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Boyds Gunstocks Blog

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Mossberg Makeover

by Jim House
            Ever since an older shooting buddy picked up a cigar box that contained a sizeable number of cartridges and his Winchester Model 94 .30-30 and said “let’s go shoot these” I have had a great affection for lever action rifles. His Model 94 had had all surfaces where metal rubbed on metal polished to a mirror finish. Because the man really knew how to use crocus cloth the action was incredibly smooth as were those of his M1 Garand and Ruger Blackhawk.

            His Model 94 was fitted with a high quality receiver sight and a Redfield Sourdough front that had a red insert on the rear face. Such sighting equipment was ideal for that rifle because being an older top eject model a scope could not be mounted directly over the receiver. An entire afternoon was spent pleasantly emptying the cigar box, but I knew that someday I wanted such a rifle.

            My first Winchester Model 94 was a Christmas present from my wife. It was purchased as a used gun, and it is not new enough to be an angle eject model so it does not wear a scope. Eventually I wanted to do load testing for a reloading project using a .30-30 lever action that would allow me to assess accuracy of the loads and that meant a scope had to be used. I decided on a Mossberg 464 and selected the least expensive model. It came with a stock having a straight grip and plain forearm. Although the rifle is quite accurate, it is certainly a plain tool. With seven types of factory ammunition tested using three three-shot groups with each type at 100 yards the overall average was 1.92 inches.  The smallest groups were obtained with the 150 grain Federal Power-Shok which gave three groups that averaged 1.29 inches. This level of accuracy indicates that within the range limitations of a .30-30, the Mossberg is plenty accurate. When it comes to handloads, my concoctions are usually of the reduced variety making use of either cast bullets or lightweight varmint bullets. With these, the Mossberg makes small groups at reasonable ranges.

            New Winchester Model 94 Angle Eject rifles are available with the lowest priced carbine having an MSRP of $1279 and the lowest price Henry .30-30 lever action sells for around $900. Although I have a couple of older side eject 94s, that made my decision about what to test rather easy, but later I also wanted to convert my Mossberg 464 into a classier looking and more reliable companion. During testing for the reloading project, I discovered that the Mossberg utilizes a magazine follower made of orange plastic. I also found that it sometimes hangs up in the magazine tube keeping cartridges from feeding into the lifter. I removed the plastic follower, polished it, and gave it a light coat of silicone oil, with the result that sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. From comments posted on the internet it seems that such problems are rather frequently encountered with the Mossberg 464.

            The first step in the makeover for the Mossberg was to replace the magazine follower with a brass one made by AM-Precision. Although there are other metal followers available from other sources, this is a finely machined part that is a significant upgrade from the original. Removal of the magazine plug screw allows the end cap to be removed after which the magazine spring can be lifted out. In most cases the magazine follower is loose enough that it can be removed by tipping the muzzle downward and shaking the rifle. The new plug can be inserted and the magazine spring inserted in the open end of the tube and the plug replaced.

            With the one performance issue settled, it was time to work on the cosmetics of the rifle. The metal parts on the Mossberg are nicely polished and blued so nothing was needed in most cases. However, when the magazine tube was removed so the forearm could be removed, it was noted that there was some roughness on the bottom of the tube. I rubbed it briskly with 0000 steel wool, cleaned it thoroughly, and applied several coats of Birchwood Casey Perma Blue® with very light rubbing with steel wool between applications. That made the appearance of the magazine tube match that of the other metal parts.

            The stock and forearm of the Mossberg were smooth and rather plain so to make the rifle elegant I turned to Boyds for the remedy. The wood furniture chosen consisted of stock and forearm made of XX walnut and with the field checkering pattern. Removing the factory stock on the Mossberg 464 is different from removing the stock on a Winchester 94. The stock on the Mossberg is held by a bolt that is accessed by removing the butt plate. With the butt plate removed, removing the stock is accomplished with ease using a ½ inch socket with a 6 inch extension. The new stock is put in place and the stock bolt inserted and tightened.

            Removing the forearm is the same as for a Winchester 94 and requires removal of the barrel band and the magazine tube which protrudes through the forearm. Thus, the screws holding the forearm and magazine tube must be removed in addition to the magazine cap. The magazine tube can then be slid forward which allows the forearm to be removed. The new forearm was put in place and the magazine tube inserted and the barrel band put in place. A notch in the bottom of the barrel allows the screw holding the barrel band to pass below the barrel. To get the screw holes in the barrel band to align with the notch required the forearm and barrel band to be moved as far as possible to the rear. This was accomplished with a block of wood and a plastic hammer.  

            After some tinkering, the Mossberg was now fitted with a new magazine follower and furniture. Well, what has been accomplished? First, the Mossberg feeds, fires, and ejects reliably as a result of the new magazine follower. The cosmetic issues have been rectified in superlative fashion by addition of the Boyds walnut stock and forearm. I have always been partial to Winchester lever action rifles, but my Mossberg is now a cherished item in the gun safe but it is going to be a useful tool for hunting predators and looking beautiful all the while.


Mossberg Makeover 1 

The plain looking Mossberg 464 has always shown excellent accuracy for a rifle of this type but feeding cartridges has been an issue.

Mossberg Makeover 2

The cartridge feeding problem was traced to the factory magazine follower (left) which was replaced by one made of brass.

Mossberg Makeover 3

The Mossberg 464 in .30-30 Winchester caliber is a versatile rifle.

Mossberg Makeover 4

Removing the magazine plug allows the spring to be pulled out.

Mossberg Makeover 5

With the screw through the barrel band removed, the forearm and magazine tube can be removed.

Mossberg Makeover 6

Metal finishing on this Mossberg 464 is very well done.

Mossberg Makeover 7

With the makeover complete, my Mossberg 464 looks as good as it shoots.