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...