(notso)Smart Guns

When I was in the Navy I had a shipmate whose last name was “Lovely”. His nickname was “Notso”.

At any rate, USA Today reports that smart guns are “finally” coming to the US.

Personalized smart guns, which can be fired only by verified users, may finally become available to U.S. consumers after two decades of questions about reliability and concerns they will usher in a new wave of government regulation.

I think the most weighty word in that entire sentence is “may”.

Basically, I’ll believe it when I see them on the shelves at my local gun store.

I’m also very skeptical that any law enforcement agency will use this technology willingly. I can see some in the more gun-unfriendly regions being forced to use them by edict, but I can’t imagine front line cops jumping for joy at the prospect of a gun with even more complicating features that may lead to failure in a life or death situation.

Which is the reason I’ll never buy one. Semi-autos are complex enough with enough failure points as it is…why add to that voluntarily? Maybe if I had young kids at home I’d be more interested, but I don’t. I want to be able to pick up my gun, point it at the bad guy, pull the trigger and count on it going “bang” regardless of whether I have my finger in exactly the right position or am wearing the magic ring at the time, or take the time to enter a PIN into my (notso)smartphone.

As far as the fingerprint thing…I use fingerprint recognition to log into my phone. I recently remodeled a bathroom which, during the “drywall installation” phase, required extensive use of sandpaper. During that evolution and for about two or three weeks after, my fingerprints would not unlock my phone. I had to use a manual PIN entry because the sandpaper altered my fingerprints to the point that they were not recognized by my phone.

The same thing happens if my hands are wet, or too dirty, or I’ve gotten a scratch or cut on my fingertip.

Hmm. I can’t possibly imagine a situation where I might need to access my defensive firearm quickly while my hands might be wet, or dirty, or bloody, or injured – can you?

Oh…I’m left handed. Is the fingerprint sensor going to be ambidextrous? How does that work? Two sensors, one on either side of the grip? Or will they put the sensor in a location that you have to activate the gun first before attaining a proper firing grip? Because that wouldn’t slow things down at all now would it?

And as an added bonus, we get to pay somewhere between two and five times more for the privilege of owning a gun that may or may not actually work when we most need it. What a bargain.

To be clear, I’m not opposed to this technology. Some people might see it as a great safety measure…especially, as I said, people with children at home. I’m no more opposed to someone owning a (notso)smart gun than I am opposed to someone owning, say, a Jennings .22 lr or .25 ACP pistol (double whammy of a mouse gun cartridge in an unreliable pistol). I’d never own one (not even if someone gave it to me), but who am I to say you shouldn’t own one?

My only concern is that the push to make them mandatory will begin in earnest as soon as the first model becomes available. We’ll need to keep an eye on this.



Normally, tax day every year is Buy A Gun day. This year was a bit weird because tax day was officially delayed until May 17.

Also, I was really kind of hesitant to post my BAG day purchase just because of the current political environment, but the bottom line is, If my past activities and posts haven’t gotten me onto some kind of “domestic extremism” watch list, this isn’t going to put me over the top, so here goes.

After the Democrats stole the election for Biden, I decided I needed increase my stock of “ban resistant” firearms. My standard everyday carry piece is a Glock 19, but with a 15 round mag, that could be problematic in the near future. Yes, there’s a good chance that existing guns at the time of the ban would be grandfathered, but it’s possible they may not be as well and I figured if I wait until after a ban is passed, it could get really hard to find something that would fit the bill. Better to buy it now, while I have the chance.

So I started researching. I wanted something small…like small enough to use with a pocket holster…but with enough oomph to get the job done. Most people consider .380 the smallest caliber suitable for self defense, and I’m sure under most conditions, it would get the job done, but I wanted something that packed a bit more punch than that. There are a plethora of choices out there in subcompact 9mm guns so that’s where I wanted to go with it.

A friend of mine likes his Glock 43, but the barrel’s still got that blocky Glock profile and it’s only two tenths of an inch narrower than the Glock 19. That’s not much improvement when you’re giving up 9 rounds of capacity. Pretty much everything else I found that was low cap and small enough for me have the tiny little manual safeties on them. That doesn’t bother me in and of itself, but I’m left handed and I didn’t find a single one with an ambidextrous safety, plus they are so tiny and hard to manipulate, I don’t like the idea of having to try to manipulate it with the wrong hand under stress. One could just leave the safety off all the time, but that’s just another potential point of failure…what if it accidentally gets engaged, then I’m not trained at all to disengage it and under stress could mean the difference between life and death. Not gonna chance it.

One that really caught my attention was the Ruger EC9s for its diminutive size. The problem is, it has a right handed manual safety, plus the sights are machined into the slide, so no replacing them with night sights, and to top it all off, a magazine disconnect safety…that’s a deal breaker for me.

Too bad they don’t make them without all that crap….oh, wait. The EC9 is actually a less expensive version of an older design, which they made a variation that’s exactly what I’m looking for.

Since they aren’t in production any more, I had to search a bit to find one, and probably paid more than I should have, but it’s what I wanted so…here you go:

Ruger LC9s Pro

7+1 capacity so obviously impossible to use in crime or mass shootings. Chambered in 9mm Luger. Less than an inch thick. No magazine disconnect or right-handed manual safety to stymie me under stress. “Standard” sight bevels (I had the tritium night sights purchased and delivered before I even took delivery of the gun). It simply disappears when carried in a pancake holster and slips easily into a pocket holster for “grab and go” situations. Exactly what I was looking for and I’m extremely happy with it so far.

The only thing is that I haven’t had it out to the range yet. I’ve tried it with my laser training system and it points and feels just fine dry firing, but I haven’t fired live ammo through it yet. Just been too busy. I imagine that, as small as it is, it isn’t going to be exactly fun to shoot. I do typically use 147 grain subsonic ammo, so that will help, but I’m betting that the muzzle flip and recoil are still going to be…um…energetic. But we’ll see. I’m kind of a recoil junkie anyway so unless it causes physical pain to shoot, I’m thinking it’s still going to be fun. I’ll let you know…hopefully soon.

Next I need at least one more ban resistant long gun. I’m thinking maybe a lever gun, I’ve always liked them, or you can never go wrong with a bolt action.


Merry Buy a Gun Day!!!

It’s that time of year again: BAG day.

I actually celebrated this year for the first time in a while. Since it’s been a while, I saw no reason to limit it to one gun, I bought two.

I bought them online and talked about that in a previous post but I didn’t tell you what I got.

First, I am an NRA and 4H certified instructor and I really enjoy sharing the shooting sports with the uninitiated. I regularly teach classes, take newbies to the range, etc. The problem is that I’ve been missing something with regard to my training aids. I’ve got several flavors of semi-auto pistols to use for training, but the only working revolver I’ve got is a replica 1858 Remington cap and ball revolver. While fun to load and shoot, it isn’t really representative of modern revolver technology.

I’ve been looking for a long time for a .22lr revolver and I just couldn’t find anything that I wanted that was also in my price range. I decided that I needed to find something else. Something that fired a light enough caliber with a heavy enough frame that a newbie could handle it without too much trouble.

GP100I had a friend back in the day who had one of these and I always thought it was a great shooter, even with full house loads, so when I found a good deal on one…well…there you go:

The Ruger GP100 in .357 Magnum.

Nice heavy frame, adjustable sights, 4″ full underlug barrel, Hogue monogrips and should be very manageable for a new shooter with light .38 special loads.

And for the second gun…I’ve got a (very) old Springfield 12 gauge Pump shotgun that I bought for a song many years ago. It’s had a good run and has been a good gun for me, but it’s reaching the end of its service life. Starting to get wonky in the action…sometimes shells hang up while entering the chamber requiring one to “jiggle” the pump to get it to slide home. Also the firing pin is worn and it’s beginning to misfire by not striking the primer hard enough to ignite it.

Because it’s a not so popular brand that isn’t made any more, parts are hard to come by and resale value is low. I may try to fix her anyway just as a project, but I decided I needed something new and exciting in the shotgun arena.

I’m not a big shotgun shooter to begin with. I enjoy the occasional round of skeet and I have a thrower that I take out for some informal clay shooting sometimes, but shotgun isn’t my “thing” really…but it’s nice to have a good scatter gun when you need one. I don’t really feel the need to have a collection of shotties, so I wanted one gun that would do pretty much anything I need it to.

I thought about another pump, but I’ve not had good luck with a pump when shooting doubles in skeet. The pump is just too slow and while you’re pumping, it’s too easy to loose track of the 2nd clay. I decided I wanted a semi-auto. I wanted something long enough for shooting clays recreationally, but not so long that it would be useless for home defense or other “tactical” situation.

Other factors were that I wanted something common and popular enough that I’d be able to find accessories and parts for it and so it would carry some resale value if the need arose, but I didn’t want to break the bank on a Benelli or Baretta either.

I thought about getting a “combo” with both a 28″ and an 18″ barrel and swap out depending on what I’m doing. I was looking into the Remington 1187 but short barrels are hard to find, I’d probably have to buy a 28″ barrel and cut it down, plus the magazine capacity isn’t that great.

mossbergI started looking into Mossberg semi-autos and stumbled across this:
Mossberg 930 Jerry Miculek Pro series. Honestly, I don’t care about JM lending his name to it…in fact I usually avoid things like that to avoid the extra markup that it usually entails, but this was exactly what I was looking for.

3″ chamber, 10 round magazine (with 2 3/4″ shells), choke tubes, 24″ barrel, fiber optic front sight. Long enough barrel to effectively use it on clays, but short enough to still be useable in relatively close quarters and the best magazine capacity I’d seen on a shotgun. Perfect.

I got them both at Bud’s Gun shop in Kentucky. Their prices were right, they made the procedure easy (already had my transfer gun shop’s FFL on file) and shipping and handling was reasonably speedy. I paid using ACH so there was a delay waiting for that to clear, but you get a cash discount that way so it was worth it.

I was very satisfied with the service and my purchases. The weather here’s been crap on the weekends lately so I haven’t had the opportunity to go to the range yet, but things are looking good for this weekend. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Marry Bag Day to one and all!


Graduation Present

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago (which was a while ago, sorry), My son graduated from Old Dominion University last weekend.

College graduation is a big deal in our family because relatively few of us have attained it.  I’ve only completed an Associates Degree myself.  I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 grade point average, but it took me ten years to do it.

My son is not a gifted student.  He’s always had to work very hard to maintain his grades and he’s always done so.  I’m very proud of his Cum Laude honors and the effort it took for him to maintain that level of excellence while, at the same time, working full time, going to school full time and supporting his wife and child.

But I digress.  The point of this post is the project I was working on for his graduation gift.  I wanted to give him something significant and meaningful, but didn’t have a bunch of money to spend…so I decided to use something I already had as a base for the gift and just put in the time to make it special.

He had gotten his concealed handgun permit as soon as he turned 21, but has never had the money to buy a gun to carry.  I happened to have a couple of “spare” CZ-82’s which are great little guns for concealed carry and are pretty much ideal for lefties (which he inherited from me), so I decided to do a complete rehab and refinish on one and give him that for a graduation gift.

As with my carry gun, I did a detail strip, sandblasted the major parts and parkerized it, lightened the magazine catch spring, did a basic trigger job and put a 16 lb Wolff recoil spring in it.

I’m very happy with the way it turned out and he was very happy with receiving it.  It’s not as high speed-low drag as many other handgun models out there, but I’ve found them to be reliable and accurate and I hope that the work I put into it will give it some sentimental value to him someday.


I didn’t have the money to buy new grips for it yet, but that will be in its future (maybe Christmas or a birthday?)


After refinishing the metal, I repainted the sights and protected the new paint with clear nail polish.

The only thing I’m unhappy about is that it actually came out better than the one I parkerized for myself.


Although I’m happy with mine and the finish has proven durable and lasting (I’ve been carrying mine daily for over a year now), the finish came out a bit lighter green than I was expecting.

I re-used the same parkerizing solution to do his and his came out more of the dark Charcoal gray that I expected with mine.

Either his gun ( a bit newer than mine based on the serial number) is made of a different alloy, or, more likely, the parkerizing solution just needed a bit more seasoning to get that full, deep color.

Now I’m considering re-doing mine to get it the color that I want.

One thing that was different about his is that the mainspring plug and lanyard loop is made of aluminum rather than steel so I couldn’t parkerize it.  I didn’t realize this until I was in the middle of sandblasting it so I already had it stripped.  I just used Birchwood Casey’s Aluminum Black on it to protect and match the finish as well as possible.  In the future, I’ll know to check that before I start going crazy with the sand blaster.

Here is a picture of all three of the CZ-82’s in my collection.

The top left one is the one that I haven’t refinished yet.  Its original finish is in the best shape of the three and I may leave it stock.

The middle one had the worst finish to start out with.  It was very beat up  when I got it.  That’s the first one I refinished and is the gun that I carry every day.

And the bottom right one is the one now residing in my Son’s gun safe and that I hope he will be carrying regularly from here on out.

I’m very satisfied with how it came out and I hope he’s as pleased with his as I am with mine.

BTW:  No, the serial numbers have not been filed off.  I used Gimp photo editing software to smudge them out in the pictures.


Para GI Expert

I’m not trying to dis Para with this, I’m sure they make fine firearms, and the free market is all about competition.

I just got a kick out of Kevin’s post about the Expert today.

Based on his description and the picture, it sounds like Para managed to virtually duplicate the RIA Tactical 1911…and for only $175.00 more.

The only differences: The RIA came stock with wood grips, doesn’t have dot sights…they’re plain, and came stock with an ambidextrous safety.

I’m sure the Para is made better and put together more meticulously than the RIA, I just thought the similarity in description was amusing.


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.