*Romanian M-69 .22LR Training Rifle*
About a year ago I brought home a cheap .22 bolt action to supplement my semi auto magazine fed scoped rig. I believe I paid $70 tax included out the door retail. I was expecting it to be a sturdy and hopefully somewhat accurate game getter...I doubted I would ever use it much myself but redundancy in all things is a good philosophy. In truth the .22LR is one of the most productive tools a man can own firearm-wise...ask anyone who has had to live under "tight" circumstances and use all of their skills to keep food on the table. Large caliber ammo gets expensive fast. During the depression there are many tales of a few boxes of .22 shells keeping the garden free of pests and the pot full of small game for an entire summer. You can well imagine how long a $9 550 round brick of federal .22LR would feed you if need be. I have heard that during the depression it seemed as though deer simply ceased to exist in some regions...in truth they probably changed their patterns due to increased hunting pressure...point being the idea of hunting for dinner might sound great to you when you picture being the "mighty hunter" dragging home a deer every week...in reality you better plan on moving down the food chain...enter the need for having enough .22 rifles and ammo to go around...not by coincidence also enter the Romanian M69 military trainer.
These are very basic sturdy rifles...now they are not going to be easily confused with a Kimber or even a CZ or Savage ...there are a few sharp edges on the sturdy rear sights on mine...the trigger could use some polishing...I'd like to install an over travel screw through the rear of the trigger guard etc. However there are some upsides. The things are built like a brick house. The sites are almost impossible to knock out of alignment once you get it set right and there are flip up plates for 25 yards (fixed) 50 yards and 100 yards flip up. The reason for these ranges is that it is a training rifle...in truth they are probably more calibrated for meters anyway...but with a little work and a set of appropriate files you can get things the way you need to...or simply square up the front site so the "25" setting is dead on at 25 yards. The front site is set for elevation like a SKS etc. and has a protective hood much like a Mauser K98 would have. The rear site sets the windage adjustment by drifting it with a dowel and a mallet (or in my case a screwdriver and something heavy from the trunk...I may have used a large set of large vise-grips -I don't quite recall...hey it wasn't supposed to be worth much effort-LOL ;) There is a 5 round removable clip type magazine and replacements when in stock usually run in the $10-12 range. The safety is engaged by rolling the lever at the rear of the bolt to the straight up position (once again much like a K98 Mauser...hhhmmmm)
This is a full sized stocked rifle unlike so many others on the market in either youth or somewhat down-sized "one size fits some" furniture ....I believe LOP on mine was about 14 1/2" and it fits me very well. There are sling loops/swivels if you want to call them that...they just barely will hold a 1" sling or more easily will accommodate something in the neighborhood of 7/8" in a thicker or stiffer leather. I actually went by a pawnshop and dug through his box of odds and ends until I found a very appropriate 7/8" used leather sling well broken in and soft but not rotted and all the stitching was tight. I walked out for $10 with it...a bit more than I hoped to spend but it looked and fit just perfect...it completed the "comfortable pair of old shoes" look of the ensemble...which is exactly what this rifle has become in the last year.
Upon getting it home I found after removing the cosmoline remains the dealer missed and getting all of it out of the magazine and bolt that it appeared to be new and unfired (or near enough)...the bolt and barrel matched numbers but the action did not...I'm not sure why this is but either way the bore was like new and everything seemed to be in very good working order...to the range we go. This is where I got a bit miffed...not because of the rifles poor performance but because it actually out shot my more expensive scoped rig repeatedly!! It grouped as well or better with bulk-pack federal ammo and clover-leafed at 25 yards with CCI mini-mag....uhhh OK I guess I did OK $80 later. I have since heard "some are shooters and some are clubs" from two dealers...it's hard to say on something like this...I did pick what I felt was the best looking one of several the dealer had.
Anyway long story short -while it may not wear a scope it is very well balanced in hand because of it and is easy to clean and maintain compared to a semi auto. I actually use little more than a pull-through bore-snake on it and a tooth brush to scrub the bolt face and a towel/rag to wipe down the action. Accuracy has remained very good to say the least...I have used it to harvest a lot of small game this year. It resembles "grampa's gun" to me...as comfortable an old pair of shoes as ever a man has walked the woods with. I cannot speak for the quality or accuracy of all of these rifles...I can tell you I plan to buy a few more...I'm well pleased with the design and hardiness of the rifle. It has never had any feed or ejection problems past an occasional case that somehow landed back in the action...it happens with all .22's...I've even had a semi-auto close on the old case while chambering the new one a few times.
It came with a rather awful cleaning rod and there is a SKS like trapdoor and cleaning/tool kit in the trapdoor buttstock...the sight adjustment tool for the front sight is the only thing in there I have used...I urge you to get a .22LR bore-snake and use that and breakfree CLP or similar product...that way you have no chance of damaging the bore/crown as long as you pull it out straight and clean the thing once in a while. I am of the opinion now that these rifles may well be the best value on the market in sturdy affordable .22's You won't get a match trigger and you'll have to be prepared to have a decent smith drill and tap the action for a mount of some kind if you want a scope...but for the DIY crowd or someone who just wants a sturdy workhorse that won't let them down or maybe a few good rifles for the kids or a hunting cabin...retreat...etc etc. well....try one and see if you like it...they wholesale for between $45-55 most places and retail from $55-75 on average. If you must have a scope there may be a better cheaper option for you...I'm just plain in love with the dang things...I plan to pick up another one soon and perhaps drill and tap it for a scope mount. If a guy had several children to buy training rifles for this would be a good place to look in my opinion...that is what they were designed for after all...mine is certainly accurate enough to serve that role well.
The rifle is simple...to break it down for basic cleaning:
Release the magazine by depressing the retainer clip at the front of the magazine and pull down.
Now open the bolt and inspect that the chamber is empty. Now that we KNOW it is unloaded depress the release lever at the front of the button on the left side of the receiver...now gently slide the bolt out free of the rifle.
Get a good screwdriver out and carefully remove the 2 screws at the bottom of the trigger guard area. now gently wiggle the trigger guard and lift off. For future reference as on Mauser the longer bigger screw always goes in the front of the action and the smaller one back by the trigger side.
Now you can lift the action free of the stock...this is about as far as you should ever need to go...it's easy to see where the screw is that holds the trigger assembly in place...
if you are qualified to do a trigger job yourself you need no further instructions...if not I suggest you leave it alone or take it to someone who is a qualified gunsmith. assembly in reverse. Told you it was basic ;) You can go to town glass bedding actions or drilling holes under the butt-plate to hold extra rounds...drop the kit in the buttstock for a cut down cigar tube survival kit...whatever your hearts desire leads you to...just be safe and enjoy the rifle...until next time/gun.
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