Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Chinese Russian - Modified Grips

I happened upon this pistol one day at a LGS (local gun store) for $99. Yeah, I know - Can you believe that it stayed there for about a week before I came to my senses (and got the wife's thumbs up) and snatched it up. Part of the reason for my delay was because I knew absolutely nothing about it. After a little research I found out this was a Norinco 213 in 9mm which is a chinese made version of the russian Tokarev in a much more common caliber than the original 7.62 x 25. It was in decent condition with just a little freckling of rust and came with 3 mags. One of the first things I noticed after handling it was that in point shooting it would aim way low because of the odd grip angle. It was nice and flat though, flatter in fact than my Sig P239 in 9mm. Here's what it looked like when I first got it.This is just a random picture of a 213 I found, but it's exactly what mine looked like right down to the tacked on safety. Original Tokarev's weren't designed with a safety as they utilized the half-cock notch and were carried either half-cocked with one in the chamber or chamber empty and racked when needed. You'll notice the nice flat rear sight. It's perfect for hooking a belt to chamber a round. My example has the odd issue of not easily being racked with the hammer down. With the hammer thumbed back it racks very easily. It's not much of an issue for me since this is more of a fun range gun than one that I'll carry. For that purpose it works. It's more accurate (for me) than my Sig which I attribute to the nice single action trigger, longer sight radius and fine sights.

One thing that I still had a problem with was that t-square grip angle. While perusing a pawn shop I ran into another Norinco 213 that had what are called Tokagypt grips which wrap-around the back strap and give a fuller more natural grip angle by adding a palm swell. I liked the way they felt so I went on the hunt for similar ones for mine. Unfortunately, China is unable to import their firearms into the US anymore so parts like grips aren't that easy to fine. Fortunately for me they are sold in Canada through The cool thing is that Marstar sells some different versions of the Tokarev so I had a choice of grips. I chose the grips for their M-201C. Here's a picture of how they look on the 213.
The grips are designed for a version of the Tokarev without the laynard loop so I had to utilize my dremel skills and gouge out a notch in the grips for the loop. It worked and they help the grip angle significantly! Now can I be happy...well there's always room for improvement. I fixed the grip angle now the problem I have is hammer bite. The new grips push the web of my hand up high enough now for the hammer to occasionally nip it. Zastava has fixed this issue on the Tokarev versions that they produce by adding a beaver tail.
Now there's no easy way for me to add a beaver tail to my 213 so I had to get creative. I came up with an idea and decided to go for it. Here's the end result.

I'm a big fan of JB Weld and have used it a number of times before to fix things. I thought I could find some similar epoxy-like putty to mold on the back of the grips. After hitting up a number of modeller's forums I decided to order some Kneadatite "green stuff" and "brown stuff".(You'll notice that the safety was removed and is in the container with the "brown stuff")

I decided to just use the "brown stuff" since it's a bit harder than the more flexible "green stuff". It's really neat stuff to work with and adhered tightly to the grips. When I fitted the grips to the gun originally and carved out a notch for the lanyard loop I carved a bit too deep and came through the outside a bit so I decided to cover it up with some of the "brown stuff". Next I sanded it flush.

Originally, I was going to just use some auto paint to blend everything together, but while at Home Depot I saw this stuff. It's worked great and offers a rubbery grip which should allow a solid grip even with sweaty hands. I'd actually gotten this idea from someone who posted in one of the many forums I read who dipped his Barami Hip Grips in the stuff. I think I may even use this stuff on some revolver grips I have.

All in all, I really like how this turned out.

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Little Old School - Dan Wesson .357 Magnum

My background in guns is fairly recent - adding up to only a handful of years. I've always seen myself as a semi-auto kind of guy. I like the quick action, large capacity and slim design. The kid in me always screams 'NEAT' when I handle one. Most of my collection of handguns have been semi's with the only revolvers being my wife's guns. I've always liked the look of her Ruger SP101, though it never 'spoke' to me the way my semi's have. Her little & light Charter Arms .38 is so convenient to tuck into pants. It's hard not to ignore their place in the gun world. Easy to load (read - no pinching fingers loading a magazine), simple to maintain (worn springs are much less an issue), quick pointing & intuitive in shooting (no flying brass to bounce off your head or drop into your shirt). All these things I've appreciated, but they never really captured my interest. To be honest we probably would never owned a revolver if my wife hadn't picked one for herself.

Now why would I go out and buy a revolver for myself? Well, all the above came into the decision plus I felt we had a need for one. I'm constantly reviewing our home protection needs and though I know that the weapon of choice for HD is a shotgun I decided (at least for now) to hold off on that purchase. Here are my reasons for doing that. A shotgun is truly an intimidating weapon. Do I think I can handle one, of course. Do I think my wife can handle one, sure. But, neither of us have ever shot one. I'm of the mindset that if you're going to use a weapon you'd better practice with it. I don't make it to the range nearly as often as I'd like and living in the burbs like we do we're limited with the number of ranges available to us. None of those ranges (all indoor) allow shotguns so our chances of being able to practice with a shotgun would be very infrequent.

So long story short, I decided a medium/large frame revolver would fit the role as a trusty HD weapon. Since my wife's Ruger is a 357mag, I figured to keep ammo simple and stick with the same caliber. It's a known man stopper and in a larger heavier revolver would be much easier to shoot. So once that decision was made I switched into my research mode to find one that met the requirements, was fairly inexpensive (we're not wealthy) and that caught my fancy.
That's how I came across Dan Wesson revolvers. These are innovatively designed and largely under appreciated in the gun world. They are overly built strong revolvers of modular design that allow fast switching of barrels to larger or shorter lengths. You can see that their cylinder latch is located in front of the cylinder on the crane instead of behind the cylinder which was done partly for strength and partly to keep the trigger mechanism simple. About that trigger, it's different than any revolver I've ever felt. It has both a lighter & shorter (much shorter) stroke than my wife's SP101 which aids in it's outstanding accuracy.

Dan Wesson has changed hands several times over the course of time, most recently being acquired by CZ-USA so though parts aren't nearly as bountiful as they are for S&W's or Ruger's they can be found. I contacted CZ and they even have new barrels that can be purchased in all kinds of sizes from 2.5" - 10". I don't know how well I'd be able to hold it with a 10" barrel, but it's cool you can get them new from them. If you really search, I've heard you can even find 15" barrels that had been made in decades past.

So anyway, I found this revolver for sale locally and jumped on it. It's a Model 14 with a 4" barrel sporting large rubber target grips. I just found this out recently, but the difference between a Model 14 & 15 is that the 14 doesn't have adjustable sights. It didn't include the barrel wrench which is used to swap out barrels and adjust cylinder gap, but it did include this Bianchi holster. The holster originally had a snap on it, but I cut it off and refinished it so it would have an open top. The gun has it's share of wear on it (I might try re-bluing it for kicks), but it works like a dream and even though it doesn't have adjustable rear sights it hits point of aim for me.

I know this blog is called Hidden Defense and most likely I won't be trying to CCW this revolver, but I have thought about it and in the future may work on a couple holster designs to see how they work. I am looking into replacing the over large grips with smaller ones and maybe I'll splurge and get the 2.5" barrel to turn it into a snubby.

This in one revolver that makes that kid in me scream 'NEAT'!