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Gunsmithing Simplified

The majority of the problems with these firearms are mostly now a thing of the past as all of the latest I.A.C. shotguns are now built using CNC milling machines.



 (updated, Jan, 2nd; 2013) - - We made several changes to the text on a lot of the problems with M-87's and those changes (and cures) are TYPED in RED. New item #36 posted Jan 2nd. 2013, along with the cure for the problem

We have an invention that was developed in 2003, using this "Prototype" 12ga. M-1901, that is called a "Posi-Lock". It stops the carrier from going all the way to the bottom of the frame, while loading two shells at once. This is an upgrade to our Patented "Two Shot Feeding System", including "Top Gun Mod".   This posi-lock cannot be over-run or over-powered and cause a "Train Wreck". It also allows you to fully load the mag tube.


Even though this system was performed on a 1901 prototype, we are very proud of the invention because it succesfully adapted this longer framed 1901 10ga. (converting it into a 12ga.) system and also to a shorter framed M-87 12ga. It is totally internal and allows a total of 7 rounds to be loaded.

We charge $225 to install this system. It ain't easy, but well worth it, as it requires a completely new right side carrier (included), plus milling to the bolt.  


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We have another very helpful cure for extraction and ejection on the M-87 and a continuation of "stovepipping" cures found in cure #7, below. 

The left extractor (hook) needs to be shorter than the right extractor (hook) and both have to allow the rims of the shells to pivot off the bottoms of the extractors. This requires careful grinding with a diamond bit Dremel tool and high polishing.

As the spent hull is extracted from the chamber, it is important for the left extractor to grip the hull strongly for about an inch out of the chamber, then release the rim as the bolt pivots, so the right extractor can then continue pulling the rest of the hull out of the chamber.

Also, along with this change, the lower portion of the bolt face needs to have a portion of metal removed at an angle to allow sufficient clearance of 2-3/4" hulls from the upper portion of the chamber.

This change helps to allow the spent hull to release it's grip on the right extractor at the moment the lever/bolt is almost all the way back in the action.

The long (two shot feeding) ejector will need the cam timing changed. This is the oblong metal piece that sticks into the right side carrier and you need to add about .020 metal to the upper edge on the rearward face of the cam, to allow the ejector to hit the bottom of the last spent hull strongly enough so the hull does not stovepipe on the extractors.

That cam on the left side of the carrier also needs to have metal removed at an angle on the upper portion of the cam. This change will allow the ejector to slow down it's travel over the hole in the mag tube follower, and thus, when released from the follower, it will snap up very sharply, striking the bottom of the spent hull at the very moment the rim of the hull is released from the right extractor. Thus, this change will complete a very strong ejection of the second (last) spent hull.

These changes are found to be very difficult for the average home gunsmith. We recommend you take your gun to a "smith" with extensive experience in the M-87, lever/bolt, extractor, ejector and cam timing. There are now, only three exceptionally knowledgeable "smiths" in the country that can do this type of very delicate work.



There is also a change to the "Two Shot Feeding System" of the IAC M-87w-20 and our own M-87wcse-18, called a "Top Gun Mod." (included with our $170 action jobs) .   These changes were SASS approved, but because the factory changed the specifications for the "Two Shot Feeding" system, in an attempt to prevent a possible warranty situation (from buyers that did not understand why the carrier would stop at the 3/4 down position), people found the guns, (especially the latest "09" models), did not have the system installed at all. These guns have M-87-1 stamped on the left side of the barrel.




There are problems found on ejection of the last shell on the "Standard" 1887w-20. Please scroll down to problem #7 and the cure for the problem. 

New 87 buyers planning on using the "Holy Black", please contact us about opening up your chamber from 12 ga. to 11-7/8 ga. prior to shipping the shotgun out to you.  In testing, we have experienced some extraction/ejection problems using Black Powder in plastic hulls and 65gr. ffg.

The problems listed below have mostly appeared in the early '05 guns and now some "06's", "08's" and "09's"as well.  We've yet to find very many major issues with the CC-06 special editions, sorry for the delays, but we have to go through every gun for quality control from Chinese assembly. This takes about 5-1/2 hours per gun.  

1887 Standard Model, Lever Action Problems:  To date, we have found (35) separate problems in these guns, that need to be corrected.  Some more difficult to cure than others, so please be patient and work slowly when applying a cure.  

1.  Inspection of frame construction:  look for blue blotches in a reddish colored frame. If the blotches are close to the lever pivot pin area, and you have already purchased the gun, my suggestion is to take the gun to metal working shop that can perform die penetrate inspection to look for cracks in the casting.

Cure: if the casting is cracked, you will need to replace the frame. If not cracked, but still reddishly ugly, you can have us put a "Brushed Hard Chome" finish to the whole gun, inside and out.  The cost for this is $275 including double shipping.

2.  Take off the buttstock and inspect for lever lock spring contact in the underside of the tang inletting. The stock shop supervisor inletted the stocks to "87" specs, forgetting I had the lock mechanism from the "1901" modified to fit an "87" - - thus the lever locking spring contacts the bottom of the wood.

Cure:  re-inlet the tang grove so the spring cannot contact the wood anymore.

3.  The lever lock spring screw is loose, as long as you have the stock off, you may as well modify the spring to relieve some of the locking pressure and tighten the screw. This screw has been loose on over 800 M-87's we have inspected to date.

4.  The triggers on EVERY new "87" where incorrectly manufactured for the new pivoting lever. They do not slide in the lever groove to prevent an out-of-battery hammer drop. (not a dangerous situation, as the "87" has a radius bolt design as compared to an in-line bolt design of a "97" pump, and as such, the firing pin of the "87" is never in alignment with the primer until the bolt is over 90% closed). Not a real problem, just annoying if someone could get the trigger to pull before the lock-up.

Cure:  Bend the tip of the trigger foreward. Problem goes away. New note. When you bend the front tip of the trigger, it is not necessary to take the trigger out of the gun.  Simply open the lever till the hammer and sear are no longer visible, but still supporting the base of the trigger. Place the barrel on a carpet, (muzzle down), and use a fairly heavy hammer to simply tap the underside of the trigger at the "hook" and the trigger will bend upwards very easily. The trigger will also now clear the straps of the leather lever wrap.

While on the trigger subject, notice the small screw on the top of the tang, (in front of the serial numbers). This screw is the trigger spring screw, that can also adjust the trigger pull and not work loose. If you want a 5lb. (factory) trigger, tighten the screw down. To adjust the trigger to about 2-1/2 to 3 lbs., simply turn the screw counter-clockwise about 1/2 of a turn and try the trigger again - - (nice, isn't it?)

5.  The pivoting lever is incorrectly manufactured on a great many of the new "87's", and because of the loose tolerances of the two parts, when the action is operated, the loose parts can pinch your finger very badly - - badly enough to take a huge chunk out of the inside of your middle finger or the underside of you trigger finger (depending if you operate the lever with your finger inside the lever or outside the lever), the result will draw some blood.   

Cure:  Install leather covers (correctly) over the pivoting levers exposed parts and pivot pin, and do this as a safety addition. (see #6 note below)

6.  The leather lever wraps are incorrectly installed on EVERY  new "87" (from the factory). The leather wraps when incorrectly installed, are nothing more than cosmetic and almost useless.  The leather lever wraps where brought to China from Wisconsin, to show exactly what I wanted, AND WHY!  

Cure:  The leather wraps have to be installed around the pivot area, to protect your fingers (and help prevent the lever pin from coming out under use) and this requires the two long tails (straps) to go through the triggerguard and under the trigger, necessitating the trigger to be modified to clear the leather straps. (see problem #4 and cure). The leather straps now clear the trigger.

7.  Check over each gun to be assured the left and right extractors are not installed incorrectly and the firing pin is protruding through the bolt, holding the rim from flipping and thus not releasing from the left and right extractors. This will cause  stovepiping, and failure to eject.

The left side of the carrier, (knockdown plate contact area), has been ground away too far on several guns, and this problem will cause the last round to stovepipe.

Cure:  The left side of the carrier needs to either be replaced, or the portion that the bolt knockdown plate contacts, has to be (low-amp) wire feed welded, back to blueprint specifications. The reason is because the left side of the carrier helps in the ejection of the last round. This is what causes the last round to pitch to the right and over your shoulder, (for right handed shooters), and has to be modified for left handed shooters, (to pitch the spent hull to the left, instead of the right).

if this is not done and the gun is working very well and ejecting very strongly, a spent hull can hit you between the eyes (against your safety glasses).

The following is a continuation of the "stovepiping problem of the last round ejection.

Cure:  The Left extractor has one flat area that mates up with the spring and plunger. That flat area should be angled slightly inwards, so to put more pressure on the left extractor. The bottom 1/2 of that extractor "hook", should be removed, so as to release the rim of the spent hull at about the 1/2 way of bolt arc travel.

Cure:  The Right extractor needs to move up and down VERY easily, almost 1/2 inch, in an arc movement to grab the spent hull at the 1/2 way mark and continue the extraction. Then at the end of travel, the right extractor has to release the spent hull (every time), and to do this, you need to remove 1/2 the bottom area of the rim hook and cut (about) 1-1/2 coils off the spring, then make sure the V channel that the extractor glides in, does not have a ridge left in it from the factory milling machine operator. The right extractor needs to have two flat areas where the plunger can flip the extractor up and down very easily and a small channel needs to be cut into the base area where the extractor plunger glides over the two flat surfaces. The plunger also needs to be rounded and smooth so it can glide from one flat spot to the other, without restriction. Lots and lots of high polishing is needed on all parts in this area and keep the extractors well oiled.

8.  A great many of these guns have too much metal taken off the bottom of the left side carrier ejector cam, causing poor ejection of the last round fired, resulting in a another stovepiping condition.

Cure:  Open the action, remove both the left and right carrier screws, then reach inside and pull out the carriers. The left side cam is the problem. The cam is the part that sticks into an oval slot in the right side of the carrier. When you look closely at the cam itself, it also is supposed to be oval in shape.  The problem was caused by an assembly worker, not understanding why the new two shot feeding system ejector, does not work well, and thought that the ejector cam was the problem, when in fact, the failure of the extractors to release the last round (spent hull) is most likely the real cause and not the ejector cam.

This problem can only be cured by replacing the filed off metal of the cam, by low-amp wire feed welding. This process may require taking the carrier in and out several times in order to get the cam shape correct. I have found the majority of the problems to almost always be on the bottom 1/2 of the ejector cam.

9.  The right carrier pivot screw hole, is sometimes countersunk too far. Tightening the right screw down, will lock-up the action, or at least cause the cycling of the action to become very stiff. The reason is because the screw threads go through the frame and contact the pivot hole of the carrier. Tightening the screw down, causes the threads to push the carrier inward and will make the action very stiff to cycle.

Cure: take out the right side carrier and countersink the pivot hole in the carrier to compensate for the factory countersinking the frame hole too far. I saw the cause at the factory, when the person doing the hole drilling into the frame, (using a jig), would first drill the left hole and countersink it, then not blow out the shavings. The frame was then turned over to drill and countersink the right side hole, and the metal shavings would fall under the frame, and raise it up on the jig, thus causing the countersink hole to become too deep and when putting the screw into the gun and tightening them down, the threads would contact the carrier and lock it. Because so many of the frames were countersunk too far, the latest models (should) have the carriers already countersunk properly, so those of you with later models should not experience this problem.

One other problem in this area, is the amount of "lock-Tite" used to secure the screws. We have found some screws so tight we could not get them out. The reason was soon found to be the threads were stripped and then the screw was epoxied into place, so the gun could not be taken apart. This problem turned out to be fairly serious and I actually got a little angry about it, because I had to drill and tap a new hole and machine a pivot screw to fit - - which would render the gun operable, but no longer of a factory standard issue and the gun would have to be sold at a discount or donated to a SASS club to help raise money for them and give us a badly needed tax write-off to compensate for our losses.

10. The left carrier (second shell stop cam), incorrectly angled. This problem can be identified when the second round on the carrier, flies out of the gun along with the ejected first round.

Cure: Take out the carriers and the bolt, then while on your work-bench, align the carrier halves on each side of the bolt and observe the tip of the left carrier. It is supposed to have a (right) cam angle on it, to match a cam angle at the top (left side) of the bolt radius.  Check the bolt first to see if there is a burr in the cam area, as we have found this to be the main problem. Mate the two areas, so that when the lever is cycled fully open, those two cam angles will cause the left side of the carrier to pitch to the right and stop the second shell from coming out with the spent hull of the first round.

This is part of the timing system, and unless you are pretty sure of what you are doing, best leave this for one of the cowboy gunsmiths, or someone VERY familiar with the timing of an 87 lever action. The reason is that there are several timing areas on the lever and carriers, and all of these need to work together for the gun to operate successfully, without a problem.

11. The bolt (left side, under the left extractor) to carrier knock-down plate, usually has a loose screw causing a jammed action. This problem can be identified by looking closely at the left side of the bolt, with the action 1/2 way closed, there is a flat plate under the left extractor, that is loose and not contacting the left side of the carrier correctly, to knock it down. That small plate will go either inside or outside of the left side carrier, causing a jam and locking the action up.

Cure: Remove the carrier and bolt, tighten the screw and then peen it down, so it cannot come loose or come out again. There is no reason to remove the knock-down plate for cleaning, ect.

12. The magazine tube and follower are sometimes machining incorrectly, and not holding the carrier fully up. (this problem is very similar in nature to the AWA (Lightning) carrier dropping down as soon as the bolt is moved forward, the carrier drops). This problem can be seen by opening the action fully, and observing the carrier (with the lever held firmly, full forward). The carrier should be tight. because it is held by the right side lever cam screw.  As soon as you take the forward pressure off of the lever, the carrier drops down just enough to cause the next round, not to chamber, (because the carrier is too low). The carrier then goes loose and can move up and down at least a 1/4". The mag tube follower is supposed to hold the carrier up to feed ammo, while the action is closing.

Cure:  Either get the follower to go into the frame deeper, by machining the follower stop ring (deeper) on the inside of the frame, which allows the follower to go in farther, or simply use a low amp wire feed welder to add two spot welds to the bottom front of the right side carrier. This allows the carrier to sit up farther.

13. Our patented "Two Shot Feeding System" is incorrectly installed from the factory (or not at all in 2009 models). Workers "flattened" the nose of the longer ejector, so each gun would work normally. The nose and underside of each ejector needs to be modified to become operable along with a beveled hole in the follower.

Cure:  Using a Dremel tool, with a round diamond cutting wheel, trim the left and right corners of the ejector to fit better in the mag tube follower 'hole". Be sure to bevel the underside, so that the ejector will release itself from the also beveled (matching) follower hole. This is so, when empty of ammo, or when closing the action with one round, the carrier will go to the bottom of the frame, by jumping over the beveled hole in the follower.


TOP GUN ACTION to the 87 lever action

We have a modification to IMPROVE our patented and SASS APPROVED "Two Shot Feeding System" that we call the "TOP GUN Mod.", which is pretty difficult to explain in writing, suffice to say, the change is one that puts back into each gun, that what was approved by SASS. The "Top Gun Mod." allows the shooter the opportunity to no longer have to be so gentle when reloading the gun with two shells, (one on top of the other). For more information, call (507) 685-4511 

14.  The follower is very rough, causing the carrier to stick up or down, however, if the gun ejects the last round very well, leave the follower rough so the carrier can come up very suddenly.  If not, then see cure below..

Cure:  Take the follower out of the mag tube, put the follower onto a wooden dowel to hold the follower and allow it to spin on a belt sander and polishing wheels.

15. Ejector nose is too flat, holding the top shell too high.

Cure:  remove the carriers and using a Dremel diamond cutting tool, angle the nose of the ejector slightly, to allow the ejector to drop down just a bit more, so the round will not be too high.

16. bottom of the frame opening incorrectly cut to hold carrier to feed the mag tube.

Cure:  completely disassemble the shotgun, so you have access to the frame opening from the bottom. Using a flat faced (fine) file, file away the frame material, until the carrier drops all the way down in the frame, without contact. 

17. carrier stop screw cut-out on carrier too deep, allowing carrier to go too high.

Cure:  you will need to low-amp wire feed weld the carrier cut-out notch for the stop screw, then grind and hone the cut-out notch to hold the carrier at the correct height.

18. right extractor cam screw and right extractor, not mating properly, causing a hic-cup when closing the action with or without shells in the gun.

Cure:  Take the small forward cam screw out of the frame and watch the right extractor as it comes into view in the hole, then using a small tipped magic marker, put the tip into the hole so to make a mark on the extractor where it is hitting the screw head.  Then take the gun apart, take out the bolt and modify the underside (cam portion) of the left extractor to create a "ramp" when the extractor contacts the cam screw - - - hic-cup goes away !

19. Left extractor catching inside of chamber, jamming gun when empty (bad bolt milling).

Cure:  take out the left extractor, and put a very small spot weld on the backside of the extractor. Then hone down that spot weld, until the left extractor stays outside the extractor slot in the chamber. Keep in mind, the amount of welding and honing determines the shell rim holding of the extractor, so you may have to take the gun apart and put it together again, several times before you get it right.

20. Right cartridge guide screw (two shot system) too long, or drilled and tapped too deep.

Cure: grind off the bottom of the screw end to clear the bolt better and then (while installed) taper the leading edge of the screw, so a cartridge crimp cannot get hung up on the screw, but will guide the shell into the chamber. This is the reason for the screw in the first place.

21. #3 front sight bead incorrectly installed - - leaning off to the right or left.

Cure: two cures actually. 

(1), cut and recrown the barrel just behind the front bead. Drill and tap for a #4 (large brass bead).

(2). take the #3 bead out, weld the hole shut. Grind and polish the area smooth, then drill and tap for a #4 large brass bead, grind off the bead threads left in muzzle, then cold blue where needed.  

22. Left extractor not going over the rim properly, jamming the bolt as the extractor tries to go between the left side of the frame and the rim of the cartridge.

Cure: Dremel out the left inside of the frame to get the extractor to clear the frame. Cold blue area. 

23. Carrier contacting the front of the frame, causing very stiff closure and release of the lock-up.

Cure:  Enlarge the right side carrier pivot hole on the forward portion of the hole, thus allowing the carrier enough clearance on the front of the frame. (this will not effect the cycling of the carrier, only relieve the binding problem caused by poor attention to tolerances and quality control).

24. incorrectly threaded magazine tube threads in the frame, causing  pressure on forearm wood, resulting in small cracks developing in the forearm wood, after several rounds are fired. A good indication this problem exists on your shotgun, can be noticed when the forearm moves forward after firing, and tightening the forearm screws down more, does not help.  (may even crack the wood, if tightened too much, so be careful)

Cure:  the only way I have been able to cure this condition is to replace the whole magazine tube with a new magazine tube.  You, however, can cure this with simple plumbers tape around the threads and larger screws to close out the looseness in the notches cut into the bottom of the barrel and the notches cut into the magazine tube.

25. action will not lock-up properly, or lever becomes very tight on final closing, even without ammo in it..

Cure:  this ones has proven to be so difficult, even the most experienced cowboy gunsmiths, think long and hard about this one, so best leave this one to them.

26. cartridges not coming out of the mag tube fully (when two shot feeding only). Does not happen when single loading.

Cure:  once again, this is a problem that needs to be seen to by an M-87 competent gunsmith, as the problem has been found to be very difficult to diagnose, and cure, because of loose frame tolerances.

27. cartridges dragging on the inside of the lever, slowing down feeding.

Cure:  Take the bolt/lever out of the gun and notice the rounded inside of the bolt/lever. This is the area where the rim of the shell slides against as the action is closed. You need to clean up the burrs in this area and do some polishing to the radius.

28. headspace problems, causing action to close very hard when feeding ammo. The problem is in the radius of the lever, combined with the barrel being installed to deeply in the frame.

Cure:  this is a gunsmithing problem, do not attempt to cure this using simple tools.

29. ejector contacting the hammer, causing misfire.

Cure:  using a dremel tool, grind away just enough metal from the tail of the ejector to clear.

30. metal shavings behind the firing pin, eventually coming loose and blocking pin movement.

Cure:  obviously, you are going to want to take out the bolt/lever and take out the firing pin, by driving the holding pin out, then remove the firing pin and spring. Using a dremel tool, clean out any burrs that you might find up inside the firing pin hole - - - be careful not to make the hole larger, or the firing pin may possibly stick down and cause a hic-up when closing the action.

31.  when using high base or magnum loads in a "standard" M-87w, extraction from the chamber is difficult and the lever opening is very stiff.

Cure: check the chamber for rough chambering from the factory, caused by failure to clean up tooling metal shavings from the chambering reamer and forcing cone cutter.  The Chinese did not clean their cutting tools each time they were used, resulting in deep gouges in the chamber.

These rough chambers grip the hulls of spent magnum loads.

Using a VERY rough and coarse sand paper, wrapped around a slotted wooden dowel and an electric drill, hone out the chamber, using enough drill speed to do the job quickly.

The reason is because the metallurgy of the Chinese barrels is so hard, you will wear out a break hone and frustrate yourself trying to get the job done.   Using a very coarse sand paper, followed closely by progressively finer and finer sand paper, and that electric drill, will hone out the chamber nicely.

32. when using spent hulls, or even dummy shells for practicing, the lever is very difficult to open the action once the hammer has been let down - - like for dry firing, using snap caps. The cause of the problem has proven to be in the tolerances of the hammer to bolt pivot pin slot and also, some very sloppy clean up of inside metal burrs.

Cure:  take the carrier, hammer and bolt/lever assembly out of the gun, and using a small rat tailed file, clean up the hammer and bolt/lever pivot pin slotted hole. Do not take off hardly any metal at all, just clean up the burrs. Then clean up the burrs on the inside walls of the bolt and lever assembly, right at the pivot pin area.

look for metal to metal contact marks on the top side of the bolt/lever (pivot pin area), and grind off those marks and polish the grindings smooth. Then look for contact marks on the top of the pivot pin area of the hammer, grind and polish those contact marks away also.

cold blue all the filing, grinding and polishing areas.  your hard opening problem is now cure.

33.  ejector installed too high in the carrier, causing timing problem.

Cure: replace the right side of the carrier - - as the old one is yet another defective part sent out from China, instead of scrapping or throwing it away.

34.  hammer not in correct alignment with the lever/bolt, caused by burrs in the pivot slot of the carrier.

Cure:  completely disassemble the whole gun and  clean out the burrs from the inside of the slots.

35.  carrier rubbing up against one side of the other of the frame, causing a stiff action and can be seen more clearly by the marks left by the primers against the face of the bolt. You will notice the firing pin is off center.

Cure:  pivot pin cross-frame hole was drilled at an angle, rendering the frame as useless. The gun needs to be replaced under warranty.

36.  The mainspring (V) base sticks to much into the bottom of the bolt/lever, causing rough release of the lever when opening the action, when the hammer is down against the firing pin.  This condition should not be this way. The mainspring is supposed to aid the lever lock to hold the action shut when the hammer is fully back in the firing (full cock) position. When the hammer is down, the mainspring is to release itself from the base of the bolt/lever and the action should open easily.

Cure:  the base of the bolt/lever where the (V) base of the mainspring rides, needs to be rounded more to allow the mainspring to release easier. This can be accomplished by re-assembling all the internal parts, when they are outside the gun. You will be able to slide the pivot pin back and forth in the bolt/lever slot, with the mainspring installed and see where the problem is at the tip of the (V) base.



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