The GUTA RV Tire Pressure Monitoring System Is Great For Vehicles That Lack Real Time Monitoring

We had a 2,200 mile trip planned expensive things are with a 2016 Ford Transit 150 that had six year-old tires on it – yeah, they need to be replaced but money is tight with inflation thanks to the politicians. The tread was definitely above the wear bars but the outer layer of rubber was starting to crack. So, I really wanted something to let me know how the tires were doing during the trip.

One thing I really like with my 2021 Ram 2500 is that I can see the tire pressure in real time. Our 2016 Transit has a basic tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) but doesn’t report to you what the pressure is – it has has an indicator light if something goes wrong. I really wanted something real time for the van and had seen aftermarket TPMS units that had a receiver and sensors that went on the tire valve stems in place of the caps before.

I started doing some research and while there were a lot of different cheaper models out there, I went with the M20-4 (meaning 4 sensors included) model from GUTA on Amazon based on reviews. I’m actually writing this 1,100 miles into our trip and am quite happy with the unit so let me tell you more about it.

Out of the Box

Literally, the unit comes ready to go other than needing a quick topping off of the main receiver’s battery using a Micro USB cord. The sensors have their batteries loaded and are already programmed to the unit.

What you see on the box was included along with 4 sensors and 4 spare O-rings. I didn’t use their adhesive pad and just opted for a couple small pieces of velcro.

The unit recharges its batteries via the solar panel or you can plug it in – the provide both a car/truck cigarette lighter to USB adapter as well as a short cord, I planned to just run via solar so I didn’t bother.

I bought the four sensor model and in the box there are four ready to go sensors with their batteries installed already programmed to the receiver. The are labeled LF (Left Front), LR (Left Rear), RF (Right Front) and RR (Right Rear). Left and right are from the driver’s perspective looking forward.

All of the sensors were labelled, had the 2032 battery already installed and were programmed to the M20 receiver.

One of the reasons I bought the GUTA M20-4 was that nobody reported needing any extra antennas to pick up the data from the TPMS sensors. Our Transit is a full size 150 model so the wheelbase is about 148″ so I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t have a problem.

In terms of the sensors, they just go on the valve stem in place of the valve cap. Be sure to put the right sensor, such as the LF- Left Front – sensor on the right tire of course.

To install them you put the jam nut on first and thread it to the bottom. Then screw on the sensor until it stops – you will hear air leak for a second until the sensor seals as you continue threading it on. You then use their special wrench to snug down the jam nuts to lock the sensor in place. Done.

Here you can see the brass jam nut. By snugging this up against the back of the sensor you are pretty much locking the sensor in place due to the tension it creates. Note the elevated black plastic on the sensor under the jam nut – this is where you use the other end of the wrench to open the sensor to replace the battery when it dies.
This odd looking wrench serves two purposes – the left end us for unscrewing the battery cap on a sensor unit. The right end is offset to make reaching behind the sensor to tighten or loosen the jam nut easier. The offset allows the wrench to clear the sensor body and appropriate engage the jam nut. I put this wrench and the spare O-rings to seal the battery compartment in a clear plastic storage bag and put them in the van for future use.
Rather than use their supplied mounting material, I used some industrial Velcro. You stick it on to a clean surface and let it cure for 24 hours. It does a great job after that. The reason I did this was I wanted to be able to move the unit around some without the Velcro showing.
To give you a sense of scale, you can see the van’t instrument console and my hand – I wear an XL-sized glove. The receiver is small but I find the numbers of the display very easy to read from a normal driving position.
The top back of the unit has the solar cells and I have found they do the job. I let them charge during the day and just let the unit run. I don’t turn it off. By the way, there’s a little sun icon that means it is charging and there is also a battery charge indicator in the display as well.

The Device’s Configuration Screens

Well, the mechanical installation was very easy. The set up screen took a few minutes to figure out but wasn’t too bad. The set up screen lets you select pounds per square inch (PSI) or Bar, whether you want Farenheit or Celsius and then the Low and High pressure literally for each tire. An alarm will sound if either the low or high pressue is exceeded – I’ve experienced that. There’s also a high temperature tire warning that applies to all tires.

For the van, I set the low pressures all to 65 PSI and I set the max to 100. The tire temperature was set to 158F by default and I left it at that figuring I would see what happens and adjust accordingly – I had no idea what to expect actually. I did do some reading and somewhere between 190-225F is the maximum safe temperature for a tire to reach – it depends on your tire’s temperature rating.

The unit supports two modes – Mode 1 is for normal street driving and Mode 2 is for offroad or something. I had no need to explore this as our van isn’t going to go offroad.

By the way, you can add sensors or reprogram/pair sensors if need be and the instruction manual tell you how. They sell versions of this system with more and more tires supported and different displays let you see the status. Again, I just bought the model for four tires. I could add sensors to support a trailer though even with the model I have.

The Results

Honestly, I am very happy. It’s been intriguing to see how temperature affects tire pressure – that one I expected. In general, as temperature increases, the volume of a gas increases so this means that the pressure would increase in the tire.

What I didn’t really expect was to see that with driving, the back tires were a tad warmer than the front and also had about 2 PSI more pressure than the front. Tire temperatures where about 10-15 degrees warmer than the outside tire temperature when driving. It’s 95F here and when we were parked on asphalt the heat of the day would take the tires up to about 101-104F and then they would cool down as we drove.

The pressure is real time but the temperature cycles from tire to tire every 5 seconds, Note the pressure when the temperature was 61F. So you can’t tell which tire was sending the temperature in the photo but in real like, the little tire part of the graphic would be flashing so you’d know what it’s temperature is.
Here are the pressures at 77F – again, one tire was at 77F and I bet the others would have been very close to that.
This one is close to 91F. Note, all of these photos are with the same tire pressures. I filled the tires, installed the sensors and have just watched the numbers change. We had ten hour days with me driving so it gave me something to do in addition to staring outside, self-mediation and pondering existience 🙂

I think the manual said the 2032 batteries in the sensors would last about 6 months. I guess we’ll just have to see about that. Cold Michigan Winter weather takes its toll on batteries because as the temperature drops so does the chemical reaction in the batteries and thus less voltage is produced. I’m really not worried because I did open a sensor and it is real easy to replace the batteries.

To sum it up – The installation was very easy and I like being able to see the pressures at a glance. Knowing that there would be an alarm if a threshold is passed or the pressure starts dropping rapidly too are all reassuring.

So, I like the system and would buy it again.


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.


PSA Has A Great Deal On RIA 52009 HC 16 Round 10mm Pistols Going On – You Better Not Wait If You Want One

I haven’t seen these at this price in the last few years – PSA has them for $649.99. I suspect they will sell fast at that price.

I have one of these 52009 Ultra HC pistols and it is rock solid. Magazine customers tell me the same thing. If you’re looking for a double stack 10mm on the 1911 platform, this is a really good deal:

This is from a range visit last year. My RIA 52009 is at the bottom. The pistol on the top right is a 10mm TRP Operator. I still have the 52009 and like it but sold the TRP.

Do You Need 10mm or .40 S&W Magazines

We make custom high reliability magazines for the 10mm and .40 S&W RIA A2 HC pistols if you are interested. Click here for our store page.

This is one of our 3rd generation magazines. We start with a Mec-Gar P14 .45 magazine tube and modify it to hold both the 10mm and .40 S&W rounds. We have tons of satisfied clients using both calibers.

Conclusion

Just a short post today. That’s such a good price on the 52009 that I figured it warranted it and 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.


Get A Drop In Rubber Bed Mat To Protect Your Fifth Gen Ram 2500’s or 3500’s Bed

When I bought my 2021 Ram 2500 Tradesman, I purchased a spray in bed liner to protect the bed. Because people throw stuff in the back of their truck, bare metal will eventually be exposed and then the rust starts. Well, I need this truck to last for a long time so a friend recommended that I put in a rubber bed mat on top of the spray in liner.

The idea behind the rubber bed mat is that it will take the abuse rather than the liner. Eight months later, I really thing this idea paid off just based on what I’ve hauled so far but I am jumping ahead.

I did some digging and found Husky Truck Mats on Amazon. Now Amazon’s “Does it Fit” feature isn’t perfect so I did some measurements and confirmed before I bought. My 2021 Ram 2500 Tradesman has the 6′ 4″ short bed because it has the crew cab. Amazon says the following mat shouldn’t fit my truck but it actually does perfectly:

Installation

You have to love stuff like this – I just rolled it into place. No trimming, no drama – it fit.

It lliterally rolled right into place with no trimming.

Results

I honestly couldn’t be happier. It’s thick enough to protect the bed and was affordable — if it tears or gets real beat up then I can afford to replace it. So far though, it’s doing just fine. It’s dirtier sure but is still in great shape.

The mat looks great and is holding up very well. Granted the above was right after I bought it in October 2021 but other than being dirty in May 2022, it’s held up great despite hauling a variety of junk (literally), furniture and other stuff.
The mat is relatively thick. One thing to note, it did have a bit of a smell but it dissipated quickly. Some guys report their brand and model of truck matt as being really smelly but I did not have that problem with the Husky.

Conclusion

I really like the Husky mat I bought for my truck and would recommend it to others as well. They do sell a number of models to fit different trucks. Again the one I bought fit my 2021 Ram 2500 Tradesman with a 6’4″ bed just great.

I’m going to list all of the Husky truck bed mats next so you’ll need to look for your Ram, Chevy, Ford or Toyota truck and bed size.


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.


Get a Mopar Rear Bumper Step For Your 2019-2022 Ram 2500 or 3500 To Make It Easier To Get In and Out of Your Truck’s Bed

On September 11th, 2021, I took possession of my first new truck – a 2021 Ram 2500 Tradesman. I love the truck but have a challenge – I am 54, heavier than I should be and different muscle groups and joints compete to see who will hurt the most at a given time. Getting into the bed when the tailgate is a mile off the ground is no trivial matter for me. I did find an awesome solution though and want to share it with you.

There are a number of options on the market – steps and tailgate ladders too but I ruled the ladders out given the space they take. If you want something that does the job, is small, and folds out of the way when you are done, you want a bumper step.

I wanted a step that was simple to install, durable and looked good. After a while, I decided my best bet was to go with the actual Mopar step for my truck – 82215842AH. That step will work on the fifth gen 2500 and 3500 Rams – so, 2019-2022 so far.

By the way, what sold me is that a few guys recommended it online and it is a bolt in installation – you remove a few bolts and then install step and use the longer replacement bolts they send you – there is no drilling.

I ordered mine for $287 + $13 S&H — it’s not cheap but worth it. When I wrote this post, the good news was that there are a lot of sellers on eBay that you can check and the are prices both lower and higher than what I paid – just be sure to go with a reputable seller is my advice.

What Arrived

A few days later, UPS arrived with a surprisingly heavy box. When I opened it, there was the step and the bolts that would be needed.

The step is sitting vertically on the left then you can see the bracked and bolts to the right.

Installation

I’d say installation took me less than an hour and that was with a few interruptions. Interestingly enough, the RAM instructions are really illustrations without words. You can find the PDF if you search for it and want to read it in advance.

I did spend some time laying on my back getting oriented. The one thing I’ll point out is that all of the bolts are metric – gone are the days of SAE inch fasteners. So, have your metric set out.
It was all very straight forward – I just followed the instructions. For someone new to installing stuff like this, one tip I’d give you is to leave all of the bracket bolts lose so you can wiggle things into place and then tighten them down.

When I was younger and worked on cars a lot, we did “farmer tight” meaning we went by feel. Now, many, many years later, I use torque wrenches and set the fasteners to the torque specified. I’d recommend you use a torque wrench to do the final tightening of the bolts – the installation sheets provides the torque specs – you need one or more torque wrenches to tighten down the bolts to 16.6, 50 and 140 foot pounds. I put it this way because each torque wrench will have a stated range. Little torque wrenches may not be able to go up to 140 and large torque wrenches may not go below 50 foot pounds.

Torque wrenches are a good investments and ince you have them, you’ll find uses for them all the time if you work on cars, tractors, and other machinery. Note, if you buy a clicker style wrench where you set the torque at the bottom of the handle, and it “clicks” when you reach the specified torque, just be sure to reset the scale to zero when you are done so the spring doesn’t weaken over time.

Results

It’s fantastic. I installed it in October of 2021 and have used it a ton getting into the bed, loading stuff, etc. I weight about 230 pounds and it is rock solid – even when I am carrying stuff. It’s one of the best accessories that I have bought for my truck and highly recommend it.

The design is really slick. The step is spring loaded and folds very smoothly – both when you pull it out and push it in.
The step itself is textured and non-slip. Boy is it rugged – no flexing despite my weight and me carrying stuff.
Even my wife likes the Mopar bumper step.

Conclusion

Honestly, I can’t recommend this step enough. Easy install, rugged, easy to deploy and retract — it’s a really nice accessory for your truck if you want an easy option to get in and out of the bed that doesn’t take up much space at all.

If you are looking for a step – I’d recommend this one.



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.

Replacing The Fuel Spout On An Eagle SP-5 Galvanized Steel Gas Can With One That Works Great

I have a really nice Eagle galvanized steel can that I bought new back in the stone age. Over time the rubberized nozzle started cracking at the base and I kept building it up with RTV silicone until I decided I better buy a new nozzle. Why did I bother? First off, the old Eagle cans are excellent – mine must be pushing 20+ years old. Second, new cans suck thanks to the EPA mandating the bizarre nozzles that you see that are simply horrid to work with. In short, I didn’t want to throw out a perfectly good can and needed to find a replacement nozzle for it.

The first thing I tried was to buy a universal spout kit off Amazon and it didn’t match up to the Eagle’s 1.75″ threaded mouth. So, I had to do some digging – what I should have done in the first place. Turns out there was an eBay listing for an exact replacement for an Eagle can *but* it was $16.95. Well, I figured the can was in such good shape that spending that much on a gamble was worth it.

The replacement cap and nozzle arrived and the first time I put it on I really had to press down on the cap to get the threads in the cap to catch the threads on the can. It’s easier now and my best guess is that the material the spout was made from needed to compress some … whatever it was, it fits okay now.

Here’s the new spout and lid on the can and the old brittle broken one at the bottom. Click here for the eBay listing of the replacement I am using.

So, if you are interested, the one I bought is from Rotopax, is made in the USA and is on eBay – click here for the listing. Now, my old can is back in use.


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.


No, The RIA FS A2 Pistols Are Not 2011s – They Are Oversized 1911s

I posted about 9mm magazines for the Rock Island Armory (RIA) FS A2 pistols and a friend on FB, pointed out they weren’t 2011s. The difference being the 2011 has a modular grip assembly and the RIA pistols are just over-sized 1911s. It dawned on me that I really didn’t know the difference and needed to do some reading.

How “2011” originated

It turns out that Chris was right – there is a difference – a substantial difference.

From what I have read the original 2011 concept was essentially a modular 1911 receiver that could have the mag well / grip sub-frame swapped out to allow for more versatility. The 2011 design and patent was by Virgil Tripp and Sandy Strayer who together formed STI and then went separate ways and shared the patent,.

The design is really cool and the best way to help you learn more is to provide you a link to the original patent application that has written descriptions and drawing — click here to see the orginial patent.

Back to the Rock Islands

The RIA pistols are oversized 1911 pistols. The grip and mag well area are integral parts of the frame and can’t be separated plus they use thin grip panels.

At the top is my RIA 566459mm Pro Match. Below it is an 80% frame for that model. Note now the mag wel/grip area are all part of the receiver and that there are grip panels. It’s not modular in other words. This makes it an over-sized 1911 and not a 2011.

In Closing

So now I know a bit more about the differences between the 2011 and 1911 designs. The RIA pistols are oversized-1911 designs and not true to the original 2011 design concept.


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 Magazines Affect Reliability in Rock Island FS A2 9mm Pistols

This post reflects a journey I’ve been on regarding making and selling magazines for the 9mm Rock Island Armory (RIA) FS A2 pistols. These pistols are based on Para Ordnance designs that use a staggered magazine that can accomodate 15+ rounds in a fattened 1911 grip. Think of them as 1911 pistols on steroids with a fat grip the holds more rounds they hold more rounds so sometimes RIA calls them “HC” for high capacity.

These are my two 9mm test platforms. The top pistol is the 56645 Pro Ultra Match HC (you can see the checkering on the front strap of the grip) and the bottom is 51679 Tac Ultra FS HC.

For over a year now, I’ve been making magazines for the FS A2 pistols chambered in 10mm and .40 S&W. The interesting thing is that 9mm, .38 Super, .40 S&W and 10mm all use the same frame. You’d think making the 9mm mags would be an easy jump – I did at least — maybe it was just me.

The 10mm round is bigger than 9mm – it is fatter and longer. You don’t think about that a lot until you are trying to get the ejecting case to hit the ejector – the 10mm round is a hell of a lot easier to make hit the ejector than the 9mm. Also, the relatively short 9mm round has a long way to travel before it goes into the chamber. I found myself having to kick out some assumptions I had for magazines in order to get the 9mm round to reliably work.

In general, I now understand why the 1911 community is so fast to cast suspicion on the magazines when feed and ejection problems are happening. John Browning was an absolute genius and the 1911 design shows it but it does need all of the parts to be working together correctly to deliver a reliabile pistol.

Oh yeah, the magazines can make or break reliability. Let me share with you some observations I’ve made so far about the magazine after making a few hundred of the 9mm models either modifying P18 magazines (.38/9mm) or P16 mags (10/.40).

What about feed lip length?

The feed lips are the part of the magazine that hold the top round down and at the right angle. If they are too short, the round tends to be presented at too high of an angle and if they are too long, the front gap may not be adjustable enough to support the feed angle needed.

The blue rounds are A-Zoom Snap Caps. I use them during magazine prototyping and testing rather than live ammo The magazine lips are long pieces of rounded sheet metal that are going up the sides of the cartridge and are both positioning and retaining the round. Note the plastic “shelf” of the follower that is on the left bottom edge of each magazine that is level with the metal body. When the last round is fed from the magazine, the follower rises and that shelf is what engages the slide lock lever to put upwards pressure on it. When the slides travels rearword with the extraction and ejection of the last round, the slide lock level pushes up and locks the slide open ready for the next magazine to be fired.

The original 1911 was designed for .45 ACP but we are feeding a little short round from the back of the magazine towards the chamber a mile away. How can we maintain control? The short answer is have longer feed lips on the magazine. These longer lips are what get the relatively small 9mm round from the back of the magazine all the way into the chamber.

“We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there” were the famous words in “East Bound and Down” by Jerry Reed in the movie classic Smokey and the Bandit. The feed lips need to control the feeding of the cartridge all the way from the back of the magazine to the point the bullet engages the feed ramp and then starts to go into chamber. A 9mm Luger cartrdge is 1.169″ long. In comparison, 10mm Auto is 1.260″ overall. and .45 ACP is 1.275″. You might thing those differences are small but they definitely impact the design and operation of the pistol – they need to be planned for if you want reliability.

The reason I listed this section is that the length of the feed lips can vary depending on the model of pistol so if you are trying to use a magazine from another type of pistol you may find you need to trim the feed lips back. I didn’t have to change the P16 or P18 mags for the 9mm but I did need to modify the P16 Para mags to feed reliability in RIA 10mm and .40 S&W pistols.

What happens if the front feed lip gap is too wide? You tend to get a Failure to Eject (FTE) or the Slide locks open prematurely

The feed lip gap at the front of the magazine controls where the cartridge is going vertically – the angle towards the chamber. Increase the gap and the front of cartridge rises and decrease it and the angle goes down. But wait, there’s more.

If the front of the round pushes up too much, it will cause the extracting case to slide up the breech face and out of position thus missing the ejector bar you can see just above the rear of the cartidge. The tell tale is that you have the new round and the old case in the back of the slide at the same time.

Now here’s the first gotcha: The feed lip gap still controls the rise of the bullet in the front but if it goes too far, the bullet is going to interfere with extraction, pushing the extracted case upwards on the breach face of the slide and out of position to correctly engage the ejector and all of a sudden you have the old case in the slide, a new round trying to feed and you have a jam. If you go for a front feed lips gap of .305-.308″ you will be fine. Depending on your pistol once you get somewhere around .320″, you are going to cause the ejection problem I just mentioned

There’s an interesting design issue with all 1911 breech faces – they are flat. The extractor pushes the case to the right in this photo. The ejector bar is exiting its cut out from the breech face in the lower right but there is nothing to truly limit upwards travel.

I’ve spent a lot of time chasing this dimension because you tend to get better feeding the more the bullet is oriented towards the chamber but with the 9mm you have to be mindful of the impacts on the the ejecting cartridge.

By the way, in addition to interfering with ejection, a feed lip gap that is too wide can allow the follower to travel too far upwards and prematurely lock the slide open with one cartridge remaining in the magazine.

I should point out that the most likely cause of a failure to eject (FTE) is a faulty magazine. The second most likely is a worn or failing extractor. It probably is not the ejector bar.

What happens if the front feed lip gap is too narrow? You tend to get a failure to feed (FTF)

If you move the feed lips to close together, the new round that needs to be fed into the chamber comes in at too flat of an angle and smashes straight into the feed ramp. On one hand the 9mm bullet is rounded abruptly but the feed ramp is quite abrupt. I tend to find that somewhere under .302″ this happens but I haven’t done a lot of testing on this dimension because I have been more focused on wanting the cartridge angled up vs. down.

The round travels up the feed ramp but it needs have enough of an upward angle to ride the ramp up. If it is too shallow it will slam the bullet into the ramp and stop. Note that RIA did polish the ramp – that was an unexpected nice touch. In general, I’d recommend polishing the ramp smooth to aid in feeding. Also, look at the shape of the snap cap – it mimics a classic full metal jacket 115gr bullet. The curvature of the bullet will aid in feeding. Different bullet shapes can affect feeding in some pistols and you may need to tweak certain mags for certain rounds – it’s next to impossible to guess so test your pistol with certain combinations of cartrdiges and magazines to ensure they are reliable. You may find your pistol likes some and hates others. I’d probably just move to another cartridge if it were me and my pistol had issues with a given round.

Yeah, the lips have a memory

So the magazines are made of high carbon steel that is heat treated. The feed lip gap falls within a certain tolerance. If it changed either wider or narrower, the lips are going to move back towards their original positing anywhere from .002-.004″ so plan accordingly.

This is where experience matters with the mags you are working with. Once you have your dimensions figured out, you may find you need to bend further than the nominal dimension so when the sheet metal starts to relax it will stop in the range you want.

You may also find that the metal does most of its movement in some number of minutes after you do the initial tune and need to do it one more time. Some guys will wait overnight to do the final tuning. I wait at least 30 minutes.

What about left and right bends to the feed lips?

The more you bend the feed lips in one direction too much, the round will point that way and either glance the chamber wall or actually slam into the chamber and stop depending on how off you are. Try and get the cartridge to point into the center of the chamber in terms of left to right.

This is an 80% RIA frame that I used during prototyping. I’m not enough of a machinist to actually complete it but it really helps you see what is going on. If the right feed lip is bent too much to the right then the round will go in that directton – same for the left lip. You want to point the round into the center of chamber.

What about the follower?

It’s really interesting how important the follower is. On one hand it is pushing the rounds up againt the feed lips properly and on the other, there is a small “shelf” on the front left edge that pushes the slide stop lever up and locks the slide open on empty (unless you are using competition followers such as the Arredondos that purposefully do not lock the slide open).

The walls at the top of the 9mm mag really need to taper inward to properly channel the staggered round into the single exit position at the top. The follower’s sides need to be appropriately tapered and rounded as well less they drag on the walls. The original Mec-Gar followers have significant drag that you can feel when loading the mgazine so revising them made the most sense.

The Arredondo follower is on the left. It is more angled and rounded on the right side in this photo than the Mec-Gar on the right. The Arredondo was desined for competition is when you look at the bottom right edge of each you will see the Arredondo slopes down fast so it will not raise the slide stop lever. The Mec-Gar has a more elevated edge that will lock the slide open. Our modified Mec-Gar followers improve reliability by having more rounded edges but still can lock the slide open.

By the way, to make life more colorful, when you install the follower the spring tension will spread the feed lips wider by about 0.002-0.004″.

How about the spring?

The Mec-Gar springs are okay. How much spring is enough or to little really depends on how well it can keep constant upwards pressure on the follower to move the rounds up fast enough and keep them in position. With the drag on the follower reduced, the spring can do its job.

There is an exception though – if you add a magazine extension or base plate that adds capacity, the spring really ought to be longer so get a Wolff or Arredondo spring that can supply the pressure over a longer distance.

The top assembly has the a easy to identify blue Arredondo follower and longer spring. The spring is made by Wolff but is bent to properly hold the Arredondo follower. The black follower and shorter spring are the original Mec-Gar units.

Yes, springs can and do wear our so if you feel the follower is being pushed up sufficiently or is sluggish *and* the walls do not appear bent then you probably need a new spring.

What about lubricant?

Mec-Gar mags come with some lubricant all over the insides of the mags, follower, spring, floor plate and base plate. On one hand it protects against corrosion but on the other it can attract dirt.

I would recommend that you use a good dry lubricant film. I used to use Dupont’s Teflon dry lubricant film spray but they discontinued it over environmental and health concerns about Teflon. The company is now producing a dry film using a ceramic technology that I really like and find it does a remarkable job at lubricating magazines.

If you are in a marine environment and you need the corrosion protection the use the oil of your choice – you need to worry about rust, I get it. For me, the Dupont Dry Film Lube aerosol spray does a great job. The new followers and the inside of the magazine tubes coated with this enables remarkably smooth movement of the follower.

Number your magazines

A tip you really ought to consider is to number your magazines so you can keep track of them. I like stickers because you can readily remove them if you put a baseplate on a different magazine tube but there are plenty of guys who use a permanent marker or etcher to uniquely identify each magazine.

The benefit of doing this is that when you are at the range if you find that some magazine is having problems, you can write down or take a photo of the number and know what you need to work on. Face it, if you have a bunch of mags and they all look pretty similar it can be hard to keep track of them otherwise.

By numbering the magazines, I can track dimensions and performance over time.

We do sell the stickers if you are interested – click here.

I’m still learning

I don’t claim to know everything – let me right up front about that. I now know what people mean whey they say “The more I learn, the less I know”. In other words, as I learn more I am increasingly aware that there is a ton of stuff I don’t know.

Hopefully this gives you some insight about why one magazine will work great but then another one doesn’t. The above are things to consider.

My reason for writing this is to give you some idea of what we’ve learned and are building into each 9mm magazine that you buy from us – we aren’t just relabeling Mec-Gar mags and selling them at a heck of a mark up.

What are are doing is ensuring the dimesions, doing the necessary modifications and testing teach magazine in one of our 9mm RIA pistols to ensure you get a reliable mag. If you have problems with a magazine from us, we will definitely make it right.

If you’d like to see our magazines, click here to go to our store.


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.


Do I need a drill press for drilling Polymer80 frames?

The question above is asked a lot and I can understand why – drill presses can make accurate holes. Surprisingly though – DO NOT USE A DRILL PRESS WITH YOUR POLYMER80 JIG! How’s that for an emphatic answer – now let me explain why this is so.

The cool jig that Polymer80 came up with is designed to be clamped from the bottom and three holes on each side to be hand drilled. All of the stresses and what not on the jig were planned so the holes would go in the right place. Laying the jig on its side to use a drill press has led to alignment problems and frames that don’t work so don’t use a drill press.

The jig is clamped standing up and a hand drill is used to make the holes. The smaller holes use a 3mm drill bit and the larger hole requires 4mm.

While we are talking about drilling – do a hole at a time and do NOT drill straight through. The reason you do a hole at a time is that you can afford the angle to be slightly wrong on one side but if you go straight through and the angle isn’t perfectly true then the hole on the other side will be way off. Trust me, do a hole at a time. Yes, do take your time and try to drill a hole that is perpendicular to the frame – meaning not at an angle one way or another off the center of where you need the hole.

Any 3/8 or 1/2″ hand drill will work just fine. A cool perk with the old Ryobi drills is that they have a level built into the tool holder.

Use 3 & 4mm Drill Bits

The frame needs 3 and 4mm drill bits and the jig is labeled for what size goes in what hole. If you need the bits, we sell nice drill bits that are perfect for this. Click here to go to our Polymer80 tool page.

I’d definitely recommend you use a vise to clamp the bottom of the jig. That’s what the jig was designed for.

So, you don’t need a drill press but I would recommend a vise to hold it vertically nice and steady. You can get pretty good deal on little 3-4″ removable vises that will work just fine or you can use any woodworking or metalworking vise if you already have one.

In Conclusion

No, you don’t need a drill press and for that matter you should not use a drill press because the jig was not designed for it. However, you do need at least a 3-4″ vise, hand drill and the right size bits to do a good job drilling. From there, you still need to trim your top tabs, remove the barrel block, clean things up and then you can install the parts of your choice.

We have a collection of Polymer80 tools to help you with your build. Please click here if you would like to see 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.


When Strength and Quality Matter Most

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