M1 Garand Disassembly

Other posts in this series: M1 Garand reassembly, M1 Garand bolt disassembly/reassembly

As usual…click all pix to make bigger

It’s been a while since I did a real gunsmithing post. I shot an “as issued” service rifle match with my M1 Garand at ASC a while back…I’ve got pictures of it that I’d meant to post but just never got around to it. The results of the match are here. They spelled my name wrong…I’m the one listed as “Curtiss”. I did OK…considering that I haven’t been shooting much lately. I was actually pretty happy with my prone slow fire and, as usual, off-hand left a LOT to be desired. My group in prone rapid fire was pretty good, just off to the left about a click or so of windage.

Anyway, after the match, I noticed a little corrosion and possible pitting on the operating rod that I needed to clean up.

While contemplating disassembling the rifle for this, it occurred to me that I’ve never posted on disassembling or reassembling the Garand…so…here we go.

As with any time you are handling a firearm, before doing anything else, ensure that there is no ammunition in the magazine and that the chamber is clear. It’s a good idea to consciously clear the room you’ll be working in of any and all ammunition before beginning.

Normal cleaning of the M1 Garand doesn’t require disassembly. All you really need to do under regular use is clean the bore and chamber, the bolt-face and inside the action. Every once in a while I pull the bolt to disassemble and clean it as well. I generally will only pull the gas tube and operating rod maybe once a year for cleaning/inspection.

To get to the spot on the gas tube I needed to reach required it to come off this time. I figured I may as well go all the way (or at least as far as I ever do) and share it with others.

The first thing to do (after double checking to make sure it’s unloaded and removing the sling) is to pull the trigger group which also releases the action from the stock.

You release the trigger group by pulling back and up on the rear of the trigger guard.

Then the trigger group pulls straight up and out of the action.

Make sure the action is supported because this releases it from the stock and it can fall out if you’re not holding it.

Pull the rear of the stock up first, then pull back to release it from the front ferrule.

The next step is to pull the operating rod spring and follower rod.

If the bolt is locked back, pull the operating rod back slightly, press the follower down and then slowly and carefully allow the operating rod and bolt to close. Be careful of the infamous “Garand Thumb”…that op rod and bolt will do a number on a thumb or finger if it closes on it with full force.

Then grab the follower rod and pull back to release it from the follower arm. It may help to put your thumb under the follower to hold the follower arm steady while doing this.

Be sure you’ve got a good grip on the follower rod, the operating rod spring is quite strong and will release with a good bit of force if you loose control of it.

Gently pull the follower rod and op rod spring out of the well in the operating rod.

Then you can separate the follower rod and op rod spring by pulling firmly. The rod fits pretty tightly into the spring so it may take a bit of force and/or jiggling to get it out. It really isn’t required to separate them, but I like to clean in there while I’ve got it apart so I usually do.

You can remove the gas cylinder and front handguard next, it really doesn’t matter. In fact, it makes it a little easier to get the op rod released from the receiver rail and bolt if you pull the gas cylinder first, but I don’t often remove the gas cylinder and, so, generally pull the bolt with the cylinder and op rod still installed, so that’s how I’ll describe it, even though we are pulling the gas cylinder this time.

First, pull the operating rod all the way to the rear.

Then, start slowly pushing it back forward while putting pressure in an upward and outward direction.

There is a slot in the receiver rail that, when the operating rod gets to the right place, will release the op rod from the rail and release the bolt lug from the op rod. The op rod should release fairly close to the rear of the receiver. If you go past half-way, you missed it. Move the rod back to the rear and try again.

Once the operating rod is released from the rail and the bolt lug, move it forward out of the way.

Grab the bolt by a lug and twist, jiggle and turn it until it comes out of the receiver. It shouldn’t take any force to get it to release, it’s just like a puzzle, you’ve got to get it into the right position and then it will basically just fall out.

Next to come off is the gas cylinder…as I said, I could have done the gas cylinder first, but it really doesn’t matter.

Using a hugemongous straight slot or phillips screw driver (I’m using the WWII vintage M1 Garand tool to do it) unscrew the gas cylinder lock screw and remove it.

Then unscrew the gas cylinder lock and remove it.

Some of these can be very tight. There is a tool made especially for removing this lock, you can get them from Fulton Armory or any number of other outlets…I don’t have one because I’ve never needed it. My gas cylinder lock has never fit that tight.

Then just pull the gas cylinder assembly off the front of the barrel. Sounds easy doesn’t it?

What if it’s too tight and won’t pull loose you ask?

Well, you could use a brass drift and mallet to tap the back of the bayonet lug or the back of the front sight, but neither of those options has ever seemed like a good idea to me.

Here’s how I do it. Standard, $5.00 gear and pulley puller from your local auto parts store.

Of course, I use a thin piece of wood to protect the muzzle, and I am very careful not to let the legs bite too much and mar the finish…but this method pulls the gas cylinder assembly straight off the barrel which ensures you’re not damaging the splines or the contact surface between the gas port and the barrel.

You really only need to get it moving with the puller. Once the gas cylinder assembly is freed from the splines, it pulls off easily.

Since we already freed the rear of the operating rod from the receiver, as soon as the gas cylinder is pulled free, the operating rod is loose and can be lifted off the barreled receiver.

Then the front handguard pulls off the barrel.

Normally, there’s no reason to pull the rear handguard, but to be thorough (and because it’s not very hard)…

It’s held in place at the rear by a metal clip. The barrel has slots milled in either side that the clip catches in. The legs on the clip that catch in the slots have small holes in them.

There is a “snap ring” type tool that can be purchased to remove this clip, but I’ve found that a tapered punch works just fine.

Insert the tip of the punch into the hole on one side of the clip and pry the leg out until is free of the slot, repeat on the other side. Then pull the back of the front handguard up and then pull back to release the front from the ferrule.

The last thing to disassemble* on the receiver (other than the rear sight,which we are not going to tackle today) is the follower assembly.

The follower assembly is held together by one pin at the front of the receiver.

The pin has a head on it on the right side. You’ll notice that the right side is larger than the left.

*Note: there is actually one more thing on the receiver to disassemble…the clip latch. It’s basically just one long piece of metal, a hinge pin and a spring. The only reason I didn’t remove them is because it’s not something that needs to be removed except for repairs and it simply didn’t occur to me. I’ll probably update this post at some point in the future and add removing the clip latch to this procedure.

The pin is usually not a tight fit and pushes right out with a punch.

Push the pin out from the left.

And the four pieces of the follower assembly just fall out. From left to right in this picture:

The follower
The bullet guide
The follower arm
The operating rod catch.

Actually the follower has two parts, the follower base and the slide, and the operating rod catch has a pin and an “L” shaped “accelerator”. Unless they need to be replaced, there is no reason to ever disassemble those pieces farther.

That’s it for disassembling the receiver and that’s enough for tonight.

Next time we’ll disassemble and reassemble the bolt.

Guest Post

Because of my gunsmithing posts, I get a lot of e-mails from people asking questions, hoping for help with a problem, or just shooting the breeze about their experiences with their guns.

Recently, a reader and fellow CZ-82 owner wrote to tell me that my experiences with the “snappy” recoil of the CZ may indicate a worn out recoil spring. That actually had never occurred to me because I associate a worn recoil spring with feeding problems…which I’ve never had…but it actually makes sense when you think about it.

Anyway, he is experimenting with various weights of Wolff replacement recoil springs and I asked him to write up his experiences for a blog post. He has graciously provided the following information for public consumption with more to come as he continues his experiments:

CZ-82 Recoil spring replacement

Posted by Aeroc

Click all pix to make bigger

Curtis asked me to write a short article about my experience with the CZ-82 9×18 pistol and the replacement of the recoil spring. Now most people who have purchased this fine weapon do not realize that their gun may be 20 years old and never had the recoil spring replaced. One way you can tell is by the distance the brass is thrown after firing. If it goes 20-30 feet, you need a new spring. This problem also adds to the snappy recoil that is experienced by most owners, and can cause early wear on the firearm by having it literally beat itself up with each shot.

While I was reading about my new purchase and read about the snappy recoil and came across a post stating that if you replaced the spring with a new spring, the recoil would soften up considerably. According to the poster marakov.com recommended a 19lb. makarov spring. Available at Wolff springs as well as Midway USA. So I ordered the 19 lb. spring since at the time Wolff springs had nothing specific for the CZ-82.

When the spring arrived I noticed a few things. First the replacement spring was longer than the original spring as seen in picture 1; the original is on the bottom. Also it was a bit tighter around the barrel than the original spring but slid on well enough and still had plenty of clearance.

I took both springs to the range and compared the feel. I fired 1 magazine with the original spring to get a feel for the recoil again. Then I fired a magazine of ammo with the replacement spring. I found a definite reduction in recoil with the replacement spring by approximately 30%. But there were some cons, it was significantly more difficult to chamber a round (a female friend of mine could not pull back the slide at all). The first 40 rounds of Sellier & Bellot ammo fired without a hitch. But then some problems started happening on the last round of the magazine: feed errors started to occur and jammed the gun buy pushing the FMJ bullets up and catching on the top of the chamber. The spring might be too strong or I have a faulty magazine. Since me and my friend were out of ammo we would have to wait for another day at the range. My thoughts were first I hope it’s not the magazine. Second well if it is the spring at least it was only a couple of bucks and a good experiment.

I then went home, and checking Wolff springs page a few days later under their new product page was CZ-82 specific springs! I guess they got enough requests so they decided to start making them. One of the things I like about Wolff and its website is that it lists the factory rating for the original spring and which springs it produces for a specific firearm, which for the CZ-82 is a 14.5 lb spring. They were now producing that spring as well as a 16.5 lb. and 18.5 lb spring. You can buy them separately or you can purchase a tuning pack with all 3 included plus 3 extra power replacement firing pin springs.

I quickly ordered the tuning pack. It arrived just 2 days later (Wolff springs does an excellent job shipping things quickly) and I happily opened the package (See pic. 2). I did notice that the package for the springs had a 16 and an 18 lb spring not a 16.5 or 18.5 lb spring, not that it matters just wanted to point out the difference in the website versus the product received. The 3 little springs are the replacement firing pin springs.

As you will notice in picture #3 they are the same length as the original recoil spring. The directions state to install the 18 lb. spring then to work down to the spring power that supplies the slide behavior you wish. So I installed the 18 lb. spring and waited for a day to go to the range, and the money to buy the only available 9×18 ammo available in town ($27 for 50 rounds….ouch, that’s more expensive to shoot than most of my other guns right now) Now I did order some Brown Bear steel cased ammo for $9.95 but need some ammo to compare it to, so I also ordered some Fiochi ammo and will compare the 2 while firing to see if I can replicate the feed errors that occurred with the makarov spring using the new CZ-82 springs.

CZ-82 Parkerizing Part 4…finis

Here are the other parts for those coming in late to the game:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

After seasoning the finish, the only thing left was to clean up the few things that I wanted to and put it all back together.

As with disassembly, I’m not going to post the reassembly procedure because I already covered that HERE in my earlier series of CZ-82 posts.

I did clean up the trigger a little and I weakened the magazine catch spring as well.

Finally, I removed the parkerization from and polished the feed ramp. I was careful not to hit the feed ramp when blasting the frame…I didn’t want to make my job any harder than it needed to be…but the ramp did take the parkerizing somewhat.

To polish the feed ramp, I used this high tech setup.

Yes, that is a .30 carbine shell casing, a strip of 600 grit emory cloth and some packing tape.

When assembled into a high tech tool, it looked something like this.

I just left enough of the emory cloth exposed at the tip to hit the ramp. That way I wasn’t worried about marring the finish inside the magazine well.

Its use is pretty self-explanatory.

The last thing I did before reassembly was clean up some of the more beat up areas of the grips.

I did this with my dremel tool and some blue polishing compound which I bought at Northern Tool and Equipment.

Some of the gouges were pretty deep and it ended up making the grips a little wavy in places from the amount of material I had to remove to smooth them, but I think it helped.

I’m not overly fond of the plastic grips to begin with so replacing them is probably in the cards at some point.

And that’s it. Without further ado, some before and after pictures to show off my handiwork. I tried to get as close to the exact same shots as I could manage for comparison purposes.

I’m very happy with the way it turned out. I’m not overly fond of the black grips on the greenish gun, but the grips could stand to be changed anyway. Also, the mags don’t drop free as easily as they used to. I don’t know if this is a side effect of the parkerizing, or just taking everything apart and putting it back together…but I may eschew parkerizing the magazines in the future…just do the baseplates so they match, but leave the mag bodies black.

But, overall, I think the experiment was a success. Only two more to do.


CZ-82 Parkerizing Part 3

The other parts in this series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 4

Once the parts are blasted, they need to be cleaned of all grit and dust as well as thoroughly degreased before parkerizing. Any grease or oil can prevent the parkerizing from working in that spot and cause a mottled, uneven finish.

For this task, I chose Tri-Sodium Phosphate. It is a heavy duty degreaser used commonly by painters to remove grime and oils before painting.

First I heated a gallon of my distilled water to boiling. I poured half a gallon in each of my two tubs. The mixture for TSP to water is 1/2 cup per gallon, so I added 1/4 cup to one tub with of 1/2 gallon of hot water and stirred.

The other tub I left the water clean for rinsing.

After the TSP completely dissolves, cleaning is pretty straightforward. I used an old (clean) toothbrush to scrub the parts with the TSP solution.

Then rinsed in the hot clean water.

Because this metal is now completely clean and grease free, it will rust almost immediately so it is imperative to dry it completely as quickly as possible.

I used my air compressor and a pressure sprayer to blow them dry. The 80psi air dried the parts off within seconds.

If you don’t have an air compressor, several cans of compressed dry air should do the trick.

A blow dryer might even work, though it would take much longer to dry the parts and you might have some flash rust appear before you can get them dry. Pressurized air is the best bet.

Once all the parts are cleaned and dried, it’s time to set up the parkerizing solution.

I use those red plastic bowls to keep the parts organized. Many of the pins and springs are very similar and its easy to get them mixed up so I tend to keep all the trigger parts in one bowl, the hammer/sear parts in another, etc.

For the Lauer parkerizing solution that I used, the mix is 1 part solution to four parts water. I used another full gallon of the distilled water and a quart of solution. The stainless steel stock pot I used is an 8 qt pot so the 5 qts of solution filled it up just past half way. That was perfect for being able to completely submerge all the parts without having any touch the bottom.

The solution is heated to 170 to 185 degrees. That’s why the candy thermometer is important. The temperature has to be maintained pretty consistently. I had to really keep an eye on it because my stove is so touchy. Bump the flame up just a touch and the temp would try to go up above 185; bump it back down and it would try to drop below 170. I had to keep a close eye on the temp to make sure I kept it in the right range.

After getting the solution up to temp, drop a buiscuit of coarse steel wool in and let it “season” for 30 minutes. The steel wool will become parkerized and the solution will start working. Remove the steel wool and you’re in business.

I used some scrap wood and stainless steel safety wire to hang the larger parts.

For the frame and barrel assembly, I actually drilled holes in the wooden bore plugs for the safety wire to go through, I used a third wire in one of the mainspring plug pin holes to hold the grip off the bottom.

The instructions say to leave the parts in the solution for 5 to 15 minutes or until they stop bubbling.

I’ve seen information on the internet that said to keep it in the solution for up to 45 minutes, but I was sticking to the instructions that came with the solution.

I noted that the bubbles stopped after about 8 minutes. I decided that, for consistency and to try to make sure all the parts came out the same color, I would leave them all in the same amount of time so I left them in for 10 minutes each.

When they came out, I was actually surprised by how light the grey color was, I was expecting it to be darker.

It did cover evenly and thoroughly however, so I didn’t start second guessing, I just went with it.

For the small parts, I used the stainless steel mesh strainer.

Bending the handle and flattening the mesh as I did worked perfectly. On hindsight, I should have cleaned the rust off the rim to prevent contaminating the solution, but I simply didn’t think about it at the time.

A couple of times throughout the process, I topped off the water in the pot with a little from the remaining half gallon of distilled water. I didn’t lose much to evaporation since the solution wasn’t hot enough to boil…but it was steaming and I did lose some. I pre-heated the water before adding it so I wouldn’t screw up the temp of the solution in the process.

I had my tub standing by with another half gallon of hot, distilled water for rinsing.

I dropped the parts in immediately after pulling them out of the solution.

Then, I again used compressed air to blow them dry quickly. Since the parts now were coated, drying them this way might have been a bit of overkill, but I didn’t want to take any chances.

Lauer makes a post parkerizing solution that Midway USA sells along with the Zinc and Manganese phospating solution itself, but I was trying to keep costs down. I was pretty sure that the water displacing and lubricating properties of WD-40 would work just as well…and I already had that…, so the next step was to drop the parts in a plastic bag…

And then spray them down with WD-40.

I put all the parts in a subgroup together in a bag…all the slide parts went in with the slide, all the magazine parts went together, trigger parts, etc.

This worked just fine, I didn’t have any problems with doing it that way so there’s no need to use a separate bag for each little part.

Doing it this way prevented me from getting the parts mixed up which may have happened if I had just dumped them all into a tub of WD-40…and it also saved some money because it didn’t take as much WD-40 to coat the parts in individual bags as I would have used filling a tub to immerse them in.

I let the parts sit overnight. Actually, I finished parkerizing on Sunday night, so they sat overnight and all during the workday on Monday. When I pulled them out Monday evening, this was what I found.

The WD-40 had seasoned the finish nicely which darkened it up and even created that greenish hue so characteristic of older parkerized guns.

I really didn’t think the WD-40 would do that, but it did. I would imagine other products (like the lauer post parkerizing solution) would have had a different effect, but the WD-40 worked just fine and I like the color I ended up with. It’s very similar to the color of my parkerized 1911.

On Monday night, I wiped the WD-40 off and cleaned the parts up. I then tried Xavier’s baked on vaselene trick that I alluded to in an earlier post. I’m not sure if Xavier’s instructions were a bit off or if I was doing something wrong, but I ended up only baking the parts at 350 degrees for about a half hour. Then I backed it down to 250 for another hour, at which point I’d had enough and turned the oven off.

Basically, the 350 heat started cooking the vaselene. The kitchen filled with waxy smoke, even with the vent hood on high. I had to open windows, turn on fans and it was still pretty thick. I checked the parts to see what was going on after about 30 minutes and the vaselene was basically cooking off. The parts were still shiny with it and there was still a little melted in the bottom of the pan, but the majority had already cooked off. That’s when I turned it down to 250. That helped cut down on the smoke and slowed the “cooking off” process, but it was still smoking some. The smell is…um…unpleasant. After another hour at 250, I was beginning to think I was just going to end up baking burned up vaselene into the finish and the whole thing was still smoking so I’d had enough and just turned the oven off.

I do think it helped and I think the concept is sound, I just think 350, or even 250 was too much heat. The melting point of vaselene is about 85 degrees or so. I’d say the oven on 150 or maybe 200 would have worked pretty well and when I do the next one, that’s what I’m going to try.

At any rate, the vaselene did coat the pieces pretty thoroughly and did seem the impregnate the finish well. It was a bear to clean off though. Helpful hint: Hoppe’s number 9 does a pretty good job of dissolving vaselene. Denatured alcohol doesn’t work at all, it just moves it around.

That’s it for this post. Next I’ll wrap things up and post some detailed before and after pictures.

CZ-82 Parkerizing Part 2

The other parts of this series:

Part 1
Part 3
Part 4

***Update: I forgot to mention that OBVIOUSLY, the next step is actually disassembling the pistol. I’m not going to cover that in this series ’cause we’ve already been there. For a refresher of how to detail strip the CZ-82, go HERE. I did remove the front sight which I didn’t do previously, but it was a simple matter of drifting out the pin and lightly tapping the sight forward and off the slide. Nothing complex there.***

After gathering all the equipment, the next step is metal preparation.

That entails bead blasting and thoroughly degreasing the metal surfaces that are to be parkerized.

This stage is the most critical in that the preparation of the metal for parkerizing is what determines how smooth, uniform and thoroughly the parkerizing solution will electrochemically convert the surface of the metal into the corrosion resistant substance that is desired.

One thing that you most definitely don’t want to blast or parkerize is the bore and chamber. To protect them while blasting and parkerizing, I bought a piece of 1/2″ dowell rod to plug the ends with. Of course, 1/2″ is way too big so I had to reduce the diameter of the rod to fit into the bore and chamber.

To do this uniformly, I cut the dowell rod into two sections about 4″ in length, chucked them into my drill press and used sandpaper as they were spinning to reduce them into a semi-cone shape that would fit securely into the muzzle and chamber.

Then I cut them down to about 1 1/2″ in length for use when blasting and parkerizing. I didn’t take another picture after cutting them to length, but I’m sure you can imagine it.

The one marked “R” is the chamber end. You’ll notice that the “ramp” isn’t as steep as the one for the muzzle end and you may be able to tell that there is a bit of a “lip” from the sanded portion to the body. I did this to help block the blasting media from the feed ramp and the edges of the chamber as well as from getting into the chamber itself.

The next thing I did was clean all the parts that were to be blasted with denatured alcohol. I like denatured alcohol for this because it is a pretty reliable solvent/cleaner/degreaser but it dries quickly and doesn’t leave a residue. I’m going to clean and degrease the parts more thoroughly before parkerizing, but cleaning before blasting helps to prevent contaminating the blasting media with oil or grease.

From this point on, I never handled the parts with bare hands. I used the nitrile gloves, the sandblasting gloves inside my makeshift cabinet, or the rubber chemical gloves.

Always wear a respirator when blasting. Even though the glass beads are non-toxic, they can still be a pretty severe irritant and can cause you to go into respiratory distress.

From there, the blasting part is pretty straightforward.

The metal grate in the bottom is just some metal shelving material. I’ve got it nailed to a couple of 2×4’s on edge to hold it up off the bottom of the tub. This keeps the work off the bottom so that the used media has somewhere to go and doesn’t cover up any pieces you have in the box waiting to be blasted.

I didn’t take a picture of this, but I used a small magnetic parts tray to hold the small parts so they wouldn’t be blowing around in the cabinet and I used a pair of needle nose pliers to hold onto the small parts while blasting.

I, of course, dropped some of the small pins and parts while working with them…that’s another advantage to using the cabinet; dropped parts are contained in the tub. When I emptied the media from the tub back into the blaster, I ran it through a piece of screen which not only helped keep from contaminating the media but also allowed me to find any parts that I’d dropped while working.

And here is the end result: one naked CZ-82.

As I mentioned before, there were some parts I didn’t blast and parkerize. Those included the springs, the extractor, the firing pin, the bore and chamber (of course), the locking tab on the safety, things like that.

I know I promised the whole process start to finish, but the post would just be too long to do it all in one so I’m going to close this one and continue in another post.

CZ-82 Parkerizing Part 1

The other parts of the series:

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

As promised, even though I’m not completely finished putting the CZ that I refinished back together and haven’t test fired it yet, I’m going to get started posting on my experiences with refinishing the CZ-82.

As always, click all pix to make bigger. As you can see in this picture, the CZ that I chose as my first victim is pretty beat up. I will say that it shoots very well and is extremely accurate. The only problems with it right now is that the trigger is a bit creepy, the ambidextrous mag release only works from the right side, and the finish and grips are pretty beat up.

As you can see, the mags don’t look too bad, but I’m going to refinish them anyway, just so they’ll match.

I chose parkerizing because I like the way the finish looks, it seems like something very doable for the hobby gunsmith at home, wouldn’t require a huge amount of equipment or materials that I don’t already have, and in researching the procedure, didn’t seem overly complicated.

Parkerizing is a process that uses either Zinc or Manganese phosphate to electrochemically convert the surface layer of ferrous metals into a corrosion resistant material. The Zinc Phosphating process was commonly used on military firearms during WWI and WWII but results in a slightly thinner finish and is considered slightly less corrosion resistant than Manganese Phosphating. Currently, Zinc Phosphating is more commonly used as an undercoating for other surface treatments like Duracoat. Zinc Phosphating typically results in a light grey surface and Manganese Phosphating in a dark gray to charcoal colored surface. The typical greenish tint seen in older military firearms results from the interaction between the Zinc Phosphate parkerized surface and the heavy cosmoline used to preserve the firearms while in storage.

In order to be most effective, Parkerized guns need to be protected with oil or grease. The Parkerized surface accepts and retains oil well which increases corrosion resistance even in harsh conditions, but a parkerized surface free of oil can still corrode.

There are some pretty simple recipes out there for a “from scratch” parkerizing solution, but I decided to go with something pre-made to better my chances of success. I also chose Manganese Phosphate both for the darker finish and for the thicker, more effective finish as I am not planning on using any other surface treatment (other than oil).

The first step in the process was to gather the materials and equipment that I would need.

I already have a pressurized sandblaster that I got from Harbor Freight tools several years ago. I also have a 5hp, 30 gallon DeVilbiss air compressor that I’ve had for at least 15 years. I think I bought it at Sears if it matters.

If you don’t have a sandblaster, there are plenty of siphon style or gravity fed units that can be had for a reasonable price (~$30). If you anticipate using it very often, I’d recommend getting a pressurized unit as feeding of blasting material is much more reliable and consistent. I have a portable siphon style unit that I use from time to time, but I end up having to shake it every couple of seconds to get the media to feed. It can get very frustrating after a few minutes.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I already had some blasting media, but I was afraid that it was too coarse for what I needed. I decided to buy something that I knew would work rather than taking a chance on ruining the firearm with something inappropriate. I bought a 25lb bucket of “medium” glass beads from the local Northern Tool and Equipment.

Glass beads being a bit more expensive than aluminum oxide or sand, I wanted to be able to maximize my use of it. In order to more effectively contain the beads for re-use and prevent them from becoming contaminated, I needed a blasting cabinet to work in. I decided I couldn’t afford a real one…besides the fact that my space is limited and I don’t have a place to put it if I bought one…I decided to make something that would work.

Basically, I made one out of a rubbermade tub, a piece of plexiglass, an old pair of rubber sandblasting gloves and some scrap wood I had lying around.

It served the purpose. I will say that the plexiglass fogged up from abrasion fairly quickly and made it a challenge to see what I was doing, and it didn’t completely contain the media and the dust…but it did a pretty good job and enabled me to do the whole job by re-using the initial 25 lbs of media several times.

As far as the parkerizing process itself, the only things I really had to buy were a stainless steel pot (Big Lots, $8) and a candy thermometer (Walmart, $3).

I also bought a pair of stainless steel tongs (Big Lots, $1.50) but they weren’t really necessary. I already had an old stainless steel mesh strainer for the small parts and a roll of stainless steel “safety wire”.

I bent the handle of the strainer to enable me to hang it from the lip of the stock pot into the solution. I also flattened the bottom of the mesh so that pins and small pieces wouldn’t roll toward the center. This worked extremely well for the small parts.

You’ll notice that the rim of the strainer is rusty. It obviously is not stainless, but the mesh is so it didn’t matter. The solution actually parkerized the rim while I was working but because I didn’t bother taking the rust off, it didn’t do a very good job. I may sandblast the rim before I do the next gun and get a good parked finish on it to preserve it for later.

You’ll need something to heat the solution with. I just used my camping/hurricane survival setup (no, I didn’t have the tank that close to the stove while it was lit).

A couple of tubs for cleaning and rinsing and a dish drainer from my camping gear came in handy.

And, of course, we can’t forget safety gear. Rubber gloves, respirator and goggles. My safety glasses weren’t “chemical goggles”, but they did the job for me. YMMV.

I wore the respirator while using the parkerizing solution as well as when blasting. The warning label on the bottle said to avoid breathing the fumes. My filters are not made for chemicals and I could still smell the solution so I opened the garage door and turned on a fan to ensure plenty of ventilation. I’m going to get some charcoal activated chemical filters for my respirator before doing the next one.

And, finally, the consumables. I used distilled water for the cleaning, rinsing and for cutting the parkerizing solution to prevent any minerals from compromising the process. Three gallons was enough. I used the denatured alcohol to clean the pistol parts before bead blasting. The TSP is Tri-Sodium Phosphate. It is a heavy duty degreaser/cleaner that is commonly used by painters. I got it at the corner hardware store so it’s pretty easy to come by. The parkerizing solution is Lauer Manganese Phosphate that I got from Midway USA. They recommend using their own “post parkerizing” solution, but I decided that WD-40 would probably work just as well. The steel wool pads are for “seasoning” the parkerizing solution before first use.

One thing I forgot to take a picture of is latex or nitrile gloves (non-powdered). I have a box of blue nitrile gloves that I bought from Harbor Freight a long time ago to keep from getting greasy when doing automotive work. I used them on this job to keep from contaminating the cleaned gun parts with skin oils during the parkerizing. That may have been overkill, but I didn’t want to take any chances on ruining the work.

That’s it. Other than the bead blasting equipment, nothing complicated or hard to come by. I already had most of what I needed and the stuff I didn’t was easy to find and relatively inexpensive.

If you don’t have the blasting equipment, it probably wouldn’t be cost effective to buy the setup just for this job. I wouldn’t imagine it would be ridiculously expensive to get the parts blasted by a pro. As an added benefit, the bead blasting was the most difficult part of the whole thing so getting that done by a pro would greatly simplify the whole process.

Next time, we’ll detail the parkerizing process from start to finish.

Glass beads vs Sand

Updated to add: I probably should mention that I habitually use the term “sandblasting” as a generic description regardless of the blasting media used. Sort of like calling any brand of adhesive bandages “band-aids” or any cotton swabs “Q-tips”. Sorry if that created any confusion. /Update

In comments, Fred Carter mused:

Just thinking out loud-would glass beads work better than sand? I have used both and like glass better. I had access to a shop full of equipment and did the work on lunch break. Today somebody would probably call swat.

I actually have about 50 lbs of aluminum oxide that I could have used, but what I have I think is probably too coarse. I decided to go ahead and buy something a bit more fine and, since I was buying new anyway, I figured I may as well go with glass.

Glass is a little less aggressive than aluminum oxide and leaves more of a “matte” finish rather than the more “grainy” appearance left by aluminum oxide.

Sand, I don’t use at all. I used to use sand years ago (it’s probably been close to ten years since the last time I used sand). The main reason that I stopped had nothing to do with how well it works…it works fine. The problem is that sand is hazardous. I don’t have good, sealed equipment and my work area is my garage. The dust created by sand contains silica. Silica causes silicosis. Silicosis is bad.

Even wearing a good respirator (which I do), I can’t afford a completely sealed blasting cabinet. Some dust escapes into the garage. With sand, that dust is hazardous long after the blasting operations are done. For weeks after blasting, I’m still sweeping dust up and stirring it into the air.

Glass beads are non-toxic, do not contain silica and, although breathing the dust should be avoided and I still wear a respirator, cause no known long-term health effects. That’s the main reason I chose glass over sand.

I just thought that was important enough to put on the front page.

I finished parkerizing last night. The parts are soaking in WD-40 as we speak. I was very happy with the way the parts came out. We’ll see what they look like after soaking in oil for a while, and I’m planning on trying (fair warning…the following link is light text on a black background…gives me a headache every time I look at it) Xavier’s trick of baking the parts in grease for a while to really impregnate the finish.

The parkerizing process was easy and effective, but time consuming. I’ve still got to complete the conditioning of the finish, polish the feed ramp, adjust the sear to hammer engagement to clean up the trigger pull, weaken the magazine catch spring and reassemble the whole thing.

I may start posting pix before I finish the whole thing, but I’ve still got quite a few steps before I’m done.

BTW: I went ahead and bought a new blasting nozzle for my pressurized sand blaster rather than try the siphon feed one…I’ve never had much luck with the siphon feed system. Also, I’m certain now that I’ve lost a pin. I have no idea how that happened. I’m very meticulous about handling the parts and keeping them organized. The fact that I had some pins in with the wrong parts speaks volumes to the fact that I was tired and not paying enough attention. I searched my work area again after I finished parkerizing…no joy. I’m going to have to make or buy a replacement.

Oh well. Not a disaster. Just an inconvenience.

that was fun

I just spent all day sandblasting (or, more correctly, glass beading) the CZ-82 I’m working on parkerizing.

What a pain…especially considering my makeshift blasting cabinet and my cheapo sandblaster (that I’m having problems with).

‘course I’m probably going a little overboard…I’m doing all the tiny little pins and parts as well as just the big stuff. The only things I’m not going to parkerize are the springs, the disconnector, the arm on the safety that locks it in place and (of course) the bore and chamber.

I couldn’t get the rear sight off. It is peened and they did a bang up job of peening it. I used the biggest hammer I’ve got and it wouldn’t budge. I was beginning to ding the metal (even using a brass drift) so I finally decided that that sight’s just gonna have to get parked “in place”.

I also think I lost a pin. I cleaned everything with denatured alcohol before blasting to keep from contaminating my beads any more than absolutely necessary. As I was getting ready to blast the hammer, sear, ejector, etc…I noticed that there was an extra pin. then, I realized that the only pin in with the trigger, trigger bar and slide stop was the trigger guard latch pin (which is removed and installed with the slide stop)…no trigger pin and no trigger bar pin.

Upon further review, the extra pin with the hammer and stuff…and one of the other pins that was with them, belong to the trigger and trigger bar…which means now I’m short an ejector pin.


I have no idea how the mix up happened or what could have happened to the ejector pin. I searched everywhere in the area that I was working and couldn’t find it. Maybe I’m just tired and missing something and it will turn up before I get it all back together. If not…pins are easy to come by. If nothing else, I’ll buy an appropriate diameter roll pin at Lowe’s and cut it to fit.

I guess it’s inevitable for things like these to happen from time to time.

Anyway, I had to quit because the shutoff valve on the blasting head stopped working. I couldn’t shut it off, which resulted in blasting a small hole in the side of my cabinet (you’ll see how that’s possible when I start posting pix and you see my cabinet). I’ve got a smaller, venturi fed sandblaster that I’ll try to finish it off with…all that’s left are the hammer and hammer arm, sear, ejector, trigger, trigger bar, slide stop and a couple more pins…everything else is done.

Oh…and I need to hit one of the magazine bodies again because I didn’t do it well enough the first time.

If my little blaster doesn’t do the trick, I’ll have to hit harbor freight or Northern and buy a new blasting head valve. Another 20 bucks or so…

Anyway, just keeping you up to date. I’m well underway on the parkerizing job so step by step posts are coming soon.

AR-15 Build Part 9

In B.O. Special, I introduced the newest addition to the gun cabinet and reviewed the rifle kit from Del-ton.
In Part 1, we talked about tools and preparation and installed the magazine catch.
In Part 2. we installed the trigger guard.
In Part 3, we installed the bolt catch.
In Part 4, we installed the pivot pin.
In Part 5, we installed the trigger assembly.
In Part 6, we installed the hammer assembly.
In Part 7, we installed the selector and pistol grip.
In Part 8, we installed the takedown pin, buttstock, buffer spring and buffer.

In this…the final edition of this series…we’re going to install the complete upper, install the sights and optics, take Barack to the range, and sum it all up.

Installing the complete upper is a snap. First, place the forward mounting lug of the upper receiver into the lower receiver and line the hole up with the pivot pin.

You may want to turn it over and look at the holes from the back side to make sure you get them lined up.

Once it’s all lined up, just push the pin in.

You’ll feel some resistance from the detent spring pressure and you should be able to feel the detent snap into place as the pin seats completely.

The next step is optional. The M-16/AR-15 design was intended to have a bit of a loose fit between the upper and lower receivers. Some contend that this impact accuracy. I’m not convinced of that, but I do know that I don’t like things rattling any more than they have to so I prefer a tight fit.

Considering that I got the upper and lower from two different vendors, mine actually fit pretty well, but there was a slight bit of movement.

To alleviate this, I purchased an “accuwedge” from Midway USA. For all of $2.99 plus shipping, it’s hard to go wrong. I actually went ahead and bought two so I’d have one for “Obama” when I finally get it built up.

The accuwedge goes into the rear of the receiver…

…with the “base” down in the bottom and the “tang” sticking up behind the takedown pin.

Then swing the upper receiver closed and into place in the lower receiver.

With the accuwedge installed, the upper probably won’t seat completely into the lower on its own.

You’ll have to squeeze them together…

…and then push in the takedown pin. Again, you’ll feel the resistance of the takedown pin detent and spring and you should feel the detent pop into place as the takedown pin seats.

Now the rifle is complete; however, because I went with the flattop upper, it doesn’t do us much good without rear sights (unless you’re one of those people that the Brady’s like to talk about who “spray fire from the hip”…in which case you can skip the rest).

Considering that I’m on a budget, I couldn’t afford expensive sights and optics. I could have easily spent as much on those as I did on building the rifle…if I had that kind of money, I would have bought the parts to build up Obama already.

Basically, I cheaped out.

I bought both the iron sights and the red-dot from the same vendor: Combathunting.com.

The iron sights were only $21 but looked to have pretty standard windage and elevation adjustments and two aperture sizes. I knew I was taking a chance by buying something that cheap, but I figured if they suck too bad, I could always buy something else more expensive later.

I have to admit that, after getting them, I’m pretty impressed. For the price, they seem to be very well made. We’ll see how they do at the range.

As a carbine, I figured this rifle would be more suited for close-in work and my military buddies really like the Aimpoint red dots that they have on their M4’s so I wanted to approximate that.

I definitely wanted something that I could co-witness with the iron sights…but there was no way I could afford an Aimpoint.

After some research and reading of reviews, I decided to go with the “Sight-Mark” Aimpoint look-alike. Yes, I realize that were I a “real” operator I’d settle for nothing less than the best. I guess I’ll just have to hold off on earning my Mall Ninja merit badge for now.

The Sight-Mark I also got from Combathunting.com for a very reasonable $78.

One disadvantage to the Sight-Mark is that the base that comes with it is not high enough to co-witness with the sights…however I found out that Pro-Mag makes a cantilever sight base that will work with the Sight Mark for that purpose. The most reasonable price I found for the Pro-mag sight base was Midway USA, where I got one for $45. Oh by the way…did I mention that I have a Curio and Relic FFL and so Midway USA gives me the dealer price? If you don’t get the dealer discount, the price for this mount is $67.

Mounting the sights is very easy. Open up the clamp on the base as far as it will go.

I put some blue thread locking compound on the threads to make sure that it stays tight.

Put one side of the base onto the flattop rail and rock it down into position.

Then tighten the base by turning the knob until it’s good and snug.

I used a large screwdriver to tighten it another half turn or so to make sure it wouldn’t come loose.

I put the rear sight all the way to the rear on the rail. The rear of the sight was formed to match the rear silhouette of the receiver so I just matched the rear edges up and put it there.

For the red-dot the procedure is pretty much the same.

Open the base all the way and put a little blue thread locking compound on the threads.

Figure out where you want it positioned…

I wanted the red dot to be relatively centered on the rifle fore and aft so that’s how I chose my mounting position. This was purely aesthetic. The only real concern is not to put it so close to the rear sight that the flip up cover hits the iron sight when opening or closing.

…rock it onto the rail…

…and tighten down the wing nut.

One thing I really like about the Pro-mag sight base is that it has a compartment for storing extra batteries.

And now we have a complete, useable rifle.

‘Course I STILL need to get a sling…

The next thing to do is take it to the range and see how it shoots.

I went to Camp Allen Weapons Range at a local Marine Corps base. It is the newest, and best indoor range around…unfortunately, it’s only open to military, LEO, military retirees and DOD employees.

I guess that’s a good thing because it would always be packed if it was open to the public.

It’s only 25 yards, but you can use anything up to and including .50BMG and they even allow black powder, which is VERY unusual for an indoor range.

The ventilation system is pretty impressive. Black powder smoke is gone almost as soon as it leaves the barrel.

I have to say that I’m very happy with both the iron sights and the Sight-Mark. I zeroed them both at 25 yards and it shot very well.

This is prone with the iron sights. I believe it was ten rounds, but I could be off by one or two. The squares are 1″.

Keep in mind that this was without a rest or even a sling. I was resting my support arm on the ground and that’s all the support I had.

And this is with the red dot, standing, off-hand.

I’m thinking for close-in work, that’ll do the job.

I did get a chance to take it to the outdoor range a week or so ago and shot at 50 yards. I didn’t have a lot of time so I didn’t take it to 100 because I wanted to get in some pistol work too…but I got similar results at 50. After reading some other opinions, I think I’m going to zero both sights at 75 yards on this rifle, which, according to what I read, should give me a good “center of mass” battle zero for any range up to 200.

I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with both sighting systems so far. I don’t think you can do much better than that for the price. The zeros stayed true between range sessions and I had no problems zeroing them or co-witnessing them. They both seem to be pretty well built and solid.

Only time will tell how they will hold up with use, but if I have any problems I’ll be sure to report them right away.

I already mentioned the one little glitch I had with the rifle itself: while firing the first magazine, it was basically a single shot. I had to cycle the selector between safe and fire between each shot to get it to fire. After that first magazine, though, I’ve had no further problems.

The trigger is a little creepy and the letoff isn’t as crisp as I’d like so I’ll be doing some trigger work shortly, but other than that, I’m very happy with my project.

Thanks for coming along for the ride and for your patience in slogging through all the pictures and my wordy descriptions.

And, with that, I’ll close this series with one final picture.

AR-15 Build Part 8

In B.O. Special, I introduced the newest addition to the gun cabinet and reviewed the rifle kit from Del-ton.
In Part 1, we talked about tools and preparation and installed the magazine catch.
In Part 2. we installed the trigger guard.
In Part 3, we installed the bolt catch.
In Part 4, we installed the pivot pin.
In Part 5, we installed the trigger assembly.
In Part 6, we installed the hammer assembly.
In Part 7, we installed the selector and pistol grip.

This time we’re going to install the takedown pin, buttstock, buffer spring and buffer.

This part wasn’t explained well in the arfcom instructions so I had to find another thread on arfcom that covered installing the M4 buttstock. It wasn’t hard, but I wanted to be sure I was putting everything in the right way.

The first thing we’re going to do is put the locking ring onto the buttstock. The ring should be installed with the castellations facing aft toward the butt.

Then the backplate is installed. The backplate has a tab that fits in a groove in the threads of the buttstock tube that ensures it stays aligned. Also, there is a stamped “well” in the bottom part of the backplate. The protruding part of the well should be forward, towards the receiver.

Next, insert the takedown pin into the hole in the receiver from the right side. It should be installed so that the groove in the body of the pin is facing aft.

In the rear of the receiver, there is a small hole that the takedown pin detent goes into.

And then the detent spring goes in the same hole after the detent.

Sorry about the blurry photo. I’ve still got that same crappy camera I’ve been complaining about for years. As long as it works, I can’t justify the expense of buying a new one…the darn thing just won’t break.

I’ve thought I’ve killed it a couple of times, but taking the batteries out and putting them back in (the digital camera version of control-alt-delete?) brought it back to life each time.

Now start screwing the buttstock tube into the rear of the receiver. Hold the receiver aft end up so that the detent spring and detent don’t fall out.

It just occurred to me that I’ve reverted to my Navy days and have started occasionally using the terms “aft” and “forward”. Versus going back and trying to find and correct all the times I’ve used those terms: “aft” means the back, the rear, the posterior aspect; forward means the front, the head, the anterior aspect. On a ship, aft is the blunt end and forward is the pointy end.

On a rifle, aft is the end you should be on and forward is the end that should be pointing at your target.

If I start using “port” and “starboard”, you have my permission to whack me in the back of the head.

Anyway, only screw it in until just before the tube begins to cover the buffer retainer hole in the bottom of the rear part of the receiver.

Then drop the buffer retainer spring into the retainer hole.

Put the buffer retainer over the spring.

Then press the retainer down and screw the buttstock in a couple more turns.

You want the buttstock tube to prevent the retainer from coming out of the hole, but not restrict its up and down movement. The pin on the top of the buffer retainer should stick up slightly beyond the inside edge of the buttstock tube.

Next, push the backplate forward on the tube to seat it against the rear of the receiver. This will compress the takedown pin detent spring. As you first start compressing the spring would be a good time to rotate the takedown pin a little and be sure the detent is seated in the groove in the takedown pin body.

The protruding part of the stamped well in the backplate will help insure that the backplate is aligned properly with the reciever. The tab on the backplate, locked into the groove in the buttstock tube threads, ensures that the buttstock is properly aligned to the receiver.

Screw the locking ring down by hand and then tighten it snug with a telescoping stock wrench, spanner wrench or whatever tool you can get to work.

It probably wouldn’t hurt to put some thread locking compound on the threads before tightening to help keep the locking ring from backing out. I didn’t (this time) but if I have trouble with it loosening up, I will.

Next, insert the buffer spring into the buttstock tube. It is probably easier to do this with the hammer cocked, as that will get it more out of the way.

Then the buffer is installed with the shaft fitting inside the spring. Press down on the buffer retainer to get the front of the buffer into the tube.

And that’s it.

The lower is now complete.

Next time, we’ll install the assembled upper, take Barack to the range and finish up the series.

Final Post in the series