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AR and 1911 parts have become commodity items. They’re so modular that putting together a custom weapon is only a challenge for enthusiasts who can’t assemble a Lego Batman. All you really need to cobble together an AR or a JMB .45 is a Brownell’s bookmark on your browser, a clean, well-lighted place to work, some YouTube instruction and a credit card with enough headroom. Meanwhile, civilians in “developing” nations (i.e. countries where civilian gun ownership is prohibitively expensive or just plain prohibited) are building something a little more…primitive. From scratch. Needless to say, America has an underground movement (with thousands of websites) celebrating amateur American DIY gunsmiths who roll their own. Perhaps our Armed Intelligentsia would like to give it a whirl. Or already have. If so, links please. If not, those of you with kids facing high school science projects are on notice.

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  1. Oh, so THAT’S a zip gun. Vermont law expressly forbids selling or “offering to sell” a zip gun. Nothing about owning them, but the Feds have a thing against making your own guns.

    • but the Feds have a thing against making your own guns.

      No they don’t. It can’t be full-auto, I don’t think you can sell it but you can give it to family, and it has to have an identifying number on it.

  2. Woah woah woah hold on there buddy. I agree that there are both a TON of replacement/upgrade parts for the AR and 1911 platforms BUT unlike the AR JMB’s 1911 is definitely NOT modular. Each manufacturer has their own set of tolerances and you cannot swap slides, barrels, frames at all. Any high quality 1911 is done bespoke with all its parts created for that gun and that gun alone. There is no “modular” aspect to 1911’s unless you are talking about the original M1911A1 rattle jobs that were purposely built to looser tolerances for increased reliability and SOME part sharing. Any modern 1911 from Kimber, Springfield Armory, ParaOrd, Wilson Combat, etc. is going to have its parts fitted if you want to make changes to grip safety, thumb safety, trigger, sear, barrel, bushing, etc. The only parts you have a good chance just swapping out are grip panels, MSH, sights, and the slide release. Just my .02 cents…

    • Not 100% true. They aren’t legos that any idiot can slap together, but they are modular in a way. I have a .22 conversion kit that will fit on every one of my 1911s without any modifications whatsoever. Have shot several 1911 frames mated to a bolt action upper that shoots .308 winchester.

      I argue the other way…I could buy a thumb safety or barrel bushing from any manufacturer and make it fit any of my 1911s with very little time.

      Even those old rattletraps you describe where incredibly accurate for what they were. Tighter tolerances don’t always = higher quality. For example which one – match grade 1911 or GI a1 would you trust to go bang every time when SHTF?

  3. As Crocodile Dundee might say, “that’s not a zip gun.”

    This is a zip gun:

    Start with a piece of pipe which serves as the barrel. The pipe diameter is chosen to match whatever cartridges the maker may have. You’d be surprised how many shotgun shells share diameters with plain plumbing pipes. .22s were also popular in zip guns and rigid tubular plumbing could be used as a barrel. In fact, back in the day, the local plumbing supply store was the inner-city version of an armory.

    A handle was optional and usually omitted, concealability being more important than comfort. A frame was also optional and if one was used, it would be something primitive like a piece of 1×2 affixed with tape or pipe clamps. Electric tape (the old cotton type worked best) would be wrapped around the barrel and frame to serve as a hand guard of sorts.

    Zip guns were mostly striker fired. A section of bumper spring could be used to power the striker, but rubber bands worked best. The firing pin was a nail, affixed through a cork or similar device that aligned the pin and prevented it from being launched.

    A bullet was inserted into the end of the pipe and the striker would drawn back by hand. To fire, the striker would either be released by hand, like a bowstring, or released using a device like a clothespin holding the striker at the ready. Hence, “zip gun,” after the noise made by the makeshift striker when it’s released. The point of the nail struck the primer and Houston, we had ignition.

    When all worked as it should, a zip gun was effective as a contact or near-contact weapon. With no rifling, the zip gun was highly, highly inaccurate. The bullet began to tumble almost immediately.

    When made improperly, zip guns didn’t go bang. Oddly enough, blowouts were not as common as one would expect. That’s probably because of the low-pressure cartridges or shells that were used. Usually, zip guns worked or not. Some zip guns, made by skilled “armorers,” could fire repeatedly before they stopped working. Those were usually ego pieces, made to show off. Mostly, zip guns were made to fire once and be thrown away, leaving no evidence.

    Manufacturing a true zip gun is a major felony.

  4. I’ve always said that you can NEVER ban all guns, and this proves it. Even if every gun maker in the world closed down forever, someone out there would continue to make guns and no law could stop them.

    • If high-school drop-outs can brew up meth in their trailer I am sure that even if ammo was banned criminals would still be able to make it.

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