Helwan .380 ACP Conversion, Part 2

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When we left Part 1 the Helwan was basically stock except for the magazine and the lock being disabled, and was more or less functional.  It would still feed 9x19mm from a stock magazine, and the .380 rounds were headspacing off of the extractor in the oversized chamber.  The chamber was causing the brass to ‘balloon’ noticably. Not good.

First things first- getting a proper chamber that headspaces off the cartridge lip as it should.  I put the barrel in the vice, mounted a .442″ drill bit in the headstock and bored out the chamber. Next I cut a piece of .356″ barrel liner slightly over-length. NOTE- I bought this rifled barrel liner from Numerich Arms, and both guns I lined with it will keyhole bullets at 7 yards– it sucks as barrel liner but is pretty good for lining chambers.  The outside diameter is .440″ so it fit snugly in the bored-out chamber. I slathered it with solder flux, pressed it in and silver-soldered the liner in place. After that I cut the extractor notch and re-ground the feed ramp. I then reamed the chamber so the ammo would headspace on the cartridge lip.

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From left to right- the liner in position ready for soldering, the extractor notch and feed ramp ground (post-solder,) and the chamber reamed to depth for .380 ACP

To decrease the ‘stock’ appearance of the gun and just because I liked the look I cut 1/4″ of the end of the barrel so it was flush with the slide and lightly re-crowned it.

I test-fired the gun, and the results were inconsistent. I kept having to tweak the feed lips on the magazine, Eventually I reached the conclusion that the magazine was so crappy that the feed lips got deformed every time the gun was fired. Fortunately I had bought two magazines, and the second was stainless, and a good deal stouter that the first. It was also slightly shorter, so I replaced the base plate with an aluminum spacer to make up the difference in length.

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Despite the magazine body being shorter it still holds eight rounds.

this pretty much did for the issues, and I was able to modify the follower\ so that it actuates the slide lock- the gun now locks back after the last round in the magazine is fired.

That being done I decided to modify the plastic grips. Yes, I’ll be making wood handles for it eventually, but I wanted to experiment with the shape a bit. I also domed the grip-screws and re-blued them. They are more comfortable now, and it’s much easier to remove the safety.

Lastly I ground off the writing on the slide and flat-ground both sides at the front. I then used the turbo carver and a tiny carbide bur to engrave .380 ACP on the slide, then re-blued it as well. The engraving doesn’t look too bad; it actually looks better IRL than it does in the photo.

So, this is the basic form of the gun. Eventually it will get wood grips and a modified front sight, but that’s about it.Here’s where we’re at as of this evening-

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Michael Tinker Pearce, 15 October 2018

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