The Hobby Gunsmith


AWA Lightning

Last month we were still having reliability problems with the AWA Lightning rifle being tested on the West Coast in California.  The ejector bar on the right side kept coming loose and we promised to fix it and report how it was done.

   After reporting to AWA that the problem had surfaced again, I was given the instructions and permission to make the correction ourselves in the Hobby Gunsmith shop. 

   AWA told me to go ahead and just pin the rear of the ejector bar so it could be filed down to properly fit the receiver.  It's a lot of work to set up the drill press to drill a hole only to install a piece of steel when just a little bit more effort would provide an adjustable alternative.

   I thought it would be better to drill the hole where the pin needs to be installed and then tap the hole for a setscrew.  Here is  how I completed this project.

We began by taking measurements of the rear of the ejector bar and found it was just barely thick enough to drill for a 4-40 threaded setscrew.  That threading requires drilling with a number 43 drill and only the slightest amount of metal remaining on each side of the hole. 

   The ejector bar was marked in the correct location for drilling and the location was set with a center punch.  I placed the bar in a cross-sliding vise and carefully aligned it with the drill before moving the center punch dimple under the drill. 

   The close photo shows the ejector bar as it is being drilled.  Work slowly and carefully until the drill has gone

 far enough to allow the tapered tap to thread deep enough to allow the setscrew to go down flush with the top of the hole.

   With the hole tapped for a 4-40 thread, I used a small hex wrench to turn the setscrew down into the hole in order to allow us to fit the ejector bar into place.

   The ejector bars on the Lightning are held in place at the rear by the two "wings" that can be seen on either side of the hole that was drilled in the bar.  The front of the bar is retained between the frame and a small retaining screw.

   The design of the ejector bars require them to be fitted to the rifle before being slid into place in the frame.  The placement of the bar is critical, because the inside of the bar controls the ejection and feed of the cartridges.

   The ejector bar must be slid into place and then moved front to rear to check for play.  Ours had about an eighth of an inch of play so I removed the bar and backed the setscrew out about that amount.  I continued adjusting and fitting until the installed bar just barely fit with no end play.

   After the bar appeared to be properly adjusted, I applied a little fingernail polish to the threads to secure them for field testing.  The photo above shows the setscrew in place with the red fingernail polish holding the screw.  The gun was then reassembled and taken to a cowboy match for testing.

   I approached the first stage with a little apprehension, because the Lightning had not been able to complete a full stage without ammunition feeding  problems.  The first stage at Jamestown, CA required precise rifle shooting and I missed two, but I had no feeding problems.

   The gun went five full stages without any problems and there were times when I could hear people making remarks about how fast I was shooting with the Lightning.  I then loaded the gun with cartridges filled with American Pioneer Powder to check the operation for use in the blackpowder categories I normally shoot.  The gun performed flawlessly.

   Barring rain, the next match will have the little Lightning shooting in Manteca, CA with American Pioneer Powder for the entire match.

   My own impression of the gun in competition is that it's more fun to shoot when focused on a target and the clock running.  I wrap around the gun and work the pump as fast as I can.  I am not experienced with pump guns, but it only took a single stage to get a good feel for the gun.  This one is now a keeper for this author.