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Thread: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

  1. #1
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    Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    Hey folks, I gotta start by saying that I'm not much of a welder, just a farmkid with farm-grade welding skill (little to none )- my primary love is gunsmithing.

    I must apologise as this may be a bit off-topic but this is my first post here and I'm just looking for a bit of advice since you folks seem to know a bit more than the guys on gun forums...

    For the M1A enthusiasts, you probably know what I'm talking about here already. I want to weld (or have someone else weld) front and rear threaded lugs onto my ChiCom M14 receiver then bed it into the stock with Devcon and have the barrel and gas system completely free-floating. My goal is to make this into a realistic 500 yard hunting rifle for the local coyotes. I'm in Canada so "just get an AR" isn't gonna happen.

    For the non-enthusiasts, the M14/M1A series has been plagued with a poorly designed system which locks the gun into the stock- basically the trigger guard is a switch which swivels up and hooks into the bottom of the gun and locks it in place in the stock. The problem is that this system wears out eventually and the loose fit causes a ton of accuracy problems. The solution is often to buy very expensive full aluminum stocks or fix the problem by essentially gluing the gun into its stock- not my idea of fun. The other issue is that it's difficult to have a precise rifle if anything contacts the barrel. The most precision is achieved with a fully free-floating barrel. The solution for very serious competition shooters has been to have threaded lugs welded onto the rifle's receiver that allow it to be bolted into the stock rather than merely "clipped" in.

    Here's a photo of a basic M1A/M14 with no lugs. The receiver is the main part of the gun into which the barrel is threaded. You can see the legs or "wings" that protrude from the bottom of it, those are where the trigger guard clips into- http://www.lrbarms.com/images/831_Bbl_Action_No_3.JPG

    Now, here's a photo of what my project will look like (hopefully). Note the front and rear threaded lugs on the receiver- http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/...ps0d75c103.jpg



    Now, here are the questions-

    I do not want to ruin the heat-treating on the front ring of the receiver and where the barrel and bolt meet, would a liberal application of heatstop paste be enough to protect the critical stuff?

    What type of welder/rod will be best for this project? According to the info I've found, the Chinese receivers like mine are made from 5100 steel. On the farm, I have Lincoln MIG and ARC welders at my disposal. If TIG will be a better option, I can probably find someone to give me a hand out here.


    Thanks for any help or info, and I'm sorry if this is a bit too far-fetched.

  2. #2
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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    I don't think you should be attempting a job like that. The rear lug probably wouldn't be to much trouble to weld on but the front lug is in a critical location just below the chamber. Who ever does this job will have to figure a way to keep the front receiver cool while welding.

    This is a very tricky welding job for a professional only.

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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    I would take it to a true professional gun smith, that knows how to do the job properly,

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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    I don't remember rear or front lugs on the M14/M1A's when I used to shoot competitive high power with one years ago. It's been quite a long time since I did mine and I'm not going to pull it apart and check.

    The US Army Marksmanship Unit as well as Navy and Marine Corps armorers pretty much had those rifles down to a science. Almost every AMU shooter or USMC or USN rifle team gun I saw were all bedded in McMillian fiberglass stocks, though the original manual listed epoxy stabilized wood.

    We never really broke down those stocks once bedded except maybe once a season for final cleaning. I never had an issue with one shooting loose. The guns were pretty much "glued" into the stocks. You could dissasemble them, but if they were done correct, getting them apart was a pain. I vaguely remember that there was a specific tension that you had to apply with the trigger assembly for good accuracy. If was explained in the manual on how to do this.

    My guess is your issues with accuracy will have more to do with the other parts. I remember going with a buddy of mine who was a AMU armorer shopping for parts for a match M1A he was building for some one. He sorted thru boxes of parts with a micrometer and caliper for exactly the right dimensioned parts like bolts, op-rods, flash hider, gas piston and so on. No stock barrels, I want to say mine is a Douglas barrel, but it's been way too long. New match grade iron sights etc.

    We'd regularly shoot sub minute of accuracy with iron sights, 200 yards off hand slow fire, 200 yards standing to sitting rapid fire, 300 yards standing to prone rapid fire, 600 yards prone slow fire and several guys shot out to 1000 yds with the same guns.

    You might want to dig up a copy "Accurized National Match M-14 Rifle "M-14(MTU-NM)"" by the Army marksmanship unit. It should be 52 pages or so. All the online ones I dug up are all short versions and don't get into the details. You might also want to get a copy of The M14 Owner's Guide and Match Conditioning Instructions by Scott A. Duff and CWO John M. Miller. The M14 Complete Assembly Guide - The key to support and maintenance of your M14/M1A® Rifle by Walt Kuleck and Clint McKee is another decent reference.

    http://www.scott-duff.com/

    Of all my rifles, I'd put my M1A a close 2nd behind my custom Winchester Mod 70 high power bolt gun I built for match shooting. I've put a few thousand rounds thru that gun and it still shoots better than I can with top end ammo.

    Dig up those references. If the AMU used lugs, it will be in the manual including all the details on how to do it. If it's not listed there, then I wouldn't be bothered. It's not needed.
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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    SaskShooter,

    Your 51xx series steels have Chromium and Manganese as there primary alloying agents. They can have from .6 to 1.25 % Cr, from .6 to 1.1% Mn and from .17 to .65% Carbon depending on which particular one in that series your talking about. To know more exactly what you have you'll need the last 2 digits of the number. 5100 is just a group designation and not the number of a specific alloy. You should have a number some where between 5115 and 5160.

    I've done a lot of welding over the years for gunsmiths on a wide range of things. If I were to attempt welding it I would do it with GTAW using an .035 diameter 70S-2 wire. I'd be real careful to do it in small increments and watch my heat input closely so I didn't adversely effect it's heat treat properties. Weld a little, wait a little.

    As long as you don't get any of the critical hardened areas over 250 to 300 F. for any length of time it should be fine.

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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    Thanks for the responses so far! As I said, if I were to weld it myself, I would use a liberal application of heatstop paste in the chamber, around the locking lugs, in the recesses, etc. weld a little, wait a little. I'll be sure to get help from a welder friend of mine, I just need more info here.

    If taking it to a gunsmith were an option, I would do it, but there is nobody in Canada that has any experience with this kinda thing that I know of. Sending my gun across the border- no way. Even if my gun were legal in the States, it wouldn't be worth the trouble of importing/exporting.

    DSW, I know the AMU used a handful of lugged guns, although most guys didn't use them. This will be a hunting rifle, so my only concern is cold-bore shot accuracy. The first shot is the only one that counts and without a free-floating barrel, weather conditions, different positions or rests, or even how tightly I hold the forend will change my point of impact. I won't have the luxury of confirming zero or firing sighter shots haha. That's why I want no forend or ferrule pressure on this project. I wouldn't be too worried about doing this to an M1A, but there aren't many good semiautos available here so I gotta make due with what I have. And I love a challenge...

    4956, Thanks for the useful info. I'll try to find out a bit more on my rifle's steel before I dive into this. Like I said, I'd be using a ton of heatstop paste and I'll be sure to weld it in small sections.

    Anything else?

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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    As I understand it, some may be cast steel and others forged steel depending on age and country of origin. Subtle difference but still a difference. Most likely in final heat treatment after finish machining??
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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    What's your location. I know a few guys, if they're still living . In Miami look up Steve Fisher. In Salem Va. look up Jim Wheeler. In Colorado look up Chris? Hoffmeister.
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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    I highly recommend you don't try and mig or stick weld it. I'm fairly good with both those processes and I wouldn't try it. You'll just make a mess of it with those things. Put some effort into finding some one with some tig experience to do it for you.

    The liberal (spit) use of heat paste certainly can't hurt (unless you get it where you'll be welding) but I certainly wouldn't count on it as a substitute for not over heating the part to begin with.

    Be sure and remove all the surface treatment (Blueing, Parkerizing, what ever, etc.) from the weld area. Don't try and weld over it or other wise get it diluted into the weld.

    Depending on the geometry and thickness you might need a little weld prep to help insure as complete of penetration as possible. Putting a little effort into making a simple fixture or jig to hold the part accurately in place while you tack it might be a good thing also.

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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    Sandy, only Springfield used cast receivers. Mine is a Norinco, so it's a forged receiver.

    Burpee, I appreciate the info, but I'm in Canada so American smiths aren't gonna help me much haha...

    I'll TIG it, for sure. I'm fully aware of the prep required for a project like this, and I'll be sure to make a jig as well.

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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    I wouldn't be too worried about cold bore shots. Since the AMU does a lot of the sniper conversions on those frames, 1st shot hits with a cold bore are pretty important. Also not all matches allow sighters.


    It's been a while since I was seriously into this. From what I remember some of the Norinco receivers were decent, other later ones, not so much. Also as i was getting out, a lot of the top quality US surplus parts were drying up. Most at the time were being reimported from Australia after the weapons were stripped IIRC. About that time some key parts were becoming much harder to acquire, so companies were beginning to have to remanufacture some of the parts. I know there were some really questionable flash hiders where the threading wasn't concentric to the "bore". Rounds would tend to graze the flash hider on exit causing some really bad accuracy issues. I know my buddy was always on the hunt for original parts and was having a much harder time getting quality parts when needed. You might have a bit better luck in Canada since you may not have some of the import restrictions they put up on reimport of semi auto parts.

    I'd be sure to look up the AMU manual or the build manual for the Marines or US Navy. ( Coast Guard used them as well I believe) and follow the parts guidelines on size tolerances.

    I wish I could hunt with my M1A or one of my M1 Garands. However Pa won't allow semi's for hunting. I did weld up a gas chamber for mine converting it to a straight pull single shot for hunting before I accurized mine. I shifted over to a M1917 US Enfield after I bought one since up to 200 yards the iron sights were dead on center of mass and shot just over 1MOA at 100 yards. My M1917 shoots way better than my M1903 Springfield does by far.
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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    Quote Originally Posted by SaskShooter View Post
    Hey folks,....and I'm sorry if this is a bit too far-fetched.
    Guns and Chicom is not worth it .
    ifn you had some Spetznaz type AK then; you wouldnt need help and if you did then: never mind

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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    Man, I have three Springfield M1-A's. One standard from the early 70's, one "loaded" model and one "National Match" with a stainless steel barrel. I've never heard of the problems you mentioned and my oldest one passed down from my father, has had thousands of rounds through it and has been disassembled/reassembled hundreds of times. Is the problem you described exclusive to the chi-com (aka Firearms division of Harbor Freight) versions???

    As far as welding, I would NEVER have anyone touch my rifles with anything but a TIG torch and the skills of someone like ZTFab.
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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperArc View Post
    As far as welding, I would NEVER have anyone touch my rifles with anything but a TIG torch and the skills of someone like ZTFab.
    There are many parts of guns you don't want to get that hot, which is why many things on guns are brazed, silver soldered or even lead soldered.

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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    Coast Guard shooters used them too.
    When I used to shoot High Power, I used a Glass Bedded M1-NM.
    Same deal, first shot or 3rd shot, point of impact never changed.

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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    The rear lug probably wouldn't be to much trouble to weld on but the front lug is in a critical location just below the chamber.

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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?


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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    Saskshooter, forgive me if I was a jerk. I recently broke a new unused Harbor fart drift punch with my bare hands so I dont care for Chcolm steal.

    Good luck with it

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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    Years ago I had an M1a supermatch glass bedded in a walnut stock with no lugs that would should 5/8" 5 shot groups at 100 yards. I think I would try some other things before attempting to weld lugs on that receiver.

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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    The lugs make all the difference in the world at 1000 yards. Look up the guys I posted..308 cutting a .675 hole at 200 is either crap hardware or crap loading.OK.... wind and Prozac come into mind too.
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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    Hey folks, thanks for the help! I've found a kind American 'smith who has agreed to supply me with a set of lugs, and I have been to directed to an experienced TIG welder in my area. Luckily, the front lug setup is a no-weld design, but it will require a bit of machining to do.

    For the naysayers- y'all can laugh at my Chicom frankengun, but I can tell you that those damned coyotes certainly won't

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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    Why not silver solder? Most gun "additions" are done that way to avoid heat problems.

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    Re: Welding on a gun- M14/M1A lug project. Help?

    For this application, it'll be taking too much abuse to solder.

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