Sunday, June 28, 2009

FAL Last-Round-Bolt-Hold-Open Mod

FAL Last-Round-Bolt-Hold-Open Mod - How-to article with pictures from Alan Eldridge's site.

I discovered this accidentally while searching for a good WECSOG link for the Saiga 12 Pistol-Grip Conversion article. Kinda neat.

Saiga Pistol-Grip Conversion - S-12 Shotgun

I actually finished the conversion more than a month ago, but I didn’t get around to taking pictures until last weekend. The write-up is not 100% finished yet, but it’s been a week since I’ve had anything to post here, so. . .

  • Russian American Armory Saiga-12 12-Gauge Shotgun with 19” Barrel
  • Saiga Internal Stock Adapter (I think it was Al’s Custom that made it, but it doesn’t say on my receipt, or the bag it came in, and the part is no longer on the Mississippi Auto Arms site)
  • ACE Pig-Nose AR-15 Stock Adapter
  • Tromix DIY Trigger Guard (With Built-In Pistol Grip Mount)
  • Tapco M4 Carbine-Type 6-Position Stock
  • ProMag M4 Stock Recoil Pad
  • Interarms AK-47 Pistol Grip (Borrowed from another rifle that didn’t need it as a U.S. made part)
  • Interarms Grip Screw
  • Tapco G2 Single-Hook Trigger Kit (Trigger, Hammer, Disconnector)
  • Tapco Trigger and Hammer Pin Retainer
  • 10 Pound 1911 Recoil Spring (For Light Birdshot Loads - Replaces Front Recoil Spring)
Tools Used:
  • Drill
  • Assorted Drill Bits
  • Center Punch
  • Hammer
  • Dremel Rotary Tool
  • Dremel Carbide Cutting Bit (Part Number 9901)
  • Dremel Router Bit
  • Dremel Reinforced Cut-Off Wheel
  • Grandfather’s Vise
  • SAE Allen Key Set
  • Phillips and Flat-head Screwdriver
  • Temporary (blue) thread locker
  • Needle-Nose Pliers
  • Needle-Nose Vise Grips
  • Tweezers
  • Pin Punch Set
  • Coarse File
  • Kart Recoil Lug File (Any Square Needle File W/Safe Edge Will Do)

This is the only gun that I've ever named. I call it Sid, becuase I think it's probably the most Visious thing I own. Nothing, short of a belt-fed machinegun, can remove or destroy flesh and bone quite like a load of buckshot, and this sucker can load up to 13 rounds of buck, and fire them as fast as you can pull the trigger. If you've got the cash, you can pick up a 20 round drum magazine for these Saiga shotguns. When the magazine runs empty, rock-and-lock another one in and cycle the bolt and you're ready to go again.

922r Compliance
The Saiga rifles and shotguns come with funky hollow plastic sporting stocks. For these stocks to work at all, the trigger is moved back from the position it would normally be with a pistol-gripped AK-47. The square hole and slot for a normal AK-type trigger is still there, but it's covered by a piece of sheet metal riveted into place on the bottom of the receiver. This sporting conversion is done to comply with an import ban. Although the company in Russia makes Saiga rifles and shotguns in the normal AK pistol-grip style, they are non-sporting under the language of the U.S. import ban.

But wait! There's a catch! The ATF allows for conversion from sporting configuration, to the pistol grip configuration, as long as 10 or less of the parts they've listed are imported. When you add these domestically-made parts, the firearm changes from an imported gun, to a U.S.-made gun. Yes, it sounds kinda dumb, but don’t knock it! It’s kind of a nice loophole to have in a ban.

In my case, changing out the hammer, disconnector, and hammer make the shotgun a legal domestic firearm if I use American-made magazines. Add a U.S.-made pistol grip and stock, and I can use any magazine.

I had originally planned to buy one of the stock adapters with the mount for a pistol grip, so I wouldn't have to do the full-bore pistol grip conversion. That would have required more expensive U.S.-made conversion parts. Handguards run about $60, and the gas pucks are around $40. It's actually cheaper to do a proper conversion, if you can drill out the 3 rivets that hold the cover on the bottom of the receiver. You end up with a shorter shotgun and a better trigger in the end anyway. The stock Saiga trigger pull is really heavy. The Tapco G2 trigger is much better, better than many AR triggers even. I would have ended up doing the conversion properly eventually, and would have been stuck with used parts that no one really wants.

I think I managed to do the conversion without buying any tools. I used a Black & Decker hand drill that I bought from Wal-Mart a few years ago for something like $25. I did chew into the receiver some, drilling out the rivets, but the trigger guard and button-head screws covered up those little sins. The rivets didn't give me too much trouble. Cheap DrillMaster bits seem to have worked fine.

Tricky Bits
The first issue was drilling out the trigger pin rivets. Damn things will spin on you, and the drill bit doesn't do it's job. This is where the needle-nose vise grips come in. You need something to hold the pin/rivet in place as you drill.

The stock adapter required a lot of modification, even though it's made for the Saigas. The first issue I noticed was the lack of a slot for the key of the AR-15 stock adapter to seat in. I put the adapter under the drill press, and cut some holes, and then used the trusty Dremel to make the holes into a slot. I also had to notch the internal stock adapter to clear the FCG pin retaining wire. When all that was done, it got lightly sanded, and given a coat of Krylon Black BBQ paint. I’m actually not quite done with that; the receiver cover scrapes away a little more paint off the top-rear block every time I put it back together. I’ll have to cut down that ridge when I get the Ace folder mechanism and repaint.

The hardest part of the conversion was getting the lower put back together with the bolt hold open (BHO) lever. I wrestled with the springs to get the trigger and hammer pins in, then I installed the stock, putting threadlocker on the screws. THEN, I pushed on the hammer pin, discovering that the pin retaining wire wasn't working properly. With the stock adapter holding the retaining wire in place, I had to take it all apart, and start all over.

I don’t know how the Russians get damn things together. Getting the parts in under spring pressure without the safety in place is frustrating. They must have assembled it with the safety, because the BHO lever blocks off the slot in the side of the receiver otherwise, and then you can’t get the safety in. Notching the BHO lever to allow inserting the safety doesn’t seem to hurt, so that’s what I did. This is where the Dremel Carbide Cutter bit comes in. But don’t put away the Dremel and bit yet, with the pistol grip conversion, you’ll find that your trigger finger (or maybe thumb for lefties) is making contact with the protruding button end of the BHO lever. You may want to trim that BHO button down about a quarter inch.

I got the conversion done over the course of one weekend while catching up on TV. I would probably have gotten it done in a matter of hours if I hadn't been running up and down the stairs, going from the basement to the couch and back again and again. I didn’t have a spare AK grip at the time, so I modified an old FAL grip to work (in true WECSOG fashion), which added about a half hour to the conversion process. Then I got a Romanian AK-47 parts kit (for another build), which freed up a proper AK-47 pistol grip, but I had to cut the grip screw down to work with the Tromix Trigger Guard.

Saiga 12 Magazines

The Russian American Armory 5-round magazine that came with the shotgun is similar in size to a 30-round AR-15 magazine. So far, this seems to be the most reliable magazine that I've used in this shotgun so far. This is what I keep loaded with Federal LE 2 3/4" 00-Buck shells, until I can get some 3" buckshot shells.

The 8-round Surefire magazine is similar in size to a 30-round AK-47 magazine. The Surefire 8-round is what is shown in the pictures of my shotgun at the start of this article. Surefire mags are American-made and count as 3 compliance parts - magazine tube, follower, and base plate. I have had a few 2 3/4" shells hang up on the top of the barrel extension. No problem with 3" rounds yet, because the front end of the shell sits forward of the rear end of the barrel extension, and there's no way for the longer rounds to get caught there. I guess I should take a picture, so that you can understand what I'm talking about.

Size Comparo Shot. From left to right:
  • 12-round Surefire Saiga 12 magazine in bag
  • 10-round Promag Saiga 12 magazine
  • 8-round Surefire Saiga 12 magazine
  • 5-round RAA Saiga 12 5-round magazine
  • 30-round AK-47 magazine
  • 30-round AK-74 magazine, 5.45x39mm
  • 30-round MagPul PMag AR-15 magazine
Related Links:
Saiga .223 Conversion – Not quite the same, but gives a good pictorial step-by-step walk through.

How to reinstall the BHO

BHO mod so you can get the safety back in

Making FCG pin-retaining wire from Saiga pin-retainer spring

Mississippi Auto Arms – Where I got most of the conversion parts and Surefire mags.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sigh. Pocket Knife Ban In the Works?

U.S. Customs and Boarder Patrol (CBP) wants to change the rules so that assisted-opening pocket knives are lumped into the same group with "switchblades." says that the rule would also cover most one-hand-opening knives, and may even be interpreted to cover just about any pocket knife.

Click here for more details and sample letters to send to CBP and congress.

EDIT; 11/14/09: The bill was defeated.

EDIT; 11/22/09: There was an article on it in either Guns Magazine or American Handgunner. It seems to still be possible.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Rumor - Glocks With Adustable Grips

There seems to be a rumor floating around that there will be Glock pistols coming out within the next 12 months with interchangable backstraps. Allegedly, it has been confirmed by Glock, Inc. I've seen no official documentation, or photos of the pistols, so until then I can only report it as rumor. This would not be the first rumor to come out about a new Glock that never existed, or was never slated for production.

I was under the impression that Glock was selling so many pistols that they didn't need to really do anything to keep up with the competition. Even before the election Glock pistols were in short supply.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lancer L5 AR-15 Mags. Thumbs Down.

I found some for about $16 each at the Valley Forge Gun Show, and bought three. When I got them home and took them apart for inspection, I realized that was a mistake.

The plastic body of the mag is rather thin, and can be bent inward in the middle noticeably.

The follower is a variation on the green G.I. follower, and it will tilt if you push on either the front or the back.

Green G.I. follower on left, Lancer follower on right.

Green G.I. follower on top, Lancer follower bottom

Getting them apart for cleaning is not particularly easy. The floor-plate (which has a rubber bumper) locks onto the mag body with three tabs. To remove it, you need to push in on one of the side tabs with a cartridge or a pen or a similar pointy tool, and pull the floor-plate, and hold it so that it doesn't reengage. Then you need to press in the tab on the other side. At this point the mag spring will probably push the floor-plate out, and you can disengage the rear tab. There is a tool, sold separately, that pushes in both side tabs at once.

For comparison, I'll explain how to disassemble a PMag. Press in the center of the lockplate with the locking tab of the magazine cover (or the tip of a bullet or a pen), and slide off the floor-plate. With the floor-plate off, you can easily pull the guts out of the mag body. It takes longer to explain it than it does to do it.

I'm going to get rid of these mags one way or another. I don't think they're as good as PMags or plain old metal mags. One will probably go with the OA-96 pistol when I get another pistol upper. Hopefully, I'll sell one or two more along with the Colt M-16 BCG that I need to sell.

A Lancer representative on the forums has said that Magpul anti-tilt followers won't work well with the magazine body. They aren't compatible with any aftermarket floor plates with pull tabs either.

UPDATE, 1/16/11:  I've run one of my Lancer magazines through a couple of rifles, with no issues.  I haven't really heard anything bad about them from anyone else either.  Some of the guys that run carbine courses are recommending these.  I'm afraid I've got my foot in my mouth on this one.

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Free shipping on orders over $150. Expires 6/30/09. Use code "MAN" at checkout.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Israeli Pistol Named After Obama. . . !?

No. . . not really!!

While looking for more information on the Magal, I stumbled upon the Barak pistol. It's a high capacity double action auto, but I really only bring it up as a joke because the name is so close to the first name of Obama, who really isn't that friendly with Israel.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

IMI Magal Carbine

I'm still alive, I just haven't found anything particularly interesting to post in a while.

I was looking for a little information on the new HK submachine guns, which brought me to the Remtek Arms website. It was there that I found a picture (just a picture) of the IMI Magal.

Info From
The Magal carbine is based on the Micro Galil, and is chambered for .30 Carbine, fed by 30 round magazines (don't appear to be M1/M2 Carbine mags). The rear of the receiver is definitely AK-based, but the handguard is a modern polymer design, and there's a Steyr AUG type shield over the front of the pistol grip. The stock is a side-folding Galil-type skeleton unit. Weight is 3.5kg (7 pounds, 11 ounces). Retail price is $1000, which seems like a lot of money for an AK-based weapon.

Although the Magal has proven to be unreliable due to the short barrel, which doesn't provide enough gas pressure to work the action, and the handguard overheats quickly, it is an interesting weapon.