Electropolishing & Fire Lapping

Making myself extremely unpopular with gun barrel manufacturers.

by Joe Carlos

When I first came on board as the Armorer for the Army Reserve Marksmanship Program I machine rest tested 135 A2 National Match uppers. The results made my jaw dropped to the floor. Only 39 of them would shoot MOA. I seriously questioned my sanity in getting talked into accepting such a project given the hand I had been dealt. 96 of those uppers were very sick! On top of that, we had no replacement barrels and our budget couldn’t afford that many barrels at one time. On taking throat gauge readings and bore scoping those 96 it was immediately obvious that hardly any of them were really shot out. They just weren’t shooting well. Either those 96 barrels were born bad or something else was wrong with the guns that kept the barrels from giving the accuracy they were born with.

I briefly toyed with the notion of sending some of the barrels back to their manufacturers to have them go over them and see what was wrong. The Army Reserve contracted with a competing team for maintenance support and it was obvious that the uppers had a hodgepodge of barrels on them. The uppers were serial numbered so I contacted those folks and asked if they could provide a list of what brand of barrels were on what uppers by serial number. I was told they kept no such records, removing any hope about getting support from the barrel makers. I called them “mystery barrels” and the phrase seemed to catch on with the shooters. This also convinced me to keep good records, which has been one of the keys to my success in research and gunsmithing along with my experiences as a shooter using government firearms that flat weren’t built right gave me the motivation to try extra hard to help my shooters. Given my lack of funds and the need to get the uppers shooting better I instituted my “Upper Quick Fix Program.” The program combined hard work and ingenuity using low cost methods.

Read more in our May 2015 issue. Back issues are available.

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