Thursday, October 6, 2016

CZ 527 7.62x39: or: your Czechoslovakian quickie (review)

CZ has long made quality bolt action rifles in both the center-fire and rim-fire offerings, I'm a huge fan of the 452 and 550 magnum type actions (for the most part) and have recently come into possession of a CZ 527 carbine for a quick review. This 527 is termed a "micro carbine" by CZ and when you pick one up you'll know why. At just under 37.5" long (just short of a meter) and a fuzz over 6 lbs this little carbine is a handy package for the woods. Available in a number of chambers including .204 .223 .222 .221 fireball, .22 and .17 hornet as well as 7.62x39 this carbine offers something to everybody looking to hunt ground hogs to deer sized game.

The example I have in front of me is the 7.62x39 version, I picked this as one does not come across a true .310 barreled 7.62x39 bolt action rifle easily. Most 7.62x39 offerings domestically tend to use a .308 bullet which is noble however annoying if you're trying to use surplus ammo sometimes.  All my 7.62x39 guns thus far are of Russian decent so I'm not sure how much of a issue surplus ammo might be in those .308 barreled guns but I'm willing to bet many a forum thread has been dead horsed on the subject. 

Annoyingly (for one handed carrying) the balance point is right at the magazine

As it were I thought the 527 in the 7.62x39 selection would be a handy package for the compact carbine collection and kind of is but it has some draw backs. Some of which can be fixed....others that can't be so easily.

I like the gun, its size and weight are great and holy crap does this thing shoot. When fed top shelf ammo (Lapua) it will give you some impressive groups. Now admittedly I never shot this with a scope (con- proprietary scope rings) so my groups were all with the irons. 5 shots in a playing card is easy with the irons at 50 yards, 100 yards you can double that unless you go with glass in which case you'll probably clover leaf shots.  Even the steel cased ammo shot very well, anybody who says the 7.62x39 is not a accurate round can go ahead and leave now. The rifle has a set trigger that can also help shrink groups even more. The gun bucks as a 6 lb carbine chambered in a mid power 30 caliber cartridge should and throws quite a muzzle flash when conditions are right.

After the first or second range trip I had to send the rifle back to the factory to be restocked. The recoil and the tight fit of the stock in the rear did not go well together and split the stock in 2 places at the tang of the receiver. CZ put the action in a new stock and bedded the recoil lug for me and I've had no problems since.  A friend who shot it noticed the bolt key-ways need cleaned up a bit and I agree they could be smoother as well. 

Inline image 1
Cracks in stock after fewer than 50 rounds

I do like the carbine but I'm not SOLD on it fully yet as a useful addition to the selection. The shortcomings are pretty significant,  adjustable sights being a huge one for me, for what you pay for the carbine I feel as though adjustable sights should be there. At least give the customer a few different height front sights to swap out, the rear is drift-able (word?)  for windage but one front insert is not enough especially if you are using steel cased ammo vs something hotter like older Yugoslavian stuff.

Light weight
Ammo availability
Strong action

Balance point for carrying (is ok to carry magazine up one handed)
Carbine & spare magazine cost
Semi fixed irons
Slippery stock out of the box
Backwards safety ( forward is safe)

So there it is, my thoughts on the CZ 527 in 7.62x39, its a great little carbine and has a TON of potential. If you're looking for a bolt action rifle to share ammo with your SKS or AK's this is your answer....scope it and you'll be very happy.  It is very utilitarian in all areas except cost if you decide to try and grab one of these sweet carbines prepare for a little sticker shock.  I think a suppressor would be marvelous on this as well but as of now CZ does not offer any threaded from the factory.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Introduction to the 310 tong tool: part 3

In the previous two sections we've covered the tong tool handles, the variations and their features as well as the die identification you should be aware of when trying to identify dies that can be successfully used in a 310 tong tool. In this third section we'll briefly cover die set up and adjustment. Please note instructions for the Lyman 310 tool can be found here on Lyman own website as they still produce and support this unique tool. However these instructions are for the 4 die sets, this tutorial will cover 5 die set up procedures.

As I may have mentioned in one of the first 2 sections you will want a dedicated screwdriver that fits the set screws for the lock rings on the 310 dies. They are quite small and some can be quite set deep into the lock-ring depending on the era the dies were made, so it is important to have a hollow ground screwdriver (Chapman makes a nice set) that will not damage the screw or the lock-ring itself.

I will go over how to set up a 5 die set, much the same as the 4 die set in the Lyman instructions but with the sizing/decapping die functions separated into 2 dies.

First step is to decap all your fired cases, select the "universal" decap die and adjust it so that the decap pin sticks out past the handles about about 3/16" ..ish. The important thing is the pin pops the primer out and does not bottom out on the brass or hit the opposing handle (broken pin).

The nice thing is if you have 2 sets of handles and 2 universal decap dies you may set one up for both handles and never worry about having to adjust them again. They will work for all of your 5 die sets! If you have 310 PRESS dies I believe you can take the decapping rod assembly out and use them just like a 5 die set.
De-cap pin stick out, you run the risk of breaking the pin if you have it lower than necessary.

decap brass, note how far the hook extracts the case.

The next step is to size your fired brass. The die for this step in a 5 die set does not have threads on the inside (where a decap stem, seater or expander is typically threaded). A little lube is recommended although I've never used any with my .38/357 pistol set, I can however see the wisdom in the recommendation.

MR die (neck sizing) 

Adjust die until it is sizing the brass as far down as you plan to seat the bullet.
Pro tip- If you have trouble figuring out how far down the sizer is touching the brass it is recommended that you use a sharpie and color the neck then size. Where the die has touched you will see scratches in the sharpie mark. Layout fluid is also an option.

Die has sized brass as far down as I wish to seat the bullet. Note lower ring on neck

Next we set up the priming die, if you need to clean your primer pockets now is the time to do that. To set up the priming die we loosen the thumb nut and adjust the die with the handles closed until #1 the plunger sticks up into where the brass sits by a little bit and #2 the open part of the shell holder faces us. Set up the tool to the "handedness" you will be using it. I use mine in my left hand so I set it up as pictured below.

Priming chamber installed and ready to adjust.

Amount of protrusion we want for the priming plunger with the handles closed. Any more and we will lose the advantage of leverage. 

It is recommended that you practice priming with "dead" primers if this is the first time you have used a hand priming device. Make sure the primer is oriented correctly and gently squeeze, after a few times you will learn the feel of it and know how much pressure to use.

Case being primed, drop a primer atop the plunger and close gently.

Next we will gently expand or "flare" the case mouth if needed. If we have not chamfered the case mouth and we are loading say a boat tail bullet it is recommended we put a slight flair on the mouth to keep from scraping at the bullet jacket. If we are loading cast then we will need to flare to prevent shaving lead while seating cast bullets.
This is the only type of expander die set up that will work with a 310 tong tool 

Die body is threaded in and stem is installed to desired depth, it is recommended to start backed out and turn 1/2 turn in until desired effect is reached.
If you are getting varying degrees of flare at the case mouth you may be needing to trim your brass as it is not uniform between cases. Trimming options will not be covered here at this time but should be in the not so distant future.

Case in flare die as we are loading cast bullets.
Next we select our bullet seating die which also has the option to crimp the bullet in place (you would of course add powder at this step). Just like normal reloading dies it is a good idea to work out your bullet seating depth first and then crimp the bullet in place and adjust the dies accordingly. You do this by starting with the seating stem further in the die body as to bypass the crimp option. Make small adjustments as needed and once the depth is where you want it you can remove the seating stem entirely if you wish.  Now thread the die body in with the handles closed until you feel a little resistance. It is possible to over crimp with these dies so small adjustments go a very long way. After that is all figured out screw the seating stem back in tightly until it touches the loaded round with handles close.

2 seating stems are shown, as often with die sets the stems are for 2 different nose profiles of bullets.
Round nose and spitzer type seating stems are pictured.
Seating die installed in handles  adjusted to seat a flat nose cast bullet.

Though this is a powder-less dummy round for set up it is important to remember that there will be powder in the case and that keeping everything upright to prevent spilled powder is ideal!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Introduction to the Lyman 310 tong tool: Part 2

In part 1 we looked at the difference and features of the handles that were needed to use the 310 dies. Here in part 2 we see what we need to be looking for in purchasing our tong tool dies either as a group of dies or as individual dies to replace missing dies. As I briefly alluded  the 310 dies come in 2 types, dies intended to be used with the reloading press and dies meant for the tong tools.  It should also be understood that by design the 310 dies are meant to only neck size! There are some full length sizing options out there but those are for the press only. This is fine for bolt actions, single shots and lever actions however most semi auto guns will not like ammo made that have only been neck sized. The die sets you will need for tong tools need to have a "M" type expander, if you have a die set that has the expander AND the decapper in the same die you may run into troubles.

L- 4 die set, R-5 die set

Four die sets have the neck sizer and the decapper in the same die (seen in following pictures). This is fine as it is only the sets that decap and bell or have the button sizer that is drawn back through the neck that you will need to avoid. It is because the hook does not stay engaged with the case long enough to pull it back over that expander. As such either of the die sets pictured above are suitable for the tong tools.

Aforementioned hook shows just how far it will extract a 30/06 case before it disengages. 

4 die set, note left die is both decapper and neck sizer  as opposed to being 2 dies in 5 die sets

5 die sets, The "Universal" type decapping die and then the "muzzle resizer" which is the neck sizer are the left most 2 dies.
 Something to note in the above picture the "Universal" type decapping die assembly is one give away you may be looking at a 5 die set for the tong tool. Most die sets for use in the reloading press set ups will have a skinny stem with a button part way up the stem, note the fatter threaded rod in the "universal" decap die.
Another view of decap/sizer die from 4 die set and the 2 dies that perform the same operation from 5 die set.
In the pictures below we start to take a look at the expander dies as another way to identify die sets for use with the 310 tong tool. If the die set you are looking at combines these two operations into one die it is not for the tong tool but for the press.

Here we see the "universal" decap stems from 2 rifle die sets as well as the "M" type expander die.

These expander dies were taking from 3 different sets, 30/06, 30-30 and 357. Note die body length difference between the three.

Close up of expander die body and stem from 30-30 die set.
 In the next picture we see the decap, sizing and expanding operation combined all into one die. This die as is will not work with the tong tool handles. You could remove the expander button however you'll still need a way to expand the case mouth.

This die intended for the 310 series of bench presses WILL NOT work for our tong tool handles!

Left-310 dies for expanding case mouth and decapping. R- die for the press that combines these operations.

Differences in stem sizes, Also note on right die "CMR" stamp that denotes this as a "combination muzzle re-sizer die"
Another clue you might be looking at a 310 tong tool die set is the priming unit  that has a built in shell holder and captive plunger assembly but it is not a absolute as this was something that could also be used on the press. The bullet seater die (double adjustment) is the same so far as I understand it between the press dies and the tong toll type dies. I mentioned the bullet seater as having double adjustments because the stem is threaded as well. I have yet to see a non adjustable type bullet seater however I'm sure they are out there.

Priming unit shown as 2nd die from left and double adjustable bullet seating die shown far right

This may seem confusing at first (I sure was) but it is worth understanding if your wanting to build a reloading set up that takes up very little space and is easy to use. The 310 tong tool is still a relevant system perfect for the RV or cabin. In the next  part we will go over die adjustments and set up for reloading.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Introduction to the Lyman 310 tong tool: Part 1

Last June I wrote an article on making a simple powder dipper for a "project" and it wasn't until recently I realized that I never explained the project further. This last year I've been living in a very small space while preparing to move yet again. The project was a complete reloading set up I could fit in a small tool box, I had reviewed a lee whack-a-mole type reloader and this was indeed one option for such a set up however... The room I was staying in was in a house with about 10 other people. The whack-a-mole was not going to work (hint it makes a lot of noise unless you have a heavy block to use under it). The next option I had I came across by accident. Lyman 310 tong tools...something I've seen but never really looked into.  I happened to obtain a set of the tongs with a few dies from an estate purchase I had made earlier in the year. I liked the theory behind the tool and thought it would work out very well for what I had in mind. The room I was staying in was about 10'x6' give or take so not even a true reloading bench was possible. I did however have a small computer desk as a multi function surface...dining table, reloading bench, computer desk, writing desk etc.  This gave me enough space for a powder scale, reloading block and misc accessories.

The 310 tool gets its model number from the combination of the "Ideal #3" tool and the "Ideal #10" tool. I am not going to present much info on the rarity or collectible value of the plethora of iterations these types tools have had since their inception rather this is meant to be a practical introduction to somebody who wants to get one of these unique loading tools for themselves. And some things to watch out for along the road to building your micro reloading kit. Note if you are looking at a die set to purchase you may want to skip to part 2 to gain a understanding of what to look for in purchasing your 310 tong tool dies.

#1.Handles a.k.a tongs, pliers, nutcrackers.....

Two types of "modern" 310 tongs. Large/rifle type on the left, small/pistol type on the right.
First you will need to decide what caliber you will be reloading for as your handle selection will be based on this. Above you can see the Lyman 310 large handle (left) and small handle (right). I desired to load .38spl and .357 magnum so a small handle is what the dies I were to be using required. The handles themselves have some important features that make it a truly versatile tool in it of itself.

First feature you might notice is the shell hook, this spring loaded hook acts as an extractor pulling cases out of the dies once you've performed the desired step (bullet seating, decapping, belling, etc.). The hook is adjustable for engagement using the adjusting screw on the other side of the grip. You will need to tune the hook for proper engagement as too much may scrape and damage brass and too little will slip off the case rims.

Side view of hook and adjustment screw 

Loosen nut, adjust as needed, tighten nut.

The next feature you will notice is the where the case is inserted for the various operations. There should be a  ring present on any "complete" die set you purchase for tong tool use. These rings are the "shell adapters" each one is stamped with a number that correlates with a cartridge, below we see #1 which is for my beloved 38/357 as well as the #2 which is for 30/06 and 45ACP type cases.

#2 adapter for 30/06, .243, 45acp etc.

Side view of shell adapter needed for tong tools

Threaded shell adapters help align the cartridge cases ensuring accurate introduction to the dies.

It is important to note that 310 reloading dies come in 2 types, the tong tool type that can be used with the aforementioned type handles and the reloading press type. The reloading press dies can not be used with the tool handles successfully, you will run into problems. The biggest issue is with the combination re-sizer die or CMR marked die. More info on this issue will be covered in part 2. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

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

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 kept 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  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 set up that would give 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  and 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 declared victory on what could have been a blunder. The sight is level and with the set screw in place its simply not going 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.