A friend of mine that is an NFA sort of guy approached me and asked me if I knew of any rifles chambered in the 9 mm. After a rather lengthy Internet search I could find none.
There are a few things that could be modified, but the overall effort and potential cost just didn’t seem worth it.
So, he made a suggestion. He had recently acquired an Armscor .22 TCM bolt action rifle. He deduced that since they also made a Government model pistol that came with two barrels, one in .22 TCM and the other in 9mm, that they were close enough dimensionally that it was do able.
That sounded good to me, so I thought I’d try it. I figured that we shouldn’t have to mess with the extractor and the bolt face on the gun ought to work. After looking at it and studying it, I told him it was worth a try. He ordered a barrel blank from Green Mountain, and brought it to me. The project was on…good, bad or ugly, we decided to give it a try.
As most of you know, the popularity of the 9mm is on the rise mostly because of the .22 ammo situation. Although its starting to come back, the fact that it was hard to get gave the 9mm the push it needed. Although not as cheap as shooting a .22, it was still cheap enough to shoot and the absence of recoil in a bolt action rifle was an added plus to those that have issues with recoil.
So, I turned out the barrel blank and chambered it. We left it a bit on the heavy side, because in my experience with suppressors, the heavy weight of a suppressor on a thin barrel is just not good for accuracy. Its basically a varmint weight barrel, but at 16″ its wasn’t heavy enough to be a problem and it’s a short as we could legally go without SBRing it.
So I pulled the old barrel off and put the new barrel on. That was easy enough.
The 9mm case fit perfectly in the bolt face. So perfect in fact, that there simply wasn’t enough clearance for the empty case to eject. The tight fit of the case just would not tilt enough when the plunger tried to push it out and the extractor just held it in place. You could shoot, rack the bolt back and the case would just sit there.
So, I chucked the bolt in the lathe, dialed it in and removed about 15 thousands off of the bolt face rim diameter. This gave the case enough clearance to to tilt and let the case eject as it should. Problem solved, it worked great.
Next was the issue of the feed ramp angle. We were using 150 grain cast lead round-nose bullets and although the feed was OK, it was not 100 percent. Occasionally one of the bullets would slam into the feed ramp and hang up. Usually just manipulation of the bolt would take care of it but it was annoying.
So, I took the rifle apart and looked at the feed ramp. On this rifle, it bolts on using a small bolt to secure it. That was good, I removed it and put it in the vise. About 5 minutes with a Dremel tool using a sand drum held at a little more of an angle than the original and lowering the angle about an 1/8″ of an inch and that problem went away.
Feeding was flawless. Re ran some FMJ and even some Hornady XTP Hollowpoint through it with out any issues.
Next was the suppressor test. Using a cast 150 grain bullet traveling at approx. 1000 FPS and shooting it through a couple of different cans, this thing is stupid quiet. Pretty much the predominate sound is the bullet whacking what ever it hits. Its just a phhtttttt… WHACK.
Accuracy was great. While we haven’t yet tried it for serious accuracy yet, we were hitting every thing we shot at it and doing it quietly enough that it had us both giggling like school girls.
So there you have it. We now have a 9mm rifle that is capable of killing deer, larger critters, paper and what ever else pleases you. It’s a lot more capable than a suppressed .22 with enough energy that it isn’t even in the same league and its as quiet as it is. Its fun and cheap to shoot…especially if you cast bullets and load your own.
It doesn’t get any better than that.