Thursday, September 13, 2018

The $100 gun streak continues

Hello and welcome back to Rickfrom406. It's been a busy summer season for yours truly. There is lots of posts to come I just need to discipline myself to make a regular schedule. Alright without further ado here we go.

So I have a problem. If I see a gun for $100 or less, I want it. I mean like almost compelled to buy it, even if I don't want the thing. Sure i've bought my fair share of guns in the $100.01 - $100.00 range and they typically do well. The $100 and less is a lot more roll of the dice. I'm not sure why I gamble this way but it usually works out. This current adventure seems to keep my streak alive.

The gun in the spotlight today is a S&W M&P 15-22 M-Lok edition. Well if your current though is how could I buy one for $100, I hate to break it to you I didn't. I actually only paid $75 for the thing. I have a friend who wanted to get rid of it and I was happy to risk it. You see the reason he wanted to dump it because its sat in a box for the last 2 years with a return label on it. This deal gun has been a bit of a headache for my friend. This gun has blown up on him not once, but twice. After the first OOB (out of battery) he sent it off and S&W "fixed" it and promptly sent it back. Well in the attached letter in the box he mentioned it has never made it through a complete magazine. Also the main reason for the 2nd return trip was yet another OOB detonation. Well i'm either brave or dumb (the latter) because I wanted to know for myself. After picking up the 15-22 and getting it home it was time to dissect it and investigate.

The first glaringly obvious issue was the remainder of the last case to go off in the gun. It was a complete case head separation. I've never extracted a torn case and I was preparing for a long fight. I was pleasantly surprised when I removed it with a cleaning rod and a 22 cal bore brush. The second issue was the bolt, more specifically the extractor or lack there of. I assume when the case went off the extractor, spring and detent all went into low earth orbit. $20 and a few days wait would fix that issue for me.

Being the impatient person I am I decided I needed to shoot the gun before the new parts arrived. I decided to swap the bolt from my first 15-22. I figured with parts in the email whats the worst that could happen. I drop up to one of my local public shooting areas and prepared for a grenade to go off in my hand. I loaded a single round into a magazine and steadied my nerves. With a gulp and deep breath I racked the charging handle......Nothing. Well that's a good sign I suppose. I pull the trigger and it goes bang without question. Bolt locks back and all is well. Okay I survived the first test, next up is a magazine with 10 rounds.  Slowly and with purpose I fire one after another. Ten up, ten down. Third magazine is a full 25rds. I start slow then work into double taps. Still no issue of exploding and it cycles fine. True test time, I grab the fourth mag that's fully loaded and I let it rip as fast as I can. If you ask your mom, my finger can move. Welp, success. I fired a total of 200rds without having any issues. Well safe to say old bold + new gun worked just fine.

Now it was a waiting game to see if the new bold and old gun would work or blow up. After a few days of waiting on the USPS to hurry up and deliver the new parts it was time to test it out. Knowing that my old 15-22 never had an issue I went directly to a full magazine. After racking in the first round in and boom I went for it. I started slow and as magazine after magazine went through without a hiccup I picked up the pace. I put about 200rds  through with only 2 rounds with light primer strikes right at the end of the same magazine. Ill have to do more testing but i'm going to leave the bolts swapped until something happens.

So far i'm pretty happy with how everything is preforming currently and after some more testing it will be time to put the new 15-22 in the hands of people who are in need of training. Speaking about people and training. If you haven't yet read and shared the book "Patriot  Fire Team". It's a good read and it will make you want to get a crew together.

Until next time, Do svidaniya

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Citizens Academy

Hello all and welcome back to Rickfrom406. It's been a busy spring so far and I have a lot of material to write about. Finding time to sit down and actually type it out is another story.  Something I recently took part in is our local Citizens Academy put on by our Sheriff's Department. The program is 8 weeks and duration and covers a myriad of topics revolving around the Sheriff's department. I'll put the class synopses below:

What is the Sheriff’s Citizens Academy?
The Sheriff’s Citizens’ Academy program is designed to familiarize participants with various aspects of their local Sheriff’s Office, such as administrative philosophy, internal policies, and the guiding principles of law and ethical conduct governing the delivery of sheriff services. The Academy training will consist of classroom and “hands on” training with emphasis on student involvement.
The program covers procedures from patrol and investigations, emergency vehicle operations, firearm procedures and Corrections Tour as well as drug education and other operational tasks. The curriculum does not fulfill State of Montana certification requirements for peace officers.
Who instructs the Academy?
Instructors are Deputies and personnel from the office who speak on their areas of expertise, as well as specialized guest speakers.
What are the Academy’s goals?
The Academy’s goals are to develop community awareness through education and develop a closer understanding and working relationship between the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and the community it serves. Participants are encouraged to ask questions and offer comments on the topics shared.
What are the requirements to attend?
The academy is free but space is limited. Potential candidates must meet the following requirements: Minimum age of 18 years, reside in Flathead County, and must be willing to attend all classes. Application finalists will be subject to a criminal history check and notified of their enrollment and at the discretion of the Sheriff’s administration.

In the upcoming posts i'll write about what was discussed broken down by week. Looking forward to getting those blog entries up and live. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

If things go bananas are you ready to dole out the hate?

Hello and welcome back to Rickfrom406. I'm burst posting as i've got a few built of and ready to publish. Today i'm posting about another project I worked on. I decided I would make some banana mags. Enjoy the read below.

I recently acquired some metal mags and decided I needed to spice up my life a bit. I've always thought the idea of making some banana mags for the range or doing run-n-guns in the woods would be fun. These mags were bought from a pawn shop and they had seen a hard life of use before I bought them. They'll continue to get abused but now they'll make people smile when they seem them. The process was pretty simple and I'll list the process down below.

  1. I scuffed them with Emery cloth after taking them apart
  2. Cleaned them with rubbing alcohol to clean off any grease or dust (brake clean would have worked)
  3. I hung them in boxes using pieces of metal hanger cut to about 5in and made a long hook (90 degree bend) to poke through the box and support the mag and a small hook (170 degree bend) to hold the mag from the catch hole.
  4. Shot them with Rust-Oleum “American Accents Gloss Sun Yellow” (most banana yellow color).
  5. Some mags got 2-4 coats for coverage and as I got better some only needed 2.
  6. I tested a few with clear coat but it doesn't seem to matter feel free to skip this step
  7. Apply stickers, up where I op8 we only get Dole so that's what I went with. (the clear coat I applied the sticker first)
  8. Reassemble mags, take photos and farm the karma.

From ugly duckling to a functional 870

Hello and welcome back to Rickfrom406. I've been busy and I really need to do a better job posting on this blog. Spring in the 406 has sprung and that means new life and new opportunities to do stuff. Seizing on that idea i've been working on a few projects. First up is the one I most recently started. Its 90-95% complete and for the time being it will stay as is. I've been working on fixing up and converting an old Remington 870 bird gun into a practical/tactical shotgun. Enjoy the read and i'll put photos at the bottom.

This gun started life as a Remington 870 Wingmaster. Given the serial number it was probably made in 1979. I'm not sure what barrel length it started with but when I bought it it sat at about 28'' with the Poly-Choke Deluxe attached. When I say it was ugly and the photos don't do justice I mean it. This thing had a rough life. I'm not quite sure what what the camo pattern is supposed to be but, my guess is “pissed in snow”. When I saw it on the wall at the pawn shop and that for the price they had on it, even if it was ugly now it would be worth some elbow grease to make it my own. I've been wanting a more combat/tactical shotgun and the 870 is a perfect platform to build off of.

First I had to find out what was under paint and see what the real condition of the gun was. I purchased some fingernail polish remover on my way home to take of the paint. After about the 3rd wipe with a rag and polish remover I knew why they painted the gun. Someone had stripped most of the bluing off with an angle grinder or something with the same devastating potential. Well no looking back now, lets reveal the true shape of the gun. So after about ¾ of a bottle the gun was looking pretty well stripped of the paint I could get to. The gun has chatter marks up and down it. A small amount of rust pitting on the receiver and some surface rust in the mag tube. Enough rust in the tube that when originally looking at the gun in the pawn shop, the magazine follower was rusted in place. Well this gun was ugly, nothing I can do could hurt the value of it. Time to make more improvements.

So being the cheap bastard I am I figured a low budget attempt was where its at. First I knew the long barrel wasn't what I wanted. Sure I looked around on eBay and at some local places to see if I could find a cheap barrel to slap on this thing. Well nothing cheap enough caught my eye. The only logical step is to cut the barrel down. That's a great idea, except I don't have the tools to cut it down. Friends, what are they for after all. I talk to a buddy and he's like “I got you fam” and proceeds to sell me an angle grinder in a chop saw mount for $20. I figure why the hell not, whats the worst that could happen. I round up another friend and after a trip to the Hillbilly Mecca (read as Harbor Freight) I bought the few pieces I would need. I bought a square (which only makes me feel better about the half-ass job i'm about to do), a sanding disc and the tool to put them on, because for $20 you get whatever your friend can find at the time. Well somewhere around here is where I link the video of that barrel getting cut down while neighbor's pass in horror as I preform the butcher job. After making small talk with a few of them and asking what I was doing as well as the legalities of cutting down a barrel, I managed to hack through it without a lot of effort. The cut would have been more straight but flipping it over to get the last bit kinda messed with my plans. Overall the cut was decent and not to far from square. After a few minutes of love with the sanding disc and some hand sandpaper it was looking perfect.

Well now its time to strip the cut down barrel with chatter marks, a little bluing and a receiver/mag tube with some bluing but mostly stripped. I haven't figured out why the trigger guard was left alone during the former owners grind and paint fest but figured it needed to be stripped down to complete the look. After finding a container big enough (one of our coolers for camping) a few gallons of vinegar later and lots of sanding I manged to rid the gun of any bluing that used to exist. Vinegar makes your house stink and your significant other question why you do projects in the house. Now a bare receiver it was time to sand... and sand.... and sand some more. I used several grits from 80 to emery cloth. I smoothed out some of the really ugly spots but its still a bit of a 10' looker. It ended up looking pretty decent given what it started as.
The only upgrade to the gun that wasn't cosmetic (so far) was the magazine tube extension. I purposely chose to cut the barrel to 21'' for two reasons. First being that its a vent rib barrel means I had to cut flush to/on/through a rib. The second reason for the length is adding the aforementioned mag tube. I chose to go with a +3 extension. I didn't want it to protrude past the barrel for mostly aesthetic reasons but, also because if it sticks out I don't gain anything from a shorter (18'') barrel. I picked the Remington brand extension as it was decently priced and its guaranteed to work for my application. The extension is stupid easy to install and the spring really isn't a hassle to get into the tube and screw it together. The other reason for the factory extension is it comes with a sling mount and support brace for the tube, although I don't know if it needs it.

TLRD; Gun was ugly, made it less ugly and more practical. Added longer tube to hold more pews.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A few horses added to the stable

Hello and welcome back to Rickfrom406. If you've read through my blog you'll know that I am a bit of a gun nut. With that being said i've tried to be better about buying every gun that I run across. Recently I had a relapse and bought not one but two guns in a short amount of time. Well, at least I tried I suppose. One was a gun that eventually I was going to own no matter what. The second gun I picked up ended up being a deal to good to pass on.

The gun I was going to end up with no matter what is a Ruger 10/22. It's just a run of the mill nothing special wood stock gun.... for now. I haven't decided if its going to get Tech-sights or if it will end up with an optic of some sort. Time will tell either way. The gun has a mildly interesting backstory. I bought it from a friend who built it with mostly used stock parts that he had laying around. Picked up the receiver at a yard sale for $10 and just had to buy a trigger group and a bolt. I did get a good deal on it and i'm happy to give it a good home.

The second gun was a pawn shop score and still can't believe that they had it for as long as they did without being scooped up by someone else. I first saw it and was tempted to buy it but just having bought the 10/22 a few weeks prior I knew I had to be a good boy. After talking it over with the boss and her giving me the soft pass I knew I had a green light. I took her down to look at it and she seemed not to hate it although the grip rubs her right in a knuckle and she didn't seem excited about shooting it. Normally i'd take that as a bad sign from her but given that she adopts some of my favorites as her own I wasn't to sad to have a toy that wouldn't be requisitioned. This gun fit right into what I had been thinking about buying for a while. I was thinking about picking up a CZ-75 or a clone and this gun just fell right into that category. The gun is a Sar Arms BP6 "Shark". It is a Steel frame CZ-75 copy made under license from CZ by Sar Arms in Turkey. Tanfoglio was the importer and i'm not certain how many made it into the country. It takes standard CZ-75 15rd mags which is nice although I cannot find them locally, but that's why we have the internet. The gun shoots super smooth and the added weight of the steel frame really cuts felt recoil. The fixed sights are right on the money out of the box. The double action is heavy but being designed as a gun that is meant to be carried "Cocked-and-Locked" I don't see this being an issue. The single action is smooth and if I ever buy a trigger gauge it'd be fun to know what its pull weight actually is. The only quark is that the safety is backwards of what you'd think it be. Up is fire and down is safe, which would take some time getting used to if I could use it. Being a lefty means the safety is on the wrong side for me to use and i'm unsure if I could get a CZ-85 ambi safety to work. If I were to carry the gun i'd just run it cocked and unlocked and take my chances. Knowing how to keep my bugger hook off the bang switch has always kept me safe and always will.

Someday i'll put up pictures but that will have to wait. I've ran a few hundred rounds through the BP6 and a few mags through the 10/22. I'll be doing some more testing then i'll give them a review.

Until next time, keep fighting for what is right.


Monday, August 7, 2017

The best worst handgun I own

Hello and welcome back to Rickfrom406. It's been a while since i've updated the blog. I really do mean to post more often but I just seem to always set it on the back burner. Lets not dwell to long on my deficiencies of posting and move onto the content I have come to share.

Today I wanted to talk about a gun I recently dug out of the safe and started playing around with again. The gun in question is my Star model Super B. The gun was made as best I can tell in 1975 which is a cool decade and a half or so prior to my birth. The gun has seen its share of abuse from prior owner(s). I wish it could talk so I could hear all of the things its seen and been through. The bluing on the gun is still pretty decent given the age and I can assume its treatment. I purchased the gun in Dec of 2013 and have probably only put 500 or so rounds through it. It has been a fair gun and given its a range toy/ last ditch/ handout gun I don't mind that it isn't 100% reliable. I probably would do a little more fine tuning to it if I were ever to consider carrying it for self defense.

I bought the gun after watching a M.A.C (Military Arms Channel) review on YouTube. He was reviewing a Star B and at that time they were cheap imports seemingly out of nowhere. I wanted one as they resembled a 1911 but were in a caliber I actually cared about (9mm). It was sort of a hybrid Hi-power/1911 design and seemed like a good idea. I looked around my local area and came across the Super B. I did a tiny bit of research prior to buying and only knew the B and Super B where different but semi-close iterations of each other. I'm glad I ended up with a Super B but still wouldn't mind a nice B later on down the road.

When I bought it it had a myriad of problems that the former owner tried his seemingly best to make worse. Lets dig into some of the issues I proudly purchased. First I need to disclaim that when I bought this gun I was pretty new to buying old/surplus guns and didn't pickup on any of the red flags they guy had talked about when I was buying it. Let me set the scene of a young man who was to eager to spend money. I drove over an hour one direction in a blizzard to look at this gun and should have remembered the advice of "never be afraid to walk away", or at least should of haggled this guy down on his asking price. Anyhow so i'm looking at a gun I really knew nothing about and this old timer is muttering on how it was jamming a bunch so he ground polished the feedramp so it would feed better. If i'd been about half an i.q smarter I probably would have caught onto this guy being a literal kitchen table gunsmith messing up guns one dremel at a time. Also if i'd been a wee bit smarter and researched the gun more I would have known the freed ramp is part of the barrel on this gun and this neanderthal just ground "polished" the frame only making the problem worse. I mostly corrected this mistake and will show later in photos how I manged to rectify the problem. Even after the guy talked about it having problems I still bought it and was smitten with my decisions because I had a new boom stick.

Love at first shot or disappointment at first shot? That could of easily been the title for this post. The gun when I bought it was a jam-o-matic*. It was having all the symptoms of a crap tier gun. Failure to extract, failure to eject, double feeds etc were the norm. I fought with it as it was and chalked most of it up to being an old Spanish made gun. After some more investigating and some general tinkering I have made the gun run pretty well. I'd say it runs well enough now that i'd probably use it in a defense pistol match to see how well it could really do. I'll get into a some of things i've done to make my gun run better than when purchased.

First I replaced the recoil spring with a new Wolff Spring which made a huge difference. The new spring was over an inch longer then the probably original worn out spring. With the original spring I could cycle the slide with my pinky while holding the trigger guard with thumb. Needless to say that should have been the guys first clue as to why the gun didn't cycle worth a darn. The second thing I did was build up the frame with JB weld as the guy had ground a good 1/8 to 1/4 inch of frame away. Building the frame up forced the rounds to stop nose diving and jamming the gun. I could probably add a little more material and see if that helps feeding a smidge more.The next thing I did was find a reproduction extractor. Looking at a new extractor vs the 40+ year old original it was a wonder the old worn out claw grabbed anything at all. The 4th thing I did to the gun wasn't needed but made the gun better in my opinion was to remove the magazine disconnect. I wouldn't say it improved anything but does remove the possibility of being unable to use the gun due to a accidental bump of the magazine release. In between improvements I did accidentally break the firing pin by dry firing the gun. It took over a year to have the pin machined and a new tip added as I couldn't find a new one for sale anywhere online.

Overall I still love the gun even though its been a pain in my butt. It has taught me about buying used and how to diagnose and repair guns. If I could do it all over I may pass but boy is it fun to shoot. Every time I shoot the gun it brings a smile to my face and is always a crowd pleaser when I bring it out. It has decent sights, a fair trigger and familiar use of arms to anyone familiar with a 1911 and to be honest it does look good. I'll post photos below and allow you to judge for yourself.

Frame post JB weld
*Jam-O-Matic is a registered trademark of Hi-Point Firearms

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Winter driving and homebrew repair

Welcome back to Rickfrom406. I know its been quite a while since i've updated this blog and I really do mean to, I just well frankly have been lazy. I figure since spring is here I might as well post about some of the winter events that have occurred. This post is about winter driving and what you shouldn't do. The photos below are the result of traveling to fast for conditions. I'll lay the ground work of the story and allow the photos to tell the rest of what happened.

I was heading up to visit family and help my brother do some renovations on our grandmothers house. I was traveling in the late morning in February and seeing how it had been nice I figured the road was just wet and I could drive at 70mph. The plan worked well until I came upon a shady corner who hadn't been hit by the morning sun. Well after a few puckering moments of trying to straighten my trajectory out it became apparent the ditch and I were going to meet, and meet in a hurry we did. Luckily the snow in the ditch was still several feet deep and relatively soft versus the weight and speed of the land missile I was "piloting". The rear passenger side went in first and the truck came a to a halt in an abrupt fashion. I figured the damage would have been worse given the speed but all in all the truck fared well. Below are some photos of the accident and the repair work being preformed.

At the accident site:

View from the truck and the slide pattern:

Damage to the truck first look:
Broken taillight. Missing driver side center glass to topper. Broken rear topper window. Broken passenger side rear plastic window. Bumper bent downward.

So naturally looking at the photos the most obvious damage is the taillight and bumper. Well I ordered a replacement taillight for less than $20 off of eBay. The box is bent and kind of mangled in this area so a new taillight wouldn't just drop in and be done. I needed to pull out some of the box and attempt to reshape the damaged area. Well I'm no body man and I have relitivly few tools that could possibly help in this situation so it came down to some brute force and "Hillbilly Engineering". I ended up using my car and a tow strap to help pull out the pushed in box. Below are some photos of the Hillbilly Engineering in practice. My neighbor mentioned recency how much of a kick he got out of my ingenuity.

 Shown in the above photo is how practical having a "sporty" car really is.
 With a few good tugs and adjustment of the strap I pulled the bed to pretty close to the original dimensions. It is by no means perfect but good enough for a nondescript truck whose whole purpose is to blend in.

After lots of test fitting, pulling with the car and "massaging" with hammers and a pry bar the light fit. Unfortunately only two of the original four mounting bolt locations were still viable. Needless to say, Zipties to the rescue. 

Overall the repair went better than expected and i'm okay with the results. The topper will undergo surgery and repair sometime later this spring and i'll document the process as well. In the future i'd also like to reexamine how I can better fix this corner of the box and maybe have a few friends with more experience help.

Until next time, drive safe and slow down during winter even if the roads are "just wet".