Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tabuk Sniper Rifle Build Log – Part 4

It’s been a few weeks since I gave you an update on the Tabuk project, but I’ve just gotten the corrected barrels back. Before I dive in, I want to thank the guys at Tornado Technologies for doing such a great job on my two barrels. They’re extremely professional and easy to work with!!

As I’ve discussed earlier, the Green Mountain Tabuk barrels are a bit long as compared to actual Tabuk rifles. The original thread on The AK Forum shows a picture of an actual Tabuk DMR with a measuring tape showing that the barrel should be 21 3/8” long (as opposed to the 23.6” reported earlier). Since the posting of that thread, another Iraqi veteran has posted pictures of several Tabuks in Iraq along with more data. According to his data, the length of the barrel with the flash hider attached the barrel is 24.5” long. So with this data in hand, I was anxious to see how my barrels came out:

First, here’s a picture of the barrel without the flash hider:

Next, here’s a picture of the barrel with the flash hider:

In both pictures, the breech is at the 10” mark:

The threads hit right at 31 3/8” for a total length of 21 3/8”

With the flash hider the tip hits just about at 34 1/2” for a total length of 24 1/2" (granted I can probably tighten the flash hider a little tighter than normal at this point because the lack of the front sight block and detent at this point):

So at this point, I’m confident that both of the barrels that I have for my Tabuk are the correct length. Hopefully Green Mountain will consider updating their design going forward.

In addition to getting the barrels squared away, I’ve picked up several more parts. Since my previous update, I’ve replaced the East German RPK sights with Yugoslavian RPK sights as they are a better match to the original. I’ve also picked up a few less glamorous parts (handguard retainers, etc.). For comparison, I now have a few actual Tabuk DMR parts including a rear sight, front sight block, flash hider, and cleaning rod. Comparing these to my existing parts cache has been very interesting!

The picture above compares three different rear sights: Iraqi, Yugoslavian, and East German. From the picture it is clear why the East German sights are unsuitable for this application – they are only graduated out to 800 meters, whereas the Iraqi and Yugoslavian ones are graduated to 1km. The structure of the windage adjustment and finish is also wrong on the East German version. The Yugoslavian model is very close to the Iraqi one, although the font for the numbers is slightly different. My conclusion is that unless you have the real thing, the Yugo is perfectly fine, and it’s really not worth getting the font re-engraved as it’s pretty close.

Above is a comparison between cleaning rods (one Tabuk and two reproductions put together by a friend of mine). As I’d corrected the barrel length, I couldn’t use the recommendations for cleaning rod length on the net as the shorter barrel necessitates a shorter cleaning rod. The reproductions are still a sneeze shorter than the original, but they’re close enough!

Above is a picture of a real Tabuk DMR flash hider (finished) compared to a NoDak spud one (in the white). As you can see there are some minor differences between the two, though I know that NoDak Spud used actual as their exemplar. This is another part where there could be some variation over time.

Here’s a front sight comparison with an Iraqi version on the extreme left and two copies some friends of mine have worked up. Both copies capture the original quite well. The larger hole on “Copy 1” may be a smidge too far forward and the hole on “Copy 2” may be just a tad large. However, given that there is undoubtedly some variation, these should both work fine.

My second receiver has arrived, and I’ll pick it up this weekend from Andrew over at Ortwein International. So my next step is to send both receivers and all associated parts off for engraving. I’m not sure how long that is going to take to get done, but for my next installment I’m planning on showing “before” and “after” comparisons of all of the engraved parts. I’m still waiting on the stock from Ironwood (as well as confirmation on ordering a second stock set), and that represents the only holdouts at this point apart from a few small parts (front sight detents and detent springs, etc.). Once I get the parts back from engraving, I’ll be ready to start actually assembling the rifles!

Until next time!!!

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