Apex Gunsmithing
23Apr/18

Disassembly Guide: Winchester Model 50 12 Gauge

The last of an era, the Winchester Model 50

The last of an era, the Winchester Model 50

The year is 1950, and Winchester Repeating Arms company looks on with envy while Remington, Browning and even Savage pump out their versions of the most popular semi-automatic shotgun of all time: the Auto-5.  Winchester has done well enough in the pump shotgun market with their John Browning derived designs: the Model 1912 (shortened to simply Model 12) had become the household name in slide actions which Remington and the rest chased after and the cowboy classic 1897 was just now reaching the twilight of its production.  The autoloader itch remains unscratched, however, after the schism between the company and Browning himself over four decades earlier.  While the other American gunmakers enjoyed licensed and even military contract production Auto-5s, Winchester stumbled about producing the famously terrible long recoil operated Model 1911 shotgun, not to be confused with the pistol, which limped along for ten or so years before being quietly shuffled under the rug in the early 20s.

26Mar/18

Silly Things and the Gimmick Rifle

During my great content drought through the holidays and into the first quarter of 2018, I've spent a lot of time sick or caring for sick family and used that time to brainstorm a bunch of stuff.  On the one hand I have a laundry list of guides to finish, builds to complete, work to get done and maybe even some reviews and opinion rants to write up... but on the other hand I have some just outright goofy ideas to add a little humor to the mix.  Every now and then, expect something to really come out of left field and make as little sense as possible.

The Gimmick Rifle Project

Typically when I help someone put together a build sheet for an AR, AK or other platform build we go over everything in detail to balance out the practicality and price points of each component until we hit the sweet spot the potential owner is looking for.  What if we completely threw that paradigm out and tried to build the most ridiculous, gimmicky yet still perfectly usable AR-15 possible?  I've always had a fascination with the craziest and least practical accessories in the gun world, from stocks that contain spare magazines or a pistol holster to those grip pod things everyone loves to make fun of or the infamous Mossberg chainsaw shotgun grip.  Gimmicks live and die in rapid succession, often in obscurity because the niche someone thought they would fill didn't exist at all.  Solutions looking for problems, as some people put it.

Historically speaking, lots of gimmick accessories and whole gimmick firearms came and went over the past century or more.  From the arguably practical built in bipods of some FAL variants, Steyr Scout and Keltec SU-16 to weird air ignited caseless ammunition Daisy .22s and beyond, the thin line between innovation and gimmick has always been a hot topic for the gun world to debate over.  Are pistol stocks a gimmick or a way to enhance usability in niche situations?  Does the Glock frame plug really do anything useful?  All of these are topics for another day.

As a fun project for 2018, along with my planned expansion to our refinishing equipment and beyond, I'm going to start on a little journey into the darkest, dankest corners of the AR-15 parts world to find the goofiest components I possibly can.  Then I'm going to review them and assemble them into what could be considered the most gimmicky rifle of all time.  There will be a few rules, however:

  1. No redundant redundancies.  Parts can have inherent redundancy, but we won't be using multiple sets of backup sights, multiple optics, grips mounted on three cardinal directions, or any of that.
  2. Minimum acceptable practicality.  This is subjective, but it must be a rifle you could at least enjoy taking to the range.  Even if people laugh at you... a lot.
  3. Boutique be gone.  We're not talking about muzzle brakes made of designer inconel individually wire EDM cut in a painstaking 36 hour process that cost $400 each.  Silly shaped receivers and rails are about where the line gets drawn.

The end result will hopefully be something monstrous and tacky, but at least functional without being meme tier.  We've all seen the pictures of scopes on four sides of a quad rail, or flashlight-laser-magnifier-nightvision Cronenberg horrors bolted together atop a picatinny rail.  I'm after a conversation piece, not a cringey Facebook post.

Onward into 2018, hoping for the other three quarters to be filled with much more content than the first was!

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4Aug/17

Disassembly Guide: Polish P-64

Prior to the influx of inexpensive P-64 pistols onto the market, seeing one in the wild would usually end up with it being mistaken for a Makarov.  Even today, local auction listings misidentify the diminutive Polish handgun with its more famous contemporaries to the ire of P-64 fans everywhere.  Originally designed to replace the Tokarev as a service handgun and tested in two variants - the Military and Police versions, which differed in size and capacity - the P-64 would usurp the TT-33 in Poland and serve for decades as a standard sidearm.  In recent years, the little P-64 has gained more of a reputation thanks to its dirt cheap price point, ungodly double action trigger pull and harsh recoil for a 9x18 Makarov chambered pistol.  Despite its shortcomings the P-64 enjoys a bit of a cult following, clearly by people who have never had to disassemble one.

Thankfully swapping out a hammer spring to lighten the trigger isn't a huge job, but if you want to dig deeper or do a full strip for refinishing you better settle in for a long, frustrating evening.

The P-64 is an all-steel handful of pistol.

The P-64 is an all-steel handful of pistol.

30Jun/17

Disassembly Guide: Glocks

I was going to make this a joke guide for April Fools originally, since let's be honest... who doesn't know how to take apart a Glock?  Whether you think they're "Perfection™", a durable utilitarian tool that gets the job done, or an ugly brick of a plastic wonder-nine that will never live up to the hype, the Glock pistol is everywhere.  What the Glock lacks in aesthetic appeal it makes up in simplicity, low part count, and ease of tuning.  After all, there aren't many pistols out there that you can do a $10 trigger job on quite like the Glock.  Instead of just making the shortest disassembly guide in history, let's discuss the history of the Glock and some tuning tips to spice things up!

This early 90s blue label police sale Glock 21 is a throwback to the AWB years.

This early 2000s blue label police sale Glock 21 is a throwback to the AWB years.

28Jun/17

New For Sale Page

Hey, I have inventory again!  Check out the For Sale page, where each item is detailed with at least one good photo.  A couple of them still need updated with new photos since I just overhauled my work table lighting, but I'll have those done soon.

As always, local buyers are welcome to stop by and check them out in person or test fire used guns.  Since several of them are older blue labels with dim or dead night sights, I'll also be offering replacement sights at cost with discounted installs at only $15 for the Glocks and M&P40!

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27Jun/17

Disassembly Guide: Springfield Armory XD-S

When the Springfield XDS hit the market a few years ago, it made a big splash for being a tiny gun with a lot of punch.  Who was crazy enough to make a five-shot single stack micro-compact in .45ACP?  The runaway success of the XDS, despite its teething pains with a prominent recall, led Springfield to branch out into the highly anticipated 9x19 and .40S&W cartridges, new SKUs, and new barrel lengths.  Shrinking down the XD/M designs into a palm sized package no doubt took plenty of engineering effort, but the heart of the design remains reminiscent of its bigger brothers.

XDS .45 Two Tone

XDS .45 Two Tone

17Jun/17

Guides on the horizon

It's been a very, very long drought without any real content while our businesses have kept me busy the past few months.  The good news is we're back on the auction circuit picking up some cool guns and some of them have turned out to be oddballs worthy of posting about!  I'll be putting up some For Sale listings soon for several of our new purchases, but here's a quick rundown of the things I have lined up for Soon™:

  • Winchester Model 50, guide and history
  • Sig P228, general P2xx series guide and some commentary on them
  • Polish Semi-auto RPD build guide and thoughts on their conversion design
  • Savage 6A (aka 87, 187...) guide and history
  • Savage 59A guide and history

I'm also hoping to do a post talking about the generational differences between the S&W M&P series pistols.  Many people are well versed in the generations for Glock, but unlike the Austrian tupperware wonder the M&P hasn't undergone drastic visual differences in the frame to make them easy to distinguish.  At least, they didn't until the recent debut of the M&P M2.0 generation, which you can tell apart at a glance.  There's a lot of M&Ps out there spanning at least four major revisions to my knowledge, but my info is spotty so I'd like to get more details as best I can before I go dedicating an article to it!

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10Jun/17

Don’t judge a book by its cover…

Sometimes you come across guns that look like they've seen better days.  Finish worn off all over the place, scuffs and scrapes, anodizing or parkerizing worn right through to bare metal.

Must have a respectable round count!

Must have a respectable round count!

Wear patterns can tell a good story and show you how the gun was used or give some hints to the round count.  It's not an exact science by any means, but a well worn P226 like this has seen a couple thousand through it at least.  All of the springs are strong, the internals are in great shape and the gun can no doubt go for another ten thousand before it even slows down.  Don't let that bluing wear scare you off though, sometimes looks can be deceiving...

24Apr/17

New Phone, who dis?

I'm in the process of switching phone service providers after a number of persistent issues over the past few months.  Between calls breaking up, voicemail greetings getting reset or the voicemail inbox being inaccessible at random times, billing issues and rising costs I've had about enough and pulled the proverbial trigger on the switch.

The office line will remain the same number as always, but you may encounter a blank voicemail greeting or a different one once I've set it up and recorded a new one.  If you can't reach me via phone, please drop me an email and I'll get back to you ASAP!

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27Jan/17

The Great Flu Epidemic, Part 2

We're finally winding down on the nearly two week long round-robin flu ordeal.  It's been a rough run with everyone in the house fighting this particularly nasty flu that hung on for much longer than usual, but I'm expecting that by Monday or Tuesday we'll be able to lift my self imposed quarantine.

Thanks to everyone for their patience and understanding, and for all of the get well soon wishes for myself and my family!

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