All posts by RoninsGrips

We're a small business made up of myself and my wife working nights and weekends to hand make items for AK and related rifles as well Nepalese khukuris! We've been in business for over four years and pride ourselves in providing quality products and exceptional customer service.

Primary Arms Black Friday Sale

Folks, I have bought a ton of parts, accessories and optics from Primary Arms over the years. They are having a big Black Friday Sale and asked that I share this link with you:


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 you really have backup iron sights (BUIS) that you can count on? A lot of shooters do not and it’s not just the fault of the hardware

I’m sure there are a lot of shooters like me who buy and install back up iron sites on their weapons just in case the optic fails. Except for pure range toys that will never see use beyond having fun, I do think BUIS are a really good idea – optics fail for any number of reasons with batteries being dead quite possibly being the #1 issue – especially given how folks love their red dot, green dot and holographic sights. You need a backup for aiming your firearm.

What happens if the battery in the Vortex dies? Well, I do have the backup Magpul sights … right?

A quick comment about “BUIS” – it stands for Back Up Iron Sights. I’m a creature of habit and that’s how they were first introduced to me but not everyone uses that term. For example, Magpul calls their units MBUS – Magpul Back-Up Sights. Other’s just say “back up sights” or even just “attachable” or “folding” sights. So, if you are wanting to search and see what your options are, it will take some searching.

Four Camps of BUIS Users

In talking with shooters, regardless of their firearm platform (AR, AK, Stribog, HK, etc.) about their BUIS, I usually find they fit in one of four camps:

  1. Installed the BUIS and run them full time with their optic in a co-witness manner
  2. Installed the BUIS and periodically use them in a co-witness model but fold them down when not in use
  3. Installed the BUIS and only use them when needed but did sight them in. For example, if they need to remove the optic to deploy the sights or are using offset sights and tilt the weapon 45 degrees to use them.
  4. Attached the units to the Picatinny rail, did not sight them in and have never actually practiced using them to hit targets at the range … “but have them just in case”.

With scenario #1, you know those sights will work – it doesn’t matter if the scope is powered off as long as you can see through the glass.

With #2 & #3 – the sights will probably work as long as you can see through the glass or otherwise see them. Hopefully the shooter has practiced enough how to use the units.

The last one is the most concerning – camp #4 – to be honest, a person in this camp doesn’t really have a backup. Yeah, they have the sights but they aren’t dialed in and lack experience with them. This is a gamble you do not want to take. If this describes you – please don’t take it personally and read the next section – I want to help.

As far as I know, all BUIS are two parts – a front sight and a back sight. In the above photo – I am using Magpul polymer MBUS folding units and are on each far end of the top rail. They fold down until needed and then spring p when you push a lever on each.

If You Are In Camp #4…

First off, I am glad you invested in BUIS – if you are reading this and you haven’t yet, then do so. With that said, do you have quality units or did you buy something dirt cheap off Amazon or eBay. I’d recommend going with a brand name and not cheap airsoft import stuff – I like Magpul (they have a ton of models so click here to see them) plus, in all fairness, there are other quality BUIS sets from the likes of ARMS, Bobro, DiamondHead, Troy and others. Cheap stuff may not hold their zero or break easily. Buy quality to have true BUIS that you can count on.

Second, make sure they are mounted properly. Did you follow the instructions from the vendor who made them? Sometimes there is more to do than slap them on the Picatinny Rail.

Your backup sights should have come with instructions and any specialized tools – be sure to read and follow them. The little black key you see is used for adjusting a Magpul front sight.

Second, you need to sight in the BUIS. I use a laser to help get in the ballpark in the shop and then I do the final tuning at the range. Read up on the recommended range for your firearm and type of optic. For rifles, I go for 50 yards because then you are then zeroed for 50 yards and at 200. The BUIS are just that – emergency backups. I look to be in the ballpark with them and am not looking for perfection but some guys are amazingly proficient with them.

Third, absolutely take them to the range and practice with them!!! Buying, installing and zeroing the BUIS are only part of the game – you must also know how to use them. If they fold, practice on opening and closing them while shooting. If they are offset, practice transitioning to them. Bottom line, you need to practice hitting targets with them and adjust the sights and what you are doing accordingly. The more you practice the greater the odds that things will work when you need them. If you don’t practice then you are taking a huge gamble both on the BUIS and your ability to use them – so don’t gamble.

Magpul sells both basic polymer and pro steel versions of their MBUS. Above is a polymer rear unit on one of my ARs. I fold both the rear and front sights flat until needed – the small lever you see to the left of the mounting screw both releases the sight so it flips open via a spring and then locks up up right. I can count on them because they are zeroed and I practice with them.

Summary

The whole reason I wrote this is that it seems like I have encountered a lot of shooters this past year that had BUIS and fell square in camp 4 – they had never sighted them in or practiced with them. This is very concerning to me – they are gambling on something that shouldn’t be left to chance. So, yes, I think BUIS are a great idea but you need to sight them in and regularly practice using them also. If you don’t, then your backup probably isn’t a backup.

I hope this gives you some food for thought.


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 make a Stribog’s cocking handle more comfortable? Easy – Get an HB Industries Ambi Charging Handle Kit

I’ve really enjoyed my Stribog SP9A1 but one of my small complaints is that the cocking handle is uncomfortable. When the Stribog was first released, it had a reciprocating charging handle – meaning it would go back and forth with the slide carrier. They listened to customer (fortunately) and introduced a non-reciprocating charging handle. Somewhere along the line, the made the charging handle it could be installed on either the left or right side depending on the shooter’s preference. Now here’s my gripe – the stock handle – it’s a knob really – has a fairly narrow diameter in the middle. It’s tapered from both ends to the middle so your finger finds the middle real fast for a positive grip but it’s just too small. I decided to look into options and fix it because I really liked the Stribog otherwise.

Thanks to a zoom lens, the charging handle/knob looks big in this photo but the middle narrow part is just a bit too small to be comfortable in my honest opinion – I just don’t care for the feeling.

HB Industries Ambi Charging Handle Kit

When I research parts, I tend to do some searching with Google plus I know certain websites that have products of the type I want – Global Ordnance is my first “go-to” site for Stribog accessories. Two options caught my eye – a folding charging handle that seemed a bit more than I wanted for some reason – or I could go with the HB Industries “Ambi Charging Handle Kit” and that was what I had in mind – a bigger knob to grab a hold of and it happened to come with a slightly smaller knob for the other side. All I really wanted was the bigger knob – having a backup knob on the other side was just a bit of a perk. Having started pistol caliber carbines (PCCs) with MP5s back in day, I actually prefer the left side charging handle as I am right handed and I never have to let go of the Stribog when racking the slide.

This is the HB Industries Ambi Charging Handle Kit. Notice how there is a larger 23mm knob and a smaller 16mm knob. You can decide how you want to use them. Notice the center is nice and wide and has knurling.

Installation

Basically, you remove the bolt group, slide the non-reciprocating charging handle block to where the big circular opening is and the pull the charging handle right out!

Push the lower takedown pin out of the way so you can remove the end cap, brace, stock or whatever you have back there. In my case, it’s an F5 modular brace that I think is fantastic.
That lower pin is captured so don’t try to drive out out. You will feel it stop on the other end and you can then pivot the lower portion out of the way.
So you swing the lower out the way so you can remove the end cap, brace or whatever. I tend to find I need to do a light downward tap on top of the brace and then it pulls straight back and out. The bolt carrier group then is pulled straight out the rear and set out of the way.
With the bolt carrier out of the way, you then slide the charging handle carrier all of the way to the rear where the big “O” is at because the narrower part of the channel is what actually retains the charging handle. It’s a nice tool-less design.
The charging handle is pulled out. See the groove in the charging handle’s pin portion? That is what goes back and forth in the channel. The inner and outer parts of the pin are too big and it effectively keeps the charging handle right where you want it. It’s also a good reason to put just a bit of oil on the body before you install a new pin or re-install the old one for that matter.
HB Industries did some elegant design work here – the original pin is at the top. Note how it is longer and needs to reach both sides of the channel but is only actually retained on the left because that is all that is needed. The HBI part has two halves – the larger one and the smaller one that sits inside the larger pin’s housing. They both have the grooves to ride in the charging handle channel and, both grooves serve to capture and hold each half in place in the channel. I love stuff like this – simple and does the job.
I started using Kentuckiana Gun Works Enhanced Reliability Gun Oil this year. I actually just had an issue that made me use it even more that I will do another post on. I used to use Super Lube quite a bit but when my shop was 32F and two of my RIA 9mm pistols that are in there all the time also were that cold, I went to do magazine work and the slides were sluggish. It would appear the Super Lube thickened up some at that temperature. I did not have the same problem with the KGW product — so I’m using KGW on all firearms going forward and have stopped SuperLube all together except for when I need a grease.
Once you install the two handles and slide them forward out of the way, the rest of the installation is the reverse – install the bolt carrier group, install the brace or whatever you have, swing the lower back up, push the pin back in and then test the weapon.

Summary

I really like the feel and am glad I made the change. If you are considering changing the handle, it’s very straight forward and I hope you found this post useful.


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.


Restored A BHG 4-Burner Stainless Outdoor Gas Grill / BBQ

This past June, my wife and I spotted a big stainless four burner BHG gas grill with a side burner at a neighbor’s house set up for trash pickup.  It looked to be in a pretty good shape so I stopped and took a look.  The drip pan had rusted away and dropped rust everywhere in the grill plus there was minor rusting elsewhere but it was in very good shape otherwise.  My wife asked if I could rehab it because we had a bunch of family coming for a visit a month later.  I said “yes” so it went in the back of the Highlander leaving a trail of rust everywhere.

It looked like the grill was used and then left to sit and rust but it was actually in quite good shape.  Besides the drip pan, the only other items in tough shape were the heat plates also sometimes called diffusers that sit over the burners. They had rusted significantly and were an eyesore.

What Gas Grill Was It?

“BHG” stands for “Better Homes and Gardens” and the model number was BH13-101-099-01.  I don’t really have much more info than that – it’s a big generic stainless grill that was imported from China by Blue Rhino Global Sourcing.  You may not recognize the name but when you see their logo – they sell propane tanks, grills and what have you through a ton of stores under their own brand name as well as Mr. Bar-B-Q, Chef Master, Endless Summer, Grill Mark, Mr. Pizza, and Uniflame. BHG is no longer listed by them so one must surmise other brand names were used in the past as well.

According to a sticker, it was made in January of 2013. From there, I bet they were sold through retail stores but I really can’t find any more details after searching but I will say it appeared to be a decently made gas grill.

If you hunt around on a grill, you can almost always find an information sticker that at the very least has the model and maker listed.

Armed with the model number, I could go digging for parts.  There is a whole cottage industry of parts suppliers out there when you search but the challenge was finding what I wanted in stock and that the price they wanted plus shipping wasn’t astronomical. In some cases, the part price was low but shipping was sky high.

Note, I also found that most parts places are selling parts that will fit the grill but most advise you to confirm dimensions before you buy. The grill is over 9 years old and these places are selling generic parts – so be sure to check dimensions and even that the seller is legit.

The Drip Pan

Okay, the drip pan was trash.  You see, at the end of the day, they are made from steel and salty liquids are dripping on them.  If you don’t keep them clean or put foil on top of them, they will eventually rust out. 

The drip pan had rusted to pieces so the inside of the grill looked far worse than what it was. I think the neighbor took the cover off after maybe a season or two of no use, saw the rust everywhere and pulled it to the curb for trash pickup … or for me to pick up depending on how you look at it.

You need to double check the measurement of your pan – mine was a loose fit in the grill so you have wiggle room in terms of dimensions.  Mine was about 15-1/4″ deep x 28-5/8″ wide.  The replacement pans will all be in the ballpark but you want to make sure that pan reaches from left to right so it is properly supported.

After a lot of digging looking for an affordable exact match to the original pan, I decided to order a 30″ adjustable pan off of Amazon.  The problem I was running into was a combination of the total cost including shipping and also lead times and availability.  So, I went with an adjustable model and you know what?  It’s just fine. 

The AJinTebby pan is 15.5″ deep and can adjust from 27 to 30″ wide. Yes, it is pricey at $46.99 but there is a 5% discount coupon you can apply and if you have Amazon Prime, shipping is free (technically it’s factored into the price but you get the idea – it’s a good deal). Click here to open the Amazon page in a new tab.

An adjustable pan lets you adjust the width to fit your grill. It’s the width that adjusts but not the front to back depth so you still need to make sure of that plus the how much adjustment the model has. The is an AJinTeby 30″ pan that can adjust 27-30″ and has a depth iof 15.5″. It fits the BHG.
The drip pan comes with a nice small drip cup that slides in or out of place under the main pan. Drippings ooze into there and are collected so then you can dump and clean it as needed.
I painted the drip pan and it’s drip cup with Rusto-oleum BBQ & Stove 1200F paint to slow rusting. It has three coats of paint
To further lock and seal things, I put 3M High Temperature Flue Tape on the top of the joints. FYI – the oval hole is where fluids drip through to the aptly named “drip cup” under it that can be emptied as needed.

The Heat Plates

I had to decide what to do with the heat plates.  They had rusted to the point of being pretty thin – the heating and lots of salty fluids had really taken their toll on them. 

You can see the brand new AjinTebby drip pan under the original heat plates and they looked awful. The grill saw quite a bit of use, that I have no doubt of, and then it sat and rusted even more.

My first thought was to try and save money so painted them with Rustoleum’s Ultra High Temp BBQ paint first to try and save money but I could’t get past all the bumpy look from years of rusting.  There are so many affordable replacement options, I decided to go that route.

I painted the heat plates plus I put three coats of Ultra High Temp Rustoleum on the drip pan to slow up the rust. I could have stopped here but the really worn plates were bugging me so I decided to replace them.

The BHG uses 15″ long x 3-13/16″ wide heat plates and they are very readily available in a variety of metals and finishes.  I bought a set of five stainless steel replacement heat plates made by Shinestar off of Amazon – click here to open the listing in a new tab.

Here’s a look at the new Shinestar plates prior to installation.
The 15″ Shinestar heat plates are nicely made and are going to last for a long time. I definitely liked them more than the painted ones.

The Gas Regulator Turned Out To Be Bad

During initial testing, the grill ran just fine but then it started getting flaky and finally would barely produce flame. This is usually due to a regular failing and/or rust or a spider web getting stuck somewhere. I pulled the lines and blew everything out with compressed air. Sometimes that fixes the problem but not in this case.

Now, I made a bit of a costly mistake here because I was in a rush. We had an Ace Hardware nearby and I bought a Weber regulator that fit but was a tad short for $44-46 if I recall rgiht. Because it was short, I took a piece of 2×12 lumber and cut a hole in it with a jig saw to hold the tank. A week later, I was in Home Depot and found out they had a ton of gas grill repair parts in stock (I didn’t know they did) including the exact hose and regulator I needed for half the price of the Weber.

The old regulator went straight in to the tank and the Weber unit is at a right angle.
Quick comment – when you are working on gas fittings, there will almost always be a way to support the existing tube/hookup and ou need to do that. See the small nut formed into the black tube? You need to hold that with one wrench while either tightening or loosening the hose fitting. If you don’t support the tube you run the risk of it bending or breaking free. Just remember. always do what you need to do to support what your line is connecting to. Don’t just torque on the hose’s fitting alone.
Because the Weber hose was too short, I took a piece of scrap 2×12 lumber I had, traced the outline of the tank’s botton on it and cut the circle out. Note I drilled four holes so I could start the jig saw blade that did the actual cutting.
There it is – nice and stable. Again, if I had known that Home Depot had a bunch of repair parts, I would have taken the busted regulator in there and found a match.

I could have saved even more if I had the time to order a hose and regulator from Amazon. They have them for $15-18 depending on the length of hose you need. Click here for to open a new browser tab with the Amazon listings – be sure to get the hose length you need and round up vs. down if need be.

Other Minor Touch Ups

  • I ran a 180 grit sanding mop in the same direction as the stainless “grain” finish and removed surface rust.
  • Sprayed the inside of the grill so it looked better
  • One hinge had a missing Cotter key that I replaced
  • Put a wire brush wheel in my drill and cleaned up the grill grates so they had a nice clean brushed look

The Result

It turned out quite nice and gave us another grill to use during a family reunion we had during July.

The cabinet cleaned up really well.
So did the inside. There is a smoker box down on the heat plates to add a bit of smoke flavor.
Here’s the restored BHG next to my pride and joy Chargriller Competition Grill that my kids got me for Father’s Day a few years back and I converted for wood (click here if you want to read more about that).

Conclusion

One man’s trash is another’s treasure I suppose. The grill turned out nice. The only things it really needed were a new drip pan and the regulator replaced.

I hope this post 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.


Are you trying to save money and time on firearms and related items? Try Gun Deals

In searching on the web, I’d seen links to Gun Deals once or twice but never bothered because of the name. My mental scam filter is always set to high in other words. They recently reached out to me about their service so I took a look and was surprised.

Gun.Deals – yeah, that really is their website but wha I didn’t know is that it is a free to the user search engine where you can plug in what you are searching for – firearms, ammo, optics, lights, knives, etc. – and then they return listings at various websites so you can see the prices. You can then click on a result to learn more or order directly from the merchant’s website you go to – Gun.Deals helps you find the deals but they aren’t the actual seller, which is just fine. You can go to merchants you like and skip ones you do not.

They have advertisements and ways for vendors to post listings so I sure they have a number of ways to make money but it is not off you. It’s the same as you using any other search engine but they have tuned Gun.Deals for the things we care about.

One of the biggest value adds in addition to just finding items and seeing their prices is whether they are in stock or not. They also split out “in stock” vs. “out of stock” listings via their real-time inventory information, they can save you time and frustration as well. A pet peeve of mine is searching for something and going through website after website of vendors listing the product but not having it in stock.

Screen Shots

So you can get an idea of what the site looks like, I just went to their main page while writing this post:

This is their main page that came up for me just now. I then entered “Glock 29” in the search bar.
It came up with both the Glock 29 Gen 4 and the SF. I clicked on the Glock 29 Gen 4 and the above is what came up. It separates listings that are in stock from out of stock automatically and that is really cool.

Summary

With money tight these days, add Gun.Deals to the websites you go to for checking prices, finding deals, etc.


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.


Erika’s Artwork – Impressionistic Samurai

My daughter, Erika, is extremely gifted. She came up with a basic logo design for me earlier this year. Since then she has gotten deeper and deeper into the modern tools for digital artwork and using AI / pattern recognition tools to generate impressionistic artwork. She showed me some of her work and it blew me away. I told her to generate some artwork involving samurai or ronin themes – a ronin is a masterless samurai in feudal-era Japan – that I might use for Ronin’s Grips and what she came up with is stunning.

Her first batch was black and white and I asked her for a tired/haggard look:

Then some with color

The next are more of a Ukiyo-e style:

Lastly, are you ready for steampunk samurai?

I think this one is pretty wicked.

This is the one I picked for now

This is my favorite we we added in the logo using the proper font.

Summary

I was amazed with what she came up with and the tools that she is using to generate them and couldn’t just let these images disappear so I figured sharing them was the way to go. I hope you like them..


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.


A M60A3 Tank Sits Overlooking the River At American Legion Post 49 in South Haven, MI

South Haven, MI, is about 40 minutes up the road from us and we’ve been there a number of times over the years. On a number of occasions we’ve driven by American Legion Post 49 and seen the M60A3 tank sitting overlooking the river. We were up there recently and I snapped a few pictures in order to assemble a post about it.

The tank is a M60A3 serial number 7582 and was overhauled at Anniston Army Depot in October 1988.

The “Tank, Combat, Full Tracked: 105mm Gun, M60” was officially adopted in March 1959 and was an evolutionary design from the M48A2 Patton though never officially considered as part of the Patton family.

The M60 tanks served as the main battle tank during the cold war with 15,000 being produced. It was first put into operational use in Europe in 1960. Chrysler started production in 1959 and then the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plat produced them from 1960-1983.

Over it’s design life, there were many upgrades as the Americans and Soviets tried to “one up” each other in terms of capabilities. M60: 1959-1962, M60A1: 1962-1980, M60A2: 1973-1975 and then the M60A3 from 1978-1983. Note there was a modernization program and one point that upgraded 5,400 older tanks to the M60A3 variant that ended in 1990.

The M60 was eventually replaced by the M1 Abrams. The US retired the M60 from front-line use after Operation Desert Storm (August 1990-February 1991). The last tanks were retired from the National Guard in 1997. The M60 still sees use in many other countries including Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

I am not going to cover all of the history and design changes. Click here for a good Wikipedia post with that info. Instead, I am just going to list some stats I found interesting about the M60A3 specifically.

M60A3 Stats

  • Number produced: 1,052 new vehicles + 5,400 tanks upgraded to A3
  • Weight: 54.6 short tons ( 1 short ton = 2,000 pounds)
  • Hull length: 22 ft 9.5 inches
  • Gun forward length: 30 ft 6.5 inches
  • Width: 11 ft 11 inches
  • Height: 10 ft 9 inches
  • Crew: 4 people
  • Main cannon: The 105mm M68E1
  • Secondary Armament: .50 BMG or 7.6×51 on the commander’s cupola.
  • Engine: Continental AVDS-1790-2 V1 Air cooled twin turbo diesel with 750 BHP
  • Suspension: Torsion Bar
  • Transmission: GM cross drive single stage with 2 forward and 1 reverse gear ranges
  • Fuel capacity: 385 US Gallons
  • Range: 300 miles – so optimistically maybe a gallon per mile
  • Max speed: 30 mph on the road and 12 mph cross-country

Here’s what the Post had to say about the tank

They had this summary on a fence post by the tank.
And this was on the ground.

Photos of the American Legion M60A3

Summary

A big thank you to the Post setting up the tank for people to see and providing the background placard.

If you are travelling through South Haven, MI, it’s worth a quick stop the the American Legion Post to see the M60A3.


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.


A M4A3 Sherman Tank Sits Guarding the Mancelona, MI, American Legion Post 264

As I have written in the past, I am always fascinated my old military equipment located at American Legion Posts, VFWs, cemeteries and so forth. My wife and I have driven on US-131 a number of times over the years and seen a M4 Sherman tank right by the road but have never had the time to stop and take photos until October 2022. We were on our way home and had time to stop and take a few quick photos. Now, weeks later, I did a bit of research and compiled this post.

The tank is a static display for American Legion Post 264 in Mancelona, MI located on the corner of US-131 and State Street in downtown Mancelona – if you are headed North, it’s on the the right hand side of the road just before the intersection.

The tank is a M4A3 Sherman serial number 11755 with a 75mm cannon with a small hatch and dry storage. The smaller hatches were an earlier production design and many were kept in the US for training purposes and did not see battle.

Dry storage models had ammunition racks mounted on vulnerable positions and the rounds could catch fire. Later “wet storage” models moved the racks to the floor in less vulnerable positions and protected them with sealed chambers filled with water and anti-freeze to slow the progression of fire and allow the crew a few more seconds to escape.

The Details

To be honest, I had no idea how many variants to the M4 Sherman were made – it’s stunning actually. This Wikipedia page gives info on the tank in general and this one lists info on variants. I thought this would be a quick post to write but every time I pulled back a layer and got more details that then led to more details. I had to then dig specifically on the tank to read what others had written about it.

So here is the info I could sort out:

  • Model: M4A3 small hatch dry storage
  • Maker: Ford
  • Where: Highland Park Plant
  • When: February 1943
  • Production: It was one of 1,690 small hatch dry storage M4A3 Shermans made by Ford between June 1942 and September 1943. This variant had the lowest production numbers.
  • Serial Number: 11755
  • US Registration: 3053910
  • B&R Rebuild Stamp: 579
  • Engine: Ford GAA V-8 500HP – that engine is really interesting – it’s an all aluminum 1,100 cubic inch 32 valve dual overhead cam 60 degree liquid cooled engine. Everything was geared – no belts or chains – so it was actually very reliable. The design is amazing in my honest opinion.
  • Transmission: Synchromesh with 5 speed forward and one reverse
  • Max road level sustained speed: 26 mph – I got stats ranging from 21 to 30 mph on this one)
  • Fuel type: Gasoline, at least 80 octane
  • Fuel Capacity: 174 gallons
  • Range: From TM9-759, the manual reports 110 miles cross country or 155 miles on the highway. Note that means it’s not even getting a gallon per mile in terms of fuel economy.
  • Suspension: Vertical volute spring suspension (VVSS) with three bogies per side and two wheels per bogie
  • Track: This tanks has the T48 track with rubber chevrons – 16.56″ wide and makes contact for 147″
  • Main Cannon: 75 mm (97 rounds carried)
  • Integral machine gun: Two .30 cal M1919A4 – one in the ball mount on the right side of the hull and one coaxial to the main 75mm cannon. (4,750 rounds carried)
  • Secondary machine gun on the turret: .50 Browning M2 (300 rounds carried)
  • Mortar: 2″ M3 mortar for smoke (12 rounds carried)
  • Small arms ammunition: 600 rounds of .45 ACP and
  • Weight: 30.3 tons
  • Length: 19’2″
  • Width: 8’7″
  • Height: 9′
  • Crew: 5

Okay, I am a gear head. The more I read about the Ford GAA engine, the more fascinated I got. Displacing 1,000 cubic inches or 18 liters, it remains the largest V8 gas engine Ford has made and it made more than 28,000 of them. It’s estimated that only 500-1,000 still exist and they are sometimes found in competition pulling tractors. Here’s a video of one running on a test platform in 2019:

Here are pages with more info just on the GAA engine:

Photos of the Sherman – October 11, 2022

There is a nearby park with a lot that we left our van at. We then came up on the tank from behind. The American Legion post did a nice job painting it. It’s always nice to see history preserved.
One of the things I noticed right away was that the rubber treads were in remarkably good shape. On some tanks they are worn down next to nothing. The folding blanket rack on the back is down.
Close up of the rear left side idler wheel. You can see a grease fitting at the 10 o’clock position.
This is a photo of the rear bogie and two wheels. The Sherman M4A3 had three bogies on each side as part of its Vertical volute spring suspension (VVSS) with three bogies per side and two wheels per bogie. The bogie is the vertical part that the two wheels connect to.
Just forward of the “American Legion” signage looks like a sign board with more text on it. That’s actually additional armor welded onto the hull.
The hatch in the turret is a pistol port. You don’t see those on modern tanks 🙂 General Steel, who made the turret, stopped casting turrets with pistol ports in May of 1943 and any with them were welded shut.
The big upside down U is a lifting eye. The hatch behind it is a cover to the grouser compartment.
This is for the blanket rolls and could have held cleaning rods, etc.
The sun and that pine tree were in just the wrong place at the wrong time so I have a ton of shadows but figured I would include the photo regardless. You can see the elaborate front sprocket.
You can see the rifling in the barrel of the 75mm cannon. 24 grooves with a 1:25.59 right hand twist. The coaxial .30 cal machine gun would have poked out of the hole to the right of the cannon. Note, the cannon is resting in it’s “travel lock”.
This shows the travel lock a little bit better. At some point – presumably during the B&R rebuild – it was upgraded to the post war single locking arm model. In WWII it would have had two “fingers” – one on each side of the barrel – that would curl around and hold it.
Looking at the front cast nose section of the tank,
7411 was cast and the -107 was stamped.
The protruding armor on the side of the turret and the sides of the hull is known as “applique armor”. It was welded in place to compensate for sections of the casting that needed to be thinner.
This is the best photo I have of the applique armor welded to the turret. The casting’s armor was thinned by 2″ internally to make room for the gunner’s controls. It’s actually two plates welded together and to the hull to compensate for the curvature of the turret.
This is the only partial close up I have of the Ford front sprocket. It’s really eye catching and unique. One of the websites mentioned that there were so many field repairs going on that it wasn’t surprising to find parts from one type of Sherman on another.
Firestone showing their brand! You can see a grease fitting as well. The lubrication guides to the Shermans are incredibly elaborate – there were many, many grease points as you can well imagine trying to keep a 30 ton
More applique armor.
A view up at the turret.
This is the exhaust deflector.
I turned around and snapped one more photo of the old tank guarding the road,

Videos of restored M4A3 Sherman tanks

When I see a piece of history, I always wonder what they looked like when they were actually running / in use. Fortunately, there are many videos of restored tanks that you can watch and here are two:

This one has some interesting coverage of the “top 10 variants” containing narration, stills and original footage:

For More Information

Folks, there is just so much history relating to the Sherman tanks that there is now way I can capture it. Below are links where you can find out a ton more:

  • First off, specific to the Mancelona tank, L&P Hannah took a ton of photos of it in 2014 and still have them posted online. The paint had not been refreshed at that point but what is cool is that the photographer took many photos from many angles – way more and better photos than mine. Click here to open a new tab to go to their page.
  • This page hosted in France has a lot of info on Ford M4A3 variants.
  • A gentleman named David D Jackson has assembled an amazing tribute page to the American Automobile Industry in WWII and he provides photos and a wealth of info – click here to open a tab.
  • This page contains a wealth of statistics on Shermans including things like armor thickness, depth of water fording, etc. It’s a treasure trove of info and you have to scroll down to the M4A3 section, Click here.
  • Museum of the American GI has a page about their restored M4A3 Sherman that I got some of the stats from regarding dimensions and weight.
  • Another great site is TheShermanTank.com – click here to go direct to the M4A3 page.
  • The Sherman Register by Hanno Spoelstra is another excellent site.

The above links reflect massive efforts by their curators to capture history before it is lost. I couldn’t have written this post without their shared works.

Summary

It was pretty neat to stop and see the tank I wish I had a ladder or something to get more angles plus I wish I took more photos but you get the general idea. I learned quite a bit while researching this post and only scratched the surface, which is why I listed all of the additional resources above.

If you are on US-131 going through Mancelona, it’s definitely worth the stop. Finally and perhaps most importantly, kudos to the members of American Legion Post 264 for keeping the tank in such good shape and sharing history with us.


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.