Sunday, August 28, 2016

Review - Prexis Sten ZK Side-fed Upper

I like the WeaponsGuild forums – they have a great community and the users there have a wealth of knowledge, but recently Mike “Jestism” Jestis banned Ian Mccollum from Fortgotten Weapons for giving an honest review on his own website.  I never followed up with my Prexis (aka Hellbox Armory) Sidefed AR15 (PSF15) upper that I was on a waiting list for over a year and because I thought he was an honest seller, and I’ve seen how he offered to make things right with some customers on the forums, and I felt like I already waited too long to complain after getting bogged with my own life of non-gun-related things, so I just let the whole thing go.

A day that will live in infamy.
Never forget.
Now that I know that Mike Jestis is truly a wanker on par with Gary Graham AKA “Weaponeer,” (or whatever the hell he’s calling himself now) I’m just going to go ahead and post my review of his so-called ZK Side Fed Upper (sometimes also referred to as the Prexis Sten Upper).  I’d rather not get banned from WeaponsGuild, but if he bans me for this, so be it.

Out of the box.
In 2009, I always wanted a pistol caliber carbine.  At the time, 7.62x25 ammo was cheap (1,100 round can for $90).  The Prexis Sidefed Upper (sometimes called the ZK Upper) product advertised that you could use cheap PPS-43 35 round magazines and did not need to change out the buffer assembly and magwell, unlike the traditional AR-9mm setup.  One would simply need to drop in the Prexis Sidefed Upper assembly and be ready to shoot.

Quick mock-up, before final fitting.
I received the Prexis Side Fed upper kit back in September 2010 after waiting nearly fourteen months.  I ordered the kit version because it was cheaper than the assembled version, but I knew that it was going to require work, which was just fine with me.  I was not impressed when I opened the package.  The upper receiver appeared to be made of a thick DOM steel tubing, the takedown pin attachment points were attached via ugly-looking blob welds, and I think the finish was some kind of spray paint.  The machining of the components looked good, though – I’ll give him that - but that does me no good when they don’t even safely function.

Stripped upper.
It was a kit gun, which meant some assembly was required - I knew that.  I’m not completely incompetant - I can build functioning AKs and AR15s and scratch-build my own receivers and finish guns that headspace properly and don’t fire out of battery.  But the kit seemed simple:  Attach magwell via two 8-32 screws, fit and finalize headspace by pressing in barrel and pinning it in place as you would an AK47, and finally attach the provided scope-rail.

Short-chambered barrel will cause
case-head separations.
After headspacing and pinning the barrel, I took it to my range for a few rounds of test firing.  The three rounds I shot gave me mangled brass.  Upon close inspection of the barrel with a round, I could see that there was too much case head exposed.  According to the headspace gauge it should have passed, but I guess I overlooked that.  I even asked Jestism if these barrels were fully chambered before I purchased this and he assured me they were.


Blown-out primer AND
a case-head separation.

I ended up milling off about ~0.22” from the rear of the barrel and reamed the chamber further through with a 7.62x25 tokarev reamer, so that was one reason I never bothered Jestism about fixing it, because I already fixed it my damn self.  I had already took matters into my own hands and made major modifications that I felt voided any refund or response, plus it was quicker than having to wait around to get my barrel fixed.

Blown primer.

Second, look at this shit.  I didn’t really think anything much of it at first, because I’ve seen boltfaces that had huge firing pin holes before that fired fine.  The firing pin hole is large enough that the firing pin can puncture the primers and the case can backfire and shoot debris through the hole at the shooter.  The surplus ammo was worse and brass would shred through the firing pin hole, binding the firing pin.  This could potentially cause a slam-fire.  This gun is not safe to shoot without completely rebuilding the bolt and re-chambering the barrel.

Scant, out-dated two-page instruction.
Note the PPS-43 magazine.
Oh yeah, Jestism forgot to mention that the finished product no longer takes PPS-43 magazines, as was advertised on every single one of his pictures, posts, and website.  About a week after I received mine – I found out that the reason my weapon wasn’t feeding at all was because now it takes modified PPSH-41 magazines.  Thanks for not mentioning that, whatsoever! It wasn’t mentioned in the 2-page instruction print-out that came with the upper (which literally said "USE PPS-43 Magazines"), not via e-mail, not on the official product website, not in a post-it note, and not on the official product thread.  I spent hours pouring over every thread related to this product to find a one-sentence reply from Jestism, which was buried in a 40+ page thread, that my PPS-43 magazines won’t work.
So basically magazines for this gun don’t even exist.  You have to make them by first removing the steel jacket that’s spot welded onto the PPSh-41 magazine and cut the magazine release slot with dremel and file.
Another magwell close-up.

So I ordered a couple of PPSh-41 magazines.  I don’t particularly like them since they’re single feed, which means they’re harder to load, plus they require modification, which makes them worthless for everygun that uses them except this “Sidefed Upper.”  I don’t like modifying magazines and I hate proprietary magazines.  A magazine should work right out of the box.

Magwell mod.
After finally getting a single magazine done, I find that the magazine has a worse fit than the PPS-43 magazine for some reason.  Which makes sense, since this gun was designed, originally, to run on PPS-43 magazines but for some last-minute reason does not.  It wobbles back and forth and my solution for this was to install a 8-32 screw in the inside rear of the magwell so it could take slack from the wobble motion of the magazine.

It fed about 85% of the time, which is 85 more than 0, so that was good, I guess.   So after fixing the broken barrel, and the magazine feed issue, that still left me with a worthless bolt which I now have to fix myself or re-create from the ground up.

It was at that point I gave up.  I ended up buying parts for a 9mm AR and was satisfied with that.  I was, at the time, pretty busy and I don’t spend all damn day in my garage building guns and shit, if you can believe that.  I spend about an hour or two a month at most.  By the time I got to where the gun fed from the magazine and had proper headspace, a year had gone by and I figured it just wasn’t worth my time or his.  I have some ideas how I can fabricate my own bolt from other bolts that use common parts and share similar bolt body diameter.  That way I don’t have to worry if this hacksmith will charge me to replace my extractor down the line or blacklist me for not taking part in his circle jerk forum posts.

I’m still going to use weaponsguild, because like I said, the people there are friendly, helpful and knowledgable even if the owner is a two-faced bastard, and it’s a different place than TheHighRoad.org or AR15.com.  I will definitely be avoiding any Prexis/Hell Box Armory products in the future.  Here's some random pictures.

PPS-43 magazine and chamber.
The package.
It was wrapped really, really, nicely.










Close-up of the magwell.
The root cause of blown-out primers.

The bolt.



 
"Mike, I can't believe I fucking died for this!"

This would be cool if it functioned,
but it doesn't.
Links, Resources, etc.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

RE: Orlando Shooter; Alligator eats child

Two conflicting quotes on the Orlando shooter and proposed laws:
"He was born in Queens, N.Y. just like Donald was himself. Muslim bans and immigration reforms would not have stopped him, they would not have saved a single life in Orlando." - Hillary Clinton
 From California:
...But lawmakers are adamant that every little step toward preventing the next mass shooting is worth a vote. "If it could've helped, if it would've made it more probable that it could've been prevented, less likely that it would've happened, that's a good thing. That's what we should be moving forward,” Rob Bonta.
RE: Alligator Eats Child news story, or "False Reality of Goofy Emotions Surround Baby-Eating Alligator Situation." Yes it's from The Daily Stormer - but Andrew Anglin is so well-spoken, intelligent, and just an overall likeable fellow.
If you’re American, you’ve probably seen some of the news reporting. It’s overshadowing the gay bar massacre. What is shocking to me is that they are all saying “we’re hoping for the best” – as if maybe the child is still alive somehow, hours after having been dragged to the bottom of a lake in the jaws of an alligator.
...
This is ridiculous. The baby would have probably been crushed to death almost immediately by the alligator’s jaws, it certainly wouldn’t survive long underwater and it definitely wouldn’t survive being chewed up and eaten.

Watching this coverage was really demonstrative of the childlike nature of modern Western society, where people are afraid to face any reality that makes them feel bad, and will instead collectively endorse and embrace blatantly false realities that make them feel better.
-Andrew Anglin
 From the always-hilarious Daily Stormer comments section:
Clearly the alligator in question was a "lone wolf". This was just another incident of work-place violence with no overtones of Islamic terrorism.  The alligator's ex-wife has been contacted and she believes the alligator may have been gay.
-Donald_Dachau_999

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Video - Happy Mother's Day!

Video I took of a hawk feeding it's younglin' in the wild in New York state last year.



Saturday, May 7, 2016

Pictures - Cutaway of a muzzle-loading breech

Saw this on eBay.  A cut-away of the breach-end of a rifle barrel.  It's interesting that the threads do not seem to cut that deep and only go in about 3/4" into the barrel.




Saturday, April 9, 2016

Treasures of Round Top Fair



Took a trip to Roundtop Fair a few weekends ago, near Lost Pines, Texas.  One of the nation's biggest gathering of vendors for the biggest garage sale/antique show, held bi-anually.  The actual event is held within a 10 mile radius of Roundtop, specifically Warrenton.  You can go to the surrounding towns and they'll have groups of vendors selling stuff.

Warrenton is where the biggest gathering of Vendors are located.  In Warrenton, within ten minutes I found a tent with all sorts of guns being sold by a retired gentleman.  He was there with his wife, who I suspect was forcing him to liquidate his collection.  In the center of the tent was a table which held some M1 Garands, 1903 Springfields, M1 Carbines, Krags, Mausers, fancy muzzleloading flinchlocks, a few modern wood-stocked sporting rifles, and a glass case full of overpriced .32 pistols and breaktop revolvers and a few Smith and Wesson revolvers.  There was a singleshot Gewehr 1871 for $200 in good condition that was tempting me, but I knew better than to buy an obscure blackpowder rifle in an obscure caliber that costs $5 a round.  Basically standard Old-Guy weaponry, nothing that interested me.  In the surrounding tables were random antique stuff.  Boxes of skeleton keys, a lone French Berthier bolt missing the bolthead, spurs, pieces of furniture, picture frames, kitchenware.

Lifesize T-800 statue for $1000
What a deal!
Several umbrella bins on the ground held a bunch of rusted toy rifles and some de-activated guns.  Single shot shotguns, .22 bolt actions of unknown make missing parts, a Spencer carbine with the barrel chopped and a rod welded in the chamber, and a late-war Arisaka Type 99, with it's bright red stock and a stripped bolt duct-taped around the receiver.  It was missing a bunch of parts and the stock had been chopped at the band.  I don't particularly care about Japanese, Italian and French rifles and I promised myself I would never own these guns just because they are chambered in weird, obscure cartridges, and on top of that, I don't like adding more calibers to my collection.  However, I could not go home empty-handed!  I removed the bolt and peaked down the bore.  The chamber was intact and rifling visible.  I asked him how much and he said $20.  I took it.

I should have offered $15, but whatever.  I have a complete spare bolt and a bin of parts at home I could probably partially restore it with, and I have a chopped fore-end from an Enfield that I could hack onto the Arisaka somehow.  I could probably make my money back by selling the extra stripped bolt on ebay, although I probably will spend as much money as a complete Type 99 trying to restore this thing.

I actually ran across two more Arisaka Type 99's at the show.  One was crudely nailed to a 2x6 pine plaque, though otherwise good-looking.  The other was in worse shape than the one I paid for, but complete.

Traveling from Warrenton to Roundtop there are a bunch of tent cities and barns with vendors selling stuff.  Warrenton is a good place to go for random antique junk and I think we spent about three hours just walking through there browsing.  Near the end of Warrenton tent city is Cole's building, with more fancier stuff - real antique furniture, and at least six gun dealers with nice antique rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, and other pieces of militaria.  I recommend bringing at least $300 if you're serious about buying something here.

We stopped at a barn near Roundtop, where there was a ton of cowboy stuff.  Holsters, boots, spurs, revolvers, amongst other random junk being sold by women - kitchenware, plates, jewelry, clothing.  Is that sexist?  I can't help it if that's what they were selling!  I spotted a half scale Colt 1851 Navy in .22 cap and ball for $400.  I'd never heard of or seen one and a quick google search doesn't reveal much about it, but I saw something similar being sold at Cabelas in their firearms display room for the same price, so it couldn't have been too rare.

Outside the barn was a man who told us he came all the way from Missouri just to sell stuff there.  He was selling a bunch of surplus ammo cans, crates, wooden dummy rounds from navy guns, green Sea-Bags (I guess army people call them "duffle bags", how odd!), and other stuff.  I spotted an ammo crate for $20 and knew it was a good deal so I took it.  Inside was a short length of thick docking rope and an old antique bubble level.  The wood of the level was moldy, but the bubble level still intact.  I figured that was worth the $20 and the crate could be used to store my ammo.

Next, a few miles up the road at one of the smaller barns/vendor gathering, we spotted a wood box.  Inside was a bunch of mementos, medals, a letter, and newspaper clippings from a Hospital Corpsman Fred L. Martin during World War I.  Interesting I guess.  The box is nice too.

All in all, Roundtop fair is a great place to waste money - highly recommended!  Pics of loot, click to enlarge:



The Colt 1908 didn't come with it but
 I thought it looked period correct, I guess!

Relevant Links:
Roundtop Show Official Website - Everything you need to know about the event.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Video - The REAL Chris Kitaeff - False Flag FFL

This guy's name keeps floating around as if he's the Brady Campaign's long-awaited messiah or some shit, so I'm bringing this up again.  I'm hesitant to call this "False Flag" due to the association with tinfoil wingjobs, but that's what this is.  Basically just a video of what I wrote back in August.

 
LINKS/REFERENCES:
Thread Exposing Chris Kitaeff
Another Article Exposing Chris Kitaeff
CEO Barry Laws Cuck Sellout
Random News Article about Chris
Another pointless news article
Rep. Rob. Kelly's PR on Chris Kitaeff

Music:
Bill Brown - Return to Castle Wolfenstein Soundtrack
Ivor Slaney - Window Gazing


See Also: My writeup on Chris Kitaeff  - Basically more of the same stuff

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Home Depot Lower, PART 2: Components & Tools

Summary:
More or less finished.
A method to expeditiously build AR lowers in bulk with common tools from the local hardware store.  ...and I needed a legal throw-away lower that could be built when ever I visit that other part of the US that ain't Texas and just ship the upper to and from home.  AND the more AR15's in the hands of the general populace the merrier, I daresay!  I'd be pretty thrilled if an Australian biker gang or Ukrainian resistance group saw this and started mass producing these or something; or maybe Three Percenters could air drop these lowers into enemy territory such as Newyork and California - that'd be pretty dope!

Components and tools:
This particular specimen was not as cheap as I hoped.  The next one will be, but again, this was just a proof-of-concept.  Here is a quick rundown of components and tools used:

AR Upper Receiver Vice
  • Aluminum or steel bar stock.  Max Height: 1.50" Thickness: 1/8" - 1/4".  I used 1.50" x 1/8" aluminum stuff from the metal stock section at Tractor Supply.  There's probably better stuff to use, but this worked for me since I didn't need to do any additional cutting except cutting the length.
  • AR upper receiver vice fixture - $20 - This fixture is intended so you can affix your upper receiver onto it and clamp it into a vice to do some wrench work.  I used it as a drill centering tool to drill the takedown pin holes onto the side plates.  Only buy this if you don't have an AR15 drill press jig (or you don't want to spend $80 on one).  Alternatively you could just use the upper itself as a template to drill the holes onto the plates but run the risk of egging out the holes of the upper.  To avoid that, you can use 0.250" OD, 1/8" ID steel tubing inserted into the upper's takedown holes, clamp that to your sideplates, and use a 1/8" drill to drill out the pilot holes.
  • AR FCG "testing jig" - $18 - Honestly, only buy this with the above fixture if you're just trying
    Challenge accepted!
    to build a single AR15 lower receiver and don't want to spend $80 on the jig below.  Also make sure that this "FCG testing jig" has the hole for the rear takedown pin so you can align it to your sideplates.  If you already own an AR15 drilling fixture like this then you can just drill the axis-pin holes onto your sideplates (though I don't like the idea that if you mess up a hole you've ruined the whole plate).  There was an amusing disclaimer on this manufacturer's ebay page how this isn't a gun and that it can't be modified to be used in a gun - I like a challenge.  I wouldn't pay more than $20 for this thing, but even that is still way too much for my intended purpose.  I've been told that you can make an AR fcg trigger pack like this using 0.5" internal width square tubing. 
  • AR-15 Drill press Jig - $80 - If you've already been making making AR lowers from 80% paperweights then great, you should already have one of these by now.  If you're just trying to build a one-off AR15 lower receiver, I recommend just buying the two items above instead of this.
  • AR15 Template - $0 - If you're really just a cheap bastard, it would be great if someone made a 1:1 printable template that you could glue onto the sideplates to locate the holes and start drilling away.  I don't know if such a thing exists, but I think you could make one from the many blueprints of AR15s that are out there.  I will look into this later.
    Bastards jacked the price after my purchase!
  • Buffer tube QD sling adapter - $2.70 - I really should do a separate post on threaded buffer towers.  There are many out there and they can range from $20 - $60 which is going way over my intended budget, but you basically need a way to attach a threaded buffertube to your sideplates and this method was quick, dirty, and cheapest.  This buffer tube sling adapter has a cupped space to put a buffer tube lock ring (which run at $3-5).  I used two lock rings - one inside, one outside.  Use a 1.000" wood dowel or metal tube to align the upper to the buffertube (see fig.1 below).  I then drilled and tapped two screws on the back of the QD sling adapter to the AR FCG testing jig (fig. 2 below), then two more on the side of the plates into the QD sling adapter to secure it and prevent it from tilting backwards (fig. 3 below).  It's pretty solid at that point.
  • Screws and taps - Drills, taps and screws in 6-32, 8-32, and 10-32 tpi are cheap.  Specifically buttonhead, socket cap screws which should cost roughly $8 per 100 pack.  I suggest you buy 100 packs of all three sizes since they're cheap and handy for other projects, such as AK47s (just how my good buddy Mike Kalashnikov intended).  Probably go with the 1/2" or 3/4" length so you can just cut them down later if you need to.  For the taps, this is the only area where I suggest you do NOT buy Chinese.  Every Chinese tap set I've seen are made of super soft steel.  You can't go wrong with Irwin or Hanson taps, which pretty much every Home Depot and Lowe's sells.
Fig. 1 - Alignment of buffer tube to upper receiver
Fig. 2 - Buffer tube to receiver, backside
Fig. 3 - Buffer tube to receiver, sideview

Optional parts:
Technically you don't need fancy stuff like grips and triggerguards, but I used an AK47 pistol grip, which I have plenty just lying around (10-pack for $4 or 5-pack of grips with FCG for $10 at Centerfire Systems are pretty good deals).  It required the purchase of a Saiga screw-on grip mount.  The trigger guard was made from chain link fence brace, which we have a bunch of left over just lying around from our Llama fence.  They're pretty easy to bend with a bench vice and a pair of pliers.  For the magazine catch, it's just a straight hole bored through and the catch is tightened on with a nut - the magazine is NOT quick detachable at this point and I have not yet found an effective way to make a cheap and fully functional magazine catch.
Quicky last minute notes and outro:
The problem with the gun in my previous video was not only the magazine backing out (mag catch not grabbing - needed to add more material to the catch for more grabby-ness), but also the inside of the AR FCG testing jig was a little too tight, which caused delayed hammer releases and sluggish/weak hammer strikes.  It may be advisable to somehow trim down the inside of the FCG testing jig or perhaps trim the cylindrical axis housing of the hammer and trigger.  Also, you will have to cut the front portion of the FCG testing jig to allow the 5.56 magazine to fit (cutting might be unnecessary for pistol caliber magazines).  I did this with a dollar store hacksaw just to see if it could be done without an electric disc-cutting tool, and indeed it is doable in less than 20 minutes.

So in the end, was this cheaper than buying an 80% lower and milling that out using a jig?  It was but not by much in this specific example, however, the real point of this exercise was to be able to construct a lower quickly, using only local hardware store material, constructed with garage/home tooling (and in bulk it would have been way cheaper in the long run using appropriate shortcuts), and for the most part that was accomplished.  You wouldn't even need the vices and jigs to do this, but you would need to have some kind of printable 1:1 sized template to locate the holes.  The buffertube tower seems like a major roadblock in accomplishing this build in that I had to purchase an actual gunpart - albeit a non-regulated part that can be ordered from Hong Kong, but I'm not aware of any country that would get you in trouble for ordering something minor like that.  As for the FCG being unavailable in your country, a group called FossCad has managed to 3d print an AR FCG (vid here) so I'm thinking that should not be a problem if you have access to a printer.

Related Links:
Home Depot Lower - Part 1 - Mostly rambling.
Fosscad downloadable 3d printed gunparts - The actual links to the 3d files themselves.
Vidya of testfire of my Home Depot lower.