DIY Gunsmithing

A gunsmith is an asset to have, but there are a few jobs that you can consider doing to improve shooting accuracy.

We’re all about saving money in today’s craziness of national and world economies. If you’re searching for ways to save money, one option includes do-it-yourself gunsmithing.

Nobody should tackle gunsmith projects that require expert knowledge and training of a project, but there are many small chores you can undertake with some research. Tool up, learn up and tackle an array of gunsmith projects without shelling out a bunch of cash.

TOOL UP

Few mechanics are worth their salt without quality tools. You don’t need to be tooled-up like Tim Allen in “Home Improvement,” but you do need a certain number of tools to ensure a completed, quality job. First, acquire a screwdriver set with interchangeable heads. You’ll find a variety of screws on firearms with flathead, Phillips, hex, Allen and Torx configurations. You will need an assortment of each. Look to companies like Wheeler that specialize in gunsmith screwdriver kits.

Some jobs, such as mounting a rifle scope, require a torque wrench with inch-pounds measurements. They ensure you tighten certain fasteners with appropriate settings without going over or under specifications.

A variety of polymer or wood punches give you tapping abilities to remove pins, such as on an AR-15 platform or to drift in sights with subtle taps. A vice, with the ability to pad the jaws, helps hold any firearm components solid as you work on them. To hold a complete firearm, say for cleaning or disassembly, a firearm vise helps cradle the gun and many units have additional compartments to hold disassembled parts.

You may need to purchase a specialized tool for one-time use if you can’t borrow one from an acquaintance. Don’t fear the purchase. With today’s digital interconnectivity, you can easily advertise it for resale on a forum or community portal.

Now, for the small items. Have a bottle of Loctite Threadlocker Blue on hand. This handy concoction locks and seals fasteners while protecting the hardware from rust and corrosion. Best of all, it is easily removable with ordinary tools. Loctite Threadlocker Red requires heating to 500 degrees for removal. Another easy, go-to tool is a can of compressed air, referred to as keyboard cleaner. You can use it to remove gunk from small spaces, like trigger assemblies, for quick cleaning.

LEARN UP

After you organize a workspace, your next goal is to educate yourself. For small, specialized projects on a specific firearm, you can refer to owner’s manuals with most found online. Firearm manufacturers are specific in outlining recommended maintenance for the consumer. Nevertheless, you can delve a bit deeper if you have good mechanical intuition and with additional how-to studies.

Where do you get advanced education? Most turn to the internet, but like everyone jokes, you can’t believe everything you see or read online. Look to credible sources: known experts, industry professionals and other authorities with credentials. Check the comment section to see if others found the information helpful or if it was crackpot advice. Some of the most informative help arrives via YouTube where you can see something being accomplished in illustrative, step-by-step instructions.

After you have Googled your way to the end of the internet for help, you could turn to the true experts. Manufacturers want to ensure your safety and offer consumer help. If you have questions on disassembly and reassembly of a firearm, they may be willing to offer safe and useful pointers on their product.

Calm yourself before reading this next suggestion, but you could also open a book on gunsmithing and read. Yes, you’re reading this article, but many shun pages for video. Nevertheless, there are volumes of written works on gunsmithing that provide illustrative service.

Finally, seek out a local expert. Obtain vision from a seasoned gunsmith that may view your inquiry as a potential lead to future work. Another information path is to ask for help from other DIY gunsmiths. A great place to find a gunsmith expert is at your local shooting facility or sportsman’s club. You can also find online advice. Show your eagerness and an old hand may help a young gun … or at least a novice gunsmith of any age.

PROJECT UP

DIY gunsmith projects range across a wide spectrum of undertakings. One of the more common projects is to take a hand-me-down firearm and restore it back to original, or even give it a modern facelift. Bluing the barrel back to a bright luster is a common task. Seek out kits for either cold or hot bluing from sporting goods pros like Bass Pro Shops.

Another gunsmithing project you likely can handle at home with basic tools is to put a new stock on a shotgun or rifle. Companies like Boyds, Hogue, Magpul and others offer laminated wood, or synthetic, drop-in stocks to jazz up an old firearm. Not only does a new stock provide an enhanced look for an older firearm, but you can quickly camouflage a firearm with patterned models. You can also improve accuracy with some firearms by removing an old stock that could be applying pressure to the barrel or receiver. Cutting-edge stocks are built with layers of polymer, graphite and even Kevlar. Quality construction eliminates pressure on the barrel or action to maximize accuracy.

Maybe you want to keep the look of a retro firearm yet wish to improve accuracy. You can take an original wood stock and glass, or pillar-bed, the action along with free floating the barrel. The fix may be easy. Start by testing the stock with a $1 bill. Start at the forend. If you feel resistance as you slide the bill all the way underneath the barrel toward the action, you may have found the accuracy culprit.

Remove the stock and carefully sand away any wood from the inside to create the space for a test run at the range. It won’t change the outside looks either. That may not do the trick, so don your gunsmith attire. Consider bedding the action and lug region with glass bedding. This DIY job can be completed at home with a kit from Cabela’s or Midway USA for approximately $30 (see digital version for how-to video).

Adding a rifle scope or fiber optics are other DIY projects that can be completed at your workbench. Mounting a scope is precision work, but made easy with your tool selection and the purchase of a mounting kit. Purchase the kit with a pal or two, or as an investment at your sportsman’s club to decrease cost. These kits include instructions and tools to lap, level and secure a rifle scope to specs.

You can do the same with shotguns or handguns when adding fiber optic sights or tritium night sights to a handgun. You may need a sight vise to remove and add different sights to your handgun. Most sights on vented shotgun barrels can quickly be upgraded with minimal tools and time.

Another frustration for many shooters is trying to cleanly launch a bullet with a jerky, factory trigger. The trigger may be fine, but merely in need of a cleaning and tuning. Seek out mentorship guidance or a vetted YouTube video to begin the project. Be careful, though; if a trigger is impaired or set too light, it could go off simply by slamming the action shut. Set the trigger for about three pounds for hunting, and test it to match your personal comfort level.

An even better option is to upgrade. Companies, such as Geissele and Timney, offer complete assemblies that can be removed and replaced with little hassle to ensure your bullet launches with precision. They will also offer expert help if needed.

A final DIY project is to completely disassemble and clean your firearm thoroughly. Refer to the owner’s manual and YouTube for guidance. It doesn’t sound like much of a gunsmith endeavor, but it gives you practice with your tools, an understanding of the firearm workings and could greatly improve the function of a gun.

DIY gunsmithing saves you a few bucks and potentially could improve your firearm’s performance.

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