Monday, May 30, 2011

The Constitution, via Twitter

 The Constitution, if it were to be tweeted.
Full credit for this goes to P.J. O'Rourke
Pre-A: We the people R the man. Here’s how it rolls. Art1: Congress do law. Got Senate/House-o-Reps.
HR 2yr deal. Reps mst b 25, homie citz 7yrs. 1R per 30k pop/min 1R per St. St pop #s @10yrs. Guv pix subs. HR pix own bigs. HR impeaches Clinton.
Sen 6yr deal. 1/3 go @2yrs. 2Ss/St Mst b 30, homie citz 9yrs. VP tiebreaks. S gives Clinton a bye.
$ Bills fr H & pass S w/amends. Prez mst X or nix. 2/3H&S 2 nix nix
Cong power = Tax Mooch Tariff Green crd Chapt 11 Print $ Bust cons Pat pend Law up War on Hang pirates.
Cong power not = No habeas corp No x post facto law Free trade 4 Sts. Kings dukes for. poofters R bogus.
Sts pow not = For. treats Cust. duties @ other Sts. Go 2 war w/o say please
Art2: Prez 4yrs per Elec Col SAT score VP ditto VP subs. mst b nat born homie 35. Defnds Const & CnC Army Navy Air Force Marines
Prez pow = For. treats w 2/3S yes Appts Cabnt offs Ambs Sup Ct Js DoD brass w S yes Hi Cong Bye Cong St-o-Un add. No smoking.
Art3: Sup Ct rox Treason sux. Art4: Sts R cool Newbie Sts per Cong. Art5: Amend Con=2/3H&S+3/4Sts. Art6: US IOUs cool Const rox No God Squad
Art7: G2G TTFN. 9/17/1787. Bill-o-Rites TK :)
Flame on -church+guns. No GIs n cribz. No frisk w/o ProbCawz Due Pross rox Plea5th Get off my lawn SpeedTrialz w/jur&shystr. Pwr 2 D Peeps.

Shamelessly stolen from Alan

Saturday, May 28, 2011

National Firearms Act of 1934

I am less than happy that my grandfather, at one time in his life, was able to walk into the local hardware store and buy a Thompson or Browning automatic rifle without a 4473, a background check, and especially a silly 200 dollar tax and a several-months-long wait on a office full of government employees to file and approve his paperwork. I am unhappy about this as in order for me to own an item that falls under the NFA, I have to fill out a bunch of paperwork, pay an unreasonable tax, and sit and wait. Now, I am fortunate enough to have an NFA trust drafted by the law offices of Sean Cody in Houston, Texas, so I do not have to go to my local chief of police or sheriff and beg for permission to own something that is only difficult to own because it is politically incorrect.
(Full disclosure: I paid my hard earned cash for the services of Sean Cody. Nothing was handed to me for free.)
Now, a NFA trust is a very helpful thing for some of us, even people like me who live in Uber-conservative west Texas. Sit back and I'll tell you why I finally settled on retaining the services of an attorney to draft an NFA trust....

So, about two years ago, I decided I wanted to build myself a suppressor. I got the immense itch to own one, as I was regularly target shooting at the local range. One thing I have done over the last few years is try and introduce as many new shooters to the sport as possible, and with that, I tried to introduce as many female and youth shooters as possible. Now, having taught quite a few youngsters how to safely handle and shoot a gun, I've found that one of the largest problems young people have with shooting is the bang or crack from any firearm, even the minute noise from a .22 pistol or rifle. The recoil was a problem as well, but that could be worked around depending on caliber. I decided that I could more effectively teach people new to the sport if I had at least a .22 suppressor. Anyone who has ever used a suppressor knows that it doesn't remove all the noise, but moderates the sound to a level that is not intimidating.

So, I got on the internet, did a little research on what was required as far as legalities and paperwork, filled out the requisite paperwork, and called down to the local police station and set up an appointment to meet with my (former) chief of police. A couple of days later, I went downtown to meet up with the chief and discuss matters. While there, I was treated with the utmost of respect by the clerk, several detectives, and the handful of officers I happened across. While taking the elevator up to the chief's office, a detective and a officer in uniform inquired what my business was with the chief. I informed them I wanted to discuss getting a signature to obtain a few NFA items, from a suppressor to a AOW and discuss the possibility of getting a machine gun in the future. The officer and detective in the elevator were very friendly and professional, and I got favorable responses from them in the manner that they too, would like to personally own some of the aforementioned items.
I stepped into the chief's office, and immediately was unimpressed by the chief's demeanor. He was very unfriendly and acted as though I were not worth a second of his time. When I inquired as to getting a signature for a suppressor, he laughed in my face and informed me that there was a city ordinance against owning such things, he had never signed off on one, nor had any of his predecessors. He rudely informed me that he had no interested in allowing any citizen to own such a thing. I kept my calm and pleasant demeanor and went ahead and mentioned a machine gun. This was not a good idea.
The chief gave me a very nasty look and informed me that "Under no circumstances should any citizen ever be allowed to own such an item unless perhaps they were one of his officers, and that such items weren't allowed in HIS city".
I informed him that I was also a public servant, although not a police officer, and did not have any intentions of using a weapon in any illegal manner. He dismissed everything else I had to say and rudely asked me to leave. I left the building after signing out and chatting with the clerk briefly. Once I got in my truck, I re-armed myself (no point in carrying in the police station, IMO) and drove straight to the range for a little tension relief. While at the range, I decided to contact the local sheriff and try this whole thing again.

I left the range, and since this is west Texas, there are large spots where there is no cell service whatsoever. I waited until I got back close to town and called the Sheriff's office to try and set up an appointment with him. I not only got to talk to his secretary, but she immediately directed me to the Sheriff. At first, he seemed a bit put-off that I was bothering him right after lunch, and he didn't sound too warm to the topic of NFA items, but he did agree to meet with me the next day.
The next day, I drove outside of town to the county jail/Sheriff's office, disarmed before getting out of my truck, and headed inside, wary of rattlesnakes (seriously, the Sheriff's office is notorious for being surrounded by the buggers, and there is no such thing as a small western diamondback rattler in this region). I was greeted by the Sheriff's secretary, and asked to wait in the hallway until the Sheriff could see me. After 10 minutes or so, the Sheriff came out, shook my hand, and escorted me into his office. We sat and spoke on a number of topics, including my background, education, job history, history of public service, before he finally cut to the chase. He informed me that although he had signed a number of Form 1's and Form 4's in the past, they were always for people he knew well. He did not seem to have a very high opinion of the chief of police, though he hid his distaste well (He informed me that the chief was from Maine, and that they had had a number of disagreements, some of which stemmed from what region the chief was from. He was political about it, and very matter-of-fact.). I was asked why I wanted to own a suppressor and/or a machine gun, what I planned to do with such items, etc. Now, after I went through the entire penal code with him, gave him my CHL and drivers license to copy and run a background check on, the Sheriff finally got down to brass tacks and said, "I don't understand why you want these things. I can't fathom what would possess someone to spend this much money and go to this much trouble to have any of this. However, I believe it is your right to own them, and despite my desire that no one own such things, I support your right to own them. If your background comes back clean, I will sign off on your suppressor, and given that goes well, I will sign off on a machine gun in the future. After all, I'm guessing you already own other firearms, and if you wanted someone dead, a suppressed machine gun would kill someone just as dead as any of the other guns you own. " He then asked me again why I needed a machine gun or suppressor. I responded,
"Sheriff, I've come here to your office today to discuss it with you as a law abiding citizen and an honest man. As far as need, my answer is this. I am proud to live in a country, moreover a free Republic wherein need does not dictate ownership, where my desire to spend my hard-earned money is up to me and solely me. I cannot dictate to you my need to own a big screen television, a large parcel of land to build my own ranch, or a number of other things that people take for granted everyday. I can say that I want them, and that has been reason enough and should suffice."
The Sheriff smiled, nodded his head in agreement, and said, "You're absolutely right about that." He then informed me he would be in touch, and ushered me out.

Now, this is somewhat of a success story, at least compared to the previous LEO I spoke with, and other horror stories I've heard. Only thing is, I wound up moving to the neighboring county three months later, and as such, could no longer get this Sheriff to sign off on my NFA items. Needless to say, I hated to be grilled by any LEO on the topic, but at least the Sheriff was supportive of his constituents rights. My current sheriff is rumored to not be as friendly on NFA items, so I just said to hell with it and got a trust set up. One of the biggest reasons for the trust aside from the LEO sign off was that my wife has access to my safe. If you do an individual trust, no one else is legally allowed to access your NFA items without your presence, period, no exceptions. With a trust, I could list my wife as a trustee, and she could retain access to my safe and any NFA items therein without being in violation of the law. In the case of my death, she would retain possession of the weapons until my beneficiary was old enough to take possession of them. This was another upside to the trust. If you have an NFA item that was done on an individual transfer and you die or become incapacitated, it is my understanding that the items in question will be destroyed by the ATF.*




I was reading Sean's post about the CSGV and their lies that criminals are able to easily obtain machine guns and "silencers" without a background check via a trust, and had to chuckle just a little.
A trust does keep you from having to go grovel in front of your local lead peace officer and give him/her a reason or list of reasons why you deserve to spend your money in a legal manner in which you choose. There is no LEO sign off, no fingerprints, and no passport-style photos required. However, there is still a Form 4473 filled out by your local dealer once the transfer is approved by the ATF. The exception to this is if you are buying a machine gun that is classified as a C&R, or Curio and Relic, those machine guns are shipped straight to your doorstep. The only thing about the C&R weapons is that in order to buy them, you have to fill out a bunch of paperwork with the ATF as the C&R is considered a type of FFL by the ATF. They will already have done the necessary background checks as required by federal law before you are issued your C&R collectors paperwork. There is nothing about an NFA transfer that sidesteps the law, whether you are doing an individual transfer, a trust/estate transfer, or a corporation transfer.

*The list of things that I am NOT is a long one. I am not a gunsmith, for instance. I am not an engineer (yet), nor do I claim to be one. My blogname is meant as a joke. I am not a even-remotely-competent machinist, and I am certainly not a lawyer. If you want to know the particulars of a trust or any law dealing with the NFA, contact Sean Cody at the above linked website and discuss it with him. I will say that I was 100% happy with my business dealings with Mr. Cody, he had my NFA trust drafted and emailed to me within a couple hours of payment, and he has been very helpful with any questions I've had about filing forms with the ATF, aaaaannndddd, if there is an issue with the trust with the ATF, I can defer to him to take care of it. A NFA trust can be drafted by anyone using Quicken or Legal Zoom with some work, but if you're going to invest in anything NFA related, this is not the place to be a cheapskate. If you incorrectly draft a trust, file it with the ATF, and take possession of an NFA weapon, you may then be charged with illegal possession. Despite what the CSGV is "reporting", the ATF is using extreme scrutiny with any trust filed with them.


EDIT:

Suffice to say that an NFA trust makes for fun collecting. If I decide tomorrow that I want another suppressor, instead of having to go through all the normal BS of an individual transfer, i.e. get passport photos done, schedule time to meet with the local chief LEO, and get professionally fingerprinted, I simply fill out a Form 1 to manufacture (I can manufacture suppressors in my garage), toss those forms in a large envelope with a check for 200 dollars and a copy of my trust and send it to the ATF, and then wait for the approved forms to return with the tax stamp on them. I can then manufacture my suppressor. The same thing would apply if I wanted to simply go buy a suppressor instead of build one, but it would require a Form 4 for transfer and would require that I had gone to a local NFA dealer and picked out a suppressor and had the dealer send his information with the trust and Form 4 to the ATF. Once the Form4 is approved and arrives in the mail, I can go to the NFA dealer and pick up my suppressor.

A similar scenario would be building a short-barreled rifle or shotgun. If I wanted a short-barreled AR rifle, I simply fill out a Form 1 to manufacture, send the form, a 200 dollar check, and a copy of my trust off to the ATF. When it returns, I take the AR receiver I listed on the Form 1 (there is a spot on the form 1 for a serial number), stamp the name of my trust and current address on the receiver, and then go buy the length of upper receiver I want and head to the range.

Of course, while a trust is beneficial to anyone wanting to own an NFA item, it really helps garage gun builders like me, since a suppressor sold in stores for 200-800 dollars costs me less than 50 bucks to build, and I don't have to leave home to get all the paperwork set up and mailed out.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. Really expensive, depressing lemonade.

I haven't gotten near as much done this week as I would have liked.
Monday was a bit dull, as I had to get some dental work done, which precluded me working on the .50, and I should've taken that as a cue not to touch anything for the remainder of the week.
Tuesday consisted of : (in no specific order)
1. Breaking a brand-new tap in the new bolt head I just machined
2. Breaking an expensive Tialn carbide endmill
3. Breaking 5 brand new cobalt drill bits of various sizes
4. Breaking the bolt handle I had previously machined for the .50
5. Breaking a brand new tap handle I bought that morning when I bought the drill bits and tap that also got broken
6. Breaking an entire 10 pack of 1/8" TiN coated drill bits I bought last week (seriously, by this point I was just on a WTF? roll)
7. Breaking the roll pin that holds the handle together on my milling machine vise
8. The aforementioned vise handle falling on my foot
9. Absentmindedly getting my left index finger too close to the spinning chuck on the lathe and banging the ever-loving crap out of it
There's more I must be forgetting, but that's enough for me to know I shouldn't have bothered.

Wednesday wasn't as bad, but I found that I had made a grievous error on the barrel extension on the .50. When I had machined the barrel extension, I apparently goofed up something, since I thought I had the headspacing set exactly where it needed to be.
Looks like I was wrong.
Turns out that when I try to load a live round in the rifle, the headspacing is off by .005"-.007, and that's just not acceptable. That's way too much room between the round and the chamber. So, I am going to have to machine a new barrel extension that will allow for proper headspacing. This shouldn't take near as long as the original one did since I have a better lathe now, but it's still a PITA and really annoying that I didn't catch this earlier.
So, I logged on to my account with www.SpeedyMetals.com and ordered up a length of 2.25" OD 4140 prehard steel. The good thing about this is that I can machine the new part out of this stock, and once the rifle is assembled and functional, I can test fire it before sending everything out to be final hardened. Then I can make sure everything works smoothly before it gets Duracoated.
Chock this one up to a learning experience, (as if I needed another), and eat the cost of materials and be thankful I found this out before the first test fire.

I did managed to machine a new bolt handle today and get some other minor things done, but the last three days have been a real bitch.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Completely off topic

I got this in an email earlier today

http://www.stayinkiev.com/

A chance to vacation in Kiev.

Sign me up. I'd love to take a tour of Chernobyl and the surrounding areas. I've always enjoyed http://www.kiddofspeed.com/ and the pictures therein. I couldn't tell you why, but I think that would be cool.

However, I have to admit the part about touring Kiev that really made me laugh was this part. I could travel all the way from the U.S. overseas so I could go......shoot rifles identical to ones I already own........at an expensive price.
I have to admit, it would be better if they had an AKM complete with full auto happy switch and three or four drums full of ammo. I'd pay 50 bucks to shoot one of those.

Thought I'd toss that out there for grins.

Bill Holmes .50 BMG rifle update

Over the weekend, I worked a bit on the buttstock section of the .50 BMG rifle. I wanted something simple and lightweight but decent looking. I had a plate of 1" thick, 11" long aluminum stock lying around, and it worked out that it fit perfect from the end of the fire control group housing to the end of the receiver. Seriously, it was within 1/64 of an inch from the end of the receiver as it came from Speedy Metals. I'd like to say I planned this, but when I mounted the fire control group housing on the new receiver, I had no idea I'd be building a buttstock like this.

Anyway, I took the plate and cut a radius on the top edge with the same tool bit I made for cutting the radius in the top of the fire control group. I then clamped the plate in place and used a marker to outline how I wanted to trim the plate.

Here the plate is trimmed and clamped in place on the receiver.




Now, I needed something to mount a stock cushion to. I had purchased one off of Ebay recently that fit the large tube pretty well, so I started to make a mount.
I started by drilling a hole in a piece of scrap aluminum plate I had, and ran a bolt through it and tightened the bolt down so it could be mounted in the lathe chuck.
I mounted it in the lathe because I wanted a 2" round section that would fit in the receiver.
This piece involved a lot of trimming.





After I was done on the lathe, I milled the profile of the butt pad and milled the area below the machined area that fit in the receiver.



Here's the whole thing clamped together on my very messy workbench.







I had to get some dental work done today, so I haven't made any progress on the rifle today. Hopefully between tomorrow and Wednesday I can get a bunch more done.

Time to start thinking of the next project..........

Well, as the title says, it's time to start thinking about another project. I am not far from being finished with the .50 BMG (version 3.0), and the Suomi M31 is all but finished, shy of some detail work and a couple of small mechanical parts like recoil springs and an ejector. I will likely finish it shortly after the .50 is done here in a couple weeks (Lord willing and the creek don't rise).

So, what's next?

I've been looking into buying a few AK kits, and perhaps a Goryunov or something similar. However, I am also looking at building a couple of SMG knock-off's from scratch, such as a MKI Sten or an M3 grease gun. The only thing is, the parts kits require money, and I've got a couple of other things I want to build before a Sten or M3.
One item I want to build for sure is a Thompson M1 copy. I love the Thompson design, and I managed to pick up a Thompson forend and buttstock off of Gunbroker a few months ago for a good price. I've got a handful of ideas for a Thompson knock-off, but I won't reveal them here just yet, not until I start building it.

This leads me to my current conundrum of sorts. A while back, I managed to pick up a pair of .308 chambered barrels off of Gunbroker for an insanely low price. Once I got them in, I found out why they were so cheap (25 bucks apiece). Turns out they had been chambered just fine, but had been turned down to about 7/8" OD, which makes them a little goofy looking by themselves. Now, I have a plan to rectify that issue, but that will also be dependent on what type of rifle I build out of them. On top of that, I picked up a .338-06 barrel off of Gunbroker that was a factory Savage barrel. I don't think it had ever had a round fired out of it. I bought it with the intention of re-chambering it, (can you guess what I wanted to chamber it in ?) but once I got the barrel in, I found that due to the size and taper of the barrel, chambering it in a more powerful caliber was out of the question. I have already planned to build that barrel into something rather simple, likely a bolt action rifle that is box magazine fed. The .338-06 round is decent, and is simply a 30-06 case that has been resized to hold a .338 bullet. I must admit that the thought of building a rifle around that barrel doesn't really excite me as much as it should, but I hate to waste a perfectly good barrel.

Now, I'm curious as to what my readers might be interested in seeing. Right now, it's a tossup between the .338-06 something-or-other rifle, a .308 bolt action (maybe semi-auto), mag fed, tube receiver rifle, or a Thompson knock-off in .22, 9mm, or .45 acp. The Thompson would be easy to build (well, sorta), and I've been gathering ideas and parts for it for a while. A .308 rifle falls along the same lines.

Any ideas, suggestions, or general thoughts?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bill Holmes .50 BMG rifle update

After my last update on the projects I've been tinkering with, I decided to go ahead and make a new receiver for the .50 BMG rifle. I had the material sitting here, and it didn't take long to do the second receiver, so I assumed the third receiver would be just as fast.
I was wrong.
It went much faster.
I started out by gluing another template I printed out onto a 3' long section of tubing. After doing this, I got the receiver setup in the milling machine vise, then made sure the vise was square with the table.

Next, I cut the loading slot ends with a 1.25" hole saw after the center holes were located and drilled.



Now, with the holes cut for the loading slot, I center-punched and drilled the bolt handle slot on both ends and on the bottom where the handle rests when a round is chambered.



Now, the fun part, milling out the loading slot area between the two holes I cut with a hole saw. After this, I slotted out the bolt handle area between the holes I had previously drilled.

Now, I transplanted the inner tapered piece from the old receiver. This piece secures the barrel assembly inside the receiver tube. This consisted of milling out the welds on the old receiver, pressing the piece of steel out, then taking some measurements on the new receiver, welding it in place, then sanding and polishing the welds on the new receiver.





Next problem I had was with the old bolt head. I had tried my hand at machining an extractor, and although I got it working, I wasn't really happy with the way it looked. I had drilled the hole out for the extractor pin in the wrong place, and even though that only meant drilling a new hole to fix it, I still had an extra pin hole left over. I saw no reason to reuse the bolt head when I knew I could make a better one.
I had a length of 4140 prehard 1.5" diameter round stock sitting here, so I figured I would make a new one. Doing this allowed me to make a simpler extractor arrangement and allowed me to use a AR firing pin if I so chose. Another upside to this was that this material was already hardened to 28-35 Rockwell hardness. This is still too soft for use with a .50 BMG, but it's darn close. I'll still send it out to be hardened, just to be safe, but it machines VERY nice and doesn't get dinged or scratched up as easily as annealed 4140 like the old bolt did.
After digging around the internet, I saw that a few other people who had built similar rifles had made their bolts "capture" the cartridge by milling out a hole big enough for the body of the case, but slotted the inside of the head so that the cartridge slides in from the side of the bolt. This was pretty simple to do, and I saw no reason not to do the same on my rifle.
After cutting the main profile on the lathe, I put the bolt head in the mill and cut the bolt lugs before chucking it back in the lathe and boring the end .20" deep and .68" in diameter. I then took a high speed steel cutting bit and ground it so there was a tooth on the end about .1" protruding. This let me cut out a slot at the bottom of the bolt head to hold the case. Once that was done, I took the bolt over to the mill again and slotted one of the lugs and a small area around it so I could push a case in place.


The not-quite-sanded-or-polished bolt head with an AR pin protruding.


A .50 BMG case slides right in place with a satisfying "click*, and does not come out unless I want it to.

Here's the backside of the bolt head, drilled out for an AR firing pin.


AR firing pin in place, and with the pin all the way down, the pin protrudes into the primer .085", which is exactly how deep I wanted it.

Next, I needed a new bolt body. I liked the aluminum one I had made before, but with the new AR fire control group I made, I could open the bolt and pull it back, but I could not close it; it would catch on the AR hammer. A new aluminum bolt body would have been great, and lightweight, but I was afraid that the AR hammer would wear down the aluminum quickly after being cycled several times. After thinking about it, I just decided to use a piece of 2" OD cold roll steel, and bore it out for the new bolt head.
Here's the bolt body after some sanding...


And the freshly bored hole for the bolt head. Notice the holes in the side. Those are for retaining pins to hold the bolt head in place. (I actually plan to use allen head machine screws, but I'm not there yet. Right now pins are all I have on hand.)



Here's the bolt head pinned in place on the bolt body with a case inserted in the bolt head.


I really like the way the new bolt turned out so far. I've spent a good 75 bucks so far on materials on the other bolts and receivers just to find something I liked. I don't mind breaking a few eggs on this project, as long as the finished product looks right to me.
I still have to make a spring loaded firing pin extension for the bolt body, as the hammer will strike it at the back end of the bolt. This pin will transfer the energy of the hammer to the AR firing pin. With the hammer all the way to the rear of the bolt, I should be able to cycle the action back and forth without any binding of the bolt on the hammer.
I did manage to get the fire control group assembly mounted on the rifle, but forgot to take pictures of it. I have also come up with a simple buttstock solution that should look pretty good once finished, but that will probably not get started on until Monday. I still have to finish the firing pin assembly, drill and tap the bolt body for the bolt handle, make a new scope mount, and make the bipod. Thankfully, I have plans for all these things, and more importantly I have the materials sitting there to make them. I hope to have the necessary parts sent out for hardening by the end of the month, and have the rifle ready to test-fire within a week or so of that.

I should have finished this thing long ago, but I've wasted a lot of time and money re-doing things I wasn't happy with. I also took 16 hours of classes this last semester, so I stayed pretty busy with that. I have a couple of summer classes to take, but they should not take up too much of my time.

I will probably get some more work done on the rifle this weekend, but I figure most of the important stuff with have to wait for Monday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Something for Six over at The Warrior Class

Here ya go, bud.

I saw you had a couple pics of some belted .50 BMG, and I thought you might get a kick out of this.



Well, a .50 BMG is supposed to just be a scaled-up 30-06, so why not?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Gun Blogger Rendezvous

Well, as Kevin has mentioned here, I'll be in Reno, Nevada this September for the annual Gun Blogger Rendezvous. Thanks to Kevin's "bigger-than-Texas" generosity, he has given me the use of his airline vouchers he has previously mentioned on his blog. That saved me a good chunk of money on airline fare, and I've got some good friends there in Reno who have offered me free lodging for the weekend. He has also mentioned that I intend to have my .50 BMG there, and hopefully a couple other items there I haven't started on yet.

I've heard for years from the anti-gunners out there that us gunnies are the most dangerous people on the face of the earth and shouldn't even be trusted with power tools, but I have to tell you, the gun bloggers I've met and spoke with have all been some of the finest, most upstanding people I've ever known.


I'm not sure if any of my readers will be heading that way, but if you are, I'd love to meet you and buy you a frosted barley pop or share a box of ammo. Just look for the tall, broad shouldered bearded guy with the black duster jacket (if it gets cool enough), single action .44 mag on his hip, and a Stetson on his head. You may even catch the slight aroma of fresh gun bluing or Duracoat on me.


A tip of the Stetson to Kevin at The Smallest Minority for the air vouchers, and another tip of the hat to GG and GB over at Girls <3 Guns for the lodging.

Some work on the Suomi M31

Well, I haven't been able to blog much lately due to the school semester winding down. I've been real busy getting ready for finals, and had a lot of other stuff to tend to. I managed to get either a really nasty stomach bug or a case of food poisoning that lasted for the entire weekend of Easter. A little time in the hospital on an IV got me back on my feet. I took the following week off of working on anything, despite how badly I wanted to be in the garage tinkering.

So, last week I worked on the firing group for the Suomi M31. These are an open bolt design from the factory, and due to ATF regulations, I cannot return them to open bolt operation. For those who aren't in the know, the main two designs used by firearms manufactures are open bolt and closed bolt. The main difference between the two is exactly what it sounds like; the closed bolt fires the cartridge with the bolt closed on the round by means of a hammer or striker system, while the open bolt system has a fixed firing pin on the bolt itself. An open bolt system is very easy to design and build, as there are fewer working parts than the closed bolt system. A sear simply holds the bolt back until the trigger is pulled, releasing the bolt. The bolt slams forward, pushing a round out of the magazine and as the bolt closes on the round, the fixed firing pin dents the primer when the round is fully seated in the barrel. It is very similar to a striker system, but a striker system has the bolt closed on a loaded round and pulling the trigger drops the sear, releasing the striker pin, allowing it to slam forward on the loaded round. A striker system is legal to use on one of these rifles, but I already had a AR15 fire control group laying around, so I used it. This modification requires a lot of work to the rifle, but it cannot easily be converted back into a machine gun once completed. Stupid Hughes amendment. If it weren't for that unConstitutional piece of .....work, I would just pay the 200 dollar tax and reassemble this rifle into a select fire machine gun. However, I don't want to be a felon.

Anyway, open bolt is out. In order to make this a closed bolt rifle, I had to mill out the bolt for a hammer to clear. This is very difficult to do on these rifles, as the bolt has been hardened to an unbelievable level. I have heard that these are in the range of 50-55 Rockwell, which is VERY hard. I can't even put a scratch on the bolt with a file. The only thing that will cut through these things is a carbide bit on the lathe, or a TIAN coated carbide end mill in the milling machine. I had to do both, since it could not be set up for easy conversion back to the original open bolt setup, I had to make the receiver a bit smaller diameter than factory, and machine the bolt down to match. The factory bolt is ~1.2" outer diameter, and the receiver I made was 1.125" inner diameter. This required very light cuts of less than .005" to keep the heat down and keep from dulling up my carbide cutting bit.
Another problem with these bolts being so hard is that although the fixed firing pins in these are removable, the inner diameter of the end of the bolt is very small. Too small, in fact, for an AR firing pin. Well, as luck would have it, I tried to press out the fixed firing pin but only managed to get my punch stuck. In trying to remove the punch, I screwed up the bolt. :( So, machine another bolt I had laying there down, mill out a slot for the AR hammer, and try to get the firing pin out of this second bolt. I finally got pissed off enough I decided not to press the fixed firing pin out, I just grabbed a 1/4" TIAN carbide end mill and chucked it up in the drill chuck and bored out the whole thing. I then machined a piece of M2 drill steel down to 1/4" OD, drilled it out to 1/8" inner diameter, and pressed it into the end of the bolt. After this, an AR pin fit real well in the bolt.
Here's the end mill boring out the end of the bolt.


EDIT: pics added of the machined bolt

The extractor end of the bolt with the new drilled and turned piece in place.



Then, I had to clamp the bolt down in the mill and mill out a slot roughly 1/2" wide and 2" long for the AR hammer to cycle and clear the bolt. I had already done this and turned the bolt down previously, so all that was left was to fit the AR hammer, trigger, disconnector, and trigger linkage into the Suomi trigger housing. One problem- the AR hammer is wider than the Suomi trigger group by almost 1/2". Since the hammer springs have to fit on the hammer axles, I couldn't narrow the hammer any. This means I would have to cut some steel plates out to weld on the Suomi trigger housing that would widen the whole thing and allow for the AR group. I had to cut some side plates that would weld to the receiver and allow the trigger group to be bolted to the receiver.

A pic of the modified trigger group in place with the receiver side plates welded in and ground down behind the trigger group.


The widened trigger group with AR components in place.  It's a little rough still, but some sandpaper will fix that up.
Notice that the Suomi trigger is not attached to the hammer assembly yet. I have to build a rocker arm of sorts that will allow the Suomi trigger to activate the AR hammer assembly. I had to trim the AR trigger off of the sear piece to get it to fit.


There's a bit more to this, but apparently I haven't put the pictures on my computer yet. With the receiver pieces welded on, and the trigger group done except for the rocker arm assembly, the rifle now bolts together, the bolt slides back and forth in the receiver, and it strips rounds from a loaded mag or drum well. Over the next couple of weeks I hope to mount the rear sight, finish the trigger rocker arm assembly, and maybe machine an ejector, harden it, and get it installed. Thankfully, finals are this week, and once I'm done with those, I have several weeks of rest and tinkering ahead.

I'm at a standstill on the .50 BMG. I am still trying to arrange a decent buttstock for it, and come up with a better idea for the scope mounts. I may well build a new receiver for it, because I have another 3' of the tubing needed for the job. I made the AR hammer and trigger assembly for use with the current receiver, and found out that where I mounted the assembly was too far forward. I've done so much cutting and welding on the receiver that there are high and low spots inside the receiver that makes the bolt stick a little while cycling. I don't like this, and I don't have anything long enough to reach deep inside the receiver and knock those spots down. Since I am not happy with a few things, I am thinking of just chalking up this receiver as a lesson learned and try again. I'm out 20 bucks to learn the lesson this time around. It shouldn't take a couple hours to machine the slots in the new receiver, since I still have the CAD file to print out and glue on the receiver for a guide.
I probably should have mapped this out a little better, but I'm enjoying the build still, and I don't mind breaking a couple eggs in order to have a final working design that I'm happy with in the end.

Anyway, I'll get some more stuff built and posted over the coming week.