The 9MM Bolt action rifle. There has been lots of discussions on various forums on the Internet about it, and yes...it can be done.
Since .22 is still hard to get, and 9mm is still fairly cheap, I thought that having a 9mm rifle might be a fun thing to have. Having several cases of cheap 9mm, it would seem that a bolt action rifle would be accurate and if the barrel was threaded for a suppressor, it would be quiet too. With reloads and cast bullets, it would be something that one could play around with and have fun.
Only problem is...
there isn't much in the way of bolt action rifles. While there are several designs of semi-autos out there, to shoot suppressed rounds you are basically forced to shoot single shot only as the subsonic rounds just don't have enough energy in them to cycle that gas actions that are out there.
After a rather lengthy internet search showed no bolt action 9mm's anywhere, it became apparent that if I wanted one I was going to have to build it.
So, I settled on one of the Rock Island .22 TCM rifles. It stood to reason that since Rock Island is selling their Government model with two barrels, one chambered in .22 TCM and the other a 9mm, that the bolt face should be close enough to work.
I removed the barrel and using a Green Mountain 9mm barrel blank, I turned one out. Since I like a heavier,varmint weight barrel in which to hang a suppressor on, I kept the barrel straight and fluted it to save weight. I left the length as 17" and threaded the muzzle for a 5/8-24 thread for a suppressor.
The 9mm fit right on to the bolt face. In fact, the fit was so perfect that it refused to eject as the case didnt have enough clearance to allow the ejector to flip it out. You could cycle the bolt, fire it and the case stayed right on the bolt.
I had to take the bolt apart and chuck it up in the lathe. After dialing it in, I removed about .020 of of the inner diameter of the bolt face. That took care of the problem as it allowed the plunger to push against the case and let the case tilt out and to the right where the ejector tossed it right out of the action as it should.
The cases fed OK, but not perfectly. A few would feed and then one might hang up, the feed ramp just wasnt steep enough. Since the TCM is originally a .22 cartridge, the feed ramp needed to be opened up a bit. It wasn't hard to do as the feed ramp is just a small piece of metal that is screwed to the bottom of the action. Removing the screw that held it allowed it to come out and be placed in a vise where a Dremel tool made short work of it. A bit of an angle change and some polishing made all the difference in the world. After cycling a few hundred dummy rounds through it, the feeding was flawless. The change of angle and the enlargement of the top of the feed ramp cured any issues.
I mounted a Nikon scope on it. I'm not to crazy about the "tip off" mounts but they work. At some point in time I may actually drill and tap the receiver for some hard mounts. There's plenty of thickness on the top of the receiver so it would seem to be the way to go.
First shots out were using cast lead 150 grain 9MM bullets. With several grains of Red Dot it was both accurate and very quiet, in fact, I would put this one in the "stupid quiet" category. The predominate sound is the bullet slapping the berm. Even hitting a paper target is louder than the shot itself and its very cheap to shoot if you cast and reload your own...which I do.
This may become my favorite rifle. It quiet, there is slim to no recoil, its accurate and it looks good.The rifle feels good and its a lot lighter than it looks. I may develop a load using the Hornady XTP 147 grain hollowpoints that are designed to expand at low velocities. With supersonic rounds it does well too and either way it'll slap the little gongs all day long.