Letter Re: L1A1 Rifle Bolt Hold Open Modification

Wednesday, Oct 5, 2005

The pin on my L1A1 bolt hold open was cut off. Do you have the part that holds the pin with a pin that has not been cut off? Thanks for the help. - The Texas Aggie

JWR Replies:
Most countries that issued the L1A1 foolishly specified them without a working automatic bolt hold-open (for after the last cartridge in the magazine is fired), even though it is part of the original design. This specification change was ostensibly done because they didn't want dirt or sand entering the action when the bolt was held open. I suspect, however, that it had more to do with making close order drill command for "inspection arms" (or the British equivalent) less cumbersome.

I don't sell bolt-hold-open (BHO) levers. However, BHOs with the hole pre-drilled--so that they are easily convertible to "open after the last shot in the magazine"--are available from a number of parts vendors including www.GunThings.com. (See the BHO comparison photos at the Gun Things web site before ordering.) If yours already has the cross-pin hole drilled then all that you need to "do it yourself" is clamp the BHO in a vise and use some sturdy pliers to twist and remove the short cross-pin. Then replace it with a longer one. (One that is long enough to engage the magazine follower.) This is much easier than trying to locate and drill a hole in a standard L1A1 BHO lever! For the cross pin, solid drill rod works best if you can find rod stock to match the correct diameter, but a roll pin (a.k.a. a tubular "spring" pin) usually works just fine. Adding a roll pin to the existing hole is quick and easy: Cut a roll pin to the same length as that on a metric FAL--long enough to be engaged by the magazine follower, but not so long that it will get hung-up at the wrong time. This can take some judicious filing. Just go slow or you might file off too much and then have to start over with a new roll pin.

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