In firearms, action threads refer to the screw threads used to attach a barrel to a receiver, most commonly used in rifles and revolvers, but also on some pistols and shotguns. The threads on the receiver are often called receiver action threads and are usually internal threads, with the matching threads on the barrel being called barrel action threads and are usually external threads. This method of fixing a barrel to a receiver has been used extensively by firearms manufacturers since before the 20th century, and can be viewed as a traditional barrel mounting method.
Action threads are not the only method of fixing a barrel to a receiver (see Alternative methods below). Furthermore, some firearm designs have moving instead of fixed barrels (e.g. most recoil operated pistols or the Barrett M82 rifle).
There are many systems for designating thread types (metric, unified, Whitworth, etc.). Threading can be specified by diameter, pitch, angle, length and fit tolerances. However, the use of action threads is not well standardized within the firearms industry, and threading can vary between manufacturers and models.
For example, factory and aftermarket receivers using the Remington 700 footprint are produced with various types of action threads, all with a 26.99 mm (1 1⁄16 in) diameter, but with either a 1.588 mm (16 TPI, Remington standard), 1.411 mm (18 TPI) or 1.270 mm (20 TPI, Savage standard).
In this process it is important so set the correct headspace. Correct mounting is important both for safety and accuracy. If the barrel, receiver and bolt are not fitted properly, severe and potential fatal problems can arise due to faulty headspace, e.g. cartridge overpressure and case rupture. Threaded barrels are often mounted to the receiver with a lot of torque, and will therefore generally require tools for assembly and disassembly, such as a suitable action wrench and a vise. Depending on the firearm, a recoil lug is sometimes fitted between the barrel and stock as part of the process,
Cleaning up the receiver and barrel action threads is often done during "blueprinting" in order to increase accuracy.
Quick barrel change systems is an increasingly popular alternative, as seen in for example SIG Sauer 200 STR, Roessler Titan or Blaser R8. These methods typically only require simple hand tools (like a hex key) or no tools at all. This can be an great advantage to competition shooters who regularly wear out barrels, or for hunters who want a modular rifle that can shoot several calibers. In these designs, the bolt locks directly into the barrel, and the manufacturer often guarantees that the barrel is headspaced correctly from the factory.
- Bolt Guns - a Survey of Rem 700 Custom Actions | RECOILWEB
- Brownells - Fitted Barrel Instructions
- Custom Rifles | Warner Tool Company
- “Blueprinting” (Truing) a Remington 700 Action – rifleshooter.com
- Sauer 101 Review | Sporting Rifle magazine "This rifle is not a switch barrel, like its predecessor, but fixed. Sauer opted for a non-threaded, heat shrunk, barrel to receiver fitting"
- New Sauer 101 Hunting Rifle from J.P. Sauer & Sohn « Daily Bulletin "Sauer boasts that the barrel is heat-pressed into the receiver, with the bolt locking up directly into the barrel"