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Should you lock down the Trigger Guard for Long Term storage?

This is a discussion on Should you lock down the Trigger Guard for Long Term storage? within the Gus Fisher forums, part of the Gun Professionals category; Well, this is a subject I've never seen proved or disproved by scientific or mechanical engineering analysis. I am NOT in any way shape or ...


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Old June 1st, 2012, 04:05 AM   #1
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Should you lock down the Trigger Guard for Long Term storage?

Well, this is a subject I've never seen proved or disproved by scientific or mechanical engineering analysis. I am NOT in any way shape or form a trained Mechanical Engineer and perhaps we have a REAL Mechanical Engineer who can offer his/her thoughts.

In Marine Corps Boot Camp in 1971, we were still “securing” our M14’s by using a medium security lock with a long “bicycle length” hasp and locking them to the metal racks (bunk beds) through the hole in the safety when we did not have the rifles with us. The only additional security was the Quonset Hut doors were locked while we were away on training. Looking back, I’m STILL surprised more rifles were not stolen.

I can't speak for the Army or Navy, but in the days the M1 Garand and M14 was THE service rifle in the Corps, not every Armory had the 10 rifle metal "racks" that became very common in the late 70's/early 80's. The MOST common way to store them was by taking the rear sheet metal hook off of a canvas rifle sling and nailing them side by side on the walls of the Armory. The rifles were mounted upside down (barrel pointed down and trigger guard locked down) by securing the rear sling swivel on the rifle (no sling attached to the rifle) to the sling hooks on the wall. There would be two long lines of rifles, high and low, along each wall. What this did was minimize the amount of space needed in the Armory to store the rifles in a "Ready for Issue" condition.

As an aside and I hope you will forgive me for reminiscing a little, MANY of those "Secure Armories" were nothing more than what used to be called "Baker Buildings." Those buildings had corrugated and galvanized sheet metal outer walls, a simple two by four interior frame and the inside walls were made of plywood. Small armories like this were in every Battalion Area AND they had to have a two man Guard walking around them all night, every night of the year. Without the two man walking guard, it would not have taken much to break into those armories. I don't think we in the Corps got rid of the last small Bn Armory until the mid 1980's, when MUCH more secure "Consolidated Armories" were built all over the Corps' Posts and Stations. These kinds of Armories were VERY common in CA, and the South in the old days where it did not get THAT cold in the winter. Actually, the old NG Armories built in the 20's and 30's were a LOT more secure, but of course they could not have a two man walking guard all year long.

I was first assigned to an Armory in late 1972 on Okinawa. We did NOT have most of our rifles and other TO Infantry Weapons in a "Ready for Issue" condition. Rather, MOST were stored in vacuum packed white bag long term storage wraps and in large plywood boxes that were screwed down tight and had large shipping bands around them. There were lead seals on the shipping bands to show if anyone had tried or broken into the boxes. We only had maybe two hundred or so rifles and maybe about 150 pistols that were not stored in those boxes along with a few M60's and M2 MG's. These were stored in what was called the "Hot Locker."

Though I asked MANY times, I never got an "absolutely sure" answer to what the Hot locker meant. It was a large walk in locker with Plywood walls in the Armory and with the rifles stored on the wall barrels down as described before, and when I was there - it was M16A1 rifles. We DID have a space heater in there for when the weather got cool/cold, so that may have been the reason. It also could have simply meant that those rifles and pistols were ready to go at a moment's notice in case of a "Hot Situation."

I went off on this tangent because some to many people do not realize how wood stocked Battle Rifles were stored in the old days. They were stored PRIMARILY for security and ease of issue/recovery RATHER than what might have been best for the wood stocks. This most likely caused the wood stocks more compression issues that made the stocks go looser than they would have had they been stored with the trigger guards left open. ALSO, it is a fact that when you leave trigger guards OPEN for long periods of storage, when you first close them, it will take a few rounds for the rifle to "settle back in" with a wood stock. SO, the military ACCEPTED the fact the wood stocks would compress faster for these reasons considered more important than having to replace loose stocks.

We have to think about "what is going on" while a trigger guard is locked down on long term storage with any stock and especially a wooden stock. Pressure is constantly applied both from the metal "wings" of the M14 trigger guard, or two metal studs on the Garand, against the receiver. Also, pressure is constantly applied against the bottom of the stock by the bedding surface of either trigger housing. When that bedding surface is wood, fiberglass, or epoxy stock bedding - it will compress over time vs the steel to steel contact of the trigger guards against the receiver. Birch stocks will compress faster than walnut stocks and epoxy bedded stocks (as in NM stocks) compress the least of all. Yes, folks, MODERN glass bedded stocks have TOUGHER and longer lasting bedding surfaces than ANY wood or laminate stock. The ONLY reason that NM rifles are “babied” is because it keeps the rifles in absolutely Top Notch Accuracy before they have to go back to the Armorer for a skim glass. The bedding surfaces on a fully glass bedded rifle will wear and remain tight MUCH longer than a plain wood or laminate stock.

The next thing to think about is the environment the rifle is in when placed in long term storage. It is BEST for the stock bedding surfaces when the rifle is kept at a constant temperature and especially constant moisture in the air around it. IF a wood stock sits in an environment where it sucks up moisture and dries out again and again as the months go on, it will wear the stock bedding surfaces more than if stored in a constant moisture environment. The humidity control devices, offered for many gun safes, are a VERY good thing to have not only to control rust of metal parts, but also keep the stocks from expanding and shrinking and expanding again in more humid climates. Of course, if you live in a Desert or Semi Desert climate, this is not nearly as important as in a humid climate. Also, IF you store the gun inside a climate controlled house, it will not swell and shrink as much over the months, either.

Of course we can not forget that THE Number One thing that wears out bedding surfaces is the number of rounds fired. So, if you store your wood stocked rifle in at least a climate controlled house AND you don’t fire the rifle all that much AND it is NOT a rifle used for competition, it will take YEARS before it really loosens up if the trigger guard is locked down IF the stock is tight to begin with. If the stock is not all that tight, then I probably would unlock the triggerguard in long term storage.

One huge exception I can think of would be that I would NOT lock down the trigger guard on an M1 Garand collector stock that will be stored for a long time.

I WOULD advise you leave the trigger guard unlocked for a John Garand Match rifle between the Fall and Spring when you are not firing it, because once it wears down, you are not allowed to glass bed it or shim it. Same thing for an M14 wood stocked rifle you use in “As Issue” Matches. You have to buy a new/tight wood stock for those competitions when the stock wears loose. I would also advise you to leave the trigger guard unlocked on a rifle you use in other competition over the Fall to Spring period if you are not shooting matches or doing load development. No sense in allowing the bedding surfaces to be worn down when you are not shooting it.

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Old June 1st, 2012, 04:32 AM   #2
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Pop my locks;

Thanks for this insight Gus. I'll be popping my locks loose. I have my rifles in climate control usually. This year has seen a lot of fluctuation, crazy spring. I only have one bedded and don't shoot any matches with my M1's or M1A, yet.

Not stealing your thread but here is a story about the "bicycle" locks from 68 that I'd posted earlier. I don't think "commpogue" is registered here but is on CMP.

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Old June 1st, 2012, 05:55 AM   #3
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As I recall with Garands, we had wooden racks with individual recesses and each of these had an L-shaped attachment riveted to them and these would align with the safety hole. We used standard combination locks with this type of rack. I don't recall anyone in boot camp losing a rifle, but it did happen at permanent duty assignments. The usual place was at the chow hall when rifles were left outside and someone from another unit would simply grab one on the way out. On cruises, .45s were the most common missing weapons.

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Old June 1st, 2012, 06:35 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by CharlieEcho View Post
Not stealing your thread but here is a story about the "bicycle" locks from 68 that I'd posted earlier. I don't think "commpogue" is registered here but is on CMP.
GREAT Sea Story. SOMEHOW, I never forgot to lock my rifle OR my foot locker in Boot Camp, Thank God. However, SOMEONE stole my friggin sling keeper off my rifle sling off the rack while in third phase and of course no one admitted to it. I used wound up boot blousing bands for a while. THEN I remembered I had seen about four dozen of them that had lain inside an empty quonset hut in our area and they had been painted black and lay on some newspaper on the bare floor. Well, the NEXT "emergency" head call I made in the evening, I found that Quonset hut along the way AND those sling keepers were STILL there from over a week before when I had last seen them. YES, I recon'd the area and then took one of them so I would not have to report it to one of the DI's or WORSE, the Platoon Commander. Never heard a word that any sling keepers were missing from another platoon and my Bacon was saved. Grin.

The worst thing I did was when my Platoon Commander was giving us a "practice" inspection before our first weekly inspection. He would punch a recruit in the gut pretty hard if we missed the correct answer for a question. Well, I managed to answer the first two questions accurately and quickly, so he asked me what I was armed with. I replied, "Sir, the Private is armed with a 7.62mm, Shoulder Fired, Semi Automatic and Full Automatic, M14 Rifled Gun." OH, CRAPOLA!! I realized I had screwed up as soon as it escaped my mouth. However, at FIRST, the Platoon Commander missed it but JUST before he turned to go to the next recruit, he asked me, "WHAT was that you called it?!!" OK, I wasn't the quickest kid on the block, bit I went through the whole thing BUT said "RIFLE" at the end that time. That's when the Platoon Commander replied, "That is NOT what you said the first time, say it again like you said the first time!!" So I repeated it to include "rifled gun." He asked me, "WTF is a RIFLED GUN?"" along with more profanity. So I replied, "Sir, a rifled gun has grooves in the barrel to make the bullet spin more accurately than a smooth bore gun like a shotgun......" Got that much out before he grabbed my rifle, told me to shut the F up and told me to go in and get my pillow. I brought it out and had me take the pillow case off it and put the pillow case back on my rack. When I got back with the bare pillow, he took it and told me to stick my arms out straight. Well, I stuck them out straight to the sides and he told me with more profanity to stick them out straight in front of me. He pushed my hands upright and then lay the pillow on them and the rifle on the pillow. THEN he told me to keep marching around the perimeter of the Platoon area screaming at the top of my lungs "Five Thousand Marine Corps recruits have a rifle, I'm a Dumbshyte, I got a gun." Needless to say that was embarrassing as all get out for a while and keeping the rifle at arms length was no easy thing.

Then on the second time around the perimeter and on the back side, a Captain walked by. OH SHYTE!! I could not salute because I would have dropped the rifle, so I snapped to attention and loudly said, "Good Morning, Sir." Found out later that he was our Company Commander, though I didn't know it at the time. He didn't eat me alive for not saluting but he did come close to me and said, "Private, there is nothing wrong with my ears so DON'T scream it, but what was that you were shouting?" So in a clear but normal voice, I told him my Platoon Commander had ordered me to march around the Platoon perimeter and repeated it. The Captain remained straight faced and then said, "Well, carry on Private." I DID remember to say," Good morning, Sir" again and he replied then walked off for a few steps, THEN he burst out with a few good laughs and kept walking.

Well, I was frozen to the spot until he went a little further away, but I started to "get the joke" myself. So........ I still yelled the phrase at the top of my lungs but did it with a humourous twang in it That lasted about twice before the Platoon Commander heard me and yelled for me to come back. He had me secure the pillow and rifle and I did bends and thrusts until the inspection was over for the rest of the platoon. That was still early in first phase and I thought my arms would fall off when he FINALLY told me to secure from it AFTER he asked and I CORRECTLY answered what the rifle was.

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Old June 1st, 2012, 07:11 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by willriskit View Post
As I recall with Garands, we had wooden racks with individual recesses and each of these had an L-shaped attachment riveted to them and these would align with the safety hole. We used standard combination locks with this type of rack. I don't recall anyone in boot camp losing a rifle, but it did happen at permanent duty assignments. The usual place was at the chow hall when rifles were left outside and someone from another unit would simply grab one on the way out. On cruises, .45s were the most common missing weapons.
We had a .45 stolen from the Infantry Weapons Repair Shop at Las Pulgas in the early fall of 1972. It was determined it had been stolen out of the weapons storage cage for weapons that needed to be worked. A Gunny was officially in charge of the cage BUT I ran it on a day to day basis with a PFC helping me. NCIS interviewed the Gunny for about an hour and dropped him as a suspect and interviewed my PFC for about a half hour. I KNEW he had not stolen it, but he amost shyte himself during the quesitoning, so they ruled him out. THAT left "only yours truly." I was run over the coals from 1000 on that Monday morning EVERY HOUR of EVERY DAY until FINALLY about 1400 on Friday afternoon, they told me somewhere between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, they figured out I had not stolen the pistol. However, what they hoped to do by questioning me so much was get some lead on who MIGHT have done it, and I had no clue about that. I had not slept hardly at all during those nights and could not eat well and had a hollow look like a new POW to some extant by the time they finally told me. I KNEW I had not taken it, but I was afraid they would try to pin it on me. WHEN they finally told me that on Friday afternoon, it was like someone took the world off my shoulders. My NCOIC, MSgt Jack. was listening when they told me on Friday and he blew a gasket. He ordered me to go back out to the shop in a very PO'd voice and shut the door after me. THEN he tore into the NCIS agents for doing that to me. I could still hear him as I whipped through the office and back out onto the shop floor. He had TOLD them I could not be part of it before they started the interrogation and he let them have it for putting me through all that. NCIS did not figure it out.

Fast forward about 9 months later on Okinawa. I was at the IW shop at Camp Hansen getting some rifles and pistols LTI'd when Top Jack spotted me and came out to see me. I instantly knew the voice when I heard "Hey, Fish, how the "heck" have you been?" When I turned, there he was and told me he had recently been transferred there. He congratulated me on making Corporal an I congratulated him on making MGySgt. After we caught up a while, he remembered to tell me they found the pistol thief. Turns out it was n Armorer in the shop who had made a deal to steal a pistol from the shop with an Armorer in the Armory who would steal and trade him an M14 for it. Well, when the world almost ended over the stolen pistol, the other Armorer renigged on stealing the M14. The way he did it was to cross off the Equipment Repair Order from the ERO log. They may not have realized it for weeks more, but he LEFT the other four pistols on that ERO and that's how they figured out it was missing. We did not do monthly serialized inventories in those days, but rather from the ERO's we had on hand.

The thief had also been transferred to OKI about four months after I was. He had gotten drunk one night out in the Vill and bragged about the pistol he had stolen and how they never caught him. Well, someone who heard him reported it. NCIS agents went to his Mother's house stateside and told them her son sent them to pick up the pistol for him. So she gave it to them, not knowing what would happen to him. When Top Jack told me that, I said, "PLEASE tell me that he is still on the island and I can have just five minutes alone with him, Top." He grinned a small evil grin and told me, "Fish, I would pay good money to see that, but he is already in Portsmouth on a 20 year sentence at hard labor making little rocks out of big rocks." I replied, "Well, if we can't shoot him, I suppose that's the best we can do."

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Old June 1st, 2012, 07:30 AM   #6
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To each his own;

Two good stories as well. It's a rare bird that gets out of boot camp without a funny story to tell. Even though it may not have been funny at the time.
I have my own as well. For another thread.

That first week or two we were in tents and our rifles were secured via the bicycle lock to the end of wooden framed cots. Not a lot of security there. We did have firewatches as I recall, from "permanent" personel.

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Old June 1st, 2012, 07:41 AM   #7
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I don't worry about the trigger groups putting undue stress on the glass. Use enough glass and the wood for all practical purposes is just a veneer anyway.

What I will do sometimes - winter months or out-of-season - with rifles I don't expect to be needing for a while is to pull the trigger groups from the gas guns and pull the bolts from the bolt guns and secure them in one or more safe places away from where the rifles are stored, just in case of a successful burglary. Maybe this has been mentioned. I didn't have time to read everything in the thread.

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Old June 1st, 2012, 07:42 AM   #8
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I wasn't in tents and wooden cots until ITR in January and they did not have any oil for the heaters until our third night. 'Bout froze our tails off the first night because they had NO blankets or sheets to issue us and we were in our Dress greens. We took our uniforms out of our sea bags and used them like a sleeping bag and wrapped ourselves in the rest of the uniforms, but were still DARN cold. Of course, we NEVER went anywhere in ITR without our rfles, so we did not lock them up during the day. I slept with mine curled under my arm.

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Old June 1st, 2012, 07:43 AM   #9
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At a reunion about twenty years ago, one of my squadron mates offered me three GI .45s for $500 per. After some expensive divorces, he was down on his luck and I was ready to help him out. That is until I found out that he had gotten the weapons in-country, they had been left in the AC from medevacs, and that some poor SOB may have had to pay for each - that's assuming he survived. I don't know about other services, but Marine Corps weapons controls were always tight. Glad the miscreant who stole the .45 got plenty of time to think about screwing his buddies.

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Old June 1st, 2012, 07:44 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by bd111 View Post
I don't worry about the trigger groups putting undue stress on the glass. Use enough glass and the wood for all practical purposes is just a veneer anyway.

What I will do sometimes - winter months or out-of-season - with rifles I don't expect to be needing for a while is to pull the trigger groups from the gas guns and pull the bolts from the bolt guns and secure them in one or more safe places away from where the rifles are stored, just in case of a successful burglary. Maybe this has been mentioned. I didn't have time to read everything in the thread.
No, it hasn't been mentioned, but that is an EXCELLENT idea and especially if the guns are kept in a wood gun cabinet or in a closet.

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Old June 1st, 2012, 07:50 AM   #11
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At a reunion about twenty years ago, one of my squadron mates offered me three GI .45s for $500 per. After some expensive divorces, he was down on his luck and I was ready to help him out. That is until I found out that he had gotten the weapons in-country, they had been left in the AC from medevacs, and that some poor SOB may have had to pay for each - that's assuming he survived. I don't know about other services, but Marine Corps weapons controls were always tight. Glad the miscreant who stole the .45 got plenty of time to think about screwing his buddies.
The good thing was that when a Marine was medi-vac'd and his weapon was not with him, they almost always wrote it off as a combat loss unless some other Marine had already turned it in. So the wounded Marine never had to pay for it to my knowledge.

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Old June 1st, 2012, 07:56 AM   #12
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Oh, in 72-73, I had 9 rifles listed on both morning and nightly inventories that were "temp loaned" for about 9 months. FINALLY we got the word they had been SUNK inside an AmTrac that went down in over 500 feet of water and they wound up writing them off as well. Seems they FORGOT to close the drain plugs before the AmTrac went into the water. It sunk so fast, they BARELY got the Marines out of it. I would NOT have wanted to be the NCOIC of that AmTrac though. Grin.

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Old June 1st, 2012, 11:05 AM   #13
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There were sea stories about Am Tracs off Onslow Beach that went off the ramps of the LPDs and didn't surface. It's hard to imagine a bunch of grunts loaded down with 782 gear and weapons Having to exit one of those when it's on its way down. Getting everyone out must have taken a miracle. Due to the weight of the main rotor assembly and transmission, the H-34 had the habit of inverting once it struck the water snd then rapidly sinking nose first and washing personnel or cargo into the rear fuselage. Pilots and crew chief could usually get out but any troopies had to ditch gear and scramble.

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Old June 1st, 2012, 02:19 PM   #14
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This thread is really drifting off subject. Navy boot camp, S.D., 1971: We had two watches, one inside as fire watch and one "armed" outside watch. At that time we had to wash our own uniforms with a little scrub brush and hang them on a line with little pieces of string using perfect square knots. One guy had to march around the clothes lines with an unloaded (no firing pin?) '03 to make sure no one stole our clean undies. Can't remember how we stored the rifles.

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Old June 1st, 2012, 02:25 PM   #15
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The Navy;

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This thread is really drifting off subject. Navy boot camp, S.D., 1971: We had two watches, one inside as fire watch and one "armed" outside watch. At that time we had to wash our own uniforms with a little scrub brush and hang them on a line with little pieces of string using perfect square knots. One guy had to march around the clothes lines with an unloaded (no firing pin?) '03 to make sure no one stole our clean undies. Can't remember how we stored the rifles.
Well, knowing the Navy. There was probably an umbrella stand by the door.












Just kidding. Sometimes I can't help myself.

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