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Old 02-19-2012, 01:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default .50 Cal pen ... parts ... ?

No offense to those that like the .50 Caliber pen kits -- but I just do not like them. So, for the past couple years, I've been making my own.

I buy once-fired, brass cartridges ... Barret .50 cal solid copper bullets ... and cigar pen kits. See on picasa

They are well liked by the Air Force folks (I was at HAFB, now at WPAFB).

But, I want to kick it up a notch: improve the design, lessen manufacturing cost, and I'm focusing on jigs/tools to improve the process.

Two questions that I could use some help on:
  1. Alternative (shorter) mechanisms?
    I use cigar pen kits for the coupler, a brass tube, the transmission.
    Thats a tall transmission! Notice that it pushes the "crimp rings" of the bullet above the neck of the casing? Yeah, me too.
    Or -- should I move from Parker Rollerball to Ballpoint, for the cheaper kits/shorter transmissions?
  2. Parts, not kits
    Any place to just buy couplers + transmissions? I can buy 10mm/dia tubing and cut to length; and I can turn brass or aluminum for the receiver (of the transmission).
    I see Cross BP transmissions sold individually .. but Sierra or Cigar ones?

If there is interest, I'd be willing to post a tutorial (step drilling the solid bullet, where to buy such things, how the receiver is crafted and set in place, etc).
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Old 02-19-2012, 01:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I know the Funline and Apprentice lines of cigar pen kits are cheap and inconsistent in quality.

But -- are their couplers/transmissions OK enough to use?
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Old 02-19-2012, 01:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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reply #2 to myself -- Woodturningz.com has 5-packs of Cigar mechanisms PKCIGARMECH5 product code

If I can solve the coupler question, then I'm done buying whole kits.
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Woodnwhimsies has Cigar couplers for .49 a pc and twist mechs for .99 a pc.They are listed on their pen parts page.
Pen Parts | Page 1 of 1
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Old 02-19-2012, 04:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I don't care for the size of the pen itself but I believe most just put them on there desks as cool looking desk decor anyway. I see nothing wrong with the (kits) we can get from PSI and its a heck of alot less trouble then spending hrs building parts to make one.
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Old 02-19-2012, 06:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yes, the cannelure should not be exposed. To get the bullet to seat to the correct depth, you can counterbore the case head on the inside. I do that on my 50BMG kits and it is sufficient for most cigar pen kits (there is variation from brand to brand). If your kit is still too long, you can grind down the finial coupler, or knock it out of the 8mm tube and omit that part entirely. See http://www.bulletpenkits.com/50BMG_Instructions.pdf for some more tips on assembling a 50BMG pen.

I hope that helps,
Eric Rasmussen
Rifle cartridges (bullet pen kits) for penturning available at:
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Old 02-20-2012, 11:13 AM   #7 (permalink)
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@Jon/Gaturner -- Thanks!

@Brian/Ruby -- Yes. These are unwieldy, but impressive "desk pen" (for some folks).
I am with an FFRDC assigned to AFRL @ WPAFB. So, some reasonable subset of folks here are gun-centric.

Example: .50 cals were used in our Materials Directorate, to shoot/test ALON ... translucent aluminum. The guys wanted to make something from the spent casings.

I *knew* someone was doing this same technique. I think I picked it up from you

I used to grind down that chrome end (grind threads, then down a bit into that metal.
But, that still isn't short enough. I'm using Barnes all-copper [pict here]

Attempt #1:
So, this weekend, I pulled the whole chromed piece off and socketed the 8mm tube into a 1/2" disc of aluminum. That was better but not enough (I need to post a pict).

Today, I'll turn some of that aluminum (1/2" rod) to see if I can make my own, shorter receiver -- no brass 8mm receiver tube, just a "socket" disc where the spent primer is sitting. I have been using Gorilla/poly glue for that attachment.

No one has complained, but I just don't like the look of the rings peeking over the casing neck. I guess I'm just anal.

Your "Step 3" photo shows much more chrome than I leave in place.
Your "Step 4" photo shows how I would LIKE it to be
Maybe ... I should just be buying your kits ;-) ... but I love the engineering problem!

-- joe
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Old 02-20-2012, 11:16 AM   #8 (permalink)
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@Eric - I re-read your PDF.

I'm off to shorten the OTHER end of the 8mm receiver tube. This sounds much easier than the end I've been working on (doh!)
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Old 02-22-2012, 11:10 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Not saying I really like the 50 cal kits but they're economical and give a good return with the Marines around here. I hear the return on the real bullet is better. I'm going to try some but I'm not set up to make them myself but if you put them up somewhere I'd consider getting some and learning where to get the brass besides govt auctions.
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:20 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Eric does sell the .50 cal kits on his website

I'm in the middle of ramping up with more of these, so I need to re-check pricing/etc. of the parts that I buy. I am also tooling up to build specific jigs (for ease, accuracy, etc.)

But, currently, I am using a Talon Chuck w/spigot jaws and jacobs drill with 3 drill bits (10mm, 7/32", and #35 bits).

The rest is some grinding, cleaning (brasso), gluing and assembly.

Brass casings
I get once-fired brass from the Barrett e-store. It is the last place from which I ordered.

I've seen large amounts on govt sales, and smaller amounts there.
This site was thrown at me, from a friend, when I was starting with these ~3 yrs ago

I think Eric uses some other bullet. I looked for all-copper, cheapest I could find.
I am pretty sure that I picked up the Barnes Tac-X bullets from MidwayUSA.com
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