Monday, March 17, 2014

Cobra's new polymer 380: The Cobra Denali

As some of you readers might now, I moderate a forum dedicated to Saturday Night Specials and other inexpensive guns. A few days ago, one of the forum users posted pictures of Cobra's newest offering called the Denali.

Let me start out with a little history on Cobra firearms. They were started in Utah utilizing existing firearm designs. What Cobra did was basically buy up the rights to guns made by firearms companies that'd gone belly up. They rebranded these designs and made minimal tweaks on some. Cobra makes old designs from Lorcin Engineering, Davis Industries, Talon Industries, Standard Arms of Nevada, and Republic Arms.

To the best of my knowledge, this is only Cobra's second original design. Their first was the Cobra Shadow revolver which is basically a copy of the S&W J frame. The new Cobra Denali is a big deal for those interested in Saturday Night Specials.

The Cobra Denali looks like Cobra's CA series of 32 and 380 caliber handguns. The major difference is the composition of the frame. The Denali has a polymer frame. This is a feature I've wanted for a long time in a gun smaller than a Hi-Point.

I'm curious to see how the Cobra Denali is put together. The design utilizes a fixed barrel that's pressed into the frame and held in place with a pin. The amount of metal around the barrel is minimal on the regular Cobra CA32 and CA380, so I'm curious to see how Cobra will be reinforcing that area.

The slide is a different casting, but still bares resemblance to the older CA series. The other interesting feature is that the gun has a push button magazine release which is a departure from the European style or "heel" release of the CA series. I'm curious to see the new magazines which feature a different finger rest and some kind of a provision for a push button magazine release.

Cobra didn't announce this new gun at SHOT show, they showed it on their Facebook page. That kind of sounds like a strange way to do things considering we're not that far away from the 2014 SHOT show. My guess is that they couldn't get it ready in time for SHOT.
This gun will likely share some parts with the CA series. It just makes sense for them to use existing parts. Why design something new when you could just take something off the shelf that'd work just fine? Car companies do this all the time because it makes financial sense. The grips, grip screws, trigger, and extractor all look like they got lifted from the CA series. I assume the trigger bar, sear, and springs are probably also the same as those used in the CA series.

They're supposed to be shipping in May. I have already spoken to my dealer of choice and have expressed my interest in having one of the first ones to hit the showroom floors. They sell a lot of Cobras, so I'm confident that they will get one of the first ones.

Micro Might mini revolvers

Hey folks. I just thought I'd brush the dust off of this blog. Its been a long time since I've posted anything on here, but I haven't forgotten about it.

I was cruising the website for buds gun shop today and saw a little pocket revolver I'd never come across before. The product is being advertised on there as the "MMT Micro Might 22LR". The gun looks a lot like the North American Arms (NAA) mini revolver, but this new Micro Might looks like it has a crossbolt safety. That's different from the NAA which uses safety notches in the cylinder as a resting place for the hammer.

I'd never heard of this "Micro Might" company, so I did a little research on it. After looking up the Federal Firearms License for the company, I found that the address for the FFL is 317 Sampson Street New Castle, PA. The mailing address for the license is 6060 Nicolle Street Ventura, CA. Its not uncommon to have a production center in one location and an office in another. The interesting part came when I googled the address in Pennsylvania.

Google maps shows that the address in New Castle, PA is also the headquarters for Cold Steel. For those of you who don't know, Cold Steel is a knife company. I guess they're getting into guns now?

It seems like a weird sort of fly-by-night gun company. Who knows, maybe they're still in their infancy.  Their URL which is shows just a picture of their gun and nothing else. No text, no specifications, no owner's manual link, no warranty info, nothing. Its really strange.

I went back to the website where I discovered the gun, budsgunshop. They had a product number listed on their website so I googled that to see what else I could find. There are a lot of independent gun shops out there that are selling this gun online, but that's it. That's all I could find. I assume some distributor has it in their catalog, but I can't find which one.

If anyone knows anything about these little revolvers, I'd appreciate some more information. The internet seems rather devoid of information on these little guns.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Opening a "Spam" Can

Hey folks. I've been holding onto a spam can of 7.62x54r for a while so I decided to open it.
I didn't have the proper can opener tool at the time, so I had to improvise. I saw people online using an angle grinder or die grinder to cut the top of the can off, but the sparks and heat don't really mix well with live ammunition. I decided to use a big chisel and a hammer to slowly poke around the edge. I didn't let the chisel protrude very far into the can. I used it around the edges at an angle to sort of cut through the metal top.
There is really no need to cut all the way around the perimeter of the can. Once its about half way open, you can bend back the top and get to the ammunition.
After pulling up a piece of cardboard, I could see the bundles of ammunition. As you can see, I did not touch any of the bundles of ammunition with my chisel.
There is a ribbon in the middle which is used to get the first bundle of ammunition out of the can. Its easy to pull on the ribbon so you don't have to flip over the can and dump out the bundles.
That's it. My method isn't ideal because I bet you could strike a cartridge if you really veered off the path of the perimeter of the can, but it worked out OK for me. It involves hammering and its pretty loud. I still consider the hammer and chisel method far better than using an abrasive wheel to cut the can open. The best thing to use is the proper can opener tool which comes with some crates of ammunition. A crate usually holds 2 cans and most vendors won't give you an opener unless you're buying 2 cans.

I have since been given a real can opener that comes in a crate of 54r ammo. A wooden crate is usually 2 "spam" cans and includes an opener. Don't try it with a p38 can opener or a can opener from your kitchen drawer. The metal used for these cans is much thicker than anything in your kitchen. 

Lights for the gun safe

I'm tired of using a flashlight every time I go into my safe. I got the idea to make my own after seeing some of the LED kits that are available online. I didn't want to pay $40 per kit, so I went to Radio Shack and got the supplies to make my own.

6404039 Female QD 22-18 gauge connectors: $2.19
6503108 16 pack of butt connectors 22 to 18 gauge: $2.69
2750017 smini spdt roller switch: $3.19
2700324: 5 pack of 9 volt battery clips: $2.69
2700387: snap vbat holder 8 AA batteries: $2.29
Batteries: Radio Shack had a sale on batteries. Sure they're no-name, but they were cheap. two 12 packs of AA batteries for $11.99
Lights: I had these tucked away from years ago. I purchased them at Advance Auto Parts from their discount bin for $2.22. I knew I'd need them some day.

The only tool I needed for this project was a stripper/crimper tool.

Here's what I got. The stuff all together cost me $27.26. That'll leave me with extra connectors and 16 extra AA batteries. If you already have batteries, the cost would be $15.27 in supplies, as long as you can track down some cheap-o LED lights like I did from the auto parts store.
The roller switch uses little tiny connectors that really are probably just intended to be soldered on. If you're going to use a soldering iron for a project like this, skip the connectors and save yourself $4.88.

Lets talk about the lights. I don't know if they're still being made, but I got a pack of 4 LEDs with pretty long wires on them for $2.22. That's cheap. If you chose to buy LEDs at Radio Shack, be prepared to spend a couple of bucks EACH for similar stuff. You might want to try discount chains like Ollie's Bargain Warehouse or BigLots for cheap LEDs. They're commonly sold in the auto parts section of discount stores as accent lighting. As long as your LEDs are 12 volt, you're good to go. I chose LEDs over 12 volt neons because LEDs just draw so little energy compared to neon tubes or incandescent lights. Hopefully the batteries will last a while only powering 4 LED lights.
The battery holder holds 8 AA batteries. When fully charged, a AA battery produces 1.5 volts of energy. Lets do some math. 1.5x8=12. That's 12 volts of output. Even though the LEDs are intended for an automotive application, they'll work fine for this project because they're being fed enough power to light up. The strange part about the battery holder is that it has terminals on the top of it like you'd see on a 9 volt battery. I could've just soldered my wires onto the terminals on the top, but I wanted to be able to unclip the battery holder to replace the batteries. The battery clips came in a 5 pack, not individually. Now I have extras for the next LED lighting project.
I have some Rayovac batteries in the holder right now. That's just what I had at the time.
Before actually installing anything, I wanted to make sure that my battery pack was going to be able to light up 4 LED lights at the same time. It was also a good idea to test out the switch to make sure it worked. Even though the stuff was all new in the package, its still a good idea to test this stuff before really installing it.
For those of you unfamiliar with wiring, its really pretty easy. What I did to test these lights was to put all of the LED wires together. I took all the wires with a stripe on them and twisted them together. Then I took all of the wires coming out of the LEDs that didn't have a stripe and twisted them together too. The ones with the stripe on them happened to be the positive wires. The red wire coming out of the top of my battery pack is the positive, so I used the switch to interrupt the flow of energy on the positive part of the circuit. I used little female connectors on the switch and put the red wire from the battery pack into one of the connectors. I put the striped wires coming from the lights into another red connector which was hooked up to the switch. To complete the circuit, I connected the black wires from the lights to the black wire coming out of my battery pack. With the switch in the open position, I've got light. With the switch in the closed position (like when the safe door is closed) the lights don't work. That's what we're looking for here folks, just to make sure the lights actually go out when the safe door is closed.
Here's a simplified diagram I just made. Seeing the picture of my lights illuminated doesn't really show how the wires are supposed to go. Many people learn better with pictures than by reading text, so here's a picture for those visual learners out there:
The lights I bought came with a small strip of 3m VHT tape. That'll come in handy for securing the switch to the edge of my safe's door opening. If you need to check and see if the lights are actually turning on/off when you close the door, put your cell phone in there. Most cell phones these days have a video function. Start recording a video, pop the cell phone in there, then close the door. You don't need to lock the door or anything, just close it and open it up again. Watch the video on your phone. If the lights went out when you closed the door, you're good to go.

I forgot to mention tape. Using some kind of tape will be needed to adhere the wires to the interior of the safe. Electrical tape was not sticky enough for this project. I had some Gamma tape laying around which did the trick. Its used to protect the top of tennis rackets, but its very similar to Gorilla tape.

The switch has 3 terminals. Only 2 are needed. I used the outer terminals. The switch is marked Zippy Shin Jiun. If you use the same switch that I'm using, you'll need the two outer terminals. The middle terminal is not needed for this project and I didn't even investigate into what that middle terminal would be used for.
Here is my safe with the lights in place. The installation is incomplete in this photo, I just hooked the wires up to the battery pack to show you folks what it looks like in there. I have since installed the switch and tucked the wires away neatly.
This isn't as bright as the safe lights you can commercially buy, but this was far less expensive.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Electronic Bore Cleaning (Electrolysis)

A few years ago I found an article about cleaning a gun's barrel using electrolysis. I must've researched the shit out of that for a while, then totally forgot about it. I do that with a lot of things. I find a subject that's really interesting to me, so I research all I can about it. After a day or two I'm onto something else and have totally forgotten about it. This subject was no different. Fast forward to about 2 weeks ago when I rediscovered the process. After reading up on the subject again, I had to try it for myself.

There are many techniques and variables here that can be changed depending on what materials you have on hand. Some people use a battery charger meant for a car as a power source, while others go with just a couple of AA batteries. For a fluid, there are many mixtures out there including watered down household cleaners, mixtures of vinegar with water, ammonia with water, salt water, and other things people have come up with. Your mileage may vary depending on the materials used.
For this project, I used an electrical tester, rubber stopper, some speaker wire, vinegar, plain old water, a 3 foot rod 1/8th in diameter, a flashlight, a razor blade, and an old 2 liter bottle from some delicious lemon lime soda. I also used a camera to document the occasion, which of course isn't shown. Also not shown are a piece of steel wool, a 6 volt battery (which we switched to later in the process), a funnel, and the Southern Bloomers patches I used to clean the gun.

The process is pretty simple, but it can be a little bit messy at times. My girlfriend helped me with our little "science project" on Sunday afternoon. We stuffed a rubber stopper into the chamber so any fluid we poured into the barrel wouldn't leak out. The stoppers I got for this project were all too big, so I improvised by using a nail (bent at a 90 degree angle) wrapped in electrical tape to seal the chamber.

After sealing up the chamber, we mixed some ingredients. We had read online that many people use vinegar, ammonia, and water mixed together. We didn't have any ammonia, so it was just vinegar and water for us. Using the razor blade, my girlfriend cut the 2 liter bottle so we'd have a sort of bucket for our used fluid. I wanted something translucent so we could see the junk coming out of the barrel.

The picture above shows the barrel of the gun with the funnel taped over it as well as the rod which was wrapped with electrical tape. T
he funnel was a great help when it came time to pour the fluid into the barrel. We wrapped the 3 foot rod with electrical tape in a few spots to eliminate metal on metal contact between the barrel and the rod.

Electrical tape comes in handy, and its cheap too! We took apart a small LED flashlight that houses 3 AAA batteries. I got the flashlight at Advance Auto Parts for like $3 or $4. Even though I used the battery holder for this project, it was still usable in the flash light after the project. The batteries have 1.5 volts each, so it was a 4.5 volt power source for our project. We took a length of speaker wire (any wire will do the trick) and attached one piece of wire to the positive side of the battery tray and the other wire to the negative side. Once again, the electrical tape came in handy. We used my $5 voltage meter (from Harbor Freight Tools) to verify that we had a good connection at the other end of the wires, then connected the negative wire to the barrel and the positive wire to the rod.

Look at the specs of junk in the foam. It almost looks like pepper. The rod was put into the barrel with some fluid. There was enough fluid in there to totally fill the barrel and a little bit of the funnel. Its nice to have some fluid standing in the funnel so you can see the bubbles do their magic.

After about 10 minutes, we weren't very happy with the results. We dumped out the fluid and wiped down the rod. We did this process a few more times, then changed power supplies to a 6 volt lantern battery. We also changed our fluid to diluted Windex (which probably has ammonia in it) and experienced similar results. At that point, we called it quits and got ready to head over to a friend's house.

While my girlfriend was taking a shower, I ran a patch down the barrel of the project gun. The patch came out very dirty and had cosmoline on it. I was impressed that a clean gun was this dirty after our treatment. The treatment obviously loosened up a bunch of junk that was in the barrel. Even though I didn't get a bunch of junk on the rod or in the foamy mess in the funnel, this process obviously worked.

A few days later I went back to tweak our design: using straight Windex with the same lantern battery, which was putting out 4.5 volts. Many online tutorials recommend staying at about 3 volts because that's what the commercial kits use. 4.5 volts worked for me. I cleaned the rod thoroughly with steel wool between treatments which I think helped the process. There wasn't much buildup on the rod, but having fresh metal exposed on the rod must have helped the process.

This is what the rod looked like after a 10 minute process with straight Windex. The picture also shows the patch I used to clean the junk off of the rod. I don't know exactly what the stuff was, but I bet it causes cancer. I later scrubbed the rod with steel wool to get back down to bare metal, then did the process again.

Here is a picture of the inside of the 2 liter bottle. I took this picture with the light to show you folks how much stuff came out when we poured out the fluid between treatments.

Do as many treatments as you'd like, then clean the rifle like you normally would (with a brush and patches) and you should have a much better looking barrel when you're done. I wouldn't personally leave this setup for more than 10 minutes or so. I don't know what kind of problems you might have if you left this thing going for an hour or two. I definitely wouldn't leave it unattended. Some people have experienced some of the fluid evaporating during their treatments, so add as necessary.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, there are many variables that can change when doing this process. The type of rod used, voltage, fluid, and the method used to clean the rod between treatments. Your results might not be exactly the same as mine. I am in no way responsible for any damage you might encounter while doing a project like mine. This blog post is meant for entertainment only. If you chose to mimic my setup, you're on your own.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

SKS from the auction

I went to an Auction house near my home in Northern Virginia in mid-October. They were auctioning some guns, so I thought I'd take a look.

The guns were being sold for final bid price, plus 10% buyers premium (maybe it was 15%), plus tax and a $2 background check call-in fee. I had to keep all that math in mind when I was doing my bidding because the price can quickly jump when 15% buyers premium and 5% tax are added onto any of the guns.

I saw a few guns I liked at the auction, including a Squires Bingham 22 semiauto sold by Kmart. I decided to pass on it because I already have a great semi-auto 22 rifle that I shoot frequently. I didn't really NEED another rimfire rifle. I also saw a Ruger double action revolver in 44 that looked interesting, but I didn't need to track down yet another caliber for my small collection of guns. The guns I really went to the auction for were milsurp. I love surplus rifles because they're just so... hearty. A well-worn war hero is the type of gun that you can be a little rough with, the kind of gun you can take hunting or to the campsite and not cry about if a new ding or scratch appears. They're the kind of guns that are great for teaching people how to shoot. There's nothing fragile in a military surplus rifle. Their stout and robust design coupled with a warm feeling of reliablity make them well worth their low cost. The two military surplus guns I was interested in were an M21 SKS and a Yugo Mauser.

There were only a few pictures online. I had to go and see the guns for myself before the auction opened. The SKS looked very well-worn and had some shrapnel damage in the gas tube and barrel. I thought it was probably cosmetic damage and would make more of a conversation piece than anything. To date, I didn't have any guns with that kind of battlefield bruising. The Mauser was still in cosmoline and was numbers matching. It had an import stamp that I didn't recognize, but the gun looked nice, so I thought I'd make a bid on it. I wound up buying both of the rifles I was interested in.

I had to outbid guys for both of the guns, but I left happy. I spent more than I wanted to spend, but that's kind of how auctions go sometimes. I get caught up bidding and have it in my head that that's going to be MINE and I just bid until I've got it. I can get carried away when I see something that I like, which makes me the kind of bidder that auctioneers just love.

On the drive home from the auction, I called my buddy Jack. He's also into surplus guns and loves cleaning up old rifles. He came over after he got out of work and we went to town on my two new rifles.

First up was the ratty old SKS. I had noticed at the auction that it was matching and I didn't see an importers stamp anywhere on the gun. I didn't take the time at the auction to see if the import stamp was on the underside of the barrel, so I pulled the cleaning rod and checked it out when we got into cleaning it. No import stamp anywhere. Interesting. Also interesting was the fact that there is almost nothing about the M21 SKS on the internet. We pushed a cleaning rod through the barrel to get out all the bugs, cobwebs, and general crap that had accumulated in the gun over the years. The gun was obviously cleaned before it was put away, but the thing was probably left in the corner of someone's garage or workshop for ages judging by the small paint specs on the receiver cover and the decent coating of dust on everything else.

After removing the spiders, I went to town with some breakfree on a brush. I could feel something toward the end of the gun, right near the bayonet lug. I thought I might have a blockage in the barrel. I really didn't even want to look down the barrel because I was pretty sure what I was going to discover was a non-shootable barrel. Well, I looked down the barrel and saw a blockage. Some of the shrapnel damage had dented the outside of the barrel so badly that a piece of metal worked its way inside the barrel. No way could I shoot the gun. Great, all that money down the drain.

We finished cleaning up the gun, but I was in a pretty shitty mood. I knew that anyone looking at the gun would see that ding in the barrel and know it wasn't shootable. If I'd only known, I wouldn't have bought it. What a bite. After pricing out a replacement barrel online, I wondered if it was even worth fixing. I decided I would probably just sell it part by part and cut my losses.

After the disappointing news about the SKS, we cleaned up the Yugo Mauser, which turned out to be a surprise. The gun was imported by Mitchell's Mausers, which is why I didn't recognize the import stamp. The stamp itself was something like MMC HB CA. Not only was the gun numbers matching, but the barrel was just gorgeous. I've only seen a couple of surplus rifles with bores better than this one. The cosmoline was a project to remove, but the gun looks great and feels great. It is the first iteration of the M48, produced between 1950 and 1952. It is considered the best of that model because they were made with milled parts, not stamped steel. The quality of the guns apparently went down some when the makers switched manufacturing techniques to churn the guns out more quickly and inexpensively. It looks like I got a good one.

About a week later, I posted a question about the M21 SKS rifle on a forum that I frequent. A forum user suggested that I take my question over to a forum that's dedicated to SKS rifles. I did just that and the SKS forum went nuts.

Apparently I have a super-rare gun and even though it doesn't shoot, its worth big money. I never would have thought. Good thing I didn't try to rebarrel the thing. Within an hour, I had 5 offers ranging from $500 cash to a trade for a functioning SKS, and everything in between. Some people left their phone numbers saying "please call me now"

Hold on folks, I didn't even say I wanted to necessarily sell it when I posted pictures on that forum. These SKS folks were like hungry wolves after my beat up, non-functioning M21. After talking on the phone for over 20 minutes with a guy I know who's really into SKS rifles, he recommended that I keep it because this kind of stuff only comes around once in a blue moon. A gun like mine is so rare that people are willing to pay good money for it now, and possibly stupid money for it in the future when the economy gets better. When the economy improves, hopefully there will be more people floating around that would be willing to spend stupid money on a rare gun such as mine.

I'm still on the fence about this one, whether I should sell it or just hold onto it. One of the first things my friend Jack said about it is that the gun came off of a dead man. The last person to carry that rifle is in a pine box somewhere. How many people can really say that about a gun that they've got in their collection? Not many.

I'm going to contact the auction house when I've got a little free time and see if they can put me in touch with the seller of the SKS. Often times the guns that come into the auction house are put up for sale by widows or children of the deceased. If I could get any information about the person who found the gun in possibly Vietnam or somewhere else in Asia, I could really be onto something. If I could find capture papers or other military documentation for this very rifle, the value could easily double. I don't know if the auction house would be too forthcoming with information about those who've put items up for sale but its worth a shot, right?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Toys Made From Live Ammo

Here's a good one for ya:
Toys made from real ammo. The primers look like they've been struck, but the article says that they're made from live ammo. Apparently steel core ammunition is more dangerous than lead ammunition according to this article....