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Helwan caliber conversion

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Michael Tinker Pearce, Oct 15, 2018.

  1. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

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    A couple of you out there have been waiting for me to do a semi-auto project...

    So, I have this Helwan, and like many other Helwans the locking lugs peened, rendering the gun basically useless since that part is unobtainium. Damn shame; Linda really enjoyed shooting this gun. I thought about fabricating a new locking piece, but it just didn't seem worth the effort for a $200 gun.

    Recently it occurred to me that if I ground off the locking lugs I could run the gun as a straight blow-back. Not in 9x19mm; that would be stupid dangerous. But a .380? I mean, it never was anything but a range-toy, so the caliber isn't all that crucial. What the hell, I wasn't doing anything with the gun anyway, right?

    I ground off the locking lugs and put a couple of rounds of .380 ACP in the mag. It chambered fine, and fired the first round just fine but the second round stove-piped coming out of the magazine. Tried it again and this time both the empty and the unfired round ejected. The problem is that the feed lips ended too far back and released the round before it could chamber. I went and pawed through the box of random magazines at Ben's Loans and came up with a likely candidate for $8. I made an aluminum chassis and mounted the modified .380 mag. After tweaking the feed lips it worked a treat.
    K3sF4gT.jpg
    The gun functioned pretty well, but it was headspacing off the extractor- not ideal- and if someone stuck a stock magazine in it it would chamber a 9x19mm. Needed to fix that...

    I bored out the chamber, sleeved it and reamed the chamber for .380 ACP. Headspacing on the rim as it should now, and a 9mm won't chamber. Good to go! I took a 1/4" off the end of the barrel and recrowned it to give the gun a slightly more distinctive look. I'll grind the print off the slide and engrave .380 ACP in it's place, maybe make a nice set of wood grips.

    Linda will have her range-toy back, and I won't mind being short a paperweight.
    2uFYqQz.jpg
    Did I mention that I can reload .380 dirt cheap?
     
  2. OARNGESI

    OARNGESI Member

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    Pretty neat
     
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  3. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    Tinker

    Neat bit of repurposing! Photos and range report when you get it all done!
     
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  4. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    Another extremely cool project. Congratulations!
     
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  5. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    Bravo!

    I really, really miss my M51 Beretta (got stolen)......:(
     
  6. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

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    :cuss:

    Here's the gun in semi-final form. I reshaped the plastic grips to establish the shape that I want when I do the wood grips, and the slide now locks back on empty. The safety is now much easier to deactivate.
    R0wiXzh.jpg 3TJdYVU.jpg
     
  7. entropy

    entropy Member

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    The recoil has to be nice and light; looks like a fun plinker! Neat work on the magazine!
     
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  8. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    Nice job!

    I picked up a Helwan many moons ago, bought a couple of spare mags (Mec Gar maybe?) and go out to shoot it every once in a while. It has a stiff trigger pull, but it still functions and fires very well.

    Do you know how many rounds you put through it before the lugs were toast, or did you get it well-worn? (Mine is still in pretty good shape, just a-wondering when to start worrying about the lugs.)

    Stay safe!
     
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  9. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

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    I didn't look that worn. I put a few hundred rounds through it. One thing- never, ever fire +P ammo- I saw one peen the lugs with a single round of +P!
     
  10. Hasaf

    Hasaf Member

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    I was just looking at this on another forum. It looks great. Far beyond the level possible with the tools available to me, and my skill level too.
     
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  11. kBob

    kBob Member

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    Great thinking and great doing! You never fail to amaze me, Tinker! Great work. Also good idea on that cometary groove in the grip about the safety to aid in getting it were it needs to be.

    If you ever figure out what .380 magazine that was you might post the info for other folks thinking about this alteration. The idea of making a frame to hold the smaller mag in place is ingenious!

    -kBob
     
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  12. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    No +P, check!

    I think I’ll just feed it 115 gr ball ammo and keep a close eye on the locking lugs for wear/damage.

    Keep up your good work :thumbup:.
     
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  13. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

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    Took the gun out for it's first range trip today. I fed it a mix of PPU FMC and some handloads using Montana Gold 90gr. RN ammo. Worked flawlessly, though it's crunching the lip on about half the brass. Both of these loads are relatively wimpy, so maybe that's part of the problem. I'll experiment...
    yrz2GO1.jpg t89pVmC.jpg
     
  14. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Very inventive and a great salvage job on a worn out surplus. I'd hate to pay to have it done, but you have the equipment and the knowhow.

    Seems you cut the barrel off of everything you get your hands on.

    P.S. I liked your space opera. More to come?
     
  15. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

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    Almost everything, lol. In this case it was for purely cosmetic reasons.
    We're working on the sequel now, so it ought to be out next spring.
     
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