Monday, October 28, 2013

Irrelevant wall of text + rants about 80% AR15 distributers


I wrote the following out of boredom a few months ago while I was training at 29 Palms, California and just forgot about it until now.  It's disorganized rambling and random tidbits about 80% lower vendors and products.  I don't think it holds any relevance anymore, but whatever.  On a sidenote, I still haven't received my order from Polymer80.

Geeze, the latest video from Polymer80 is just embarrassing to watch.  The latest incarnation of their polymer AR15 features lots of material shrinkage, warping, and jamming.  Why would they show off something like that?  So now they are delaying their lowers once again for an undisclosed amount of time.  At least they’re being honest about it and not rushing it out the door, but I have a weird feeling about the whole thing.  It raises a few questions:
  • Why didn’t they plan this out?
  • Did they have prototypes?
  • Did they test those before deciding to mass-produce them?
  • Or did they just make something up in CAD and just assumed it would work?
  • Why didn’t they show test videos from the first generation lowers that were scrapped?
  • Did those even work?
  • Did any of them ever work?
  • Did they even do any testing before this video was released?


In other news, there’s also a unique type of 80% lower from KT Ordnance that doesn’t seem to get much discussion on forums.  He was one of the first manufacturers in the 80% AR lower scene and made the news when he was raided by the ATF (and by the Canadian authorities, for some strange reason), but I guess charges were dismissed.  His operation looks legit and he has some cool stuff for sale, but he only accepts payment in magical gold doubloons (seriously), so screw him.  That 80% “Franken-Stone” AR15 lower looks pretty sweet, though - just bolt it together and ream out the FCG pins.  It’s too bad the guy is a tinfoil nutjob and his currency system is demented. Another thing, if you were to convert the pricetag in tinfoil tokens to Earth/America Bucks, that equates to $550!  If you’re willing to invest in his leprechaun coins, the bolt-together AR lower looks to be the easiest of all to assemble.  This has been out for a long while, but far as I know, nobody actually owns one of these yet.  Or perhaps no one wants to admit it.

Actually, here's one on calguns where someone bought one after the raid and it turns out now you need to mill out the FCG pocket.  You could probably slice out the center piece with a hacksaw or a Dremel cutoff wheel.  Either way, it's still more money than it's worth.

And did you ever notice that there have been several producers of AR15 80% lowers that have had a sneak preview of their lowers and made them available for pre-order?  But then at the last minute, decided to suddenly make major, last-minute changes to the design of their lowers.  One example of this is Polymer80, who just days before they were ready to ship their lowers, decided they needed to redesign the lower to add material around the takedown pins.  So they delayed it by a month.

Also recently, JamesMadison Tactical did this as well as PrecisionArms Manufacturing.  It started out looking like a normal AR lower, then halfway through they decided it would get unrounded edges and a winter trigger guard, similar to JuggernautTactical’s.  In Precision Arm’s case, it would seem this is all presumably to cut down on machining cost.  But why would Polymer80 do that?  It all seems very suspicious.  “Hey, we just finally test fired our lower at the last minute and found out that it needs reinforced pivot pins!”  Or in the recent case, to prevent warping.  Or maybe they don’t want other company’s jigs to fit their lower, and changed the design so people would be forced to buy their jig.  Or maybe they’re purposely delaying to get past the three month window for credit card owners to file chargebacks?

End of Tinfoil hat rant.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

AR15 Lower 80% madness!


Ever since January this year, there have been several new 80% lower manufacturers producing new lowers.  I've been buying up one or two of each, however, I won’t get a chance to test them until Thanksgiving.  Some of the more interesting 80% lower kits include a type of "Jigsaw puzzle" steel AR, the polymer AR, the jigless polymer AR, and there's also a plethora (really hate that word) of improved 80% lowers that have more mass added to key locations for enhanced durability.  Here’s a quick rundown of lowers I’ve accumulated over the past year.

HLF Manufacturing - http://shop.hlfmanufacturing.com/ - Just another run-of-the-mill AR manufacturer, they have good customer service and the lowers are compatible with the CNCGuns lower drill jig.

CNCGuns - http://www.cncguns.com/tooling.html - Another standard AR manufacturer.  They sell lowers and also a lower drill jig.  I bought the jig and lower from them.  It looks legit and is made specifically for people who only own a drill or drill press.  The base jig and the drill-milling adapter, together, costs double the price of Juggernaut tactical’s jig.  However, something to consider is that JT’s jigs are ONLY compatible with JT’s unique lower, while this one is compatible with HLF and CNCGuns lowers.  He doesn’t accept online payment, only check or money order, which is kind of bothersome and I’m always apprehensive about that kind of stuff, but I received my jig without any trouble.

Juggernaut Tactical - http://www.jtactical.com – Has a built-in ‘winter’ triggerguard, sharp, unrounded corners, and reinforced material on the sides.  This isn’t a bad thing, but in my opinion (in which I know nothing about manufacturing and machining) it seems to me that requires less machine work and I would think that it should cost less, but again, what do I know!  They have lowers that are pre-anodized so you don’t have to anodize it yourself and mess with the chemicals and stuff, plus it looks classier than BBQ paint.  Also their drill jig is priced pretty cheap and looks as good as CNCGuns’s but only works on their lowers.

I guess I can’t really complain about the price tag since I got this one on ebay from some guy who was selling a random bunch of lowers at once and I happened to get this one by chance.  Since the sides are flat, I can’t see why I couldn’t just turn the sideplates of CNCgun’s lower jig around and align the lower to the jig using the pivot pins.  That should work for getting the holes axis pin holes drilled, anyways.

Polymer 80 - http://polymer80.com/ – A polymer 80% lower.  So far it is the cheapest (not-flat) AR lower at $70 a piece.  Polymer is easier to carve away at so this should be a simpler project for people who only own a cheap electric drill.  They have a low-priced disposable jig that clamps on and are supposed to come with drill bits that prevent you from drilling too far.  The guy claims that this is a new type of polymer that is stronger than anything that has come out before.  You can find a pretty lengthy interview with everything you need to know about the lower and the jig right here http://youtu.be/zft3jfFOf3U .  I’m not really a fan of polymer but I’m keeping an open mind and I bought two lowers plus a jig.  One I plan doing one with the included jig and the other I’ll somehow force it to work with the CNCGuns jig.

EP Armory - http://www.eplowers.com/ - Another 80% polymer lower, but also the first (as far as I know) to be jigless.  The black lower has a white plastic insert that is molded into the polymer FCG area so that it can be peeled away as you chip at it with a cutting tool, such as a dremel.  There’s a video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxcSlOVeXlQ  It comes in black or pink.  I bought the pink one so the internet can see another Hello Kitty themed AR15 to test RIT Dyes on and see how well it stays colored.

Also interesting is their clear AR15 lower (and soon to be upper).  I’m not sure how strong that material is but it would make a neat display piece.

Jack Squat’s Flat Spot - http://www.theflatspot.net/ - This guy has flats for AK47s as well as other stuff in stock.  What is most interesting is his steel AR15 ‘flat’ kit.  The kit appears to be composed of six layers of flat pieces that are fitted and welded together.  I feel like I could probably align the inner layers with rolls pins and JB weld, then sandwich it all in place with the outer plates and use long 10x32tpi screws (my favorite screw!) to bolt them all together.  I ordered two of these kits - one for welding, the other for the roll-pin idea.  They’re only $25 for a piece, so it’s not a big loss if you waste one.  The lowers are pretty heavy, by the way.

More reviews and descriptions of more 80% lowers can be found on a thread here at Weapons Guild: http://www.weaponsguild.com/forum/index.php?topic=42038.0 (Requires registration)


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Active Duty Navy - Year One

Whoops, wrong order.
Just came back from a month in the shithole that is South Korea.  After five years of reserve and active time I finally got my first set of ribbons outside of bootcamp - The Korea Service ribbon, a good conduct ribbon (not shown), and a global war on terrorism ribbon.  The first for just being in Korea for more than 30 days, the second for being in four years, and the third for being at a duty station for more than 60 days. Sure, they're basically handed out for free for literally doing nothing, but at least now I don't look like a total n00b.

And I'm still an E3/Seaman after all this time.  That's partly my fault for not studying harder.  I never realized that the reserve advancement exam is a cakewalk compared to the active exam but now I know to study harder.  I was 5 points away from passing and I really could have used that extra cash to buy all kinds of stuff.  Oh well, there's always November.  They gave me until 2016 to reach third Class or I get the boot, which seems like an unnecessary generous amount of time.

Video completely unrelated:


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Safari Arms Survivor, part 2

I managed to track down the second only known Safari Arms Survivor kit.  This one actually came with the stock this time.  I don’t like the cheap-looking stock design but I suppose something is better than nothing.  I think it will make a sweet shooter if I manage to get it working.
I did get a chance to fondle the other Safari Arms kit while on leave last October and wrote up the following:

On close inspection there appears to be an extra lug on the roof of the receiver that doesn't really do anything except maybe keep the bolt straight.  The proprietary (?) firing pin has a safety block so it can't fire out of battery.  The barrel diameter should be 3/4" near the base of the chamber end for about 1", then stepped up and threaded to something larger than ~15/16" x 16 tpi (It is 15/16“ at the minor diameter, though it didn't occur to me at the time to measure the major diameter).  A locknut would screw into the remaining threads to prevent the barrel from unscrewing itself.  I think that it is probably a 1”x16 thread.
Bolt handle and firing pin
The rear stock is threaded to something larger than 9/16" (again I forgot to measure the major diameter) and threaded to 18 TPI.  I might be able to get a machinist to turn out some adapter fittings or I‘ll just ghetto-rig something up, like weld a large machine bolt to an ak rear trunnion or something like that.
I went to Cabela’s but couldn’t find a $300 Chinese 1911 like I originally planned, so I picked up the slightly more pricey Citadel 1911 and paid for it with my Cabela's bucks.

I tried fitting the upper to the frame and while it did slide in perfectly, the hole didn’t line up with the takedown pin!   The hole on the upper appeared to be slightly lower than the hole location on the 1911 frame.  I can only guess that the takedown lug is bent, comparing it to pictures of the other Safari Arms kit that was for sale.  No idea what’s wrong, I‘ve never owned a 1911 so I don‘t know anything about these.  I don’t want to permanently modify anything just yet.   If I do anything at all, it will be to egg the hole vertically upwards on the upper receiver, but that will be a last resort thing.

There apparently were two bolt face sizes for this, one in .45 acp, and a single shot in .223. The first one has the .45 acp bolt. No idea on the second, but it would be cool if it did have a .223 bolt. My new plan is to get crazy and build a lower from sheet metal or from an air soft gun. After all, the upper is self-contained and is held in place by the takedown pin only. The lower serves only to provide a FCG and a magwell.

I have not had a chance to inspect the second one, but I will in March. I already ordered a 1”x16 TPI tap and die set. When I get home I'm going to thread a 1” sleeve and weld it to a 16.25” barrel. The next step will be making an adapter to fit an M16A1 stock or an AK stock since I seem to have a surplus of these things.

...to be continued!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Firing the M777 155mm Howitzer

All this Obama gun talk is giving me high blood pressure and I haven't felt like writing up anything lately.  All I can say is that I will definitely be getting a lifetime membership to the NRA.  Anywho, here's some footage of my first field-ops with the Marines firing the m777 howitzer back in early December 2012.