Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tabuk Status Update

It’s been a while since I wrote on the status of the Tabuk project. Honestly the project was on hold pending the arrival of parts and engraving. The economy being what it is I also had to make some decisions about how to proceed on the project. As it stands I have enough parts for one rifle, and nearly enough parts for a second. I’ve therefore decided to build just one rifle, and sell the remaining parts as a kit on Gunbroker. The auction is up now – just search for “tabuk” and you can’t miss it. Okay, end shameless plug, let’s get on to the GOOD stuff. I now have the stock and the engraved parts in my grubby little hands!

First the stock. Ironwood Designs makes a Tabuk stock, and the ones online looked amazing. They look even better up close! The stock arrived a couple of weeks ago. Here’s a picture of it “in the raw”:

Given that this is a hardwood stock, I’m able to use a BLO / Tung Oil finish on it. I start with a few layers of BLO and Japan Drier. Eventually I get to a point where it won’t dry well, and then I go with a couple of layers of Tung Oil. I steel wool the stock between layers of Tung Oil. The end result is absolutely amazing. Right now I’ve just started the Tung Oil, so I’ll post pictures of the completed stock in the next installment.

I’d also sent off all of the parts to be engraved. As with the stock, the work done by Engraving By Angela looks great online, and it looks even better when it’s in your hands. The depth of the engraving and attention to detail is just amazing. Starting with the receiver, the existing markings on the NDS-9 had to be tig welded and the new markings engraved. The end result is amazing though.

I decided on a serial number for mine, 42341970, and based on examples of the real thing online the block would most likely have been produced in 2002. Note, of course, that this is not the actual serial number of the firearm as the NDS-9 receiver has a serial number. Therefore these serial numbers are purely cosmetic. The front trunnion looks great, Angela has matched the font for the numbers almost perfectly!

The serial number also carries over to the top cover:

As well as the bolt carrier and bolt (based on my research, last five digits only):

Perhaps the masterpiece of the whole project is the rear sight block with the “Tabuk” marking on one side and the Lion of Babylon marking on the other:

So at this point I’m only missing a few parts, the buttpad and screws being the primary ones. I also don’t have a front sight detent and spring, but I do have a spare AMD-65 front sight I’m going to try to cannibalize. If that doesn’t work, I’ll still be in the market. I’ve found good instructions online on how to get the near virgin barrel assembled and head spaced properly. It’s going to be a challenge! My only open question at this point deals with the scope rail which has to be spot welded to the receiver – when is the right time to do that? Before attaching everything else? Anyway, I’m going to be hitting up a few people who have built one of these before to get a few final tips before I dive in. The next update will actually include in progress pictures of the build!

Until next time!!!

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