Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tabuk Sniper Rifle Build Log – Part 2

The more you learn, the more you find out you don’t know. The part collecting continues, I’m currently only missing a few parts to begin the first of two Tabuk designated marksman’s rifles I’m building (I’ll end up selling the second one to finance this enterprise!). Fortunately I haven’t started assembling anything yet as I keep learning more and more about this fascinating rifle as I go along.

The first earth-shattering news is that the custom barrels turned by Green Mountain are about 2” too long. You can read about the full controversy at The AK Forum, but it turns out the 23.6” length listed in the reference material used to design the barrels is the barrel length with a flash hider, not the actual barrel length. The actual barrel length is closer to 21 3/8” (or 21 7/16” depending on how closely you try to read the tape measure). This revelation has sparked significant debate among builders as to whether or not it’s “worth it” to shorten the barrel to the proper length and have it re-threaded with people coming in on both sides of the question. I’m personally going to have my barrels bobbed as I have a local store that does superior work at a reasonable price (and I have some other work I need them to do anyway, such as adding a long flash hider to an AMD-65 barrel so I don’t have to collect a tax stamp for it).

The second revelation is that the rear leaf sight used on the Tabuk has good old normal western style numbers, and therefore won’t need to be engraved with Iraqi markings. Pictures of the rear sight are rare, but there is a slightly fuzzy photo on (the 10th one down when I accessed the page today) where you can see the sight clearly enough to recognize the engraving as standard. I now have a pair of sights – they’re East German, but they have the proper windage adjustments.

I now have a pair of de-milled front trunions (see photo above). The bottom one came to me already relieved of its residual receiver, whereas the top one I had to de-mil myself. All of my previous kit builds have utilized standard front trunions with the six small rivets – the M70 front trunion only has two of the small rivets (the rearmost ones) with two slightly longer ones (in the middle) and one long rivet like you see on the rear trunion of most fixed stock kits. Using my grinder, drill press, hand drill (Makita the wonder drill) and cobalt bits I was able to complete the process in about an hour. The trunions are now ready for engraving – I just need to decide on my serial numbers and years for the builds.

Above is a close-up of the front sight block. I only have one of these at this point, but I’m hoping to get a second one modified into the proper configuration soon. I did pick up all of the pins I need to get the sight, front gas block, and sight base attached to the barrel. I also picked up a “go” / “no go” gauge set from Midway so that I can properly headspace the rifles as I assemble them. The stock is still on order from Ironwood. They tell me that they’ve finished filling their back-orders and will start shipping new orders this coming week.

Overall, I’m still extremely excited about this project. The parts collecting has gone quicker than I thought it would. I’m also want to pass on my appreciation to everyone who has helped provide data and insight on this project! I plan on compiling a full thank-you list when I’m finished (something tells me that blog entry will be 50% acknowledgements!).

Until next time!!!

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