Monday, December 4, 2017

A rusty and pitted CZ 70 in .32 acp - Part I

Several weeks ago I ordered a CZ-70 in 7.62 Browning, aka .32acp, from Classic Firearms and had it shipped to my local FFL I paid the extra $20 for a hand-selected example, based on my previous dealings with Classic, and assuming it would be in as good condition as the FEG 7.62 and the CZ 83 I wrote about earlier. That, it turned out, was an incorrect assumption. 

The gun that arrived was pitted and covered in rust. It was so rusted and gummed up that I couldn't even depress the magazine release, which it why you see it with the slide back in the above photo. My hand were covered in rust, as was the bag it arrived in. I took it home and sprayed it with plenty of my homemade Ed's Red to displace moisture and halt the rusting, and sent a friendly reply to Classic in response to their "how did we do?" email.

That was a week ago. Several days later, having heard nothing, I went to work on the gun. The first step was try try and disassemble it.  I began by removing the plastic grips and setting them aside. Using a brass punch and a hammer I managed to depress the magazine release, but the magazine still didn't want to come out. Using a rag and a pair of pliers I pulled it, and- no surprise- it was covered in rust, as was the inside of the frame.

Again using the hammer and punch I managed to depress the slide release, and completed the basic field stripping of the gun. Not having a good disassembly manual or exploded diagram I stopped there and set everything to soak in more Ed's Red. 

Over the next two days I went at the gun with solvents, #0000 steel wool, brass wool, stainless steel and bronze brushes, and 500 grit paper for rust inside the slide. I also cleaned the grips and gave them a quick buffing on a rag wheel. 

One of the most difficult parts was freeing up the firing pin, which was frozen solid. I seemed to be jammed with a mixture of heavily oxidized grease or perhaps cosmoline, and a fine grey powder- no idea what that was. I didn't want to completely disassemble the slide, so for now I flushed the firing pin with solvent, through the opening for the firing pin lock, until the pin moved freely, and then i filled the are with light oil for now. I imagine I'll eventually want to actually disassemble that area. There's a drive pin visible in this photo (upper left)  that I think holds the firing pin and spring in place. 

After several hours of work I managed to get rid of all the visible rust, but not the pitting, of course. That'll have to wait for some long boring winter nights when I'll feel like completely disassembling it and draw filing, sanding, buffing, and rebluing it. For now, though, I've arrested and removed the rust. It looks safe to shoot, with no obvious cracks in the frame, but I'm going to wait until I can do a really thorough teardown. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The FÉG Model AP7.65 Pistol in .32ACP, Part I

I've been thinning out my collection, getting rid of guns I didn't actually shoot. The last thing I needed was another Soviet-era European pistol... and then I saw that Classic Firearms had received a shipment of FEG AP7.65 pistols... and was selling them at an attractive price. Hmm. I rationalized that I'd sold 5 guns this year and was planning on selling a few more, so there was room in the safe. Plus this pistol had several things going for it:

  1. It was in 7.65 Browning, aka .32ACP, and I'd never owned a pistol in that caliber. 
  2. It was based on the Walther PP.
  3. It has the classic sculpted lines that have disappeared in modern firearms. 
  4. It was only $219.

I ordered one and had it shipped to my local FFL I also opted to spend an additional $20 for special hand selection, which I think paid off:

The slide is in excellent condition, with no scratches or wear to the bluing. The only real wear on the gun is that seen on the barrel through the ejection port. The frame also shows some wear, but that could be expected as the anodized surface isn't as hard as the blued steel slide.

While waiting for the pistol to arrive I did the usual Google searches to learn some more about the gun, and discovered that there's some confusion out there as to the history of the gun. Classic Arms stated that these were police turn-ins, but that may or may not be the case. For one thing, countries under Soviet rule were generally constrained to using pistols firing the 9x18 Makarov, and either used the Russian pistol or developed their own gun in that caliber. The standard Hungarian police gun, developed to accommodate that mandate, was the Reddõrségi Pistoly R61, in 9x18 Makarov, which was based on the Walther PP. A commercial version was also sold in .380 (or 9mm Browning, as it is known in Europe.)

The success of the R61 led to the a request by the Hungarian military for a similar lightweight pistol, and FEG responded with the PA-63, in 9mm Makarov (Piztoly 63 Minta, or PS-63M).  This served as the primary army pistol until the collapse of the Soviet Union, at which time it was replaced by the P93 in NATO standard 9MM Parabellum. That in turn led to the development of a variant of the PA-63, the AP7.65, as an export model.

Some commenters in forums claim that some of these AP7.65s were used by Hungarian police departments, perhaps in an unofficial capacity. Others stare that these were used by paramilitaries, border guards, or other security forces. One source says that they came from Israel, where they were used by the civil police, the Mishteret Yisroel.  Leaving that question aside, let's get back to the details of the gun itself.

The AP7.75 has a steel slide assembly and an aluminum-titanium alloy frame that can be found today in two different cosmetic versions. Mine, as you can see, has a blue or blue-black anodized finish, but it's also available in a "two toned" versions, with a reddish or yellowish anodized frame. I had a choice, and opted for blue, in part because I think it looks better ( and in part because they wanted an extra $20 for the color anodized versions.)

As noted earlier, it's based on the classic Walther PP- but with a very well thought out safety improvements by FEG. Both the FEG and Walther have a hammer block safety that's part of the safety/decocking lever, but the FEG adds a further firing pin safety to the PA-63. If you look at the firing pin of an AP7.65 or PA-63,, you'll note that the firing pin doesn't actually line up with the firing pin. It's only when you pull the trigger (or pull the hammer back on a fully cocked gun) that you'll see the firing pin tilt up so that it's in line with the hammer. That makes cocking very safe. Even if the hammer block fails, the gun will not fire.

Disassembly is identical to that of the PP series. It begins by pulling down on the trigger guard, which is hinged at the rear\. Pulling it to one side prevents it from springing back into the frame.

See that lug that goes into the frame when the trigger guard is in it's normal position? That stops the slide in its rearward travel under recoil. Once the trigger guard is out of the way, the slide can be pulled beyond its normal travel, the rear of the slide lifted to clear the rails it travels on, and then slid forward and off the gun:

Something I learned after first posting this article: The grips with the thumb rest were not a feature of the pistol originally, and were added for the US market. The reason for that dates back to the 1968 GCA, which established a points system to determine if a gun could be legally imported. The given reason was to ban small, inexpensive guns with "no sporting use." The thumb rest grips are considered a feature of target pistols. Some shooters don't like these, and replacements are available- including original grips removed when these were substituted. 

The bore was clean and shiny, and the ramp showed signs of either oil that had hardened from polymerization, or or perhaps some leftover cosmoline-type coating.  

Part 2 will be about actually firing the AP7.65, but that'll have to wait until (1) I find some .32ACP at a reasonable price and (2) I get to the range. Given that it's almost deer season, and everyone who hasn't fired their gun since last year is lining up to zero and practice, it may be a while before I get there. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

More DIY lube: Make your own Ballistol

Ballistol has been popping up increasingly in stores, magazine articles, forums, and blog posts over the past few years- enough so that I thought I should check it out. I'm usually very skeptical of the CLP-of-the-month frenzy that preoccupies a lot of shooters, but Ballistol has been around since before the First World War. Products don't usually survive that long unless they have something to recommend them, so decided to check it out.

If you go to the commercial Ballistol web page you can read this breathless history of the product:

In 1904, Dr. Helmut Klever succeeded in producing the special compound, which he named “Ballistol” (from the words “ballistic” and “oleum”, the Latin word for “oil”).  It soon became obvious that this new “ballistic oil” had truly amazing capabilities, and in 1905 the Imperial Army tested and adopted Ballistol, which stayed in use until 1945.  By then, however, word had spread and within a decade, hunters, boaters, hikers, and outdoorsmen in Germany, Austria and Switzerland had converted to using this new “miracle oil.”

So what is Ballistol, exactly? The ingredients aren't secret. There's the MSDS, of course, and the formula hasn't exactly been kept secret for the past 113 years. Like all lubricants, it has as its base an oil- in the case of Ballistol, mineral oil. This is the same lightweight petroleum distillate that is used as baby oil, transformer oil, or microscope objective immersion oil. It's clear, nontoxic, and cheap- about 87 cents per pound in drum quantities. (Walmart has pharmaceutical grade mineral oil for $1.98/pint). It lacks the tenaciousness of polarized oils or greases, but if you regularly clean and lubricate a firearm it works just fine, which is why so many commercial gun lubes have mineral oil as their base.

The second ingredient is oleic acid, which makes up around 10% of Ballistol by volume. This is not a corrosive chemical, as the name might suggest, but a monounsaturated fatty acid. It's also a major component of many soaps, and when combined with mineral oil it allows the oil to mix with water in suspension. That means you can dilute it with water and make "moose milk," a favorite cloning solution for black powder shooters. When used undiluted as a CLP, it helps keep carbon and dirt in suspension so it can be flushed out.

The third main ingredient is benzyl acetate, which also makes up about 10% of Ballistol. This compound is commonly used as a component of artificial fruit flavors and aromas. It's also an effective solvent for nitrocellulose, which is why it's in Ballistol.

The last ingredient in Anethole, a plant extract that gives Ballistol its characteristic anise/licorice scent. Some find this scent very off-putting. I used in in my mixture for authenticity, but frankly, I'd leave it out as it doesn't contribute anything functional to the mixture. I suspect its presence in the original formula may have been for some assumed medicinal purpose as it was commonly used to clean wounds, according to some sources. I mixed up mine in a mineral oil bottle with a flip-up spout that I think was sold for applying oil to wooden cutting boards, but you could also use a spray bottle of the sort I used for my Ed's Red experiments.

Having mixed up all the ingredients, I wetted a few patches an pulled them through a .22 that had been to the range recently, and as you might expect, it left a clean and shiny barrel. I also used it to clean carbon deposits form the cylinder of my S&W 14-3 Masterpiece, and again, it worked just as well as the Break Free I usually use.

So there it is: Mineral oil, soap,  and nontoxic nitrocellulose solvent.  Total cost for a pint was under $3, which compares very favorably with $18 that Midway gets for a pint can of the commercial product. If you'd like to try mixing it up on your own, you can get mineral oil almost anywhere, and I've found vendors selling small amounts of oleic acid, butyl acetate, and anethol on both eBay and on Etsy. Anethole can also be found in health food stores and various new age apothecaries at ridiculously inflated prices. Shop around, as prices vary widely.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Williams WGRS-RU22 Peep Sight for the Ruger 10/22

I've experimented the stock leaf sight and with scopes ranging from 4x to 18x and various red dots on my 10/22, but never a peep sight- until now. Scopes are the default choice for almost all rifle shooters these days thanks to the availability of inexpensive scopes. But before rifle scopes were common, the shooter looking for accuracy used a peep sight. Those who've never used a peep might wonder how accurate a non-magnifying scope can be. They should take a look at the rifles used by high power competitors, who shoot targets at 300, 600, and even 1000 yards using only peeps. I had an adjustable William peep on my Beeman R7 pellet rifle for the first year I owned it and found it was as accurate as any scope at the 10-30 yards distances where a low powered airgun is most useful.

There are several peep sights available for the 10/22. One of the simplest and most rugged is the WGRS-RU22 from Williams, who have been making sights for around 90 years. The rear sight screws directly to the same holes used for mounting the scope rail:

There aren't any adjustment knobs or screws- just a pair of set screws for securing elevation and windage adjustments. There are some crude scales engraved in the sight, but basically zeroing this rifle involves loosening a screw, nudging the sight, and tightening the screw again. Elevation is accomplished by sliding the sight forwards and backwards along an angled rail. Windage is adjusted by moving the peep right or left. The sight uses a screw-in insert, so you can  remove the pinhole and use the mounting ring as a "ghost sight:" in low light.  As the sight sits a little higher than the leaf sight, Williams supplies a slightly higher front sight that can be installed with a sight pusher, or a brass punch- which is what I used:

This sight has the popular "fiber optic" insert which really does pick up ambient light and help the front sight stand out against a dark target. I was a bit sorry to remove the the stock sight as it has a  very traditional looking brass insert, but I have to admit the fiber optic sight is much more practical.

My only testing so far has been in my basemt 10 meter range, with Aguila Colibri ammunition, and I have found that the peep is certainly very accurate there. It may not be as fast as a red dot sight, but a peep sight has the advantage that it doesn't use any batteries.  At typical small game hunting distances of 20-40 yards a peep is about as accurate as you need. Those looking for a rugged, reliable, sighting system for a 10/22, or for any rifle intended as a survival gun should certainly consider the peep.