Loose Screws — And Other Nut Jobs…


How many times have you said, “He’s got a screw loose,” or “He’s a nut job,” without really thinking where these phrases originated? We know their implication, but have you ever pondered how these utterances came into being?

The mystery originates from poor, tortured souls who handle screws, nuts and bolts daily. See, these “supposedly” inanimate objects sometimes take on life itself, their sole purpose in life…to frustrate and tease. I’ve seen it!

Once someone has gone “nuts” they’re fair game to be ridiculed by those who’ve never handled a wrench or screwdriver, the tools needed to tame and conquer these tormentors.

Blame Archimedes?

Herein lies the basis for this topic of frustration. During the 3rd Century, Archimedes is credited with inventing the screw thread as a means of moving water. Later, this same principle is implemented for small fasteners.

It’s these tiny pieces causing so much grief in the gun world. We know firsthand how loose-screws can drive a person crazy! Just re-read those first sayings again! It’s maddening, and people who work with such devices know it!

Screwy Front Sight?

A few years ago, I’m really wringing out my Ruger Maximum in .357 Maximum. I’m testing loads for accuracy, recording velocities, you know, typical load-development stuff. All of a sudden, my groups start stringing horizontally 3″ either side of the bullseye, giving me 6+”” groups at 25 yards. Huh?

Stumped, I’m thinking it’s me. Taking a breather, I start analyzing things. Checking the barrel, cylinder and rear sight, everything seems fine. Then I go to the front sight. Hallelujah!
The front sight screw had loosened, allowing the front sight to swivel left and right from recoil. Snugging it down took care of everything.

Screwed Again?

Another time I’m out sighting in my scoped Ruger Bisley Hunter in .41 Magnum. This quick affair usually involves three shots and I’m done. That year, I only had 10 handloads left for the wheelgun in question.

Sure enough, Mr. Murphy decides to join us that session. After setting up, my first two shots are about ¾” from each other, 1″ high at 50 yards. I figure one more shot will seal the deal.

I take it, and it’s 6″ to the left from the first two. “Did I flinch,” I ask myself? Better take another. This time, it lands 4″ to the right of the first two rounds. “What the hell’s going on here?” Well, to make a long story short, I shoot up the rest of my ammo, with shots scattered around like a shotgun pattern.

I was crazy, knowing it was time to get a little screwy. I start checking all the screws on the scope rings. The split-ring screws are all snug. Then I check the two big bolts attaching the rings to the cutouts of the gun itself. Loose as a goose, I could actually feel movement by hand as I wiggled the scope.

Old reliable turned out not to be — through my fault. I should have checked my ring screws, but didn’t.

Single-Action Blast-Off

Of all the different handgun action-types, single-action revolvers are my hands-down favorites. Their simplicity and ruggedness are attributes I appreciate. They rarely need a tune up.

Their only fault lies with one screw, at least on some guns. It’s the ejector rod housing (ERH) screw. Like all of us, that little bugger likes to unwind, especially on the big boomers. You need to be diligent keeping its tension taught. Getting lackadaisical, you just might see your ERH eject itself clear off your gun! Ask old Tank how I know.

While recovery of the housing and ejector is usually no problem, the spring and screw are grand champions at playing hide and seek.

Getting Tight With Strippers

While due diligence is good, too much of a good thing can be detrimental, especially while screwing. Don’t tighten screws too much, or you’ll be getting on the merry-go-round with a stripper.

I had a lever-gun gifted to me from a dear friend. While removing the lever screw, I noticed something. After 17 turns, the screw hasn’t made any progress and yup, I was dealing with a stripper. I remedied the situation by pushing up on the screw bottom with a punch, while turning the screw. A replacement screw fixed everything.

Think Tank

Miniaturized Mayhem

This is usually a day-to-day struggle with people on the other side of 50, as their nearsightedness gets worse. Backs and hamstrings aren’t the only things loosing elasticity. Our eyes do too, making our nearsightedness nearly disappear as they fight to focus on close-in items. If only our arms were longer or like that rubber-armed super hero?

Finding the screw in question is tough enough, then try finding the silly slot for these shrunk-down demons. Again, once out, they love playing hide and seek.

I once found a tiny bugger of a screw after two hours of searching in my basement. It turns out the little fleck of rust on my magnetized screwdriver was the screw I was searching for all along.

Age exasperates the condition. Sooner or later, we all end-up getting “Screwed” one way or another. All we can do is laugh, or try too.

Thanks Archimedes, for nuthin.

Read More From Jeff “Tank” Hoover