Saturday, November 10, 2018

List of .45 ACP bolts and magwells (Links)

Warning: Article may contain obnoxious gun snobbery!

For the longest time, the only way to build a .45 ACP AR15 was through Olympic Arms.  Not a fan of this setup because:
  1. Ugly, proprietary magazines
  2. Weird barrel extension with funneled, inset breechface
That barrel extension is problematic because only Olympic Arms actually sells those barrels and their prices are way too high.  The two-piece nature of the barrel with threaded extension ensures that they will stay high because no one is going to bother with the complex machining required to manufacture these barrel assemblies.  Another thing I don't like is that there is a long jump from the magazine to the chamber.  The extension is funneled to assist with feeding and I've never heard of feeding issues with this, but I don't like it.  From a design perspective it just seems like there has to be a better solution.

On the plus side, you don't need a magazine well adapter and the ejector is built into the upper receiver so the upper receiver simply drops right it and you're ready to fire.  I assume it uses standard length AR15 firing pins, so uh, I guess that's a bonus too.

NFA Direct Blowback .45ACP BCG
Glock magazines are more common place now and almost standard these days for pistol caliber carbines.  There are AR lowers with built-in Glock magwells (the mag-well adapters for standard AR15s are for 9mm and .40 only), so now more online shops are producing .45 ACP bolt carrier groups.  Macon Armory sells an impingement .45 upper, but not the BCG and barrel assembly, so I'm not including them in the list.

.45 ACP Bolt Carrier Groups:
  • OlyArms - $150 - Not compatible with any barrel except Olympic Arms.  Oh yeah, the magazines cost $45 and the extension is $40.  They won't sell the barrel by itself, so I hope you have access to a lathe.
  • New Frontier Armory - $149 - "Standard" .45 ACP BCG.  This is the lowest price I've seen on a .45 BCG.  Glock-compatable.
  • Macon .45 ACP Blowback Bolt - $169 - The url says 9mm but the title says .45 ACP and there's no picture.  I dunno - these guys are pretty sketchy.  Glock-compatable.
  • Quarter Circle - $260 - That's way too much money for a BCG, but I'm listing it here for the giggles.
  • JSE Surplus - $195 - Standard .45 ACP BCG.  Has a titanium firing pin.  My only experience with titanium firing pins is that it's expensive and brittle.
.45 ACP drop-in magazine well adapters:
  • Torkmag 1911 Adapter - Price Unknown - Torkmag announced a 1911 magazine adapter back in February 2018.  Still waiting for news of this to come out.  They stated it would be sold by Brownells.
  • USC45 - $177.50 - I don't ever see myself owning an HK product.  The only reason to own this is if you already have HK magazines (presumably because you own a HK USC/UMP45 already), otherwise the only cheap magazines for this are produced by Promag which are not known for quality.
  • Hahn Precision Grease Gun adapter - $85 - Seems cheap, but it's currently out of stock.  I'm not sure how available greasegun magazines are, but they seem to be always out of stock when I see them online.
  • Macon Armory - $175 - More proprietary magazine bullshit.  They sell a blowback version and direct impingement version.  The latter is the exact same as the blowback one but without the ejector, so you're getting ripped off on a $10 piece of metal.  The magazine capacities are 10 and 20 rounds, so there's no capacity advantage over the Glock and UMP adapters.  At least with the UMP magazines, they'll always be available where-as Macon Magazines will be impossible to find when this company goes under.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

How about a Pump Action AR? (links)

I live in the free state of Texas, so I'm not sure why I would want one.  But I do want one.  It's stupid and pointless, but there is something satisfying about that manually reloading that next round.  I'm mostly posting this as a sort of reminder - a reminder that maybe when I'm slightly richer, less wiser and have free money to blow on stupid shit I'll buy one.  But not now...

Troy Pump-Action Upper (PAR) - Not an AR15, but shares similar parts.  Does not take AR15 uppers as it uses it's own proprietary upper receiver, making this product completely miss the point.  Actually, the real point of this was for people in states where semi-automatic AR15s are banned but want the same setup and feel as an AR15.  Also I believe it takes STANAG magazines.  $750 from Cabela's.  Troy also makes a version of this in .308 and for $850

Animus Pump Action AR15 upper kit - This kit costs $410 and is basically just a handgaurd with a slot cut through it for the pump mechanism which connects with the connecting rod that's welded to the modified gas key.  No barrel, no upper, no bolt carrier group.  Seems pretty pricey for something that any bubba could make in his garage.

Bentwood AR Kit - link from 2014.  AR15 pump-action upper kit similar to above but with no handguard and more traditional-looking fore-end.  The company and it's dealers seem to be defunct.  Cost was $350 at the time of writing.

ComGraf's Pump Action conversion kit - Same setup as above but this looks to have a lower profile, more streamlined and is only $350.  Doesn't seem to have a freefloat tube.  Requires a bull barrel to be used.  Quality looks nicer and does not have obnoxious welding and machining from what I can tell.

ComGraf's Pump Action .308 conversion kit - $900, same manufacturer as above and comes with a barrel.  Comgraf and Troy seem to be the only game in town if you want a .308 pump-action Armalite-type rifle.  Seems pointless to buy this if the Troy complete .308 rifle is $50 cheaper, but again, maybe you hate proprietary stuff like me.

Monday, August 20, 2018

re: 3d printed guns (links and photos)

Guns, Government, and 3d Printing...

Earlier this month Defense Distributed won victory regarding the legal right to distribute files - and was subsequently cock-blocked by a federal judge on behalf of anti-rights organizations.  Although DD doesn't actually have files on their website, you can still definitely download receiver files off GrabCad and any number of other websites - and it's been that way for several years.

Tax dollars at work
Anonymous Marine building guns 'n shit.
Coincidentally, the Marines invited me to attend a short 3 day training class on 3d printing at their machine shop in Twentynine Palms.  I never gave much thought to 3d printers and their capabilities before. In terms of firearms design - every time I looked at the Defense Distributed "Liberator" pistol I just saw a gimmicky gun that would blow up after several shots. But I don't think the Liberator was ever supposed to be a serious design, but rather to prove a point. Besides that, accessories and prototyping firearms is where 3D printing is really more useful.

Marine at a milling machine.
I was actually at the machineshop on behalf of my fellow hospital Corpsman to get some ideas on how we could use something like this for medical purposes and possibly purchase and use it on deployment.  Though honestly, I can't think of anything entirely useful.  Things that might be useful: replacement buckles for the Talon Litter straps and medical bags that are always breaking; holders, holsters, latches, and other mostly pointless doodads that could probably be improvised quicker with 550 cord, duct tape and carabiners.  I've seen videos of hospitals that were using 3D printers to create replacement bones, prosthetics, casts, joints, and other actually useful stuff - but for battlefield medicine I don't really see a need for a 3d printer.

The Marines swore it was useful, though - Take a nitrogen pumping system that cost $800, for example. The handle was made from a cheap plastic that would seldom break, however the company that makes these systems would not sell the handle seperately, so the shop would print a replacement handle for next to nothing. Having to machine it from metal on the milling machines would have been a waste of time and resources, but once you reverse engineer it in CAD you don't have to waste valuable man-hours on it again - just print it and go on a smoke break or do something productive while you wait. Having the capability to replicate and produce the handle saved the battalion $800. Mostly 'small' cost savings that would save money over a long period of time and pay for the actual printer cost after several prints. The printer being used was a Lulzbot 6, approximately $2000 - $2500.

3d printed M16A2 carry handleThe shop had a table full of junk that they printed out to show off the capabilities - doodads, toys, statues, gun parts. There was an M16-A2 carryhandle, an M4 handguard, rail protectors and an M249 handguard. There were replacement parts for a drone - wings, propellers and main housing. There was a 2x2 foot vent cover, but it would have been quicker to make it using a laser CNC on a piece of sheet metal, but it was more of a test than anything actually useful.

The corporal in charge of this program was pretty cool.  All he talked about was guns and gun accessories.  Prototypes, parts, unserialized receivers - anything but a rifled barrel could be built on the CNC and manual milling machines there.  They had a massive 4 foot cubed 3D Printer that stood about 7x7 feet total in it's own trailer.  He used the machineshop after working hours to produce all sorts of naughty stuff.   We had a good talk about guns, militias, survivalism, weapons caches, and how great Trump was.  I should have married him.

Thirty minutes learning in CAD and a few personal prototypes of my own and I created my first thing.  A bottom plate for a Browning 1919 dress-up kit that I am designing for a belt-fed AR15, which I talked briefly about here.  I could have just imported it from my own already existing files, but I wanted to learn the fancy software that they were using, so I rebuilt it from scratch.  Oh and this thing doubles as a tablet holder, so if anyone asks what it is - it's a tablet holder.  Yep.  A tablet holder.
Mounted AR15 lower plate test
The purple thing is the item in question.
The inner distance between the walls should have been 1.55" and the slotted grooves would fit the 0.187" receiver side plates. The actual printout is not entirely dimensionally accurate, but it's within +/- 0.01" which I think was pleasantly surprising.

It took several tries with the print. The first time the machine spazzed out midway because the air condition unit kicked on and cooled the machine directly under a vent, causing the plastic to cool in the nozzle and clog up. I had another fuckup when we left the printer on overnight and the spool tangled up and jammed.

The third time was the charm.  It took about one and a half hours for this bottom plate. The in-fill was at 50%, which means that most of the inside was just hollow with 50% supporting material.  I looked at it and thought "hey, neat," and ended up adding it to the already growing pile of 3d printed stuff they had accumulating on the table.  I actually didn't design the rivet holes in it and I couldn't drill through it because there would be air pockets inside between the support material.

But it seemed pretty solid for a proof-of-concept.  Just enough rigidity to hold together side plates and assemble a non-firing prototype.  It would probably get destroyed with light use and man-handling - a static display model basically.  With stronger polymer and 100% in-fill, this could be a functioning component.

The class was pretty much everything I had thought it would be and more. I am convinced that I now need a 3d printer.  Below is an experimental bolt action gun that uses an AR15 bolt and extension that caught my attention.  The carrier is custom made to allow hand-cycling using the bolt and locking lugs of the extension, operating like a traditional bolt action.  I saved the pictures and I am unsure who actually created this, but the discussion was on a thread at TheFirearmsBlog here which seems to have been deleted for some reason.

bolt action ar15 thingy
Bolt action parts.

bolt action ar15 thingy
Bolt-action based on the AR15
There's even a VZ-61 semi-auto skorpion lower receiver on GrabCad right now.  This is really interesting because VZ-61 parts kits are readily available and there are currently no receivers available anywhere.  On top of that, this design has been modified for use with Sig arm braces and has a reinforced backplate for added durability.

3d printed vz-61 skorpion
3d printed VZ-61 Skorpion receiver.
3d printed files of interest:
3d Printed stuff archives.  There's dozens of sites that just list a bunch of user submitted 3d stuff.  These are ones that I've used or that others have recommended to me.
  • Thingiverse - Free stuff that you can download and print right now.  Not necessarily gun stuff, but pretty useful.
  • Yeggi - A database that links to other 3d printed website.
  • My Mini Factory - Haven't used it, but I hear good stuff about this.
  • - Exactly what it says on the box.
  • GrabCad - Another good source of stuff.  Lots of gun-related stuff.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Laminated gun parts

This week on Ghetto Gunsmithing - a laminated gun part.  I saw this on ebay.  The seller says it's a Colt, but looks like a homemade replacement for a .22 single action of some sort.  But it is still interesting, nevertheless.  Instead of machining it with a milling machine, the part could be cut out with a jigsaw and welded or screwed together; perhaps the individual sheet is filed down to fit before final lamination.

Builders on weaponsguild have been using the laminated design for gun parts with success already - so if it works, go for it, I say.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

DIY nightvision scope kit (link)

Saw this on Amazon while looking for a mounted IR illuminator.  A home-made nightvision scope kit.

DIY night vision scope

It works on the principal that most cheap consumer electronic photo cameras have innate nightvision capabilities, but are fitted with filters to get rid of unwanted light sources (such as infrared).  From what I can tell the kit is just a stripped camera sensor mounted to the scope, an IR illuminator with cheap-o mount, and a battery pack/LCD screen combo that mounts on top of the scope.

It's a neat kit and I am a fan of home-made stuff, but I feel like such a contraption is unwieldy for any rifle.  I considered buying it just to slap together and use it as a night vision viewer thing, but you can buy a NV monocular starting at $90.  Curiously, there is also a 5x monocular with a rail underneath and recording capabilities for $150.  For $300 you could get yourself a proper entry-level night vision scope (which has been known to go on sale for $250 at times).

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

M73 Machine Gun - A Forgotten Weapon (Video)

m73 barrel extension ebay
$45 - Grab it!
I saw this weird thing on eBay - It's a locking frame of an M73A1 Coaxial Machinegun, also known as the M219 tank gun.  These shortlived weapons were used in the 1960's for mounting onto tanks and were quickly replaced by the M60 due to these not being very reliable guns.  The design is interesting - the barrel extension housed all major components - barrel, bolt, feed mechanism - so the design is simple and has a small profile.  It's said to be the most compact action of any belt-fed .308 machinegun (at the time, maybe even today).

Preventive Maintenance Monthly M73
The Preventive Maintnance Monthly article on the M73
Things I learned about this gun:
  • Fired from an open bolt/fixed firing pin
  • Recoil operated
  • Used some kind of rotating arm/rammer to send rounds into battery
  • The rammer rotated on the barrel extension assembly
  • Feeds from left or right, using disintegrating links
  • Quick-change barrel simply drops into extension
  • No bolt - uses a wierdo breech block - like a falling block action, I guess.
Information is hard to find on this.  I think a few people on the 1919a4 forums have complete kits of this.  No known semi-automatic versions of this exist, and as far as I can tell, no Class 3 MG owner has a complete one.  Seems like an interesting project, but also complex.

Still trying to wrap my head around how exactly that bolt face engages the cartridge.  It's hard to find a good diagram of this and the various drawings of this have the breech mechanism oriented in weird angles.  The jist of it is that breech block contains the firing pin and sidles in somehow to lock the barrel to the extension and fire the cartridge at the same time.
Preventive Maintnance Monthly M73 breech block
M73 breech blocks - how do they work?
Parts are available through GunPartsCorp and Sarco, though I'm mostly sure that top cover components and other stuff are missing and not available.

For $45 with a presumably complete arm assembly, that barrel extension might be a good deal considering Sarco and GPC are selling them for $200.

Related Reading
M73 Article on Wikipedia
Small Arms Review - The M73/M219 Machine Gun: Mama's Ugly Baby
Tank and AFV News - "The sad story of the M73 coax machine gun"
GunPartsCorp - M219 parts
Sarco - M73 parts

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Parts list: $311 AR15 build (with links)

Pointless anecdote: I remember first hearing about the "Assault Weapons Ban" being lifted in 2004.  It was on a videogame forum where our resident gun nut was showing off his AR-15 with a brand-new collapsable stock.  I foolishly asked if the ban ending meant machineguns were legal - I didn't really know much about guns except what I'd seen in Metal Gear Solid, Counterstrike, Rainbow Six and a handful of shooter games where guns were realistically depicted (for the time).  The gentleman informed me about his AR15, what was legal and what was not, and I became interested in owning something the government didn't want me having.  I learned about FFL transfers and soon found myself ordering a brand new WASR-10 AK type rifle to my local gunshop within the following month.

It was a cheap Romanian AK I paid $300 or so.  At the time, an AR15 cost roughly $700 or more for a low-end model.  Roughly thirteen years later, even with inflation, you can occasionally find a cheap AR for under $450 (Anderson AM15, stripped, $410; Andserson AM15, optics ready, $440 are some examples) while a low-end, matched serial AK parts kit cost $400 or more (unmatched serialized kits $319 at Apex).  Funny how times have changed.

Yao Ming, cool story bro
Yeah, cool story bro.  Where was I going with this?

It's ironic how the AK was a weapon that was meant to be built cheaply and quickly, and now every machine shop in the US is cranking out AR15 parts to the point that it is now the more affordable weapon.

I think it's possible to go cheaper than $400 if you build from individual parts, sourcing from different online stores that have deals and sales.  This doesn't take into account shipping charges.  Non-essential parts like butt-stock were not factored in because the AR15 technically runs without it (though I did leave sight option in the list.  No real scientific reason why, I guess).

It would be a waste of time to link to every part that's on sale right now because sales come and go, small shops go out of business, and sometimes inventory just gets sold out.  This list is just to give a general idea on what a good deal is and what's a normal price (as of April 2018).  I check Gun.Deals almost daily, specifically the parts section to see a list of gun parts that are currently on sale.  For a more comprehensive list of links check the end of the post.

  • Complete Buffer Tube Assembly - DHGate Buffer Assembly ($20.58) - Free shipping from DHGate, along with bulk discount pricing.  Comes with buffer, spring, tube, castle nut, and back plate.  If you see an American company selling a complete buffer assembly for $25 or less, chances are good that they're actually Chinese so you might as well buy it straight from the source.
  • Lower Receiver - Modulus Arms 80% Receiver ($40), Noreen 80% Receiver ($40) - You can order a stripped 100% lower through an FFL for $30-50 (plus additional transfer fees).  I've never seen one at a gun shop or gun show sell for less than $60.  It's probably cheaper online if you check on GunDeals.  You can also mill out your own 80% receiver for $40 - with a jig and drill press, of course - and if you don't have a jig, make friends with someone who does!
  • Complete lower parts kit - Gorilla Machining ($40) - The absolute cheapest COMPLETE ar lower parts kit I've ever seen was $35 with $5 USPS flat-rate shipping.  So that's $40.  I don't think it's possible to get the price any lower than that.

    The reason why I believe this is because I was going to list the individual parts so you could make your own LPK, but the cheapest price of a stand alone fire control group is $25.  That means there is no way to buy the rest of the parts individually and keep the total under $40.

    UNLESS - IF you made your own grips from scratch, fashioned takedown pins from 0.250 machine screws/rods - AND there is no safety and detents/springs, which I guess is important to all you normies with good taste.  It's pretty ghetto but it works, but the savings was a measly $7.  I didn't want to turn this post into a "how to make AR15 parts from scratch" tutorial, but I will probably make instructions on that someday.
  • Stripped Upper - Gorilla Machining Blemished ($35), ATI Polymer Hybrid ($35) - If you check on Gun.Deals, you can find a blemished upper for $30 or even $25 for an un-anodized one on rare occasions.  Blemished means it's just cosmetic defect, and has no affect on function. You can also take a chance on a polymer upper from ATI.  It is re-enforced with a metal insert.  Stripped Anderson uppers are usually $45-$55.
  • Barrel Nut - MidwayUSA Barrel nut ($6), Chinese Free Float Tube 4"-15" ($15-$35) - A barrel nut by itself can be had for $6 but you will probably want a handguard. For $15 you can get a Chinese-made, 4" free float tube which includes a built-in barrel nut. The 7" handgaurd cost $23 and the price increases further with length.  Free shipping because Chinese.
  • Sights - Fake-ass Magpul BUS ($4.36) - Sights are optional - I'm assuming this weapon is being used to mass execute political dissidents, infiltrators, and enemies of the peace, but maybe you want to aim.  If you check ebay and search "front rear sights" you'll find a bunch of $1-$2 sight sets that are actually molded airsoft sights that don't have crossbolts to lock into the rails, but with modification they would probably work.  For $4.36 you can get these slightly nicer plastic sights with with the cross-bolt built-in and a box that says "Magpul" on it!
  • Bolt Carrier Group - Palmetto State Armory ($79.99) - Standard, mil-spec, complete bolt carrier group, not magnetic particle-tested (James Yeager, internet gun expert, says MPI is a waste of money anyways).  I was seeing surplus and used BCGs and some new ones on sale for $65 as of December 2017, but I think the prices are returning to normal.  New BCGs cost normally cost $90-$110.
Cheapest bolt carrier group: $65, December 2017
OMG look, I'm not making this up!
Total price ~$311, rounded up to the nearest dollar, based on parts that are actually available now.  But suppose you went full-ghetto and made a lower receiver from scratch, used a FCG and machine screws in lieu of a complete LPK, didn't use a handguard, got your hands on the $25 upper, and found one of those $65 BCGs?  That's about $225 for an AR15.

I wasn't trying to make this an AK vs AR15 comparison, but on the subject of AK47s, you could probably piece one together by sourcing parts from different online shops, but overall it would cost more:  Front and rear trunnions are $110-$50, respectively; BCG assemblies are over $100 now; you're lucky if you find a barrel for $60 these days; gas blocks and rear sight blocks are $40-$60.  The days of cheap AK47s are officially done.

And that's about it.  I didn't work today and I drank, like, 50 Mountain Dews plus a pot of coffee and spent, like, 3 hours at the gym, I think I could bite through metal right neow - that's why this whole post is a jumbled mess, but I hope at least this was helpful to somebody.  If not, maybe humans in the future will look back at this and be like "Hey remember when we used those $300 AR15s to fight hippies in that civil war the democrats started?  Those were the good old days."

There's a hundred online gun accessory stores that sell AR15 parts.  While I can't possibly list them all, as long as you're not some helpless old person and can do a simple google search, you can probably find more of these places easily.

Gun.Deals for everything.

I wasn't originally planning on listing PrimaryArms, but they kept popping up on my radar during my last minute research for cheap gear, so they get a cookie.

If you you're a gun guy you already know about MidWayUSA and Brownells, but I'm listing them here just in case AR newbies are watching.  These online stores usually sell at or slightly above the average price, and I haven't ordered from these types of websites in a long time, but they're a good source of parts if you need something in a pinch:
MidWayUSA is pretty quick to process and ship and they usually have a discount of an undisclosed quantity for your birthday if you're registered with them and had an account with them for a while.
Brownell's has consistently had a 10% off + free shipping after ThanksGiving and Christmas.
JoeBobOutfitters has a smaller selection of stuff but sometimes has cheaper things (and a 5% military and LEO discount).

Chinese sites I use are DHGate, and AliExpress which are useful for stuff like grips, handgaurds, rails, scope mounts, and stocks and have bulk order discounts.  eBay also sells these Chinese parts listed under the hunting section, but don't directly name the AR15/M4 (search "free float tube," "gas block," etc...). 

Note: DHGate and AliExpress might state "airsoft only."  This applies to cosmetic things handguards, gasblocks, charging handles, rails accessories etc.  You should be able to tell if it will work in an AR15 just by looking at it.  Obviously an airsoft BCG or barrel won't work in a real AR15.  The "airsoft only" statement is usually there to skirt international weapons export laws and all that other crap.  You won't get in trouble for ordering this stuff in the US because that only applies to sellers/manufacturers/exporters.  Also because 'MERICA/SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED/MOLON LABE, etc...

Also I have to give a holler to Gorilla Machining for good customer service and for being a quality, budget-priced parts source.