A day testing guns

This Sunday we spent 6 hours testing a variety of weapons. A few more VG1-5 rifles were tested. The MG-34 had all the springs replaced and was tested as well as the mpi-69. This is a quick video of what was 6 hours of actual work and testing.

Saving a log from the fire pit.

A while back I was a construction site where they were removing a number of trees. One of them in particular was a large and fairly straight Mesquite tree. The guys were going to cut it up for fire wood and that just kind of pushed the wrong buttons for me. After a little chatting with the superintend I convince him  to let me have it.

This is the log and a few of the limbs.



After some clean up this is what I was left with.


The scrap was turn into mulch.

IMG_8104sA quick trip to the saw mill left me with some beautiful slabs.




It is all back home.


and stored for an upcoming project.


It will be stored for a year to air dry out the sun and rain and then it will be kiln dried to the proper moisture content. I cut these slabs at 2 1/2 inches for stocks and to be able to re-saw for a few other projects.

A short video of the process.


Why I still hate the MG-34

Yesterday while out working at the range we also brought out my nemesis the MG-34. Keep in mind this is my 3rd MG-34 that I have owned and they have all been the same. Everyone else’s MG-34 seem to work great,but mine always seem to be to have an issue. The current one that I own used to belong to a friend of mine and it worked like a champ until I bought it. I have had the gun run away when I shot it, multiple jams, the ammo not firing and every other problem that you can imagine.

I brought out spare barrels, bolts ,belts, springs and grips. My friend and owner of a perfectly operating MG-34 also brought out enough parts to rebuild my gun twice including barrel jackets and butt stocks. We had enough parts to make a WW2 German armorer jealous. This gun was going to work or else.

Now for the rest of the story.

The machine gun was placed on the original tripod and would only shoot in semi auto even though it was set to full auto. The Axel fix was a piece of cardboard.


It wasn’t until after we got home that we found the problem with the tri-pod. However that was not the only issue. The gun would fire a few rounds then stop. The primer strikes were heavy, so it was thought to be the ammo. A second strike would always fire the round. This is the same ammo that I use in the MG-42 and 1919 and it always works. Romanian 8×57 is good stuff. A number of attempts were made to fix the issue. Bolts were changed as well as the pistol grip, top cover and barrel. All of this was to no avail. the only time it even ran a complete belt was when we had a run away gun that would not stop firing.

After giving up on the machine gun it was time to go home and start over, again. This time like all the others we went through every assembly and sub assembly. every spring was checked, every contact surface was checked again and all the sub assembly’s were taken apart and checked. extra barrels and bolts were cleaned, oiled and rebuilt as necessary.

It was back out to the shooting spot. This time there was some success.

The video of the MG-34.

It has only taken 6 years, however I only take it out once a year due to the aggravation factor. On the next trip out will see if it still works or goes back on the blink again



Shooting the Frankinfal

A while back I picked up a FN-FAL heavy barrel Israel contract rifle that would not work. If you inserted a single round in the chamber and let the bolt close on it the rifle would fire but not eject. If you tried to load the rifle from a magazine it would feel but the bolt would not close fully. In the video you will see that the rifle would not eject.

After looking at the rifle it was decided to just rebuild the gun from the front to the rear. Every part was checked and and measured. The head spacing was way off, the gas piston was bent and the gas tube was also bent, there was an issue with the gas block and we checked all the components of the fire control group.

Now it is a nice shooting rifle. Enjoy this short clip of it working.

A new piece of equipment for Gun Lab

A friend of Gun Lab showed up at the door yesterday with a new piece of equipment for the fab shop.

This is a nice piece of equipment that help with some of the pressing operations in the fab shop

IMG_8554sA nice size lower plate, I have just the die set for it.

IMG_8556sSome more pins need to be made, but this is serious

IMG_8561sI am going to have the hydraulics rebuilt.

IMG_8559sIt comes with a 7 1/2 hp hydraulic power pack

IMG_8558sNow the real fun happens, moving it into the shop with a door smaller then the press.

Test firing the VG1-5 production rifle

It has been a while for a VG1-5 post. Once the rifles were completed we notice a few issues. With the changes of a new reamer and new fluting tools we were have some issues with proper operating pressures and proper operation. This caused use to go back and check everything. A through examination of the rifle caught a few minor problems.

We started by redesigning the fluting tool, actually there was 6 different designs. Each new tool was tested with two new barrels. Some of the barrels did not provide sufficient pressure to move the slide all the way to the rear. A couple of the new fluted barrels caused excessive operating pressure. Finally success was accomplished and the flute design worked very well.

The secondary sear was re-worked to allow for save operation, there is a complete post coming up on the tooling used to do this. The secondary sear was cut at 1 degree increments until the correct angle way determined.

When the slide came back we located a couple of spots where we had metal to metal contact that we should have not had. Each of these contact points  had to be looked at and a determination made as how to fix them. Most were fixed by changing the buffer spring and redesigning the barrel support.

There were a few other very minor but aggravating issues that would pop up at irregular intervals. One would be corrected only to find that the correction made a different problem worse.

To put it in context we have used close to 7000 rounds in testing this rifle design. After all this work this is a video that was shot yesterday.

The rifle was tested in both slow and rapid fire.

We went through 200 rounds today shooting the rifle and the only issue that came up was my arthritis, the rifle worked great.

Another project from Axel, the Pimp pistol

CZ82 slim (pimp) grip exercise

While waiting for obtaining an inexpensive used Glock (geez – price tag, my only complaint about Glocks) for my first real gun project here, I was thinking about thinner grigs for the CZ82.

Well, on my last trip to J&G sales (see my previous post) I somehow couldn’t resist and get me one of their CZ82 special offers as well. It was a “multiple handgun sale” anyway (report to ATF), so what.

They are actually very interesting guns . Chuck from gun lab here – initially pointed out to them.

The way they lock down the trigger guard for disassembly is far better than on the Walther PP(K), Makarov etc. guns. The trigger pull on several guns I tried before selecting mine, felt better than on any Walther, Makarov or FEG variant I’ve tried so far.

But somehow they appeared too big and chunky for what they are. And main factor here are the grip panels which are fatter/bulkier than technically necessary. They fit my mid-size hands perfectly but for a concealed carry gun or smaller hands they aren’t the best choice.

So as an intermediate project it started like this.


Pic B CZ82 s

Pic A CZ82 s

Meant to be done “on the quick” with just some left over material that was laying around. But like many side projects it became more time-consumings as initially intended. And getting impatient I just used some JB Weld to fill some gaps here and there…

Well, at least put some masking tape one the frame before. Cause that JB stuff sticks like crazy to the metal and the result looks like this.


Pic C CZ82 s

So I had to pry out the left grip panel (never leave the magazine in) and partially redo it.

For removing the JB weld remains you can best use (aside from heat) vinegar. You have to let it soak in and best remove it with your fingernail (piece of hard wood etc. would work as well), didn’t affect the paint/enamel on the gun. But you gotta pay for your mistakes one way or the other.


Pic D CZ82s

But the result was worth it IMO. And esp. for a 99 cent paint from Home Depot.


Pic E CZ82s

Pic F CZ82s

And isn’t it great if you have a well assorted reference collection within reach to pull some guns for comparison?!


Pic G CZ82s

The total width (grips) for:

CZ82: 32.7 – 33.3mm

Walther PPK: 24.5mm

Makarov: 27.6mm

RK 59: 29.35mm

P-64: 26.6mm

CZ82 slim grip: 25.4mm / 1in

So only the Walther PPK is 0.9mm / 0.0354in slimmer than those CZ82 white grips.

Which now makes the double-stack (12rd) CZ82 not bigger/bulkier than a single stack (8rd)Makarov.



And the white color – considered as “pimp style” by some folks here? Well, there was no inexpensive pearlescent paint available …

Star pistol Axel Guest post

Staying as a guest of Gun Lab here in Phoenix for a while, I picked up a few Star BM at J&G sales in Prescott.

Pic 1 BM s

Pic 2 BM s

Knowing that Chuck would like to have a look at them to compare for variances with the ones in his sample collection I put 3 on the dinner table. There are often lots of guns on that table and you have to make room for your plate – awful, I can tell ya ;)

And when Chuck came home in the evening, his first comment was (as I had secretly hoped):

Where are the other ones? I thought you picked up seven?!

Suspecting me to hide the rest (the better ones of course) from him…

Well, I showed the nice folks at J&G what a finicky German is by hand-selecting 7 guns out of about 25 they where so kind to bring out for me to pick the best ones from their current $150 special offer.

Heck, I would have taken 10, if I would have found any more worth my nitpicking attention! There’s reason that these are priced below the “normal ones” selling for about $200 – $250.

I simply like these classic, all-steel, medium-sized guns and can only recommend you to get one (a few) while they last.

Even the ones that I rejected – for cosmetic reasons – are technically in good shape and worth buying. While I was waiting for my paperwork to be proceeded, two other guys purchased 3 of them each. So go get them when you can!

So Chuck was bugging me enough the whole evening to bring them all to the table. Just to show him, that they’re all the same. German hand-picked damnit! What else can you ask for?!

So there there’s a cross section of what I bought.

Pic 3 BM s

Pic 4 BM s

(top to bottom: refinished, original, “worst” original condition)

You can tell apart the refinished ones by the more dull black exterior finish esp. on the barrel (which would be unusual on a used gun) and the slightly  rounded off corners – here best visible on the front edge of the ejection port (gun below)

Pic 5a BM s

The lot recently imported by CAI has the police markings milled off in contrast to earlier imported guns (below).

Pic 6 BM s

Of course there were some other Star B and A/B Super on the table as well.

Pic 7a BM s

And to show the internal differences all of them disassembled.

Pic 7b BM s

One nasty feature IMO is the magazine safety. It’s blocking the trigger bar from interacting with the sear when there is no magazine in the gun.

Pic 8 BM mark s

But you can easily get rid of it by removing both grip panels (the screws can be/are very  tight!) and push out the whole “safety” assembly (green line) to the right.

So now ,since we here at Gun Lab like to tinker with guns, the next question was – is there any interchangeability between these  different Star models?

Star B Super slide fits on Star BM frame until the slightly different ejector set-up gets in the way.

Pic 22A s

The Star B slide doesn’t fit on the BM frame since guide rails  on BM are slightly wider but BM slide fits on Star B frame with some play.

Pic 23A s

Even though it can’t travel all the way to the back.

These differences are mainly due to the 9×19 ammo for the BM in contrast to the 9×23 for the Star A guns. And yes the Star B (9×19) doesn’t differ otherwise from the A ones (9×23).

They didn’t even bother to adapt the magazines on two Star B’s that happened to be in the sample collection (one “9mm”, one German contract marked “Patr 08″).

Pic 15 BM s

But I’ve seen Star 9×19 magazines that had a 3mm adapter plate fitted to the rear inside of the magazine to  accommodate the shorter 9×19 rounds better.

A real PITA are the firing pins. First – to get them out you have to drive the rear sight to the left and get that pin out hidden under.

Pic 20b MOD s

Then there seem to be different diameters between 4.2 and 5.1mm! Even at the BM’s we encountered 2 sizes different so far.

The slide stop pins at the Star A/B/BM at least all have the same diameter: 5.15mm

The Star B barrel bushing fits the Star BM slide (with some play) but not vice versa.

Pic 20A s

Star Super B barrel bushing fits very well, but slide doesn’t make it all the way back, the bushing hits the frame and the hole for the recoil spring guide rod is a trifle to narrow. At least you could modify a Star Super B (and A for the record) to fit a Star BM.

Star Super A (9×23) and B (9×19) don’t entirely fit each others frame due to the slightly different ejector set-up.

Pic BM 25A s

Star B (Patr 08) barrel locking area next to Star BM

Pic 11 BM s

Ejection ports of Star B, Super B and Star BM

Pic 12a BM s

Pic 12b BM s

The ejection ports at the larger Star A/B and Super models are longer than at the BM. But the rear lower corner of the ejection port at the large frame guns reaches far more to the front. And that should have some influence on the ejection pattern.

Interestingly both Star B pistols have shorter ejection ports (at the top 32.7/33.4mm vs 34.7mm at Star Super) but address this by milling out the lower front edge of the ejection port a bit more.

Pic 26 BM s

Hopefully we’ll be able to shoot all of them side by side and take a video. It’s just difficult to find the time for doing – in between working on gun projects, buying guns and prowling at one of the many gun shows that take place every weekend here in AZ.

One advice that applies to all Star 1911 style pistols – the firing pins don’t like dry firing. They have a tendency to break. And replacement firing pins cost about $35, when you can find them.


Some random technical specs at the very end:

barrel outer diameter

Star  Super A/B: 13.5mm

Star B: 14.0mm

Star BM: 13.35mm


slide width:

Star Super A: 21.5mm

Star Super B: 21.35mm

Star B (9mm): 22.15mm

Star B (Patr 08): 22.2mm

Star BM: 21.4 – 21.5mm


We are back

We have been having a few issues with the Gun Lab server and went missing for the last week. Thanks to Ian at Forgotten Weapons, the admin for my site, for all the work he did to get us back up and running.

Where does the time go.

Honestly I set down for a moment and I realize that weeks have pasted. There has been a ton of stuff accomplished at Gun Lab that I have not had the time to actually write about. Work in my actual job has been so busy that I have been turning away as much work as I do. I am back to working from 5:30am to 9 pm every day. By the time the weekend come around exhaustion has set in and I am still in the shops for 18 to 20 hours.

I have been trying to get some videos edited to post, hope to finish them this weekend, we will see. I built a new grinder bench in the fab shop and have been working on forging dies for the hot forging hydraulic press. The welding hold down table is complete and I have been making clamps for it.

I managed to burn up the motor and controller for the CNC router, back to the drawing board on that project.

A number of new fluting tools have been made and are due to be tested shortly  for the VG1-5.

Still working on the wood shop and deck for the guest house.

This is it for my 5 minutes of free time as I need to get back to the shop and get back on the project list.