I have lately become very interested in sub machine gun class weapons, or SMGs. I’ve built a number of 9mm ARs over the years and while they are interesting and fun to shoot, there’s not much history to dig into. So, I have been researching British Stens for a while now and the history that led up to them and the thinking behind “good enough” to get the job done vs. perfection is fascinating. It’s really intriguing when you see what folks can create when expediency is the name of the game.
To launch the series, I am posting this awesome video from Ian over at Forgotten Weapons. He always does an excellent job researching what he is going to cover and then walking the viewer through what he is presenting. In this video he provides an overview about the British Lanchester, Sten and Sterling.
The cool thing about ARs is that there are a ton of them out there and people are sharing ideas on how to build, use and maintain them every day. This series of blog posts I just wrote shows my current take on how to assemble lowers. I will continue to improve my techniques over time and I do this both through trial and error as well as researching what others do. In this post, I want to share some links with you that might just give you an “ah-ha” moment because of what these folks are sharing.
Please note that when you click on the below links other than the Youtube videos, a new tab or window will open and you may need to manually switch to that tab or window in your browser to see it.
Lower-Receiver Assembly Resources
“How to build an AR-15 Lower Receiver: A Step by Step Visual Guide” by The New Rifleman. Great photos and instructions. Shows some different approaches such as using carefully wrapped pliers to squeeze the bolt catch pin into place. Note, I tried pliers once and didn’t like them but this is an example of another approach for you to consider – plenty of guys do use pliers – just be careful wrapping them to protect the receiver from getting nicked/scratched.
“Assembling Mil Spec & Free Float Barrels – Section 5” by Brownells. This page links to videos that provide an overview, installing the delta ring, flash hider / muzzle brake, front sight, assembling a free floated barrel, installing free float handguards w/gas block and installing free float handguards with a standard front sight (which makes no sense to me why you would do that but it is there if you want to see that – if I free float a barrel, I want as little stuff on it as possible as in just the gas block and that’s it).
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I seriously like my Ken Onion Work Sharp knife sharpener to put any kind of edge on just about any kind of knife – folder, fixed, kitchen or even a giant khukuri. However, that is not exactly family friendly. To make it easier on my wife, daughters and even me in the kitchen, I bought a nice Smith’s 5009 sharpener that has a coarse carbide side and a fine ceramic side. This is about as simple as you get.
The unit is rubberized and easy to hold. I set the unit on the edge of the table so I don’t hit anything when I pull the knife backwards and down and do 10 strokes on coarse and 10 on fine. This puts a great edge on kitchen knives. You can actually see the metal shavings on the coarse carbide side pile up.
We use it on all kinds of kitchen knifes other than serrated. So if you are looking for a sharpener that is simple and effective for the kitchen, pick up one of these Smith units.
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Features: Two-stages of sharpening – coarse & fine, Ergonomically designed soft grip handle, Reversible and replaceable sharpening components, Quick, safe, and easy to use., Packaged in a clamshell
Edgesport Pro Series. 7 3/8 inch overall. Black composition housing with ergonomically designed soft grip handle. Precision ground carbide blades and ceramic stones offer coarse and extra fine sharpening surfaces. Safe and easy to use. Sharpens straight and serrated knives. Hang packaged.
Man, I like what Matt did here. The color, the PRS stock, handguard and our second generation Molot grip come together to really make quite an impressive rifle and to top it off, he has a Steiner scope!! Wow!
Folks ask me if the Yugo M70 and M72 use the same handguards – in short, they do not. The upper gas tube cover is the same across all models of Yugos I have seen but the lower handguard on the M72 is very short and rectangular. This is especially true when it is next to the long sleek tapered M70 handguard that is also used on the M76 and M77 rifles. By the way, please ignore the green clay and mess – I was making molds when I took these photos:
The other unique factor is the ferrule. Yugo ferrules are very hard to find in the US. With other countries’ ferrules you may find them for sale by a vendor who did a bulk purchase, but that is never the case with the Yugo M70 ferrule. We actually found a college student with a talent for making dies and an interest in Yugos who makes replica ferrules for the M70, M76, M77, M85 and M92 handguards. Now here is the rub – the M72 uses a bigger unique ferrule and you will not find them unless someone sells a handguard with the ferrule installed or has pried one off a handguard for some reason.
These photos show the smaller M70 ferrule by the larger M72:
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Rumors can generate some real stress so I want to recap what just happened factually. Yesterday, the US Department of Treasury added certain Russian Firms to the “Specially Designated Nationals” list, which means US firms and individuals are prohibited from doing business with the named people or entities (such as corporations). Here is the list of military industrial-related corporations they added:
KBP Instrument Design Bureau
For those of us into Russian firearms, the kicker is the addition of the holding company known as KALASHNIKOV and here’s the actual SDN entry:
“SCIENTIFIC PRODUCTION ASSOCIATION IZHMASH JOINT STOCK COMPANY (a.k.a. CONCERN KALASHNIKOV; a.k.a. IZHEVSKIY MASHINOSTROITEL’NYI ZAVOD OAO; f.k.a. IZHMASH R&D CENTER; f.k.a. JSC NPO
IZHMASH; a.k.a. KALASHNIKOV CONCERN; f.k.a. NPO IZHMASH OAO; a.k.a. OJSC CONCERN KALASHNIKOV; f.k.a. OJSC IZHMASH), 3, Derjabin Pr., Izhevsk , Udmurt Republic 426006, Russia; Registration ID 1111832003018 [UKRAINE2].” — This is from the Treasury’s SDN update page 90 of the PDF: http://www.treasury.gov/ofac/downloads/t11sdnew.pdf
Now, some people thought this just meant the Saiga line would be banned but the problem is that KALASHNIKOV is a holding company made up of both the Izhmash (Saiga) and Molot (Vepr). To prove this, the following report is from Rostec who owns KALASHNIKOV, regarding the companies KALASHNIKOV owns:
JSC ‘NPO ‘IZHMASH’, Udmurt Republic
JSC ‘Izhevski mashzavod’, Udmurt Republic
‘Koshkin Automatic line design bureau’ JSC, Moscow Region
Given my research, it is clear both Saiga and Molot lines of rifles and shotguns will be blocked but the bad news does not end there.
The actual executive order passed by President Obama is far broader and states:
Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property that
are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United
States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or
control of any United States person (including any foreign
branch) of the following persons are blocked and may not be
transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:
(i) the persons listed in the Annex to this order;
(ii) persons determined by the Secretary of the
Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:
(A) to be an official of the Government of
the Russian Federation;
(B) to operate in the arms or related
materiel sector in the Russian Federation;
(C) to be owned or controlled by, or to have
acted or purported to act for or on behalf of,
directly or indirectly:
(1) a senior official of the
Government of the Russian Federation;
(2) a person whose property and
interests in property are blocked
pursuant to this order; or
(D) to have materially assisted, sponsored,
or provided financial, material, or
technological support for, or goods or services
to or in support of:
(1) a senior official of the
Government of the Russian Federation;
(2) a person whose property and
interests in property are blocked
pursuant to this order.
(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section
apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in
regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued
pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract
entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the
effective date of this order.
It would appear that existing contracts will be/should be honored. Given the broad wording, this executive order could be used to block *new* contracts for the importation of Russian ammo as well. In looking around so far this morning (6:30-7am Eastern), there didn’t appear to be price gouging by the big suppliers yet. For example, SGAmmo still has fair prices for 7.62×39. I must admit I am a bit nervous only for the reason that Golden Tiger is made in Russia by Vympel, also known as “Federal State Enterprise Production’s Amursk Cartridge Plant Vympel”. I can only imagine that as word gets out there will be a run on Russian firearms and ammo that will only increase as time goes on until the word is fully spread. Again, bear in mind that existing contracts should be honored given the above.
In short, Saiga and Vepr are blocked by name due to the KALASHNIKOV reference and the executive order could be used to block any *new* requests to import firearms or ammunition in general from Russia. Not good news but with that said, there are many other countries with arms and ammunition production capabilities that will clearly exploit this opportunity. People would be well served to start researching alternatives from Serbia, Romania, Poland and so forth.
Ultimately, only time will tell but I hope this gives people a better understanding of what was signed into law on July 16th.
As many of you know, I like knives and do a great deal of custom work on khukuris. My problem is that I also have what is known as a “hereditary” or “necessary” tremor, which means my hands shake. I have to really focus when I do work that requires fine motor skills and sharpening with a belt sander and jig is a bear for me that I try to avoid. A little over a year ago, I was visiting the Smoky Mountain Knifeworks store in Sevierville, TN, when I saw my first Work Sharp brand sharpener. It looked somewhat like a gimmick to me and I didn’t bother spending much time at their demo table. I thought to myself “who needs a little triangular belt sander to mess up a fine blade” and left it at that.
About six months later, I was getting more and more blades to sharpen and in researching methods I ran across the Work Sharp again but this time folks were talking about the heavier duty Ken Onion Edition Work Sharp. Now this intrigued me because the reviewers mentioned how quick the set up was, that the unit was very portable, powerful motor, variable speed and that the angle could be adjusted with a dial. What really wold me is that it could do a consistent convex edge (note, there are many types of convex edges and I’m not going to go into that now – but for me the idea of consistency was and still is a big deal). The other big reason is that really hard metals take a long time to sharpen by hand, which is what I usually did when it came to doing tune ups & that took a lot of time.
I decided to take the plunge and ordered the Work Sharp Ken Onion edition plus some additional belts off Amazon. Thanks to the Prime shipping program, the box arrived two days later like clock work and I started testing and using it in early February 2014. I point this out so you know this was written after quite a bit of use.
I learned a looooong time ago, never start with any blade of value when you are learning and this is another example of that. I have been using this sharpener for close to six months and really like it but you do need to practice and learn how to hold the blade and get used to the feel. I need to insert a caution here – it is always easier to take more metal off than put it back on!!! If you use a coarse belt then you can remove a lot of material fast. That’s why I recommend practicing first on knives you don’t mind if they get scuffed up a bit.
The photos are of my six month old sharpener. The belts actually last quite a while but I would still recommend you get an extra package or two of them just in case.
The unit has a 1/4″ thread on the bottom if you really want to secure it. I find I can use it just fine without mounting it and this is great because I can move the unit to where the work is. For example, I was outside on my work bench and brought the sharpener out there. The red dial you see is the variable speed control. I purposefully bought the Ken Onion edition as it has a bigger higher torque motor to avoid bogging down while sanding. My experience is that it does a great job. I can sand my big khukuris without a problem.
The yellow lever lets you rotate the sanding cartridge so you have a flat sanding surface if you want it. I tend to use use one of my other sanders but this could be handy for folks who need an all in one unit. By the way, the roller you see in the lower right corner of the catridge is spring loaded. With the unit off, you press that in and slide the belt off the top. To install a new belt, load the belt at the botton, push the pulley in and slip the belt over the top. This makes belt changes very easy. You can see the other belts in the background of the photo – I start with coarse and work my way up to the edge I want. With the khukuris, they are sharp but I don’t put hair popping edges on them so they are stronger. I figure a customer can always go sharper if they want.
Now, you really ought to buy an angle guide to set the angle of the sharpener. There is a very easy to use guide that can let you find out what something is set at easily made by Richard Kell out of brass. It takes away all the guess work. You side the blade into the guide and if the edge goes into the little circle at the bottom and there isn’t any slop then you have found your angle.
Now the Work Sharp only adjusts 15-30 degrees. For kitchen and field knives, this tends to be just fine. It tends to be with tools that you get into tools that you go past 30 degrees. I wish it could go wider but I can deal with those tools on one of my regular sanders as they are exception rather than the rule. I knew I needed something to speed up my work and make a consistent edge of the right angle on knives so the angle range the tool can do works out pretty well for me.
The belts are color coded and have their ID inside each for easy identification. Note, the Ken Onion edition uses wider belts than the normal edition but those will work as well I am told. Also, the belts really hold up well. As they wear, they just cut slower. I’m actually very pleased that they used good abrasives and not the junk that just falls apart.
In the next photos, you see me using the X4 fine belt to put a very sharp edge on a Himalayan Imports khukuri that is hardened 5160 alloy steel plus you see a photo of my every day carry, a Kershaw Compound KS1940 that my daughter got me for my birthday a few years back. I use this knife literally every day to open boxes, cut strap, cut open plastic containers, and so forth in the shop. It is 8CR13MOV alloy and needs sharpening each week due to all of the use. The Work Sharp does great in both cases.
In summary, this is a very useful tool for many reasons. For novices, this is a great sharpener. For more experienced folks, this is a handy tool that is very portable and can help save you time while producing a quality edge as sharp as you want! So, I would highly recommend the sharpener, spare belts and the angle guide and Amazon makes it easy to one stop shop and get all three:
Features: ADJUSTABLE SHARPENING GUIDE – produce precise edge bevels from 15° to 30°. Motor- 120VAC / 1.5 amp. Duty Cycle-1 hr continous, VARIABLE SPEED MOTOR – handle every sharpening task, from grinding to honing. More power with improved cooling & the option of slow speed honing or high speed grinding, PREMIUM FLEXIBLE ABRASIVE BELTS – deliver a strong, long lasting razor-sharp convex edge, FAST, PRECISE, & REPEATABLE – sharpening results with no set up or calibration time. The 6000 grit belt measures ½ x 12(inches) for better contact with serrations, guthooks and other hard to reach edges, MULTI-POSITION SHARPENING MODULE – for precision knife sharpening or various positions for a wide array of tool sharpening or detail shop grinding tasks, PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN COMPANY – This tool was engineered and assembled by hard working Americans. Work Sharp is part of Darex, a 4th-generation family owned company in Ashland, Oregon. For over 40 years we have been creating industry-leading sharpening tools here in the USA.
ADJUSTABLE SHARPENING GUIDE – produce precise edge bevels from 15° to 30°. Motor- 120VAC / 1.5 amp. Duty Cycle-1 hr continuous
VARIABLE SPEED MOTOR – handle every sharpening task, from grinding to honing. More power with improved cooling & the option of slow speed honing or high speed grinding PREMIUM FLEXIBLE ABRASIVE BELTS – deliver a strong, long lasting razor-sharp convex edge
FAST, PRECISE, & REPEATABLE – sharpening results with no set up or calibration time
MULTI-POSITION SHARPENING MODULE – for precision knife sharpening or various positions for a wide array of tool sharpening or detail shop grinding tasks
PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN COMPANY – This tool was engineered and assembled by hard working Americans. Work Sharp is part of Darex, a 4th-generation family owned company in Ashland, Oregon. For over 40 years we have been creating industry-leading sharpening tools here in the USA.