Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I almost forgot....
Merry Christmas to all my readers!
I hope for the best for all of you in this coming year.


update on the Logan lathe and the Hi Point drum mod

I have been pretty swamped with personal stuff over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, so I've not gotten as far as I would have liked on the lathe rebuild or the Hi Point drum magazine mod. I have, however, gotten a prototype magazine built out of 16 gauge sheetmetal. This was somewhat difficult to do, as 16 gauge sheetmetal is difficult to form sharp bends or radii with. It required the use of a press buck (that I built while living in west Texas) as well as the use of a oxy fuel torch to heat the material before bending. The reason for using such thick metal is because when I welded a factory magazine to a Suomi drum, the mag began to split apart, and the feed lips began to spread. This could've been disastrous to use on a normal basis, so it just made sense to build something more reliable and much stronger than factory.

The raw metal magazine

I have made some progress on the lathe. The only things keeping me from having it back together and working is the back gear is missing some teeth and the bearings in the motor are pretty shot. Other than that, the lathe is back in (mostly) one piece.

I have something else in mind for the lathe once I get it up and running, I am going to finally build my short-barreled SKS. If you look on the sidebar of this blog, you'll see an SKS I dreamed up and did some cut and paste work on. This build will require me to shorten the gas piston assembly and move the gas port back a couple inches. The final product will have a ~12" barrel and a Tapco Intrafuse stock. I will also be machining the receiver to accept AK magazines, and I will be machining a small brake for the barrel. This is still a few weeks in the future, and I've got to wait on the ATF form 1 to come back before I can begin the build.
I should have the Hi Point 995 carbine drum assembly welded up soon, and hopefully I'll be testing it before long.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

New Logan lathe

Well, I started to tinker with the HiPoint drum and only got so far before I realized that my tools were limiting me a bit. I found that I needed at the very least another lathe, and a milling machine if at all possible. Thanks to Craigslist, I found a small lathe identical to my old Logan I had last year, and it was for sale at a decent price. I contacted the seller and purchased the lathe sight unseen.
I picked up the lathe last week, and kinda wish I had ran it first before forking over the cash. It was complete, but really dirty and missing a couple of parts. There's nothing holding me back that I can't improvise or fabricate, so it was a good deal in the end. Turns out the guy I purchased the lathe from also has a large industrial sized Bridgeport mill and Rockwell lathe he is selling that I may pick up from him in the future, but that is a few months out.
So, the last few days have been spent tearing the lathe down and stripping all the dirt, oil, grease, and paint that had accumulated on the lathe over the last 70 years (it was originally built in 1941, and it looks like that was the last time it was cleaned off. The lathe has been repainted before, but it doesn't look like the Picasso who painted it bothered to clean it first.)
Here's the lathe from when I unloaded it off the truck and set it in the corner of my garage.

After a LOT of lacquer thinner, paint stripper, wire brushing, sanding, degreasing, priming, and then painting with Rustoleum Smoke Gray oil based paint, here's what we have so far.....

I still have a lot of small parts to clean, strip, sand, prime, and paint, but most of the large/hard stuff is out of the way. I have to find a way to machine a new gear for the back gear assembly as the 28 tooth gear that was already there is missing several teeth, so that needs to be attended to.

The upside is that the guy I bought this lathe from has had it for several years, and never used it. He purchased it from a guy in the Houston area who had a small machine shop, and my understanding is that that was the second owner. Aside from being very dirty, the machine was in decent shape. The ways are not terribly worn, all the bearings and bushings seem to be in good shape, and after being cleaned, repainted, and re-lubed, it should run like new.
That's all for now.....

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I'm still alive and kicking. I've been through some interesting times since I last blogged. I now live back in the Dallas area where I grew up, I no longer have my lathe or mill, and I sold several of my guns including my Ruger AC 556.
However, I've got a nice house with a garage, and plan to start working on the Hi Point drums again soon. I'm also looking into buying a new lathe and mill within the next few months-year. I'm trying to get the drum project back together so I can fund the new tooling, so it would be reasonable to assume ill get moving on the drum assembly on the next week or so.

To everyone of you who kept me in your thoughts and prayers, bought guns from me, or even commented here, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It meant a lot to me to see such support from people I've never met in person. God bless every one of you.

With that said, where were we? Oh, yeah, making a magazine extension. I have a few ideas in the back of my head for this one, so stay tuned.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Building the Hi Point drum tower

Okay, so I've been working my butt off since I got back in town, and some of that work has been dedicated to building the necessary fixtures to make the Hi Point 995 carbine drum a reality.
If you're just now tuning in, I took a factory magazine and a aftermarket Promag magazine and hacked them up and welded them together in conjunction with a Suomi drum in hopes of getting a decent hi capacity magazine/drum assembly on the books for the carbine. I took the completed assembly to the range while I was out of town and put a couple hundred rounds through it with fairly good results. I did experience a few Failure To Eject issues, but this was a problem with the rifle, not the drum. Most rounds fed just fine, and I got several long strings of fire out of it before packing up and heading back. I decided that it was entirely too possible to make it function well enough to continue building, but the biggest hangup I had with the assembly was the hacked up factory magazine. The only solution to this is to just build my own magazines!
How is this done? In a variety of ways. One is to simply get a sheetmetal brake and bend up some sheetmetal to the shape needed, do some welding to hold the mag together, form the feed lips, and call it good.
Another option, and the option I'm trying first, is to machine a block of steel to the inner dimensions of a factory magazine, albeit a bit longer than the factory one, and use it as a buck/die in a hydraulic press to form sheetmetal with.  In addition to building this buck/die, I had to machine a female die to press the sheetmetal through. This sounds simple enough, but the front of the magazine has a nice radius to it, and I had to form the radius very carefully by making several light milling cuts at different angles before filing and sanding the die to shape.

To start with, I have a huge scrap piece of 3/4" thick steel  sitting in my garage that is just rusted all to hell. Since I needed the finished piece to be .42" wide and 1.19" deep, I cut a 7" long, 1.375" wide chunk off with my oxy-acetylene torch and clamped it in the mill vice and got to cutting.
I started by milling the torch cut edge flat after getting the steel as close to level and flat in the vise as possible. It really didn't matter if it was perfectly level, since I would be milling every edge eventually. This may sound haphazard, but it really just depends on the order in which you mill. Mill the top edge flat, rotate the part 180 degrees, mill the bottom edge flat, rotate the part 90 degrees, mill flat, rotate another 90 degrees and mill the last surface flat. This worked fine, and I wound up with a nice die with squared surfaces.

After getting all the edges squared off in relation to each other, I then milled the block down to the 1.19" depth I needed. This took a little bit because the only end mill I had big enough to cut a 3/4" width in one pass was pretty dull, so I had to take very light cuts and move the part very slowly under the cutter.
After I had a good depth, it was time to face the block down to the .42" width. For this, I used a big carbide tipped lathe tool in my fly cutter. I love using a fly cutter, because I can face off a very large (wide) surface in one pass. It took a while to shave the die down, since I'm limited to taking ~.01" deep cuts at a time, but I got it there eventually.

Here's the fly cutter finishing a pass at the die.

The finished fly-cut piece. You can see how rusted and jagged this block was before I machined it by looking at the end of the piece hanging out of the vise.

A comparison of the machined piece sitting on top of the heavily corroded steel stock I cut it off of.
 After I took this picture, I trimmed the ends off of the die and milled them square as well.

Now, with the width, depth, and length all where I wanted them, I had to form the radius on the nose of the die. This consisted of me doing several hours of set-up wherein I made very light cuts (.005") at several different angles down the length of the die. After the cuts were made, I used a medium-coarse file to do the initial blending, and finished it up with 60 grit sandpaper. These pictures aren't the best, but you get the idea. The radius turned out very nice, much better than the pictures show, of course.

The female die was just a block of 1.25" square steel I had laying around that I started milling out a slot in with a .5" end mill, right up to the point my end mill got dull, hung up on the part, and snapped. So, a new end mill is on order so I can finish the female die and press out a couple magazines on the hydraulic press at work. All I have to do is put a piece of greased sheetmetal between the two (the grease helps the metal slide between the dies and keeps it from galling or getting stuck to either die), lower the hydraulic ram into place, and press the sheetmetal through the female die. Once it's pressed through, I whack the remaining edges with a hammer and fold them over the back of the male die and trim to fit. I will then pull the dies apart and tack weld the back of the mag body. After the mag body is completely shaped, I will slide the male die out of the mag and then fully weld the back of the mag. From there, it's on to forming the feed lips of the mag, which is another operation all by itself.

This might seem like a lot of work versus just bending up a mag on a metal brake, but the key here is consistency. I want to build an identical part over and over, and it's pretty tough to do that on a small shop brake.With a hydraulic press and dies, I can make the exact same part over and over again.

So, I'm now sick of running the milling machine, and my arm is pretty worn out from cranking on the milling table handles several hundred times over the last couple days. I am going to take a couple days to rest and wait on an end mill to arrive.

More as I build it or break it!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I'm baaaack...

Okay, finally got done with all the family business and got home. I'm beat, but ready to tear into the drum project again.
I found that I may have too steep an angle on the drum-to-mag assembly, so I am going to try changing the angle some. I was pretty happy with the first range test, but I think I can do better. I didn't have any rounds try to nosedive in the mag, the drum fed very consistently, and it was overall worth continuing.
I did notice that the feed lips on the factory mag are starting to spread apart a little. This confirms my belief that the factory mag is not a viable option, long term. I am going to have to make a mag that welds to the drum, and it will have to be made from thicker material than factory mags are, as well as have longer feed lips that are reinforced on the back of the mag. The factory mag simple has bent sheetmetal mag lips, with nothing on the back of the mag to help them stay in correct form. Look at a higher capacity magazine if this is confusing, the back of the mag extends up and is joined to the feed lips on most double stack magazines.
Although the drum fed fairly smoothly, it wasn't as smooth as I'd like. I took the drum completely apart and cleaned all the grease, grime, dirt, and lead shavings out of it before hosing it down with brake cleaner. I lightly oiled the inside pivoting plate bearing surfaces (the part of the rotating plate inside the drum that contacts the drum outer shell) then reassembled the drum. This helped smooth out the feeding a bit, but I think I can do better. I looked around and found strips of Teflon bearing  that I want to glue inside the drum on the walls where the bullets touch the drum. This can't hurt anything, and I bet this would make the rounds feed even smoother. Right now the ammo ascends the drum tower (mag) with little issue, but it is kinda raspy inside the drum as the rounds feed and rub against the inside of the drum.

So, I need to machine a buck out of steel stock that I can use to make mags with by using it in conjunction with a hydraulic press. The buck will be placed on top of a piece of sheetmetal and then be forced through a female die, before the back sides of the mag are then formed in place and welded together. This is the only way I can think of making a mag and retaining the radius on the front of the magazine like the factory mags have. This will take a couple of days to make, but should be worth the work. Once a mag is made, it's all downhill from there. Stay tuned, and if any of my readers have comments or questions, feel free to ask.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hi Point Drum magazine *update #3*

Still out of town handling family business, but I got a chance to slip out to the range yesterday while the family was distracted by bright and shiny things.

With that said, I'm pretty close to a finished product, I think. I took my version 1.0 prototype to the range yesterday and gave it a shot. I ran a total of 250 round through it, and the only real issues I had were several (~20) failures to eject, (but that has nothing to do with the drum), and probably 5 or 6 failures to feed correctly. My firing pin/striker was bent the other day when I cleaned the rifle, and I straightened it out with some pliers. Now that I've done that, it doesn't eject reliably. I guess I need to call and order a new striker.

I'm going to change the drum-to-feed-tower angle a bit and see if that helps with the 5 or 6 failures to feed that I had. The rounds would feed fine, but they would go into the chamber at just a slight upward angle and stop the bolt from going all the way forward. I had this same problem with my factory mags before, so I think this is a result of my using a Hi Point mag instead of building my own.

I did have two or three dud rounds that jammed up the works, but those were not the fault of the drum, those were the result of crappy primers.

Beyond that, I had virtually no snags in the drum feeding. Had it not been for the dud rounds and the ejection issues, I would have gotten a full drum dump out of it, The most I got was a bit over 50 rounds in one sitting before the rifle would fail to eject, or whatever. The first 72 rounds were WWB, while all the rest were my reloads. I loaded the rounds with 125 grain, .356" diameter cast lead bullets from Wideners, with 5.0 grains of Alliance Bullseye powder pushing them. I used Federal small pistol primers as well. I think I will load them a little hotter next time and see how that works.

I had only tack welded the drum to the mag in four places, and unfortunately, I broke two of those tack welds during my torture test. I literally slammed the drum in place every time it was to be loaded or after I cleared a jam or dud round, shot with the drum supported and with it unsupported, with the factory mag catch bearing all the weight, and still had pretty good results. It does need some extra support due to its' weight, but I have an idea for that.

I won't be able to do anything else with it for a few days until the family issues are resolved, but now I know for sure that it works, and it will work well after some tweaking.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Away from the INTERNETS

Ran into some family issues. No bloggy for a couple days.
Hi point drum test video soon to come. :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The internet. It angers me sometimes.

Well, I must admit that I am no internet pro, but I hate having to go through a bit of BS just to join a message board.
I've been trying to set up my account over at the Bryco forums to discuss my latest project. Apparently there is already a thread started in honor of the project, but I can't respond or anything, despite registering for the forum.

It might be that I saw this video earlier, and I'm still a little angry at how that whole scene went down.. Thanks to Lawdog for sharing the video

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Things I love about living in Texas, #128,962

So, I went to drop my truck off with a mechanic today at the place I bought the truck. The owner of the car lot and I sat down and started to talk when he asked me if I wanted to look at a pistol he had just gotten in from another customer in payment towards their car. The owner of this place is a pretty good guy, and is usually willing to work with people on paying for their cars, so it made sense that someone had done some trading with him.
Anyway, he comes back from his back office after a minute with a box in his hands. He reached in the box, and pulls out a Ruger 22/45 in excellent condition. He handed the pistol over to me and asked what it was worth, since he knows I am a collector and do a lot of dealing in random firearms. I gave him my opinion of the handgun's value and handed it back to him. He looked at me and said, "I've got no use for it, and honestly I couldn't hit a beer can at 15 feet away with it. You want it?"
I responded that, yeah, sure, I'd like it, but I was a bit short on cash at the moment, and it would be another month or two before I could buy it.
His response reminded me that there are still good people in this world, " Go ahead and take it, just pay me what you said it was worth at 'gun show price' whenever you get a chance, just try and have me paid back by tax time next year."
Uh, okay. Sure thing, friend.
Texas. Where else could you go in for warranty work on your car or truck and walk out with a new handgun?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hi Point Drum magazine *update #2*

Okay, I re-tensioned the drum spring a few different times until I got a consistent feed from the drum. It now feeds almost 100%
Next issue I have is one that is not even remotely related to the drum itself. I bought a 1k round box of cast lead bullets from a while back. When I got around to loading these, I noticed that they chambered a little tight in my XD pistol. I've shot a handful of these reloads and noticed a few were difficult to extract. Well, although they would strip out of the drum/mag assembly, I kept having issues with them extracting. I had to remove several with a brass rod from the muzzle end. So, I loaded the drum up with only Remington and WWB factory rounds, and so far, the drum will feed all 72 rounds just fine. It's still a little finicky due to a few snags inside the drum, but I will disassemble the drum and media blast it soon.

Another issue I had was the feed ramp and bolt face. I haven't cleaned this rifle in over a year, so after having numerous issues with my reloads, I disassembled the bolt and set about cleaning the feed ramp and chamber. There was A LOT of gunk in there. I scrubbed and scrubbed with some CLP and other solvents in conjunction with a bronze brush. Turns out there was a lot of crap under the extractor claws as well.
So, now the rifle is clean and gunk free, and I have cycled about 210 rounds of factory ammo by hand with no issues.
Maybe I can take it to the range soon!

Hi Point Drum magazine *update*

I hit my first snag. In trying to test a full 72 round feed, I found the spring did not have enough pressure to feed without having to slap the drum occasionally. I've found part of the problem, there is a lot of dirt and crap inside the drum, so I need to disassemble and clean it. I also need to re-tension the main spring. No big deal, but something to remember down the road.
With all that said, it fed just fine once I had about 20 rounds out of it, so even without much work, it is already a 50 rounder. Some tuning and tweaking, and I should get all 72 rounds out of it, no problem.

EDIT: I fed  WWB FMJ  and my cast lead reloads I buy from through it. It eats the reloads all day long, and loads them even better than it does the WWB FMJ ammo.

Hi Point Drum magazine

I spent a couple hours on the single stack magazine and Suomi drum configuration tonight. So far, it seems to work just fine. I say so far, because I didn't have enough 9mm in my garage to fill the drum up to max capacity, and all my ammo is in my bedroom in .50 cal ammo cans a few feet away from my sleeping spouse, so I just used the ammo from one of my carry guns and the ammo I had in a factory Hi point mag, so 27 rounds total.
The only issue I had was that the bolt face and feed ramp are both VERY dirty, and need cleaning and polishing. These two in conjunction caused the bolt to load the fresh round, but slowly, as the round could not eject from the magazine and move up the feed ramp smoothly. Some CLP and a scotchbrite pad on my dremel will take care of this.
With that said, if I cycled the bolt quickly, I got every round to chamber just fine. No jams.

To construct this so far, I cut up a 15 round Promag magazine I had laying around that didn't work, (seriously, the only thing worse than the factory crappy magazines is the more-expensive-jam-o-matic 15 round magazines) and then cut the top off of a factory 10 round mag to weld in place on the top of the Promag. Before I could do this, though, I had to get the angle of the mag in relation to the drum correct, so the rounds would point up enough to be stripped off by the bolt, and so they would feed smoothly from the drum into the magazine. It took a couple tries to get the mag angle right, but it seems to work well where it is.

In this pic, you can see how the drum and magazine are offset. Instead of centering the mag over the drum, I offset it so that there was not a sharp bend in the drum-to-mag transition area. It looks a little goofy, but I really don't care, so long as it works.

Looking down from under the barrel at the drum locked in place on the carbine.

This round is just slightly pointing down, but not enough to keep it from being stripped from the mag and chambered.

There is a pretty drastic angle between the drum and magazine, but that is the determining factor in getting the rounds to load right into the magazine.

So, it's all tacked together, and I may take it to the range this week and test it after I clean the inside of the gun real good.
For those of you wondering if the feed lips are strong enough to hold up against the drum spring pressure, they are not. However, if you do a little welding and reinforcement on them, they are stiff as heck and can't be bent, even with a pair of pliers.
Even though I think it's going to work just fine, I'm not real happy with it. There is a lot of work involved in doing this correctly, and that involves hacking up a factory mag and an aftermarket mag just to get to an end product. While I probably could have just made a new mag on my metal brake, I really didn't feel like it. I did it this way to see how feasible it would be, and if a single stack arrangement could be made to work, which I think it can. The thing is, I think half the headaches I had while throwing this setup together were a result of trying to make it all work with a single stack magazine.

I will probably try to test fire it tomorrow or perhaps Wednesday, if i can. If all goes well, I may leave well enough alone, and try my hand at building another. However, if I still don't feel 100% about it, or if I find a good reason not to make another, I am just going to go ahead and modify my rifle to use double stack magazines, and try to build a drum assembly from there.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Suomi M31 parts

For the people who've been Google-ing individual parts for the Suomi M31 and keep winding up here, I encourage y'all to head on over to Brpguns' website.

Hi Point drum/high capacity magazine build. examining the gun

Alright, I took the Hi Point apart a little bit ago and took a few pictures of what I'm up against when it comes to making the rifle accept a double stack magazine, hereafter referred to as a DSM. There's a few things in the way, so it's not going to be a simple drop in procedure, but I don't see it being too bad.

Okay, we are starting here with the ATI stock. Looking down from the top and up from the bottom of the grip, we can see that there is a LOT of room for a double stack magazine. The slot for the single stack magazine is actually a bit larger than the magazine needs to be, so from this perspective, the conversion to a double stack magazine is very much a reality. You can't easily see from these pics, but there is quite a bit of room on both sides of the receiver between the receiver and stock. This may come in hand later if/when it comes time to widen the receiver to accept a double stack magazine.

Now, here is the factory single stack magazine in place in the stripped receiver. This is how high the double stack mag will have to sit as well. This will pose a distinct problem due to the width of a DSM.

Here is the top of the factory Hi Point mag in relation to the feed ramp. Nothing special, but we're starting to see that a DSM fitting in the factory slot here just isn't going to be a quick mission with a dremel tool.

The XD mag for comparison of width. This is an XD40 mag, but they are the same width as a XD 9 millimeter. I know this because I shoot 9mm, 40 S&W, and .357 sig out of my XD, with different barrels of course. Anyway, again we see that the width of the mag will exceed the width of the receiver.
A quick magazine comparison. Turns out that the XD mag is actually almost a perfect replacement for a Hi Point magazine as far as angles go. In fact, they are the same depth, but the XD is of course a bit wider.

We have established by now that the DSM is a few thousandths wider than the receiver.

Here is the simplistic trigger assembly. There just isn't a whole lot here, folks. That transfer bar is going to be the biggest issue in widening the receiver. No big deal, it just means I will need to make a new one or modify the existing one.

Now, what I am proposing might seem a bit odd or even stupid, but I have reviewed the shape and material of the receiver, as well as where most of the stresses are on the receiver. This receiver material is cast Zamak, which is pretty much just pot metal. It is die cast, similar to construction techniques used in making hot wheels cars and other cheap metal objects. My hypothesis is simple; I could easily build a widened receiver section out of 1/8" thick steel that would bolt to the carbine receiver and then be silver soldered in place. Given that it was securely fastened and soldered, I imagine it would be fairly strong. Most or all of the stresses present in this carbine are all forward of the area where the magazine is retained. The only real force seen behind the mag area is the spring tension present when the striker spring is compressed and the sear is holding the striker in place. I am not fond of the idea of tinkering with pot metal, but the good thing is that it would be very difficult to modify this rifle and make that area weaker. There just isn't that much factory material in that area. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that my idea would make the rifle much stronger compared to how it is now.
After the receiver was widened and the offending area preventing insertion of a DSM was machined out, all I would need to do is make a new transfer bar for the trigger and do a little modification of the mag release system. That wouldn't be too hard.
Now I just need to chew on it and think if I want a dual stack magazine or not. I imagine that my choice whether or not to pursue the DSM will hinge on how well a Suomi drum/single stack mag works out.

Now, the Suomi drum...

Here's the inside of the drum with the spring at rest and the follower all the way up to the feed lips.

The drum fully wound. One this thing is fully wound, you just dump your 9 sillimeter rounds in, facing up from this perspective.
Once your rounds are in, you put the front cover in place,

and push in this button on the back so the front lock can be swung in place and the front cover is secured.

Now, were I to pursue a setup that utilizes a magazine that is actually part of the carbine and has a drum mount on the bottom, the feed lips each drum would be filed off. To load the rifle, you would fill the drum to max capacity,fill the inner magazine to capacity, put the front plate on the drum, mount the drum on the carbine, and then push the button on the drum to put tension on the rounds. Lock the drum face plate and blast away. I like the idea of building it this way solely for the purpose of making it easier on people to have multiple drums, loaded and ready to go.
Going the other direction and welding a magazine tower directly to the drum would be pretty easy, but limits the shooter to having one drum, unless they wanted to buy more than one modified drum. It also means that if I built these, I'd have to keep a decent supply of drums on hand.

I'll probably get started on the welded drum/single stack in a few hours, and hopefully I'll have a working prototype before too long. If I can't get it to work without having to completely reinvent the wheel, I may as well modify the carbine to accept a DSM.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hi Point drum/high capacity magazine build

Okay, I haven't gotten to do a lot on the Hi point project due to being preoccupied with work, but I've narrowed the drum issue down a bit. I've seen where guys have successfully used these drums on their transferable Mac 10/11 sub machine guns, and a lot of the initial issues are friction and getting the magazine to the right angle in relation to the drum. The thread about Suomi conversion for Mac's can be found here over on Uzitalk. Lots of good information there, but a Mac has a thicker magazine than a Hi Point, with sturdier feed lips and more room to maneuver. Now, after thinking about the situation, a person could easily make a magazine that would fit the mag well and be not only a thicker material, but have reinforced feed lips on the mag as well. You could also machine a magazine out of solid stock that would actually be an integral part of the rifle. What I mean here is a "magazine" that drops in through the top of an dissembled rifle, and has a drilled and tapped base that would allow a drum magazine catch assembly to be bolted on to the magazine. This would allow you to use multiple drums. All that would be necessary would be for the user to disassemble the rifle, drop in the "magazine", bolt it to the rifle on the inside of the receiver, reassemble the rifle, attach a Suomi drum, hit the drum spring release, and start shooting. This would alleviate my having to deal with the random good/bad drum selection that most retailers have in trying to complete a whole-unit drum and magazine assembly.
This integral magazine design could work, I think, a lot better than a stand-alone unit.

Now, the stand-alone unit might work well, as long as I can make a thick enough magazine so the feed lips don't bend under spring pressure. I have read of several people trying to build a Suomi drum arrangement for their Hipoint, but none of them tried it using a different magazine than the factory Hi Point mag. I will likely start there.

Now, to add some more fun to this, I was taking some measurements and looking at the internals of the carbine the other day. I looked across the table from the rifle, and there was a double stack 9mm mag for my Springfield XD. It turns out that there is not a whole heck of a lot of difference between the width and depth of the factory Hi Point mag and the XD mag, and the angles are ~somewhat close. I need to go buy a Glock mag and see if it is any closer to the same angle. Now, since the rifle is set up for a single stack mag, the stock is as well. The stock can easily be cut for clearance, but the problem lies a bit higher up, as there are two things in the way of a double stack mag; the mag release and the trigger transfer bar. Neither of these is that big an obstacle to being moved back 1/4" to allow a double stack mag to fit. This actually looks to be an easy-ish conversion to do, if you have the right tools. It involves building a new mag catch and likely a new transfer bar, but that's no issue. Everything else in that spot is polymer plastic, and could easily be cut and moved, or a new, wider piece machined out of sheetmetal and attached to the receiver. This would allow for two things, 1. Double stack magazines, and 2. an easier Suomi drum conversion using thicker, more durable XD or Glock mags.
EDIT: The area of the receiver I was referring to is not actually polymer plastic, but cheap pot metal instead. This doesn't change much, but I wanted to clear the air.

I am going to try the most obvious thing first, and build a new sheetmetal magazine and attempt to attach it to a Suomi drum. If this works flawlessly, then it is worth considering building a few more. If I can convert the carbine to double stack mags, though, I really think that would be the best approach. People in ban states could use the very-reliable-and-inexpensive 10 round Glock mags (or XD, whatever), and people in free states would have their choice of options, a 10 round mag, a 16 round standard capacity mag, a 32-33 round larger capacity mag, or even the Suomi drum for the truly twisted individuals that like turning money into smoke and noise.

So, hopefully this week will be a good week to start. First item up is to make a new magazine on my sheetmetal brake, then attach it to the drum.
Keep an eye out for this, as I refuse to stop on this project until my 200 dollar carbine has the ability to hold and shoot more than 10 rounds in one sitting.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A quick (I hope!) project.

Thanks to a recent post by JayG at Stuck in Massachusetts, a discussion was started referring to the Hipoint 9mm carbines that have been on the market for a few years. I have one of these carbines, and I absolutely love it. It's cheap, accurate, reliable, and with the ATI stock on it, it looks pretty decent.

The only issue I have with it is the low magazine capacity. The factory mags are limited to 10 rounds, and the aftermarket 15 round mags I have had all sucked. An idea that has run around the internet gun boards before was to modify a Suomi M31 72 round drum to work with the Hipoint carbine. The problems I've read about is that the feed lips are too weak to support the wound spring pressure from the drum, and the rounds often don't point at a sufficient angle to feed reliably. I've often thought about building one, but just haven't done it. I figure now is a good enough time to start, since I only have a small bit of tinkering to do with the .50 anymore.
I will not bother with a factory Hi point magazine. They are very thin sheetmetal and just aren't strong enough to take repeated positioning and welding, not to mention the increased spring pressure from the drum.

To start, I plan to use some 4130 sheet steel to build a custom magazine so the feed lips can be hardened. Unfortunately, I don't have any 4130 sheet laying around, so I am going to make my prototype out of standard cold roll sheet I do have laying around.
The next thing I must do is grind off the feed lips and remove any burrs and rough spots inside the drum that would keep it from feeding smoothly, and align the new mag with the drum so that there is a smooth transition from drum to magazine. The mag must be positioned such that the bullets point up at a certain angle so that they will feed into the chamber appropriately as well. This may require a feed ramp inside the rifle, not sure yet.

Another consideration is that the total weight of the loaded drum is more than the factory mag catch can handle, and I bet that the area surrounding the mag catch is not capable of that much stress, either. So, I will have to redesign a way to secure the drum to the rifle. This will likely be the hardest part of the conversion from my standpoint, because whatever is built needs to integrate well into the overall design of the rifle. I am at a loss on how I will do that, but it may come to me over time.

Keep an eye on this little corner of the internet if this is something that appeals to you.

The machined scope base

Well, nothing real special, just thought I'd throw it out there. It took a little bit to make it, and the original design actually was a little different, but I goofed up a little bit on my measurements, so I just decided to slot it instead, which covered up my idiocy. I also got the bipod finished up aside from the retaining springs. I guess now I will have to do all my finish work to get it ready for color.
I found a scope that I like for the price, but it's going to have to wait for a few weeks until I have enough funds.
That's all for now, more later as I get to it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gunbuilding update

Well, some things just don't always go according to plan. I planned to get a lot of work done on the .50 over the 4th of July weekend, but it just didn't happen. I may have gone in the garage once in the last week, if even that much. I have not lost interest in finishing my rifle, I just haven't had the desire to go into my 120 degree garage and do anything. I have lots of plans on how I will finish things up, but little motivation. These things happen, I suppose.
Anyway, I've still got that Suomi to finish, and it's kinda on my back burner, since finishing it will literally be a minor undertaking.

I've decided that I will be building another rifle next. I have two .308 chambered barrels sitting here, and after going to Hyperprapors site and seeing one of his latest posts about the MDT TAC21, I've decided I like the design enough to integrate a few of it's visual features, such as the hex outer receiver and AR15 components. I will build my own receiver action and bolt, of course, and I have a surprise in plan for the receiver action that should make for an interesting build. I won't divulge much more at this point, but I have a list of things I want to see out of this rifle, such as:
1. Lightweight. I do not want to see an unloaded weight of more than 10 pounds.
2. Integrated suppressor (this is a maybe, I want to be able to suppress the rifle, but whether the suppressor is integral or not is still up in the air.)
3. Ergonomically balanced. One thing I do not like about a lot of bolt action .308 rifles on the market is that many of them do not feel balanced to me. Either the action is too far forward or backward, the barrel too heavy, too short, or too long, etc. This is not a knock against any particular designer, I still love most every factory bolt action .308 out there, but none of them were built specifically for me. That is something I want to concentrate on with this firearm.
4. Mag fed. I won't go too much into detail with this one (a true redneck never reveals his secrets), save to say that I want a detachable box magazine.
5. Dampened barrel. I will have to work within the confines of what I have; the barrels I bought are not top notch, high dollar items guaranteed to shoot minute-of-ant-eye at 1k yards. They are good project barrels, and given their length and diameter, I'm sure they'll be at least minute-of-beer-can at 100 yards. I will probably sleeve them to add a little weight and stiffen them up a little. This can't hurt the accuracy any, and will make them look a little better in my opinion.
6. A coffee cup holder.

Just kidding. I would like to make a mount on it that holds a spare magazine, but that is probably not going to happen.

Anyway, I originally wrote this update 4 days ago and thought I had finished it and posted it, but I apparently didn't. Since then I have gotten the bipod a lot closer to complete, all I really need now are springs. I also got started on my scope mounts and given their simple design they should be done soon.

That's all for now...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The .50 BMG bipod

Been moving along real slow on finishing the .50, this constant 100+ degrees every day is really wearing me out. I have gotten a few parts rough machined for the bipod, but still need to do some final machine work and sanding to them before adding the springs that will hold the legs in the down position or in the folded-up position.

I wanted to make the bipod and the scope mounts at least look like I cared, but they're shaping up to be just quick and simple so I can Duracoat this thing and move on.
To start, I took some .75" square cold roll steel to make the legs out of. Nothing real special, but sturdy and capable of holding up a recoiling .50 BMG rifle. I drilled 3/8" holes at each end, one end to mount to tabs I would weld on the receiver, and the other end to mount to "feet" that would spread the weight of the rifle out a little. I wanted the whole assembly to be able to pivot freely, so the legs and the "feet" are hinged. I plan to drill sequential holes down the centerline of the bipod legs to improve the aesthetic value and lighten them up a little. I'll get to photos of the legs in a bit.

For the tabs that mount to the receiver, I had some 1/4" thick, 2"x2" angle steel that I cut at a 30 degree angle then cut an arc in the opposite side, so it would support the bipod legs in two planes.

The legs were bolted up to the tabs, then I needed to find a way to do some angle matching. The legs were at 65 degree angles to the ground, and I didn't want to just cut the legs to match the angle, because it really would not have given the legs much footprint to spread the weight of the rifle around. I had some 1.25" square stock laying around, so I cut 2.5" long sections of it off. I took the two cut off sections and set them up in my mill vise at 25 degree angles, then milled the bottom flat. Once that was done, I flipped the stock in the vise and slotted them with a .75" end mill to a depth of 5/8", then drilled them out for the legs to bolt in place.
The resulting legs and feet are pretty stout, and fold up and extend nicely. I still need to do my sequential drilling in the legs, round off all the sharp edges, add retaining springs, and add in some leg stops of some sort to limit leg travel both fore and aft.

That's all for now, I should have these finished up in a week or so. I have already started working on the scope mounts as well, but unfortunately my first attempt did not pan out, so I have started on a new mount. I will probably just weld a simple base on the receiver and bolt a weaver rail to the base so I can call it done. The Duracoat will be ordered this coming week if all goes according to plan, I have decided on a gloss black base with a red DuraPearl and clear. I hope this turns out in real life as good as it has in my head, but only time will tell. This weekend I am sandblasting everything in preparation, then once the scope mount and bipod are finally finished I will do my final welding, fill in any pits or gaps, then do the final sanding before adding color.