Parts wanted and for Sale!

Looking for G-43 fire control parts. Hammer,trigger,sear. This is for one of the projects we are working on. A friend of Gun Lab has helped out with this. Thanks

Continue reading Parts wanted and for Sale!

VG1-5 Preorder Now Available!

We are now taking reservations for out reproduction VG1-5 rifles! Price is $4000, and they will be ready to ship once ATF gives final approval on the design. The get on the priority list, contact Matt or Greg at Allegheny Arsenal – (814) 362-2642. No payment will be taken until the guns are ready to ship.


Axel’s post on the P-38 part 2

The myth of east-german newly manufactured P.38 pistols



Thanks for all the comments on our P.38 post!

Initially we wanted to make a video covering all the questions raised but rather doing another post.

First we will talk about the technical aspects and then the historical context.

So why new barrels?

The old ones were often in poor condition due to corrosive ammo (primers) and steel jacketed bullets.

What holds the sleeved barrel in place?

Most likely interference fit but could also be braced even though no traces visible.

The post war P.38/P1 pistols have a fully sleeved barrel.

At the first variant the barrel liner was held in place only by a cross pin.

That prooved to be unsatisfactory because the barrel liner started to walk out towards the muzzle under intense use.

The second variant features a collar all around (first a smaller, later a wider one) giving the barrel liner sufficient support.

A croatian P.38 inspired gun (PHP) features a barrel sleeved into the barrel block secured with a cross pin. Wasn’t manufactured for long and didn’t see much use.

Years ago at the IWA trade show I’ve seen chinese copies of the SIG P226/P228 with the barrels clearly sleeved in the square block which is forming the locking/unlocking cam and locking shoulder.

PIC  1a

P38 2nd 1as

So with a barrel only press fitted to the barrel block they probably would have experienced issues sooner or later. The barrel on the pictured gun looks brand-new. Wouldn’t shoot any of those much.

First N-series gun being N1000 – correct!

The book we referred to in part one actually lists this number among the guns that are confirmed to exist also including N1120. Which would actually mean that 121 N-series guns were made…

PIC  1b  book cover

P38 2nd 1bs

When looking at the fired Vopo P.38 cartridge casings those markings looked somehow familiar. Took me a while. Well, haven’t fired a Luger P08 in years!


P38 2nd 2s

To the left two shells from the Vopo P.38 – on the right two shells from a 1939 Mauser P08.

So looking down the barrel of two Luger pistols (1939 Mauser right, 1916 DWM left) they have a step in exactly the same spot as the Vopo P.38 barrel in the middle.

PIC 3a

P38 2nd 3as

At the 9mm Luger pistol that step/sealing rim was employed to achieve a better gas seal. They apparently didn’t trust the almost straight-walled 9×19 casing compared to the bottlenecked .30 Luger.

Didn’t worked very well on the Luger tested here since the cartridge casings look a lil bit fouled past the sealing rim. The P.38 though never had that stepped chamber.

According to the book “The Mauser Parabellum 1930-1946″ that sealing rim was dropped at the Luger pistol sometime 1941/1942 since it caused extraction issues with steel cased ammo.

PIC 3b  book cover

P38 2nd 3bs

So did they actually made complete new P.38 barrels in East Germany or conveniently covered the sleeving by arranging the ring joint being in the same spot as the sealing rim at the Luger pistol?

Or if they made complete new barrels why employing that unnecessary sealing rim at the P.38?

Not enough tooling so they used the same chamber reamer they used for the newly made Luger barrels?

BTW, do east German Luger barrels have that sealing rim? No Vopo Luger was available to check.

And why would they have reintroduced that sealing rim anyway since East Germany used steel cased ammo as well?

Speculation at this point. To me it still looks like a sleeved barrel. Esp. those peening marks where the barrel sticks out of the barrel block. Only the new Vopo P.38 barrels have these markings and I can’t even figure out what machining operation would have left these marks and for what reason other than covering a ring joint.

The only way to find out indeed seems to be cutting on of those Vopo barrels. Maybe there is a cutaway model out there that could help to clarify the matter.

Was also looking for deactivated barrels as they are common in Europe with the barrel slotted or otherwise cut open. No luck so far…


Now lets go to the historical aspects…

In 1945 the Walther factory was first inspected by American troops and their technical intelligence teams:


P38 2nd 4

“The P.38 Pistol” states on page 55 – when on April 4, 1945 American troops arrived at the Walther plant 1,600 P.38/HP were found ready to ship and others still unfinished were assembled and taken as war souvenirs.

So after the Americans took everything they were interested in plus everything else they didn’t wanna leave for the Russians, the second raid happened when the Russians arrived on July 3rd 1945.

And the Russians took everything!

Two aspects played a role. First they wanted to strip the former enemy of all resources that would make Germany a powerful and dangerous player ever again. And they were still traumatized by the experience not having enough guns when WW2 started.

In Stalingrad they only had one rifle for every other soldier. The unarmed ones were supposed to pick up a rifle from a fallen one with a rifle!

The second aspect is that Russia was lacking almost everything regarding modern equipment (by standards back then).

My grandma told me when a group of Russian soldiers was looting the house right after the war one of them was putting his boot in the toilet trying to figure out what that appliance was good for! He simply didn’t know what it was.

Now before the thousands of Russian readers we have will all get butthurt – they had a very few big and some smaller cities in Russia but 95% of the country was just outback. With these primitive farmer’s cottages, unpaved roads, a well in the backyard and a hole in the ground to take a dump!

So they took EVERYTHING they didn’t have back home in Russia. Nothing remotely usable was left!

According to documents of the Soviet Main Directorate “Beutegut” (war booty) 60,149 pianos, grand pianos and accordions, 941,605 pieces of furniture, over 3 million pairs of shoes and 1,2 million winter coats, clothing, bed linen and furs were removed from the Soviet occupation zone (SBZ).

And in 1946 the buildings of the Walther factory were demolished.

That’s why the Walther factory never became a part of the ETW conglomerate (VEB Ernst Thälmann-Werke, founded 1954).

Same story happened with the Mauser factory in french occupied Germany.

There is a very interesting book telling a lot about these post-war aspects:

PIC 5 book cover

P38 2nd 5s

Before the demolition of the Mauser factory was ordered in November 1947 several trains with guns, parts, equipment, machinery etc. were leaving for France.

The question that there was enough experienced personal available. In that book German engineers questioned in 1945 stated that they were already lacking trained staff after 1942! And it would take an estimated two years to get production and R&D to the level before 1945.

And in the soviet zone no one was employed in essential functions who was formerly engaged in  the NSDAP. In contrast to the western Allies who used former cops etc. after a short de-nazification period. That was reducing the available qualified workforce in East Germany even more.

And we are talking about the late 40’s and early 50’s when these “new” P.38’s were made.

According to the aforementioned book East Germany received a large number of WW2 guns from the Russians in 1953. The better ones were reworked the others used for spare parts. Coincidentally all the N-series barrels both P.38 and P08 are dated 1953, most 9/53?

And when the mass production of the P.38 was already planned why having a production line for the way more complex  P08 set up as well? Regarding the limited resources at that time it wouldn’t make any sense.

So could all these “newly made” P.38’s and P08’s be reworked WW2 guns? Absolutely.

Same goes for the Walther PP post-war production. All of those “1001” guns could be reworked WW2 guns. Here you can see serial No. 132270.

They for sure didn’t make over 130,000 of these! That’s a rework retaining the original number.

The expert literature often gives conflicting info as well and should be taken with a grain of salt.

“The Parabellum is back” on page 90 shows a list of guns manufactured at Mauser under French control stating that 35,000 P.38 pistols were made until March 1946 and 20,000 Mauser HSc pistols. Manufacturing ended in May 1946.

On the same page a production overview including April 1946 lists only 13,971 HSc pistols!

The book “The Mauser Parabellum 1930-1946″ shows the very same list for the complete time frame till May 1946 but only 3,500 P.38! Which clearly looks like a transcription error. Both books published 2010.

The book “The P.38 pistol” (2017) gives on page 176 a total of 37,855 P.38’s made under french control. Which could very well be since the chart in “The Parabellum is back” on page 90 lists 36,720 P.38 made including April 1946 plus likely a few more made in May before production ceased.

I’m aware there is the wish of every collector to possess something special, only made in very limited numbers, but except for a few special markings not even consistently used, I haven’t seen any physical evidence proving actually newly made (not assembled) P08/P.38/PP  at that time.

Things were changing quickly though in the mid-50’s with establishing the West German Bundeswehr in 1955 and the East German NVA in 1956 …

If any of our readers has more information or other aspects we should cover – please let us know.

The myth of East-German newly manufactured P.38 pistols


There is the tale of 120 P.38 and 120 Luger pistols allegedly newly manufactured in East Germany in the early 1950’s. Also known as the N-series guns.

The very comprehensive book “The P.38 pistol” by Alexander Krutzek, Dietrich Jonke & Orvel L. Reichert is giving some conflicting info on that matter.

The serial number range for these allegedly newly made P.38’s according to this book is N1000 – N1120.

On page 278 though they picture the very first pistol N1001 which is clearly using an old cyq slide.

PIC P38  1a

PIC P38 1as

But on page 301 they are listing these guns as: “GDR production (Suhl) 1953. All major parts newly produced.”

Here you can see the P.38 N1031 with Mauser byf44 slide:

And here is N1080 with a byf43 slide:

PIC P38  1b

PIC P38 1b

If you don’t have the above mentioned book at hand – there is a very interesting website showing among others a few more East German P38.’s.

That A.B.9 marking is no indication for a newly made part.

On the post-war East-German “Walther” PP pistols this marking (A.B.70 used as well) appears sometimes on the frame and/or the slide and maybe not at all esp. on the 1001 marked PP’s.

According to an article in DWJ (Deutsches Waffen-Journal) 2/2002 there was a complete P.38 production line ready set up in 1954. And a production of 60,000 P.38 planned for 1956 which was cancelled in 1955.

So how come that the known N-series pistols are dated 1953, before that production line was ready?

Considering the fact that in 1958 the first year of manufacturing the Makarov pistol in East Germany just a handful were made, that production goal of 60,000 P.38 sounds pretty optimistic.

Growing up in East Germany and doing my mandatory military service there as well I can tell you there was always a huge difference between the plan and the official success messages and reality.

For example the one new plant for manufacturing concrete walls for those prefabricated buildings – it wasn’t ready in time. So they simply picked up some concrete walls from another plant and at the official opening ceremony these parts were rolling out at the end of the manufacturing line!

Well, let’s check this by reference to an East German “VOPO” P.38 pistol.

It’s a plain vanilla Spreewerke cyq gun which got a new barrel in East Germany and with the VOPO markings defaced later on before importation to the U.S.

PIC 2 + 3

PIC P38 2s

PIC P38 3s

There was an import restriction for guns from combloc countries and by peening out the VOPO star the origin of these guns should be hidden. I wonder if anybody at U.S. customs in the 1980’s would have known the VOPO star…

Now if you take a look in the cartridge chamber of that newly made East German barrel you will notice a small ring joint.

PIC 4 + 5

PIC P38 4s

PIC P38 5s

What they did – they cut off the old barrel right in front of the barrel block and drilled the block out from the front almost all the way and sleeved it with a newly made barrel.

To hide the ring joint at the front where the barrel sticks out of the barrel block they peened over that small gap. All East German made P.38 barrels I’ve seen were like that except for one where the peening was left out and the ring joint was clearly visible.

PIC 6 + 7 + 8

PIC P38 6s

PIC P38 7s

PIC P38 8s

That partly sleeved cartridge chamber also leaves clear marks on the cartridge casings.


PIC P38 9s

It tells us that – just a few years after the war and stripped of all manufacturing equipment by the Russians – they simply were not able to manufacture the complete barrel.

They had some lathes to turn simple barrels but nothing to make more complex parts like the slide and frame much less the way more complex Luger pistol!

Some small parts like springs, the slide release lever and firing pins were newly made to rework old WWII guns but as far as I can see no newly manufactured main parts like frame, slide and complete barrels.

That N-series was made from old existing guns and a few maybe assembled from spare parts they found in some military armory or received from the remaining P.38 manufacturers in Czechoslovakia. Since all the guns, parts, machinery from the former Walther factory in East Germany were confiscated by the Russians right after the end of the war and shipped to the Soviet Union.

If any of the readers has one of those N-series P.38 available it would be great if you could check the barrel to see if it was sleeved and give us a feedback.

And you could also check under the left grip panel for the manufacturing number which I’ve seen on several cyq frames which were supplied to Spreewerke by another manufacturer. You wouldn’t have that on a newly made post-war frame.

PIC  10

PIC P38 10s

If you don’t have the above mentioned book at hand – there is a very interesting website showing among others a few East German P38.’s.


Axel experience working on a AMT automag 2 22magnum

AMT Automag II – replace safety lever


A few days ago a friend left one of those Automags on my work bench.

“Just needs the broken safety lever replaced and doesn’t eject properly.”

He supplied a new safety lever and two springs and bearing balls (BB) each.

Ok, first thing I always do is checking online to see if anybody posted some info on this.

There was a promising video headlined “AMT Automag II Full Disassembly”.

Sadly it leaves the disassembly part for the slide completely out because it’s “a PITA”.

Well, somebody built it so somebody can take it apart.

First you have to punch out the roll pin that serves as axis for the rear sight.

Since I’m German pins get pushed in from the right side and out from the left.

Of course this didn’t work. Trying from the right side worked hassle-free though.

Heck, these things were made in California so everything is possible.



After removal of the roll pin turn the elevation screw on the rear sight to max elevation.

The rear sight should come off now. Make sure you don’t lose those both tiny springs underneath.



Now you can push out the firing pin retaining pin from below. It doesn’t need to go out all the way.



Now pull out the firing pin. Shaking out the remains of the broken safety lever and ready to go!

Put the safety lever detent spring in the corresponding hole. Now try to place the 2.36mm dia. BB on top of it… It won’t stay there – guaranteed.

To avoid endless searching for the BB that fell on the floor to be gone forever, you clamp the pistol slide inside a plastic bag. This way the BB is landing in the bag and we are happy.



To keep the BB in place and being able to push it down in the detent spring hole you’ll need a fixture.

Since I’m not planning on doing this ever again (!!!), a simple piece of round wood I found in my trash can was used. Needs a cutout about the diameter of the BB and slightly off center since that matches the location of the detent spring hole in the slide.



Then clamp the slide in the bench vise slightly canted to the left side so the BB will stay in position.



BEFORE you continue make sure the BB is going all the way in the detent spring hole!

Both springs provided were either too long or the hole too short. Remember – made in CA!

So I slightly shortened the spring (flattened end towards BB) till the BB was clearing the hole for the safety lever.

With the fixture in place (press fit to the safety hole) the BB has no other way to go when you push it down with a punch.

My friend who dropped that project on my table just showed up and told me: “You need new punches, they suck!”

I guess he grabbed the one I had modified for this exercise and hadn’t been changed back to normal so far.

You have to push down the BB at a slight angle approaching from the cutout for the hammer.

So it helps if you angle the tip of the punch accordingly. Using this specialized tool on something else might become a lil frustrating I can imagine…

While keeping the BB pushed down, you pull out the fixture and (try to) push the safety lever (pointing in the 12 o’clock position) in.

You still will have a hard time to get it in so a slight chamfer on the safety lever as pictured helps a lot.



Once I got the safety lever in it worked nicely – so far…

BUT after installing the firing pin the safety lever was only rotating about two thirds!

The cutout for the firing pin was not radiused so the safety could not properly rotate under the firing pin and was off center same as the chamfered area on the rear of the safety!

PIC 8a and 8b

AMT SF 8as

AMT SF 8bs

That required some grinding and fitting on the safety lever – after removing it from the slide!

So BEFORE installing the detent spring and BB, test the interaction between safety lever and firing pin! Saves you the trouble to do it all again.

BTW – it can never hurt to have a large reference collection at hand where you can simply pull a similar gun for comparison!



Word of caution – NEVER let the hammer fall against the engaged safety at full force!

That’s very likely the reason for the broken safety on this gun.

Engage the safety, pull the hammer slightly back, then pull the trigger and gently lower the hammer.

The safety on this gun doesn’t offer a decocking function. But even with other guns that feature that, I always keep the hammer back and lower it slowly after engaging the safety.

I have experienced damage to the safety at the Walther PP/PPK and P.38/P1 if you just let the hammer drop.

The only gun with slide mounted decocking safety that seems to withstand permanent hammer dropping is the Beretta M9. On the other side I don’t know what the maintenance schedule on these guns is with precautionary replacement of the safety lever.

The only pistols where the decocking function is properly desgined IMO are the SIG 220 series guns and the Sauer & Sohn 1938H of course which was their inspiration. Here the hammer is actually gently lowered against the force of your thumb pressing down the decocking lever.

This is NOT the case with some other guns with similar decocking levers like Astra 80/90/100 or Taurus 92/99.

Finally the test firing to see about the “ejection issue”.

With some random .22 WMR ammo it worked right from the start.

PIC 10

AMT SF 10s

Happens all the time when people show me guns that don’t cycle properly.

Self-loading guns  esp. recoil operated ones (with the lone exception of inertia systems) need to be firmly supported (hand/shoulder) to cycle and eject/feed.

Time to wrap this gun up and hope to never touch one of those again!




Updates at Gun Lab

I know that there have not been many posts this last year. Life and death has gotten in the way. However, work is still be done on the VG1-5 project. A great deal of testing has been accomplished and it looks like all the bugs have finally been worked out, keeping my fingers crossed on that.

Just so everyone knows there will posts in the future on the cnc router and its completion as well as it making the VG1-5 stocks. There are a number of weapons that have been worked on and a few designs that prototype have been built or 3d printed.

There is always construction projects going on here at Gun Lab. A number of additions have been made to the shop and new tools have been obtained or built. All of these have a post to go with them. I received a great deal of criticism on the posts concerning the building projects and to this I say don’t read them. Every building project or tool build is part of the bigger plan to design and build the weapons that I want. Room is always in short supply and showing a video of me filing to fix a broken part is not the least bit of fun or interesting. I will write and post what projects are going on and what I want to.

So stay tune and Gun Lab will be back this year.

VG1-5 update

Most of the work being accomplished on the VG1-5 is hand work and parts fitting. With the cnc router completed we need to make some fixtures to finish the stocks and hand guards. The wood shop is in some serious disarray due to work going on in there, but it will be finished shortly.

All the rifles have been engraved, welded and straighten.



The upper receivers have been completed with the available parts.

Most of the rifles have had all the parts fitted. Still have 15  or so left to do. We are making barrels and any parts that are missing.

IMG_6700sStocks and hand guards are next on the list.

Shirley’s Birthday present

Our friend Axel made a table for Shirley to go on the new veranda that we have been working on. To go with the major theme of Gun Lab he made it from some of the Mauser rifles that we have a surplus of.

Starting with three of the Mauser rifles the first step was to get them cleaned up.

IMG_5048sHe then cut and re-welded the barrels to form an angle.

IMG_5051sThey were then mated together and welded to form a tripod table base.


IMG_5053sThen a small table top was added to hold the morning coffee or the evening cocktails.



UHNK1583sShirley loves her table.

No quality Mauser rifle were hurt during this build.

A Mauser project

With all the Mauser rifles that I picked up something needed to be done with them. I gave a couple to a friend of mine to do some playing around with. At the same time he asked for a couple of single stack AK magazines.

This is his project: Starting with one of the old, rusty Mauser rifles

We cut one of them apart to have a closer look at the condition of the inside of the receiver.

IMG_3379sThe locking lug area looked to be in good condition

IMG_3381sThe reason for cutting this particular rifle was the crack in the rear of the receiver

IMG_3382sHis is one of the Chinese Mauser receivers with fake FN markings but it cleaned up with minimal work.

IMG_3304sHe cut down the rusted barrel and threaded the inside to take a SKS barrel that did not have the gas port drilled in it.


IMG_3313sThen he modified the magazine housing to accept a single stack AK magazine


IMG_3309sHe drilled and tapped the rear of the magazine housing to accept the magazine release lever spring and guide

IMG_3306sand a single stack AK magazine was fitted to feed properly

IMG_3308sA little work had to be done to the AK magazine for proper fit up due to the tolerances in the magazine.

IMG_3310sThe feeding and extraction was tested with dummy rounds.

Now he just needs to find an old sporterised Mauser stock to finish his project.

There are plenty of more Mauser projects here.


A comment from John D.,a friend of gun lab, concerning Chinese Mauser’s.

Chinese Mauser actions should always be proof tested before being used. Mukden (Shenyang) Arsenal was the only Chinese Mauser manufacturer that actually knew what it was doing and had stable processes (regardless of who was in charge) over their entire existence. Mukden was also colocated with the An Shang steel mill, the best in China during the Mauser era. The rest of Chinese Mauser producers were plagued by the vicissitudes of warlord culture. Mukden never used counterfeit identifications on their weapons to the best of my knowledge. A Mukden Model 1935 Mauser rifle compares well with the best from Europe.

The SAR show after action report

This is a quick update. The first 5 finished VG1-5 rifles were at the SAR show and were quickly picked up by there owners. One of the Groto 6 rifles was also sold.

The whole week of events went great. It started with the pre-show shoot. This is just a little get together where the guests just have fun shooting machine guns  as well as the latest rifles we have built.



In this case I brought out my Webley Fosbery and anyone that wanted to shoot it could.


In addition the Sterling and Bren gun were brought out making it a British weekend.


Thursday is vendor set up day and all the guests were at the show setting up. Friday through Sunday was the actual show. The general chat about the show was how good it was, actually my best show ever for both selling and buying. I obtain a number of books for the reference library, both at the show and the week prior. These are from the show.




And the ones ordered.




The reading material alone made the show a success for me. How ever at this show is when I generally spend my saved gun money. I was able to obtain a number of missing pieces for the reference collection. Three new rifles were added.

IMG_3244sA sporter 1941 Johnson rifle IMG_3251scAlso a SKS that uses AK magazines

IMG_3250scAnd last but not least is a French Lebel rifle converted to 7.5 French


IMG_3247scEnough for now but more to come on the show.


Another weekend and always to much to do

The majority of this weekend was set aside to getting ready for the SAR show. New gun racks have been built and set up, the 22 room has had the moveable book cases moved to the library, a storage rack is being built for my gunsmithing area and prep work was accomplished for work on the cannon and some serious iron work. most of the pictures were taken after normal work hours here at gun lab, actually the workers were threatening to riot.

First is the racks for the boy’s rifles. There will be another one hung up next weekend.

IMG_2841sThen I started on a gun rack in my shop for project guns.


IMG_2852sThis is to store the general gunsmithing projects that I need to complete.

IMG_2854sA friend of gun lab is helping me with some iron work for a new addition. There was a lot of prepping being done as next weekend I have a fork lift coming coming in. A great deal of lifting and rigging equipment has been per-positioned for the upcoming task.




IMG_2849sAll of it is heavy.

VG1-5 update

The first 5 rifles have been made and tested, then re-tested, then again photographed and re-tested and finally photographed in slow motion and re-tested. I number of interesting issues were found and collected, not serious but still interesting. We have one more test to do to verify that everything is good to go.

These are the next 9 rifles. All the changes that we made on the first 5 are being incorporated in this group. The upper receivers are being worked on.

IMG_2510sAt this set we are setting up and machining the ejection port. The port is being lengthen slightly and beveled.

IMG_2511sThis actually two different cuts. This is the tool to make the slight radius cut.

IMG_2512sThe set up was changed again due to a chatter issue that showed up.

IMG_2570sA close up of the new look for the ejection port.

IMG_2571sThe new ejection port cut in and radius