My first SBR.

A long time ago, in the ancient barbaric times of 2007, I finally had an approved Form 1 to make a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR).  Back then we didn’t have the pistol braces so doing the paperwork for a SBR was considered the best way to go.

I don’t remember why I choose to go get a SBR, but I have loved the short AR15 ever since.

I decided no expense would be spared, I would build a top notch SBR.  (Tier 1 wasn’t a phrase used back then, but that sort of mentality).

It was common knowledge back then that short AR15s were generally unreliable.  The LMT 10.5 inch upper was said to be the exception.  That it would “run like a raped ape”.  (It wasn’t till years later I learned that was a racist term).  LMT also used a medium profile barrel heavier than a standard M4 barrel on their 10.5 inch uppers.

I wasn’t going to use my old RRA lower for this, I would buy a brand new top of the line lower to build this top of the line gun.

So I went with a LMT lower.  The gun ended up looking like this:

Let me take a moment to explain some of the decisions and setups shown.

I wanted a flip up rear sight, so I went with the Troy rear sight I purchased for use in Iraq.  Troy sights are still an excellent product, but I much prefer to use other brands now.  Not to mention that the Troy Industries has done some questionable things since then.

I wanted to free float the barrel so I had a Larue 7.0 free float rail installed by MSTN.  It made for a very nice configuration.  Back then I wasn’t set up to build uppers, and MSTN was very highly regarded.  I believe they are still around but I don’t hear much about them.  I had him test fire the upper for me.

“YOURS IS BUILT AND GOT SHOT YESTERDAY. A FRIEND AND COWORKER WAS THERE
AT THE RANGE, AND I LET HIM SHOOT A MAGAZINE THROUGH YOUR UPPER.

HE ON THE SPOT DECIDED TO GET ONE FOR HIMSELF. HE WENT AND PICKED UP AN
LMT LOWER FROM THE SHOP WHERE WE DO BUSINESS AND HAS ALREADY SENT IT
OFF TO BE ENGRAVED.” Quote from Wes.

I choose to use a Diamondbond coated LMT Bolt.  MSTN was out of Diamondbond coated LMT Bolt Carriers so I purchased a coated Young MFG carrier.  I also purchased a second coated Bolt Carrier Group.  I’ll come back to this detail later.

A PRI Gasbuster was picked as it was the ultimate charging handle of its day.

I used the SOPMOD stock that came with the LMT lower.  I added a KAC QD sling attachment to the stock as back then LMT stocks did not offer a QD mount in them.

I used a CQD sling for a while back in Iraq.  I decided to go with CQD sling mounts on my SBR.  It was a good while later that I learned the SEALs were using the same mounts, I still think they were copying me.

Back then I think I tried every mainstream AR grip on the market. (No I didn’t use the one that let you put a revolver grip on your AR).  I eventually settled on the old A1 grip.  No finger bump.

For a while I ran the Eotech 512 forward mounted because the weight up front also helped reduce muzzle flip.

 

There were many many things I loved about that configuration, but it had a few fatal flaws.

Lets first talk about mistakes I made.

The LMT lower I purchased had an issue with its finished.  It was flaking off near the safety and the trigger pins.  I should have rejected it and had it replaced.

That sorta worked out ok with due to another mistake I made.

I had a local trophy shop engrave it for the NFA engraving requirements.  They really fucked it up.  I ended up having a pay more to send it off to Orion/TheGunGarage to have it properly engraved, the bad engraving fixed, and the lower finish touched up.  They work they did was awesome, but I shouldn’t have had to have that work done in the first place.

Back then some of the ammo I shot was Norinco.  This Chinese ammo seemed to lack the flash suppressant than most American ammo has.  When I fired my first round through this upper it made a tremendous amount of flash and blast and I instantly knew I was going to get a suppressor.  I wanted a Knights NT4, but my local didn’t didn’t have one and I let them talk me into a Gemtech M402.  The M402 is a good can, but ultimately wasn’t what I wanted.  Had I bought a NT4 I would probably still be using it as my main can today.

One of the biggest mistakes of mine was picking Eotech.  Back then, it was common knowledge that Eotech was great and Aimpoint sucked.  Just like how it was common knowledge that the world was flat.  Everyone knew that Eotech sights were faster, and because it used common AA batteries you could pull batteries of a remote to keep it running.  I didn’t know back then that I would have to room clear to the living room TV remote just to try and keep the Eotech running.

Now lets talk about the issues outside my control.

I had two Diamondbond LMT/YoungMFG bolt carrier groups.  One has been flawless, has seen tons of rounds, and just held up awesome.  It still resides in my favorite AR.  The other is. . . finicky.  That other coated LMT bolt causes random malfunction in what ever gun it is put in.  I was never able to figure out why.  It still sits in my parts bin.  That carrier however has seen tens of thousands of rounds of 5.45 and held up awesome.  Diamondbond is an amazing coating.

Chrome lined barrels can be very accurate.  LMT can make a very accurate barrel.  But my barrel was threaded poorly.  This wouldn’t have been an issue except I wanted to run a suppressor.

Either way this barrel had massive point of impact shift when suppressed.  10 minutes of angle.  That meant that I could either zero the upper suppressed or suppressed.  Since then I have multiple barrels that have had zero POI shift when suppressed, and that is what I have grown accustom too.

That was the ultimate deal breaker for me.  To not be able to quickly switch between suppressed and unsuppressed.  But I still love the 10.X inch barrel length on the AR.

My M203

I don’t know when I started wanting a M203 Grenade Launcher, but I’m pretty sure I wanted one right after I first saw one.

About three years ago I had a little extra cash in my pocket and I realized that if I didn’t buy a M203 then, I probably never would.

The M203 is a Destructive Device and requires annoying special paperwork to purchase.  Not that long ago the paperwork requirements changed and make it a little harder to purchase a M203.  I decided I would purchase one before these 41F changes.

Well, I wasn’t so lucky, took me a long time for the launcher to get to my local dealer, then a long time for the ATF to clear the post 41F paperwork.  But after about 2 years I finally got it.  I had shopped around local dealers and the only ones that had it in stock were charging about twice MSRP for a LMT M203.  I couldn’t find any other brands at a reasonable price.  I ended up buying from The Bullet Hole in Sarasota who special ordered it for me and got me a good deal.  I’m very glad I purchased from them.

I once saw a comment, it went something like, “The M203 is the most versatile useless thing you could own.”  There are a wide variety of rounds and subcaliber ammunition available, but all are for specialized purposes and are mostly useless for the layman.

One of these grenade launchers can also fire shotshells, flares, baton rounds, smoke round, CS rounds, chalk rounds, flash bangs, cameras, and a variety of other stuff.  But as I said, those are generally useless for the layman, not to mention rather expensive per round.

For example I purchased some chalk training rounds.  I paid about $7 a round shipped.  I believe I will be able to reload them for about $2 a round.  Not very cheap to shoot, but also something you wouldn’t be shooting very high volume with.  I purchased some 12 and 20 gauge adaptors allowing me to fire shotgun shells, but the M203 makes for a very awkward slow single shot.  I’ve been keeping an eye out for sales on other specialty rounds like flares and the like.  I want to get some, but I don’t want to spend $50 a piece for them.

My favorite part of owning a M203, and quite possibly the best part of owning a grenade launcher is being able to tell people I own a grenade launcher.  I get asked, “What are you going to do with a grenade launcher?”  To which I reply, “What ever I want, cause I own a grenade launcher.”

Ultimately I recognize that my M203 is just an expensive toy for me.  That is why I like having it on it’s own stand alone stock.  Mounting it on a rifle really means I am adding 3 pounds of dead weight to a rifle.  That said, the M203 needs a mount to be used so I purchased the KAC QD mount.  This lets me quickly mount this on a rifle should I want too.

The M203 is something I really don’t need, but I am really glad I bought it.  It is nice to have some fun guns.

 

My guns, Colt 733 upper

For a while now I have thought about posting about my personal firearms.  Wasn’t quite sure how I should approach the subject.  I’m going to start with my Colt 733 upper.

Above is an old picture, below is a picture taken today.

Sometime about 2004-2005 CMMG got in a bunch of trade in Colt 733 uppers and sold them cheap.  I thought about getting one, but waited, and missed out.

A few years back I saw a police trade in 733 upper for cheap, so I bought it.  Then, of course, I found a nicer one for sale cheaper.  So I bought that one also and sold the first one.  This upper in these pictures is that second 733 upper I had.  It is great that I can keep multiple uppers laying around and swap them out as I see fit.

The Colt 733 has a lightweight 11.5 inch barrel with a 1:7 twist.  Fixed A1 sights and a brass deflector (often called a C7 upper).  The bayonet lug is shaved.  It came with the Colt 6 hold “CAR” hand guards (as opposed to the wider/taller M4 hand guards).  This makes for a very lightweight upper.  This configuration is so light and handy it feels like a toy.  It was also called the M16A2 Commando.  They have been used in a few movies like Black Hawk Down and Heat.

The only change I’ve made to the upper is that I replaced the A1 rear sight with a vintage military low light sight.  The A1 rear sight has 2 peep apertures set for different ranges.

These old military M16 night sights were meant to be used with a Promethium 147 night front sight.  This system was obsoleted with out a replacement.  The large aperture opening is larger than an A2 rear sight, and is on the other side than an A2 sight.  So you flip it the other direction as an A2 sight.

I like to think of my firearms as “combat ready”.  But realistically many of them, such as my 10/22 are not really any where near that.  But this configuration can fire modern high performance ammo, and make the hits when I do my part.  This 733 short barreled rifle is something I would feel confidant to use in a fight, but it would be far from my first choice.  Given the choice, I’d rather have an optic.  If I could only have one AR, it would not be this.  But I’m not limited, so this is a fun gun to have.

Lebman’s “BabyMachinegun” Full Auto M1911s

Is there anything the Colt Model M1911 can’t do?  I certainly don’t think so.  I’m not the only one either.  Long before the idea of the PDW ( personal defense weapon) existed for military and VIP protection, there were some men who felt that a full auto M1911 would be just the ticket.   Sad to say those men happened to be murderous bank robbers Dillinger and Lester Gillis.

The man  who provided those “baby machine guns” the  gangster was a TX gun smith named Hyman Lebman.  Lebman was a talented gun smith and  tinkerer.   He modified multiple guns for the  criminals of the day supposedly not aware of their real occupation, thinking they were newly rich oilmen.    When the FBI  attempted to apprehend those killers, firefights erupted in to now nearly legendary  events.  The Lebman “baby machineguns” were used in most and resulted in the deaths of FBI agents.

 

“My father was Hyman S. Lebman (his name was not Harold, as quoted in the article), and I worked with him from the time I was 10 years old (1937) until he developed Alzheimers in 1976. He died in 1990. He told me many stories about the customers who he later found out were John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson. He thought they were charming, wealthy, oil men who were interested in guns, and even invited them to his house for his wife to make them dinner when I was about 3 or 4. Our shop had a firing range in the basement, and when he was experimenting with a Model 1911 on full automatic, the 3rd or 4th round went off directly over head, through the floor, and I was visiting above at the time. It scared him so much that he invented and installed a compensator on the muzzle to control the recoil. At one time much later, when I was visiting Washington, DC, I made an appointment with the FBI, and they were happy to bring out their collection of my dad’s guns for me to see”

 

Ahem..

Lebman developed  two models of his baby machine guns, one using the .45ACP firing government model and   one firing the Super. 38 round.

Lebman tweaked the internals  of God’s gun and made it into a full auto only machine pistol.   It didn’t take long to realize the gun firing on full auto wasn’t very useful as is so a compensator was adder  along with a fore grip. The fore grips usually being the front vertical  grip from a Thompson submachine  gun.     Some  examples used  buttstock and all guns used custom made by Lebman extended magazines.

The Super 38 was the most powerful round for semi autos in the USA at the time It was known to be able to defeat the body armor of the day and for a time before the .357magnum, was prized for its ability to penetrate  the auto bodies.   Having a compact full auto machine pistol that would  defeat body armor and the sheet metal used in the cars used by the robbers and held 22 rounds per magazine was  a huge advantage from some one constantly running from the law and ready to start a fire fight at a moments notice.  The two grips allowed tight control of the handgun, Much needed due to its high cyclic rate . Reportedly the guns will empty in a heart beat.

As I said above, the guns were part of major events in US law enforcement actions and shoot outs.   Gillis and Dillnger used the baby machine guns at the  Wisconsin shootout  during a raid on their hide  out lodge named Little Bohemia.

Lebman, even if he was nothing more than a honest man and gunsmith happy to sell his modified guns to any one with money as the law allowed,  owed his eventual downfall  to his own success and  the  1934 National Firearms Act.   Before the NFA,  it was not big deal for the unworthy peons to own , posses or make  fullauto weapons of all type.  After, well we all know the current state on that.    Because of the popularity of his guns with the top 10 on the FBI’s most wanted list and the ability of G-men to trace the serial numbers back to his shop. It didn’t take long for feds to do what the feds do best to the gun business and gun owners.    He was able to avoid spending a day  in prison after  several trials.  He went on to  continue his work as a gunsmith  while his machine guns went on to live with  the FBI.  Pictured below  is Lebman made  full auto M1911 owned and used by Dillinger . Now in the FBI vaults.

 

Interestingly at a later date, while the Army was thinking about replacing handguns  with a carbine. The M1 carbine was adopted for this role but for a time Colt submitted to the Army a  “Carbine ” M1911.     It certainly seems to have taken some inspiration from Lebman’s “baby machine gun.”

A lot more polished in design with some more care and refinement , the Colt carbine M1911  submitted to the army looks like  it was influenced by Lebman’s design.

 

 

 

 

M203 9″ vs 12″ barrel velocity

B.L.U.F.:  Negligible difference in muzzle velocity between the 9 and 12 inch M203 barrels.

About 2 years ago I decided I was going to buy a M203.  I had the extra cash and realized if I didn’t then, I never was going to.  Not to mention I had wanted one for years.  I searched out dealers in my state that had one in stock, and both dealers that I found wanted about $400 over MSRP.  MSRP being about $1600 for a LMT M203.  I went to my local NFA dealer, talked to them, and they ordered me a M203 and sold it to me for far less than MSRP.  Dealer made a profit, I saved a good bit of money, we both were really happy.

Still it took a while.  Took a long time for my dealer to receive in the M203, then with the 43P changes making things confusing for me, and the like, it took about 2 years from when I decided to buy a M203 to when I was able to take it home.

I tell you, going around and telling all my friends that I own a M203 was worth the cost and weight right there.  The fact that I get to shoot it just icing on the cake.

I ordered a standard mount M203 with a 12 inch barrel, while I waited I picked up a 9 inch barrel.  Really glad I did.  Also got the LMT stand alone stock for it.

Now to cut down on the rambling, I will get to the point.  I was recently contacted by someone from AR15.com forums asking about muzzle velocity on the M203.  Military manuals claim that the 14.5 inch barreled M79, the 12 inch barreled M203, the 11 inch barreled M320, and the 9 inch barreled M203 have the same muzzle velocity.  That seems a little hard to believe.

The muzzle velocity is said to be 250fps.  So, I have both barrel lengths and a chronograph so it is easy enough to test.  I fired a chalk round though each barrel length.  Lot Number on the ammunition is MTL13G614-034.  The Chronograph was set about 10 feet in front of the muzzle.  Rounds were fired into a 50 yard berm.

These training round consist of a zinc “pusher” base, a blue plastic cap filled with chalk.  The case is polymer with a .38 blank inserted into it.

From the 12 inch barrel, I got a result of 238.6 FPS.

For the shot from the 9 inch barrel, it was 233.5 FPS.

Now a sample size of 1 shot from each barrel is far from statically relevant.  But with only a difference of 5.1 FPS, I’m ready to call the difference between the two barrels negligible.

The picture doesn’t show it well, but these training rounds are horribly dirty.  Crud, sealant, unburned power, and all manner of gunk are left in the barrel after a single shot.

In any event, shooting a M203 is fun.  Little less fun shooting off the bench.  I used to own a .45-70.  I loved shooting that gun off hand, but when I shot it from the bench it would recoil straight back and be rather uncomfortable.  The M203 is similar.