Long-range precision rifle shooting is exploding right now. Interest is up, and there are matches springing up all over the country. Out of the box, ready-to-go rifles are extremely expensive, and I was looking for a way to jump into the game without spending this winter’s heating money. I started looking around the dusty corners of my gun vault and came up with an idea.
I had an old Winchester Model 70 Laredo rifle in .300 Winchester that’s been collecting dust for a while. It’s a good shooter, and with a new scope it would make a decent rifle to get started in long-range shooting. So I ordered a rail mount and a Leupold 4-24x52mm VX-6 scope with a TMOA reticle. The trigger was never all that great on this rifle, however, so while I was waiting for the scope, I decided to install a Timney trigger with a 1.5-pound pull weight.
Timney makes triggers for a wide range of rifles, and just about any rifle will benefit from installing one. In fact, when I finished this project, I installed another Timney in a different Model 70 for hunting. For that I requested a 3-pound pull, and the company hit that one dead on, too. (timneytriggers.com; 623-223-1111)
1.) DISASSEMBLE: Remove the bolt from the gun, and make sure the gun is empty of all ammo. Now remove the stock from the gun using a screwdriver that correctly fits the slot. Remove the magazine box from the action. Using a punch that is the correct size for the pins, remove the front and rear trigger retaining pins. Note that they are removed in opposite directions.
2.) OUT WITH THE OLD: Remove the old trigger, including all the springs. Remove the bolt stop and the bolt stop spring. The bolt stop spring is under tension, so be careful not to lose it. Replace the bolt stop and bolt stop spring, but only push the pin in far enough to hold them and not block inserting the trigger.
3.) IN WITH THE NEW: Slide the new trigger into place, pushing back on the bolt stop spring and stretching it enough that the trigger can be inserted and the rear pin pushed into place to hold it. Back out the screw on top of the front of the trigger. Now, push the front of the trigger into place and insert the front retaining pin. Tap the front retaining pin into place with a brass punch.
4.) SECURE IT: Tighten the front screw on the trigger until it’s snug. This screw is designed to place tension on the locking pins and to remove any movement in the trigger. Put a bit of thread locker on the front screw. Then install and tighten the retaining nut.
5.) STOCK CLEARANCE: Make sure there is clearance in the stock for all the screws and other parts of the trigger. Make sure the retaining screw is not hitting the aluminum bedding block on the stock or it will prevent the action from seating properly. During this Rx installment, I needed to use a milling machine to remove some metal and provide clearance for the trigger screw. Drilling it out with a drill press or even using a Dremel tool to remove the metal would have also worked.
6.) SAFETY CHECK: Reassemble the rifle, including installing the bolt, and check the function of the trigger and the safety. Make sure the safety will go on and that it is working in both the “on” and center positions. Once in a while the safety will not work, which requires the bolt be disassembled and a bit of clearance be cut with a file. Timney can provide instructions on how to do this in the unlikely event it is necessary. Check to make sure the trigger is releasing properly. The trigger safety should also be checked by cocking the gun and, with the safety off, thumping the butt hard on the floor to make sure the trigger will not jar enough to release. This new trigger breaks cleanly at 1.5 pounds, which is excellent for precision long-range shooting.
Author’s Note: This article deals with Model 70 rifles made in New Haven, Connecticut, before 2006. If you have one of the newer Model 70 rifles made in South Carolina (and soon in Portugal), it will require a different trigger from Timney, so make sure you specify when you order.