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ksenior
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Posted: 5/21/2013 6:51:17 AM EST
[Last Edit: 5/21/2013 6:59:47 AM EST by ksenior]
My first post on AR15.com. Mods, if I'm in the wrong section I apologise, please move it to the right one!

I asked a similar question on another forum, but the forum didn't have to do with firearms and I think I may have made a mistake mentioning it was to do with firearms because they started saying some stupid stuff, probably in an idiotic attempt to "troll the uneducated reactionary redneck" that they probably assumed I was when I said I was designing a gun. So I'm now here to ask a similar question, hopefully as fellow firearms owners and enthusiasts I'll get some good answers.

So about myself and some background: I'm an engineering student and IPSC pistol shooter from Australia. If any of you guys know anything about Australian firearms laws, well, I can tell you, they're not pretty. All semi-auto longarms and pump-shotguns are restricted to farmers who show a "genuine need" for them (for shotguns and .22s) or people who make a majority of their living off culling feral animals (for centrefire). Handguns under .38cal, with barrels over 120mm (about 4 and half inches) and under 10 round magazines are available to shooters who are members of a club and shoot regularly (like me). However, manual action longarms (except the aforementioned pump-action shotguns) are relatively easy to get.

Now, the pump-action ban only extends to shotguns (probably because back in '96 when the ban happened, none of the anti-gunners knew pump-action rifles existed but everyone knew pump-action shotguns did), so realising this, many shooters use pump-action rifles, pretty much exclusively the Remington 7600 (in 30-06 and derivatives, and .308 and derivatives) and 7615 (.223 Remington/5.56x45mm, doesn't matter it's in 5.56 though as surplus doesn't exist on the Australian market). Being a bit of an entrepreneur, I've been thinking I could design my own pump-action rifle, better than the 7600 range of rifles, not to mention cheaper (the only major importer of firearms and ammo into Australia price gouges everything, for example a Remington 7615 will cost you guy in the US about $700, if that, here they start at $1500 and go much further up)

I'm current at the design phase. So far I've got most of the bolt done, along with the barrel extension, I also have a few sketches as to where everything will be and such. Thinking a little bit ahead I've been running into a few issues, many revolve around legal. Similar to what I think you have in the US, to make a firearm to have to be licence (well, in your case, licensed to make guns for sale), and, similar to what I think you have in the US, you can't just ask another company to make the registered part (the receiver), because then they would be manufacturing it without a licence and all these other silly legal headaches. This pretty much means I wouldn't be able to get someone else to make prototype or the finished product for me, unless they also wished to jump through the legal hoops, something they won't do for a small prototype run without a significant amount of money up front. I could in theory find another firearms manufacturer to do it for me but Australia is rather desolate for firearms manufacturers. We have Thales/ADI, but they only do government work making F88 Steyrs and Minimis, then there was some company in Queensland making modern Lee Enfield, but it seems they went under after it was found out they didn't actually make their guns Australia, rather it was in Vietnam they made them. Finally, there is a company in Melbourne making AR15s an M4 clones for the tiny group of shooters here who can own them (feral animal cullers and for the movie industry), they charge $8500 for them (that is not a typo) and have only sold about 100. These guys would be my best bet if I were too find someone else to make them but they're in another state and they may just flat out turn me down for my proposal.

Now, as for the design, I've taken many ideas form the AR15. Many of the features found in the AR15 are either still revolutionary or are now found in many modern rifles. So in my design I've included a number of things: Spilt upper and lower, aluminium receiver, 7 lug AR15 style rotating bolt. I've even decided to use AR15 lower smalls parts, simply because they're easily available, cheap and it's much easier than making my own as they would be a pain in the ass to machine.

Anyway, when I started asking some questions about CNC milling I started getting some rather interesting comments. I'm pretty sure half of them were trolls but I thought it would be best to ask somewhere relatively troll free to clarify a few points

-Firstly. Would I really be much better off on a manual mill doing this instead of getting a hold of a CNC mill? Most of the comments seemed to be people saying that because my milling experience on both is rather limited (I've only done some introduction stuff as part of uni, nothing too complex) I should just learn manual milling and do it all manually and that no one should go straight to CNC without becoming a pro at manual. In my (possibly incorrect) opinion I would think CNC is a better option. You go from CAD to CAM, CAM does all the pathing giving you your G-code, you enter it into the machine, you double check it to make sure it was entered right, you do a slow dry run to make sure you're not going to crash and ruin your very expensive mill, then you can load up your material, zero it and starting getting parts out pretty quickly. I don't see that as being particularly difficult as CAM does all the calculations for you, on the other hand, manual milling is considerably more difficult. You actually have to have considerable experience and training if you want to pump out parts at any decent pace, and then it's still rather slow. You'd probably also waste a lot of material due to errors. So if anyone here is a hobbiest with a CNC mill who didn't have much milling experience when they started, please tell me your experiences, was it hard to do, hard to learn, etc. Especially if you've made AR15 receivers

-Secondly. Are there any people here who are manual machinists who think they could make an AR15 bolt head (or something similar) on a 3 axis manual mill? The more I think about it the more I think it would be incredibly difficult. Even with a 4-axis manual mill (do they even exist?) it would be tedious

-Thirdly. Does anyone know if you can lease CNC mills for short periods of time? Like a month or two? The consensus I got was the minimum lease time will be 12 months, if not 18 or 24 months. But I could see there being a massive market (which someone must have filled) for short lease CNC equipment. Pretty much for shops who occasionally get projects requiring CNC so instead of having a CNC mill gathering dust for 95% of the year they just bring one in for the time they will actually use it. Though it did occur to me today I could potentially buy a second hand CNC mill, then sell it after I've finished it for nearly the same price I bought it, but that would require me to convince someone with ~$50k to spare to loan that to me (it would be a secure loan though if I don't crash it, pretty easy to repossess).

Cheer to anyone who bothers to read my rather long post cover to cover, I didn't intend to write that much but as I wrote it seemed important to explain the backstory a little bit.

Any help would be wonderful
Circuits
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Posted: 5/21/2013 7:06:29 AM EST
Originally Posted By ksenior:
-Firstly. Would I really be much better off on a manual mill doing this instead of getting a hold of a CNC mill?

Unless you are a very good manual machinist, CNC will be more achievable for you.

-Secondly. Are there any people here who are manual machinists who think they could make an AR15 bolt head (or something similar) on a 3 axis manual mill? The more I think about it the more I think it would be incredibly difficult. Even with a 4-axis manual mill (do they even exist?) it would be tedious

Yes, I could do one on a manual mill. It would be tedious and take forever, and I'd have to go look up the heat treat specs before I'd use that bolt, though. You're going to need the heat treat specs regardless, even if you crank them out by the dozens in a turning center.

-Thirdly. Does anyone know if you can lease CNC mills for short periods of time? Like a month or two? The consensus I got was the minimum lease time will be 12 months, if not 18 or 24 months.

Here in the states, we have "makerspaces" where DIY persons can rent machine time by the hour on things like laser cutters, 3D printers, and yes, CNC turning centers. Check around

Cheer to anyone who bothers to read my rather long post cover to cover, I didn't intend to write that much but as I wrote it seemed important to explain the backstory a little bit.

Did not read it all, but answered your questions, hopefully

Any help would be wonderful


"The only real difference between the men and the boys, is the number and size, and cost of their toys."
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ksenior
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Posted: 5/21/2013 7:17:34 AM EST
Originally Posted By Circuits:
Originally Posted By ksenior:
-Firstly. Would I really be much better off on a manual mill doing this instead of getting a hold of a CNC mill?

Unless you are a very good manual machinist, CNC will be more achievable for you.

-Secondly. Are there any people here who are manual machinists who think they could make an AR15 bolt head (or something similar) on a 3 axis manual mill? The more I think about it the more I think it would be incredibly difficult. Even with a 4-axis manual mill (do they even exist?) it would be tedious

Yes, I could do one on a manual mill. It would be tedious and take forever, and I'd have to go look up the heat treat specs before I'd use that bolt, though. You're going to need the heat treat specs regardless, even if you crank them out by the dozens in a turning center.

-Thirdly. Does anyone know if you can lease CNC mills for short periods of time? Like a month or two? The consensus I got was the minimum lease time will be 12 months, if not 18 or 24 months.

Here in the states, we have "makerspaces" where DIY persons can rent machine time by the hour on things like laser cutters, 3D printers, and yes, CNC turning centers. Check around

Cheer to anyone who bothers to read my rather long post cover to cover, I didn't intend to write that much but as I wrote it seemed important to explain the backstory a little bit.

Did not read it all, but answered your questions, hopefully

Any help would be wonderful




Wow, that was quick, thanks

How exactly would you go about making a bolt head on a manual mill? Would you need 4 axis or could you do it on 3? On second thought it may take ages to explain so don't bother if it will

I'll keep an eye out for makerspaces, but I expect they'll have some clause about not making weapons or something. Hopefully it's worded as not making illegal things though, if I'm licensed it will all be legal
RyJones
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Posted: 5/21/2013 7:22:59 AM EST
most of the makerspaces in the US forbid weapons making. I hope you find somewhere more open-minded in Australia
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ksenior
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Posted: 5/21/2013 7:32:49 AM EST
[Last Edit: 5/21/2013 7:34:57 AM EST by ksenior]
Originally Posted By RyJones:
most of the makerspaces in the US forbid weapons making. I hope you find somewhere more open-minded in Australia


I'm not going to have high hopes. If I'm lucky they may have missed a weapons ban because no one has tried to make weapons in their shops, maybe.

I just looked it up and there is only one makerspace in Adelaide, they focus on robotics and have no CNC gear
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Posted: 5/21/2013 7:39:37 AM EST
OP: your best bet for a bolt head is NOT a copy of the AR15 bolt (which would be difficult to machine & requires certain steels/heat treating to last).

Instead, your answer is right at home in Australia: google pics of the Australian Leader 556 rifle and its 3-lug design. It has sufficient strength and would be much easier to make. Being rare here in the US, I've never seen one in person & have no idea what steel you guys used (though the info it probably accessible to you in Australia).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leader_Dynamics_Series_T2_MK5

Here you go:

http://i254.photobucket.com/albums/hh105/willstang/P1010005.jpg
ksenior
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Posted: 5/21/2013 7:54:49 AM EST
Originally Posted By CBR900:
OP: your best bet for a bolt head is NOT a copy of the AR15 bolt (which would be difficult to machine & requires certain steels/heat treating to last).

Instead, your answer is right at home in Australia: google pics of the Australian Leader 556 rifle and its 3-lug design. It has sufficient strength and would be much easier to make. Being rare here in the US, I've never seen one in person & have no idea what steel you guys used (though the info it probably accessible to you in Australia).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leader_Dynamics_Series_T2_MK5

Here you go:

http://i254.photobucket.com/albums/hh105/willstang/P1010005.jpg


It won't be accessible to me. Nearly all of them were sawn in half during the buyback and the few that survived are either very illegal (try a 15 year jail sentence) or in the hands of those who posses a very difficult to obtain licence.

As for heat treatment and steels, well, any design I choose that isn't an oversized monstrosity will require heat treatment and special steels

Looking at some pictures though, it's certainly on the table.
Circuits
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Posted: 5/21/2013 8:03:33 AM EST
Originally Posted By ksenior:
How exactly would you go about making a bolt head on a manual mill? Would you need 4 axis or could you do it on 3? On second thought it may take ages to explain so don't bother if it will

I'll keep an eye out for makerspaces, but I expect they'll have some clause about not making weapons or something. Hopefully it's worded as not making illegal things though, if I'm licensed it will all be legal


My aussie friend, if you don't know how'd you'd make a bolt head on a manual mill, stick to the CNC... Or take a lot more instruction before attempting it. You'd need at least a dividing head for doing it.


It is unlikely any makerspace will let you use their machines to make much of anything related to firearms, legality aside, if they knew what you were doing. Being licensed might make a difference, but don't count on it.
"The only real difference between the men and the boys, is the number and size, and cost of their toys."
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ksenior
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Posted: 5/21/2013 8:11:39 AM EST
Originally Posted By Circuits:
Originally Posted By ksenior:
How exactly would you go about making a bolt head on a manual mill? Would you need 4 axis or could you do it on 3? On second thought it may take ages to explain so don't bother if it will

I'll keep an eye out for makerspaces, but I expect they'll have some clause about not making weapons or something. Hopefully it's worded as not making illegal things though, if I'm licensed it will all be legal


My aussie friend, if you don't know how'd you'd make a bolt head on a manual mill, stick to the CNC... Or take a lot more instruction before attempting it. You'd need at least a dividing head for doing it.
http://tinyurl.com/mgaqum2

It is unlikely any makerspace will let you use their machines to make much of anything related to firearms, legality aside, if they knew what you were doing. Being licensed might make a difference, but don't count on it.


So I thought

That piece of tech looks pretty interesting though. I think I'll enrol in the CNC programming course my local TAFE offers (TAFE is like a technical school), part time, 6 months. Should fit in-between my uni work
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Posted: 5/22/2013 4:37:04 PM EST
Try looking up the "weapons guild" forums. Those guys build all kinds of guns from everything they can get their hands on. As far as building up from scratch, it would be my go to place for info.

As to the recomendation to learn manual before cnc, it is advice that comes from experienced machinists who have "walked the walk" so to speak. Manual machines can be far superior to cnc for one off operations. And you learn a great deal from the experience of running a manual machine. Its not to say that you can't jump into cnc and be off to the races, but manual experience will give you more understanding for the cnc operations. As an example - my father made me split firewood by hand for many years before he let me run the hydrolic splitter. This experience taught me how big a chunk to try and take, how to read the wood grain to get the log to split in the easiest places, how different types of wood react to the splitter, how hard I needed to swing, etc. I probably would have been fine going straight to the hydrolic splitter, but with that experience I never overloaded the electric motor, or broke the hydrolic splitter in any way. In fact it made me respect the equipment even more, because if I did break it, I would be back to splitting the wood by hand. We went through 23-26 cords of wood a year so I got a lot of experience!!

Good luck in your project!
ksenior
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Posted: 5/24/2013 2:48:00 AM EST
Thanks for the help people, still waiting on some advice from people who have milled their own receivers before though
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Posted: 5/24/2013 4:52:34 AM EST
There is several threads here about using Harbor Freight mini-CNC mills, and others.

As far as learning how to mill steel, go fast slowly.

You are gonna gain experience one way or another, you learn yourself, or you buy experience.
By buying experience, I mean either buying replacement parts and machines to fix fuck-ups, or
buying knowledge, by hiring people to teach you.
A degree from the School of Hard Knocks can get expensive.

I suggest finding a retired machinist in your area that is interested in your project.
Even better, find an older inventor, repair shop type guy. A doer, a fixer, a creator.

Not trying to rain on your parade or anything, but you got some learning to do!!

Good Luck.

ps. http://www.youtube.com/embed/BckZ4i1BzF0?feature=player_embedded

http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_3_12/611082_Rockethub_80__Lower_Receiver_Projects___Update_05_23_2013__.html

http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_1_5/1483364_CAD_Software_.html

http://www.cncguns.com/forum/index.php?topic=2794.0

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