Disclaimers: Apex Gun Parts is a longtime sponsor of this site. Prexis is not; in fact this was my first (and last) business transaction with Prexis. HMG is not a site sponsor, but has provided me with products for review in the past.
A little while back, Apex Gun Parts started selling parts kits for the Spanish CETME-L rifles – these were roller-delayed blowback rifles in 5.56mm designed and manufactured in Spain. They use the same mechanism as the fairly ubiquitous HK rifle series, but the CETME-L is not an HK copy. I was pretty excited about these kits, as the CETME-L is a neat and somewhat unique rifle that had not before been available in the US.
The obstacle, however, was that semiauto H&K parts and receivers will not fit CEMT-L rifles. For example, the receiver profile of the CETME-L is square, where the HK rifles are rounded. The CETME-L also incorporates the trigger housing into the receiver, whereas HK makes the trigger pack a self-contained detachable part. So while having a CETME-L parts kit was a great opportunity, actually building it into a functioning rifle would require waiting for someone to start making CETME-L-specific parts.
The first person/company to offer a receiver solution was Mike Jestis, who does business under the names Prexis and Precision American Rifle. He advertised 80% flats for the CETME-L, and bending jigs to use with them. Prices were (and still are, as of July 10th 2015) $125 for the flat and $120 for the bending jig. After adding on tax (Prexis is located in Arizona as am I, so state sales tax applied) and shipping the total came to $285.60. If you do the numbers, you will see that the shipping was about $30, for what was three bubble wrap bags in a USPS flat rate box. Ouch. In fact, the base prices struck me as pretty steep too, considering the relative simplicity of the parts. However, I figured that was the premium one gets to charge when one is the only option for an item.
I placed my order on April 13th, 2015. A month later, I realized that nothing had yet arrived, and so I emailed Mike to ask what the status was. He replied promptly that he was just finishing a run of the parts, and mine would ship that week. Another month went by with no package arriving, and so I inquired via email a second time. This email got no reply. I couldn’t find a phone number for the company, and my Google attempts to dig one up revealed something I should have found out back in April – Prexis has an absolutely horrible reputation when it comes to customer service, order fulfillment, and product quality. At this point, I figured it would not be useful to try to continue trying to work with Mike Jestis, so instead I called my bank and filed a claim to get my payment back on account of the purchased product not being shipped.
My bank may be a soulless and evil multinational corporation, but they sure made that refund process simple. A few minutes later the process was complete. In the interests of avoiding any potential complications, I then sent another email to Jestis telling him I had gotten my payment refunded by my bank and to consider my order cancelled. He may have ignored my inquiry on the status of the parts, but he sure answered that cancellation email quickly. He said my parts had just been finished that day. What a fortuitous coincidence, after two months! I will abbreviate an otherwise somewhat lengthly tale and just say that after three emails telling him not to ship anything, parts showed up at my home, postmarked 2 days after the email discussion. Mike told me to keep them with no obligation.
So, that is how I ended up with this flat and bending jig (which I have since given to my friend Chuck at GunLab, who will be posting a more detailed comparison between it and an original cut CETME-L receiver shortly). Normally I would probably not bother to do anything more at this point, but in this case I feel obligated to post a review of the parts for several reasons:
- The quality is very poor – without very substantial repair/reworking, this is not something that could be used to make an acceptable rifle.
- The price is quite high considering what is being received.
- I have not seen photos or a firsthand description of these flats anywhere else.
- Mike Jestis’ customer service and communication was extremely poor.
In short, I consider myself fortunate to have escaped from this bad decision with my money intact, and I don’t want anyone else to make the mistake of ordering one of these flats or jigs. When small companies like Prexis make good parts, I love to be able to help them out and I am willing to cut some slack for good folks who are doing their best. This is not one of those situations. This stuff is junk, and nobody should buy it.
I have a bit of experience with pressings myself:
In that video, you see a pressing done the proper way, if I may be so bold. The press is a pretty massive affair, capable of delivering enough pressure over a large area to smoothly form the entire piece on one operation. You can’t see it on the footage, but the corners and edges on both die halves are rounded to prevent tearing of the metal. This is not how Prexis CETME-L flats are made.
Judging from the results, the Prexis flats are made on a small shop press, probably something hand-powered. It begins with a laser or water-jet cut outline, and then each feature is pressed independently. This would be done because the press is not powerful enough to make all the features simultaneously (and probably does not have a working area large enough to fit the whole flat anyway). We can tell this, because most of the features are not square to any other features. I added a couple straight reference lines to this photo to illustrate the point:
Some other issues to note:
- The main lengthwise stamps in the center section are too shallow (most likely because the press was too weak to make them the proper depth).
- The ejection port is cut into the profile of one of those long features.
- The material is blatantly cut open at the back of the front trunnion feature. This was likely done because it is likely impossible to properly stamp this area with a small press.
- The bolt guide rails appear to have been made by hand, with a hammer and metal block (see detailed photos below).
The bending jig I received is even more half-hearted than the flat. All of the machining done on it is rough, with lots of burrs left over. The male portion was left with sharp square corners, just waiting to tear or stress the inside of the main bends in the flat. The “locator pins” included are quite literally half the diameter of the pin hols in the flat and jig – there is nor way they can actually hold the parts in precise alignment. That seems such a simple thing to get right – or at least closer to right – that it leaves me really wondering what on earth Jestis is thinking.
Don’t buy from Prexis. He lists a bunch of items that look really cool and can’t be found elsewhere, but don’t fall for it. At the very least, do some Google searching first and see what other paying customers are saying about the products first. I hate to give such a negative review to a small one-man shop, but this one deserves it and I hope none of my readers end up putting their own money into products like these.
If you want a CETME-L receiver flat, I think GunLab will be making them at some point. If you want a complete CETME-L rifle, Hill & Mac Gunworks are planning to have them on the market around the end of the year.