Tag Archives: AR

The Fastest Way To Convert Aluminum 5.56 AR Magazines For Use With .50 Beowulf

Back in 2018, I documented how to convert a basic aluminum AR magazine using a Dremel and a small drum. With the new Alpha ‘Wulf build, I made four new ones real fast using a slightly new method.

With the Alexander Arms (AA) .50 Beowulf DIY Upper comes one actual Beowulf magazine built to AA’s specifications by E-Lander Magazines of Israel. This gave me a chance to see what they did differently to support the ‘Wulf and it comes down to a relief in the front of the otherwise normal AR magazine. This allows the shoulder of the cartridge to pass by without hanging up on its way towards the chamber. Everything else appeared the same in terms of the feed lips and the follower.

E-Lander of Israel makes the Beowulf magazines for Alexander Arms. One is included with the DIY Upper Kit.
This is the top front of the E-Lander magazine. Note the notched out area. On a normal AR magazinet his goes straight across,

So, armed with how basic this was, it immediately hit me that a flap sander could make a quick angled surface faster than the drum mag. So, I loaded up a 3/8″ 120 grit flap sander with a 1/8″ shank into my bench rotary tool.

The first step is to remove the floor plate of the magazine. On these D&H magazines from PSA, I just use a screw driver to lift the floor plate for the tabs to clear the magazine body. Pull the floor plate off while trapping the magazine spring. Remove the floor plate, spring and follower so they are out of your way.

I slide a small screw driver between the magazine body and the bottom plate to then lift and remove the plate from the magazine. Note, the magazine spring will come fling out.
See the tabs/ridges stamped in the floor plate? That is why you need to use the screw driver to lift the plate so those tabs can clear the magazine body.
Any rotary too will use. This is my benchmounted unit that I use on grips and what not, Any Dremel or other rotary tool would work.

So you basically use the flap sander to to cut a ramp on the inside edge of the magazine. You do not need to replicate the notch – just use the flap sander to quickly remove the material.

The left magazine is an original unmodified magazine. The middle has the ramp cut and the right unit has been reassembled. Be sure to blow out the mags before reassembly.

Using the flap sander can get the job done in 30 seconds or so – it’s literally that fast. Be sure to blow out the magazine bodies to remove all of the grit before you reassemble them. Failure to do so may cause you problems later either with the magazine failing or getting into the rifle.

The final step is to test each magazine to make sure it feeds properly. Load two rounds to test chambering in a safe place with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Never take a risk.

That’s all there is to it. You can convert a magazine faster than the time it took you to read this post. I hope it helps you out.


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If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Building The Alpha ‘Wulf – Part 3: Observations On Building the Upper, Lubrication and Vortex Strike Eagle

So things were going together really well for the Alpha ‘Wulf and no, I’m not going to say “and then I hit a snag.” I was impressed by all the parts so far. In the last post I talked a bit about the lower assembly and the upper parts I picked in addition to the Alexander Arms DIY upper. In this post, I’m going to share a few observations on the handguard, brake and lubrication.

The MI Combat Handguard

I don’t recall exactly when I first found out about the Midwest Industries (MI) Combat series of rails but used one this past Spring when I built a 10.5″ 5.56 AR Pistol. The biggest thing I like is the barrel nut. Now that may sound like a crazy thing to get excited about but there’s a reason. Look at the MI Combat barrel nut – it is a knurled circle with a groove in it. The reason this matters is that the handguard can rotate however it needs around the nut and is secured by a steel key and clamping onto the knurling. If you don’t have this kind of a design, you need to use shims or do some combination of filing and potentially crazy levels of torque to get the handguard’s top Picatinny rail to “time properly” (or align properly) with the rail on top of the upper receiver and also to get the gas tube to pass through into the upper receiver’s bolt carrier channel.

This is the MI barrel nut that the combat rail uses along with a small tin of AeroShell – 33MS/64 Extreme Pressure Grease, MIL-21164D and an acid brush to apply it.
The key shown just to the of the screws is part of the cool design. The small nub sitcking out goes into the groove to lock the handguard into position front to back. The two screws go into the handguard to both secure the key and to provide the clamping pressure onto the knurled surface of the barrel nut – it is a very elegant and effective design.
Here the key is inserted and the two screws were just inserted. They have blue Loctite on them and will be torqued down to 55 inch pounds.

I do have a few tips for you to bear in mind. Bear in mind the Beowulf has a kick. Bring everything to a torque spec and use Blue LocTite 242 or 243. Both are “medium” formulas that can be readily disassembled with the right tools and 243 adds a bit better oil resistance. I’m moving to 243 as I use up my 242 supply but it’s up to you one which you want to use.

Install the Barrel Nut First

First, just back out the set screws and the low profile gas block will slide right off the barrel. You need it out of the way to install the barrel nut.

Next, secure the upper assembly in a vise. You will need to use a fixture to hold the upper when you do this. Absolutely do not use your lower to hold the upper. You will bend things. My tool of choice now is the Magpul Barrel Extension Vise (BEV) Block. It very securely holds the upper by engaging the barrel extension. It’s the best tool I’ve found. Some guys swear by the Geissele Reaction Rod but I simply have no first hand experience with it.

This is my BEV Block along with a spare bolt carrier I use to secure it into the barrel extension akong with a cross pin.

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The following is the approximate process for installing a barrel nut:

  • Degrease the receiver threads and the barrel nut. The Combat rail comes drenched in oil.
  • Apply the AeroShell – 33MS/64 Extreme Pressure Grease, MIL-21164D to the receiver’s threads – I use an acid brush to get an even light coat.
  • Torque the barrel nut down to 35 foot pounds (yes, this is foot pounds unlike the gas block) using the spcial MI torque plate they provide and your 1/2″ torque wrench
  • Loosen the barrel nut – ideally not with the torque wrench to save it from wear and tear.
  • Torque it again to 35 foot pounds again and loosen it again.
  • Now, this is the final torque – take the MI nut down to 35-80 foot pounds. I took mine down to 40 foot pounds and called it even. Why the huge range? Well, if you have an old school barrel nut, you may need to torque it quite a bit to get things to align but in our case we just need to apply enough torque to call it even.

Installing the Gas Block

The gas block set screws do have a torque spec if you hunt long enough. Alexander Arms (AA) does not provide it in their general purpose Beowulf manual or instruction sheet that comes with the DIY upper. People cite 25 inch pounds (not foot pounds) with one drop of 242 Loctite per “echnical Repair Standard (TRS) SOFWEP-07-G12P-00032-00 Rev 1 Appx H” that I have yet to locate a copy of that manual. With that said, that is exactly what I did but I used the 243 formulation of Loctite.

Also, AA has done all the machining and used centering set screws to go into the divots in the barrel. You do not need to worry about needing to measure a set back from the barrel’s step lip – just slide the gas block on, put a drop of Loctite on each screw, carefully align the tube and then torque down the screws.

One drop of 242 or 243 Loctite and then torque each set screw to 25 inch pounds – I used my Vortex torque screw driver to tighten mine down.

Timber Creek Heart Breaker Brake

Based on my first Beowulf, it’s very critical to get a good muzzle brake. If you want to reduce felt recoil, the best things you can do in order are: 1) install a good brake. 2) have a good recoil pad 3) make the rifle heavier. Now, I do all three plus I use a hydraulic buffer that helps a tad but a good brake is absolutely critical. For me, it is absolutely my first priority and I knew I wanted to use the Timber Creek Heart Breaker again.

Here’s the Heart Breaker from the side and you can immediately see the heart shapes that give the brake it’s name. Also note the jam nut behind the brake.
A view from the top with the ports shown. The bottom does not have ports – just the top to reduce climb.

The AA barrel uses a unique 49/64-20 RH thread. If you are not using an AA barrel, confirm the thread before you order a brake.

To install the brake, I run the lock nut to the bottom of the thread and then thread the brake on as far as it will go, rotate it into final position and then tighten down the lock nut to 20 foot pounds using a crowsfoot head on my torque wrench. I’ve not used Loctite but you can if you want extra protection – I would still go with the medium strength 242 or 243 formula.

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Lubrication

To lubricate the whole rifle, I use SuperLube grease and oil. I know it sounds like an infomercial name but it actually works really good. The base is a synthetic lubricant with “micronized PTFE” (think tiny Teflon particles) added in.

If it slides, I apply a light brushed on film of Superlube grease. If something rotates, I use drops of the Superlube oil. Now some folks will disagree with me and go with all CLP or LSA or some secret blend they like – fine. This is just what I do.

After lubricating it, everything was nice and smooth plus I did function testing to make sure everything was working properly in terms of the selector, disconnector, trigger, etc. In fact, Brownells has a nice page on attaching the upper to the lower, lubrication and function testing.

Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6×24 Optic

Before I pick an optic, I think about how the firearms it is going on will be used. For the Beowulf, it will be hunting and target shooting typically within 100 yards and maybe out to 200 max plus low light situations might well occur.

Armed with that, I decided to use a Vortex Optics Strike Eagle with a 1-6 power magnification, a 24mm objective and a lit reticle. My eyes aren’t so red hot any more so I knew I would need some basic magnification while still having a wide field of view at 1x. Also, I am a huge fan of Vortex due to their quality and no BS warranty. If anything goes wrong with a Vortex optic, they will repair or replace the unit and not run you ragged.

I also opted for a quality offset Vortex mount. You need a solid mount and not something that is going to constantly shoot loose or break under strain.

How Does It Look?

I haven’t had time to take it to the range yet, but am definitely liking how it turned out. The Alexander Arms DIY upper was great to work with as were the Geiselle trigger and MICombat handguard. The PRS stock helps balance out the rifle and adds weight plus the great recoil pad that comes with it. Now, If I can just find some time to go to the range 🙂


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Building The Alpha ‘Wulf – Part 1: The Alexander Arms .50 Beowulf 16″ DIY Upper Kit and Lower Receiver

Okay, so I built my first .50 Beowulf rifle in 2018, spent a lot of time planning out the recoil mitigation and documented the adventure – click here for the post. At any rate, I sold it to move on to fund other projects but ran into a problem – I missed the ‘Wulf. There are some bragging rights when you say you have a .50 caliber rifle even when you explain it’s not the .50 BMG round. So, I decided to build another one and make it pretty unique.

The first thing I want to point out to folks is that the 12.7x42mm is the generic designation of the .50 Beowulf round and is mainly used by firms who don’t want to get into intellectual property issues with Alexander Arms (AA). If you look on Gun Broker and do some searching with Google you will turn up tons of listings for complete 12.7x42mm uppers starting just over $300. … Let me put this delicately – I would recommend that you avoid them. You will get what you pay for either in terms of performance out of the box or over time. If you do some searching you will read that I wasn’t the only buyer who had issues with Radical Arms uppers for example because of the wrong bolt being used.

If you do buy a cheap 12.7×42 upper, I’d recommend you test it right away before the warranty expires. I’m sorry – I just don’t have much faith in them.

Started With an AA .50 Beowulf DIY Upper

This time around, I decided to use an actual Alexander Arms (AA) upper and not screw around with cheap stuff. The only problem was that I wasn’t really sold on the handguards of their complete units. That and the prices were a turn off the last time. As I looked down the AA page, I saw they now sell a “.50 Beowulf Upper Kit DIY” that had everything except for the barrel nut, handguard and brake of your choice. They have both 12″ and 16″ barrel versions of the kit. As much fun as a 12″ howitzer would be, that didn’t interest me as much as building a new rifle using a 16″ barrel.

As with many manufacturers, you can buy direct from them or go to the aftermarket. I did some shopping around and found a good deal for one on Gunbroker sold by TheGunDock for $603 — Alexander was asking $735 + S&H for the same unit at the time. So you know, I had a very solid experience with TheGunDock – good communication, quick to ship and I received exactly what they listed. I value service like that.

Here’s the 16″ DIY kit from Alexander Arms. It is very nicely done. Fit and finish were excellent. The manual is for their Beowulf rifles in general and doesn’t help much with the assembly. They do give a bit of guidance with a sheet of paper that comes with the upper. A person new to ARs will need to research how to assemble an upper – I’ll give a quick summary of what I did in this post.
Here’s the upper receiver assembly – good finish. No ejection port door as the port is enlarged. I thought about making one but I really don’t need the cover.
This is their low profile gas block. All the machining work has been done for you. They already fit and pinned the gas tube plus dimpled the barrel for the two set screws on the gas block to center on.
They do include a muzzle nut over the threads. AA threads their barrels 49/64-20 RH for brakes and you definitely want a brake for a ‘Wulf. A brake is essential for reducing felt recoil – weight of the weapon and a good recoil pad help as well.
A view of the bottom of the upper – again, want to point out the nice fit and finish. Nothing gritty like you feel with cheap parts – these are very well done. They need lubing certainly but that is to be expected. Cheap parts can be so bad sometimes that it feels like two pieces sandpaper rubbing together. Everything in the AA upper slides/moves smoothly.
Here are the two set screws for the gas block. Mine were very lightly tightened and thus easy to remove. I’ll mention this again later but when you install use medium blue Loc-tite (formula 242 or 243 if you want the numbers) and tighten the set screws to 25 in/lbs each.

To sum up the AA upper, they make this build real easy. For me, building an AR is like building with Lego parts from different kits to make something unique, which was exactly my plan with this new ‘Wulf. Next, I am going to skip the upper for a minute and tell you what I in terms of the lower receiver. Why? Well, I’m a creature of habit and always build the lower first and then the upper.

An Overview of The Lower and Parts Used

The stripped Spikes Tactical lower I picked is pretty cool! You have the Crusader Cross up front and then look at the selector markings – Pax Pacis (Peace, Truce, treaty)), Bellum (War) and Deus Vult (God Wills).

I thought about using an existing AR lower from another rifle but I decided to build one from scratch. In case you didn’t know it, a Beowulf upper is actually designed to work with any 5.56 AR lower without any modifications being needed to the lower itself – same trigger, buffer, etc. The magazines are slightly modified but we’ll return to that later. So here are the parts details for the lower assembly:

Building the Lower

A Beowulf uses a standard lower so there really isn’t anything special that you must do. Thus, I’m not going to do a complete part by part instruction just for this rifle. Here’s a write up I did a while ago while building an AR pistol, which is pretty similar other than the use of a brace with a pistol vs. a stock with a rifle:

I always found having multiple perspectives to draw on can help. Here are two excellent written resources for you if you are new to building lowers:

If you would like to see it being done as well, here are some links. First, here is Larry Potterfield at Midway with a solid video on building a lower:

Brownells also has a ton of training videos online that cover building the AR-15 overall. If you click here, you can then select whatever videos you want to watch.

Closing This First Post

Okay, so you have an idea of the Alexander Arms DIY .50 Beowulf Upper upper I bought and the lower parts plus assembly. In the next post, I’m going to give you some tips/observations that I had when assembling my lower. I’ll add a link to the new post here as soon as it is complete.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Computer Animation Video: This Does A Great Job Showing How Both An AR and M16 Operate

Folks, I always tell people you need to understand the basic mechanics of how your weapon operates. I’ve posted some slick videos in the past on how the AK-47, Dragunov. Glock pistol, AK-74, and AH-94 rifles operate [by the way, clicking on their names will take you to the blog post for each] and now I just found this one that very clearly illustrates how an AR-15, M16 and M4 operate. The author, Thomas Schwenke, goes through everything and explains both the semi-automatic and fully automatic mechanisms.

The video has some amazing detail such as this illustration of the M16’s full-auto fire control group.

One thing I like is that there is a narrator explaining what is going on plus they also label key parts – many animations just show the components without either a narrator or labeling.

So if you like AR rifles and pistols, you really need to watch this exceptional video. Kudos to the author for doing a seriously great job!

Here’s The Video


I hope you found it informative – I sure did.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.

Please note the photo was extracted from the video and remains the property of its respective owner(s).


Midwest Industries’ 9.25″ AR Combat Series Rail is Slick!

I recently was looking for a free floating handguard for a 10.5″ AR pistol build and happened upon the new Midwest Industries (MI) Combat rail series. The name made me think mall ninja but the design is interesting and they did a good job manufacturing the assembly.

The 9.25″ M-LOK Combat rail looked good and three things caught my eye – the barrel nut was knurled, they had an innovative means of timing the handguard to the receiver, and it looked good. Yeah, looks do matter to me.

This is the 9.25″ MI Combat rail as it arrived. I have that small tub of barrel nut grease ready.

So,I availed on Holiday sales and ordered one from Optics Planet. The handguard arrives with everything inside. In other words, you need to unscrew the lower two clamping screws to then remove the barrel nut.

The first hint this is different from a lot of handguard that simply clamp is that insert in the middle – that’s the indexing key.
Here is the knurled barrel nut, the indexing key and the two screws.

Now you may be wondering why I care about the design of the barrel nut. There are two reasons – first, the knurling creates a more anti-slip surface than a smooth surface would. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the groove that the key rides in allows the rail to align any way you need it to with the receiver without having to deal with shims and it inhibits the rail from sliding forward. Combine thee knurling, key and very generous tabs that position the rail on the receiver and this rail is very well retained. In other words, it isn’t going anywhere unlike many rails that shoot loose and all of a sudden you are holding the rail separate from the weapon because it slid off the barrel nut. That’s not going to happen with the Combat rail.

Installation Video From MI

MI took the time to assemble a short video for you to understand what is required to install the rail. It’s very straight forward.

My Installation Tips

To be honest, I read the paper instructions that came with the rail and realized it would really help to see what was needed so I watched the above video. I really do recommend you take just under 10 minutes to learn from them first hand. That’s tip #1 🙂

Tip #2 – I’d recommend you use a Magpul Barrel ExtensionVise Block – a “BEV Block”. You need to apply quite a bit of torque to remove the existing nut and 40 foot pounds to install the Combat barrel nut. Click here for a post that provides more details.

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Bev Doolittle WOODLAND ENCOUNTER Matted & Framed with Original Artist Signature

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Note, the Giessele Reaction Rod works too but just costs more.

Tip #3 – When you remove the muzzle device and/or existing barrel nut, I’d recommend you use open end wrenches and NOT an adjustable wrench. Countless millions of nuts and muzzle devices have been marred or destroyed by adjustable wrench jaws giving too much and rounding corners.

I have a big SAW combination set that I use for tasks like this. For example, to remove the PSA barrel nut that was previously installed, I used this big 1-1/8″ wrench and it took quite a bit of torque to break it free. Again, use a BEV Block or Giessele Reaction Rod to safely handle the torque.

Tip #3 – do degrease the parts. You never know what was used during manufacturing or by a previous installer. For example, my PSA barrel nut was lubricated by some white colored grease. I have no idea what is was and used denatured alcohol to remove it from the receiver plus cleaned the new barrel nut.

Tip #4 – Do use Mil-Spec barrel nut grease. It is designed for the appplication and prevents the nut from sticking/corroding onto the upper receiver.

Tip #5 – Do use a torque wrench to install the handguard. I used to do “farmer tight” where you bring something up firm and call it even. The problem with that is either you apply too little torque and the nut loosens up or too much and you strip the threads. MI supplies the appropriate fitting for a 1/2″ torque wrench. The spec calls for 40 foot pounds so do it.


If you don’t have a 1/2″ torque wrench, there are good deals on Tekton wrenches at Amazon. Just be sure to reset the scale to zero before you store it.

Tip #6 – for the same reason as the troque wrench, use a torque screw driver to install the gas tube (if it uses them and torque will be 25 inch pounds or there abouts) and the handguard’s Allen screws require 55 inch pounds.

I use a Vortex torquing screw driver for optics. It only goes up to 50 inch pounds so I installed the handguard screws to 50 and not 55. There are other screwdrivers that go higher but that is what I had handy.

The Wheeler FAT torquing screw driver can go up to 65 inch pounds. I have one and it works – I just don’t keep it on my bench now that I have the Vortex.

In Summary

I’m very pleased. The rail is rock solid and looks great on my AR pistol.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


How to Safely Change AR Muzzle Devices and Barrel Nuts Using a Magpul BEV Block

If you like working on AR-type rifles and plan to replace a muzzle device or change a barrel nut to install a free-floating handguard or to swap barrels, you are going to need to apply a lot of torque. Torque and aluminum are not friends and this is certainly the case with the upper receiver for AR rifles and pistols.

What not to do?

I actually want to take a minute and tell you two things not to do. First, do not simply clamp your lower in a vise and go cranking on whatever on the upper. Remember that the upper is connected to the lower by two steel pins going through relatively soft aluminim. Not a good combination.

Number two, there are work fixtures that look like a rectangle that allow you to remove the upper from the lower and then pin the upper to this block that is then held by a vise. I’m not fond of this either because then your two aluminum connection points on the receiver take up all the stress and they weren’t designed to do so.

Please do not do either of those or you may regret it. The odds are that you will regret it. I word it this way because you may get by once or twice but these methods are risky so don’t do them.

So what do I recommend?

At this point, it comes down to two options that engage the barrel extension, which can handle the torque of any AR upper operation you may need to perform. The first is the Geisselle Reaction Rod. It’s pricey but it does the job and you can get a relatively good price on an AR tool kit from them on Amazon.

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The second approach, which is what I use, is to secure the upper in a vise using a Magpul Barrel Extension Vise (BEV) block. It’s a very well designed block that engages via the barrel extension with its own steel lugs that are designed for strength but also to not harm the extension.

This is the top of the BEV block. You can see the front engagement lugs, the rear protrusion is for the bolt carrier and I would recommend keeping that O-ring oiled. The hole just under the front lugs is for a cross pin to secure it to the upper.

The BEV block uses a bolt carrier with the bolt removed to further secure it in the upper. You could remove the bolt from the bolt you normally use. I have a bolt carrier body that I keep in my toolbox for just this purpose.

The following photo shows it partially inserted in the upper.

This next photo shows it fully forward with the bolt carrier assembly installed. It does not have a cross pin installed at that point. Even without the pin it can handle the rotation stress. The pin just keeps it all in position and is not load bearing.

At this point you are good to go to change muzzle devices, barrel nuts or whatever else you may need to do without risking damage caused by torque. It’s a solid tool and I highly recommend it.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Wheeler AR Bolt Catch Punch Set Makes The Job Way Easier

If you are new to building AR lowers, there is one step that is, in my opionion, the most risky in terms of making a mistake and scratching the finish if not even gouging the aluminum.  That’s when you go to install the bolt catch.  You must juggle the receiver, spring, detent, catch, punch and hammer all at the same time while being right against the nicely finished receiver!

The two ears that hold the cross pin of the bolt catch are just above the magazine catch.  In the small hole will sit the spring and the detent pin.

Historically, you had to get ready for battle and would tape your receiver to protect it from slipping punches or glancing blows by a hammer.

I would apply duct tape, Gorilla tape or something thick to protect the finish.  Note, if you are starting out, taping is always a good idea no matter what.

Installing the slide catch is way easier now with the right tools.  I have really come to rely on three punches to get the job done.  The first is a purpose specific punch set from Wheeler this is flat on one side and has a protective rubber coating.

The Wheeler set has two punches.  The starter punch has a hollow end that the pin sits in.  This allows you to focus on the hole and hitting the punch with the hammer.  The other is a roll pin punch that you can use to align the catch at the start and also drive the pin the final distance.

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Here the pin is being started.
See, I use the roll pin punch on the left to align the bolt catch and also to capture the detent pin and spring.  Once that punch is in, you can let go!  Whew.  You can then focus on tapping the starter punch on and making sure everything is aligned.

Now plenty of guys can get their build done with the above.  Because of my tremor, I like to drive the pin in the rest of the way by using a really long roll pin punch that safely clears the receiver.  I have a Tekton gunsmith punch set and the 1/8″ roll pin punch works great for me. 

This is the nice Tekton gunsmith punch set that I really like.
This is me with the 1/8″ roll pin punch.

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I hope this helps you out.  This is what I do every time now.  It’s also what I use if I need to remove and replace an existing catch.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Wheeler Tool Makes AR Trigger Guard Installation or Removal a Breeze

I was asked how I install AR trigger guards to minimize scratching up the receiver or even risking snapping an “ear” off.  On one hand, you can use a solid backing block to support the ear and then use a roll pin punch to drive in the pin.  That’s what I used to do but it’s a headache to be honest.  As some of you may know, I have a tremor that makes fine motor stuff a headache so finding methods that are simpler really helps me get work done.

This is a Brownells Billet 7075 aluminum trigger guard (078-101-164) and it has a bulge to accomodate gloves.  The set screw goes in the end with a blind hole.  The roll pin goes through the end that is drilled all the way through.

A few years ago I started using the Wheeler trigger guard tool and it works great.  Here’s the link to it at Amazon – click here.

This is how I use it:

  1.  Install the end of the triggerguard that uses the set screw.  That’s the end with the blind hole – the roll pin goes in the end where a hole goes all the way through.
  2. I lightly oil the pin to make things easy and tap it with a small hammer just to get it started.
  3. I then use the Wheeler tool with the shorter starter pin.  The starter pin has a nipple that centers it on the roll pin.
  4. Keep the parts aligned and turn the knob to drive the pin in.
  5. Stop when you have inserted the pin – it’s that easy.

Note, Scott Igert of Modern Antique Firearms recommends you put a business card or something between the frame and your receiver to protect it from scratching.

It has two tips – here you can see one installed and one stored in the frame of the tool.  The short one is for installing and the long one is for pushing a roll pin out.
Simply stop once the pin is flush.

Note, I actually have one from another maker also.    I’m holding it in my hand.  It does the same conceptually but is heavier made.  I’ve built probably 4-6 ARs with the Wheeler unit and it seems to be holding up fine.  The other is a Little Crow unit from Brownells for about $39.99 + S&H and its built like a tank but you do pay more for it.

Little Crow Trigger Guard Pin Pusher

I hope this helps you out.  


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Slick AR Rifle Shirts and Sweatshirts

I like weapons based on the Armalite Rifle (AR) design and have owned a variety of them over the years including a variety of AR-15s from Colt, Rock River, Palmetto State Armory and others plus a whole slew of pistols.

I also like having cool T-shirts and hoodies that reflect my interests and opinions about firearms and the Second Amendment.  So, I did some searching and found there are some great designs on eBay that you just might find of interest:

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If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


 

Taming the ‘Wulf – My Adventure With a .50 Beowulf AR Rifle

When I first heard of the .50 Beowulf cartridge, it got added to my bucket list immediately. What’s not to like – the ballistics of the .45-70 cartridge in an AR platform that hits like a freight train. Somewhat humorously, I’d also point out that it drops noticeably at 150 yards and like a pumpkin after 200 yards but boy, does it hit hard when it does.

I have fun assembling AR lowers the way I want them and figured I would save time and get an assembled upper. In early 2016, I looked at two different vendors of assembled uppers – Alexander Arms (AA), who was the originator of the cartridge, and Radical Firearms, a discount AR rifle and assembler of uppers and lowers in Texas. A basic AA upper was around $719 that did not have a brake (or threading) and basic handguards. A decent looking Radical unit in the generic 12.7×42 chamber was only $598. It seemed like a no brainer and I went with the Radical unit.

To jump ahead just a bit — I wish I had bought a better AA upper for $923-1190. The Radical upper caused me quite a bit of grief and I am going to chronicle my adventure here because I did get it to work out in the end and was very happy with the results but I had to work for it.

Radical Arms Challenges

When I first ran across Radical, I had high hopes. In an impulse buy, I purchased two 5.56 uppers and the 12.7×42 upper. In case you are wondering why I am listing 12.7×42, that is the generic designation for the .50 Beowulf cartridge that AA owns the intellectual property for. By using the metric designation, Radical could build an upper without paying anything to AA.

When I bought my uppers, Radical was undergoing a huge growth spurt and I had to wait some period of time (4-8 weeks maybe) for the uppers. That was not a big deal to me. The AR uppers arrived and while gritty and needing polishing, they worked.  Basically, what you’d expect with relatively low cost mass assembled products.

The 12.7×42 upper was a different story. Sometimes it would cycle and sometimes it would not. Radical took forever to respond to emails and what not so I figured screw it, I’ll just treat the assembled upper as a collection of parts and move ahead. To be perfectly clear, I parted ways with Radical and did not give them a chance to fix it after I got frustrated by how everything was going.

So, I started researching on the web and found that Beowulfs use a bolt head that is slightly different than a 7.62×39 AR bolt. After cycling my rifle by hand over and over, I concluded the cartridge was not seating properly in the bolt face and ordered a true .50 Beowulf bolt directly from Alexander Arms (not Radical). Problem solved. It’s run perfectly ever since. Whether Radical installed the wrong bolt or an out of spec bolt, I don’t know. I threw the offending bolt in the trash and called it even,

Another irritation Radical caused me was when the handguard loosened up because they hadn’t used Loc-tite on the screws. My recommendation is to just use Blue Loc-Tite if you run into this – it worked fine for me. I like the handguard otherwise.

The one thing they got right was the barrel. I heard Satern made the barrel but don’t know for sure. It is wonderfully accurate with the big 350gr XTP hollow point cartridges that AA makes. I am very pleased with that combination.

Yes, I eventually got it to work.  No, will not buy from Radical again but I definitely would buy more stuff from Alexander Arms.  I dealt with them on the phone a few times for ammo as well as the website.  The staff were pleasant to deal with and shipping was always prompt.

Addressing Recoil

I was not impressed by the muzzle brake that Radical supplied and started researching the best brake for the Beowulf. Bear in mind the muzzle has a pretty unique thread at 49/64″-20 threads per inch (TPI).  In addition, I knew I would need a jam nut to address the timing so the brake could be level on the barrel and it needed to be steel and not aluminum.

The Timber Creek Beowulf Brake Rocks!

To make a long story short, Timber Creek makes a Beowulf brake that does a great job. It seriously cut the recoil back and made the biggest difference of all my modifications.  They make them with two different threads so make sure the one you order matches your rifle.

TIMBER CREEK 49/64-20 .50 BEOWULF TANKER MUZZLE BRAKE - CERAKOTE CLEAR - SILVER

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TIMBER CREEK - HEARTBREAKER - 49/64-20 - .50 BEOWULF BRAKE - BLACK - MADE IN USA

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Here it is on my rifle – notice the big ports that redirect some of the gasses backwards:

Added a Limbsaver Recoil Pad to the Magpul ACS Stock

Limbsaver makes great recoil pads – I discovered them some years ago and have used them on a number of rifles and shotguns over the years. What is cool is that they also make a recoil pad specifically for the butt plate that the Magpul CTR and ACS stocks use – plus some other models. I like ACS stocks so it was a no-brainer for me to get this thicker spongy pad to help absorb recoil.

Limbsaver Model 10025 Magpul Collapsible Stock Precision Fit Black Recoil Pad

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LimbSaver 10102 Marlin Mossburg 500/336 Remington Recoil Pad

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LimbSaver Classic Precision-Fit Recoil Pad for Magpul Synthetic Stocks

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Magpul MAG318 S ga Remington 870 Original Butt-Pad Adapter - Black Shotgun

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LimbSaver 10301 Recoil Pad, BROWNING, WINCHESTER 1300 Shotgun (Synthetic Stock)

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Weighting the MagPul ACS Stock

The next important element I did to reduce recoil was to add a mixture of bird shot and epoxy into the compartments of the MagPul ACS stock. I just stirred up a mixture of #7 lead bird shot with epoxy, filled all the voids I could and wiped off the excess liquid epoxy checking all the seams until it gelled enough. Here, you can see a hint of it sticking out.

Another benefit is that it really helps improve the balance of the rifle because otherwise it is very nose heavy.
H2 or Hydraulic Buffer

The last thing I did was to try different buffers. Bill Alexander designed the cartridge to work with a normal AR buffer. I went from a normal/H1 buffer to an H2 and finally to an Enedine Hydraulic buffer, which is in it right now. With each step, the recoil seemed to go down a tad but did not make a huge difference.

Vortex Scope

I was thinking about using the rifle either for hogs or deer so I wanted a scope that could go from a fairly wide field of vision at 2.5x all the way up to a decent zoom at 10x. Vortex is always my first choice in scopes so I bought a Viper PST 2.5-10×44 scope and Vortex rings.

This is a wicked combination. I have thoroughly enjoyed this scope on the Beowulf. It holds zero and is nice and bright.  You can’t go wrong with Vortex scopes in my honest opinion. Because of the Beowulf’s recoil, use quality rings and be very sure to torque all the screws down to spec so the optic stays put.

By the way, you may scoff at the notion of buying quality rings.  A lot of the cheap imported rings are just aluminum.  You’ll notice they don’t list a torque spec.  Quality rings such as the ones fro Vortex will tell you a torque spec to hit and they often have steel inserts for the threads.  You get what you pay for.

Note, in mid-2018 Vortex came out with what they call the “PST Gen 2” series of scopes and this first generation model has been discontinued.  The closest scopes now are 3-15×44 and 2-10×32  -I don’t think you can go wrong one way or the other.  I’d probably opt for a 2-10×32 MRAD scope to have the widest field of view at a low power.

Magazines

The Beowulf actually can use easily modified standard 5.56 aluminum magazines.  Click here for a blog post about the easy procedure.

End Result

The rifle turned out great.  The final “felt” recoil was about that of a 20 gauge slug gun, if that.  I could shoot round after round without regretting the kick 🙂

I had fun building and shooting it. As I get older the more I realize I enjoy learning about the engineering and history of arms. The “Wulf” has a new owner now and I hope it serves him well.

11/18/2019 Update:  I missed my ‘Wulf and had to build a new one.  Click here to read my post on building the Alpha Wolf.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.




TIMBER CREEK 49/64-20 .50 BEOWULF TANKER MUZZLE BRAKE - CERAKOTE CLEAR - SILVER

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.50 BEOWULF 50 Beowulf 10 Round Floorplate

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.50 Beowulf Tanker Muzzle Brake 49/64x20 TPI With Jam Nut

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Sale Stainless Steel 49/64x20 TPI Tanker Style Muzzle Brake For .50 Beowulf Sale

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big bore followers .450 bushmaster/.50 beowulf/ .458 socom US made!!!

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.458 SOCOM 5/8x32 TPI or .50 Beowulf 49/64x20 TPI Tanker Style Muzzle Brake

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.458 SOCOM 5/8x32 TPI or .50 Beowulf 49/64x20 TPI Tanker Style Muzzle Brake

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TIMBER CREEK - HEARTBREAKER - 49/64-20 - .50 BEOWULF BRAKE - BLACK - MADE IN USA

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.458 SOCOM 5/8x32 TPI or .50 Beowulf 49/64x20 TPI Tanker Style Muzzle Brake

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TIMBER CREEK 3/4"-24 THREAD .50 BEOWULF TANKER BRAKE - BLACK - MADE IN USA

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