Poisonous AR upper being sold on gunbroker

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An unfinished AR upper made from a 60% Beryllium alloy is being sold on GunBroker. Dr. Strange gun pointed out that Beryllium is toxic. Machining and finishing it off could cause Berylliosis, a chronic lung disease that has no cure.

Even handling it could be have unpleasant side effects. According to wikipedia:

Beryllium contact with skin that has been scraped or cut may cause rashes, ulcers, or bumps under the skin called granulomas.

Scary stuff, considering the buyer may not be aware of this.

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The 60% Beryllium upper.

The auction description is:

60% A1 BERYLLIUM UPPER, YOU WILL NEED TO REAM FRONT TO REAR THE CENTER TO FIT THE BOLT , DRILL FRONT AND REAR TAKE DOWN PIN HOLES,EJECTON PORT DOOR HINGE PIN HOLES, ROLL PIN FOR THE FWD ASSIST, AND THREAD THE FRONT FOR THE BARREL NUT…..S/H…10.00


Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • http://toolazytofail.com Paul Simer

    I don’t get it.

    What’s the upside? Why would someone build something like this. Surely there is some perceived benefit?

  • Olav

    “60% A1 BERYLLIUM UPPER” is not 100% Beryllium.

    It’s an alloy.

    Just like when you go to the dentist and he uses amalgam which
    contains mercury and another metal or alloy. That is not toxic.

  • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

    @Olav:

    I did point out at the start of the blog post that it was a 60% alloy.

    From http://www.ehponline.org/docs/2001/109-2/focus.html:

    “Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, suggests that people who work with 2% beryllium-copper alloys do indeed run a significant risk of developing CBD.

    CBD has been diagnosed previously in people who worked with beryllium alloys.”

    @Paul:

    Apparently it is light and strong ( I am no engineer).

  • GRClark

    I believe that “60%” refers to the fact that this upper is not finished and requires more work. I have seen these and similar sold to the DIY crowd. I don’t know why anyone would bother with an unfinished upper.

  • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

    GRClark, that sound very plausible! You make a very good point.

  • R.A.W.

    Beryllium is lightweight and fairly strong, an aerospace alloy if you will.

    I recall that putting just a dab of it in something more mundane does wonders for the… something of the resulting alloy. Aha! Wikipedia delivers!

  • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

    Hi R.A.W thanks for the link. It seem machining even 0.5 to 3% beryllium alloy can be hazardous!

  • gyrfalcon

    I believe the reciever is made of Beryllium Copper like a lot of other tools…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beryllium_copper

    No reason to freak out about it.

  • gyrfalcon

    R.A.W…beat me to it, didn’t notice his link.

  • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

    gyrfalcon, wikipedia still says that it is toxic. The problem is that it is unfinished.

  • gyrfalcon

    “In solid form and as finished parts, beryllium copper presents no particular health hazard.” Wikipedia

    “Handling — There are no special toxic hazards associated with the handling of copper beryllium alloys or with material taken orally. However cuts and abrasions should be treated by normal first aid methods and it is advised that after contact with copper-beryllium alloys the hands should be washed before food is eaten. Care should also be taken, as with other metal alloys, to remove all metal particles from the wound whilst normal hygiene standards should be observed.” — http://www.cda.org.uk/megab2/general/cuberyl/index.htm