Helwan .380 ACP Conversion, Part 2


When we left Part 1 the Helwan was basically stock except for the magazine and the lock being disabled, and was more or less functional.  It would still feed 9x19mm from a stock magazine, and the .380 rounds were headspacing off of the extractor in the oversized chamber.  The chamber was causing the brass to ‘balloon’ noticably. Not good.

First things first- getting a proper chamber that headspaces off the cartridge lip as it should.  I put the barrel in the vice, mounted a .442″ drill bit in the headstock and bored out the chamber. Next I cut a piece of .356″ barrel liner slightly over-length. NOTE- I bought this rifled barrel liner from Numerich Arms, and both guns I lined with it will keyhole bullets at 7 yards– it sucks as barrel liner but is pretty good for lining chambers.  The outside diameter is .440″ so it fit snugly in the bored-out chamber. I slathered it with solder flux, pressed it in and silver-soldered the liner in place. After that I cut the extractor notch and re-ground the feed ramp. I then reamed the chamber so the ammo would headspace on the cartridge lip.

From left to right- the liner in position ready for soldering, the extractor notch and feed ramp ground (post-solder,) and the chamber reamed to depth for .380 ACP

To decrease the ‘stock’ appearance of the gun and just because I liked the look I cut 1/4″ of the end of the barrel so it was flush with the slide and lightly re-crowned it.

I test-fired the gun, and the results were inconsistent. I kept having to tweak the feed lips on the magazine, Eventually I reached the conclusion that the magazine was so crappy that the feed lips got deformed every time the gun was fired. Fortunately I had bought two magazines, and the second was stainless, and a good deal stouter that the first. It was also slightly shorter, so I replaced the base plate with an aluminum spacer to make up the difference in length.

Despite the magazine body being shorter it still holds eight rounds.

this pretty much did for the issues, and I was able to modify the follower\ so that it actuates the slide lock- the gun now locks back after the last round in the magazine is fired.

That being done I decided to modify the plastic grips. Yes, I’ll be making wood handles for it eventually, but I wanted to experiment with the shape a bit. I also domed the grip-screws and re-blued them. They are more comfortable now, and it’s much easier to remove the safety.

Lastly I ground off the writing on the slide and flat-ground both sides at the front. I then used the turbo carver and a tiny carbide bur to engrave .380 ACP on the slide, then re-blued it as well. The engraving doesn’t look too bad; it actually looks better IRL than it does in the photo.

So, this is the basic form of the gun. Eventually it will get wood grips and a modified front sight, but that’s about it.Here’s where we’re at as of this evening-


Michael Tinker Pearce, 15 October 2018

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