How To Locate And Drill AK Front and Rear Trunnion Rivet Holes

Building an AK takes a fair amount of drilling, fitting and riveting that can intimidate someone thinking about building their first rifle. Lucky for them, the industry has evolved a lot of really cool tools exist to enable faster higher quality results. A good example of evolution is the location and drilling of the the rivet holes in the receiver for the front and rear trunnions.

Back around 2006 or so when I got started, you either measured the location of the trunnion holes and marked them or you could take a post it note, push it on the trunnion to get an outline of the holes and then transfer it to the receiver, again marking where to drill. You learned quick to start with a small drill bit so you could adjust a bit if you were off with either method – I got pretty good with the post it note method actually.

One of the AK-parts and tool vendors that has been around the longest is AK-Builder and he was always bringing new offerings to the market, I slowly added one of all of his tools as funds permitted. I had his rivet jig, flat bending jig, the top rail layout jig (if you remember those) and so forth. At some point he added a really, really cool jig for locating and drilling the holes for the trunnions. I bought it and swear by it to this day.

The jig is extremely well made and durable. When you buy it, you have options for the sizes of mandrels to fit different barrel channel holes. The red one you see works on 7.62 AKs and they also have one for 5.45 and the unique MAK90. The rounded rectangle on the right holds the rear trunnion.

Using It For The Front Trunnion Holes

Using this fixture is about as easy as it gets but you must have a drill press. I’d recommend an X-Y table on your drill if you plan to do this much but at least have a drill press.

  1. Securely mount the fixture to your drill press.
  2. Insert the trunnion and tighten the knob so it can’t move.
  3. Move your drill table around to line the drill bit up with the hole in the trunnion.
  4. Slide the receiver over the trunnion.
  5. Lower the drill and it will go in the exact same location as the trunnion hole you lined up on.
The front trunnion is being held securely by the fixture. I am sliding the receiver forward and when I bring the drill down, it will make the hole in the exact same spot as what was in the trunnion.
This fixture is the best means I have found to quickly and accurately locate and drill the trunnion holes in the receiver. I prefer undrilled receivers because with this jig I can put the holes exactly where I want them. By the way, these are AK-Builder rivets also.

Tips For The Front Trunnion Holes

  • Confirm the drill bit sizes you need before you start. For most AKMs, the front rivet holes are 4mm so you can use either a 4mm or 5/32″ (3.868mm) bit. Note, that dimension can be different so just confirm is my point. Also, I’d recommend good cobalt bits personally.
  • Use cutting fluid – I like Tap Magic personally.
  • You will drill a hole at a time – do not try to go all the way through. Small alignment errors become big problems when you do that. Avoid the grief – do a hole per rivet.
  • Make sure the table can’t move, that the fixture is secure and that the trunnion is being held firmly. If anything moves, you are hosed.
  • Line up on the hole, slide the receiver all the way on, pull it back just enough to verify nothing moved one last time.
  • After I drill the first rivet hole I carefully inspect everything is lined up. I then move to the second rivet hole and repeat the above but before I drill, I insert temporary rivets in the holes to make sure nothing moves. DO NOT SQUISH THEM – I literally am just using their bodies to keep everything lined up. It really helps avoid small movement errors.
  • If you mess up real bad for some reason, weld the hole shut and start over.
If you go to the AK-Builder product page for this jig [click here] you should note the link in their description to a page with a lot of photos and detailed instructions.

Doing The Rear Trunnion

Doing the rear rivet holes uses the other side of the drilling jig. The little rectangular tab goes into the top of the rear trunnion where the recoil spring rod normally sits and you can then crank it down tight to hold it in place while drilling.

Notice the receiver will be parallel to the jig during these operations. Again, make sure everything is secure and you need to make sure the back of the receiver is true to the rear of the trunnion.
The end result will be accurately located holes. Before you set the rivets, this is when you should be thinking about a side rail for optics if you want one. I like the AKM side rail mount from AK-Builder. Those holes you will need to manually locate and drill. Use a caliper and true the top of the rail to the top of the receiver if you do install one.

Tips For the Rear

  • First, read all the tips I wrote for the front trunnion if you skipped them.
  • The key to all of this is a solid setup and nothing moving.
  • Confirm the size drill bit you need. It will probably be 4.5mm which you can do with that size drill or be close with 11/64″ (4.365mm).
  • DO NOT DRILL STRAIGHT THROUGH. I’d recommend you take your time and do a hole at a time.
  • Once you get a hole drilled and are ready to do the next, stick a rivet in it to prevent movement.

Summary

The AK-Builder drilling jig is the best tool I know to help you quickly and accurately locate and drill the front and rear trunnion holes in your receiver. I definitely recommend it.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Customizing My Glock 29

The Glock 29 Gen 4 offers a solid platform out of the box and for many, that is all they want. For me, after building a few Polymer80s and having a better idea of what I liked, I knew I wanted to upgrade some of the parts to personalize it plus run heavier loads.

Wait – Not The Trigger You Ask?

You may look at that list and be surprised that I left the trigger alone – yes, I did. I’ve used Zev, Overwatch and other aftermarket triggers along with other aftermarket parts like connectors, springs, etc. My personal choice, and this is just me, was to go with the tried and proven OEM Glock parts and let them wear in. I’m not shooting matches or precision targets – this was to be a defensive pistol so I wanted reliability and a trigger with enough pull that I wouldn’t have an accidental discharge. There are guys that will agree with me and ones that will strongly disagree – the trigger decision is totally up to you. Mine was to go with the original Glock trigger parts.

New Sights

The original Glock sights are better than nothing but I really do not care for them. Others must feel the same way because there are a ton of aftermarket sight vendors. By the way, go for a brand name – some are just total junk and not sufficiently rugged.

I’ve had very good luck with TruGlo and Trijicon and I tend to favor the latter more. Trijicon sights are very well designed, make aiming super easy and are incredibly rugged. I opted for the Trijicon HD Night Sights (GL1040) for large frame night sights that have an orange ball in the front and tritium illumination. I intentionally wanted a low-light sight but not to add an optic.

I used a Wheeler Sight Tool for pistol sights and really like it. Installing and removing Glock sights is a breeze with this tool. You can’t see it from this angle but I do have blue painter’s tape on the slide to protect the finish just in case.
My current tool for removing and installing Glock sights is this 2-in-1 Real Avid tool that has a pin pusher on one end and a pin pusher on the other. What makes a good tool? The little bolt you see requires a 3/16″ thin wall socket. Having a rare earth magnet at the right depth makes all the difference in the world to properly hold the bolt while you are trying to get it threaded into the sight. Cheap tools do not have the socket properly formed, don’t have a magnet, etc. The Real Avid tool gets it right. Cheap imports are just that – I’ve seen them useless right out of the box.
Done. It took me maybe 10-15 minutes including taking these photos. The right tools make it very easy.
The dots glow green in low light due to tritium inserts.

Changing The Controls

That is a Rival Arms Extended Slide Lock. An OEM Glock Slide Stop Lever and a Tango Down Vickers Tactical Magazine Catch.

I like to replace the slide lock, slide release and mag catch normally. The slide stop is actually a big problem for me as I have a hard time grabbing, even feeling, the two sides to pull it down to remove the slide. This really drives me nuts and is one thing I always replace. I installed a Rival Arms extended slide release that sticks out just enough for me to get a much better grip on it. I wish I could find the packaged but I installed a no-name unit online and it had problems from the start – the Rival Arms unit is what I went to next and am still using. Point of the story – beware of cheap parts and test your stuff.

For the Slide Stop Lever, I actually am still using the Glock unit. Normally I would replace it but had a hard time finding one that would fit a Glock Gen 4 model 29. I can use the Glock lever, it’s just not my first choice.

For the Magazine Catch, I went with a Tango Down Vickers Tactical model. I’ve used these a number of time of times now because I like how it sticks out just a bit more than the original but not too much. I’ve tried ones that stick out so far that if you even lay the pistol on its side, the catch is depressed enough to release the magazine and then the next round fails to feed because the mag isn’t properly seated.

The Vickers Tactical Magazine Catches are really my preferred unit these days for Glocks and Polymer80s.

Recoil Spring Upgrade

The stock Glock 29 spring is rated for 17 pounds as I understand it. To better run the hotter loads from Buffalo Bore and Underwood, I wanted to put in a stiffer spring but I wasn’t exactly sure what to go with. This helps with obtaining both higher and more consistent velocities with these loads. Yes, the OEM recoil spring will still work – this is an improvement is all. However, if you run too stiff of a spring, your pistol may not cycle reliably with other loads you want to run.

Wolff Gun Springs makes this decision super easy for you. They sell what they call a “Recoil Calibration Pak” with springs at 17, 19 and 21 pounds. They have a variety of these assortments for different Glock models as well.

To install the spring, you need to get a two piece guide rod assembly and Wolff sells them as well. The native Glock springs are in a captured assembly that really isn’t designed to come apart. The Wolff guide rods make it super easy for you to try different springs and do not affect accuracy or reliability in terms of the rods themselves.

That is the Wolff two piece guide rod and springs. It’s worked great so far.

I installed a 19 pound spring and found it functioned just fine with all of my Buffalo Bore, Ammo Inc, S&B, and Underwood loads. That’s what I am running at this point and haven’t had any reliability issues so far.

In Conclusion

The pistol is configured the way I want it and as reliable as ever. The end of the day, what you do is your choice but just be sure to test your combinations (the new parts, magazine and ammo) before you rely on them.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


How To Quickly Remove AK Receiver Rivets

Okay, there are a ton of ways to remove rivets and I’ve posted some details both about removing the trigger guard and side rail rivets (if your AK has a side rail). This post is going to get straight to the point.

I use a 4.5″ cordless Ryobi angle grinder and take all the rivet heads down flush. Unless I plan to reuse the receiver, I don’t care how to receiver looks. If I do, then I will be much more careful and stop just before I get to the surface.

I then center punch all of the holes to make drilling easier. I like to use an automatic center punch so I can focus on where I want to make the divot for drilling vs. trying to keep everything aligned. If you’ve never used one, they are worth their weight in gold.

I drill an 1/8″ hold in each one use quality cobalt drill bits and cutting oil. I like to buy Tap Magic in bigger containers and then transfer the fluid as needed into smaller squeeze bottles with long metal tubular “needle” tips so I can precisely put it right where I need it.

From the top – 1/8″ drill bit, roll pin punch and an automatic center punch on the bottom.

I then use a roll pin punch where the rounded tip can fit in the 1/8″ hole and the shoulder properly engage the remaining rivet. Folks, this makes removing the remaining rivets super easy except for the long trunnion rivets.

For the short rivets, I like to drill them out with an 1/8″ bit to both create a hole and relieve stress. I then use a roll pin punch to easily knock them out because the ball end of the punch keeps it centered on the rivet. If you’ve ever fought with keeping a normal punch centered while hammering, a roll pin punch centered in a hole makes a night and day difference.

Long Rear Trunnion Rivets

Okay, these take more work so we’ll make a section just for these little headaches. They’re not horrible – they just take additional time to remove but I will tell you a HUGE time saver in a moment.

In general, it’s easier to remove the rivets with the trunnion out of the receiver. If you need to save the receiver, be gentle and use successively larger drill bits to remove the rivet heads so you can then pry the sheet metal receiver open and pull it out. The balancing act is that if you make the receiver holes too big then you will need to weld them shut and drill new ones. It’s not the end of the world. I prefer welding and redrilling compared to using even bigger rivets with heads that cover the holes but are mismatched to everything else.

If you don’t care about the receiver or are removing stubs, grind those heads down and use an air hammer chisel to easily bend the receiver sheet metal away from the receiver.

With the rivet heads ground off you can clearly see the rivet body outline and thus you can mark the center.

Traditional Method – drill in from each side about 1/2 way and then punch the rivet out. Guys will use 5/32″ (3.969mm) or even 11/64″ (4.366mm) drill bits. If you are spot on the center and you have access to quality cobalt metric bits, this is usually a 4.5mm rivet so you could use that. You will read about guys suggesting 3/16″ drills but this route is problematic because 3/16″ is 4.762mm and thus too large. You’d need to use a 3/16″ rivet to properly secure the trunnion and the heads will look noticeably different from the others.

Old school – drill the rivet out most of the way and then punch it out the rest. You can see the pin exiting to the left. Note, do this on a hard surface that isn’t going to flex and absorb some of your blows. Here I am literally beating the crap out of the punch on the concrete floor. I’ve since moved on to a method using an air hammer that I will describe next.

The impatient Ronin method – drill 1/8″ centered holes in one side of the rivets left in the trunnion. Make or buy an 1/8″ air hammer drift pin and chase each long rivet out in a matter of seconds. It’s amazingly fast. I don’t know who invented the air hammer but it is seriously magical when it comes to tasks like this.

I can pop out a rivet in seconds using an air hammer and my rivet fixture. I took two old .401 shank air tools and drilled center holes. One is 1/8″ and the other is 5/32″. I then have a variety of lengths of 1/8″ and 5/32 dowel pins to do the job. I built both diameters but really I just use the 1/8″ punch now. I put the trunnion in a heavy metal working vise and start with a short pin to start the push and then a longer pin to chase it all of the way out. It works like a dream. If you do this, please, please, please wear safety glasses. A hardened dowel pin can brake in these situations. For an air hammer, I am using an IR 116 – a 4x air riveter ought to work also, I have a 3x ATS but have never tried it for this.

Summary

Use an angle grinder to knock off the rivet heads, drill and punch out the short rivets. For the longer rivet, decide which of the two methods you want to use. I hope this helps you out!


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


You can Easily Remove A Side Rail Scope Mount But The Receiver Is Going To Look Butt Ugly

The Kalashnikov design team took an interesting approach to mounting scopes on AK-Rifles. Rather than centering the optic over the bore they placed a mounting rail on the side of the receiver. There are different types depending on the model of rifle in question but one thing that pops up from time to time is whether one can be removed.

The short answer is yes. Now I add in the “but” – it is going to leave you with a receiver that not only has holes in it but receiver material that was forced into a countersink so you will have at least the center rivet area on the sheet metal receiver that will probably stick out like a little volcano taunting you.

Center punch and drill out the rivets. The rear rivet is an it depends – it may either be short like you see with the AK-74 or attached via the long rear trunnion rivet. You may want to start with an 1/8″ drill and go up to 5/32″. The rear trunnion if it has a large rear trunnion rivet in it will be 4.5mm and I actually use a 4.5mm cobalt bit on that one to free up the side rail. Some guys who don’t have a 4.5mm bit will use an 11/64″ drill bit instead – it’s 4.366mm. I’ll do another post about trunnions but unless you are running a drill or mill that you know is true to the table and work piece, do not try and drill the rivet out entirely from one side, I go about half way in from each side and punch out the remainder or use an air hammer to chase out the rivet with an 1/8″ drift pin but that’s a topic for another day.
You can see the receiver material that was forced into the center hole. It really shows how secure riveting can be with countersunk rivets and holes.

So, yes, you can drill out the rivets and use the scope mount on other rifles. The question becomes what to do with the source receiver. If it is getting destroyed then this is a non issue – follow whatever your procedures are to file a destroyed receiver/firearm record with the ATF provided it was serialized and registered to begin with unlike rifles built from a blank, etc.

Now if you want to keep the receiver, the recommeendation would give is to put a thick copper backing plate behind the holes, weld them shut and then sand the result flush. For the holes with the cones, if you have any, grind/mill them down flush first and then do the same – copper backing plate, weld the holes shut and then sand flush.

You’ll need to refinish at least the receiver and the bluing on the steel welds typically doesn’t blend with bluing on the receiver so you may want to just refinish the whole thing if you care about it looking good.

Looking at the back of the side rail is fascinating. The whole indexing of the scope rail starts with the front rivet of the rear trunnion. and then having an equal distance from the top of the receiver to the top of the side rail. Now this one is flopped 180 degrees compared to the receiver under it but look at the accomodations they have for thee selector lever and center support pin of the receiver. This is off a WASR-10 and is an AKM style plate but interestingly the rear trunnion was a split AK-74 style with two small short rivets in front on the two legs of the trunnion and a long rear trunnion vs. the ccommon AKM approach of two long rivets securing the rear trunnion. The machining is crude but it did the job. The AK-Builder plates are virtually identical but far better machined and finished. If I needed to use an AKM side rail, that’s what I would get.

Summary

Yeah, you can remove the side rail but if you plan to continue to use the receiver, you’ll need to weld the holes closed, sand, and refinish the weapon. I’m very impressed by the design they came up with – it spreads forces across the sheet metal receiver and allows ready access to the dust cover and internals if required.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


How To Quickly And Easily Remove An AK Trigger Guard

So, let’s review how to remove a riveted AK trigger guard assembly. For those of you building from virgin kits or complete demilled (“demilitarized”) kits, you don’t need to do this but for many folks they do. In my case, I needed to remove the trigger guard from a beat to heck donor rifle that someone had butchered.

You have three options to remove the trigger guard rivets:

  1. Drill them out by center punching each rivet or using a rivet drill jig and remove them.
  2. Mill the heads off, drill a hole and punch out the remainer of the bodies.
  3. Grind the heads off, drill a hole and punch out the remainder

All of the above methods work. It really comes down to what you are most comfortable with. As for myself, I use option three. The reason I just don’t drill them out is that rivet head shapes can vary considerably. The AK-Builder drilling jig is fantastic but it can’t guarantee you are centered on every rivet.

With this in mind, I simply take a 4″ grinder and take off the rivet heads flush to the surface of the trigger guard itself. This lets me see the outline of the rivet bodies so I can then drill and 1/8″ hole and I’ll explain why after a couple of photos.

This is my 4.5″ Ryobi 18 volt grinder. To be honest, the tool pleasantly surprised me. I really wondered how much torque and battery life it would have. Over the last six months I have ground down quite a few bolts and metal parts with this tool. Before I had it, I had a 4″ Makita corded grinder that I still have — it’s just that cordless is so convenient. The Ryobi made short work of the five rivets that hold on the trigger guard.
Definitely practice with your angle grinder until you are able to control it. What you want to do is to remove the rivet head with out doing major damage to the trigger guard. Can you see the outline of the rivet bodies? That is what we want to get all of the way around.

The next steps you will do are to center punch each rivet, drill an 1/8″ hole through the rivet and then use a roll pin punch to knock the rivet out. This was a bit of an epiphany for me one day – I was trying to keep the punch on the rivet and I thought to myself – “Man, what if I drill a hole and use the right sized roll pin punch? The little ball on the end of the roll pin punch ought to keep it centered.” I tried it and it worked great. No more punches slipping around.

At the bottom is an automatic center punch. I love these things. You push down on the handle until the action cycles inside and the hardened tip makes a dimple in the surface without a hammer. Above it is my roll pin punch. Tons of companies make these and you can barely see the little ball at the end that will center the punch on the drill hole. Above it is an 1/8″ drill bit. I’d recommend you go with good cobalt bits when demilling. They last longer and will go through just about anything. Note, if you buy a cheap cobalt drill bit it can be worse than plain high speed steel from a quality manufacturer. Go with a brand name – Norseman is my favorite but you can go with stuff from big box stores too like Bosch, Dewalt, etc. If you are getting a set off Amazon, be sure to check reviews.
Here’s the finished result – a nicely separated receiver, selector stop plate and trigger guard. Be careful not to lose that stop plate – you will need to and the trigger guard for your next build.

One perk of only using an 1/8″ drill bit is that you have some margin for not being exactly centered on the rivet. 1/8″ is 3.127mm and a 5/32″ drill bit comes in at 3.969mm so real close to the actual 4mm holes drilled in the parts and if you are off a tad then you wind up with an “egged” or misshapen holes. Of course you can use other size drill bits – just figure out what you like.

Even though rivets are relatively soft steel, I still recommend you use cutting fluid. I keep some Tap Magic in a little squeeze bottle with a needle tip and it makes it super easy to add it when working.

Summary

Removing the trigger guard is all about getting rid of the five rivets that hold it in place. Whether you drill, sand, mill, grind or otherwise cut off the tops, then drill out the remainder – using a roll pin punch really makes it easy to punch them out the rest of the way.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


How to Remove An AK Barrel In Less Than 10 Minutes

I have a long history with building AK-47 rifles and a number of variants including: Hungarian, Romanians, Russian, and Yugoslavian. The problem I have these days is a total lack of time so I rarely get to indulge in building any more. In fact, this past year, I only got to build one AK and I had a lot of fun doing it. Rather than do a few giant posts, I am going to do a bunch of posts for each step I do.

The first thing I like to do is to remove the barrel and get it out of the way. Back in the golden age of AK Kit building you could get completed barreled AK kits for $89/ea and sometimes even less. Then the ATF decided to re-interpret the law and in July 2005 they told importers they would no longer approve the importation of kits with the original barrels. Now importers did have a lot of orders in the pipeline so the prices slowly went up and the supply dried up.

Today, you are only going to find kits with barrels that someone is selling from their collection usually at an astronomical price (I’ve seen them range from $600-1,200 literally for kits that used to be $99) or one of the vendors has decided to offer a service to assemble headspaced kits such as Arms of America. The other reason you may need to do this is that you have a donor rifle that you are getting parts from, which is what I was doing.

When I started, everything was done with hydraulic presses or the caveman approach of using big hammers that I never cared for. Today, you can remove a hammer super fast 99% of the time with an air hammer and that is my preferred method. I want to give you a few options to consider and some tips along the way.

What did I Just Work On?

I had an old Romanian Garda kit that I had built on an AK-Builder flat many years ago. I actually dug through my photos and it dates back to June 2007 when I built it originally. When I built it, I was tinkering with how to form the rivet heads and while it was a rock solid AK function-wise, the rivet heads always bugged me so I decided to rebuild it.

This was my last Romy G (meaning a Romanian Garda rifle) rifle. I’d built it on an AK-Builder flat and had experimented with forming the rivets and the heads always looked awful so it was going to be my source or donor rifle for my new one. Yes, my workbench almost always looks like that.

Options To Remove the Barrel Pin

There are three common ways that I can think of:

  1. Use a press to push out the pin – works great but it takes space and you need a jig to properly support the trunnion so nothing bends under the pressure. It also takes time to set up everything. Huge hint to the new folks who use a press – whack the side of the press that the bottle jack is pushing down – sometimes called the jack bracket – or the side of the frame supporting the bottle jack. The vibration will loosen stubborn pins and lower the risk of something breaking / bending or even shattering under extreme pressure. In short, use the hammer to introduce shock and vibration to the pin while under load – pump the jack handle to increase the load and whack, pump, whack, and so forth. I guess I should do a blog post on this some day but I hope you get the general idea – don’t just increase the pressure alone. Some pins come out super easy and some will fight you the while way out.
  2. Use a big hammer and beat the pin out – I have never had luck with this and only tried it a couple of times before deciding it wasn’t for me. I have a hereditary tremor in my hands and trying to hit a punch with a heavy hammer/small sledge with sufficient force just isn’t in the cards for me. Tons of guys have used the “BFH” (Big F’ing Hammer) method and driven the pin out.
  3. Use an air riveter or air hammer to drive the pin out. Folks, I started using this method some years back and it’s all I use now. It’s fast, easy and you don’t need to worry about things breaking/bending like you do with a press.

So option 3 is what I do. I use a Ingersoll Rand model 117 air hammer that I bought many years ago. The stroke length is 3.5″ and the hammer is .69″ diameter, or at least the bore for it is this helps the hammer hit hard at 2,000 blows per minute.

This is a photo of my IR 117. The air tool oil I used had gummed up and I used PB Blaster to free things up. That was some years back. I tossed whatever brand oil I was using but that IR is solid.

Note, I bought the 117 many years ago and may actually upgrade to one of the new 119Max air hammers. They have a .75″ bore (8% larger), still a 3.5″ stroke and is moving at 2,530 blows per minute. So it hits harder and it has an anti-vibration design as well. This makes it easier to control and less fatigue on the hands.

Regardless, the point is to get a big air hammer. I’m not sure if one of the super cheap Harbor Freight units will do the job or not. If you look to other brands on Amazon or where ever, look for units they describe as “long” – referring to the length of the hammer bore – or if they use a number, go for 4X or higher. I’ve typically seen that designation to refer to riveters and the 117 is a fine riveter for 1/4″ because of the nice variable trigger it has. The 2x, 3x, 4x, etc. all are referring to the number of times longer the barrel is compared to some original model as I understand it. The size of the rivet gun is based on the size of the rivet that needs to be set so guys may have a number of rivet guns in their tool box if they do a lot of riveting for planes, sheet metal, etc.

To push the pin out, you can use long air hammer drift pins or even start with the conical chisel and finish up with a hammer and punch.

You can get the barrel pin started with the conical chisel that comes with many air hammer kits and finish it with a big hammer and punch or you can use air hammer drift punches and hammer it all of the way out. Ignore the dead blow hammer – it was just sitting there at the time – I probably was adjusting my drill press table at the time.
This is an M72B1 trunnion where I used the air hammer to start the pin being pushed out and then finished with a hammer and punch. I now put a long drift pin in the air hammer to push it the rest of the way out vs. using a hammer to finish it.

Note – If the trunnion is not secure then not only will it want to move on you but you will also lose a ton of force due to vibrations/movement that would otherwise be directed at the pin.

Slow down as you drive the pin out or it will fly across the room. I’m speaking with first hand experience on that. You will want to save the pin so you can re-use it.

Once you have the pin out, don’t lose it! I used to use a fishing tackle organizer and now I just use a magnetic tray. It is real easy to lose track of that pin and it’s happened to me.

Options To Remove the Barrel

There are four common ways to remove a barrel – I say “common” because I bet guys have figured out tons of other ways but let’s hit the trop four.

Option 1: Use A Hydraulic Shop Press

This is definitely a proven method. 12-20 ton shop presses were traditionally the go-to tools for a lot of AK work relating to barrels and rivets. For barrel work, guys use jigs from AK-Builder and others plus can make their own. The basic idea is to support the front of the trunnion and press the barrel out. Here’s a link to a post I did some years back for making your own barrel back out tool – I will tell you to make several – a long one if you need to reach through a receiver and a much shorter one if you are just pressing a barrel out of a trunnion or milled receiver stub.

This is 30 ton H-Frame hydraulic press. The super thick press plates are from SWAG OffRoad and they are rock solid. I’ve bent thinner press plates while working on stubborn parts. The SWAG plates simple do not budge. With the barrel pointed downward, I support the front edge of the trunnion and use the small 1/2″ bolt with a brass nut and steel backing nut to press down on the breach end of the barrel. The barrel assembly is from a WBP kit that is still one of my favorite rifles – click here to read that story.
The brass is soft and will not hurt the end of the barrel – don’t use steel for that part. The steel jam nut in the rear is what provides the strength so the brass doesn’t just push right off the threads – it will do that if it’s brass alone. You bring the press down, make sure the little barrel ram is square on the barrel and not something else and the barrel will push right out.

If you want to get a press, the Harbor Freight 12-20 ton models do the job. You can certainly spend more money and you are paying for how true the various parts are to one another and the amount of pressure they can apply. I have a knock off import 30 ton press and it does the job but is nothing to jump up and down about. I do like the large wide H-frame presses that have a nice big work area vs. the small skinny A-frames but it is up to you. Note, a bench top press will really limit your options and probably be disappointing. Also, a 12 ton press is the smallest you should consider. I’d recommend a 20 ton unit if you can afford it. I bought mine just to do AKs but have used it for all kinds of stuff since like pressing in barrels, etc.

To be clear, I have all the tools I need to use my press and it is my fall back method for stubborn barrels but it takes me longer to do the set up than I care for because of how my shop is set up. If you go the press route and it is easy to get to your press, rock on. I can have the pin and barrel out before I even get done setting up my press to do barrel work is all I am saying.

Option 2: Use a BFH

Some guys will just take a big f’ing hammer and a punch to drive the barrel out. I have honestly never tried this approach because of the tremor in my hands but there are a few guys out there who claimed to have used this approach. If you do this, make sure the trunnion is very well supported and can’t move. Get a big heavy hammer (say 1-5 pounds) and use a barrel back out tool like I described above. Be very careful to strike just on the pin or you will beat up your trunnion. I cringe while writing this just so you know. Guys have done it so I feel I need to mention it but I can’t personally recommend it. I think the risk of the punch moving accidentally and then beating the crap out of your trunnion is just way too high to be acceptable.

Option 3: All Thread Method

This method got it’s name from the use of threaded rods that can be used to create a tool to either push out or insert a barrel. Toth Tool makes one this is very nice but I have only used it one time to insert a barrel and it did a great job. They say it will work on pushing out a barrel and I tend to believe them unless you get a kit that has an insanely tight fit. Over the years, I’ve only had a maybe 3-4 barrels out of dozens that I wonder if it could have done the job. With many people building from scratch and not demilling or they are getting headspaced kits that they don’t have to fight as bad with, I think this would be a very strong option. I literally just bought my Toth tool and will give it a try at some point.

This is me using the Toth barrel tool to install a barrel. It’s very well made and I plan to use it a lot more.

Option 4: Use An Air Hammer (My Preference)

Do you notice a recurring theme? I’m not very patient so I look for quick methods. I used my big IR air hammer and drove the barrel out. I put the assembly in a solid vise, inserted a brass 1/2″ nut in to protect the barrel, an angled rivet set so I could reach in at an angle and hammer the barrel out. All said and done it took a couple of minutes.

I inserted a 1/2″ brass nut to protect the barrel from the angled steel rivet set. You always want to put a soft metal in to serve as a buffer to protect the breach. If you don’t do this, the hardened metal rivet set will beat the snot out of the barrel.

The air hammer works almost all of the time and is my go to method but note that I do have a big press in the event I run into something really stubborn that can’t be air hammered out.

Avoiding Galling

There is an ugly cosmetic issue that can happen when pushing out an extremely tight fitting AK barrel or one where the originating country maybe didn’t have the best metallurgy and that is a problem known as “galling”.

When an AK is assembled at the factory, the barrel is inserted into the trunnion, the hole for the barrel pin is drilled and then the pin is inserted. When the hole is drilled, a potentially sharp surface is created at the top front portion of the hole in the trunnion. If the barrel is pressed very tightly or the metallurgy is off, when pushing the barrel back out, this surface shaves the metal off the barrel creating an unsightly blemish on the shank of the barrel. It’s just cosmetic and does not hurt the functioning of the barrel but it sure is ugly.

The barrel on the left had galling when it was removed. The barrel on the right, by luck, had minimal galling.

There is a trick that can help reduce the chance of galling. You push the barrel pin out as normal and just start to press the barrel out so you expose part of the front top edge of barrel channel inside the trunnion in the pin hole and dress it, meanin slightly dull or bevel it so it does not dig into the part of the barrel shank (the breach end) that will still need to push past that sharp surface.

Here, the barrel has moved ahead slightly. By reaching in with a small circular file to the inside front edge of the barrel channel, the sharp edge of the trunnion can be knocked down and reduce the chances of galling. Note the red shows the location but you need to file in the barrel channel, not the outside of the trunnion.

Small circular files, like chainsaw sharpening files make quick work of this. I have a few circular files and just grab whatever one gives me enough room to maneuver inside the 7mm (0.276″) barrel pin hole.

You can then press a bit more and see if there is galling taking place. If so, push the barrel back out a bit, get rid of the steel that is shearing off and try breaking the edge of the front barrel channel lip a bit more.

Again, this is purely cosmetic and not something that will reduce the safety or reliability of the weapon. Do I always do this? No, just on expensive kits where I don’t want the barrel to look bad.

Some Quick Tips

Let me briefly summarize some lessons I’ve learned over the years:

  • If there’s any sign of rust around the barrel, trunnion or pin then either soak the assembly in Ed’s Red or spray it down with PB Blaster and let it sit at least overnight. I have a 5 gallon bucket about half full of Ed’s Red and I will literally put the whole trunnion assembly right in the bucket with the barrel sticking out and leave it there.
  • If you are not familiar with your air hammer, practice with it and get a feel for the trigger and how to control it. Otherwise you might beat some parts up that you did not want to.
  • If you use a press to push out the barrel pin, remember that tons (literally) of additional pressure is not always the best bet. Press pins can shatter, trunnions can tear and so forth. Whack the press with a metal hammer to introduce vibrations to the part. It can make things way easier.
  • Keep track of your barrel pin both when it comes out of the hole as well as later.
  • Make sure everything is properly supported and you have clearances all the way around your part. I bent a barrel once years ago because I didn’t notice it was resting on something that shouldn’t have been there.
  • If you are going to clamp a barreled receiver in a vise, clamp on the trunnion and not on the far softer sheet metal.
  • When pressing out the barrel, protect the steel on the chamber end and do not press or beat on it directly. Insert a brass or copper buffer in there to avoid steel to steel contact.
  • When pressing or hammering out the barrel, make sure your tool is pushing directly on the barrel and hasn’t somehow lodged against the trunnion.
  • When the barrel comes out of the trunnion have something soft for it to land on or hold on to it so the barrel isn’t damaged during the fall.

Conclusion

You can absolutely get a barrel pin and barrel out of an AK with a press fit barrel in 10-15 minutes with an air hammer. The only catch is if you are stuck with one of those kits with unholy tight interference fit and then you’ll need a press.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Installing a Pearce Grip Extension On A Glock 29 Magazine

The first thing I noticed with the Glock 29 with its stock 10 round magazine was that the grip was way too small for my hands. Granted I wear XL sized gloves and have big palms courtesy of my dad and grandpa but literally, my pinky finger had nothing to grab on to and I really didn’t want to control a 10mm pistol running hot loads with just two fingers – excluding my trigger finger that is. I had a trick up my sleeve though – I knew I could get grip extensions that would make holding the pistol way more comfortable.

Yeah, sorry, I can’t stand this kind of grip.

The solution comes from Pearce – they make a really nice injection molded base plate replacement that gives us just enough of an extension to comfortably hold the pistol. Since Pearce released their’s some knock offs have come out that look identical but I stick with Pearce.

That little lip makes all the difference in the world.

How To Install Them

There’s two reasons for this post – first is to tell you that there is a grip extension for the 10 round magazines and the second is to give you a tip on installing them that will save you some real grief and this pertains to Glock mags in general.

On most magazines, you push the locking button down that holds the baseplate in position and while you are doing that, you then push the baseplate off while capturing the floor plate and spring so they don’t come flying out. Trust me, those suckers can come out like a rocket.

A Glock is close but not quite. Everything I said above is true but there is also a ridge case in the middle of the magazine’s rails that the base place slides on that makes it an absolute bear to do without a Glock magazine tool. Honestly, the first time I went to disassemble a Glock magazine I could not get it off and then started searching – people said to get the tool. I thought the tools were a scam because I never needed one before other than something to push a recessed dimple down or pry off a base plate with 30-50 years of junk on it. Well, with a Glock magazine, you really need the tool and everybody and there brother makes them or imports cheap knock offs that work as well.

Here’s what you need- A G29 otherwise I don’t know why you are reading this :-), however many Pearce grip extensions and 10 round Glock magazines you need and you can see the magazine tool I use in the top left. Note, I can’t speak to whether these extensions will fit on any other brand magazine – all of my 10 round mags are Glock models.

When you look at the tool. it has a nose that pushes the dimple down on the floor plate while also allowing you to have enough leverage to then pry the base plate off thanks to the mechanical leverage it gives you.

I secure the magazine in a vise to hold it while I use the magazine tool to remove the base plate. By pushing down on the handle of the tool. you have enough leverage to remove the base plate. Go slow and capture the internals – notice how I am saying this over and over.

Again, be prepared to grab/capture the floor plate and spring assembly or they will rocket out. Yeah, I’m making light of this but a lot of people have suffered eye injuries from not being prepare and getting hit by the parts as they fly out.

The floor plate (the little grave stone looking plastic tab with the dimple on it resting on the wood vise jaw) that pushes the magazine spring down and also locks the floor plate in place is shaped to go in the magazine one way. You just need to make sure that little dimple is face up to lock the grip extension in place. If the grip extension doesn’t want to snap in place then you probably installed that floor plate upside down.
Reinstall the spring assembly and make sure the follower (the plastic thing that pushes the bullets up) is oriented properly. Note that the dimple is face up in the photo in order to lock the base plate in place. What I do is to hold the floor plate and spring with my thumb as I slide the base plate, or in this case the Pearce Grip Extension, on to the magazine tube. You will probably hear the dimple click ino the hole of the base plate or at least feel that the extension can’t move / that it is secure.
This is a good photo of the ridge, or tab, that is cast in the magazine’s body that really holds the base plate on and makes removal so hard.

This is the end result. Notice how my little finger can now firmly grip the pistol.

If you have big hands or just want to make the grip a tad taller for whatever reason, I absolutely recommend the Pearce Grip Extensions and have four of them on my OEM Glock 10 round magazines. I have shot a ton of hot Underwood and Buffalo Bore ammo and had no problem controlling the pistol. So far, they have held up just fine.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


My New Glock 29 Gen 4 Back Country Defense Pistol

I’ve never been a huge Glock fan preferring 1911 & 2011 pistols. A few years ago I built a few Polymer80 pistols and that chipped away at my dislike because the engineering was really very cool. In terms of calibers, I mainly focus on 9mm and 10mm these days – the former for general self -defense and shooting at the range and the latter for defense including potentially black bears. The problem I’ve had for the past year is that my 1911 and 2011 10mm pistols weigh quite a bit and are large. With this in mind, I started hunting around for a smaller 10mm that would also given me at least 10 rounds of ammo in the magazine. This brought me to Glock and either the full size model 20 or compact 29. I opted for the latter because I wanted something smaller and easier to carry concealed.

First, Why 10mm?

I suppose the first thing that made me even consider a G29 is that it uses 10mm and I am a big fan of the 10mm cartridge. Folks, it hits hard. It’s not a magnum but it does pack a wallop substantially beyond what a 9mm can do while feeding from a semi-auto.

My plan was to use this pistol when hiking in the back country for self-defense from someone with malicious intents or a black bear. This was not to be my every day concealed carry pistol and while I do have quite a selection of hollow points (HPs), my plan was to load the pistol up with ammo designed to penetrate, not to mushroom like a HP bullet does.

While I have carried my Sig P365 on many hikes mainly because it’s small and lightt, let’s compare some rounds between 9mm +P and 10mm so you can get an idea:

9mm +P Penetrating RoundsMuzzle Velocity (FPS)Muzzle Energy (Ft/Lbs)
Hornady 9mm Critical Duty 135gr +P1,110369
Hornady 9mm Critical Duty 124gr +P 1,175380
Buffalo Bore 9mm Outdoorsman 147gr Hard Cast +P1,100394
Underwood 9mm 147gr Hard Cast +P1,100395
Underwood 9mm 115gr Xtreme Penetrator +P1,250399

10mm Penetrating Rounds Muzzle Velocity (FPS) Muzzle Energy (Ft/Lbs)
Buffalo Bore 10mm Dangerous Game 190gr Mono Metal1,100510
Hornady 10mm Critical Duty 175gr1,160523
Buffalo Bore 10mm Outdoorsman 220gr Hard Cast1,100591
Underwood 10mm Hard Cast 200gr1,250694
Underwood 10mm Hard Cast 220gr1,200704

So if you want to read more on the ballistics of 9mm, 10mm or comparisons, there are tons out there by people who know far more than I do. You may also argue that Critical Duty was never designed for dangerous game and you are right but I wanted to give some comparisons mainly about the energy levels. Bottom line for me is that 10mm hits a lot harder and penetrates further based on lots of examples I have seen of 10mm rounds being fired into ballistic gelatin, phone books and real world self-defense stories against bears that you can search and read about.

This is one of Underwood’s Hard Cast 220 grain 10mm rounds loaded in one of our custom double stack mags for RIA 10mm and .40 S&W pistols [Click here to learn more about our magazines]

But Why Glock?

I’ve not been a Glock fan to be perfectly honest. I preferred 1911/2011 pistols and CZ-75s to the Glocks mainly because of the grip angle and a bit of a bias against the blocky boring lines of the factory Glock pistol.

What is cool about Glock? First and foremost, the Glocks are amazingly reliable pistols. They are going to work when you need them to work. Note, you still need to clean, lube and thoroughly test them before relying on them but this is true of any firearm. A pet peeve of mine, maybe it’s even a fear for the safety of others, are the people who are new to any type of firearm, buying one and ammo from the store, loading it straight out of the box and then thinking they are safe – Please, don’t do this.

Second, Glocks do not weigh a bunch because of their polymer frames. My Desert Eagle 1911 in 10mm is an amazing pistol – easily the best I have ever bought but it is not light. Unloaded it comes in at 36.2 ounces – folks, that is just over two and a quarter pounds!! In comparison, an empty Glock 29 weighs 24.34 ounches or just over a pound and a half – That is almost a third less weight.

Third, a Glock 29 Gen 4 pistol holds 10 rounds with the little magazines made for it but it can also use the 15 round magazines made for the Glock 20. For me to carry 15 rounds in a 1911-ish pistol means I need to move up to a wide grip 2011-style pistol such as the offerings from Rock Island Armory (RIA). Again, it’s big and heavy – 2.5 pounds empty – even heavier than the Desert Eagle.

Fourth, there is an absolutely stunningly large aftermarket parts industry supporting Glock pistols. Now you will have fewer options than the wildly popular model 17 and 19 Glocks but still, you have a ton of sights, triggers, magazine releases, slide stops and what have you to select from,

I originally was going to stop with four but I do need to add in one more – The G29 is small relatively small and far easier to conceal or even stow away than any of my big 1911/2011 pistols. The length of the G29 Gen 4 is just under 7″ with the slide being just over 6.75″. Height with the stock 10 round magazine is just over 4.5″.

The top pistol is my SIG P365 with a 12 round magazine, The middle is the Glock 29 Gen 4 with a Pearce magazine base plate. The bottom is a RIA 52009 Rock Ultra FS HC with its 16 round magazine sitting flush under the big mag well funnel. They are all great pistols but each has a time and a place in terms of use.

All of these points finally pushed me to buy my model 29 gen 4 pistol. I’ll do some more posts about the mods I have done to make it more to my liking – namely the controls, sights and changing magazine base plates so I can more comfortably hold the pistol.

Here’s the G29 with three magazines – on the left is a 10 round magazine with a Pearce replacement base plate that makes the pistol way more comfortable to hold. The middle is a full size G20 15 round magazine with an X-Grip adapter that makes it very nice to hold. Note that one is loaded with Buffalo Bore 220 grain hard cast rounds. The right magazine is the same as the middle but is loaded with 180gr Underwood HPs.

One quick comment – I’ll tell you that I am still training myself on aiming with it. I’ll bring it up and a conciously have to align the sights because my natural point of aim happens with the 1911 grip angle, not the Glock’s. I do plan on trying the new M&P that is out and will see how that goes but for now, my backwoods carry pistol is my G29.

So, I definitely like it but will stop short of saying I love it just due to the grip angle. Now some guys absolutely love their Glocks. My recommendation would be for you to go to the gun store or try a friend’s pistol and see how your natural aim is relative to the sights and decide for yourself. Personally, I can live with it and will train more because the quality of the pistol justifies the extra work on my part.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

When Strength and Quality Matter Most

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