Top 6 Tools No Gunsmith Should Live Without

Whether you are a serious gunsmith or a weekend firearms hobbyist, there are certain purpose-built tools which must be used in order to achieve quality workmanship when properly used. With so many tools and specialized machines on the market geared toward gunsmithing, setting up shop can seem financially daunting. The following is a list of the top six tools and one non-essential item which will make gunsmithing a rewarding endeavor.

1. Gunsmithing Screwdrivers

Nothing is more frustrating than working on a firearm and ending up with a damaged screw head because of using an over-the-counter screwdriver set from the hardware store. Screwdrivers used in gunsmithing have tapered and beveled heads used to support and fit the variety of screws found in various guns. When properly used, specialized firearms screwdrivers are tooled to avoid damaging the slot edges or scratching the weapon’s finish.

Two different types of screwdrivers most frequently used by the gunsmith or firearms hobbyist are the fixed-blade screwdriver and the magnetic-tipped screwdriver. The magnetic tip screwdriver is designed with a hollow handle and has interchangeable screwdriver heads and bits. The magnetic tips come in handy when picking up and holding even the smallest screws.

2. Pin Punch Set

Pin punches are needed to remove the different pin sizes encountered while repairing or assembling a firearm. While punches can be purchased separately, it is wise to invest in a good quality set of pin punches. Using the wrong size punch to attempt to remove or set a pin may result in marring the surface of the firearm and possibly causing the pin head to flare.

3. Files, Needle Files and Stones

Assorted files of varying shapes and cuts are necessary in order to make adjustments or shape pieces for a secure, smooth fit. Needle files are very short files used for getting into tight places, fitting small parts and where only a small amount of metal needs to be removed. It is important to note that metal files should only be used in one direction and not in a sawing motion. When a finer cut is needed, it is recommended that a stone be used on the steel surfaces in order to reduce friction damage and avoid scratches.

4. Hammers

Brass hammers are useful for driving taper pins, fitting crescent butt-plates, direct tapping of frozen screws and freeing up choke tubes. Brass will not mar or nick high quality steel and any marks can be cleaned off easily. Many firearm enthusiasts also find a ball-peen hammer handy due to it’s rounded surface.

Many firearms enthusiasts use rawhide hammers for applications requiring direct impact in gun work. A rawhide hammer delivers precision blows that protect punches, pins and soft parts from mushrooming or flaring.

5. Vise

In order to securely hold a firearm for repairs or assembly, it is imperative to utilize a good quality vise. Padding a vise’s jaws with leather will aid in protecting the firearm’s finish while working. Vises may be secured to a block of wood and mounted to a table with a C-clamp for portability or they can be permanently fastened to the workbench.

6. Bench Block

A bench block is used to balance parts of the firearm during pin removal or pin driving. Most blocks are made of nylon or wood and will not damage the firearm’s surface. Cylindrical parts can be placed in the bench block’s groove to secure the part from rolling and can make detail work much easier to perform.

Non-Essential Disassembly Box

While a disassembly box is a non-essential item it should be noted that it just might save hours of frustration from looking for those small spring-loaded parts that tend to project into the stratosphere during the repair or assembly process. There is nothing more disappointing than having to spend valuable work time on your hands and knees searching for a spring or tiny part that flew off the workbench.

A disassembly box is used to contain tiny, spring-loaded mechanisms and any other small parts encountered while working on the firearm and can be made fairly easily. The box should be large enough to fit the firearm piece being repaired or assembled. Holes should be located on each side of the box which should be big enough to fit your hands while working on the firearm part. The top can be made of Plexiglas so that the entire work area inside the box is in full view. Painting the inside of the box white will aid in illuminating the box interior in order to see and locate the tiny parts and springs while working on the gun. The disassembly box may also come in handy when repairing other common household appliances that tend to have small parts.

Whether you wish to become a professional gunsmith or a weekend firearms hobbyist, it is important to invest in high-quality tools designed specifically for use on firearms. Making adjustments, minor repairs or complete tear-downs and re-assemblies will be much more enjoyable and professional looking when high quality, purpose-built tools are used. Irreparable damage can be done to a firearm by using make-shift tools not specifically designed for gunsmith work.

If you wish to work on future projects and achieve professional looking work, investing in quality tools is essential. It is much easier to buy quality tools on an as-needed basis rather than buying a shop full of inferior tools which could possibly cause damage or even safety issues in firearms.

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