Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gun Pr0n

I managed to get a little farther on the Suomi M31 (KP31, whatever) last week, but only so far. The original bolt has a fixed firing pin for firing from an open bolt, but the firing pin is removable. In trying to remove the pin, I got a punch stuck in the bolt. It ain't coming out, either.
So, I took the extra bolt I had laying around and machined it to size.

I've also pressed out the fixed firing pin and machined off the bottom feed lips on the bolt as per ATF guidelines.

Here's a good shot of the roughly assembled rifle with the 72 round drum in place. Ignore all the junk, I've been too busy to clean the garage real good in over a month.

There's nothing holding the stock to the receiver, which is why there are objects propping up the rifle in each of those pics. I wanted to get that done this week, but I only had one day off in the last week and a half, so it will have to wait a few days.

I did manage to get the extractor pieces cut for my .50 bolt, but I haven't shaped them on the mill yet so they're still unfinished. Maybe this weekend I can finish those up.

Next up, I decided to look in my collection for a few different .30 caliber rifles that have been around for a while. Two of these have been sporterized by someone other than myself. I picked up the two sporterized rifles pretty cheaply and have had a lot of fun with them.

First up is a Mosin Nagant M44 in the usual 7.62x54R round. This rifle had been modified by someone else, between machining off the rear sight, taking the front sight off, silver soldering a bent bolt handle on, and putting (what I think is) a Boyd's stock on. There is also a scope mount that sits on the left side of the receiver, but I took that off not long ago to machine a new part for and haven't gotten around to it yet.

Here's an old Arisaka type 99 that started life out chambered in 7.7 Jap. When I bought it, it already had the cut down stock on it, and had been re-chambered in 30.06. Not a real pretty rifle, though a new stock would fix that. However, this thing is actually pretty accurate. My stepson and I were ringing 18" diameter steel gongs at 500 meters at our local range with it with little problem. I could barely even make out the target at that distance, one of us had to use a spotting scope to see where the bullets were hitting around the target before we finally got it sighted in.

Here is a recently acquired labor of love. I picked this Springer up for an insanely low price. The rifle came with the original stock and the stock on it now, and when I got the rifle in I found out why the price had been so low. Apparently the Gunbroker seller neglected to mention it had no bolt, enbloc clip mechanism, any of the internal parts for the op rod and follower, front or rear sights, the op rod was rusted stuck in the gas chamber, and a few other things. I got the rifle in expecting to go to the range with it that day, and instead got a week long project that had me scouring Gunbroker and AuctionArms for parts. However, it took me a few minutes of heating up the gas tube and gently tapping on the piston (did I mention it didn't have a gas screw or gas lock? It didn't. No wonder the piston was stuck) with some aluminum punches I made for jobs like this to get the op rod to move. With the op rod chucked up in the lathe, I cleaned up the rod with some emery cloth and scotchbrite and checked the rod to make sure it wasn't bent beyond factory specs the best I could, then mic'd out the piston and gas chamber to make sure they were still concentric and worth re-installing. I'm probably going to send the stock off to a friend of mine for final sanding and finishing, and I found a guy in Ackerly, Texas that can repark it for me. I still need sights for it, but suffice to say that by the time it's got those, I will still have way under what a similar Springfield is selling for in it.

Next up is a pair of M1 carbine's I have acquired. I must admit I like shooting them, but the ammo is tough to find locally at a reasonable price. The .30 carbine is not the most potent round, but it's enough to put a hole in a piece of paper at 100 yards.

A Universal brand Carbine. Pretty decent shape, straight shooter, easy on the shoulder. Has the factory bolt hold open to the right of the rear sight.

A Plainfield M1 I got for a super good deal. Hint to sellers on Gunbroker: Always check your spelling. If you mis-spell the name or type of rifle, it isn't my fault that no one else bid on it and I got it for your lowest bottom dollar. Just sayin', that's all.

I really like the Plainfield rifle, though some of the nickel plating needs to be redone. It's not a hunting rifle (Well, I wouldn't use either one of my M1's as hunting rifles. Not because they shoot a sucky round, but because I've got better rifles for that.), but it's a fun plinker and like most guns is a heck of a lot more accurate than I am.

That's my blog content for the moment.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bill Holmes .50 BMG rifle

This is a blank post for all the people who have been directed here by Google while in search of either plans or video of Bill Holmes building his .50 BMG rifle, or related issues. Some of you have emailed me and asked me questions. This is fine, I don't mind clearing the air, nor do I mind giving helpful advice to anyone else who wants to attempt building this rifle or one like it. I only ask that you remember I'm not a lawyer, a gunsmith, or a real engineer. I don't play one on TV, and wouldn't stay in a Holiday Inn express even if I had the inclination. Some of this is directed at other issues that keep popping up that I've been emailed about repeatedly. Yes, some people have found my email (not hard to do) and emailed me really strange questions or all kinds of threats and madness, or just sent me links to internet idiots. Some of this is also related to searches that turn up my blog.

First off, do not use anything other than 4130 or 4140 steel(4340, etc is even better) to build the major components of this rifle. It's not okay to use that exhaust pipe you found laying on the side of the road. I have heard of others using DOM tubing for the receiver, but that's where I draw the line. Don't rob your mom's minivan or your house's plumbing for parts. If you do, please go get a tattoo so the coroner has a way to identify your corpse, because they damn sure won't be able to use dental records after your galvanized fence pipe rifle explodes in front of your face.

Do not weld this thing together with a torch and a coat hanger, (especially plastic ones). I have welded other things with this method before (metal coat hangers, not plastic ones), because it was what I had available, and it did make a fused panel. However, this was a sheetmetal panel, not a rifle part.

Despite how much I would love to, I cannot make this rifle for you. The reasons range from the legality to the amount of time I would have to have to undertake this. I am a full-time student on top of working full-time and raising a family.

Nor will I make any of the parts for you. Again, this is a legal issue I DON'T want to be in the middle of.

Yes, this entire thing is being manufactured in my garage. The only thing that is getting farmed out is the heat treatment of the crucial parts. If you look close in some of the pics, you'll see washers, dryers, lawnmowers, and occasionally a set of very comfortable houseshoes that just happen to be on my feet.

There are no magazine dimensions for the Holmes .50 primarily because it was designed by Holmes to be a manually-loaded, single shot .50

Holmes did not design a .50 semi auto rifle. Re-wording your search does not change this.

The Holmes rifle is not illegal to build for yourself as long as you are legally allowed to own a gun. If you live in California, you're screwed. Either revolt and take back your freedoms or start getting proficient with a slingshot.

The original Holmes design .50 has a drilled barrel shroud. This is NOT a suppressor. Nor is it a shoulder-thing-that-goes-up.

I do not and will not host the Holmes video or manual here. I don't know how, and wouldn't if I did. Google Roderus's website, the homegunsmith, and drop the 30 bucks to be a member. There is a wealth of info there.

You (someone who emailed me a few times) are afraid of guns. I got that part. I don't care if you hate guns. Don't buy one. Even better, I promise I'll never force you to own one! However, your repetitive emails threatening to "call the ATF on me" have not and will not make any difference to me. I remain unfazed by your threats, and all you have spurred me into action to do is to buy more parts kits and barrel blanks. Given the number of times I have had visitors to this blog from the FBI and the ATF, I'm pretty sure they're comfortable with what I'm doing. Well, maybe they're not comfortable, but at least they know I'm within the confines of the law.

I don't pay a whole lot of attention to some ignorant beast who knows absolutely nothing about firearms but is bold enough to claim every law and change she desires is simply "common sense". Were I to take an interest in changing laws that affect millions and millions of law-abiding citizens, I would go out of my way to make sure I know what the hell I'm talking about first before formulating any opinion whatsoever. I'm not going to go to their blog and try to prove them wrong when they're doing a damn sight far better job of that on their own than I ever could.

MikeB30200324241234101010101010 (or whatever it is) is an idiot, a bigot, and a prejudiced ignorant fool. This is news?

This is not a "Barrett". Stop arguing with me about it being a "Barrett". Go back to Call of Duty or Counterstrike or whatever it is that you do when you're not polishing your knob and dreaming of turning 14 or meeting Justin Bieber.
Both Ronnie Barret and Mark Serbu, (as well as many other .50 manufacturers), make very distinguished and professional equipment. They have tools I can only dream of owning. I can only hope to one day produce firearms close to what they produce.
This is not a Serbu rifle. Mark Serbu is not going to sue me for "using his design". Mark Serbu IS actually an engineer. He is also a class 02 FFL with an SOT.(or so I've been led to believe). His company builds some awesome stuff as well, one item of which I plan to buy sometime this year (the Serbu Super Shorty). Serbu is not the only manufacturer of a tube-style .50, although they do have a reputation for having one of the best deals on a single-shot .50 tube design rifle.

On that note, I am not "illegally practicing engineering", as one has accused me of. I am not an engineer. I am a chemist. My blog name is a play on words. Around here, when someone has cobbled something together like McGuyver in a Goodwill store, it's often referred to as "jerry rigging", or (wait for it...)"redneck engineering". I am a redneck, and I'm going to school to be an engineer. I find the play on words to be funny. If you don't, get out of your mom's basement, quit spending all your time being an internet commando, and work on your sense of humor. This whole blog is not to be taken seriously. I am no armorer, I am damn sure not a gunsmith, I am just a redneck with power tools and not enough sense to ignore internet idiots.

I hope that clears up some of the confusion. Now, if someone does find my blog or, more specifically, this post, and wants advice or help in building a home-grown .50 BMG tube rifle, or wants info on anything else I'm building, I will go out of my way to help you and tell you what you need to know.
The Holmes plans suck, and I've made that pretty plain all the time I've been blogging about building a rifle along the lines of his plans. There is a lot of stuff in the plans that doesn't line up or work out correctly, and as a result there is a lot of trial and error. Do not expect to simply read his plans and pop out a rifle in a week or two unless you've got a lot of gun-building experience and access to some really killer tools. I'm learning as I go and having a blast doing it.

For my normal readers, thanks for keeping up with my projects so far. I've got a bunch of stuff to post about and build, so hopefully I can keep all of you coming back.


Suomi M31 update, .50 BMG update

Well, this week is spring break for me and everyone in my household, so I have a little bit of time on my hands to do some building. I decided to go ahead and get a little work done on the .50 BMG bolt and get it ready for heat treatment, and to also finish up some things on the Suomi. I have to order some fire control parts for the Suomi to finish it anyway, so there's no rush on getting everything done.

Last time I posted, I had machined the receiver, threaded the barrel for screwing it into the chamber (to keep a factory short barrel from being easily dropped in and being charged with constructive possession of a SBR by the ATF), and had stretched the barrel to legal length. Now I needed to machine the chamber/barrel extension that would be welded to the outer receiver and have the barrel screwed into it.
I started off with a piece of 1.5" OD 4130 round solid stock. I needed a section roughly 5" long, so I chucked up a foot long section of it in the lathe, faced off the exposed end, and parted off a 5" piece. This piece was center bored in preparation for the barrel to thread in, then turned down to 1.125" OD for the first 4.5", and the last inch was turned down to 1.24" for the barrel sleeve lugs, with about 3/8" on the front side and 1/2" of the rear side of the lugs turned down to 1.00" to allow the barrel retaining sleeve to effortlessly twist into place once the lugs were cut.

Turning the piece down to size.

The rough turned piece with the larger section ready to have the lugs milled out of it. This part had to fit exact, so I rough turned it to within .002 and then sanded and polished it until it fit perfectly inside the 1.125" ID receiver.

Now, the part needed to be completely drilled out for the barrel threads, so I got to the arduous task of boring the whole thing out to 11/16".

The part was drilled out in increments of 1/8" until I got to 5/8", then I switched to an11/16" cobalt drill bit I bought from Fastenal. I have never purchased better drill bits than the cobalt ones I get from Fastenal. My cobalt drill bit index from there was about 150 bucks, and this 11/16" drill bit by itself was about 75 bucks, but they will cut through just about anything and stay sharp forever.

As you can see in this next picture, I have already cut the lugs on the mill. I was so preoccupied with cutting them right I forgot to take a picture. Suffice to say that what I did was to take the old shroud lug assembly and tacked it on the end of this piece I'm machining. I then was able to line up my end mill with the lugs on the old piece, and simply turn on the mill and move the mill table straight back to cut the lugs in exact alignment with the old ones. I wish I had taken pictures, because it sounds weirder than it really was. With the endmill depth set, I would rotate the piece a few degrees and mill off the excess between lugs. Took about 30 minutes to do.

Here we are running the 3/4"x16 tpi tap into the machined piece. I hate manual threading, by the way. This took a while to get threaded to the right depth.

The completed section with the now-lengthened barrel threaded into it.

Here's the next challenge to solve: the barrel shroud. Since the barrel is now 16.25" long, the old barrel shroud no longer fits.
Note that I had to cut the welds on the front mag piece so that I could eventually weld in the barrel extension.

Well, I can't imagine running around the range (or anywhere else, for that matter!) with no barrel shroud, so had to either:
1. Drill out the end of the shroud/compensator and let the barrel protrude (which is what TNW or whoever it is that makes these commercially does it),
2. Stretch the compensator, which wouldn't have looked right to me, though it might to some...
3. Stretch the actual barrel shroud, which is what I chose to do.

Now, I have seen a few of these rifles built wherein the shroud was stretched, but the builder used a normal piece of tubing behind the front sight, so there was a 4" long blank area to weld in place. I didn't really want to do this. I liked the slots that the shroud has from the factory, and wanted to continue the slotted look for the extended area. The slots themselves are only about 2.5" long, and I needed about 4" or so more room. I didn't really want to make the whole thing look too long, so what I did was turn the muzzle end of the barrel down just slightly where it would fit inside the compensator on the end of the barrel, and then welded in a small section of barrel sleeve from another sleeve I had laying there. This gave me the ~4" I needed while only having to add about 2.75 inches from the other barrel sleeve.

First up, parting off the barrel sleeve that will go on the gun. I parted it off in the lathe so the cuts would be perfectly straight and also so I could cut slight bevels on the edges at the same time to allow for my welds to sink deeper when re-welded.

Installed on the gun to get an idea of how much stretching I needed. The shroud is just loosely mounted on the gun, so it was not perfectly on-center. That is why the barrel does not look centered here.

Anyway, I dug out another barrel shroud and cut a slotted section out of it by parting it off on the lathe. After a little sanding and cleaning, I welded everything together, then turned the welds down on the lathe as well. Kicking the lathe into high gear and hitting the shroud with 100 grit sandpaper and then scotchbrite gave me a decent polished surface.

It's a little weird looking at the moment, since there's no mag or magwell in place to go by. However, if you see that small tab hanging down from the bottom of the barrel sleeve, that is roughly where the end of the magwell is, so the barrel shouldn't look quite so long once that's in place.

There is a bit more work that got done on the Suomi, but I need to upload the pictures first.

Now, I finally got tired of not having a .50 BMG around to shoot, so I decided to machine the bolt to take an extractor. This made me pretty nervous, because if I bugger it up, I will have to machine ANOTHER bolt (number 3 or 4, can't remember which), so I handled this with kid gloves.

Getting the bolt ready to mill was the first task at hand. No, I did not use that large end mill to cut out for the extractor. I had been machining something else and had a few minutes to spare, and decided to dive in to machining my bolt and hadn't switched end mills yet before taking this picture.

I machined the extractor slot real quick with a 3/8" endmill, then disassembled the bolt into it's individual pieces. I haven't cut the extractor yet, I hope to do that tomorrow.


So, there's some progress on both rifles. I actually got a lot more work done on the Suomi last night, but will post on that later when I get the pics uploaded.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Taking a break from the normal stresses.

I have finally gotten over having the flu, at least for the most part. I haven't had much of a chance to get back on any of my projects since, as I have been swamped between work, school, and getting over the flu. I plan to get back on the .50 as soon as possible, and the Suomi as well. I've gotten a small heap of parts in for another project. Here's a quick pic of what is lined up after the Suomi.

I'll throw this out there- I have a bunch of parts left over from another partial Suomi kit to use with these stock pieces. 10 bonus internets to whoever can figure out what I'm going to build.

I did have a full day on my hands today wherein I wouldn't have anything to do, so my girlfriend and I decided to head to take a break from our schoolwork and other stuff and head to the range. We hadn't been shooting since school started, so we needed the practice and the relaxation that comes along with it.

She and I have been shooting together for years, but the other night a program came on the television discussing the M16. The program caught her attention, and inquired if I had any of those. I smiled, because I have had AR pattern rifles for quite some time. She has refused to shoot them before, but all of a sudden she showed interest in shooting a black rifle.

Now we're back from the range, and I am feeling a bit thirsty.

Perhaps I'll get some more machining done on the Suomi next week, or get the .50 bipod or extractor done. This week, I just needed a bit of a break.