Saturday, August 27, 2016

My take on the Dissipator : or : Dissy from M4 barrel homebrew

I've never been a HUGE fan of the M4/AR-15 platform, I've been shooting a BCM M4 carbine barrel with iron sights for about 5 years now on and off when the need for a 5.56 rifle comes up (3 gun matches etc).  I thought I was really liking the idea of the A2 rear sight set up and the compact 14.5" barrel with 1.5" flashhider soldered on but the shortcomings of the sight radius keep bothering me. 

The full length A2 rifle barrel  is a option however the length of the overall package gets unhandy quickly. Enter the Dissipator! without getting into too much about the lore of how the dissy got going I'm just going to outright say I could care less. The dissipator as it seems to be initially contrived was a A2 rifle that got chopped down.  The rifle length gas system was left intact and iterations and clones today that use the rifle length gas system have issues from time to time. Dwell time of the bullet in the barrel past the gas port was shortened and reliability became grossly suspect. I was wanting a dissipator that would allow me reliable function and a rifle length gas system without the cost of what some of the clone barrels were running ($150-$500). A true dissipator will have a rifle length gas system,  for the sticklers out there look away because I didn't go with a rifle length gas system. Few things are sacred to me when it comes to firearms function/design and correctness. 

A few M4 barrels came my way and I thought it was time an AR-15 rifle that I would be more apt to get along with. A 16" barrel with rifle length sight radius using A1 sights (yes A1...the A2 I have found is not useful outside of high power matches) A phantom 5C2 flash hider and a place to hang a TLR-1 Streamlight flashlight was all I was looking for. Put that package atop a M4 lower and we might just get along.  

A M4 barrel does not have cross pin holes to mount the front sight/gas block where it is needed so step 1 is to drill our own spaced so we can still put handguard halves in place. That is step 1....and that is where I messed up. The M4 barrel that I got came from a very well known manufacture and as such I thought their gas block (it was just a gas block no sights) would have been drilled/mounted true to the barrel. They were assuming however whoever was getting the barrel would slap optics on it and call it good, never having to worry about the gas block being level with the world. 

My mistake- I drilled the first hole and mocked it up realized that I was true with their holes but not perpendicular to the sight line. I will explain how I fixed this further down.
Setting up the barrel to cut cross pin holes. A #2/0 taper reamer is required for the taper pins

To align the work I dropped the reamer in the hole then centered it to the chuck and made sure the run out was good for the length of the barrel.

Spotting the hole to be drilled with a 1/8" end mill

Ok, so as far as I know the above is in theory a good way to do that job without a jig (jigs are about $125ish iirc) What follows is my solution to the problem I created when I drilled the first hole and confirmed on the 2nd. The problem was when mounted my sights were canted 7° to the right....because that is how far off  the factory holes were. So I needed a way to insure that the holes I was drilling would give me true and level sights. The dissy has a 16" barrel, you're not going to be mounting a bayonet on this sucker. so I cut the bayonet lug off my donor front sight (inert gas block) and filed flush. Next I drilled and tapped for a #10/32 set screw and with the barrel in the upper and assembled I cranked down on the set screw with the block EXACTLY where it needed to be. With the gas block acting like my drill guide I mounted the barrel back into the mill and drilled 1/8" holes all the way through, got myself some 1/8"x3/4" roll pins, drove them in and called it good. The sight is level and with the set screw in place its simply not going to go anywhere.

Step 2 to finish the upper assembly I taped the old gas tube port #10/32 iirc (no drilling required) and mounted the handguard endcap right on the block. 

No gas shall pass! (remember this is the forward sight block, gas block is to the rear yet)
The Dissipator has been a design I've often wondered if it were right for me, and as usual a off the shelf item rarely works for my needs/wants. If you're not going to run irons then the dissipator is just a way to get a standard handguard onto a carbine length set up. Not much appeal to the red dot/optics crowd which makes up a lot of the AR-15 crowd.

Below are some pictures of the rifle after some range time, initial zero and a rattle can spray job with 2 coats of matte flat enamel applied (seems to work so good so far). Since this rifle is going to get used more I wanted to test out the spray can camo job on this before I tried it on other more costly firearms.

Completed dissy with magpul handguard and A1 sight set up.

Dissy with handguards removed for clarity of barrel layout

1964 yeaaah baby yeaaaah , The upper is a new mfg DPMS the sights are originals I've had stashed away for just this project.

No bayonet lug (set screw in place) roll pins might not be correct but I'm sure they will hold up just fine. Easier to swap out as well, can stake in place if needed (not needed).

Gas block/sight block detail.

As a closing thought, when spray painting a hasty camo job do not use non camo labeled paint. I thought the red that you see would be flat enough, in person it looks it but the flash really makes it stand out. it was the only color applied that was not labeled for "camouflage".  The rifle has been out to the range several times and the combat zero I decided on has been working out perfectly. Only time will tell but I think I've come up with a set up I'll be pleased with.

Poor mans 870 shotgun light mount prototyping : or : over-complicating simplicity

For awhile now I've been painfully aware of how handy a powerful light source can be on any firearm you may employ in defense of your self/home. About a year ago I invested in a Streamlight brand TLR-1 tactical weapons light. This was the first dedicated rail mount compact flashlight I've owned and I honestly couldn't be happier.  I have not been happy with the price points of mounts for various platforms that I wish to be able to install the light on so of course....I'll try my hand at making my own.

From the depths of the parts bins I came up with a picatinny rail section (Weaver 61A) that I happen to have a bunch of new in the bag that seem like they will work perfectly for the donor rail section for my little project. My goal was to make a standard magazine tube/barrel clamp mount. I started with a large chunk of aluminum and figured my cut spacing and went ahead and drilled the holes for 1/4" hardware. 

Block drilled for cross bolts but not yet cut in half or profiled for clamping surfaces.

Intended flashlight platform, brain on paper helps from making too many mistakes.
Using a woodruff key cutter I experimented with how the best way to cut the block for the tube reliefs. Needless to say this was a bit of trial and error. Somewhere my measurements migrated a bit and I was about 1/16" off relief spacing. This being the prototype it was mostly proof of concept and the future versions would be vastly improved ie thinner and closer fit. My cost is time and about 20 minutes of machine time and its all metal as opposed to the plastic jobs I'm seeing around. Only bad thing is it does not act as a barrel clamp

Rough clamp in place before test firing

Side view of light clamp.

Just a quick proof of concept project I wanted to knock out, next version should be a lot better.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TacStar sidesaddle upgrade/fix/modification for stripped out backplate

$12+shipping....that is what a replacement aluminum backplate will run you as I found out not too long ago. I had called TacStar who's parent company is Lyman to ask about some replacements for some equipment I needed to service and I was kind of taken aback at the parts cost. Especially when the sidesaddle cost me around $30 to get in the first place. I do realize that there are other companies out there that make similar sidesaddles however the TacStar is the most effective design I've seen so far as far as cost and utility.

$12+shipping might not seem like a lot to some of you but here is the problem. The backplate stripped out during "normal use". I did not over tighten the screws and so far as I know I did not abuse the back plate. it simply gave up the ghost under normal conditions. So if it strips out once getting a replacement for a shotgun I might have to bet my life on someday for a item that has already failed once is not really something I'm gonna put money down on. Instead we'll do our best to improve it.

Backplate shown on bottom

The idea to upgrade the backplate came to me after I got off the phone with the nice lady at lyman and looked at exactly how thick the plate was.  "Some kind of T-nut should work" I thought so I came up with the idea to modify the stripped out side saddle to accept a stainless steel bushing/nut that would still allow the use of the screws that came with the side saddle.

I'll test the upgrade extensively before I modify my other shotguns sidesaddles the same way but I doubt I'll run into any issues. I'm not sure yet if I'll epoxy the bushings in place. Taking the gun apart in the field and losing a busing would be a bad time for sure.  

The pictures below pretty much explain whats going on.

Note- this upgrade can probably be done (should be?) on all of the TacStar sidesaddles. The work on the side plate could all be done on a drill press but for the bushings you really want a lathe.

Stripped out screw hole for 1/4x20 screw

Bushing being turned out of 5/8 stainless 

First bushing being parted 

Next drill out previous hole to 9/32 this will be done with both holes

Test fit bushing prior to milling recess

Both receiver holes have been drilled 9/32 and then followed up with 1/2" bottom cutting end mill to about .065" deep, about half the thickness of the plate.

Bushings turned to final thickness and somewhat cleaned up. JB weld would be a good epoxy to cement them in place.

We'll see how well they hold up next weekend as I plan to put the shotgun this one will be mounted on through extensive testing as I've put a new barrel on it recently (20" smooth-bore with rifle sights) and want to get a good zero on it before I put it in the rotation.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Why I dislike Allen head screws

Allen head or hex head screws and I don't seem to get along very well. If the screw is run in and out several times/ torqued down very hard or "stuck" slipping just once with a Allen wrench can strip it right out. You may get lucky going to the next size up in metric or standard if its a size that is close. If you tig weld you can even tig a cut off piece of allen wrench or a nut on top of said screw (anything to grab onto really) and get it out that way.  Here I've created a stripped out screw (not on purpose mind you)  and show a classic way to get the bugger out. HACKSAW! really...a hacksaw. I am replacing the two piece scope mounts on a Savage axis with a Weaver 48347 one piece multi slot mount. I wish to put a scope on this 30/06 that has a much shorter foot print than the factory stock scope. Anyways the mount is mostly sacrificial as I don't plan on using it after this is done, but it could still be used if push came to shove. Luckily the new Weaver one piece mount came with slotted (or flat head) screws which is the only thing that should be used for sight or scope mounts/rings and other gun parts I feel. Just from a standpoint of taking things apart a lot, the flat head when used with a proper hollow ground screwdriver will last for a very long time.
Stripped out allen head screw :(

One destructive way to get screw out :)

Old two piece bases off and new one piece mount and scope installed

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Finnish M39 Acraglas stock repair

This method of repairing a stock could be used on any given rifle or shotgun mind you. Actual repair shown in previous post. I  have some more finish work to do on this one but I'll take it to the range and make sure the repair will hold up first. Finishing touches include counter sinking the brass rods just below the surface and put some wood filler over the holes to do my best to blend the repair in. The brass does not offend when its exposed however it looks unfinished to me to the point I'm willing to work on it with a tiny diamond ball tip for the dremel to get it down below the wood surface. The rest of the stock looks great, the wrist area is flush back with its other half thanks to the surgical tubing, the pins didn't pull as tight as I was hoping but they will still offer support. Between the surgical tubing and a hand clamp the stock was pulled together quite well. The crack line can still be seen, I'm guessing caused by accumulated dirt that did not get cleaned out. Next is some light sanding to get the rest of the excess acraglass off, stain and oil. And then back out to the range!

After some stain and use it may blend in.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Stock repair using Acraglas and brass cross pins

Wood work is not something I really seek out, but when you get a rifle for a good price that has a seemingly easy to repair stock crack you just can't pass it up. This Finnish M39 had a crack starting just behind the magazine body and terminating just through the wrist area on the left hand side. As the M39 has a good sized recoil lug this area should not be taking too much abuse from recoil but it still is translated through those regions. A strong repair that will outlast the rest of the gun is what I'm going for here. Acraglas came to mind as I've used it one other time nearly a decade ago to bed a match rifle during my more competitive small-bore days in my youth.

Acraglas is one of those "extra label" products like WD-40 and condoms. So many additional uses your imagination is the limit. Its a super strong resin/epoxy mostly used for bedding rifles for accuracy but also is strong enough for very durable repairs to pretty much anything wood,metal and some synthetics. Do a little reading on its use and follow the directions and you'll get good results every time.

The crack terminates here to a feather thin edge. 

The area towards the bottom of the stock covered with the green X did not have the crack running through it. 

I decided to install two cross pins through the thicker areas of the crack, drilling two holes and filling them with acraglas as well and coating the cross pins with acraglas should make for a durable repair.

Cross holes drilled for brass cross pins
The drill bit I used was 3/32 which is the same size as the pin, My thinking was that threads would still bite enough to pull the stock together and not risk splitting anything. I should have sought out a slightly smaller drill bit that was long enough to still do the job. The pins did pull the stock together but in the end the surgical tubing did most of the clamping action. No harm will come from the slightly larger holes as more of the epoxy is present in there and will set up just the same and possibly offer a stronger cross pin type pillar in the long run than just a bare pin shot in with little epoxy on it due to the fit.

1/16 rod was not used but I had purchased it just in case I decided to go with a smaller pin.

Threaded cross pin used to pull the stock pieces together and act as reinforcement to the repair.

Acraglas added to the rod and inside the holes now the cross pin will be run in with a cordless drill.

Since the crack was so thin I wanted to have some pillars of acraglas in place so I drilled holes perpendicular to the direction of recoil and filled as well as worked the resin into the thin crack.

After all the areas I wish to have the acraglas in and I had run the pins in with a drill I clamped the stock using surgical tubing which does not stick to acraglas so feel free to wrap tight and not worry too much if you get a little squeeze out from the cracks.

Its a pretty simple process to fix stocked such as the one pictured here. I don't want to type too much more on the topic as there are really no rules to fixing stocks other than go slow and plan ahead for each step. If you intend to bed a stock that is a slightly different process with a few more steps, other online resources should yield ample suggestions on best practices for your project.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Stock repair pins for <$2

While getting stuff together to repair a Mosin Nagant Finnish M39 rifle that has a crack originating in the wood right behind the magazine housing and extending out of one side of the wrist I decided cross pins may be benificial. Brownells as industrious as they are wanted a little much ($24) for a handful of brass 3/32 threaded cross pins and a drill bit. My local ACE hardware had 3/32 brass rod for under $2  and I only used about 1/4 of the stick for my repair pins.

Threaded rod pulls stock pieces together and holds repair epoxy to help ensure a good repair.

I planned on using acraglas to repair the stock, threaded cross pins paired with acraglas should make a pretty bomb proof stock afterwards. To thread the 3/32 rod I just chucked a section of the rod in a cordless drill and ran it in a 4-40 die at a manageable speed.  Saved $22 woot! Stock repair pictures to come soon.

Rod being threaded

Little pressure is required to get the thread started.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ruger 77/357 accuracy with a 125gr .38 special cast hollow point.

As the weather here in Ohio continues to stay warm albeit wet I've been getting as much range time in with various kinds of tinkering and load development before we hit single digits and the wind makes things miserable out there. One particular load that has been surprisingly accurate so far is a .38 Special load sporting 4gr of red dot and a 125gr cast hollow point Mihec mold # 360640. This bullet has performed well on ground hogs with 4.2gr of red dot. When I went to load up a batch of these my Lee loadmaster powder charger was set for 4.0gr of red dot which is used in a 9mm load I use. So I thought for just plinking I would try 4.0gr in lieu of 4.2gr and see what happens. A broad range of charges have been tried in my GP-100 and it seems to like them all really. Below is a 5 shot group shot using the Weaver k2.5-1 scope shown previously. 

5 Shot group taken at 50 yards with the 77 Carbine. There is no aiming dot those 3 shots are just bunched that tight.

Ruger 77/357- 1012 FPS -277ft lbs
Ruger GP-100 5"- 800 FPS - 177 ft lbs
Ruger LCR- 700 FPS - 135 ft lbs

Not much lost (or gained?) going from the 5" barrel of the GP-100 to the 3" shorter barrel of the LCR. This load is very mild but may be considered a +P round depending on the manual you are referencing.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Intro to Group buy / custom bullet molds : or : The NOE 360432 a variation on the Lyman 358432 wadcutter a classic revival.

We are pretty spoiled in the handloading and bullet casting communities these days. Whatever we seem to dream up a need or want is made by some industrious individual or company. Need a faster way to make brass for your .300 blackout...bam somebody makes a jig to use in a tiny saw that cuts necks off of cases 10 times faster than a traditional tubing cutter takes to do 1. New ideas are always coming out as the market is in a constant state of flux. Sometimes however its not a new thing that gets us all excited but a revival of a previously "obsolete" product or design especially in cast boolits can get us really going. A number of  bullet mold companies are making limited runs of molds that were once a stocked item by RCBS, lyman, Hensly &  Gibbs or what have you. Once in awhile certain designs of cast bullets fall out of fashion for one reason or another after some time, new caliber comes along and bumps it off  or something along those lines. Some old timers post some pictures of these hard to find bullet molds, their product and the results on paper and game and us younger guys start drooling, then fight for the few that show up on ebay like it was for the honor of a woman.

There are a good number of companies out there willing to produce whatever bullet mold we seem to dream up within reason. So far the only two I have had the pleasure to obtain molds from have been N.O.E. Bullet molds  here in the US and MP- Molds  located in Europe. Both companies make molds that are flat out works of art. I will post a overview of one of MP (a.k.a.-mihec on the castboolits forum) molds sometime in the near future as time allows. 

One recent limited production run of a semi custom was commissioned by a fellow who wished to see a multi cavity mold made to readily produce a hollow pointed version of Lymans old 358432 type III wadcutter bullet.  A number of molds had to be spoken for before the tapped company (NOE) would order the tooling and begin production. After all it does cost money to produce these items and the company needs to recoup their tooling and set up costs so a modest minimum number of molds spoken for ahead of time is common. This route for a custom mold is cheaper and the product lasts longer than some other mold options that are out there for custom cut molds. The catch here is its a "group buy" format. 

The process is not fast, it takes a certain amount of patience to get through one of these "group buys" as they are called. But there is little to no regret when the mold you have been yearning for finally shows up at your door. As I continue to develop loads and mess with various bullet designs for .38 spl and .357 mag I must say that this particular hollow pointed version of a wadcutter caught my attention. I already have a 4 cavity mold that produces excellent solid bullets around 160gr in weight. These are solid thumpers and I have no doubt they would be just fine for deer or other small to midsize game at reasonable distances but when the opportunity to try a hollow point mold came about I jumped on. 

Specifically I was looking at getting a bullet mold that would offer greater versatility than the 4 banger I had that could only make solids. I sprung for the 2 cavity mold, it came with pins to make a deep hollow point, a shallow hollow point and a "flat" which is just the same as the solid that I already have. A short time after the mold arrived I had a good size sample lot cast up of the large hollow point version. Sized a lubricated with Carnuba red I loaded up test batches in .357 magnum and even more in .38 special. Pistol results were promising but more work will need to be done for the rifle loads as they were producing some erratic patterns.

The various pin sizes obviously alter the weight of the bullet, the large hollow point pins bring the bullet in at around 148-150 grains. Not a heavy weight really but when you look at how a type III wadcutter is designed so that a portion of the nose sits above the case mouth your load options change a little over just the standard 148gr wadcutters.

Mold as it ships in a padded envelope.
Add caption

The pins are retained by a tab on the bottom of the mold. Upon opening the mold the bullets fall right off the pins almost easier than a traditional mold.

Various pin options are available and if one is handy on lathe many more can be fabricated. 

Trying to keep the Ruger 77 .357 Mag carbine slim and simple.

Day after Christmas there isn't much to do but head to the range of course. I was surprised when I hefted my 77/357 carbine in one hand and a stock 77/357 in the other the weight difference between the two was exceedingly noticeable. Curiosity got the better of me and the postal scale came out when we returned home. The pistol caliber carbine is meant to be a light easily handled short range rifle not a full weight target rifle but with scope, sling, 4 magazines (unloaded) pull through, stock pouch/cheek rest and the rear adjustable sight I installed, my carbine came in at 7 lbs 13 oz. WOW my carbine got FAT since high school I thought. A good chunk of added weight is in the scope which I don't use too often (yet). The weaver K 2.5 power on factory Ruger rings is a fantastic little scope for this type of carbine and it is also adding 1lb of weight with rings to the gun. So that means on my gun everything minus the scope/rings I'm still at 6 lbs 5 oz. Its amazing how fast weight adds up, an oz here oz there the 4 unloaded mags don't weight much but they still add 1/2 lb to the package.

For comparison I weighed the stock 77/357 and it came in at spec sheet weight of the naked gun. A handy 5 lbs 8 oz. Its not surprising I know to understand that when you add stuff the weight goes up but you want to keep in mind if you intend to go afield with a rifle you've added a few accessories to you don't want to be surprised by how much weight she's gained since you really carried her last. Food for thought. The good thing is we're not as bad as the tacticool crowd here and adding a whole lot we don't need, 4 mags for this carbine may be a tad excessive by 1 or 2 perhaps but overall everything that was put on was put on for a reason and is used. Now if I can only figure out how to mount a on-board GPS night vision fish finder I'll be the coolest...

I'm not overly concerned with weight but its just an interesting thing to keep in mind. For comparison the Savage AXIS economy rifle with scope weighs 6 lbs 8oz and a standard stock AR-15 with no junk weights about 7 lbs 2 oz.

For those who are interested the scope is a vintage weaver K2.5-1 with micro-trac cross hairs. I have several such older low power K series weaver scopes and though I do not often employ the scopes they are great for applications such as this. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Williams and other peep sight aperture fix

Ok summer is over, back to posting relevant things here again. Here is a $.02 fix for a potentially bad day at the range or in the field. Any of us that have shot with a removable peep sight for any length of time have come across one that likes to work its way loose. The William's sight I installed on my Ruger 77/357 shown here kept working loose over the summer with all the plinking (and ground hog slaying) I was doing with this awesome carbine. Those engineers in the crowd may immediately say "loctite that sucker!" but I don't wish to do that as you may recall I can install a scope with the sight in place although the rear bell requires me to remove the aperture. A metal washer will beat up the aluminum sight base I think and there is very little clearance below the aperture drum and sight base. My solution is to simply stack 2 "O" rings on the drum of the aperture (or enough to give you some compression to act like a crush washer) this soft compression will keep the sight tight in the base and still allow for removal if the need should arise.

On the topic of removing the aperture, the former dovetailed rear sight on the 77 offers a good opportunity to take a dovetail blank drill and tap it for the same thread of the aperture (whatever that may be I do not know off the top of my head) and create a storage spot for a spare aperture, I believe skinner sights have this feature on some of their models and its a good idea so long as they stay put. Only thing is to make sure its not a snag point.

Apertures can work loose under lots of conditions.
 Prolonged range sessions or bumpy bush plane rides.

A number of "O" rings slipped over the aperture shank can keep from losing your zero or aperture entirely.

Much more secure and a worthwhile piece of mind.