pm
After all these years of not thinking much about the inner working difference during production, I was impressed reading about the bolt at

I actually carried a spare in my ruck, but only remember swapping them out after a lot of use, then exchanging them both when back at the base camp. The unit armor kept us supplied with freshly inspected/repaired ones. Complex little suckers.. :)
Retired Army, 22 years.
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