Thursday, May 28, 2015

Polishing MIM Parts

The title of this post comes from an identical Google search that I did wondering if it is possible to polish MIM parts.  To be fair, that's not really my question.  I have polished a whole mess of MIM parts in various semi-autos, but this is about a hammer and trigger from a Smith & Wesson 627 Pro.

Photo by Smith & Wesson

I forgot to take a before picture, but the S&W website shows exactly what the hammer and trigger looked like in their factory "color case hardened" appearance.  That finish looks good on a blued gun, but it's a personal thing for me that stainless revolvers need stainless hammers and triggers.  So the bottom line is that I wanted to polish off the case hardened finish to something more stainless'ish.

Now that's better!  I had the Dremel out sharpening my lawnmower blade, and even more surprising I had extra time to kill.  The polishing pad, polish, and 30 minutes made a significant difference.  My 627 is now pleasing to look at and all is basically right with the world.  Apparently you can really go crazy and get a mirror-like shine, but this is exactly what I was looking for.  Beyond aesthetics, the face of the trigger is much smoother, which I have a preference for.  And although it can't be seen, I polished the engagement surfaces which improved the feel of the action.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

1911 Single Stack

After being invited to shoot a team match with a friend who regularly shoots his 1911, I had to drag mine from the back of the safe and blow the dust off.  A few minutes passed refreshing myself on its controls and peculiarities and it came back to me how awesome it is.  I don't mean just mine, but the entire platform.

The history of the 1911 is undeniable.  Entire careers have been dedicated to it and better people have said better things about it than I ever could.  The weight of it is significant compared to its modern counterparts.  To some that may be a detractor, but I find it to be reassuring.  It feels sturdy and significantly helps with felt recoil.  With 1911's the devil is in the details.  They all operate the same way, that's what makes it a 1911, but the variations are so plentiful you can have a $400 gun or a $5,000+ gun....and anything in between.  The quantity of available accessories is mind numbing.

In one package you have the feel of old world craftsmanship, like a revolver, with greater capacity and the easier reloading of all autos.  The single action trigger pull typically hovers near four pounds and honestly feels like cheating compared with nearly any other trigger mechanism.  The trigger pull length is comically short and the reset feels even shorter.  Out of the box most 1911's can out-shoot most 1911 shooters.  For those that want more, ole "slab sides" can be made crazy accurate and have been winning bulls-eye matches longer than anyone reading this blog has been alive.  They are, or can be, made in just about any handgun cartridge you can think of, with the all American .45 ACP leading the way.

Ownership of a 1911 hasn't caused me to throw out all of my other handguns, some are legitimately better at certain tasks.  On the other hand a 1911 can do pretty much anything, and if you have never taken the opportunity to get to know one you owe it to yourself!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

.45 ACP Reloads

After shooting my favorite S&W 625 in a steel match this weekend, I finally got motivated to setup my reloader for .45 ACP.  I've had the dies and components for a while now, but I haven't been shooting enough to need more ammo.  The rounds I'm finally using up were made years ago by a friend of mine with a notoriously heavy hand on the powder measure.  Making 165 power factor was never a concern, having feeling left in my hands to drive home after the match was.  Shooting local matches that don't care about power factor I decided to make some wiffle ball loads.

I'm actually the most excited to have dummy rounds with nickel cases.  My brass versions tarnish overnight it seems.  Anyhow, the load is assorted brass, Federal large pistol primers, 4.0 gr of Titegroup, topped with 230 gr FMJ RN Zero brand bullets.  They should be in the neighborhood of 650 feet/sec, which will be very low recoil and plenty of knock down for steel plates. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sig Parts

Ignore the bulk of this flyer from Sig.  The dimensional differences are interesting, as Sig's are considered to only fit those with large hands.  Mine came with E2 grips, but I purchased a short trigger and the all important single action slide catch.

Setup as I'm currently running it.

Top is the SAO slide catch.  Keeps the thumb from riding it, preventing lock back after the last shot.

Only downside is that it doesn't work with grips other than the E2 because of the cut-out.

The OEM grips above are nice for several reasons.  Fit my hand better, though they are larger, extend below the frame to make a slightly bigger magwell, and I think look better.  E2 grips have a more aggressive texture, slimmer, don't have the "hump" which interferes with a thumbs-forward grip....and the don't have a slide catch cutout and are therefore able to take the SAO slide catch.  That is the defining point for me.  It should be a standard item on all Sig P226's!

I'm using a 9mm recoil spring instead of the standard .40/.357.  Both work with my light reloads, but the recoil impulse is better.  Sig is smart to paint their springs for easy ID!


If you follow my blog at all, you'll have noticed that posts are becoming farther and farther apart.  I've decided to treat it somewhat like Instagram.  I'll post pictures and maybe brief explanations of them.  If you want more details, just ask in the comments and I'll gladly talk about whatever.  This will hopefully save me some typing but still be able to keep the blog alive and well until free time becomes more plentiful.  And speaking of Instagram, if you are on it (and you should be) follow me at ShootersDigest and my posts should be hash-tagged #shootersdigest.

Happy Memorial Day, HOO-AH!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Trigger Quality

In past posts I have talked about "trigger jobs" on various firearms.  There is certainly an element of satisfaction that comes from a job-well-done, be it by your own hands or another's.  There is an element of owning something that no one else has.  If it's custom work, there is literally no other like it, even on identical firearms done by the same person.  However, these are fringe benefits.  The real beauty is in a better shooting gun, or a gun able to be shot better.

Accurate shooting isn't something that comes naturally to most people.  It's a learned skill.  It's more than a lucky shot, it's repeatable and consistent.  The skill lies with the shooter, but those who are truly serious about firearms understand that their equipment does play a factor in the success or failure of themselves, in whatever form they choose to measure it.  A smooth trigger pull by the shooter is greatly aided by a smoother trigger pull on the firearm.  For me to shoot a handgun accurately my visual focus remains steady on the front sight and my mental focus is on pulling the trigger smoothly and evenly.

A traditional double action/single action Sig Sauer pistol has a notoriously long first shot trigger pull.  While this example wasn't bad from the factory, there were some rough spots, or "grit", along the way and stacking towards the end.  In other words it was perfectly serviceable, but left something to be desired.  So with about 400 rounds through it and untold dry fires I stripped it down and looked for areas that could use work.

I left the slide alone and focused on the frame as that's where the bulk of things affecting trigger pull reside.  Sig's have a nice slick black coating that really tells tales when parts rub against each other.  The wear spots become bright steel and are obvious to see.  On each of those I carefully stoned and for this project I got brave enough to use the Dremel in a polish-only role.

A felt pad attachment and the Flitz I use to polish brass really made the parts have a glass like surface quality.  I only did specific wear spots, not whole pieces.  I was at the range all week and put another 200 or so rounds through it during lunch breaks.  It's remarkable what a difference it made.  The key being that the pistol functioned 100%, not even a hint of issue.  Any time work like this is done there is a chance that critical tolerances get out of line.

The reality for me is that if I am running a firearm at the peak of my capabilities I can't consciously detect imperfections in the quality of a trigger.  If I am shooting slow precise shots a smooth trigger makes all the difference in the world.  The only reasons I can think of to not have a quality trigger are cost of having someone else perform the work, or not wanting to put in the time to do it yourself.  And I get those completely.  For me, I don't have the funds to pay someone else, so I learned out of necessity.  I'm not saying for an instant that poor quality triggers can't be shot well, only advocating that nice ones can be shot well, easier.    

Saturday, January 18, 2014

S&W Trigger Job

At least a year or more ago I bought the Jerry Miculek Trigger Job video from Brownells.  I don't care how big of a nerd my wife thinks I am, this DVD is worth every penny for anyone who cares about how their Smith &Wesson trigger feels.

I have watched it numerous times, but for one reason or another I just never got around to trying the things Jerry teaches in here.  That all changed this afternoon.  I also bought a Norton India Stone, which is the crucial tool for this.

This one is 6" x 1/2" x 1/2".  It's good when holding it in your hand, but a wider one would be nice if keeping it on the bench and bringing the part to it.  Jerry does it both ways and therefor I did it both ways, but this worked fine for a first timer.  He explains that the goal is to smooth things out, not remove tons of material.  Only a few thousandths of an inch.  The first step is obviously disassembling the revolver.

The above picture shows the actual parts and spot I worked on.  The video goes into far more detail with things you could do, but honestly the trigger pull on this gun was already better than average and some of the other stuff can ruin a gun if you mess it up so I didn't want to get carried away on my first try.  Being that this is stainless steel it's a little more difficult to see the progress of your work than a forged part which really shows up well.  Because of that I started with the cylinder stop since it's not stainless.

The two pictures above are of the same cylinder release, before and after, with the doctored part circled in red.  The finish came off of the high spots rather nicely.  The straight line where it changes from black to silver is a machine mark high spot that I couldn't get to come off.  I may give it another go, but I was afraid to get too aggressive with it.  It's important to do the sides as well where it rides against the frame.

Next up was the trigger, where mates with the cylinder stop, hammer, and sides.

It's cool to see the shiny spots appear as it means the part is evening out increasing efficiency as it works in the totality of the action.  The hammer was next.  It's double action only which means only one engagement surface to stone.  Jerry advises to steer clear of the single action notch on applicable hammers because it's such a small and easy to destroy surface.  Single action is for Hollywood anyhow.

This is a before pic, I forgot to take the after shot.  It cleaned up nicely.  Last but not least for my project was the rebound slide.  The surfaces don't get stressed like the others so you can get kind of aggressive with it.

Once I put it to the stone you could really see the machine marks.  The good news is those are below the surface.  They look ugly as sin, but won't affect the action, and in theory keep lubrication in them.  So the only thing left to do is reassemble.

I like to run revolvers pretty wet, so I judiciously applied oil anywhere metal to metal contact happens.  Like I said, it was pretty slick to begin with, but you can definitely tell a difference.  There is still a small hitch where the trigger engages the cylinder release at the beginning of the pull, so I may give that another once over tomorrow.  I also still have the Apex springs and firing pin installed.  They are significantly lighter so I'm going back to the originals and that should be more telling about my work.  At any rate I'm not planning to give up my day job to be a revolver 'smith, but it's nice to be able to work on my own stuff.

This type of work translates to any other firearm, not just S&W wheelies.  Some tools to help/do this project are: Trigger Job DVD, proper size screwdriver for the side-plate screws, rubber mallet to bump off the side plate, rebound slide tool, India Stone, gun oil, and small file....and plenty of patience!