Is 15 Inches Too Long?

Perhaps. More on that later.

After talking with the guys at AP Industries about their carbon fiber handguards, I ordered one for a ‘special project’.  The 15 inch ‘Tactical’ model to be exact, because I want the full length top rail for mounting iron sights.  The Tactical models also come with a couple of 2″ picatinny rails that can be mounted to any of the vents in the handguard.  Those will be put to use later.

New 15" Tactical Handguard from AP Custom USA.   [Note: strap wrench and action figure not required for installation; Darth Maul shown for scale]

New 15″ Tactical Handguard from AP Custom USA.
[Note: strap wrench and action figure NOT required for installation]

I had not attempted this type of project before [I’m not a gunsmith] and because I wanted to learn how to change out handguards / build AR upper receivers, I set about collecting the necessary tools.  The project upper was sporting a Hogue free float tube so I needed a strap wrench to remove it.  The upper receiver vise block I chose is by Wheeler Engineering and includes a very clever gas port alignment tool.  To install the new AP Customs handguard I needed a barrel nut wrench and a barrel nut.  Also required, but thankfully already owned, are a T15 Torx driver, a 1/2″ socket wrench handle, Blue Loctite, and a big honking vise.

Disclaimer: I am not a gunsmith.  This article does not constitute instruction. I’m not responsible for damage to you or your gun if you don’t seek out qualified instruction elsewhere.  I’ll leave it up to you to figure out how to remove muzzle devices, gas blocks, gas tubes, etc.

So, to the part where I remove the Hogue handguard (except that I didn’t get a picture of it in the vise)

Imagine this clamped in a vise...  [Gas port alignment rod removed for illustrative purposes]

Imagine this clamped in a vise… [Gas port alignment rod removed for illustrative purposes]

There. Done.

A couple of neat features of the AP Customs handguards are how light they are and how brilliant the attachment system is. APC designed a cup and a flange that ‘sandwich’ the barrel nut and ensure that when the gas tube port is aligned, the handguard (and therefore the top rail) is too.  Here’s how the parts are ordered: [click images to enlarge]

Parts of the AP Custom handguard attachment system shown aligned in 'exploded' view.  Milspec barrel nut is NOT included with handguard.

Parts of the AP Custom handguard attachment system shown aligned in ‘exploded’ view. Milspec barrel nut is NOT included with handguard.

These forum posts have more pictures if you are curious.  I cinched everything up using the highly technical method of turning the barrel nut to ‘hand tight’ and then using the barrel nut wrench to tighten it just enough until the nearest barrel nut notch aligned with the gas tube port.  No torque wrench needed.

As for weight savings, the Hogue midlength tube, with its integral barrel nut, weighs 9.9 ounces on my postal scale. The APC handguard parts and barrel nut combine to weigh 10.5 ounces.  That’s 6 inches more real estate to hold onto, plus a rail to attach sights to for only 0.6 ounces added.  Of course, adding additional rails for lights, VFG’s, etc will cause the weigh to stack up, as will adding those devices but that’s for each to decide on their own.

So how did it turn out?  Tune in Monday for the reveal!

Transparent Glock Frame? Cool!

Lone Wolf Distributors, purveyors of all things Glock and Glock Related had this on display at the NRA convention:

Lone Wolf Distributors Timberwolf (Compact) in transparent plastic

Lone Wolf Distributors Timberwolf (Compact) in transparent plastic

It’s one of their Timberwolf frames (compact model) cast in clear plastic.  Unfortunately they are not for sale.  When I asked if they would consider a limited run of them, they told me that they have looked into it but they have not yet found a clear polymer that will bear the stress of repeated firing.  They also mentioned that some parts manufacturers have shown interest in the transparent frame as a way to display internal parts and how they function.

It would certainly turn some heads if you showed up to an IDPA match with a mostly clear gun (and clear mags, too).  I think a satin finish chrome or stainless slide would look perfect on top.

Clear plastic LWD Timberwolf: G3 Glock replacement frame

Clear plastic LWD Timberwolf: Gen 3 Glock replacement frame

Want.

DIY and Mods: User Friendly Chamber Flags

Chamber flags are useful safety items and even when not required due to range rules, I’ll use them just as a courtesy to other shooters.  However, some of them are not the most user friendly of devices, often they require a ‘bit of fiddling’ to get them in and out of the chamber.  With that in mind, here’s how I modify chamber flags.  [as usual, click images to enlarge]

Just knock off two corners and shave the sides of the stick.

Before and After.

All those right angles and nibs sticking out make for plenty to snag on.  I trim the outside corner and trim the sides to make it easier to insert and remove.  Trimming the inside corner of the flag provides a ‘finger hook’ that makes removal as easy as swiping a finger alongside the receiver.

Also while the standard flag will fit in a .22 rimfire bore, you can make your own by using a piece of string trimmer line and adding a wire crimp butt connector.  (I resisted the impulse of sophomoric humor; the link is safe)

A piece of weed whacker line and a crimped wire connector makes for a fine rimfire chamber flag

A piece of weed whacker line and a crimped wire connector makes a fine rimfire chamber flag

While the crimp connector isn’t absolutely necessary, I like it there for the peace of mind knowing the trimmer line can’t slip all the way into the bore.

For shotguns, the flags themselves aren’t really unwieldy but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be improved.  I recommend simply drilling a hole and adding a key chain of your choice.

Chamber flags for shotguns don't seem as unwieldy, but can still be improved

“Because I like it” is enough reason for me.

I realize that these aren’t revolutionary, life-changing mods but they make life a little bit easier on the range.  I hope you find them useful too.

[Belated] Memorial Day 2013

[Apparently I fumbled the scheduling for this which should have posted yesterday]

A quote from Abraham Lincoln:

“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Freedom is most certainly not Free – eternal vigilance is but one price; the highest price was paid by those we honor today.

h/t Knife Rights

Stop Using Crayons; Use Lacquer-Stik [Color Fill In Paint]

On YouTube there are several instructional videos showing how to fill in the stampings and engravings on firearms with color.  Some use crayons, others use nail polish, paint pens, Testors model paint, etc.  Some of these videos advocate heating items with a brazing torch (!) and use of harsh chemicals.  I have yet to find one that actually uses the product purpose-made for these projects: Laquer Stick.

Color Fill-In with Lacquer Stik.

Color Fill-In w/ Lacquer Stik for easy ID.  [Click to enlarge; Background – Hawaiian Shirt Friday]

Used like grease pencils, you just rub / smudge the compound into the markings you want to highlight and then wipe away with the excess with a cloth.  [I to use 100% cotton patches to prevent any chance of scratching.]  After a while it dries and becomes permanent. You can degrease with rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits beforehand if you want, but I don’t always do that.  The surface of the marker will dry between uses so the next time you need it, just take a knife a slice off the dried layer to expose fresh compound.  And they go a long way; at $5 per stick, one of each color you want to use is pretty much a lifetime supply.

While I generally don’t feel the need to advertise the makers’ marks on my firearms (Flair!), I do enjoy being able to quickly discern which flavor of Glock magazine I’m looking in the back of the safe without having to shine a light on it.  They are also useful for highlighting the round count numbers on magazines or safety selector marks on receivers.  A product reviewer on Brownells website used it to fill in engraving to prevent rusting of the bare metal.

So avoid the ‘Crayon and Flame’ method and do it right.

New AR-15 Bolt Shatters After Only 4 Shots [pic]

A Reddit user posted a picture of an AR-15 bolt (supposedly Bushmaster) purchased through a third party seller that suffered a catastrophic failure after only four shots.  The bolt reportedly has no maker mark on it.  Even though the Great Gun Buying Frenzy of 2013 is tapering off some things in the pipeline apparently were rushed past QC (or are of questionable provenance).

I send this along just as a reminder that you should test parts before trusting them.

Catastrophic Failure of AR-15 Bolt after 4 shots [click to enlarge]

Catastrophic Failure of AR-15 Bolt after 4 shots [click to enlarge]

UK: Muslim Slasher Kills Soldier in Gun Free Utopia

So let me get this straight: In [Previously] Great Britain, two ‘radicalized Islamists’ (i.e. An “Overseas Contingencies”) run down a soldier with a car, begin stabbing and hacking with a knife and cleaver trying to behead the victim and tell bystanders to film it – and they do it while waiting 20 minutes for a cop with a gun to show up to “cut them down in a hail of bullets” (consisting of “up to 6 shots”, from which they survive).  During this time, the only one with the stones to confront the murderers is a lady cub scout leader.

And ‘unarmed subjects’ is the model the Anti-Rights crowd want us to adopt?  Of course they do.  In their eyes, this was a success because the soldier wasn’t murdered with a gun.

[Update: Edited title for accuracy]