Category Archives: Pistols and Revolvers

Setting Up and Using a Ransom Rest

How to separate the pistol’s potential from the pistolero’s: the Ransom Rest and a grip insert that fits the firearm.

There are several ways to test fire a handgun, whether for function, for accuracy, or for any kind of instrumented testing, like chronograph load development or strain-gage pressure measurement. In ascending order, these are: by hand, from an improvised rest such as a sandbag, or from a machine rest.

The best commercially available machine rest is the Ransom Rest and it has been for a long time. It is, as you might expect, premium priced, and it also takes quite a bit of installing and setting up.

Steve Sieberts has an excellent article on setting up a Ransom Rest, one we wish we’d had the first time we monkeyed with one back in 1980 or so, in the American Handgunner online.

The Ransom Rest has been around since 1969, and really is the gold standard for gun/ammo testing.

I was building a new Caspian 1911 .45 ACP last month and needed to test it, and obtained a new Ransom Rest and insert for the 1911 from the fine folks at Brownell’s. Getting the most from a Ransom Rest means building a mounting board for it, that way it can be secured to the shooting bench at your local range. Most ranges have shooting pedestals made from cinder block with a concrete top. This is a very sturdy basis for attaching the mounting board with the Ransom Rest attached.

Siebert’s setup with a target 1911. Even the trigger contact is mechanical on a Ransom.

Note his mention of “insert for the 1911.” The Ransom Rest grips handguns in a sort of vise, and for that it must have custom jaws to fit the particular gun, in Ransom terms “inserts.” (Current ones are blue). This can be a considerable expense of its own, with the inserts costing $60-70 each now; but the bigger problem is that they are only available for the most popular sidearms. Especially for the ones popular when the Ransom Rest was introduced, like the 1911 and the S&W K-Frame!

(And no, this is not just sniveling because they don’t make an insert for the CZ-75 — they do. Like all the non-1911 non-Smith inserts, it’s a month or two special order, so you need to plan your Ransom Resting well in advance).

As for the price of the unit itself, well, that’s why they call it Ransom. The Ransom Rest, Windage Base and one set of inserts will hit you about $750 at Brownells, today. (You can save about $100 off that at Champions Choice, but we’ve ever dealt with them. They also seem to offer a different selection of inserts than Brownells). But it takes the major source of inconsistency — us humans, or as Small Dog Mk II thinks of us, Trained Feeder Monkeys — out of test firing.

The sine qua non of good results with the Rest is the setup. It has always come with good instructions, which now have a visual supplement in Siebert’s article.

Remember, you’re trying to remove as much movement as possible, in order to make sure the pistol returns to the exact same spot for each shot. If the bench you’re attaching the mounting board is wobbly, you’re just wasting your time.

via Building And Using A Ransom RestAmerican Handgunner | American Handgunner.

We don’t know how old Sieberts’s article is; for all we know, it’s as old as the Ransom itself, but really, it’s timeless.

For most target shooters, the stock inserts will cover you. For the rest of us, the insert problem actually looks like a perfect place for 3D printing and possibly, small-shop injection molding.

The biggest beef we have with the Ransom is that we’re not sure where ours is. Would be a drag to replace it (although that would guarantee finding the old one).  The next biggest? That there isn’t a rifle version. We haven’t found anything nearly as good for long guns.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Peter Laidler Armorer Articles

This is something odd: we’re linking to one thread of a forum, the Canadian-based milsurps.eh (just kidding, milsurps.com), and what’s more, it’s one thread that only has one post.

Why in the name of St. Gretzky would we do that?

Well, it’s what a post it is! The post links to more than two dozen technical articles by former British armorer, Captain Peter Laidler. If you want to know more about the Lee-Enfield, British telescopic sights, or even BREN Gun parts, Laidler’s your huckleberry:

Capt. Peter Laidler is the senior Armourer in the UK Military, now retired, but based as a Technical Officer at the UK Military Small Arms School. On behalf of MILSURPS.COM members, we’d like to publicly thank him for his support of this forum, as well the broader Lee Enfield collector community in general.

There’s a great deal of information there for those interested in British weapons development, technology and maintenance of the 20th Century. Go to the link, and start working your way through some historic British technology. Enjoy!

 

Brownell’s Buys: Ghost Glocks, Threaded Barrels, Aimpoint PRO

We missed a one-day-only on these Polymer80 Glock frame kits for $39.99, but at $69.99 they’re still more than half off. Frame, metal guide rails insert, jig, and cutting tools all in one handy kit. Available in black, OD, or FDE.

The only reason we didn’t buy any this time is that we still have two untouched ones (including the one in the picture) — bought for list price.  We’ll get to ’em when we get to ’em. Supposedly, there’s a new version of the G17/17L/34 size frame coming out. These frames will work in 9mm or in .357 SIG/.40 S&W so you can actually clone the Glock 17, 17L, 22, 24, 31, 34, and 35; the compact frame for the G19 size guns is not being blown out, but will still set you back $150.

The G17 etc. frames are considerably blockier than the original Glock (which is saying something), so our guess is that the new version will be closer to the Glock original, like their G19 frame is. But that’s only our guess, we have no crystal ball. These are so popular that inexpensive Glock parts kits have become nonexistent.

What goes with a ghost Glock better than a suppressor? So you’re going to need a threaded barrel (also useful for making politicians’ heads spontaneously ess-plode like Mr Creosote). Most Silencerco Glock barrels are $40 off which brings them to $150, but there’s an even better deal on the higher-priced G43 barrel, for all you wannabe silent single-stackers out there. But Silencerco threadeds are for sale for several pistols: SIG 226, S&W M&P, HKVP9, and Beretta 92/M9.

Beretta 92! We bet this breathes life into a lot of dusty M9s/ 92s out there. Don’t have an M9? We interrupt this Brownells pitch to bring you a deal on an M9 (NB, that vendor has a “mixed” reputation, and its owner has been convicted of felonies under some bizarre California laws. We’ll pass, but maybe you feel lucky… punk). OK, back to Brownells.

Our two favorite AR optics are the ACOG and the Aimpoint, and for up-close-and-personal like shooting masked teenagers in the kitchen, we’d go with Aimpoint 10 out of 10 times. Brownells has a little bit of a deal on the Aimpoint PRO (Patrol Rifle Optic); they’re throwing in a $25 Brownells gift card with each one at $437. Your net, $412, plus shipping. We paid more than that for a well-worn Comp M2 used. The PRO is half the price, roughly, of the Comp M2’s successor, the Comp M4.

The PRO includes the features we like, like crazy long battery life, a near-Ranger-proof forged case, and 6 visible and 4 IR reticle brightness settings. (That said, if you don’t have NODS or plan imminent purchase of them, don’t be a tactard: don’t pay extra for NVG compatibility). Likewise, don’t bother with Killflash unless you’re planning on going out and hunting with it (bipeds or quadrupeds, the game is the same); for plinking and home defense you’re good to go out of the box. The one accessory you might consider is a quality QD mount, if you’re in the habit of trading optics a lot.

Further Improved Gluty AP-9 3D-Printed Pistol

Back in July, most of the bugs were worked out of the Shuty MP-1 by its designer, Derwood. With some help from Warfairy, who customized a lower design for the project, Derwood had redone the upper, improving the ejector in the 9mm pistol that uses Glock magazines and barrels. Here’s the July video, again.

But it’s not in Derwood to rest on his laurels, so there’s a new version, which he’s calling the AP-9. No files yet (if you follow the link in the video above to YouTube, the links to the old files still lead to working files).

It appears that he made changes in the recoil system, primarily, and the stone-simple ambidextrous magazine release system has been reprinted in a lighter-colored material, possibly nylon. Presumably, this new version retains the improvements noted in last summer’s firearm, but adds further improvements.

The upper receiver is changed relatively little, externally, but is definitely a new print. Left side view:

The biggest change seems to be the replacement of the original recoil spring with an AR-like buffer and large diameter spring. This required an end-cap and buffer tube assembly (which could conceivably be a single print, or perhaps is a simple end cap threaded for a buffer tube) which is new to this variation.

Meanwhile, career bureaucrats and political-appointee holdovers at the Departments of State and Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives seem to have doubled down on their commitment to stop the signal. Lotsa luck with that.

What’s Happening in SF Arms Today

There are a number of things going on right now, some of which may be trends.

More and Heavier Weapons

When we joined SF, while there was plenty of access to weapons that were heavier/more specialized / foreign, what an ODA carried was 12 M16A1 rifles (if we were fortunate enough to have 12 guys and zero empty slots, which happened… let’s just say, rarely). Soon, they gave us two M203s so we didn’t have to keep bumming M79s that Big Green wanted to get rid of.

Since then, the trend has been to push more and heavier weapons down to team level, giving the team increasing mission-driven options.

Background

By the start of Afghanistan, we had SOPMOD I M4A1s, two of them w/203s per ODA, 7.62mm (M24) and 12.7mm (M82A1) sniper rifles, and had just gotten M249 SAWs. We borrowed everything else or bought it out of theater-specific money: AT weapons, a full suite of suppressors, etc. (Suppressors were part of SOPMOD I but ours got stuck in the pipeline and we got 2/team after deployment).

We had claymores and toe-poppers, and in 2003 had to turn them in because some drone in the foreign service had made an unwise promise to the ghost of the least consequential Briton in history, with the possible exception of Boy George, to wit, Princess Diana.

Demolitions have become more urban-centric lately. Your average SF demo man can rig a door to blow in two seconds flat, but send him into a forest to blow down trees for an abatis, and you’ll see him sneaking peeks at reference material.

With the evolution of the war, the weapons evolved rapidly with many more versions of precision rifle appearing, the Mk17 SCAR with several barrel lengths, and variants on the M4 / Mk18. We finally got M240s, M2HBs and Mk 19s of our own, rather than borrowed from Big Green. And bigger weapons yet began to ride our vehicles, notably M134 Miniguns and some SOF-specific weapons.

Where We Are Now

The basic weapon remains the M4A1 with several different uppers available.

Changes since Your Humble Blogger retired include free-floated rails systems, much better general issue 5.56 ammunition negating the need for Mk 262 77-grain, HK grenade launchers partly replacing the Mk 19 (the HK’s a much better weapon), and Mk 44 (currently Mod 3) replacing earlier iterations of Miniguns.

Pistols are a special purchase of the Glock 19, Gen 3, with the MOS slide and the Docter optic as previously used atop some SOF ACOGS. Not all teams in all groups mount the optic, but if the loggies have done their job, they have them available.

For what it’s worth, the Dillon-made Miniguns are preferred over the original GE ones because they’re easier to handle — which is relative; it’s a very difficult and intensive weapon to maintain. “The way that GE attaches the backplate, it feels like it’s trying to rotate in your hands” said one guy who attended a maintenance school which was “nowhere near enough time” on the miniguns. The M134 nomenclature is still used, but only when the gun is mounted for aerial use (for instance, as a helo door gun). This is operator-level maintenance disassembly of a Mk 44, NSN 1005-01-576-3284:

Haven’t seen that many parts since BAR days! Note the armorer’s breakfast of champions: Starbucks, Krispy Kremes, Gatling Gun.

Contrary to normal Hollywood practice, the Mk44 is not an individual weapon for a muscle-bound refugee from WWE, but a vehicular weapon. If it has an Achilles’s Heel, it’s the electrical system. The Navy specified paper fuses, and it’s not easily to tell when a fuse is blown… the first thing an SF armorer or 18B needs to do is replace the fuses with similar value ones from the vehicle maintenance shop. Because it’s a 24v system, it adapts readily to military vehicular or aircraft electrical systems, but is harder to install in nonstandard vehicles. (It can be, and has been, done, but it’s a pain in the neck). The weapon system, complete, draws 2,500 watts of power.

After juice problems, the next most common reason for a Mk 44 going silent is ammunition exhaustion. It burns a lot of rounds at a rate of about 3,000 / min cyclic. (The rate is selectable but that’s the standards). It’s often installed in a Mk49 CROWS, which is relatively trouble-free compared to the gun itself, but can also be fired by a double spade grip on the backplate, and that’s one of the more common ways for SF to use it. Found on YouTube, SF at the range:

Basic load is a multiple of 3,000 round ready canisters. (The Vietnam-era 1,000 round cans seem to be obsolete). The cans need to be changed before you shoot up the last rounds in the approximately 14-foot long (~4m) flexible feed chute, or reload will be a slow and exacting experience, and if you are under fire your teammates will call you hurtful names.

Even as the SCAR has fallen out of a favored position as the doorkicker-gun-par-excellence, there’s word that Big Green is buying a quantity of them, and they are being relabeled the CAR because the S in SOF Combat Assault Rifle no longer applies.

SF and all ARSOF loves it when Big Green buys something that we pioneered, because it means we can get more with regular Title 10 appropriated funds and not use our MFP 11 SOF money for that. Sure, it’s all the same tax blood coming from the same taxpayer turnips, but the finite pool of SOF money has to buy everything from TF 160’s next space age flying thing to improved foreign-language training classes. As you can imagine, the fly guys and the language instructors (not to mention futuristic communications and ISR-device users) get bent out of shape when we “misuse” what they know is “their” money merely for stuff to kill the enemy with, which they point out that we can do perfectly well with two sticks of wood and 18″ of twine. So when we get guns that are shared with the big Army, it’s better for everybody: we think it often gets them better guns (they sure liked lightweight 7.62mm machine guns), and we know it gives us more cash to spend on our other priorities that are less in-demand among the general purpose forces (who have their own track record of killing the enemy, after all).

Where We’re Going

That’s anybody’s guess. Wider issue of the .300 BLK upper has been a matter of controversy inside SF — some are strong for it, some oppose it. The guys that have it have been dealing deadly execution with it. But SOCOM has reportedly solicited offers for 25 thousand .300 BLK PDW/CQC kits: with a side-folding stock and a 10-inch .300 BLK upper.

There’s no real interest in piston uppers or 416s. Fanboy stuff for the civilian tacticool community, really. Nobody’s shown us a data-driven test that documents any significant improvement. (Remember, the 416 was bought by SOF ~15-20 years ago to solve a short barrel reliability problem that’s now well-licked in DI weapons).

Magazines are prosaic but they’ve come many miles. We’ve gone from having only a couple of decent magazine choices to a great quantity of types of solid, reliable, consistent-feeding magazines. The days that you had to run steel HK mags because the issue mags sucked so bad are long behind us; even the issue mags don’t suck. The HKs are still good, but why pay the dollar and weight premium? Magpuls are good, too — the Marines are standardizing on them — and they’re not the only good polymer option.

There’s also no real interest in a reversion to 7.62 in any of the current platforms as a standard, baseline weapon. Afghanistan and Iraq/Syria are a bit unusual in offering lots of long-range engagements. Unless their predeployment training dropped the ball (which some units have managed to do), our riflemen across the board are far more lethal than the enemy anywhere inside the 800m envelope. The enemy still deploys (apart from MGs and snipers) weapons that are outranged by our rifles, mostly 7.62 x 39 weapons with short-radius open sights; the AK platform fails to exploit the accuracy potential of its cartridges.

With the war continuing, we may not see major fielding but we’re going to see lots of improved developments. We are currently in a place where some of the last decade’s developments need to be digested and promulgated. We’re not sure where the soldier of 2117 will be fighting, but the odds are pretty good he will be fighting with a weapon that launches metallic projectiles from the shoulder and weighs about 6 to 10 pounds. As has been the case since about 1617.

Let’s Dive Deeper on the CZ 122

One of the CZ 122 images from Pazdera’s book.

The CZ 122 we recently mentioned here is a bit of a mystery in the United States, as it was never imported here; some were brought to our friends in Canada, but only a few; and the modern rimfire pistol is not available even in Europe now. What happened?

We turned to a relatively recent book by Czech weapons historian David Pazdera, Legenda Jmeny CZ, or in English, A Legend Called CZ. This coffee table sized book is an illustrated history of CZ from the 1930s to date, with a few sparse areas and holes conforming to issues of Czech historiography, but extremely comprehensive coverage of Cold War and post-Cold War CZ products. Sure enough, Pazdera has the CZ 122 covered on pages 325-328. We were on our way out the door on a road trip and couldn’t bring Pazdera’s mighty doorstop of a book, nor had we the time to fire up the Fujitsu and scan the relevant pages properly, so we photographed the pages and précis the information here.

The CZ 122 was the product of designer Stanislav Buran, who was not actually a designer, but the head of a manufacturing engineering section. The project began in the 1990s with the idea for a “simple and cheap” .22 rimfire pistol, to plug a longstanding gap in the CZ product line. But his initial design was a far cry from the pistol that finally reached production. The CZ 94, prototyped in 1994, looked much like any of the last century or so of sporting .22 automatics, with a hint of Woodsman or Hi-Standard ancestry, and a splash of modern Eurodesign:

The CZ 94 is described by Pazdera:

It was a simple and cheap pistol of the lower sporting category, usable for fun shooting or target practice. It had a fixed barrel, and unlocked (blowback) breech, a single-action trigger mechanism and an internal striker mechanism, The  magazine capacity in the final version was 10 rounds. Particularly unusual was the magazine release on the front side of the frame inside the trigger guard.

Buran continued to develop the idea of a simple, inexpensive rimfire pistol, with the help of Vojtech Anderle. It evolved through several prototypes. One thing that changed — a lot — was the magazine catch, which first moved to the classic Euro/Hi-Standard position at the base of the grip, and then to the classic Browning position at the junction of the trigger bow and the grip frame.

As you might expect for a design that began with a manufacturing engineer, production engineering and cost control were in the design mix from the start as CZ 94:

It’s assumed that for manufacturing, a frame of aluminum alloy or plastic, of which (the plastic) another set of parts might also be made. In addition, there was also expected to be frequent application of stamped sheet-metal parts (trigger, disconnector), and parts from the Kadet small-caliber adapter (barrel, extractor, firing pin, magazine) and from the standard CZ 75 model (hammer, sear).

In 1995, the pistol was extensively redesigned by industrial designer Vojtech Anderle, who drew six sketches, from which one was selected, leading to six more design studies based on that. The final styling was incorporated into the CZ 122.

In the CZ 122, compared to the CZ 94, the angle of the grip was changed to 108º,

The frame of the new model got a slide release. For that reason, the weapon got an old-fashioned magazine release at the base of the magazine well. The barrel was pressed or molded into the frame.

Initial tests found the plastic-framed prototypes more reliable than the alloy-framed ones, but “for technological reasons” the alloy frame was selected. In 1998, designer Petr Pöschl was tasked to finalize the pistol and bring it to production.

The CZ 122 was produced from 1998 to 2002, and then again from 2004-06, but only 6,192 examples were manufactured. All have the alloy frame. The breakdown between European-mag-release and Browning-mag-release production is unclear.

Pazdera says this about the design’s benefits:

The modern design of the CZ 122 Sport Pistol was meant in part to be reminiscent of a modern service pistol, but the weapon was also able to feature a series of sporting features: fully adjustable LPA target sights, single-action trigger mechanism with an external hammer of the sporting type, and a trigger with a straight tongue and screw-adjustable travel.

If it was such a carefully designed pistol, why weren’t more of them made? The pistol performed well — usually. But it was finicky about ammo, and launched into a glutted market full of established target pistols.

The accuracy potential of the weapon was solid, for example during tests carried out during the year 1996, it was possible to achieve groups of 25 mm (tn: less than 1″) at 25m (highly dependent on the ammunition used). The weakness of the one-twenty-two was inconsistent reliability. This compared with the strong market positions of quality competitors had as a consequence unsatisfactory sales numbers, which led the Uhersky Brod company to definitively wrap up this program in the first half of the first decade of this century.

In the modern era, of course, CZ-UB is a profit-making enterprise, and a slow-selling pistol is a waste of manufacturing resources. Worse, a pistol that is prone to fits of unreliability and that is finicky about ammunition — even though that’s not a rarity in the rimfire market — risks the reputation CZ has built up for almost a century. As a result, the CZ 122 is a rarity, enjoyed by those who’ve found the right ammo, and coveted by CZ collectors.

3D Printed Custom Target Grips

This grip on a Ruger target pistol was made using the latest in additive manufacturing technology.

Here’s a Benelli similarly configured, but with an added shelf to cure “slide bite” that bedeviled the owner…

… and a Russian .22.

Target shooters have long had custom grips made to fit their individual hands. (Indeed, you can buy many exotic pistols with a grip that is fully inletted but externally a block of wood, ready for you to shape it yourself). But it was probably inevitable that an entrepreneur would surface, doing this with 3D scanning and printing: Precision Target Pistol Grips.

After making precision target pistol grips for Air, Standard, and Free Pistols, for a variety of hands and guns for the college team I coach, I’ve recently begun a business doing the same.  Using 3d scanning and printing techniques I’ve modeled many different guns and hands from XS to XL, left-handed and right, straight inset and cross-eye dominant.  Now you don’t have to own a high-end gun to get a precision or  custom-fit grip.

Your grip can be manufactured from either a plant-based polymer (called PLA) in your choice of color or one of three colors of a wood composite that is half polymer and half wood fiber.  In hand, the composite grip feels like a traditional wood grip but one made exactly to your hand.   Best of all, these grips start at less than half the price of a traditional custom wood grip.

Custom grips have mostly been used on very high end Euro target pistols: Pardini, Hammerli, etc. But now you can have the grip that works perfectly on your Free Pistol duplicated (within regulations) for your Rapid Fire pistol, for example. The grips are made of PLA plastic or of a wood composite material that contains wood dust in a PLA binder — and retains the feel and warmth of wood.

For a basic grip, only a few basic hand measurements are needed (how to do that is explained on the site, too). You can also customize your grip with putty or sanding, and send the customized grip in to be scanned and duplicated.

As you might expect, if you’ve been following our writing on 3D printing, one of the greatest benefits of this technology is not its prototyping speed, or its ability to enable “mass customization” (exactly what’s happening here). Those are great features, but the real wonder of additive manufacturing is that it enables technologies that previously didn’t exist. 

Two of these novel developments are a target revolver grip that lets the shooter fire single-action without having to shift his grip at all…

… and an ability to print an “imitation 1911 grip” for a 1911 shooter’s practice air gun or .22, like this very un-1911-like Pardini that now emulates the feel of a 1911A1.

And it’s still “early days” for this technology. Who knows what it will enable next?

So, How Many CZ Clones Are There?

Short answer — beats us with a stick. And we’ve been studying this for a while. Here is a very preliminary, rough and incomplete hack at the problem in mindmap form. As you can see, there are several ways to look at it: are the guns copies, clones, or inspired? The taxonomy is complex. Even breaking it down by nationality is difficult, as company names come and go.

It all begins with the simple CZ-75…

This looks old, but it’s a limited production CZ-75B Retro. A model that’s not on the mindmap yet, but already discontinued in the CZ-UB catalog.

…but CZ-UB alone has produced a bewildering array of versions and variations. Only some of them are listed on this mindmap, along with only some of the known clones. There are two breakdowns here, both grossly incomplete. The first is by the pistol’s legality (although as I understand it, some “licenses” are disputed). The categories are CZ products, Licensed products, unlicensed “Clones,” and unlicensed and different firearms “inspired” by the CZ-75.

As a rule of thumb, the interchangeability of parts runs in about that order: from full interchangeability to none at all.

Clones existed almost as soon as the CZ became popular, because American trade laws made COMECON (the economic equivalent of the Warsaw Pact) products hard and expensive to import. The Italian Tanfoglio TZ-75 was probably the first common CZ-like pistol most American shooters got to handle; it started as a copy of the CZ with only cosmetic changes (and full interchangeability) but has evolved over the decades into a full line, often offering versions that CZ hadn’t built yet (if they ever built them). Tanfoglio was first with out-of-the-box race guns and with compact carry CZ clones. They went through several US importers; Jim Thompson tells the early clone history in this 1997 Gun Digest article. Tanfoglio also exported parts in white and provided the basis of many a new company’s or nation’s CZ clone line startup.

 

Another way to look at the many CZ clones is by nation of production. (That’s what the blue section of the chart tries to do; it should probably be broken into a separate chart). Even here it gets cloudy, as many of the smaller clone producers are actually using partly completed receivers and other parts from CZ (rarely) or Fratelli Tanfoglio (more often).

A nation can have two competing cloners, one cloning CZs and one the divergent Tanfoglios — Turkey is an example of this. (And yes, it’s not up to date on the chart.)

This came to mind recently with a new CZ clone entering the walled garden of the Russian market. EricB at The FireArm Blog has a good introduction to this CZ clone, which is meant to keep Russians shooting in competition in the face of international sanctions that has starved them of CZs and parts and service. The sanctions-busting pistol, called the SoRatnik, resembles the CZ SP-01 but is wholly made in Russia. The prototype is a nice-looking pistol:

And it’s supposed to be part-by-part compatible with the current CZs. A dissassembled view would seem to confirm that.

North Korea and China also clone the CZ, as well as Israel, Italy, South Africa, Turkey, and others. Even England produced two clones prior to the 1996 UK handgun ban.

We’ll keep adding to the chart, but we have a sinking feeling that new manufacturers will ce coming on line, faster than we can keep track of them!

A Translucent, .22 Glock?

That’s sure what this looks like:

Where did it come from?

There’s a clue in the pictures, and it’s clearer if you look at this shot of the bare frame…

…bare frames….

…rendering…

…and print in progress.

Yeah, it’s a 3D printed Glock. Cue the media meltdown now.

Yes, it does shoot:

*Update* Test firing the 3D printed Glock frame

Of the test fire, Matt, the maker, wrote:

First test of the frame. Fired prob 10 rounds through it. No issues found with it as of yet. …I was on a schedule and had to leave pretty quick so I ran my tests real quick to see how it looked then took off.

The frame does depend on metal rail inserts, and the designer has promised to release the .stl files… after a frame rail redesign.

Responding to skepticism about the part strength, he wrote:

It would take a long time for the actual frame to brake. Nylon is incredibly strong and specifically this nylon I am using is very close, property-wise, to the nylon Glock uses in their frames and they don’t tend to break very often even after hundreds of thousands of rounds. The first thing to go on my frame would be the rear metal rails since they are held in by a strong glue but have shallow slots since there is not a lot of room back there. I am redesigning the print a bit to allow me to actually put solid, connected rails into it mid print to help alleviate the need for glue since it will always be the first failure point. I am also modifying the design to add rear nylon rails along with the metal ones because the combo of nylon and metal on the front is proving to be very resilient and precise vs the only metal rails in the rear.

The material he’s using is Taulman Nylon 910.

…the easiest nylon I have ever worked with. I made the dehydrator they actually have on their site and that thing is amazingly good and cheap… then I just ran the nylon on the recommended settings and it was already pretty good then I just tweaked it a bit with calibration to get my printer zeroed in and that frame was printed with no issues at all, other than some minor warp when it cooled. And as a minimum 10 hour print it had a good amount of time to mess up.

He explains that the Nylon solves the single greatest bugbear of highly-stressed 3DP Fused Filament Fabrication parts, layer stratification and delamination:

Normally, yes, 3D printed would have a weakness in the layer adhesion. Nylon specifically though has incredibly good layer adhesion when printed properly. The times I have managed to break nylon parts they have never delaminated and always broke across laminations randomly. It is pretty much the way even an injection molded nylon part would break.

He’s not done:

The next iteration of the frame will be even better and will have an even longer potential life with no need for repair. I have identified a couple places that end up being a pain when its printed but don’t matter as much when injection molded, so I am working around them to make it specifically a solid 3D printable frame. I also have a few ideas for alternate frames based on the pistols in mass effect.

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Understanding CZ Test Targets

In accordance with longstanding European gunmaker custom, CZ ships a test target with its pistols. These seem ridiculously simple, but there are enough people asking about them in online forums that we thought we’d explain them. We usually have a few CZs with boxes and paperwork around the house…

Don’t get too excited, they’re not NIB old stock (well, most of them aren’t). (If you look real close to the right of the CZ-75 box, you can see a current CZ-UB box that almost exactly matches the black background. Adventures in photography). While we don’t have anything from the 70s or earlier represented here, we do have (oldest first):

  1. A CZ vzor 70 in 7.65 mm manufactured during the pistol’s production twilight, in 1980.
  2. A CZ-83 in 7.65 mm manufactured during the pistol’s production startup.
  3. A CZ-75 “Pre-B”, manufactured in 1987, prior to mass importation to the United States;
  4. A CZ-75 P-01, manufactured in 2015, which is typical of current CZ-UB production.

The first three pistols were manufactured during the Cold War era and the P-01 is contemporary. All four were probably scheduled for production with a view to exportation, although both the vz. 70 and the P-01 were also the standard pistols of the national police force, and when this CZ-83 was made, there was some thought that the Verejna Bezpečnost (police) would adopt it order to retain the 7.65 caliber.

It is our understanding that all targets are shot rapidly, from rest, at 25m, although only some targets are labeled with distance; and that Sellier & Bellot ball ammunition is customary.

We’ll now look at the targets in the same order. The targets are of three different types: the vz. 70 has a small polygonal aiming point inside a rectangular target area, the target used by the CZ-75 and -83 has a rectangular aiming point with the center of desired impact on its bottom edge and a circle centered on that point describing the desired impact area, and the P-01 target is a modern digital rendering of the firearm’s performance on an instrumented range.

  1. The vz.70 target is actually labeled vz.50. This makes perfect sense, as the two pistols have only cosmetic differences; most of the running changes in these small police pistols were made during the vz. 50 years. A late vz. 50 is more like a vz. 70 than it is like an early vz. 50. There are six shots on the target, one a flyer to the left. The legend at top reads: PISTOL 7.65 MODEL 50 and PISTOL NUMBER 652090. The legend on the bottom reads DATE: 29 Dec 1980; SHOOTER: Zemek (with two partial, illegible rubber stamps, one circular and one a signature), and OTK with a rubber stamp which may be the “kissing lips” we discuss below. We would welcome any insight to the meaning of the acronym OTK, but suspect it’s some type of inspector.
  2. The CZ-83 target is a CZ-75 target with the -75 legend scratched out with black ink, and a CZ-83 legend rubber-stamped in place. Whether a specific target was developed for the CZ-82/83 series is unknown; it’s possible, as this pistol has a four-digit serial number flagging it as first year production. The CZ-75 would have been the main export product of the Uhersky Brod plant when the -83 was introduced, and these targets would have been in daily use. On this target, the pre-printed CZ-75 lines (which you can read on the next target) are inked out, and a rubber stamp says Pistol čz model 83 caliber 7.65 mm. Below the inked-out CZ-75 lettering is Distance 25 m, and to the right is Pistol Number 002846. The legend on the bottom reads Date (blank) Shooter (stamp looks like JBICHR [?]), and OŘJ with a stamp we call the “kissing lips” but appears on magnification to be a blurred-out stamp that once had numbers or characters within it. It seems logical that OŘJ also refers to some inspector or inspection title, but again we do not know the Czech acronym.
  3. The target with the 1987-production CZ-75 (pre-B, which dates to 1992) is the same basic one used for the CZ-83 above, obviously without the CZ-83 adaptations. The legend inked out in the -83 target is seen to read PISTOL ČZ Model 75, Caliber 9 mm Parabellum, and the SHOOTER stamp at bottom center reads FICE[?]NC. The OŘJ stamp can be seen to be a circle with illegible characters inside (we liked it better when we thought it was kissing lips! From Moravia with love!). Seven shots appear to have hit this target, unlike the six of the two earlier ones. It is possible that this target is more “weathered” than the older CZ-83 target because the gun reached its end buyer in 1987, while the CZ-83 remained in one warehouse or another until 2017.
  4. The P-01 is a modern computerized target that depicts the fall of the shots graphically on an ordinary sheet of A4 computer paper, and contains a great deal more information than the old targets. There is no point in translating any of the Czech, as CZ-UB has helpfully done it for us. This target represents the impact of five shots by white circles. The blackened circle is the calculated center of the group.

That the new targets are labeled in English as well as Czech is a nod to CZ’s export focus these days; printing them on an ordinary A4 sheet of computer paper and generating them by computer saves time and money at a busy factory, yet gives buyers confidence that their firearm has been tested and worked. (Europeans still have to proof-test their firearms, but we suspect many American firearms leave factories without every cycling a live round).

The Cold War era targets are (sparsely) labeled in Czech only, and are printed on extremely coarse and flimsy Warsaw Pact era paper, which has, as you can see here, yellowed to one degree or other with age. They do have a certain character. If we didn’t want to keep these in the boxes the firearms came in, we might just frame them. How much of the dirt, oil etc. on these fairly dirty targets came from the range and how much from the intervening decades of handling is anyone’s guess.

All targets are serial numbered to the guns, usually with blue ballpoint ink, and have a space for the technician who fired the gun to stamp his name and the date. Both of these stamps are seldom present, but the serial number has always been.

One open question is whether targets like these were furnished with domestic police and military firearms. Our tentative hypothesis is that they were not; instead, the military (etc) acceptance stamp went on when the ordnance officer was satisfied, and there was no point in retaining a target beyond that. None of the CZs we have with Czech military or police acceptance marks came with targets, but all were used (most, well-used) when we acquired them.

Update

We thought that we’d add this: if you’re lucky enough to have a date stamp on your CZ test target, the month will be abbreviated in Czech. Here is a table of the Czech months and the standard abbreviations for those months, which CZ used on its stamps.

Czech Months

English month Česky (Czech) ČZ Abbreviation
January leden led.
February únor ún.
March březen břez.
April duben dub.
May květen květ.
June červen červ.
July červenec červen.
August srpen srp.
September září zář.
October říjen říj.
November listopad list.
December prosinec pros.

Watch out for June and July!