About 10 years ago the ARFCOM retro forum had not become the price driving monster it would end up. During that time it was still still possible to find some pretty rare parts on ebay and various places. Some of those parts could be made into a full weapon minus the lower of course. That is the goal for most of the retro builders. Ideally they want all original parts they can get to finish the gun. A lot of people manage to piece together a gun by finding all the correct parts. Obviously I am leaving out the full auto lower, but when I say all, I mean everything but that lower and whatever other parts that would risk crossing the absurd rules.
What really sticks in the craw for a lot of people, is getting 90% there. Ewww that has to burn! You get something super rare and cool and you just can not wait to post pics of it all over place at the gun prom! But. You just can’t. Get. It. All! So what do you do? Give up? Sell it all off to some other guy who still has a hope of finishing it up?
Nope. You go online and find some one who knows a guy who knows a guy and just have the parts you need made from scratch of course!.
So now we come down to the “rest of the story”. The two guns shown are of course Colt M231 post firing weapons. An oddball from a period of time where the military wanted to have something to fire from the side holes of a Bradley. You can look up the details yourself but it basically a M16 simplified down and with a really high cyclic rate meant to be used from the Bradley. There are a few variants of it but one in particular more or less stands as the standard model as far as looks and recognition goes. A guy who ended up becoming a dear friend came on the retro forum one day after ending up with a hand full of M231 parts from some auction and wanted to finish it up as it was not something being done at the time. He was really stuck on a couple of parts that seemed to be impossible to find and was out of options or ideas. I happened to wonder into that thread and after seeing the almost finished weapon, really got hot to see it completed.
I contacted my friend who is a skilled machinist about the possibility of making that part for the arfcommer. After some emails and back and forth the project was on its way.
The major hold up for the arfcom retro guy was the gas block that was also that part that hooked into the vehicle. No one could find measurements or even a picture to show it from all angles and sides. Some found some specs some where and I sent it on to my machinist friend. Just using pictures found online that no one took for the purposed of making a copy of it and eye balling it, my friend came up with a plan. Below is a picture of a real one and the fake one made up by my friend, who has made an appearance on this website a few times over the years.
Everyone has heard of the 10 foot rule or some version of it. Well most will agree that if you have never handled a M231 yourself and even if you did you likely never cared, this copy would most likely pass the 10 inch test for anyone other than people very , very familiar with it
You can see the places where the fake , faked it. Mostly this is a result of making a copy from pictures.
In this case, the length of the barrel gives it away. The real M231 upper has a slightly shorter barrel. The longer 16 inch barrel is used as the variant with stock, makes for a legal carbine. Real M231 upper with shorter than 16 inch barrel is a “Pistol” so as not to have to get into NFA laws.
The machining to make that gas block took a few months and trial and error. Some experimenting had to be done with the gas system and gas tube. A gas tube had to be cut down by the machinist and a one of a kind gas system made. We tested fired it one night and it was feeling of real accomplishment.
The gas block above is pictured in the white. The machine shop my friend worked at did not have an ability to park’ it and the owner received and and sent it off to be finished in the appropriate shade for retro looks.
it was a lot of effort to pull this off. I did not mention that I and my friend live in Ky and the owner close to the other end of the country so much phone calls and emails , shipping and a lot of effort by guys on Arfcom retro forum went into getting this thing together. It tunred out pretty good I have to say.
Of course it was all kind of a waste because a month or two after it was all completely a real completely M231 came up for auction on gun broker and the owner of the M231 bought the complete upper. If he had only waited ! It was all worth it regardless. things were learned, some one worked on something at work he was not supposed to. life long friends were made and some esoteric M16 retro parts skyrocketed on ebay ever after. Good times had by all.
Bellow I am posting some more picture of the oddities M231 parts. Most are the major parts that are a hang up for any one pondering putting one together. At the time, I recall some other machinist was making copies of some of these parts.