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Colt ACE & ACE II

I mentioned the Colt ACE 2 the other day and have been thinking about it on and off ever since. The ACE was an updated conversion slide , barrel and magazine for using a .22 long rifle. It was made to work with the series 80 guns. The original was the ACE and was originally thought up or training for the military. It had a system in it that made the gun recoil like it was firing .45ACp. A pretty neat trick. Not very much fun for shooting tin cans in the back yard but useful if you want to save money and have more ammo for training troops while making them experience the same recoil as the round they would actually fire in combat.

The ACE II did away with that since no one really wanted it. Even the military didn’t have that much use for it back in the day.

The first Ace was a conventional blow-back operated semi-automatic that outwardly resembled the gun adopted by Uncle Sam in 1911, but with the swinging link and locking lugs of the .45 replaced by a barrel pinned solidly into the frame by the slide stop. Other modifications included a 1/4″ shorter slide and barrel, a unique rim-fire firing pin and stop, ejector, and a stack of shock-absorbing washers under the barrel. These washers limited slide travel, necessitating relocation of the slide stop notch to suit the new .22-length action. Atop the slide sat the adjustable Ace sight, also unique to this model. This sight was developed at the behest of the U.S. Army, which was helping in the development of the Ace, and upon whose approval Colt depended for the promise of volume sales.”

Reports on the gun, both contemporary and modern, are a mixed bag. The pistol was beautifully fitted and finished in the manner of all pre-war Colts; and accuracy, from what amounted to a fixed-barrel pistol, was excellent. Of course, the Ace had the familiar feel of the .45, but there were problems associated with trying to operate a big-bore size pistol with the recoil energy contained in the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. With Colt’s own sleek, handy Woodsman on the market, the Ace’s popularity was never great, with either the commercial or military contingent; but the gun remained in production for about ten years.

Colt went back to the drawing board, to find a better way to adapt the small cartridge to the big pistol. If the pistol couldn’t be made to act small, maybe the cartridge could be made to act big. Enter David Marshall “Carbine” Williams, whose expertise in perfecting the short-stroke gas piston system would earn him his nickname after his design was incorporated into the mechanism of the wildly successful Ml Carbine. A variation of Williams’ principle, in which a separate “floating” chamber was itself the piston, allowed the recoil energy of the .22 cartridge to be boosted sufficiently to cycle a slightly modified .45 slide. Although this new Ace would still have many unique parts, it was very much more like the service pistol than the original one, so it would be called the Service Model Ace. It not only looked and operated almost identically to the .45, its new recoil-boosting design made it an even better trainer, causing Colt to tout it as an ideal companion to their new National Match .45. The Service Ace even included the new Stevens-pattern target sight as offered on the center-fire pistol.

The development of the Service Ace, with its fewer unique parts, allowed Colt to market a “conversion” kit of components that permitted someone already in possession of a Colt Government Model, National Match, or Super Match to swap the slide, barrel, spring and magazine for those in the kit, and have a .22 pistol. Conceptually, this was an even better idea than the Ace, as the .22-.45 Conversion Unit allowed retention of the all-important feel of the trigger of the parent arm. And since economy was the whole point of the exercise in the first place, having to buy only half a gun was an added attraction. The same idea, in reverse, did not work out so well, as the .45-.22 Conversion was a short-lived offering from Colt (In what has always seemed a confusing circumstance, Colt chose to name the Conversions in what would seem to be a counter- intuitive manner – the one converting the .45 to a .22 being the .22-.45 Conversion. If you take the meaning to be “a .22 from a .45”, it then makes sense). A few years after the introduction of the Service Ace and Conversion Units, the world was plunged into war, and all of Colt’s Aces were drafted into military service for the duration.

In 1949 the original Ace and Service Ace were no longer available, the last pistols having been assembled from parts produced during the war. The .22-.45 Conversion Unit however, was reintroduced to the commercial market, in slightly simplified form, and sporting a new rear sight – the Coltmaster. At that time, Colt ceased the serial numbering of the units, continuing to sell and catalog them throughout the 1950’s and ’60’s, although they were not always in production.

http://sightm1911.com/lib/history/colt_ace.htm

The ACE II was the idea brought back years later after Colt had stopped production of all other .22 rimfire pistols. The more expensive high quality semi autos couldn’t compete in the market with the cheaper ruger rimfire semi autos that seemed to rule the world at the time. And still do in the world of .22 pistols.

It was never a big seller and seeing them today is a rare thing. I have seen exactly 3 in 20 years of going to the National Gun day giant gun shows in Louisville, Ky and other smaller shows. Of course they can be found online but then again, so can anything.

The New Springfield Hellcat!!! Who cares…

Well SA has come out with another one. Hot off the Croatian assembly lines!

HELLCAT™ 3″ MICRO-COMPACT 9MM OSP™ – HC9319BOSP

Caliber 9mm Slide Billet Machined, Melonite® Finish, Optics Ready Sights U-Dot™: Tritium/Luminescent Front, Tactical Rack Rear, Optics Ready Grip Width 1″ Height 4″ w/ Flush Mag, 4.5″ w/ Extended Mag Weight 17.9 oz w/ Flush Mag, 18.3 oz w/ Extended Mag Barrel 3″ Hammer Forged Steel, Melonite® Finish, 1:10 Frame Black Polymer w/ Adaptive Grip Texture™ Recoil System Dual Captive Recoil Spring w/ Full Length Guide Rod Magazines (1) 11-Round, (1) 13-Round Extended Length 6″ MSRP $599

Yeah I just see this and think to myself. “who cares about this?”

Just buy a Glock..

Let’s build a P80 “Glock”

I don’t really get much the appeal to the “ghost gun”. A P80 80% “Glock” Frame runs about $160. You can get a Glock frame for about $70. If you wanted to build a “ghost gun” SIG P320, it would cost you about 2-3 times as much as just buying a SIG P320. Similar with AR lowers. If you are looking to hide what you have from the government, don’t forget that ordering a parts kit or an 80% and having it mailed to your house leave quite the paper trail.

The Glock design has an awesome problem that the AR15 and the 1911 have enjoyed before it. You can build an entire “Glock” with out a single OEM Glock part. That can lead to an issue of reliability. You can find countless discussion online about people having issues with their P80 home built pistols. From junk aftermarket parts, to incorrect manufacturing of the 80% frame. For a person who needs pure reliability, they are best served buy buying the original.

All that said, it is pretty damned cool to make your own gun. If you want to do it. DO IT.

I found a P80 compact size kit for cheap. Personally, I wouldn’t pay full price for one. Not to knock the company or the product, but I am generally not going to pay more than the original for a knock off.

Let stop with the opinionated discussion and get to the product.
This is not a full set of instruction. There are plenty of those floating around online.

It came in a box.

The box contains:

  • P80 80% Frame
  • P80 Jig
  • M3 Drill Bit
  • M4 Drill Bit
  • 9mm HSS 3 Flute End Mill
  • Locking Block/Front Rails
  • Rear Rails
  • 2X Pins
  • P80 Business Card
  • A card telling you to go online and find some instructions.

Both drills were slightly undersided. This is probably a good thing. I didn’t bother to measure the real diameter of the 3 flute endmill because I don’t like measuring the diameters of 3 flute endmills.
The frame has a clearly different profile and feel than an OEM Glock frame.
There is a blank metal plate in the dust cover/light rail allowing you to stamp or mark the serial number of your choice.

The frame comes placed in the jig. The two halves of the jig snap together and point out where material needs to be removed.

Three holes need to be drilled in the frame. You drill each side separately, so that is drilling 6 holes. Took me less than 5 minutes do drill them. There are sections on the top frame, front and back, where material needs to be removed. That makes for 4 tabs to cut away.

There is also a area near the front of the locking block that is filled in. That will need to be cut away. Note how the front of the jig is splayed open. I’ll come back to that.

Polymer80, the company that makes the P80 (Gee whiz, where do they get their names?) suggests milling out these areas using a drill press and an adjustable vise. To do things authentically, I placed the end mill in a drill chuck to do it the way that they suggested. About 25 minutes later (taking it slow to take pictures), I had the material removed. I’ve read and seen video of people just cutting away the material or filing it away in under an hour. If I were to do another (I don’t plan to), I wouldn’t bother milling it. I’d just use some end clippers or side cutters to clip away the bulk of the plastic and then shave it down with a sharp knife or scrapper tool.

Suggestion: If you do decide to mill it. Two things. The jig is rather flexible, it helps to put a couple more clamps on it. My big suggestion is to plunge mill.

Drill chucks are not built to take side loads. Normal milling creates a side load that can cause a drill chuck to come loose. For me, when I tried side milling this frame, the jig was flexing so much I was getting chatter. Set your depth stop for the depth of the cut, and bring the end mill straight down like your were drilling. Bring it back up and move the part to repeat.

Trying to mill out that web inside the frame sucked. This was the slowest part for me. I couldn’t see well what I was doing, and the jig was not tight at the top. I put a clamp on the top of the jig and removed the majority of the material. I ended up using a scraper tool (like a knife) to remove the remaining material.

Look at how much the jig is open. It greatly helped to have a clamp at the top.

I didn’t bother to cut the tabs flush, as it seemed to be indicated that it was unnecessary to do so.

Installing parts into the frame mostly went easy. The pins were very hard for me to insert and I had to use a hammer and punch to seat them. I’m not going to complain because I’d rather too tight than too loose. I don’t plan on removing those pins unless I have too, like if a part breaks.

If you drill the hole wrong, you scrapped the frame. Fortunately, it is really easy to drill them. It is like the old adage that is easier to say than to do, “Don’t be stupid.”

Note how the rails for the slide to ride on are much longer on the P80. Polymer80 says these are hardened stainless. I read many accounts of people having issues with the rails not in alignment. I wonder if they drilled one or more of the holes sloppily and if that caused the issue.

I had no issues with frame alignment, but hand cycling a Glock slide, I hear the recoil spring assembly rubbing against something. I have read of people having issues with this and needing to remove more material than Polymer80 says to in the channel in the frame. I may do that later.

P80 with a Glock Slide

My intent for my P80 frame is to use it with an Advantage Arms .22 kit. But I need to make sure that everything is working right and there are no burrs, sharp edges, etc on these stainless rails as that could tear up the aluminum slide of the .22 kit.

Just a note, the AA kits are not warrantied or guaranteed to work on the P80 frames. I bet it is because no one knows how well a individual P80 frame was built and that the stainless slide rails, if out of alignment, would probably damage the kit.

Making the P80 frame was fun. Took me maybe half an hour between the milling and the deburring. That is not including assembly.

Looking at the dollar value, or for use as a serious fighting gun, I would absolutely NOT recommend the P80. But if you feel like messing around, or making your own custom “Glock” pistol with the parts of your choice, have at it. It is cool to have this option.

Just don’t drill those holes wrong.

The NoMar Rear M1911 Sight

Have a M1911 with the excellent fixed Novak rear sight that really wish you could have a BoMar on instead? You aren’t the only one. But, as you have likely already learned, the slide dovetail cut for one just will not allow the use for the other. Good news though. .

Karl Beining custom gunsmthing extraordinaire and Brandon Bunker has come up with a very slick solution

The Nomar sight base is the solution for the large numbers of 1911s being sold with Novak Low Mount fixed rear sights.  Many Colts, Springfields, Rugers, Dan Wessons, Rock Island’s etc come right from the Factory with a Novak Low mount rear sight cut.  This is a fantastic sight cut if you want fixed sights, but the adjustable options that fit the Novak LM dovetail are all lacking.  Some have very limited adjustment, some have no windage adjustment at all, but they all have small sight faces resulting in less than ideal sight picture for precision work.  The Gold Standard for 1911 Target sights is, and has been for decades, the Bomar Adjustable sight, the issue is once a slide is cut for a Novak LM rear, you cannot cut it for a Bomar cut, so a workaround had to be designed.  I teamed up with Brandan Bunker at Bunker Arms on designing a new base for the Bomar style blade (Mfg By Kensight), and the Nomar was the result.  We worked through a couple tests and redesigns to arrive at the current iteration that we feel looks the best and will work with the widest breadth of OEM Novak cuts.  Believe it or not, not every company cuts Novak rear cuts the same, so we are looking at making a taller base for STI slides and possibly others in the future.   The Nomar is not a wholly new idea, Rich Dettlehouser of Canyon Creek made some similar bases nearly 10 years ago, but seems his website and access to this part are gone.
The Nomar base does require professional installation as the Novak sight deck will need lowered and extended forward of the dovetail, pocket for the sight blade cut, and hole drilled and tapped for the elevation screw.

I’ve been watching this project and the pictures Karl has shared on various 1911 groups he and I both belong to. They look great and the work is first class. If you have a 1911 with a Novak cut but wish you had a BoMar you now know what to do.

for Professional Installation on your slide, contact Karl G Beining at www.kgbcustom.com


For the Nomar base, contact or order on Brandan Bunker’s site at https://www.bunkerarms.com/product-page/nomar-conversion-base

For the Sight leaf and other parts, contact Kensight and order a ‘Bomar BCMS Rebuild kit with complete sight leaf’  https://stores.kensight.com/

Glock Maritime Spring Cups

Standard spring cups on the left, maritime spring cups on the right.

There is a great deal of misinformation about Glock’s out there. From the ridiculous like it being made out of porcelain to it being the ultimate underwater weapon system.

I saw a claim stating that the Glock is the only pistol able to fire underwater because of the reduced friction from the polymer frame. Laughable.

Many firearms will work underwater with a few conditions. First there can not be air trapped in the barrel as that can cause catastrophic failure. Water will slow the fall of hammers and the movement of parts, so weapons with weaker or less reliable ignition systems may fail. Hollow points and similar expanding ammunition may cause failures by trying to expand in the barrel when fired.

There have been various documented tests out there showing 1911s, Revolvers, and other firearms functioning fire under water. Most of the times you hear about firearms blowing up from water in the bore it is because the firearm is out above the water while water is still in the bore.

That is not to say that firing underwater isn’t dangerous. Shooting is dangerous to begin with. There is more that can go wrong under water, and since liquid is effective incompressible, the noise, shock, and blast from the shot carry far better than they do in air. That means that the blast will be far worse on your ears and rest of your body.

You can find videos of people firing rifles underwater. That gets a little more complex. Similar thing, it is air in the system or bore while underwater that can cause failures when the gun is completely immersed. Or water in the while when it is taken out of the water. There is plenty of discussion and information about weaknesses in the AR15 design for over the beach use. Funny thing is there is a story about a guy who completely immersed his AR15 and was having no issues shooting it underwater. It was only when he pulled it back out of the water that he blew it up.

But I am getting off topic. Point is, most guns will work under water, but it is not ideal.

At the request of some group or another, with a Florida police department usually getting the credit, Glock designed modified spring cups for maritime use. These are not necessary for using the Glock under water, they simply exist to aid in reliability if there is water in the striker channel.

Now there is a cost to them. A set of maritime spring cups would run you 10-20 dollars and about 5 minutes to install them. These maritime cups have less material, and may fail sooner or be more likely to fail than the standard spring cups. I haven’t ever heard of a set of maritime cups failing, but it is possible.

It can be a little hard to find factory Glock brand maritime spring cups. Plenty of unscrupulous dealers will buy aftermarket connectors, maritime spring cups, etc and claim that they are factory Glock parts. I had some “Glock 3.5 Lb connectors” that causes reliability issues. I later found out that one of the aftermarket companies (maybe Scherer?) had a run of defective connectors. When I later bought more Glock minus marked connectors, those looked different and had no issues. Unfortunately the dealer I used to trust years ago went out of business. Went or jail or something that. Maybe I shouldn’t have trusted them either.

I live in an environment with a good bit of water so I choose to run the maritime cups. I needed some more so I shopped around for a while and saw several reviews of people claiming that the ones they received were aftermarket. I finally found a dealer that had great reviews and bought from them. Unfortunately the ones I received just came in a unlabeled zip lock bag, so I question their origin.

Buyer beware, I suppose.