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Old October 11, 2018, 21:21   #1
Combloc
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Hill & Mac CETME-L a Closer Look

I passed on these rifles when they first came out in late 2016/early 2017 but I always kinda' regretted it. They looked interesting and I was intrigued but I just didn't pull the trigger and I don't really know why. So, after it was too late, I decided to look for one but every one I saw on funbroker ended up in a bidding war and I don't play that. Well, then MarColMar announced that they had bought up all the kits from Apex and were coming out with their own model so I gave up on the HMG offering figuring the MarColMar would be a better built rifle anyways. Those rifles were supposed to be for sale in May......then June.....then July.....then September. Well, here we are in October and still no L. Now they have been posting progress including pictures and video and I have no doubt they WILL eventually show up. Also, knowing the kind of Quality that MarColMar is known for, I have no doubt that they WILL be first rate rifles but I have seen some things in their previews that got me thinking about the HMG rifle again. For one, MarColMar is shipping their rifles with all new US made furniture. I also noticed that their rifle has a modified rear sight; no doubt an improvement over the originals which were known to break but still, they aren't original. There may be some other things that are new too and that's fine I guess so long as it makes the rifle more reliable and robust but still, I tend to be a bit of a purist and want things as close to original as possible and each new made part takes the whole thing a bit farther from that. I also was not impressed with the welds shown on their test rifle. To be fair, the owner of the company assured me that it is just a test mule and that actual production rifles will have much cleaner welds. I have no reason to doubt his word but all the new made parts, even though I'm sure they will actually improve the rifle......well.....as I said, everything taken together just got me thinking about the HMG rifle again. When HMG built them, they used only as many US made parts as is required by law. That means original furniture, original rear site parts and original whatever else MarColMar switched out that HMG didn't. So, I started looking for an HMG again. Long story short, I found one that was bought directly from HMG and had not been fired by the dude who bought it. Perfect....I paid too much but what the hex, I have one now. Mind you, I will be buying the MarColMar rifle too and will, of course, be comparing one to the other but now I will no longer be wondering..."Should I have bought the other one too?"
This write up is not about the theory behind how it functions or what the shipping box looks like. It's not about the history or features of the rifle either. All of those things have already been VERY well covered by Forgotten Weapons and the Military Arms Channel. Instead, this is intended as a short essay about the details of what you actually get when you buy a Hill & Mac CETME-L or, as I like to call it because of the fact that everything is varying shaded of green, the AMG (Army Man Gun). Is it well built or is it cobbled together? Are the welds nice looking? Is it reliable? Is it worth buying one if you get the chance? Well, I'll give you my take on those questions. I'll also throw in some photos showing various bits of the AMG compared to the equivalent HK93 part because they are so similar in design. This way, you'll have something common that you might have some experience with for scale reference. This will take me a couple posts to get done and I won't get it done tonight so don't get your knickers in a snit. Let's get started.


The HMG AMG:





Shown with a couple of its contemporaries:



The first thing I did was disassemble and go over it with a fine tooth comb. It's always smart to fully check over a new from the factory firearm and, I believe, doubly so for what is essentially a kit built parts gun. I found two things right off the bat that did not bode well. One was the fact that the rear sight was broken so the rife couldn't be adjusted for windage. The other was a loose front sight base. I don't mean the front sight blade was loose; I mean the whole assembly wobbled side to side on the barrel.

Let's address the rear sight first. I didn't take any pictures but I think I can explain it well enough. Generally speaking, the rear sight is closely based on the M16A1 rear sight (almost a direct copy really) and consists of the sight aperture, an axle screw, an adjustment dial and a lock pin. There are other bits too but they are not relevant to this discussion. If you look at an M16 axle screw, you'll notice that it has a hole in one end where it screws into the adjustment dial, which also has a hole in it. The lock pin passes through both the adjustment dial and axle screw locking them together so that turning the adjustment dial turns the axle screw. The axle screw is threaded through the sight aperture too so that, as it turns, the sight aperture moves from side to side. Simple and efficient. Wellllll, on the AMG, instead of drilling a hole through the axle screw for the lock pin to pass through, those crazy Spaniards they just cut a slot in the end of it. I'm sure it was easier to manufacture but it also left the end of the already thin screw with two very thin ears that had no support at the tip. Apparently, most of these screws had their ears break off in the field leaving troops with a rear sight that was, at best, non adjustable and, at worst, non-useable. Fortunately, mine was broken in such a way that it would still thread into the adjustment dial even though it was no longer locked to it. I just slathered a bit of blue loctite in the adjustment dial and screwed the axle pin home. Would I take it to war like that? Nope. Will it most likely last me a lifetime of use at the range? Yup.
Here's a closeup of the adjustment dial on the repaired rear sight:


You can clearly see near the detent ball where the lock pin passes through the adjustment dial and you can also see the ends of the axle screw ears in the hole. They are no longer actually attached to the axle screw mind you but it should hold just fine.



The loose front sight base is another story.

Here, we see the handguard removed from the rifle and positioned below the barrel. we can also see above the barrel the transverse pin that holds the front of the handguard in place on the front sight:

As is standard design with every roller lock rifle I've ever seen, the cocking handle tube is NOT attached to the front sight base. The only thing holding the base to the barrel is one small roller pin. On an HK there is a substantial solid pin that passes through the sight base and catches a notch in the barrel securely locking the base in place. Whoever the engineer was that came up with the bright idea or relying on one tiny roll pin was clearly an idiot. Maybe the original barrel was a larger diameter so that the base had to be mega-pressed on there and the roll pin was just insurance, I simply don't know. But I can tell you that, on my rifle, there is quite a bit of side to side wobble going on. Now, the handguard is quite rigid and, once assembled, the side to side wobble is almost wholly eliminated; so much so that I don't believe there is any impact on point of aim but still, I'm certain there should be zero movement. A spot of tack weld on the barrel would solve the problem but I have no interest in doing that unless it gets worse. Of course, you could also drill the hole out and put a more substantial solid pin in too but again, I'll leave it alone unless it gets worse.

Alright, it's getting late. Tomorrow, we'll look at the welds and some receiver details. There will be a lot more pictures and a lot less boring drivel, I promise. See you then!
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Last edited by Combloc; October 11, 2018 at 22:33.
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