Category Archives: Weapons Accessories

Some 3D Printed Firearms Updates

It’s been a long time since we did one of these updates, so here are a few things we’ve picked up here and there.

Print Now, Rest Later

Here’s a practical print task: a 3D printable cheek rest for an AR-15 pistol. (Well, to the extent that an AR pistol is practical). As we understand it, if you shoulder the weapon (say, with a SIG brace) you are violating the SBR laws, but if you’re cheek-resting you’re all tickety-boo. This image is a rendering; a final print will have some striations to it, from most printers using the most common 3DP technologies.

3D Printable AR pistol cheek rest

Checked as of last night, the files are here:

Happy printing & shooting.

About those striated parts

One of the problems with 3D printing, especially the Fused Filament Fabrication / Fused Deposition Molding type that is common, is that the parts often display layering, striations, and other artifacts that add up to a lousy surface finish. There are several ways to smooth 3D prints.

These include:

  • Mechanical Smoothing — this can be sanding or particle blasting; each has its pros and cons. Sanding is limited in how small a part you can do, bead blasting in how large. Bead blasting always produces a matte finish, although the coarseness or fineness of the finish depends on the blasting media. On a part large enough to be practically sanded, sanding can produce a finish limited primarily by time and the cost of skilled labor.
  • Chemical Solvent Smoothing — this involves exposing the part to solvent vapor. For example, for ABS, acetone vapor either cold or hot (hot vapor has definite safety limitations and concerns, but can produce a superior finish). Acetone doesn’t work with PLA as it’s not acetone-soluble. Acetone also reduces the strength of the part: its stiffness is reduced, and it fails under a lower load.
  • Finish Coating — for a cosmetic finish, a thick paint can be used to fill layer striations. This will, often enough, loop you back to sanding. This is cosmetic only and subject to wear.
  • Epoxy Coating — this does require some skill to pull off, but both fills and reinforces the part. This can be important with some liquid-based and powder-based laser 3D printers whose parts tend to be brittle; coating them with epoxy can make the printed part, in effect, a shear web and form inside a tough, flexible epoxy shell. This is good when the part needs to be employed as is, and not so good if the part is intended to be, say, a sacrificial casting pattern. (In that case, for lost-PLA casting for example, use one of the other procedures). Smooth-on sells an epoxy that’s optimized for this type of use and has several how-to and application videos on the web page.

For more information:

  1. Lindsey Frick in Machine Design on “How to Smooth 3D-Printed Parts.”
  2. Smooth-on’s gaudy page on their XTC-3D 3D Print Coating has lots of examples and tutorials.
  3. Here’s Make Magazine and Instructables with a pair of acetone-vapor tutorials.
  4. And here’s the story of a guy who went whole hog and built an ultrasonic vapor fogging chamber in hopes it would increase the strength of his prints (it actually weakened them). There’s a link in that article to an Instructable on building his fogger, too.

100 Rounds from a 3DP Pistol

Remember the original Liberator (well, the original 3D Printed Liberator, not the original original Liberator)? It was only good for a few shots. (Unless you were the New South Wales Police, and printed it without reading the instructions, in which case it blew up first shot). What use was it? But as Franklin said on being asked that of the invention of the French aeronauts, the Montgolfier brothers, “What use is a newborn baby?”

Well, here’s a 3D Printed pistol that has fired 100 rounds and is still going. 3D printed AR lowers long ago beat that number, but here’s a pistol that’s all 3D printed on consumer equipment, except for the mandatory weight and firing pin.

100-round-songbirdWe’re not sure whether this colorful print of this James R. Patrick design wants to be a toy, or whether it wants to be a Glock when it grows up.

A Practical Print for Almost Everyone

What’s this? It’s an AR Hammer Block. Use it when you want to function-check that lower you just monkeyed with, without running aground on the Scylla of letting the hammer slam into your expensive piece of aluminum (very expensive if it comes with a stamp), and the Charybdis of using your delicate pink (brown, whatever) thumb to intercept the falling hammer.

printed AR hammer block

A great, practical print. (The website it’s advertising is for a training device to use with your SIRT, not available to the general public yet). Hmmm… the “files” link at, went to a malware site:! And downloaded a malware .exe! We’re not giving you that link.

OK, here’s another one instead, by Charles Lacey:

AR trigger pull test block

Files here, Grabcad is not a malware site: (You do have to join Grabcad to download files, though).

Lacey also has a chamber flag, or as he calls it, a bore flag, on Grabcad, and a couple of Magpul mag floor plates, including a whimsical Flying Tigers version. We leave finding those as an exercise for the reader.

Large Format Printed Pistol Now Speaks Glock

shuty mp-1 pistolWe’ve showed the Shuty MP-1 before, a 3D printed pistol inspired by the designs of Luty. The pistol made a splash in the media some time ago, with the usual alarums and excursions, dogs and cats lying down together, and all the usual drivel you usually only hear in an election year. (This happened twice, actually — in February 2015 with the original Shuty, and in February 2016 with the improved MP-1).

Less publicized has been the Gluty — as you can see from the image below, it’s a Shuty reengineered for Glock mags. The image tells us it’s been printed but we’re not aware of how successfully it has been test fired — unlike the Shuty.

Gluty 3DP pistol

One of the biggest limitations of the Shuty is its magazine. Adapting to commodity Glock magazines is the easiest way to increase the magazine capacity of  this novel firearm. At the same time, the original files, with their included magazine files, allow the creation of a firearm where even the mags are unobtainable.

Of course, that still leaves the barrel as a tough nut to crack. Shuty and Gluty use the standard pistol barrels.

Printed AR Lower

This FOSSCAD JT Vanguard has been around for a while. This recent print, in ABS thermoplastic, shows some of the strengths of the design, and how the venerable AR form factor has had to change to adapt to these new materials and new processes. First shot shows it with an upper in the white. The grip and magazine are also printed.


The grip is also ABS. We’re not sure about the materials of the mag, and wonder if the buttstock is printed also. This next picture shows you just a few of the changes, including the bulkier pivot area, the much beefier buffer tower, and the thick reinforcements along the receiver outboard of the trigger group.

FOSSCAD Vanguard JT ABS CloseThis picture shows the trigger group in place. The reinforcement is clearly visible.

FOSSCAD Vanguard JT internal

There have been experiments with printed trigger-group components, but so far, they haven’t been very impressive. Materials and processes need further improvements.

Exotic Lower-stock Bipod Combination

This is the Atlas AR-15 lower, by WarFairy CAD. It has a certain FN P90 vibe to it. It’s meant to be used with a free-floating barrel and suitable handguard/rails system.

WarFairy Atlas

When one looks at some of these designs, one is reminded of Donald Sutherland’s character in The Dirty Dozen, impersonating a general. “Pretty, but can it fight?”

Atlas Files:

Finally — MakerBot Hates You

MakerBot continues its extreme antigun position. How extreme? A design for a powder knob for a Dillon progressive reloader was banished to 404.

Funny, their 404 page says, “There is nothing awesome here… yet.” Well, there was before they deleted it!

MakerBot does not want our business? Transmission received.

Consider Ultimaker. Ultimaker advertises on, which is an interesting site to check from time to time. Beware of any of their links to Two we observed were both delivering malware yesterday, and probably still are.

Waffles for Breakfast This Morning!

(Apologies to all. This post was set to run at 0600, or so we thought. It was finally kicked out of the queue at 1135. The 1100 post has been suspended until about 2 PM, and the 2PM post will go live at 1600 today. They’ll all be backdated to the appropriate time. Apologies for the cascade of errors. Those responsible have been sacked. –Ed).

Waffles? Yes. Thanks to the Arfcom Retro Forum, we have a trip down very early AR-15 Memory Lane with the first 20-round magazines, the legendary “Waffle Magazines.” Like the mags earlier made for the AR-10, these mags had the same general form factor of the later M-16 20-round mag, but they were made differently, with a “waffle” criss-cross pattern stamped into the sides, rather than the vertical grooves normally stamped (or rolled) into most rifle box magazines. Here’s a look at one on display:

601 serial 008

And a handful of them, side-on:

AR15 Waffle Mags side

Because vintage AR magazines is a bit on the fiddly side, we’ll put the rest of this picture-rich post on the far side of the jump; those interested may click, the rest of you can go check out the  very Houdini of beagles on YouTube (apparently they’re a hard breed to keep locked up. Of course, some go in for the Brute Force Approach like Boxers do).

Continue reading

Poor Man’s Rapid-Fire, New and Old Methods

What do you do when you have the need for speed — for cyclic-rate ammo-to-noise-combversion speed — and your daughters aren’t worth enough at an ISIL slave auction to cover a pre-’86 transferable AR lower? Here’s Military Arms Channel with the latest voodoo AR trigger. This Franklin Armory Binary Firing System trigger fires once on trigger pull, and once on release. As far as the ATF is concerned, that’s two separate actions, and therefore it’s a perfectly legal semi-auto trigger.

You may recall we’ve been here before, with the Tac-Con 3MR trigger. We’ll look at that in a moment, but first, here’s the Franklin Armory trigger in action.

We’d have liked to know a little more about the details of how it works, but that’s not forthcoming in this video. For instance, if you have fired a shot, and then a range officer calls cease-fire, do you have to hold the trigger back while you clear your firearm, or does the safety render the weapon safe enough to clear, while pointed downrange? We don’t know, and he probably didn’t, at the time he made the video. We suppose we’ll have to buy one to try it out.

(Update: The safety works to hold the second round, you just have to hold the trigger and not let it reset while you put the safety on with your off hand. Franklin Armory has posted a video showing this).

The trigger has some training issues or perhaps teething problems. One of the ones that renders this absolutely a range toy vs. a working firearm is that it doesn’t always go bang. Really, the only reason a weapon has a safety-selector system on it is to ensure it goes bang every time the operator wants, and only every time the operator wants. The didn’t go bang happens in at least two cases: intermittently, on first trigger pull, no go bang; and frequently, when an operator’s (meaning rifle operator, not 7th dan ninja) trigger-pullin’ outruns the hardware, the hammer follows the bolt carrier down, and no go bang. 

There’s also a mag stovepipe he blames on the (Surefire) mag he’s using, but we do recall that one thing that was very strongly correlated with failure to feed, fire, and extract in the early days of the M16 was a higher-than-designed cyclic rate of fire.

He seemed to think you could train that away, which is interesting, because at the beginning of the video he suggests that this, unlike the Tac-Con, can be used by anybody with little training (and does demonstrate with his cameraman as gun test dummy).

There are two other interesting gadgets in the video, the new Magpul 60-round drum is shown briefly, and there’s a trick QD mount for the Aimpoint PRO made by Kinetic.

For consistency’s sake, here’s MAC’s review of the Tac-Con — you can see he struggles with it, in part because he’s freezing. After that, we’ll have another video of somebody else firing it… who does a little better.

OK, here’s Jerry Miculek firing it. Jerry sounds like he’s firing full-auto even when he’s shooting a Ruger No.1, so he’s pretty quick on this.

Now, the thing is, you can get (or if you’re Jerry, you already are) just about as fast with a good competition trigger, like a Geissele or maybe a Hiperfire. Here’s a comparison of splits on double-taps with the Tac-Con 3MR and the Geissele SuperDynamic 3 Gun, and with an M16 lower, all on the same upper. The results? MG, 0.10 seconds between splits. Tac-Con 0.14 , and Geissele SD3 splits the difference at 0.12.

That’s the equivalent of a cyclic rate of 600 RPM for the MG, 500 for the Geissele, and 430 or so for the Tac-Con. It would be interesting to see if (1) Jerry’s splits were much faster, and (2) how the Franklin Armory BFS stacks up next to these other rapid-fire solutions.

And just because somebody had to do it, here’s a guy who combined the Tac-Con 3MR and a a Slide-Fire bumpfire stock. If you want to hear his opinion of it, there’s about nine minutes of that to the left of where we start you in the video — at the range.

As is usual with these rapid fire gimmicks, there’s a learning curve, but he gets better with practice. At the end, he seems to dump a whole thirty rounds without any snags.

If you want his opinions at length, and a description of how he set it up, just move the video slider back to the beginning.

It isn’t — none of these speed trigger tricks is — something you’d like to use for self-defense, but it’s a great range toy. We’d reiterate that none of these gimmicks is a good idea in a defense gun or officer’s patrol carbine — not even the Geissele SD3, which is a race trigger for competition. Instead, get a Geissele service trigger like the SSA, or its equivalent in another brand you like. You’ll have almost as much speed with more safety and positive control.

Bubba Builds a Tactical Shotgun

This is about as wrong as a guy dating a sheep.

Bubba The Gunsmite Makes a Shotgun

Clearly Bubba is a subscriber to the theory that the more clutter in the photo, the more seriously the abortion at its center will be received. So we will treat this Tactical Operator CQB Death Shotgun with all the respect that it, and its creator, are due.

We thought the digital caliper on the desk was a nice touch. Hell of a prop to display when showing one of the gaudiest excesses of design since the tailfins of ’59. And what exactly is a caliper used for when snapping random parts together?

With this shotgun, you are equipped for all eventualities that you must face in your life as an Airsoft-trained Operator. Unfortunately, it is so crusted with 10 pounds of catalog gingerbread that we can’t make out what brand or model of shotgun it is.

From rear to front, those accessories include:

  • a folding stock;
  • a pistol grip for maximum tactical control;
  • a supply of ready ammunition;
  • a scope made in gen-yoo-wine China;
  • a rails system designed by a committee of tactical operators on tactical operations in the chat rooms and blogs of the world;
  • a Magpul Angled Fore Grip, positioned to give you some hope of controlling this nose-heavy monstrosity;
  • a visible light laser pointer for sniper accurate scattershot shooting, also from that quartermaster of all the world’s elite, to wit, China;
  • a regular light for when you need to keep looking for the laser pointer after dark, when your first shots shake it off;
  • a bipod for when you are assigned the toughest shotgun sniping missions;
  • a breaching-oriented muzzle device; and,
  • the pièce de résistance: the bayonet, to compensate for shotguns’ well-known deficiency in close-range stopping power.

On the plus side: Bubba does not seem to have permanently harmed the shotgun in doing this. And people seem to have fun with it. On the minus side… well, just look at the thing.

Why Bolt a Gun Safe Down?

Because access and leverage are enemies of security. If they can get under it, they can dolly it out to a safe (from their point of view) space. If they can knock it over they can attack vulnerable back and side skins, and corners. This safe, a perfect example, was attacked in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and popped up in a Reddit thread.

Initially, they knocked the safe over and attacked the door without immediate success:

Winchester Safe failed attack

But then they went for a corner with crude cutting and prying tools, and the safe gave up its contents through this hole, one long gun at a time:

Winchester Safe effective attack

The poster wrote:

Friend on facebook posted these pictures of his friends safe that was broken into today.

The guy lost 8 firearms.

  • .22 marlin
  • .243 mauser
  • 270 wsm Remington
  • 30.06 ruger m77
  • 870 express Remington
  • mossberg 12 ga over/under
  • 16 gauge LC Smith shotgun
  • 12 gauge side by side shotgun

Break in was in Cheyenne, WY.

It’s a low-end safe, but their attack on the door (apparently with an axe) did them no good. When they knocked over the safe, they were able to go at the corners. The poster noted:

Well if it was bolted down the bottom corner wouldnt have been compromised. They tried the door as you can see but didnt succeed until they tipped it. Its not a high end safe by any means but bolting them down helps.

Still would make it harder to compromise and harder to pull everything out of it if it were bolted down. Leverage and access is a safes enemy, take as much of both away as you can.

That last sentence is pure gun-security wisdom: “Leverage and access is a safe’s enemy, take as much of both away as you can.” Time is also something to deny the burglars, for example with alarms.

If the safe is bolted down, the burglars’ favorite option for a safe that doesn’t yield to first whack — haul it off to dispose of at leisure — is denied them, and they have to try to break it open on site. Another commenter in the thread noted, of a relative who had a safe identical to the one in the post:

Someone broke into my brother-in-law’s house recently. They came with a 2 wheel dollie and went right for his gun safe. Luckily they set off his motion detector that alerted him. He called the cops and they caught the 2 thieves. Because they knew to go for the gun safe it was obvious they knew it was there. Turned out it was our nephew and one of his buddies. Now both are facing criminal charges as you don’t steal from family.

I think he has since gotten it bolted to prevent this in the future.

Here’s another attacked safe posted in that same thread. Sheet metal, 11 or 12 gauge steel (typical import safe construction). The tool used was a fire axe the thieves found on the site. We don’t know how the safe was oriented at the time of the attack, but we’re guessing they knocked it down on the side facing away from us, then attacked the safe through the side facing us (which was then the “up” side).

Cracked Safe 2

If the burglars can knock the safe over, they can get a better swing of chopping and hacking tools. They also may be able to get at a more vulnerable point (like a lower corner). They can also use leverage and the weight of the safe itself and its contents to attack a vulnerable corner.

This video says that burglars attack safes four different ways.

  1. Stealing the safe. To defeat this, bolt it down;
  2. Pry the door open. To defeat this, select a safe with a 1/4″ or more plate door (about double the cost of sheet-door safes).
  3. Cut open the safe, with a non-torch cutting tool (Sawzall, angle grinder with a cut-off wheel, etc.). To defeat this, you need an even more expensive safe with thicker steel. Steel is the counter to common over-the-counter cutting tools;
  4. Cut open the safe with a torch. To defeat this you need more steel and anti-heating materials such as stainless steel.

In it in a minute

Here’s an illustration of how quickly two guys can brute force a safe with crowbars if they can knock it over. They’re not exactly “in it in a minute,” but we saw them in at about 1:41.

If our justice system took burglars seriously and punished them appropriately, we might see less of this.

Defoor Strikes Again

Needed: riser mount for an Aimpoint.
On hand: Aimpoint, no riser mount, odds and ends.
Input: A now old-guy’s memory of “how we did it back when this stuff was shiny and new”
Result: Aimpoint on a section of Yankee Hill Machine 5/8″ rail. Mission accomplished.

Defoor improv riser mount

If you’ve been around a while, you probably have junk like that in your junk box — sights and mounts and rails for stuff you’re never going to mount again, ’cause it’s as obsolete as a crank handle for a Model T. Also, before we move on, note that Mr Old School who cooked this up is not using a 90s-vintage Aimpoint, but a modern Micro T1. Optics are one of the fastest-moving areas of sooting technology, and if you stand still here you get left behind. Still, as the if-it’s-stupid-and-it-works-it-ain’t-stupid riser shows, the knowledge and cunning you developed 20 years ago (for some of us, 40 years ago?) can still be applied.

This Old Man was Kyle Defoor, who was around back when all this stuff was new and putting it together was hard. (Heck, 20 years before him, guys were doing it with electrical tape — green 100-mile-an-hour tape was still too hard to pry out of Supply — and/or radiator-hose clamps. Look at some of the Son Tay mounts for the Single Point red-dot, or some of the Armson OEG carrying handle mounts we used after that. They were stupid, but they worked. Sort of). Here it is in his own words:

In the mid 90’s when I was first issued an Aimpoint there were no mounts commercially available. ARMS and Wilcox were still a few months out. It was common practice to go to the armory and acquire one Badger Ordnance 30mm scope ring and a 5/8″ riser to use to attach the red dot to the then new flat top rail. The BO scope ring was of course from the snipes and the 5/8″ riser was a holdover from the MP5 days when using a gas mask and needing more height.

Here you see my modern version using the stock AP Micro mount and a Yankee Hill 5/8″ rail piece….not because I want to revisit my past but because it’s all I had available where I was at…..totally freaked some new guys out….and they lost money

And because it’s Defoor, there’s a few prime sarky hash tags:


And the primest of all:


It’s our observation that bagging on New Guys is a self-perpetuating tradition; when a former New Guy becomes an Old Guy he has a lot of pent-up hostility to vent on today’s innocent New Guys. It seems to us that this is more an aspect of SEAL than SF culture, from all the SEALs we’ve known over the years. In SF a New Guy is expected to be learning, sure, but so is an Old Guy, because the mission, situation, and technology is constantly changing. If a New Guy wasn’t a productive member of an ODA on arrival — even though he’s maybe six to ten years from his peak — we’re doing the SFQC wrong. (Especially true for officers, who don’t have six years on an ODA to improve. They’re good right out of the gate, or it’s going to be an unhappy, ineffective team).

To orient yourself in SOF gun history, Kyle’s talking about a time about five years after the MP5’s Waterloo in Grenada, when we had all learned to love the 5.56mm carbine (and had reached a modus vivendi with 14.5″ because it ran so much better than the old 10-11.5″ barrels). But the guns we had came from Colt in several models: M16A1 Carbine, M16A2 Carbine, then XM4. Sometime around 1993 or 4 we started getting guns with removable carrying handles and picatinny-rail flat-tops, to which, at first, we had nothing to attach but the carrying handle. How you got from A (flat top) to B (mounted optic) was on you, for a while. (By the way, at different times we received both “M16A2 Carbines” and “XM4 Carbines” with both flat tops and A2-style permanent carrying handles, direct from the factory. Only some of the M16A2 Carbines had the lousy three-round burst. All these oddball transitional guns were later turned in for standard SOCOM M4A1s).

In retrospect, getting the flattops months and years before optics was probably just the incompetence of the supply system, as it appeared to us at the time to be. But it could have been sheer brilliance: “Let’s put these out here and see what the SF, SEALs and direct action guys do with them, and when they’ve worked out the best way, we’ll adopt it.” Because that’s pretty much what happened. (True, some of the private-purchase mounts like Wilcox and, later, Larue, were a lot better than the issued ones, but the issued ones are OK).

Finally, if you’re interested in technique you ought to be paying some attention to Defoor. We have not personally attended his training but we believe Our Traveling Reporter has; he was, in fact, the one that turned us on to the guy.

Geissele (ALG Defense) AK Trigger

Bill Geissele’s wife’s company, ALG Defense, makes products for more of a mass-market than the very sweet, fairly simple, Geissele AR-15 triggers that live in more than a few SOF M4s and Mk. 11/12/18s, etc. (Indeed, sometimes the Geisele triggers are authorized MFP 11 or unit purchases, and sometimes they are installed on a catch-me-F-me basis by unit weapons men or armorers). Along with the triggers for full-on M4s and HK416s, Geissele makes improved triggers in both single-stage and two-stage variants for a wide range of semi ARs. They’re not cheap, they’re not always in stock, but they’re good.

ALG Defense makes simpler AR triggers — and now, an AK trigger, imaginatively coded AKT. In this video Bill explains the objectives this trigger meets and talks about some of the challenges involved in designing it.

The AK, Bill says, “has a ton of sear engagement.” That’s what you, the shooter, perceive as the very long and very smooth takeup of the typical AK trigger.  (The SKS trigger has a similarly long, smooth engagement, suggesting that this may have been a standing Soviet / Russian design objective).

The result is an AK trigger that fits a variety of common receivers on domestic, imported, and kit-built AKs, and that reduces the trigger pull force and duration (including that all important very long sear dwell) significantly.

For example, Bill shows a graph of a stock AK trigger versus the ALG AKT; the stock trigger moves about 0.150″/4mm and takes about 4.5-5 lb. of pressure during that sear dwell period. The AKT takes up the slack more quickly and seems to come in about 0.065″ and just under 3.5 lb.

At about 8:30 he shows a 3D model (in Autodesk Inventor) of the trigger and walks through its function.

It fits some AKs with no fitting, but because of the wide variation in AK safeties, some AKs need a roll pin positioned so as to contact the safety. It’s explained in the video and in the AKT’s instructions.


Lee Williams: Down With Poly AK Mags!

Lee Williams has had it with polymer AK mags, and this is his reason:

The mag blew up while sitting unattended in Lee’s safe, and the resulting chaos was waiting for him when he opened it up.

I’m done with polymer AK mags
Posted on April 30, 2015 by Lee Williams

I had a surprise last night when I opened my safe.

The top of a loaded polymer AK mag had broken off for reasons unknown, spraying 28 loaded rounds and bits of plastic all over my safe.

The spring was sticking halfway out of the top of the mag. I found the follower behind an SKS.

via I’m done with polymer AK mags – The Gun Writer.

We agree that this is an unhappy thing. We don’t agree that all polymer mags are created equal. (Ask any Glock owner who’s tried both Glock mags and the temptingly cheap Korean knock-offs). Even all polymer AK mags.

The Russians were the first to issue a synthetic magazine widely, and in the 1970s began producing polymer magazines with reinforcements in critical areas for the AKM and AK-74 rifles. These are the characteristic orange mags. They’re a good bit heavier than modern polymer mags, a lot heavier than US or Western-style aluminum or even steel mags, but are a lot heavier than thick-sheet Russian AK mags. Ivan’s polymer/steel composite-construction mags are about as durable as the steel mags they replaced (and significantly lighter). Collectors call these “Bakelite” mags, but the material does not appear to be Bakelite at all — it’s some other form of thermosetting; a Finnish article reprinted on a US site, minus most of its original photos unfortunately, says that it’s “fiber-reinforced phenol.” (We wonder if that’s a mistranslation that should have been phenolic instead).

To our disappointment, an unclas tech intel bulletin on the mags that we know was out there, was not available on DTIC. There is an interesting page on the net that lays out various mags for 5.45mm-class weapons, and some of that transfers to the 7.62mm versions. Anyway, we haven’t brought one of these mags to our injection-molding expert friend, but the original kind of feels like urea plastic to us. The Circle-10s are something lighter, maybe even ABS (ordinary polystyrene, like in hard-plastic toys).

The mag that disassembled itself on Lee was indeed a Bulgarian “Circle-10” mag, a marking associated with Arsenal, and as you can see, it is by design not reinforced, neither with steel lips nor fiber reinforcement.

What makes a mag fail like this? Lee seems to think that the guilty party is leaving the mag loaded for a length of time. We have our doubts about that and would be more inclined to suspect the cumulative effects of age and ultraviolet-ray exposure (plain ordinary sunlight, which it certainly couldn’t have gotten in his safe). But the durability of different AK mags, even different Bulgarian mags, is widely variable.

We also don’t think loading only 28 rounds buys you anything. The difference in pressure is nominal. This goes back at least as far as Vietnam and was a ritual practiced by troops (although, there it was putting 18 rounds in a 20-round magazine) who were neither trained on the rifle nor given a supply of replacement magazines. It was something they did to appease the M16 Gods

The plain ugly fact is that magazines are, by design, expendable items and you need to start thinking of them that way — they’re the toilet-paper of small arms, necessary but not especially durable or reusable. And just like toilet paper, some brands are better than others. Lee, for example, probably should dump all of his circle-10s that are the same age as the one that failed, because their clock is ticking, too. Sorry to be The Bear of Bad News.

In the real world, private owners and armies alike are reluctant to purge their bad magazines because the mags represent a considerable cost — both the sunk cost that was spent on them and is lost for good, and (more germanely) the replacement cost for new mags. It is possible (although not necessarily economical or practical) to repair or overhaul metal, especially steel, magazines, but synthetic materials are harder to repair and rebuild.

AR-15 Speedloader, Home Made

The neat thing about this homemade loader, similar to the earliest bench Magloaders, is, well, that it’s homemade. Looks like it could be routed out relatively easily. The loader video has been ripped off by various non-linking aggregators (who do you assclowns think you are? or BuzzFeed?) so we note that you should have the option to “Open on YouTube” in our post of it.

The poster, Bryan Lilly, writes:

My uncle made this speed loader and it takes about 20 seconds to load a p-mag. Update: Due to overwhelming positive response, my uncle is considering options to bring the speed loader to market. Please be patient and I will keep you informed of any new developments.

The real plus with this one is the “dish” area for straightening out and lining up your rounds before sweeping them into the curved “load” area.

While this one appears to be routed, someone without a router could make something like this by using any precise saw and making it in laminated layers.

Here’s another version that lacks the “dish” aggregation area, but it has something else that’s pretty neat.

Did you see the neat thing? You did not, because it’s the build videos. That’s pretty neat! This one is built with a bandsaw, and building it up in layers.

Video 1 (Build it by eyeball — about 30 minutes):

Video 2: Build it using templates you can buy from Larry at

Note that Larry’s templates only work with 30 round GI/STANAG magazines, not with pMags or any other non-standard mag.

There are a number of other DIY mag loaders out there, but these should open your mind to what is possible.