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Building a semi-automatic PPSh-41: Part 2:

in Part 1 (12-20-08), Matthews modified the bolt for semi-auto

operation. In this story, he finishes the revamped burp gun.
(from http://www.thefreelibrary.com/_/print/PrintArticle.aspx?id=194332414 )
Matthews, Steven
Geographic Code: 1USA
Jan 20, 2009
Shotgun News

The SR-41 receiver features a blocking protrusion on the side to prevent a full auto PPSh-41 bolt from being installed in
the receiver. The semi-automatic bolt will have to be modified to fit in the SR-41 receiver. You need to machine or grind a
clearance groove down the side of the bolt to clear the protrusion.
The size and location of this groove will vary depending on which type of receiver you have. Only machine this groove as
deep as you need for clearance. The bolt needs to remain as heavy as possible and we don't want to remove any more
material than absolutely necessary.
To allow for passage of the hammer on the bottom of the bolt we need to machine or grind a groove in the bottom. We
also need to remove the full auto sear notch. One groove will do both jobs.
I machined a groove .675" wide and .125" deep, centered on the bottom of the bolt. The forward section of this groove
was machined to the same depth as the original surface of the bolt bottom. This leaves a small ledge at the rear of the
bolt. This ledge was left on to allow it to push the hammer down far enough to catch when the bolt reciprocates. The front
and rear edges were beveled to allow the hammer to slide over the ledge easily.
The original PPSh-41 bolt featured a centrally mounted recoil spring. Since the SR-41 features a centrally mounted
hammer, this spring must be relocated. On the original SR-41, this spring was moved all the way to one side and part of
the hammer and trigger was removed for clearance.
From references I found on the internet this arraignment caused some minor problems. With all the recoil spring force
applied to one side of the bolt it caused some misalignment of the very loose-fitting bolt. This misalignment also caused
some dragging of the bolt in the receiver.
To correct this, I decided to go with a dual recoil spring setup. Rather than one large central spring, I would use two
smaller springs on each side of the bolt. This would reduce drag and misalignment. I machined spring grooves on each
side of the bolt. The grooves were .210" wide by .200" deep (from the side of the bolt, not the recess) and run the full
length of the lower bolt.
The bottom of the grooves were located .480" up from the bottom of the bolt. Once spring grooves were cut, I fabricated
spring stops to allow the guide rods to pass through but retain the springs. I machined notches in the side of the bolt to
help hold them in place before welding, but this was probably unnecessary.
It would probably be easier to just weld on the retainers flat against the bolt. I also drilled pockets in these retainers but I
don't think that was necessary either. I did it this way to get as much spring length as I could, since space for the recoil
springs was tight.

The spring retainers were ground down flush with the sides of the bolt after they were welded in place. I then drilled 9/64"
holes in the retainers to allow the 1/8" guide rods to pass through easily. Since so much material had been removed
during the modification procedure, the semi-auto bolt was lighter than the original PPSh-41 bolt.
Blowback firearms need to have bolts in a certain weight range for proper function. To replace some of this lost weight, I
filled the now-unused central recoil spring hole with lead. I dropped in a plug to fill the front hole and followed it with
molten lead to within 1/4" of the top. I placed a steel plug over the lead and welded it in place to lock the weight in
The change to two using small-diameter recoil springs meant I needed to fabricate two guide rods and attach them to a
backing plate. The springs chosen were 7 inches long by .195" diameter with a wire size of .028". Coil spacing was 16 per
These springs were obtained from the previously recommended Brownells Gunsmithing Spring Assortments. You need
these high quality gunsmith grade springs since common hardware store variety springs will deform when fully
compressed and not return to full length when released.
For the guide rods I used pieces of heat-treated music wire 1/8" diameter by 6 1/4 inches long. Common steel rod
probably wouldn't last long so that's why I used high-strength music wire.
I made the backing plate from a piece of 1/8" flat steel stock shaped the same as the PPSh-41 recoil buffer. This very
hard buffer was ground fiat so that the plate would bear on it evenly. Holes were located and drilled in the back plate so
the guide rods would be centered in the spring grooves in the bolt. The guide rods were then brazed in place since they
need to be secured to the back plate.
The bolt in the PPSh-41 is moved rearward at a pretty high speed after firing since the 7.62 x 25mm is a fairly hot round.
Early Soviet PPSh-41s suffered from premature buffer failure due to the high impact force. Eventually they got the
material right and got one that would hold up.
This buffer is very hard and doesn't "cushion" very much. Since our bolt is even lighter than the original and will hit even
harder, I decided to make a soft buffer to place between the rear of the bolt and the recoil plate. This buffer will soften the
impact and also allow for more room for the springs so they don't bottom out when the bolt is all the way rearward.
I fabricated it out of 3/4" thick rubber that was just a little softer than common tire rubber. It was shaped like the backing
plate and had clearance grooves for the guide rods and springs. 1 drilled a hole in it for firing pin extension clearance.
This hole also was used for a mounting screw so the buffer would stay attached to the backing plate.
Be sure your screw is very deep in the hole or tile firing pin extension will strike the screw when the bolt compresses the
buffer. Failure to keep this screw from impacting the firing pin extension will result in bolt and firing pin damage. I know
this from personal experience!
The fire control group on the SR-41 was a modified U.S.-made semi-automatic AK-47 design and I roughly duplicated it
for this project. The first job is to remove all the full-auto parts from the PPSh-41 trigger housing. Save the housing, trigger
and its pin, selector button or lever, selector stud, pin and spring. Discard all the full auto parts.
I used the TAPCO Double Hook G2 U.S.-made semi-auto AK-47 trigger assembly. This trigger group was obtained from
Brownells and was priced competitively with other AK parts sources. The assembly will be held in the trigger housing with
cutoff sections of AK-47 hammer/trigger pins that can be obtained from AK parts suppliers.
Before doing any trigger parts fitting, make a simple fixture to learn how the AK trigger group operates. A full
understanding of hammer, trigger and disconnector function is absolutely necessary for modifying and fitting this fire
control group.
A flat plate with two holes is all that's needed. Drill one hammer pin hole and then drill a trigger pin hole 1.550" behind and
.280" below the first. By installing your parts on this plate, you can study how all the parts interact. The pin holes in the
housing need to be located and drilled precisely for proper function. The hole size is .196", which is roughly a #9 drill.

The center of the hammer pin hole is located 2.10" back from the front of the housing and .265" down from the top. This
hole must be drilled squarely, so I recommend marking and drilling from both sides rather than marking one side and
drilling through from one side, which can lead to misalignment.
The center of the trigger pin hole is located .280" below and 1.550" behind the center of the hammer pin hole. This
translates to about 3.650" from the front of the housing and about .545" down from the top.
The hammer needs to be modified to fit in the PPSh-41 housing, since it is too wide. It is also too large to accept the
hammer spring we will be using. The shoulders for the pin need to be shortened equally for an overall width of .590" to fit.
The diameter of these shoulders also need to be reduced in size to about.300".
The lower portion of the central body of the hammer needs to be thinned to about .165" thick. This is so an AR-15
hammer spring can be utilized to operate the AK hammer. A standard AK hammer spring is way too wide for this
Machining this hammer to size is easily done on a metal lathe but you could possibly do it by hand grinding if you don't
have a lathe. A stock AR-15 hammer spring is too wide to fit the housing and hammer, so one coil on each side was
unwound from the spring to make it narrower.
The unwound leg was then cut to the former length. Some AR-15 springs will not work when one coil is removed, they
don't have enough "spring power" remaining. The springs I used were Brownells standard strength (these springs were
red in color) AR-15 hammer springs.
These springs didn't deform and lose much of their strength when compressed to their elastic limit. I tried the extra
strength springs and while stronger initially, they would not keep from deforming when compressed to their limit.
You may want to try several types or brands of springs to find the one that works the best. Once you have the hammer
and spring modified, install it in the trigger housing with a shortened AK hammer pin.
The trigger now needs to be modified to operate the hammer. Because of the positions of the trigger housing, bolt and fire
control group, the G2 trigger cannot be used as the primary trigger.
The G2 trigger can be used to trip the hammer, but it must in turn be tripped by another trigger. The G2 trigger needs to
have the trigger blade cut off the bottom. Once it is cut off, an extension needs to be made and welded that allows a
modified stock PPSh-41 trigger to operate it.
I used a piece of 1/8 x 1/2 x 1 flat steel to fabricate the extension. The end was shaped to allow it to fit between the rear
sides of the G2 trigger. I installed it flush with the top of the G2 trigger and then welded it in place and smoothed it up.
When this modified G2 trigger is installed, a modified PPSh-41 trigger will push up on this extension and trip the G2
trigger. Due to all the variations from home making parts there is no use in giving you any dimensions for the modified
PPSh trigger. Just grind off the top portion so it looks close to the pictured example and experiment until it works.
Start oversize and work your way down. Be sure, though, that you don't grind into the hole for the pivot pin. You want the
PPSh trigger to be sized so that it will cause the G2 trigger to release the hammer when it is pulled and also to allow the
G2 trigger to return to its at-rest position.
This is where your test fixture will come in handy. You can test fit all the parts together outside the trigger housing where
you can see what needs to be done. Once you get a working trigger set up, you need to make a return spring for the
triggers. One homemade spring will operate both triggers.
I made this spring from music wire stock that was obtained from Brownells. They offer a spring wire kit (part # 025-150000AA) that has 100 pieces of assorted size spring wire. Each spring wire only cost pennies when bought in a kit, and you
can make hundreds of springs and pins from the material in this kit.

I used a piece of .040" wire to make the torsion spring, I formed it around a 1/8" pin with the top legs about 1 1/4 inches
long and the bottom legs about 7/8" long. You may take several tries to get it shaped right and set for the right amount of
tension, but at only a few cents for each spring you can afford to experiment.
You want this torsion spring to press down on the top of the extension, which in turn will press down on the modified
PPSh trigger. It will be held in place by roll pins installed in the side of the trigger housing. You want the tension to be
strong enough to return both triggers to their at-rest positions when you release the trigger.
My homemade spring placed just the right amount of tension on the triggers so that it felt just like a typical AK-47 trigger, a
long and easy pull. When everything is installed and hand-fitted, you should have a working trigger assembly.
Verify proper functioning. The trigger needs to catch the hammer when it is pushed back by the bolt. It needs to release
the hammer when pulled. The disconnector needs to catch the hammer when the hammer is cocked and hold it until the
trigger is released, at which time the trigger should catch the hammer.
You should have to release the trigger for every cycle of the bolt (this is semi-automatic operation) before you can drop
the hammer again. Making and fitting all these parts together is rather time-consuming. 1 took the better part of a day to
figure it out from scratch, since all I had were pictures of the SR-41 fire control group.
The dimensions and parts are somewhat different but it duplicates the original semi-automatic fire control system. One
more thing should be done to the trigger housing. To prevent any full auto parts from ever being installed in the trigger
housing, a block should be welded in front of the hammer and the holes in the side of the housing that located full auto
parts should be welded shut. Be sure to locate your block far enough away from the hammer to avoid interfering with its
One last thing that can be added to your trigger housing is a safety, if you want one. A very easy-to-make safety can be
added to this project without having to make a lot of complicated parts.
The PPSh-41 features a selector lever or button in the front of the trigger guard. This selector consist of a sliding button
and a stud that extends into the trigger housing through an oval opening. The rear of this opening for this stud is right
under the front edge of the G2 trigger.
You can install the stud so that it slides under the G2 trigger and blocks its downward travel. By sliding the stud and
button forward, it will slide out from under the G2 trigger and allow the trigger to move normally.
The stud can be fitted to the button with a spring and crosspin and will slide in the original selector groove. You may have
to bevel the edges of the groove for smooth operation.
Before fitting the trigger housing to the PPSh lower receiver, make an opening in the lower receiver to allow the hammer
to access the bolt. This opening only needs to be wide enough to allow the hammer to pass through with adequate
There are already openings in the lower receiver so there will be more openings than required. I made two rectangular
openings in the bottom of the lower receiver. The first was 1 5/8 x 5/8" wide and was centered 1 inch forward of the notch
in the receiver that retains the trigger housing. The next opening was centered in front of the first and was sized 9/16"
wide by 1 1/8 inches long. This should give plenty of clearance, but you should check to verify that the hammer doesn't hit
the edges when it operates.
While you are working on the lower receiver, you will need to machine a notch in the side to allow a stub on the semiautomatic SR-41 receiver to fit in the lower. This stub or protrusion was added to the SR-41 receiver to prevent full-auto
lower receivers from being attached to the SR-41. Since our receiver is now a semi auto we will modify it to fit.

Fit the upper and lower receivers together to note the notch location and then use a milling machine or hand grinder to
remove the material for clearance.
Now that all the parts are made, assemble and final-fit them. Assemble your fire control group in the trigger housing and
attach it to the lower receiver. It doesn't have to be in the stock for initial fitting. Assemble your bolt assembly and install it
into the lower receiver along with the buffer unit. Do not install the firing pin assembly at this time.
Manually cycle the bolt to verify that it cocks the hammer. Verify that you have proper trigger and disconnector function. If
you have any problems with the fire control components or the bolt, correct them now before doing the final fitting of the
firing pin.
If everything is OK, you can final fit the firing pin extension. To determine proper fit of the firing pin assembly you need to
have the upper and lower receivers connected and the bolt installed.
Unlike the original PPSh-41 that pivots at the front on a large pin and then tilts down to latch into a recess in the tang of
the lower receiver, you place the catch at the rear of the upper receiver into the notch in the tang of the lower receiver and
then pull the front down to insert the large crosspin.
Once the upper and lower are assembled with the bolt in the forward position, mark the position of the bolt in the lower
receiver. I drew a line along the side even with the handle to know where the bolt will be located when the upper is
removed. Remove the upper and install the firing pin assembly into the bolt.
Reinstall the bolt in the lower and place it in the same position that it would be in if the gun was assembled and the bolt
was all the way forward on a chambered round. Clamp it securely so it doesn't move. The firing pin extension needs to be
fitted with the bolt in this position.
It needs to be trimmed so that no more than absolutely necessary extends out of the rear of the bolt. You want the
hammer to strike the firing pin extension and drive it forward only enough to get the required .045"-.050" protrusion out of
the bolt face before the hammer comes to rest on the rear of the bolt body.
This will direct the excess hammer force into the bolt body rather than into the firing pin. If the hammer bottoms out the
firing pin in the bolt body, it will lead to early firing pin failure. Forcing the firing pin into the bolt could also deform the firing
pin and cause it to bind in the bolt in the extended position and cause slam-fires, a very dangerous situation.
When you are trimming and fitting the firing pin extension, form the rear of the extension in a rounded shape so that it
doesn't dig into the hammer.
If everything appears to be working correctly, you can now advance to function testing with dummy rounds. Make up 1520 dummy rounds and load them into a magazine and attempt to cycle them through the action.
When checking function, pull the bolt handle all the way to the rear and then release it so that it goes forward under full
force. Observe the primers on the dummy rounds. There should not be any significant indenting of the primer by the firing
pin. If there is anything more than a faint mark, you will need to install a stronger firing pin spring.
On my gun all the rounds chambered and ejected correctly and there were no excessive firing pin impacts on the primers.
If you have any problems, correct them now. Adding 35,000 psi of firing pressure to the test won't make things work
better, so get it to work right with inert rounds before going to live fire.
If everything is working correctly, you can advance to live fire testing. When testing a new self-made gun I recommend
wearing safety glasses or even a full face shield, gloves and hearing protection. I usually test fire from the hip to keep the
gun away from my face.
Begin testing by loading one round in the magazine and firing it to see if everything is alright. If one works right, go ahead
and load two rounds and fire two rounds. If things are good you can increase the rounds for each succeeding test. The
reasons for testing this way is to keep things under control if your gun would malfunction and go into full-auto.

Runaways are a common malfunction on semi-automatic arms and have to be especially watched for on a homemade
gun. You don't want to find out you made something wrong by having a full magazine dumped with a single pull of the
Besides that, this malfunction is an "illegal" malfunction. Believe it or not, the BATFE has ruled that a malfunctioning semiautomatic gun firing more than one round with a single pull of the trigger is an illegal machine gun. Doesn't matter if it is an
unintentional malfunction, they still consider it an illegal machine gun.
Take this into consideration when you decide where you are going to do your live fire testing. If you have any problems
with feeding, ejecting or firing, correct them before doing any more testing.
Also check the condition of your fired cases. There should be no excessive bulging of the cases or blown primers. The
PPSh-41 is a military design and no consideration was given to how it treats the ejected cases, so they probably will get
beat up; just watch for anything abnormal.
Cases will be ejected quite sharply and straight up in front of your eyes and over your head. It's very disconcerting, but
normal for this firearm. Unbelievably, my project worked almost perfectly. I was surprised, since most projects require
some fine tuning, but I wasn't going to complain. All rounds chambered, fired and ejected correctly.
I only had one misfire with the 50-year-old Bulgarian 7.62 ammo I was using. This was the ammo's fault, because it was
hit hard enough, it just didn't go off from old age. If things work right, you can move on to final finishing.
For the finish on this project I wanted something that looked original yet required no maintenance. I choose Brownells
GunKote firearms finish in the color of "matte gray." This color is almost an exact match for manganese phosphate
Parkerizing. Brownells GunKote is a sprayed and baked-on finish that is extremely durable and easy to apply. It is virtually
maintenance-free and can even be used on internal parts.
Unlike some sprayed on finishes it is ready for use as soon as it comes out of the oven and cools. To apply the finish, you
abrasive blast, clean and then spray on the GunKote, followed by baking in an oven at 300[degrees] for one hour. Due to
the excellent finish on the parts set and the new GunKote finish the project looked better than a new gun.
This project was labor-intensive, but the cost was low. By building it myself, I saved a couple hundred dollars or more.
Building project guns yourself also gives you an intimate knowledge of your firearm, you will never have to take your
project to a gunsmith because you were the gunsmith who made it!
You can build to your own meticulous standards rather than high speed assembly line standards. Building an interesting
firearm and saving money in the process makes this project worthy of your consideration. If this looks like your kind of
project give it a try.
ISR-41 Receivers--I.O. INC. Box 847, Dept. SGN, Monroe, NC 28111 866-882-1479, www.ioinc.us
Gunsmithing Supplies--BROWNELLS 200 S. Front St., Dept. SGN, Montezuma, IA 50171 800-741-0015,
Polish PPSh-41 Parts Sets- CLASS THREE SUPPLY 1400 N. Hermitage Ave., Dept. SGN, Hermitage, PA 16148 742962-1890, www.classthreesupply.com
While this project features a BATFE-approved semi-automatic receiver, there is still another issue that needs to be
addressed, since several of the parts used to build the project are imported.
Under Federal law you cannot build a semi-automatic rifle with more than 10 imported parts out of a specified list of 20
parts. This is generally called being "922r compliant".
Not all firearms have all the parts on the list and parts not on the list are unregulated. These parts are as follows.

1. Frames or receivers.
2. Barrels.
3. Barrel Extensions.
4. Mounting Blocks or Trunnions.
5. Muzzle Attachments.
6. Bolts.
7. Bolt Carriers.
8. Operating Rods.
9. Gas Pistons.
10. Trigger housings.
11. Triggers.
12. Hammers.
13. Sears.
14. Disconnectors.
15. Buttstocks.
16. Pistol Grips.
17. Forearms or Hand Guards.
18. Magazine Bodies.
19. Magazine Followers.
20. Magazine Floor Plates.
Out of this list the semi-auto PPSh-41 project featured here has 14 of the listed parts. The U.S.-made parts on this project
were the hammer, trigger, disconnector, trunnion, receiver, barrel extension, and handguards, which are part of the
receiver. These seven parts leave only seven imported parts and therefore this firearm is considered to be a U.S.-made
semi-automatic rifle and not a prohibited imported semi-automatic rifle.
Although this firearm meets Federal requirements, state and local restrictions may affect the legality in your area. You
should verify the firearms laws in you specific location before constructing any firearms.
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