BOWJUNKIE E-11 WARNING!!!

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Art Andrews

Community Owner
Community Staff
I know this is a long read, but please bear with meÂ…

About a year ago, a friend of mine got me an E-11 build by bowjunkie. As you can imagine, I was elated. However, there were a couple of issues right off the bat with it. First, the front of the scope rail was not attached in any way, and only resting inside a air-vent hole. Even though the gun was packaged well, the scope rail came out during shipping and put a nasty scrape, through the paint, down the side of the gun. I know we all like weathering, but this just looked bad. Secondly, the stock was out of alignment and snagged on the safety switch when opening it, and then would not lock into place when fully open. Honestly, both of these were minor gripes. The silver solder lines were absolutely immaculate, and not only thatÂ… the bolt worked, which added a cool dimension to the gun.

Shortly after getting this gun, I was working the bolt one night (nothing extreme, just cycling the bolt) when the back of the gun popped off. For any of you that know anything about a Sterling, I know what you are thinkingÂ… the end cap just came off. Well, unfortunately, it was not that simple. Literally, the back of the gun came off. As mentioned, the Sterling has a butt cap. This buttcap, locks onto a thin metal locking sleeve that it welded to the receiver of the gun. Originally, the receiver tube extends all the way to the rear of the gun and then the sleeve was slid over the rear of the receiver and welded into place. However, on bowjunkie rebuilt Sterling, the receiver ends just before the locking sleeve. It appears as if he cuts, the locking sleeve, receiver and all, off the parts kit and then uses an inner sleeve to tack on the old part to the new receiver tube. While, I donÂ’t want to be overly critical, this seems like a somewhat cheap and easy way to do things, instead of correctly removing the original locking sleeve from the original receiver tube and attaching the locking sleeve to the new receiver. BowjunkieÂ’s method results in a pieced together receiver instead of a one-piece receiver. This joint is where my gun broke.

I contacted Steve about it and he agreed to “reweld” the rear of the gun and assured me when it was done it would never come off again. Well, it took forever to get back but he did get it back to me and did not charge me for the work. However, within a few weeks…. The back was off again. L

With the gun out of commission again and seeing what a hard time people were having getting their items from Steve, I decided to just let things lie. However, as I got to thinking about it, I saw an opportunity in this tragedy. One of the things I really didnÂ’t like about my bowjunkie E-11 was the finish. The gun is a flat black with a powdery grey highlightsÂ… kind of like a drybrushed weathering style finish, which I always thought was a bit silly because this is an ALL METAL gun. Why would you drybrush on weathering? Anyway, I thought since the gun was in pieces, now would be a good time to strip it and have it properly finished, with the original style Sterling finish.

I stripped the paint from the gun a huge and very disheartening discovery. All those “perfect solders” weren’t so perfect after all. Steve had made his solders then cleaned them up and where they weren’t so nice, he simply smoothed them out with putty. Virtually every solder point had putty around it as well as a number of dings and machining gouges in the gun. The paint hid this nicely but the problem is that the original coating for a Sterling will not adhere to putty well. I know some probably wouldn’t care that the solder points were puttied but for someone who is a metal worker, this seems like an extreme shoddy effort to cover up poor craftsmanship.

The next thing that was discovered, thanks to Dean O, was that the joints were not high-temp silver-soldered as they should have been, but instead were SOFT SOLDERED. That is rightÂ… regular old soft-solder, similar to what would be used for electronics. No wonder the back endcap wouldnÂ’t stay on. Not only did Steve not clean up the areas where the weld would be, but he used the wrong solder..

Dean O was kind enough to look at the gun and send pics to darkside72 for evaluation. Sadly, Jamie found even more issues with the build in terms of accuracy and at this point, the only real option is to completely break this gun back apart and redo it, which will be MORE work than if Jamie started from scratch with a demilled Sterling. The worst part is that I now have to pay TWICE for a gun (once, for my friend who paid Steve, and once for me paying Jamie to fix this mess) that SHOULD have been made right the first time.

Up until now, you might be saying “so what, you bought a finished E-11, you shouldn’t care how it was assembled as long as the finished product looks good.” If you feel that way, you are entitled to that opinion. However, this next little bit is VERY IMPORTANT FOR ANY BOWJUNKIE E-11 OWNER. In disassembling the gun, which required only basic hand tools (no power tools, no special machinery), I discovered that the way in which this gun is assembled is potentially ILLEGAL. That is right. If you own a bowjunkie E-11 you MAY own an ILLEGAL FIREARM that could be “readily restored” to a class 3 fully firing smg. Owning such is a FELONY offense.

According to the ATF:
“An unserviceable firearm is defined as one which is incapable of discharging a shot by means of an explosive and which is incapable of being readily restored to a firing condition. An acceptable method of rendering most firearms unserviceable is to fusion weld the chamber closed and fusion weld the barrel solidly to the frame. Certain unusual firearms require other methods to render the firearms unserviceable.”

The penalty for breaking the law? Again, according to the ATF:
“Violators may be fined not more than $250,000, and imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.”

The key term in the above information is “readily restored.” The ATF makes this a loose term on purpose so they have a wider range of opportunity. They can be as stringent or as lax as they see fit. However, they do suggest “acceptable methods” for making a firearm unserviceable: “fusion weld the chamber closed and fusion weld the barrel solidly to the frame.” Most people also say it is wise to rebuild the gun in such a way as to not allow the original, working internal components from being installed/working properly.

Bowjunkie fills the barrel of his Sterlings so a bullet cannot be made to pass through it but he does NOT weld the barrel in place. You can remove the inert barrel in less than 5 minutes and replace it with a fully functional barrel. I think even under the most lax view, this would be considered “readily restorable.” Additionally, from what I can see, the bowjunkie Sterling uses all original parts, including the original bolt. From what I can see, all that needs to be replaced is the barrel, which is held in place by two screws…

I canÂ’t even begin to describe how pissed I am about this. I know some have not even received what they paid for but at this point, if I didnÂ’t have my item, I would not want it, but a refund instead as you would be receiving an extremely shoddy and ILLEGAL item... For whatever it is worth, you have been warned.

IÂ’d like to thank both Dean O and Jamie for their professional assistance in this. They have been very helpful and patient. Hopefully, they will add to this with any details I left off or got wrong.

Please note in the pics below, Dean O had already bead-blasted the gun to clean it up, taking off some of the putty, but you can still see it in numerous places. There was even putty in the rust pitting on the stock...













 

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JHVanOphem

Well-Known Member
I'm not a gun person, but I did have a question regarding the potentially illegal bit.

Could it be argued that because the gun was re-assembled using soft welds, and as noted is easy to break, that that aspect would render the weapon still unusable?

Sure the barrel could be replaced but wouldn't the act of firing cause the entire thing to fall apart?

Again, I'm not any kind of expert, and I'm not trying to defend Bowjunkie or anything, I just wanted to get that part clear for myself so I can better understand the seriousness of the message.
 

DARKSIDE72

Sr Member
You pretty much covered it Art.

The major issue here is the receiver. A jig, some adjustments ,some good welding and brazing and this thing is firing again.


Dean sent me a ton of photographs asking my opinion. At first the whole receiver threw me off as an original receiver until I paid attention to the joints it became obvious what bowjunkie had done. One way of knowing whether or not a gun has been brazed is the color of the welds. Dean spotted this right off the back. A true braze is gold in color, the bowjunkie is silvery (soft solder). Dean called me, we discussed the gun at great length and Arts options. The results were not in Arts favor unfortunatly. It will take a lot of work to bring the gun up to par and make it legal.

Mods please stick... a serious legal issue is within our midst.
 

DARKSIDE72

Sr Member
Originally posted by JHVanOphem@Mar 5 2006, 01:59 PM
I'm not a gun person, but I did have a question regarding the potentially illegal bit.

Could it be argued that because the gun was re-assembled using soft welds, and as noted is easy to break, that that aspect would render the weapon still unusable?

Sure the barrel could be replaced but wouldn't the act of firing cause the entire thing to fall apart?

Again, I'm not any kind of expert, and I'm not trying to defend Bowjunkie or anything, I just wanted to get that part clear for myself so I can better understand the seriousness of the message.
[snapback]1199258[/snapback]​

Again some welding and it's up and running. Unseviceable means nothing can be done to it to make it fire. Take a bowjunkie gun (and 4-6 hours of work), realign a couple of parts, replace all the solder with welds and braze, drop in a new barrel and what do you have? :confused
 

Tatooine_Todd

Sr Member
Originally posted by JHVanOphem@Mar 5 2006, 06:59 PM
I'm not a gun person, but I did have a question regarding the potentially illegal bit.

Could it be argued that because the gun was re-assembled using soft welds, and as noted is easy to break, that that aspect would render the weapon still unusable?

Sure the barrel could be replaced but wouldn't the act of firing cause the entire thing to fall apart?

Again, I'm not any kind of expert, and I'm not trying to defend Bowjunkie or anything, I just wanted to get that part clear for myself so I can better understand the seriousness of the message.
[snapback]1199258[/snapback]​
That's not how the BATF looks at it. They look to see if the receiver can be easily made to fire again (it appears it can in this case) then it may be a violation. The operative words are MAY BE, that said the BATF is very unforgiving and humorless in these situations. You are playing with serious fire if you don't have a professional smith de-mill the gun correctly. A FFL gunsmith may have problems if an unregistered receiver is brought to him to de-mill, by the way.

This is a very problematic, and alarming subject.

Todd
 

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Wakal

Well-Known Member
Readily convertable? That is a rather high bar to attempt to reach.

Hmmm....

Give me my big mill, my favorite lathe, and an hour...I can build a fully functional open-bolt subgun out of scrap metal. Don't ask me how I know.

Hand tools and the contents of my friend's service (plumbing) truck, and six hours. Same thing. Not pretty and not accurate, but functional. Don't ask.

You guys spend too much time worrying (and causing others to worry). But what do I know, I'm just a professional gunsmith and instructor. If you want to talk to the head of the Firearms Tech Branch, I have him on speed dial ;)






Alex

(edited at R25's request)
 

Art Andrews

Community Owner
Community Staff
Originally posted by DARKSIDE72@Mar 5 2006, 07:16 PM
The results were not in Arts favor unfortunatly.
[snapback]1199280[/snapback]​
You can say that again. I finally had to tell Dean to just stop telling me stuff because it was just too unsetting.

I am still grateful that my friend got this for me, but man... what a headache. This level of poor work is simply inexcusable.
 

Art Andrews

Community Owner
Community Staff
Originally posted by Wakal@Mar 5 2006, 07:33 PM
You guys spend too much time worrying (and causing others to worry).  But what do I know, I'm just a professional gunsmith and instructor.  If you want to talk to the head of the Firearms Tech Branch, I have him on speed dial  ;)
[snapback]1199288[/snapback]​
Not to be a smartass, but actually, I would. I have seen before where some people say things of this nature are no big deal while others think it is a VERY big deal. I am not trying to be an alarmist but I would rather be safe than sorry and would love to get something IN WRITING about this so it could be done once and for all.

It may seem silly, but before I sent my MG-15 out to you, I wrote the ATF about having the barrel cut out and asked if they had a problem with that. I got a written letter back saying it was not an issue since my demilled MG-15 was already considered a "non-gun." It may seem like overkill, but if anyone ever asks about it, I have the paper to back it up. I would LOVE to have something similar for the Sterling.
 

DARKSIDE72

Sr Member
Originally posted by Wakal@Mar 5 2006, 02:33 PM
Give me my big mill, my favorite lathe, and an hour...I can build a fully functional open-bolt subgun out of scrap metal.  Don't ask me how I know.

Hand tools and the contents of my friend's service (plumbing) truck, and six hours.  Same thing.  Not pretty and not accurate, but functional.  Don't ask.

You guys spend too much time worrying (and causing others to worry).  But what do I know, I'm just a professional gunsmith and instructor.  If you want to talk to the head of the Firearms Tech Branch, I have him on speed dial  ;)


Alex
[snapback]1199288[/snapback]​

Alex sorry Bro but WTF does any of this have to do with the issue?
Who is worried? Well I'd say if you own an illegal SMG receiver, you should be.
 

RKW

Sr Member
Originally posted by Wakal@Mar 5 2006, 07:33 PM
Give me my big mill, my favorite lathe, and an hour...I can build a fully functional open-bolt subgun out of scrap metal.  Don't ask me how I know.

Hand tools and the contents of my friend's service (plumbing) truck, and six hours.  Same thing.  Not pretty and not accurate, but functional.  Don't ask.

You guys spend too much time worrying (and causing others to worry).  But what do I know, I'm just a professional gunsmith and instructor.  If you want to talk to the head of the Firearms Tech Branch, I have him on speed dial  ;)






Alex
[snapback]1199288[/snapback]​
What's the point of saying this? It's like me saying that I can build a bomb using just the ingedients found in almost any kitchen. But the difference here is that it requires knowledge and intent on my part. Bowjunkie's improper deactivation of firearms could cause innocent people to be breaking serious laws.
 

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Wakal

Well-Known Member
You and your comment about "Again some welding and it's up and running", actually...that is what drove my comments. The standard to which you are trying to hold these conversion is not based on any fact or actual standard whatsoever, and seems to be fearmongering of the worst sort. The BATFE are not to be trifled with, but neither are they the evil Boogerman of legend.

You and I have gone down this path before.

Anything said by any BATFE agent is not worth the air (or ink) used to issue same.

Follow the court cases. Reference Bob Stewart's recent case of selling "illegal gun kits"; the goverment gave up on the "functional" charge after initially testifying that they made a functional rifle out of one of Bob's kits after "six hours" of work (by the so-called master gunsmith of the BATF). Bob ended up in jail for being a felon in possession, not for selling kits that were "readily convertable" to being functional firearms.

The problem is, yes, that the BATFE does not clearly and consistantly define what "readily convertable" actually is. They continually change their definition, and when challenged in court back off on the specific charges. I spent quite a bit of time talking to the head of the BATFE Tech Branch, asking him very detailed questions. He gave answers different that I received, in writing, from his subordinates...and in some cases, answers different than he gave under oath in various cases.

If the gun cannot be made to fire, as this crappy conversions are, without professional intervention, then they (using the Stewart case as established case law; I hope one of the real lawyers around here will have a minute or two to make sure that I and my associates have read it correctly) are fine. Using junk welds as referenced in your otherwise entertaining post means that even if the E11 is completely dissassembled, reassembled with a funcational bolt and barrel, and fired...it would desintegrate with possible damage to the shooter, if not the shootee.

My earlier post, as I have posted the last dozen times this fearmongering issue came up, stated that any reasonably proficient person with some tools and a bit of time can make a firearm...usually in far less time than it was necessary to try to "convert" an existing POS. Trusting the BATFE or any of their little agents is pointless; there is settled case law to play with vice any junior G-man's "opinion."





Alex

(edited at R25's request)
 

exoray

Master Member
One way of knowing whether or not a gun has been brazed is the color of the welds. Dean spotted this right off the back. A true braze is gold in color, the bowjunkie is silvery (soft solder). Dean called me, we discussed the gun at great length and Arts options.
I wouldn't jump on the color of the solder so quick, many of the "real" Sterlings have nothing short of silver soldered/brazed joints... Silver soldering/brazing the joints is an acceptable method when a Class II rebuilder is assembling a real one from a parts kit...

Anyway it's a little disturbing that at least the barrel was not welded in place...

You guys spend too much time worrying (and causing others to worry). But what do I know, I'm just a professional gunsmith and instructor. If you want to talk to the head of the Firearms Tech Branch, I have him on speed dial
And would the head of the Firearms Tech Branch let you sell the above as a dummy gun as is with only solder joints and in intact receiver?
 

Art Andrews

Community Owner
Community Staff
Yikes. This is not at all where I was intending this thread to go. It seems Alex and Jamie have some differences of opinion on the legality issue (although to me, it seems this gun is far too readily convertable) but what neither seem to argue is that the workmanship on this gun is terribly inferior. As I said in my initial post, take what you will from the legality side, but if you want to have your gun accurized, as I do, the methods bowjunkie uses to assemble he gun simply will not allow for it. :(
 

rocketeer25

Sr Member
I've pulled a couple of posts out of this thread that were OT. I think we all appreciate it when SMEs (subject matter experts) come into a thread and shed some light on a subject like this.

Wakal and Darkside72 both seem to know their stuff, but apparently have a difference of opinion on how it applies here. No problem. But I think we would all appreciate it if we kept the conversation about the sterlings, and not about personal differences.

I think Wakal understands this... he PMd me a few minutes ago saying that he went a bit too far in his posts. Thanks for recognizing that, Alex.

You guys both have a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience in this area... thanks for being willing to share your viewpoints. I hope that anyone who has one of bowjunkie's build-ups would do what it takes is necessary to feel comfortable that they are within the guidelines of the law.

Lonnie
 

Wakal

Well-Known Member
...a dummy gun as is with only solder joints and in intact receiver?
There are many types, as referenced above, of solder. Hell, I think I had five or six kinds of just so-called "silver" solder on the back of my workbench before I fled the States for this inhospitable climate. I took the original poster at their word, and from the look of the rather nice pictures (mine never turn out that well; I blame the camera...cameras... ;) ), tend to agree.

Some nice high-temperature solder is nearly as strong as a proper weld; whilst the low-end lead solder is not quite as strong as JB Weld.

And...that is not an intact Sterling receiver. I've blueprinted and built quite a few; I'm no expert on them like I am with the AR15 or STI patterns, but I have built some (rather nifty, IMO, closed bolt semi-auto) Sterlings of my own conversion as well as inert Sterlings for toy use.

The debate is if that...not intact...Sterling receiver is able to meet the standard of "convertable" as shown; my point is that under the Stewart case...no it isn't. Little junior G-Men; hell, Sterling Nixon himself. tend to give erroneous information. They are not, much like the IRS, held to any standard of accuracy at all. However, case law is something different; at least it provides a solid benchmark vice any Jr. G-Man's opinion.

Quality of the conversion? Well, I'd have expected better for that kind of money. But I don't think there needs to be a mad rush to one of Bowjunkie's competitors to hand over a stack of cash to be "safe" vice "happy with my toy." Jamie does a beautiful E11 conversion for a fair price, but I see no reason to throw money around on a toy that the owner is already perfectly happy about due to fearmongering.




Alex
 

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Durasteel Corporation

Well-Known Member
If I can shed some light here as well



MY understanding from Bowjunkie per conversations when I was beginning to rebuild my own sterling was that his parts were brazed on, not welded.

This makes a huge difference simply because brazing, typically being a topical 'glue' on incongruent materials (ie metals arent the same), is a fundametnally different process --nor nearly as strong as a true homogenous weld, which effectively fuses the metal together. With brazing we are often talking about non-ferrous vs. ferrous "glueing". One would never expect a brazed copper-alloy metal or a tin/silver/lead alloy to bond iron based metals like steel with other steel parts. A true MIG, TIG, or ARC or stick weld molecularly bonds the steel gun parts...it does not glue them as a soldering or brazing approach does.

I would be less concerned about legality issues (though I have no doubt they are very important) but with safety issues....ie, a warning to NEVER shoot a gun that has been piece together with soldering/ brazing.---you are more likely to kill yourself than someone else.

Hope this helps.
 

exoray

Master Member
Originally posted by Wakal@Mar 5 2006, 03:29 PM
And...that is not an intact Sterling receiver.
With the exception that about 3/4" was cut off the back, for the bastardized end cap what is not intact? It is well past any 85% or even 90% receiver blank...
 

DL 44 Blaster

Sr Member
While owning a "REALSTERLING" it seems to me that this side of what is non-functional is really open for constant debate. Considering even paperwork isn't worth the ink it's used on is kind of alarming and how so many agents, so many opinions leaves me with no comfort either. I guess it boils down to if one doesn't plan on having a BATFE agent knocking at ones door the weapon is best kept in the confides of ones home. It's the stance I had to take long ago when I bought mine....and I still LOVE IT...

The IMA-USA solid reciever Sterlings apear to be the ONLY absolute,no questions, legal thing to own since you'd have to build a SMG out of scrap before you could get one of those to fire without killing yourself first.

Question: CAN one LEGALLY own an operable SMG in the US???? Granted if there is paperwork and background checks to properly submit. I've got a friend who owns a belt fed .50 machine gun and he says it's all legal.....I don't know enough to question it, but my MG-34 has a solid reciever so I know I'm cool.....even still I'd love to crank out a few rounds on a real one :love

Art, I'd consider getting some MAP gas and brazing rods and doing the attachments myself. Add some minor filling to the gouges and surely your Sterling will look good as new after you get a Real Sterling finish on it. It'll be a heck of a lot cheaper in the long run.

Just a thought from a fellow do-it-yourselfer ;) I know you must be pissed to say the least and the thought of having so much into a Sterling is disheartening. I hope there is a light at the end of the tunnel for you on this one bud.

Steve
 

exoray

Master Member
Originally posted by Durasteel Corporation@Mar 5 2006, 03:33 PM
a warning to NEVER shoot a gun that has been piece together with soldering/ brazing.
Huh? The sterling is a brazed gun right from the factory every one of them (except for the Canadian knock off, C1) and is regarded as one of the most reliable SMG every made... And probably 80% of all "real" Sterling rebuilds are brazed/soldered as well, the welded ones are just ugly...
 

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