How a bolt action rifle work – Easy to understand

Did you ever see the movie with the screen action heated gun battle? Have you ever wondered what it is and how they work? Don’t worry; all will be answered in this article about the work of a bolt action rifle and the other versions of them. Let’s find out how a bolt action rifle work!

How a bolt action rifle work?

1. Working Diagram

Bolt action is a kind of firearm action. Hunters can manually operate the weapon’s bolt by opening and close the breech (barrel) with a small handle. Right-handed users can easily carry for what it commonly placed on the right-hand side of the weapon.  When they operate the handle, the bolt is certainly unlocked, the breech is opened,  the spent cartridge case is taken away and evicted, then the firing pin is cocked.Finally, a new a new round/cartridge (if available) is moved into the breech, and the bolt closed. Bolt-action Firearms are often used for rifles but sometime for shotguns and a few handguns as well.

2. Loading effectively

 Most bolt-action firearms are provided by an internal magazine which was loaded by hand, by stripper clips, though some designs have had a separable magazine or independent one, even no magazine at all. So, it requires that each round is not dependently loaded. The magazine limitation is between two and ten rounds, thus can allow the magazine to be like with the bottom of the rifle, decrease the weight, or force mud and dirt from entering. Some bolt-actions often have a tube magazine, familiar with the length of the barrel. The design has a single-shot breech loader and now familiar arm closing out from the edge of the bolt which purposes turn and opens the chamber. The entire reloading process was a more complex than later designs, however, as the firing pin had to be freely primed and activated to move the bolt.

3. Main bolt-action rifle versions

The most important parts of bolt-action system include the Mauser, the Lee–Enfield, and the Mosin–Nagant system. Instead of their difference, all are designed to fit into the receiver, how the bolt rotates, the number of locking lugs holding the bolt and, whether the action is cocked in the Mauser system or it close the bolt in the Lee–Enfield system.  The large majority of bolt-action rifles make one of these three systems utilize, with other limited designs person

a. Mauser

how does a 22 bolt action rifle work

how does a 22 bolt action rifle work

Mauser is a product of a German arms manufacturer which produce bolt-action rifles and semi-automatic pistols. The designs of the user were built for the German armed forces. Their designs were also exported and entitled to some countries as well as becoming popular civilian firearm.


The Mauser M 98 bolt system is one of the most common bolt action in the world, being used in all modern hunting rifles and also in military bolt-action rifles until the middle of the 20th century. One of the most advantages of the Mauser system is that contains two locking lugs just behind the bolt head. This makes it better to handle higher pressure cartridges.

A safety feature was the appearance of a third locking lug placed at the rear of the bolt that did not lock the bolt in the normal version. One special point of the Mauser system is the feature  “cock on opening,” which means the upward rotation of the bolt as opening the rifle.  A disadvantage of the Mauser M 98 system is that it is difficult to produce mass due to its expense.

b, Lee–Enfield

how does a bolt action air rifle work

how does a bolt action air rifle work

The first Lee–Enfield was recommended in 1889 with the Lee–Metford and later Lee–Enfield rifles. It is  a “cock on closing” action forwarding  thrust of the bolt cocks the action

When the Lee–Enfield’s locking lugs have placed at the rear of the bolt and repeated firing for a long time, it can be “stretch” and excessive headspace. Therefore, the Lee–Enfield bolt system often has  a removable bolthead, Which helps the rifle’s headspace to be changed because the bolthead  removes and replacing with a required distance.

In the World War II, the Lee–Enfield was used for commercial sporting and hunting purposes. There are a large number of companies manufacturing such as BSA, LSA, and Parker–Hale in the UK, SAF Lithgow in Australia as well.

See also:

c, Mosin–Nagant

how a bolt action sniper rifle works

how a bolt action sniper rifle works

The Mosin–Nagant action, invented in 1891, the Mosin–Nagant design has a separate bolthead which changes the bolt and the bearing lugs while the Mauser system contains a non-removable part of the bolt. The Mosin–Nagant bolt is valued quite complicated, but is extremely durable and rugged.

It also uses a “cock on open” system but rarely used in commercial sporting rifles and main used inside of Russia. Also, large numbers of military surplus Mosin–Nagant rifles have been used as hunting rifles in World War II.

d, Straight-pull

The Blaser R8 is a straight pull bolt action rifle

The Blaser R8 is a straight pull bolt action rifle

Another common choice bolt-action system is the Straight-pull. Some kinds of the Straight-pull can be called as, the Swiss Schmidt–Rubin, the Canadian Ross rifle, and Austro-Hungarian Mannlicher M1895 designs. These designs are entirely unrelated

The Mauser-style turn-bolt action has the bolt handle rotated counter-clockwise first, then drawn rearward and pushed forward, as well finally rotated clockwise back into lock. In a straight-pull action, the bolt lever can itself cycled so the goal of the rifle’s rate could enhance.

A new straight-pull action has more recently been introduced by the Blaser company that locking of the straight-pull is reached by a series of concentric ‘blades.’

4. Advantages

A bolt action rifle can achieve superior muzzle velocity and have more accuracy than semi-automatic. Because It is a relatively light weight for transport, reliability and great potential accuracy with lower cost, the bolt action is still the first choice for many hunters, marksmen, and target shooters.

how a bolt action rifle trigger works

how a bolt action rifle trigger works

Increasing potential accuracy for what the bolt action’s locking lugs are usually at the front of the breech, such as a lever action. Besides, only when firings is the pin and spring does a bolt action’s only move due to having fewer moving parts and a short lock time.

A bolt action may be less probable to expose a shooters position because the cartridge is not visibly thrown into the air and onto the ground.

The total strength of the design might be very powerful magnum cartridges but no significantly increasing weight or the size of the weapon.

5. Disadvantage

The bolt action offers four distinct movements, and so it is quite slower than others that lever and pump action require two movements.

how a bolt action airsoft rifle works

how a bolt action airsoft rifle works

Moreover, the trigger hand must abandon the gun and the weapon after the shot. Also, the trigger hand must leave the gun and regrip the weapon after each shot, so the shooter has to change his sight and acquire the target again for every shot. It is also not for ambidextrous people, and left-handed models are often more expensive.

6. Safety

When using bolt-action firearms, hunters should check the headspace with gauges before shooting. This check can help force chambers and cartridge brass to overstress.

Some of the model bolt-action rifles like the Lee–Enfield often use a series of different length bolts to increase the life of the rifle. Sometime, the bolt head is replaced to separate from the bolt and arranged in order of 0,1,2 or 3, etc. A bolt head can be replaced with no tools by dismounting the action to the bolt, opening and change the bolt head with the Proximo higher number, for retrieving a safe headspace.

Conclusion – Bolt action rifle mechanism

From the analysis above, I’m sure you’ve got the exact answer to your concerns. I hope that this article may be helpful for you and can also increase your knowledge of the bolt action rifle as a professional gunman. I hope that you have understood how a bolt action rifle work.

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