Friday, June 3, 2011

Still alive and kicking....

I'm still here, shaving big pieces of metal down into smaller pieces of metal. I have been waiting for the last week or so on my 4140 prehard to make the barrel extension out of. I finally got the metal in the other day and have been turning and milling my way to another barrel extension. I'm going a bit slow about it as I want this one to work 100% and chamber every round as it should. Unfortunately, the metal didn't make it in until this last Wednesday, so I haven't gotten too far on it.

I did do some work on the receiver/stock and bolt the rest of it together. I also threaded a small barrel extension onto the barrel, then I sleeved the whole thing to at least make the barrel look a bit longer. I could live with the original barrel length, but I have to admit I liked the final length a bit more. The larger piece of steel on top (about 6" long piece) is the material for my new muzzle brake I am working on. I liked the old design, but after doing a little bit of math, I think that I would be better served building a longer brake with more porting.

This pic doesn't show the finished stock/receiver assembly. For some reason, I seem to have lost the pictures I took of it the other day.

In other news, it appears that in regards to my next project, I will be able to build a .308 mag-fed bolt rifle fairly easily. I will still build a few more subguns of my own design (semi-auto, of course), including a Thompson knockoff, but I think I will build another rifle first. I still have the Suomi M31 to finish, but it's not too far from being functional as it stands.
As far as the rifle goes, it will likely be another tube receiver design, somewhat similar to this .50 I am working on, though much smaller and lighter. I have already decided to go with an AR trigger group for simplicity, and I also want it to be box magazine-fed. I haven't settled on a mag yet, but I'm thinking either AR 10 mags or something similar. The width of the receiver will probably limit my choices in magazine, though. I don't predict that it will be anything too wild, but I do want it to be a tack driver and not too unconventional in appearance. I've seen a lot of benchrest tube rifles out there, and while most of them are pretty nice, I'm not too fond of how most of them look. That has been a big setback in building my .50. I've tried to build a rifle that's not only functional, but blends a reliable design with a smooth look. I've rebuilt so many parts of this rifle not because they didn't work or because I couldn't make them work, but because they were designed around the Bill Holmes original design, which is......not that great looking. I was too anxious to build this rifle at first, and simply threw together a handful of parts in an attempt to have something that would launch .50 BMG bullets downrange. Over the last year or so that I've been building this rifle, I've acquired some new tools and some better tools, and I've been more than happy to use these new tools to build a better rifle. I should have done a bit more research before starting this build, because since I started building it, I've found several other rifles that were built around the Holmes design but were vastly improved. Let's face it, for those of you that have seen the Bill Holmes rifle, you have to admit that it really isn't that good looking. It does work, and I've seen several finished rifles that follow the Holmes plans to the letter and work just fine. I guess in retrospect the only things I've kept from the original design is the tube receiver and the barrel retention. Everything else is a conglomeration of what I've seen from other real .50 manufacturers, other home builders like myself, and whatever else I could dream up while sitting in front of the computer, milling machine, and lathe.

When I started this blog, I had most of the work already done, and most of my posts were over work that had already been completed. Now, I post as soon as I have a new piece finished. My spare time has decreased steadily over the last 6 months, and when I get into the fall semester later this year, I will be taking 18 hours of engineering and math classes combined, so I won't have as much spare time to build as I do now. I still plan to dedicate at least 8 hours a week to building guns, that's how I stay sane. So, after this summer, build posts will be less common, and most of my posting will be about other things. However, I will still be building and posting about it. There are just too many cool guns out there and too many ideas floating around in my head to simply hang up my tools and keep my nose buried in a book. If I get a chance, I'll take some pics of the rifle as it stands now and post them up later. I'm really, really hoping to do a test-fire of the rifle by the end of this coming week, perhaps the week after. I haven't built the scope mount yet or the bipod, but the material is sitting here waiting on me to finish the barrel extension/chamber area. Once the rifle is successfully test fired and I can see that everything works 100%, I will send the necessary parts off to be heat-treated, and while they are being treated I will finish up the bipod and the scope mount before applying a few coats of Duracoat.

Anyway, things are still on the move in the garage, but they're moving slower than I like.


  1. I love your build posts but you have a lot of great things to say so let your muse run wild. On another topic. What do I see behind the .50? Is that a motorcycle? Late 70'2, early 80's Japanese standard maybe. Something you're working on? Have I mentioned how much I love classic (or semi-classic) motorcycles?

  2. Six,

    That is a late 70's CB 550 that I am in the process of slowly restoring. I have a passion for the older Jap bikes from the 70's and 80's. I learned to ride on a 1980 Honda CL350 I had when I was 14 and have owned several other Japanese motorcycles ranging from a 1971 Kawasaki F7 to a 1974 Kawasaki 400 (KL, I think), a 1973 Honda SL 350, a 1981 Yamaha (XS if I recall) 400, a 1980 Suzuki (XL? Don't remember at the moment) 400. There've been others, but I honestly lost count a long time ago of all the different bikes I've owned and tinkered with.

  3. Cool. My first real street bike was a 79 XS750 Yamaha. I bought and restored a 78 XS 650 when I was in the Army. I have a real affinity for bikes like those. Universal Japanese Motorcycles. That 550 will be sweet.