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Thread: Who knows how to make box magazines from scratch?

  1. #1
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Who knows how to make box magazines from scratch?

    Sheet metal is my Achilles heel. Some of the best sheet metal work I have ever seen is the box magazines that are in most of our guns.
    You know, every factory must have some yay-who master of the sheetmetal that builds the prototypes from scratch.
    That guy would be a really interesting feller to talk to.
    Don't tell me they just draw them up in solidworks and send the drawings to the shop to build the dies to make them, and just start chunking them out. If you have ever worked in manufacturing, you know that just doesn't happen. The engineers take their best guess, and end up being told how to change the drawings by the guy on the floor who knows how to make the stuff.
    Is this taught in any school?
    It just kills me that I can make every other piece of a firearm, except the magazine. Not that I'm going to go into business making AK mags or anything, but there are many instances where it would make all kinds of sense to be able to make things like that from scratch.
    Like a customer comes in (as has happened twice now) who wants a magazine for their vintage cheapo something or other. One of them I managed to find in an obscure place on the internet (don't remember where) and the other I'm still looking for, (Lorcin 25). In both cases, I told them that they should just scrap the pistol and get another one for $150, but people are funny. They say, just fix it, I don't care how much it costs! And cousin, let me tell you, they really don't care how much it costs!

    Now, I didn't start this thread because I need a magazine for a Lorcin pistol, (I believe I have found one)

    I just want to know who has this knowledge, and what their phone number is. Better yet, is there a book about 2" thick that covers all the intricacies of how to make sheet metal magazines?

    I'm thinking about using the hulk smash method. Just grab some sheetmetal and start bending and welding and recreate the magazines in the guns that I already own, using the originals as guides.

    What do you think?
    Precision in the wrong place is only a placebo.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Dan Cash's Avatar
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    Tim,
    I think the manufacture of detachable sheet metal box magazines is something of an arcane art right along with alchemy. That was one of the big reasons holding down the production of reliable auto loading firearms. You will recall that Mauser, Manlicher and a couple other early auto pistols did not use detachable mags and the magazines for early machineguns were awful contraptions. Without drawing machinery, one might hand form separate halves of a magazine and braze them together as with the Lee Enfield mags.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    My local sheetmetal shop just went out of business in July. Those guys could have done it. I have no doubt- they did some incredible work for me, and you know the business I'm in.

    The GM lives not far from me and helps when I need it. The machines from that shop are still in town but the prices from the new shop are 4X.

    I know another shop here that has a, 150ton draw press (i'm guessing becasue I don't remember). They could draw one piece boxes. They could press 2 piece-ers also then could be spot welded.

    Right now they are doing a run of some part that goes on the front axle of a 1935 Harley.

    Onsies wouldn't be worth it from either place. 100+ would though.

    I think with some thought you could wallow out a die, and put it in a 40ton press and I have no doubt you would be able to make something quite usable.

    I'll ask my friend if knows a good book to read on sheet metal work.
    Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. H.L. Mencken

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Thing is, if you are talking about AR mags, then yeah you need that kind of machinery. However, I was thinking more along the lines of the simple 1911 style mags which are folded, welded, sheet metal, or the SMLE style mags which are brazed etc etc. If someone wants me to make a one off magazine for a gun that magazines are hard to get for, I wonder if I could make it work. Also, there is the whole custom side of things where you want to have a detachable box magazine for the 700*** or some other type wildcat. I want to be the guy that can make such a critter, and I really believe I can get there with a little bit of training in sheet metal work.
    The problem is that most books on sheet metal fab are dealing with air ducts and other such big obnoxious products.
    I totally understand that I may have to teach myself how to rope this tornado. I just figured its worth asking if somebody else might have information.
    After all, the factories had to have prototypes! You're not going to build a $20,000 set of dies for a design that might work.
    Precision in the wrong place is only a placebo.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Magazines for pistols are fairly simple; I've seen photo sets of amateurs making them for 1911s and smaller semi-autos. The spring is wound onto a form from suitable music wire, follower and floor plate can be milled from solid (for a one-off -- it'll cost you one round of capacity for a single-stack); the biggest trick is getting the front to back dimension exactly right, second biggest getting the lips bent just so and trimmed to the correct profile.

    Actually, for something along the lines of the Lorcin .25, you could lift the follower, spring, and possibly floor plate from a magazine made for another .25 with the same grip angle (for Lorcin, I'd check Raven and Tanfoglio magazines, both readily available as parts), and if the donor mag is longer than the Lorcin, you could shorten the bottom end of the body and the spring et voila. Heck, with the bottom latches common in those tiny pistols, the whole magazine might change over, with at most a little alteration of the lips.

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master Artful's Avatar
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    OK, I don't do anything like this.. but have accumulated some knowledge over the years.
    Things like the Colt 9mm semi auto carbine magazine is a modified UZI magazine which is a modified Beretta MP-38 magazine. The Sig-Sauer P6/225 magazine is based off the Walther P-38 magazine etc. Original Ruger standard model 22 pistol magazine was based on High Standard pistol magazine. Taurus PT-99 and M-9 Beretta mag's just need adjustment of catch hole to interchange.

    Evidently lots of gun makers build their weapons around an existing magazine because the difficulty in making magazines. Somewhere back in time when I devoured gunsmithing books, in my reading I remember going thru a book about making prototype pistols including the magazines. Which steels to choose and why, and heat treatment there of.

    I remember illustrations about setting a vise a little wider than a drill bit blank and forcing sheet metal thru the vice to form the front of the magazine (if I remember right he had already put the 90 degree bends for the back in place) then brazing the back together.
    And using smooth round jaw pliers to form the lips then heat treating them. Even making the springs for magazine's, firing pins, etc.

    The information you seek is out there in book form from the photo's I remember I'd say from the 1930's to 1960's as a print date. If I remember any more I'll post it on here.

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master Artful's Avatar
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    Did some quick googlage trying to jog my memory - wonder if any of these will help ya on the road.
    http://www.gunknowledge.com/Document...achine_Gun.pdf

    Chapter 9 about making magazines.

    I know this isn't it but may be you can research and see if it will help ya
    http://www.paladin-press.com/product..._Guns_and_Ammo

    It may be this one
    http://www.paperbackswap.com/Gunsmit...ok/0811707709/

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
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    I converted a Brno Fox 22 Hornet to 30 Carbine a few years ago and had to make new magazines . I bent sheet steel around a simple mandrel before oxy-acetylene welding the seam . I made two . They hold six rounds and work well despite looking a bit rough .



    The boolit shown is the CBE 150 grn .

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Thats some darn good work!
    Thanks for the book info artful! That's the stuff I'm after for sure.
    Sometimes I wonder if all of this is just a storm in a teacup. I have been stumped a couple times by old guns that I can't get springs for. I have gone to extreme lengths to find springs of just the right tension to get a firearm to work correctly.
    A while ago, I was coming up dry and I needed a special spring made of .042 wire with a hook one one end, three coils, and then a 1" leg with a 1/4" 90 degree bend. I was talking to my father about my woes on the way to my day job, and he asked me why I didn't just make the stupid spring myself?
    Well, I went home and straitened out a spring with .042 wire in it, bent it the way I needed, and re-heat-treated it, and tempered it. It worked like a charm.
    Today, I had a customer who wanted a lighter spring on the firing pin of his SMLE, so I made one using the same technique. Works every time.
    The point is, making springs is something that I dreaded for years, but it turns out that its not that hard to do at all, which makes me wonder about this whole magazine issue. Maybe I should just start bending sheet metal and make it happen.
    Precision in the wrong place is only a placebo.

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Straight magazines are pretty simple things. Curved magazines you need to either have a forming press or cut a big pile of pie wedges and weld them together...

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master
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    There are a few books on homemade guns by a guy named Bill Holmes?? I wasn't that impressed by either his designs or his attitude; but the way he described making magazines would work. I will see if I can find the book, to get the correct title.

    Robert

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Robert, Bill Holms' book is the link that Artful posted above. Very interesting reading.
    Precision in the wrong place is only a placebo.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    easiest method involves making an inside form and stretching the sheet around it to a weld joint. not hard with some bar stock and a bandsaw. mig welding is good.

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy Plinkster's Avatar
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    Get it figured out Goodsteel and I may just farm out my little project lol.
    Is this a......what day is this??

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Get it figured out Goodsteel and I may just farm out my little project lol.
    Tell you the truth, your other thread is part of why I'm asking. It's all part of the same watermelon. That, and several jobs that have come through the shop this year.
    For so many years, I have seen the easiest solution to a jamming gun is a new magazine. Spring pressure, follower angle, feedlip condition and design, all have to play together nicely in order to give reliable feeding. However, as has been pointed out, it may be a bolt gun that needs a magazine built, which is much less picky.
    I am thinking about Artful's first post where you mention how many designs spring from others. That probably makes more sense than building a new one from scratch, but I have never seen a comprehensive list of what is made from what.
    I believe I will start keeping a magazine journal with all the critical dimensions of every magazine that comes through the shop. Might save me a minute or two in the future.
    Precision in the wrong place is only a placebo.

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have an ongoing project - a scratch built pump action rifle . The rifle is chambered for a .308 case with the shoulder pushed back to provide a longer neck to better suit cast boolits . The magazine was built first and the action built around it which simplifies things . Mild steel eighty thousandths thick was used and that provides sufficient strength for the magazine to withstand rough handling . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSYxZ...7&feature=plcp
    A factory made magazine is a work of art . High strength steels and pressed in strengthening creases allow the product to be light and robust . Copying one would be a real PIA without proper tooling and access to thin gauge tensile steels .

  17. #17
    Boolit Master


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    There could be a market for some odd magazines for rifles. Two that I have are the Model 37 Remington Target .22RF. That magazine is a machined magazine. The going price for a spare Remington 37 magazine is around $150.00.
    Another Rifle I have that it is impractical to buy a magazine for is an early Browning Lever Rifle. I saw one go for $240.00 on Fleabay.
    If you could make those there would be a limited market but one that could be profitable.

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master Artful's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodsteel View Post
    I am thinking about Artful's first post where you mention how many designs spring from others. That probably makes more sense than building a new one from scratch, but I have never seen a comprehensive list of what is made from what.
    I believe I will start keeping a magazine journal with all the critical dimensions of every magazine that comes through the shop. Might save me a minute or two in the future.
    Good Idea, quick googlage did find some places to start with...

    http://www.hoosiergunworks.com/catal...reference.html

    http://www.gunpartscorp.com/CrossReference.aspx

    http://www.firearmstalk.com/forums/f...e-guide-31183/

    http://www.gunnersden.com/index.htm.sears-103-2.html

  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Robert, Bill Holms' book is the link that Artful posted above. Very interesting reading.
    Tim,

    I usually don't click on links before replying; my connection speed is so slow, it makes a sundial look fast.

    Robert

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Tim, sounds like you need to get some sheet metal and beat the hell out of it! just watch out for those fingers. i'd start out with some thin gauge stuff to start with. i got faith in you can do it!

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