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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've done a few successful M53 and MG3 semi auto conversion builds. My upcoming build is going to be a post war MG1 or MG3 theme using an Apex M53 shoud as a base. The ones I've done thus far have been straight garage builds (mig welder and dremel) using off the shelf semi auto BRP and German RTG MG1/3 parts combined with the Apex M53 kit.

Just wondering if, one non AK builds are allowed to be featured here and two, if there is any interest is such a semi conversion non AK belt-fed build tutorial. That said, it won't be for a few more months till I get rolling on this next one till summer is over and I have more free time.
 

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come one, come all!!! I would say a build of any kind is welcome and bonus points for being a belt fed!!:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Cool good to know some are interested. I took a lot of pics of my last M53-MG3 semi conversion but never got around to putting a lot of text with it on the other forums (you know how that goes). I used a lot of those pics and info mainly on other boards there to help out some builders. I sort of like this place form what I'm seeing and and thought about posting my next upcoming build here which will be quite similar but wanted to make sure it was cool first.

Thing is I'm still collecting parts for this next one, mainly I need the BRP semi B/C and BRP semi grip stick which are not cheap... and the time to do it all of course is the biggest fatcor. Milling by hand takes time, last one I used 2 bulk packs of dremel cut-off wheels. But it can be done with a wire welder, a drill press, a hand held belt sander, a dial caliper and a few hand files.....and a whoooole lot of time. I used Global Machineing 80% shells BTW and plan on them with this next build, though the BRP shells are nice too and similar.

Here is my last semi MG3 clone first time out just to show you (I'm smash tube there BTW):


So for those sitting on M53 kits to build and or wishing to convert them to MG3/1 status here hang loose till after summer and lets do one of these together then....
 

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I really want one in 8mm, but the price of ammo for that would prevent me from shooting it much, and .308 isn't too appealing either. 54r would be badass though.

I have a 1919 in .308 and yeah...I don't shoot it much, it looks fucking badass sitting on the tripod in my gun room though!!! Lately if I shoot .308 it is out of a bolt action..20 rounds can take 30 minutes to an hour that way!!
 

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I'm still sitting on an M53 kit with an original unmolested barrel, but have held off due to the welding required for the build.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
The cool thing is just like the 1919 you can build these in multi calibers. It's actaully cheaper and easier to build an M53 in 8mm as it was intended instead of the MG3 or MG1 as I'm proposing. But the thing is we have options...so roll 'em as you like 'em lol.

RTG has about everything we need to build an MG1 or MG3 in .308. Nothing wrong with building in 8mm at all as 8mm ammo in many cases is easier to find, especially the excellent Romy 8mm (my first one was a Wiselite in 8mm) in fact so I recomend setting up for both.

Thing is barrels right now are cheaper in .308 due to the ban (though Apex has 8mm option). I have a lot of old stock SA .308 ammo and I like the MG3 post war stuff, as in cheap drums (50 round and 120 round) desintgrating (DM6 and M13 links) and a host of other cool options at RTG. But if you want to build a close copy to the MG42 in 8mm, then by all means the M53 is the way to go.

Thing is you can switch back and forth in seconds so there is no reason to fixate or choose (other than money - as in barrels and such). We'll get more into that later, as to what is needed. Big thing is right now get a M53 kit if you do not have one. Apex still has some (very few), CF has some (more $), but these M53 kits are running dry as I have heard from a very good source with no more in the pipe.

So far as 54r in a MG42/53/1/3, as of right now it aint happening. The Finns pulled it off at the limited prototype level (handful were made) and really thats all we have - no pics, no specs nada. The 1919 on the other hand in 54r is indeed a viable option, but that is another topic I am not aquainted with, though I do I have a 1919A4 in both 8mm and .308 and run it in Romy 8mm most of the time.

I'd like to limit this disscussion to the MG42/53/3/1 both 8mm and .308 nato variants for us to build (they are about the same) other than barrels boosters, feed trays and top covers in some cases.

For those interested, grab a M53 Yugo kit as base and we will take off from there starting at the nose in the near future. Again if you have a wire welder, a dremel, a drill press, a hand held belt sander, some metal working files, a dial cailper and a tape measure we can do this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
I'm still sitting on an M53 kit with an original unmolested barrel, but have held off due to the welding required for the build.
I'm glad you mentioned that...

I'm not going to say the welding is easy...but I was/am a total welding noob with a cheap harbor frieght welder if that gives you any encouragement ;).

In fact on the Weapons Guild site (where I hang out sometimes) the guys who seemed to have the most problems with warping and twisting were welders by trade.

In other words overwelding is not a good thing on this heavy sheetmetal build. Stitch welding is the key to keeping things straight IMO. A 1/4 inch bead on one side then the other, then after those tacks, start in the middle and alternate after it cools and then drag those a 1/4" at a time outwards to allow it to cool and settle rather than twist...hard to explain but practice on some scrap square tubing to see what i mean.

I learned this from some good builders of these types of sheet metal guns. And like I said I don't know shit, other than I listened to them so far as welding. Weld inside where possible, don't be afraid to add bracing if needed for saftey. For example I added extra plates in one of my rear sections, ala PSL rear trunion to make me feel better. What ever works or adds to safety is good IMO.

Another thing - copper. Copper is your friend. If you can find a thick copper bus bar that fits into you receiver, it's like gold.

But most of us will not find such a thing. So instead use a solid hunk of steel along with taking some copper water pipe and smashing it down flat. As a backer under your weld seams this will serve as a make shift heat sink, but more imortantly the copper backing under your welds allow you to crank up the heat with less blow though. When you do blow through (and you will) place the copper under the weld and build it back up.

Practice is the key and finding the limitations of your welder. Which in my case was not a hard thing using a $89 HF welder. I also wrap alumium foil in thick sheets to close to the welds to catch the flux core spatter making easier clean-up. And the first thing to do with this cheap welder is to take the wire it came with and throw it way and replace it with some Lincoln .030 wire which worked best for me.


All that said I found several other tricks...
One of the most difficult things about this build is the specs, length measurment, I will be posting all those once we get rolling. Also huge stumbling block on this build for many is riveting. I suck at riveting (there I said it lol).

There will be no riveting in my build method unless you choose to do so. The key here is RTG sells virgin undrilled MG3 rails. We will tap those rails thread them and use allen screws. You can also go back later then do a proper rivet job after we are sure the rails are aligned,,,but there is no real reason to do so and a few reasons you may not want. More on that later....

The rear section is one of the biggest headaches, buffer tab alignment, riveting, releif cuts to name a few....just say no to all that...unless you choose the harder way. Course using the German MG3 section that RTG sells will likely mean you will need an MG3 buffer (which RTG sells) or MG42 buffer....they differ from the M53 which we will get to in a minute....

RTG sells the complete rear receiver stub sections - with all that work already done from German Demilled MG3's. Once we get the receiver's length correct we will cut off the rear and splice on one of these pre-made de-milled German rear stubs. A huge short cut IMO. If you are using the rear stub, you may as well upgrade the better MG3 longer recuperator that has longer heavier springs. And the rear stub mentioned prior will have releif cut-out and support tab already in it for the MG3 recup. Lop the "tail" support off the M53 grip hanger for the recup and that one less hole that needs cut in the bottom of the receiver.

These are just a few of the short cuts I've learned working with these parts options that are currently out there for us. After building a few I've figured out what works together best in the easiest way possible. Again though it's APEX RTG and BRP that makes this semi build possible...and there have nexer been easier options out there. So long as the kits hold up and that is the biggest problem I see coming.

Sorry for the long read (and typos) as we have yet to offially start, but I just wanted to give some encouragement and share a few high lights showing that this is a build most moderate builders with some fairly simple tools can do, thanks to APEX, RTG, BRP, Global Machining and few odds and ends from Home depot.

Oh and a ratchet plate from Wiselite arms make life easier having the inner slot already cut. Not that it can't be done, especailly if yo have a mill, but thats what this build will focus on hand tooling, hand milling. The gun in vid was hand milled BTW.

A few highlight pics from the last build (the one in the vid):












This will be the pre-thread before we get going to see if how much interest there is.
Like I said My next one will be after summer, but that gives us time to collect parts needed.

 

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I want to build a finish mg-42 in 54R so bad but no one has any specs on it
 

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I think there is much interest in a build thread. I'd pick up a kit and try to build along with it.

I have a bunch of belts and a few accessories for one and planned on building one over a long period of time. I need to get parts for both 8mm and .308 as I have a good amount of both in my ammo fort and have other weapons that shoot both calibers.

Great idea. Please do it.
 

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Me likey...I wants one in .308, that way I have a beltfed from both sides and they can share ammo on the once every blue moon I take them out...:(someday(I really hate that word)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Looks like there is enough interest then. Big thing will be time, it's one of those things that takes lots of it. The last one I spread out over several months, which makes it a fun hobby. Which is why I figured to wait till fall/winter because this time of year is just to busy. My commitments take me away and forces breaks sometimes too.

So for those wanting to build one, a few items to start collecting:

First a kit, Apex is getting to the end of these and Richard stated there are no more in the pipe. The ones I see them listing today says they don't include a steel shroud. The kits I've got from Apex in the past included good shrouds, so I don't know if this is a typo or if the ones they have left do not include the shroud, I'd call them first if ordering to make sure. Centerfire still has the M53 kits, but they are more money and state they lack a bipod, though those can be had easily. When looking at a kit I look for a good rear shroud (camming area) with as much length left before they cut the receiver as possible. We want a shroud with intact camming windows. as this will be what we will rebuild from going in both directions. More on that later...


Then we need receiver shells. There are a few options here. BRP makes the whole 100% receiver, shroud and all which is a good bit of money, but they still require a lot of work to make work (barrel stops, door etc) but it saves you from welding the sections together. They also make sections/shells, front and rear. Their rear shells look prety nice, though I have not used them. One thing I don't like about their's is they weld the ratchet plate on without milling it's slot. Made for a machinist with a mill. I'd rather they left it off so it can be hand milled being a garage builder.

I prefer the Global Machine receiver rear shells, combined with the original M53 shroud. GM made the receiver shells for the Wiselite M53, they make them in 2 lengths, I'd get the standard length. They run sales on them from time to time, generally about $225-$250. As a matter of interest GM makes semi uzi receivers and I believe they made some M70 receivers too for Century, I think they made most of the UC-9 receivers. They are a good company to deal with BTW and their M53/MG42 shells are nop notch.

Other big items will be the semi auto bolt carrier and semi auto grip stick. For these I go the easy route. Some guys make their own. I just buy off the shelf items to make life easier. For these I've used BRP parts. BRP makes a really nice semi-auto bolt carrier that uses your kits bolt head. It's one peice firing pin is adjustable via washer (shims). BRP also makes a grips stick that uses semi auto AR15 parts which is again what I've used. I use the BRP bolt blocker too which once installed will not allow a FA bolt carrier to fit.

Those round out most of the big items besides the barrel. 8mm barrels go for a premium these days, but Apex sell new US barrels, but those require the tourched stub to be removed from the barrel extention and head spaced. I was lucky to have bought a couple 8mm barrels before they dried up. Good NATO 7.62 (.308) barrels can still be had, though they are creeeping up in price each day. RTG has them for around $180 complete last I knew.

If you choose to go the .308 route, then you will need a few more items. RTG sells conversion kits, barrel, barrel barrel bearing, booster, feed tray and top cover. The MG1 kit allows you to run belts and it the older German post war conversion. The MG3 kit allows you to run the later HK drums, belts, and german links and M13 links.

Most M53 kit's shrouds will need to the front bushing repaired, RTG sells that part. I've had good luck with the MG3 bushing that works well in the M53 shrouds. It depends all how it was torched, but most I've see are repairable this way. They sell the whole front too, but it all depends on how badly you kit's shroud was cut. Most can be fixed with the shorter bushing.

The rear section RTG sells has the buffer tabs already in them. IMO this is a big short cut splicing this section on, grab one of those when you get a chance. RTG also sells really nice German bakelite buttstocks. To use them you will need a MG3 buffer which BTW will work good with the rear section I mentioned. The MG3 recuperator is not neccessary, but will make things a little easier using that rear section too later on. And last for now is to grab a set of new unused MG3 rails from RTG. The nice thing about these is they have no holes. So when we get to that stage we can drill and tap them easily. The rails are not under any pressure other than to guide the B/C BTW.

The parts when added up are not cheap to build one of these and if you are like me it takes time to save up and collect them which is why I figured we'd do a pre-build thread on what to start collecting. Probably looking at close to $1400 for most everything using the of the shelf parts. I still need to get several items myself for this next one which will take me a while.


As for tools, all I used was a wire welder, a drill press, a good dremel (non cordless) a couple of bulk packs of cut-off wheels (that will be your mill...lol). Some blue machinists Dyekem. Some metal working hand files. A bench mounted grinder comes in handy. I also used a hand held belt sander, mounting it in a vise for square and triming. A good set of dial cailpers is a must. Most of the tools we will already have if you've been do this sort of thing before.

Sorry again for the wall of text, but I want to try to give some insight as what will be required without being vague.

I think that's about all I can think of for now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
I'd really like to see a video build with all the steps when you get around to it. I'm more of a visual learner. What would you say the total cost is to assemble one in 8mm?
You can build one cheaper if you make the semi bolt carrier and or grip stick yourself, but that IMO makes the build harder re-inventing the wheel so to speak. I'd rather spend the money on a proven design like the BRP setup, especially on a gun like this where the "tuning phase" as I call it can be tricky enough as it is.

Current prices off the top of my head rounded off:

Kit $400 (give or take about $50 depending)
Receiver shells $250-$300
BRP semi bolt carrier $200
BRP semi grip complete $200
BRP bolt blocker $25
Front bushing $50
Belts about $10 each
Ratchet plate, depends on the type you go with. GM has them for like $40. BRP has them too for like $50.
I prefer the Wiselite ratchet plate which has the slot milled and my last one was about $70 if I recall.

Barrel $200 (Austrian NATO .308) or for $300 you can get a .308 barrel combined as a "MG1 conversion kit" (.308 cover, ooste, bearing feedtray) or...an MG3 coversion kit is about $400 (better cover and feedtray IMO)

Original M53/42 8mm barrels are going for $350+ now.
Apex sometimes has new US 8mm barrels for $230, but they need installed into the torched extention and headspaced.

I'm gonna say about $1400-$1600 at current prices on parts, maybe $100-$200 more depending on options. Course the thing is with belt feds is that many times we end up with as much if not more in accessories as the gun itself, like tripods, optics, linkers etc, but those can be added later.

For instance, it will be a little more if you go with the MG3 rear stub ($35), MG3 recuperator ($40), those are not needed, but IMO will make things easier. The 8mm recuperator for instance will work fine in .308, but if you use the rear stub section I mentioned which saves a lot of headaches dealing with buffer tabs and riveting, that rear has the provisions for the longer MG3 recuperator and will aid in getting it in the correct location, so I like to use them. That and the German MG3 recup will most likey never wear out in semi auto.

Just like too the MG1 setup works fine, but if you want to use the HK drums (50 or 120 round) then you need the MG3 top cover and feed tray which will cost a little more over the MG1 kit.

Last I knew Wiselite was making "turn-key" M53's already done for close to 5K. So this way is a lot cheaper, but this way a whole lot of hand milling and fitting - time is what you are paying for.

I should mention too that the tuning part is what can be tricky due to the fact that every semi auto converted gun is different. Even the pre-made semi Wiselite and BRPs (when BRP made them) requires tuning, as in sometimes booster cones, recoil springs and firing pins need fitting due to ammo type, belt tightness and gun tightness till they break in etc. Some guys have bought semi M53's thinking they were going to be like an AR or AK and work out of the box...most of those guys were dissapointed. In fact that is why BRP quit selling MG42/53's because owners were not willing to read the manuals and tune them.

The semi versions of the MG42 is a an almost different gun than the original due to the FCG changes made. A lot of reliability is lost in the process. But once running with good ammo I get about one light strike out of maybe 300 rounds, which is to be expected.

I look at them like comparing a new Honda Civic (an AR) to a 1969 Z28 or Hemi Cuda where adjusting points, timing, carbs is part of ownership. Once set up though there is nothing like it.

Anyone thinking about this build should first download a free copy of BRP's owner's manual which will help give you at least an idea of some of the parts and semi converted parts: Semi Auto Firearms - MG42 Semi Auto - MG42 Semi Auto Trigger Parts - BRP CORP Store
For M53 parts vendors check out BRP, RTG, Apex and Centerfire.
 

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I've done a few successful M53 and MG3 semi auto conversion builds. My upcoming build is going to be a post war MG1 or MG3 theme using an Apex M53 shoud as a base. The ones I've done thus far have been straight garage builds (mig welder and dremel) using off the shelf semi auto BRP and German RTG MG1/3 parts combined with the Apex M53 kit.

Just wondering if, one non AK builds are allowed to be featured here and two, if there is any interest is such a semi conversion non AK belt-fed build tutorial. That said, it won't be for a few more months till I get rolling on this next one till summer is over and I have more free time.
Are you still active on this forum
 
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