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Thread: MarColMar and HMG Cetme L a Detailed Comparison

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    MarColMar and HMG Cetme L a Detailed Comparison

    Let me warn you right off the line....this is going to be a long photo essay. And bear with me in this first post because a fair amount of commentary is needed before we get to the gun porn. This write-up is really intended to be a detailed look at the recently released Cetme L by MarColMAr Firearms (MCM). In truth, this rifle is more of a reproduction than a semi-auto rebuild of the Spanish Cetme L from a parts kit. I say that because much of the rifle is newly manufactured including, but not limited to, the receiver, barrel, furniture, trigger pack, magazine and a few other bits (we'll get to the full list of US made parts in a bit). Now, that's not a put down of this offering in any way. In fact, according to the owner of MarColMar, Dave Bane, this new rifle is actually superior to the original because of various upgrades including modern polymer furniture, a hammer forged barrel, better quality springs, and a host of other small changes intended to make the design more robust and reliable. Given MarColMar's track record, I tend to take Mr. Bane's word for it. I'll find out though once I get it to the range for testing and I will update this essay at that time.

    Ideally, I would have an original rifle to compare this one to but, unless one of you guys has one lying around I can get my grubby paws on, we'll have to settle for one of the Hill & Mac Gunworks (HMG) specimens released back in late 2016. Unfortunately, only 100 of those were made by HMG, although for a while they did also offer a "build from your kit" service and a "builder's kit" if you wanted to do it yourself. So, while they only officially produced 100, there is a fair, albeit unknown, number more than that floating around. These rifles were essentially a kit gun built from very good condition imported parts sets using only the minimum number of required US parts. As such, they looked fairly used right out of the box with scratched up furniture and worn finish on many of the parts. For many, myself included, that was OK though because you knew you were getting something as close as possible to the original form. Besides, a little patina added to the looks if you ask me. The best part of all is that, despite the slightly used appearance, the HMG rifle is very accurate (I get more accuracy with mine than I do my HK93) and generally very reliable. Mine is over 99% reliable so long as I use GI magazines with strong springs. However, old worn magazine springs is another matter causing all kinds of weird misfeeds or even no feeds when the magazine is near empty. But Brownell's will fix you right up with new springs cheap and your AMG (it's painted green so it's an Army Man Gun) will run like a top again; at least mine does.


    Now, simply putting a parts kit back together to make a legal functioning rifle was not good enough for MarColMar. They have built a reputation over the years for crafting what could essentially pass for a new firearm out of a decades old retired and torch cut pile of surplus parts. They only select the best parts kits its to begin with. Then they carefully modify the design to make it an ATF compliant semi-auto while preserving the look and feel of the original. This includes in-depth testing and ongoing development until they are satisfied that the end product will look, feel and function at least as well as the original was intended to. While sorting through the kits and developing the prototypes, any components which do not meet their aesthetic or functional standards are reproduced using the best possible materials so that they are as good or better than original factory parts. Only once they have everything finalized and sourced do they move on to production. MCM feels it's far better to delay a release date in order to work all the bugs out of design and logistics than it is to release a flawed product on time. Production itself is done using the most modern methods (including a welding robot on the Cetme L) and materials. The end result is a firearm that looks and functions as good or better than the originals did decades ago. According to Dave Bane, that's always been their standard way of doing things and that's the standard they've held their new Cetme L to as well.


    So, did MarColMar succeed? Well....I don't fully know.....yet; but I will once I get some rounds through it. I will say though, it LOOKS very, very nice; not perfect mind you, but it's pretty darn close. So far, I have no regrets about how I spent my money. There are a few things to nit-pick and believe me, I will. But that's my self-appointed job, to show every little detail, both good and bad, so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not you want to spend your hard earned money on one. I will not be discussing price. You can easily look this rifle up in any search engine and find both MarColMar's website and any vendors selling them. As stated, my intention is to show you this rifle in detail so that you can make up your own mind about whether or not you wish to purchase one. Also, as stated, the HMG rifle is no longer in production or available from HMG. I include it here for comparison purposes only so that you can see the obvious difference between a rifle put together out of a parts set and one remanufactured to be as new.

    This pre-firing write-up will take some time and multiple posts to complete so keep checking back to see new material. I'll let you know when I'm done and I'll update with range reports once I get my wussy butt to the range.....I hate the cold and there's no revolution currently going on so I can be picky about weather. Let's get started shall we?

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    Senior Veteran Combloc's Avatar
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    I spent so much of my extremely limited intellectual capital crafting the previous post that this first round of pictures is going to be limited! I have somewhere around 100 to post though so prepared to be bored out of your mind. Also, when referring to MarColMar, I will often use the abbreviation MCM and, when referring to Hill & Mac Gunworks, I will often use the abbreviation HMG. Also, because these rifles are green and my favorite toys when I was a kid were army men with little green rifles, I will often refer to the Cetme L as an Army Man Gun, or AMG for short. Hey, the facts that it's green, is made out of stamped metal (AKA origami gun), and is a roller lock are the top three reasons I wanted one in the first place. It also has a cool '80s angular look and I had a blast back in then! I'm strange.


    So, when you get to the gun shop and it's gun Christmas (any day you go to the shop to pick up a new firearm is gun Christmas day), this is the sight that will greet you:

    Yay!!! It's a brown cardboard box!


    Opening the box reveals your new toy well nestled in foam with a bunch of other stuff:

    The magazine is a current production aluminum one made by Okay Industries, a government contractor as far as I know. Also included was a warning card telling you that you can shoot your eye out if you aren't careful, a warranty registration card, sample bottle of gun lube, a gun lock and the owner's manual.



    Let's take a closer look at the manual. I'm not going to post every page but trust me, it's well done. It's actually two manuals in one. The first half was done by MCM and covers some really interesting stuff. Besides the usual how to disassemble and how to clean sections, there is one on the History of the original rifle and some really informative text about the production of this new AMG including which parts are new US made. The second half is an English translation of an original Spanish manual complete with lots of pretty color pictures.

    Some examples of the MCM half:










    Some examples of the translated Spanish half:






    Next up is a general side view of both the MCM AMG (top in each picture) and the HMG version (bottom in each picture):





    That's it for tonight. I'll be back at it tomorrow evening. See you then!
    Last edited by Combloc; 02-10-2019 at 12:04 AM.

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    And it begins!
    14EH AIT Instructor-PATRIOT Fire Control Enhanced Operator/Maintainer

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    Before we get into looking at the rest of the AMG, lets start with magazines. It is well known that the Achilles heel of the original rifle was the steel magazines. Apparently, quality control on them was less than stellar and it was common for troops to try and get ahold of as many foreign magazines as they could when on field exercises with other nations. It seems to me that part of the problem also comes from the fact that the magazine well is so deep and has zero flare to it. I imagine it's kinda like wearing a pair of skinny jeans....there isn't much room down there for anything larger than twig legs. Consequently, there is very little tolerance for a magazine less than perfectly sized. Polymers generally won't work. Theoretically, steel magazines should work (remember that the original ones were steel) and any properly made aluminum GI magazine should as well. Now, according to my research, which could well be wrong, the geometry on original Spanish magazines was ever so slightly different than the geometry on magazines used by other NATO countries. MCM says that they have changed the design ever so slightly to accommodate US made aluminum GI magazines but they recommend in the manual that "new AR-15/M-16 STANAG magazines be used with your CETME L, from the same provider we have packaged with your rifle." An OKAY Industries magazine is what was provided and, while it is a bit snug and will not drop free, it pulls out pretty easily once you depress the magazine release button and there is no discernible rock when seated. Sooooo let's see what we get when we try other GI magazines made from both steel and aluminum in both AMG's

    Including the magazine provided by MCM I tested a total of 28. The breakdown was as follows:

    Steel:

    FN x4
    Beretta x2
    CETME x2

    Aluminum:

    FN x1
    Colt x5
    D&H Tactical x2
    Sanchez Enterprises x1
    Center Industries x4
    Adventure Line x5
    Parson's Precision Products x1
    OKAY Industries x1


    Below are the results of my HIGHLY SCIENTIFIC and NASA QUALITY testing facility.


    In the HMG AMG:

    All 28 fit and locked in. All 28 ranges from almost drop free to ever so slightly snug. All ranged from zero to minimal rocking when seated. Will all 28 reliably function? NO. I have no interest in testing all of these magazines for function. I've put about 300 rounds through this rifle so far. 100 of them were through 5 random used magazines. I had one or two stoppages but the main problem was that the rifle simply stopped stripping rounds out of the magazines when they were down to about 2-4 rounds left in them. The other 200 rounds were through new D& H tactical magazines. I had 2 stoppages and had no problems running the magazines down to empty. I have some new springs on the way from Brownell's and I'll start trying them out in in used GI magazines in the spring. I also plan to try the steel FN and CETME magazines out too.


    In the MCM rifle:

    13 aluminum and 3 steel magazines seated. They ranged from slightly snug, through pretty tight to gorilla tight. The OKAY Industries one fit the best of all. None exhibited any rocking when seated.


    12 would not seat, including both original Spanish magazines. Some would almost seat and couple I could probably force to seat but I would pay hell trying to get them out. Some would barely start into the magazine well.


    Here's the front of the OKAY Industries magazine after a few insertions:



    And the rear spine:

    The finish is already worn down to the metal.


    Here are a few view into the magazine well of the MCM after trying out all the magazines:







    And the magazine well of the HMG after a whole lot more magazine insertions:







    Notice that, while both show rubbing, especially along the front surface, the MCM one shows a lot more overall black marks from rubbing the finish off the magazines whereas the HMG shows more wear to it's own finish. Also, there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to what would and what would not fit into the MCM well. For example, two of the Center Industries magazines fit while two would not. Some of the Colt magazines fit while others would not. Three of the steel ones fit while five did not. The fact is that the MCM rifle has a substantially tighter magazine well than the HMG offering. The good thing is, OKAY Industries magazines are cheap and readily available. Besides, this is a range toy, not something you are going to take into combat and MCM recommends that you use the OKAY magazines anyways. So just buy yourself a few and forget about it. That should eliminate any problems regarding magazine fitment and save you a lot of potential frustration.


    In the next post, we'll start taking a close up look at the furniture.

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    Next up is furniture. When I heard MCM was going to replace all of the furniture with US made bits, it did not sit well with me because I was concerned they might try to "improve" the ergonomics or make some other change for one reason or another. According to Dave Bane, much of the original furniture was not only beat up but was degrading. Obviously, I didn't see any of it but I can understand his position and take him at his word. Plus, MCM wanted to bring a new condition product to the market, not something that looked like it had already been used right out of the box. I get that. While I personally like patina on a firearm, I understand that many people expect to receive a new condition item when they pay new condition prices. Well, I'll say right here before even posting the comparison pictures that, in my opinion, MarColMar has knocked the ball out of the park with their reproduction of original CETME furniture. In the end, I was worried about nothing and the final result exceeded my expectations. Let's start with the stock.


    In these first two photos, the MCM part is shown below an original:



    I included the recoil springs too in the first picture. I know that MCM had new springs produced and I believe that the HMG springs were new made as well. The rubber butt pad is shaped a little differently but I have seen slightly different butt pads in pictures of original rifles so there must have been some variation including ones that looked like the one MCM has produced. The color is slightly different but I have seen all kinds of variation on originals too so the MCM color looks fine to me. The MCM exhibits less shine but it's not made of the same polymer either so I can't expect it to have the same shine now can I? Look at the form though! As far as I can tell, every single angle, every nuance of the various edge radii has been reproduced perfectly.


    Here, are looking into the front of the stocks with the MCM on the right:

    Again, everything is perfectly reproduced.


    One is a mirror image of the other. MCM is on the right:

    Besides the geometric features, this picture also illustrates the slight difference in surface texture between the two. While the Spanish stock is not perfectly smooth either, the MCM is just a hair more textured. Without both in hand though, I doubt most people would notice a difference.



    This picture illustrates the fact that even the mold ejector pin markings or in nearly the same place:

    If you look very carefully you may notice that an original stock has a perfectly uniform color while the MCM does exhibit just a hint of hue variation here and there.


    Even the sprue mark is in about the same place along the bottom of the stock:

    This shows some real attention to detail and things like this really matter to purists. A big thumbs up to MarColMar here!


    The MCM butt pad is at top:

    MCM used allen screws for attachment. The flat head screws shown on the original pad are HMG replacements. Originals would have been slotted too but with a phosphate finish.


    Butt pad removed:

    The "80" seen on the original stock was put there by HMG and denoted the rifle serial number. Both stocks have brass inserts for the screws with the originals being hex shaped and the MCM one being round. The lower cavity is identical between the two but there is some slight variation in the shape and size of the upper two. Meh, you never see it anyways.


    Manufacturer's mark:



    Interior side of butt plates:

    Both have steel inserts.

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    Thanks for another, excellent tutorial!!!

    Tony

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    Next up in furniture on floor two we have handguards. Before we look at the handguard itself, I want to say something about the finish on the steel heat shield and the take down pins.


    Here is the heat shield with the MCM above:

    Both have a phosphate finish but the MCM one is a dark grey while the HMG is much lighter. I'm positive that the HMG one has the original finish but I don't know about the MCM and the manual is silent on this point. There are a very few scratches here and there on the exposed surfaces (not shown) so I am inclined to believe that it is sporting the original finish too but your guess is as good as mine.


    The take down pins look awfully good too:

    Compared to the HMG pins on the left, the MCM pins look new. Maybe they were from an essentially unissued rifle or maybe MCM refinished them. Maybe some poor lost HK is out there in the wilderness looking in vain for its take down pins with absolutely no idea that they were stolen long ago by the Spaniards. I don't know. The two longest ones are for the stock and the shortest one holds the front of the trigger box in place. The remaining one is for the hand guard.


    Moving on to the polymer part of the handguard, here we see the rear with the MCM on the left:

    Notice that the mold is clearly different from the original as is evidenced by the mold lines. However, unless you are crazy detail oriented like me, the two are going to look identical. Again, MCM has done a wonderful job here at staying true to the original form.


    Front with MCM still on the left:

    Mold lines between the two are near identical but the left ventilation hole on the MCM is slightly smaller than the one on the right. No biggie.


    Right side view. MCM is on top:

    Notice that the mark where the sprue attached is in almost the exact same place.


    Left side view MCM on top:

    As with the stock, the mold ejector pins are in the same area. The various details are almost dead on with the largest difference being the ends of the small finger grooves. The ends of the MCM grooves rise up like ramps to meet the main surface of the handguard while the original ends stop abruptly in a 180 degree radius. This is an example of one of those things that matters not one bit but I did say at the beginning of the write-up that I was going to nit-pick.


    Interior of handguard:

    Again we see that the original used hex shaped brass inserts as opposed to round ones on the reproduction. I didn't bother to take a picture but the heat shield is held in by hex screws on the MCM and simple slotted screws on the original. They will not interchange as originals used metric threads as opposed to standard on the MCM. I didn't try them out but I would wager it's the same story with the butt pad screws.


    Manufacturer's mark:



    That's it for tonight. I'll pick it back up tomorrow. Have a good night!

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    You have a good night as well. Thank you!
    14EH AIT Instructor-PATRIOT Fire Control Enhanced Operator/Maintainer

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    Hey! I'm back!!

    The last piece of furniture we need to look at is the pistol grip. As with the rest of the polymer parts, they did a fantastic job and only real sticklers for detail will notice any differences between the MCM made part and an original.


    First up is the left side. MCM part is on the left:

    The raised ribs between the grooves are slightly rounded on the original while they are flat on the reproduction. Also notice that the original has a mold ejection pin mark starting in the fourth groove down, running over the fourth rib and into the fifth groove while the MCM has no such mark.


    Right side:

    The MCM grip has two ejector pin marks, one large one above the grooves and one small one at the bottom front. The original has no such marks.


    Looking down into the top of the grips, we see that they are pretty much identical. MCM is still on the left:



    Front of grip. MCM is on top:

    Both show a mark in approximately the same place where they were removed from the sprue.


    Bottom and bottom/rear 3/4 view of grips with MCM on top:



    Mold lines differ somewhat between the two. but all of the contours are just dead on.


    Last grip picture showing the manufacturer's mark. The star shaped pattern around the allen head bolt hole is where a star shaped lock washer digs in:


    Moving on to some internal parts now. I'm not going to tear the bolt assemblies apart and show you each part because both are original and, as far as I can tell, both have an identical rough phosphate finish which leads me to believe it's the original finish as applied in Spain. There are a couple things of note though.
    First up is a picture looking at the bottom of the bolt assemblies with the MCM one on top:

    Notice the HMG milled away the right rear corner of the carrier while MCM left it alone. This is the part of the carrier that trips the full auto sear. Interestingly, pretty much every roller lock manufacturer removes this area on semi-auto only firearms whether it be made by HK, MKE, or POF but MCM decided it wasn't necessary and the ATF clearly approved it this way so it's good to go.


    In this picture, we again see the MCM unit on top:

    The salient thing to notice here is the fact that the finish on the extractor springs differs between the two with the HMG being in the white while the MCM is either blued or nitrided. I assume that both manufacturers have replaced the factory springs with new ones. Although it is not shown, I believe both have replaced the firing pin, recoil and buffer springs as well. The "80" on the nose of the HMG carrier was put there by them and is the serial number of the rifle.

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    Next up is the fire control box. HMG used an original box and simply modified it to semi-auto only purposes. Conversely, MCM went full bore and manufactured an entirely new box body while still using original internal parts (except for the springs which are new) which were modified to operate in semi-auto only mode. The intention of both manufacturers was to make sure that an original full automatic box would not fit into the receiver. This was, of course, and ATF requirement. Let's see how they did it.

    First up is a left side view with the MCM on top:

    Both are aluminum and both look almost identical except that the MCM looks brand new because, well, it IS brand new. Look carefully at the HMG box and you will see an illegible ghost of the original factory serial number starting just behind the hammer pin and running just above the trigger pin. Looking at them from this side, both look in form as the did from the factory.


    The right side is where we see just how much both boxes deviate from the original design:

    How? We will consider each one separately in a moment. But before we do, notice that, other than the aesthetic condition, there is one obvious difference between the boxes. Notice that the empty hole where the fire selector axle fits is smaller on the MCM box. This was done so that a full auto selector switch will not fit into the box. We'll look at the MCM modified selector lever in a bit. I also want to bring to your attention the two tabs, one sticking out the front of both boxes and another at the rear, with holes in them. These holes are where retaining pins pass through the receiver to hold the box in place. The rear pin also passes through the front bushing in the butt stock.



    First, is the HMG box close up:

    If you look at the top edge of the box, you will see that it steps down starting slightly rear of the trigger pin and continues all the way to the front of the box. This was done by HMG to create clearance for a blocker bar that was welded up inside the receiver.

    Here is a picture of the blocking bar:

    We are looking up into the bottom of the receiver. To the left is the rear of the magazine well. The spring we see to the left provides tension for the magazine release mechanism while the spring seen on the right is the tensioner for the bolt hold open device. The blocking bar is in the middle of the photo. If you were to try and fit a select fire box up into the receiver, it would hit this bar and stop. The step HMG cut into their semi-auto only box allows it to seat without hitting the blocking bar. Got it?? I hope so. While we're looking at this picture, I want to point out a design detail; one that is part of the original rifle as designed by CETME. Notice that the area where the fire control box retaining pin and magazine release bar passes through the receiver is strengthened with additional metal for durability. If additional steel had not been added in this area, it wouldn't hold up to use for very long. In fact, the entire rear of the magazine well is a milled block welded in place and these strengtheners are part of that block. A lot more goes into the design and production of origami firearms than meets the eye. I love little details like these.



    MCM did essentially the same thing but went about it a different way. Here is a closeup of the front right side of their fire control box:

    Notice that, instead of milling away part of the top edge, they milled away part of the entire front side of the box.


    And here is the corresponding area within the receiver:

    Instead of a bar, MCM chose extend the milled strengthener block toward the rear of the receiver thus creating what I call a "restrictor plate" because it restricts an unmodified select fire control box from fitting into the receiver. In addition, it (in theory) does double duty as an aid in reassembly of the rifle. The idea is that there is supposed to be a precision fit between the restrictor plate and the corresponding cutout in the fire control box. When they are fit together, the holes in the receiver and the hole in the box should align perfectly so that the retaining pin pops right through. I say "in theory" above because it doesn't quite work out all the time with my rifle. It's close and sometimes the retaining pin presses right through the holes and seats perfectly. But sometimes, it just ain't going for love nor money. Then, you have to remove the pin and wiggle things around a bit before reinserting the pin. With enough fidgeting, it goes together. Whatever you do though, DO NOT beat on the retaining pin if it doesn't easily slide through. It's not designed to be beat on and you WILL screw up your rifle sooner rather than later. You have been warned!
    To be fair, my rifle is new and clearly pretty tight. I expect things to loosen up with use and maybe this issue will correct itself as things wear in. Whatever the case, it is far less fidgety to reassemble than the HMG design but some amount of frustration is always going to be there. It's just an artifact of the original CETME design. When you buy an AMG, you just have to embrace the fidget...….no matter who made it!


    Here is a detail shot showing the milling marks on the side of the MCM box:

    I like it because it reminds me of the purely aesthetic jeweling you see on the inside of many nicer Quality mechanical watches. Whether they did it this way in order to cut production costs or for some other reason I do not know. I only know that I think it looks neat.


    Here is a comparison shot of the finish difference on the steel trigger guard between the MCM on the left and the HMG on the right:
    I know without question that the grey phosphate finish on the HMG part is original. I do not know if the much darker finish on the MCM is original or whether it has been refinished. What I do know is that it matches the finish on the handguard heat shield.



    The last things we are going to look at in this post are the safety selectors.

    Here is the HMG:

    As far as I can tell, this is exactly as it left the factory.


    And the MCM:

    Theirs appears to be modified in two ways. The first thing was the addition of a pin running parallel to the axle shaft. I assume this was done so that it will not interact with full automatic parts should they be fitted to the fire control box. The second modification was turning down the circumference at the end of the axle where it fits into the right side of the box. This precludes fitting of an unmodified full auto selector switch into the box.


    This last picture of the night shows the two selector levers side by side for easier comparison. MCM is on the left:



    That's it for this post. The last things we will be looking at are all external. This will include receiver details, sights, barrels and a couple o few other things. It will probably take two or three more posts but we'll get there. As always, thank you for your time!
    Last edited by Combloc; 02-13-2019 at 10:21 PM.

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