A little while back we had the opportunity to visit the extensive shop that is home to Vltor Weapons Systems. It’s a huge facility, and gives Vltor the ability to do almost every part of a manufacturing process in house – including stamping, machining, welding, bending, laser engraving, and many different kinds of finishing. As a result, they make a pretty wide range of products. Their ARs are their best known work, but they also made the semiauto PKM receivers that came on the market a few years ago, plus AUG receivers for Steyr and complete 40mm grenade launchers for the military. So if you’re interested in manufacturing, check out the video:
We had a Yugoslav M48A Mauser with a completely trashed barrel, so we decided to rebarrel it. We have a donor barrel in .308 Winchester, and we’re going to go through the process of removing the old barrel, facing the receiver, threading the new barrel, cutting and headspacing a new chamber, and timing it to the action.
This project isn’t strictly speaking about gun manufacture, but is related. I’ve had a semiauto Browning 1919 for a while now, and I finally got my 1946 Jeep up and running. Naturally, this means that I must come up with a way to mount the one on the other – my 10-year-old would curse me from the past if I didn’t. So without further ado:
For the detail oriented:
The Browning is an Israeli parts kit currently set up in 8×57 for cheap shooting. It has a Black Bear hand crank for that extra fun factor.
The Jeep is titled as a 46 CJ2A, but has a 3A body and a 185ci Studebaker Champion engine. It’s been converted to 12V electrics, dual fuel tanks, and 11″ drum brakes. The squeaking is from the hood hold-down latches, which will be replaced shortly.
It has been way too long since we posted something, sorry guys. Hopefully we will be able to keep up a bit better from now on – and we’re going to start with a tour we just had of American Spirit Arms. They are great folks making a top-quality AR, and graciously gave us free run to look around their factory. We figured we’d focus on the process of manufacturing a lower receiver:
If you would like to take advantage of their deal on the 95% non-firearm lower, give them a call at (480) 367-9540 and mention that you saw us here on GunLab. Do it before November 15th 2012, and you’ll get 5% off – not a huge discount, but it should cover shipping. We’ll be getting one ourselves down the road and doing some video on the process of finishing it, so if you want to follow along when we do, now is the time to grab your 95% lower.
We have a friend in full-scale firearms manufacturing who was looking at making a large run of 1911 pistols. In order to reduce his machining costs, he bought a sample batch of frame and slide castings from Coast Metal Casting – and they turned out to be next to worthless. So we borrowed a set from him to take a look at. What makes a casting good or bad, anyway? Well, let’s see:
If you are interested in seeing how 1911s were mass-produced before the advent of CNC machines, you’re in luck! We have a copy of an article from Machinery magazine printed in 1942, which discusses the process in some depth:
Making a World-Famous Automatic Pistol, by E.P. Herrick, Colt Production Engineer (Machinerymagazine, December 1942)
We recently had the opportunity to drop by Hydro Print Services and speak to the owner, Scott. He offers a really neat 3D printing/coating process which is a cool alternative to traditional firearms finishes. It allows you to have really intricate patterns (far more than you could get by painting or airbrushing), a huge variety of colors, and a finish that isn’t susceptible to rusting like traditional bluing. The options run the gamut from plain solid colors to faux wood grain to camo patterns to zombie collage patterns. Or carbon fiber, snakeskin, diamondplate…you get the idea. There are a ton of options you can see on the company web site.
We think that some guns look best with a traditional blued or parkerized finish, but the creativity that hydroprinting allows is great for personalizing competition guns, homebuilds, and anything else you want to stand out. We had a great time hanging out with Scott, and put together a video discussing the possibilities an actually printing a part (an old AR buttstock) so you can see the process. And to top it off, Scott is offering a 10% discount on all his printing services to the community here – just mention GunLab when you place an order. I know we’ll be taking advantage of that with a couple guns we are sending him. Thanks, Scott!
For those not familiar with him, David Tubb is a truly exceptional marksman, with a wall of trophies too long to list – suffice to say that it begins with 11 NRA High Power trophies form Camp Perry. He has written two books on precision shooting, and sells a long range target rifle of his own design. We had the privilege of speaking with him recently, and discussed the new line of ammunition he will be bringing to market shortly. If there is anyone who understands the elements that go into extremely accurate ammunition, it’s David Tubb.
Today we’re taking a look at what is required to use a modern CNC machining center to reproduce a part designed for factory production on a bank of horizontal milling machines. It’s not as trivial as many people think - CNC has some definite limitations. The part is from an RP46 top cover, a conversion to made the DP28/DPM light machine gun into a belt-fed weapon instead of using pan magazines.
We just got this Vulcan V15 AR15/AR18 hybrid in, and boy should you see it. Good idea; horrible execution.
We’ll do another video in a little while looking at the AR-18, the Leader T2, and this Vulcan POS to discuss how we can get the best out of the lot of ‘em.
We’ve all heard about the guys making knockoff firearms in Pakistan with vices and hand files. Well, Al-Jazeera English did a story on some of these guys, with a somewhat different focus than you usually see. Apparently, they are really concerned about government crackdowns on armsmakers (where have we heard that refrain before?), and in particular that a general transition to computer-controlled tools will put them out of business.
(hat tip to Every Day No Days Off for the video)
One the one hand, my initial reaction is that a move to CNC equipment (even if it’s being used with C-clamps) is probably a big step up for the average Pakistani firearms buyer. On the other hand, you don’t get to stay in a job for 40 years if you make a lot of guns that blow up. Some of these guys are probably amazingly talented at what they do, and it’s a shame to see those skills lost. Of course, the economically sensible course if you are that guy is to cater to a high-end market and promote your hand-made custom quality instead of making generic knockoffs like everyone else.
Also, maybe a test stand for the proof firing would be a reasonable idea.