M1 Carbine Part 8: Bolt reassembly (ugh!)

I know its been a while since my last installment of M1 Carbine goodness. I claim laziness. How’s that for an excuse?

In M1 Carbine Part 1, we took a look at the external condition of the new old CMP M1 Carbine.

In M1 Carbine Part 2, we disassembled the M1 Carbine into its major groups.

In M1 Carbine Part 3, we disassembled the Trigger Housing Assembly into its individual components.

In M1 Carbine Part 4, we disassembled the bolt without using the M1 Carbine Bolt Tool (don’t try this at home kiddies).

In M1 Carbine Part 5, we removed the components from the stock and receiver that were necessary to remove for inspection and discussed those items not removed.

In M1 Carbine Part 6, we examined the component markings and determined whether the parts are correct for the period and manufacturer.

In M1 Carbine Part 7, we reassembled the trigger housing group.

In this edition of M1 Carbine follies, we are going to reassemble the bolt without the benefit of the M1 Carbine Bolt Tool.

In demonstrating a procedure so difficult, so hazardous to mental health, so ridiculously stupendously frustrating, one would normally expect some sort of disclaimer like “trained professional on a closed course, do not attempt” or some such.

Here’s my disclaimer: “Untrained, inexperienced idiot with no clue what he was getting himself into. DO NOT try this at home if you value your sanity.

Spend the money on a bolt assembly/disassembly tool. I have one now that I purchased from the CMP e-store but they don’t seem to have them any more. Numrich Gun Parts has original WWII GI ones for about $45 or newly manufactured ones for $23.

Here’s what makes it so complicated:

As usual, click pix to make bigger

The bolt assembly consists of the bolt body, the extractor, extractor spring and plunger, the ejector and ejector spring and the firing pin.

Sounds simple enough right?

Here’s the problem, the firing pin and ejector have notches cut into them, the extractor has a pin that, when installed, extends through a hole in the bolt body, engages the notches in the ejector and firing pin and hold them in place. Underneath the extractor is the extractor spring and plunger which put outward pressure on the extractor and locks it in place. In other words, the extractor holds everything in place and all the other various pieces and parts have to be held in perfect alignment while the extractor is being installed.

Well, lets just do this.

First, insert the firing pin into the bolt from the rear.

Then insert the ejector and spring into the hole in the bolt face.

Rotate the ejector so that the notch is toward the cross hole that the “pin” part of the extractor is going to go into.

Next, carefully insert the extractor spring and plunger into its well in the locking lug.

Press the ejector down, compressing the spring, until the notch in the ejector is lined up with the extractor pin hole in the bolt.

At the same time, hold the firing pin in position so that the notch is lined up with the extractor pin hole in the bolt.

At the same time, carefully press down on the extractor plunger, compressing the extractor spring.

At the same time, ensure that the extractor plunger stays rotated so that the flat part faces the notch in the extractor when it is inserted.

At the same time, insert the extractor pin into the extractor pin hole and slide it in so that the notch in the extractor goes over the plunger…oh…wait…the jewelers screwdriver that I’m holding the extractor spring plunger compressed with is in the way…the extractor has to go over the TOP of the plunger…let me slide the jewelers screwdriver out of the way slightly so that I can….


I just fired the extractor spring and plunger in different directions across the garage. I’m gonna go look for them.

While you’re waiting, for your enjoyment and contemplation, here is a picture of what I’m looking for. Yes, that’s it. That black speck on top of the dime.

Go get some coffee or something, this might take awhile.

In all seriousness, I actually gave up that night and ordered a replacement plunger from Numrich. Miracle of miracles, I went back out the next morning and found the plunger on the floor in the light of day.

I don’t have good pictures of this whole procedure because I tried so many different things and got so frustrated and came so close to loosing that verdammt plunger again that I gave up on the pictures.

Here’s what I ended up doing: I clamped the bolt body in the padded jaws of my bench vice. I clamped it so that the extractor spring and plunger were as close to perfectly vertical as possible. They go into the bolt body at an angle so getting them vertical put the bolt body at about a 60 degree angle or so.

Then I used a c-clamp along the length of the bolt body to compress the ejector and ejector spring to line up the notch. Before installing the clamp, I had to make sure that the ejector was rotated so that the notch was parallel to the extractor pin hole and wasn’t turned sideways to it.

Next, I used a very small jewelers screwdriver to compress the extractor plunger and spring. the extractor has a notch that must pass over the top of the extractor plunger and the plunger must stay oriented so that the flat on the plunger is facing that notch. As a result, it is quite tricky to get it to go on. You have to kind of slide the tool you are compressing the plunger with out of the way just as the extractor notch passes over it.

As soon as the extractor pops over the plunger and into place, the bolt is assembled. After trying umpteen thousand times with different configurations of makeshift contraptions to hold everything that needed to be held, different angles, different timing of moving the extractor and the tool being used to compress the plunger, over and over and over and over and over……….

It just popped in. After it went, I stood there dumbfounded for a good 15 seconds wondering what happened. It popped, the tools slipped, I didn’t get hit in the face by flying springs and plungers, the firing pin didn’t fall out onto the floor. Whaaaahhh?

OH. It went together. Kind of anticlimactic when it happened.

I can’t even really tell you what made the difference and why it went that time after all the other attempts. All I know is that I FINALLY got it.

So, this should be considered an emergency procedure only: i.e. a full fledged zombie attack is currently underway and all the ammo you’ve got left is for your M1 carbine and the bolt is on the bench in pieces and the bolt assembly tool is in your best friend’s range bag across town…

Unless, of course, you’re an impatient, stubborn, glutton for punishment like some nutcase gun blogger whom I won’t name but looks back at me from the mirror every morning.

The $25 – $30 for a bolt tool may very well be, dollar for dollar, the best investment you’ll ever make.

In the next M1 Carbine post…which hopefully won’t be two months from now…we will reinstall the few individual components that we removed from the stock and receiver and then we shall enjoy the premier of my directorial and starring movie debut “Reassembly of M1 Carbine Major Groups.”


9 thoughts on “M1 Carbine Part 8: Bolt reassembly (ugh!)

  1. I just detailed stripped my carbine bolt, cleaned it and put it back together. My experience was in many ways simmilar to yours and can not only claim the success of having it reasembled but did so with only putting one hole in my finger with the tiny screwdriver I was using to push the plunger into place.

    However now that everything is back together the extractor seems to keep catching on the barrel preventing the bolt from rotating out of the locked possition when there is a casing in the chamber. it works fine with out a casing in the chamber. Have you seen this?

    • Thank you for taking the time to explain the steps to assemble this bolt, I will try it a few more times and if I don’t succeed I will order the tool this way I’ll just have it thanks again.

  2. No, I haven't.

    First question: Does this happen if you operate manually without firing the cartridge, or only after you fire?

    Second Question: Does the bolt close and lock normally, or does it seem stiff going in as well as coming out?

    Third Question: Was the rifle operating normally before you cleaned the bolt or is this a new (to you) rifle that you hadn't tried it on yet?

    I've never seen the extractor make the bolt hang up. Every time I've seen a problem like this with a cartridge inserted, it's been because the chamber was dirty or had a burr that was causing the cartridge case to stick in the chamber.

    Not saying that it's impossible the bolt is causing it, just that I've never seen it before.

    Take the bolt out of the rifle and snap a cartridge onto the bolt face like it would be inside the rifle when chambered. Does it look like the extractor is sticking out more than it should? Is it loose, or shifting somehow? Maybe you can tell more by looking at it outside the rifle.

    Let me know what you find out.

  3. Only two places in my bookmarked list of gun parts dealers have the bolts in stock, but they seem to have both the flat and round bolts so you can get whichever you need.

    Fulton Armory (the bolts start about a quarter of the way down the page):


    And Numrich Gun Parts (Item Number 13):


    I don't know whether the Fulton Armory parts are original or new production, but you can contact them and ask before ordering.

    The Numrich parts are all original and they even tell you what manufacturer markings they have so you can match one to your rifle if you're buying for an original WWII/Korea era rifle.

    I'm sure there are more out there if you search for M1 Carbine bolts, but those are the two from my bookmarks that I've done business with before and been happy with their products and service.

    Hope that helped.

  4. Pingback: M1 Carbine Part 12: The infamous sling and sling oiler | Captain of a Crew of One

  5. Pingback: M1 Carbine Part 11: Using the M1 Carbine bolt tool (assembly) | Captain of a Crew of One

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