Monday, April 27, 2015

Installation review of the 87 Industries PinBlock Low Profile Gas Block Kit

So I've been looking for an excuse to build a new upper for a while.  In fact, I've had a Bravo Company blem upper sitting in my garage for a good year probably, just waiting for a use.  So when I found out I was going to get a chance to review one of Samson's Evo rails as part of Operation X, I got pretty excited.  Finally, the excuse I was looking for!

I've always admired the look of a 16" barrel with an almost full-length handguard, so I chose the Evo 15" KeyMod.  Naturally, now I needed a low profile gas block to go with it.  My personal preference runs to pinned gas blocks.  I've met several people that told me stories of their set-screw secured gas blocks relocating, especially when used with a suppressor, and my eventual goal is to have many suppressors.  Plus, I'm old school, and I figure the original gas blocks were probably taper pinned for a reason (although that reason may have been that set screws never crossed Eugene Stoner's mind, I don't know).  Naturally, I headed to the interwebz for some research, and I came across a review by Modern Service Weapons of the 87 Industries PinBlock Low Profile Gas Block Kit.  There were other options available, such as the Vltor low profile and the Black Rifle Disease pinning jig, but the 87 Industries intrigued me because it came with everything I needed to pin it for the same price as a non-pinned gas block.

The kit contains the gas block, set screw, dowel pin, gas tube pin, hex wrench, drill bit, and red threadlocker.  I know, I know, I said this was a pinned gas block kit, and it is, but the set screw and threadlocker are to keep the gas block in place while you drill it.  Instead of utilizing a jig, 87 Industries has machined a small dimple into the side of the gas block to give you a solid starting point for your work.
You can see the dimple for starting your drill bit at the bottom of the block

It took me almost three months to actually get around to installing the gas block, mostly because I was petrified of drilling my barrel.  I don't have a drill press, and this is the first time I've ever tried pinning a gas block.  Thankfully, not only does 87 Industries make a great product, they also have great customer support.  I used their contact form to ask my questions (Can I hand drill this? Why is there a weird gap between the shoulder and the gas block?), and I got a reply back from the "Guy in Charge," Blaine Wilson.  He quickly answered my questions (yes, you can hand drill it, and the gap is there to allow for a handguard cap if you want one), and it was pretty cool to get an answer from the top dog.

Once I actually got around to starting the process, it was very simple.  My barrel came with a dimple for a set screw, so in accordance with Blaine's instructions, I put on the threadlocker and tightened the set screw down into the barrel dimple.  After letting the threadlocker cure, I moved on to drilling the block.  Honestly, I'm not really sure what I was so worried about.  The block's dimple provides a solid starting point, and if you start your drill off slowly, you can avoid the skipping that is common when starting a drill at high speed.  I used my standard corded Black and Decker drill for the install.  The biggest worry I had was keeping it straight, so I utilized my wife as a spotter.  The drill bit moved through the block and barrel easily so long as I maintained steady pressure.
The dimple provides a reliable starting point for drilling
The drill bit was more than up to the task

After drilling the block, it was a simple matter of driving the dowel pin home with my punch set and making sure it was roughly even on both sides.  Once I had it set, in went the gas tube and I was good to go.

The dowel pin went in with about the same amount of effort needed for a standard roll pin
Dowel pin in and ready to go
I plan on finishing my build tomorrow and getting it to the range later this week to test fire and zero.  The install went very smoothly and only took roughly 30 minutes to an hour, even with the photography.  Right now, I'm very impressed, and I think that the 87 Industries PinBlock kit deserves a serious look for any home builder.
Almost ready to go!

If you want to check it out or purchase one for your next build, head over to 87 Industries.

About the author:

X Echo 1 is a 10 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team.  He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer.  He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US.  He can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram.