Build No. 1: Part 6

Fitting the grip safety was ‘easier’ than I was afraid and cutting the bottom barrel lugs worked well by taking it very slowly, after a frightful ‘bump’ in the process.

I used a JEM Frame, as has been discussed before, and a EGW grip safety made especially for the JEM frame. If you are satisfied with the shape and look of that EGW grip safety, and you have a JEM frame, you won’t go wrong with it. I didn’t even need the Ed Brown Grip Safety Installation Jig I bought for the occasion.

Mostly Complete Beavertail Fit
Mostly Complete Beavertail Fit

There was some fitting to do, but it was mild and I did almost all of it with 320 grit sandpaper. MosinVirus’ technique of using progressively larger gage pins as you ink, fit, and file the tangs to match the grip safety worked very well for me. I watched many of his excellent videos preparing for, and during, this build – here’s the pertinent one for this step.

If I were to do it again, I’d do it all with the sandpaper. When fitting the top of the grip safety, I got a bit too frisky with my #4 cut round file and made myself more sanding work. Speaking of fitting the top, John Harrison’s Beavertail Fitting Fixture was a great help. You would do well to consider getting one.

I say that the beavertail fit is mostly complete because I have decided to get to a basic, functional fit with each part as I move along. I’ll leave the cosmetic full blending and polishing until after the gun passes its initial range testing, but before sending it out for Cerakote. This gun will be black-on-black-on-black. Everything, including the whole barrel, will be graphite black.

You really should watch MosinVirus’ video on cutting the bottom barrel lugs before you start that work. Yeah, yeah, I’m a MosinVirus fanboi. Sorry. Following his advice has given me good results.

I used Brownells’ Barrel Lug Fitting Kit and their Barrel Alignment Block; both of which I would consider necessary for the job.

Bottom Barrel Lugs After Cutting
Bottom Barrel Lugs After Cutting

There was a heart-stopping moment along the way to a happy finish. Near the end of the cutting, it appeared that I did not have the cutter shaft fully seated into the centering device that fits on the far side of the frame. As a result, when I thought I was done, I found that the slide stop pin fit was very out of square! I hadn’t cut the ejection port side lug enough.

The fix, fortunately, was pretty straight forward. I got the rig back in place and put the cutter in all the way (for sure). When I made a very tentative cut and removed the cutter to clean and check it, I could see that it was only cutting the far side lug. So I cut a little and checked, then cut a little and checked, until I could see shavings on both sides of the cutter telling me that the lugs were even. And fitting the pins told me that they were.

Another technique I ‘discovered’ was to use a punch of the right diameter wrapped in sandpaper to emulate a very fine round file. It worked well for the cleaning up the bottom barrel lugs and blending the top of the grip safety to the frame.

If you’ve started partway into this series, you can find the beginning here. Or you can continue with Part 7.

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