View Full Version : Want to work on my own

January 18, 2000, 03:08 PM
I honestly don't want to cut into any bodys business here. I have no desire to work on anyones guns other than my own. Where can I get info on feed-ramp polishing, de-horning, light maint. work, and possibility even engraving or finishing? I just want to work on my own govt. mdl. .45's for the satisfaction that I "did it myself". If I do not get any replies from this post, or if I get a whole bunch of flames in return, I'll understand. All of you "Smiths", I'm sure have invested a lot of time, effort, and money into your trade. It would be understanable if you were reluctant to give away your trade. At this time I'm unable to attend any trade school, or invest in any pricey tools or equipment due to severe financial crunch. Any help in this will be greatly appreciated.

Proud,dues paying,member of the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy"

Mal H
January 18, 2000, 04:17 PM
There's nothing wrong with what you want to do, TOPKICK. There's a whole lot of us Smithy wannabees around here. I think your best bet would be to start with a good book. Since you are interested in the .45, for a first book, I would suggest Jerry Kuhnhausens "The Colt .45 Automatic - A Shop Manual". For info on tricking out a 1911 including checkering and buffing, etc., Layne Simpsons "The Custom Government Model Pistol" is very good.

Kuhnhausen's is available from Brownells (http://www.brownells.com) and Heritage (http://www.gunbooks.com.). Simpson's is available from Brownells and Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com)

[This message has been edited by Mal H (edited January 18, 2000).]

Jim V
January 18, 2000, 05:47 PM
Patrick Sweeny (Sweeney?) has a book on customizing/working on the 1911. Put out by the people that put out THE GUN DIGEST. I don't know the name of the book and really have not had a chance to read it. I just looked at a copy Pat had at one of the Second Chance Shoots. You might check http://www.m1911.org for information also.

Ne Conjuge Nobiscum
"If there be treachery, let there be jehad!"

January 18, 2000, 10:28 PM
Go for it! There are alot of us tinkerers out there. The books mentioned will help. You will need some basic tools. Nothing real fancy, but do buy tools entended for gun work such as hollow ground screwdrivers. Some stuff you can get at the local hardware include pin punches, light hammers and common files. But be sure to buy good quality tools. This is no place to pinch pennies.
I suggest you check out www.brownells.com (http://www.brownells.com) . Brownell's specializes im gunsmithing tools, parts and supplies. Their catalog is well worth the cost, BTW: you get that cost back on the first order.
You don't have to go crazy or spend a fortune. Decide just what you want to do and buy just the stuff you need for that job. Later, when time and money permit, you can decide on the next improvement you want to make. Go easy, one step at a time.

George Stringer
January 18, 2000, 11:16 PM
Topkick, do it to it! This is an open discussion forum and while I do on occasion offer to do work for folks that's really not what it's about. Don't even think about it. The other guys mentioned some good books. I would add one to the list. Pistolsmithing by George C. Nonte. And heed Grayfox's advice on buying quality tools. Let us know how your project(s) progresses and if you have questions as you go along please feel free to ask. George

January 19, 2000, 06:02 AM
A lot of good advise here.One thing that will save you some money is to make some of your own tools. You will surprise yourself.Look a tools in catalogs if you think it looks simple give it a try if you fail you will be out some scrap metal and time.If you pull it of you will treasure that tool forever.

Fear a government that fears your guns

January 19, 2000, 06:17 AM
The AGI tapes are a great aid to me. I buy one for every type of gun that I work on. You can find them at www.Gunvideo.com. (http://www.Gunvideo.com.)

Good shootin to ya

January 19, 2000, 09:38 AM
well, as always a great deal of advice and suggestions from you guys! I really appreciate it! If I've seen the name "Brownells" in this whole forum once, I've seen it a thousand times. :) You all can't possibly work for them. :) I'm not so poor that I can't invest in some books and that catalog. I have some tools that you mentioned already, so thats not a problem. I'm going to start out slow with something simple and see how it turns out and then, who knows. Again thanks.

Proud,dues paying,member of the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy"

January 19, 2000, 11:40 AM
Here is a series of articles by Layne Simpson that I found very usefull.

Good Luck...



James K
January 19, 2000, 04:28 PM
Hi, Topkick,

The gunsmiths aren't mad at you at all. They have all the work they can do fixing the guns that gunsmith wannabees screwed up.

A couple of words of advice. Get a clean, well lighted work area, with as few dark corners as possible. An indispensable tool is the little collapsing magnet that lets you pick stuff off the floor without getting off the bench.

When filing or cutting and you have a choice between parts, cut on the cheapest. (Like if you install a grip safety that needs fitting, grind away the safety, not the frame.)

Good luck.


Joe Portale
January 20, 2000, 11:59 AM

I say go for it. The people on this list are great and never gave me any hassles when asking questions. Working on your guns is like working on your car, do what you can and take what you can't to the expert. This will save you time and money. Plus you will have the enjoyment of knowing that you produced something. I have been hanging around here for about a year now and learned a great deal. The folks posting to the Firing Line helped me through 1911 problems, fixes and modifications, build a Remington 700 rifle and now I will probably start to pester them about putting together a competition AR. Just as a point of interest, I have figured that with the help of these folks I have saved about 3 thousand dollars simply by asking questions and doing alot of stuff for myself.

Have fun and do it.

Joe Portale
Tucson, Arizona territory

"The unarmed man is a subject, the armed man is a citizen."

January 20, 2000, 04:47 PM

All the info above is very handy. Be aware of a gunsmiths biggest nightmare. "Air Soluable Parts". Those are the parts, that as soon as they are removed from the firearm, they disappear. A magnetic tray solves most of these disappearances.

A small room, painted completely white, with nothing in it but a small table for disassembly does wonders for all those "ASP's".

Be especially careful with springs. I have launched and lost more springs than I care to admit. Most don't cause a problem, because I usually have most of the common one's on hand. But be careful with unique or hard to get items. For example, HK won't sell any of their parts to the public. Which means you have to use one of their 'qualified dealers' in your area. No big deal if there's one down the street. I had to drive 40 miles from my shop to get the necessary spring for a P7.

Also, patience does wonders. As does persistence. Don't give up. And remember, all of us started where you are. Knowing nothing. Each one of us decides just how far down this gunsmithing road we want to go. And spends our time and money accordingly. IF you find that you really do enjoy doing this type of work for a living and DO consider a gunsmithing trade school, drop me a line, as I graduated from one here in Colorado. I know the good and bad points of most of the schools currently available to aspiring gunsmiths. Jim

[This message has been edited by Wallew (edited January 20, 2000).]

Mal H
January 20, 2000, 06:28 PM
Wallew - ASP's, I really like that! I never knew the phenomemon had a name.

About a month ago, I was working on a Ruger Mk II recoil spring. The whole assembly went flying. I tried to find it literally for hours. I even launched a similar assembly just to see where it went and how far - no luck (no I didn't lose that one). I am firmly convinced that the assembly was ejected so fast it went into warp space because it suddenly reappeared the next day behind some boxes holding my brass cases. ???

[This message has been edited by Mal H (edited January 20, 2000).]

James K
January 20, 2000, 06:29 PM
If you folks will forgive me for butting in one more time.

Recommendation 1. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Some sub assemblies are just not meant to be taken apart (e.g., Remington trigger units) and shouldn't be broken down just to see how they work. Know what you are trying to do and if it is in your skill range.

Recommendation 2. Learn what a slave pin is and when and how to use one. You will save lots of hours and cussing. (No, I won't tell you; it will spoil the fun.)

Recommendation 3. Lock up your files until you learn what to file and when. (And learn how to reharden parts or where to buy new ones.)

Recommendation 4. Buy lots of books and use the web for diagrams, etc.

Recommendation 5. Holler for help if you need it.


January 20, 2000, 08:04 PM
Using a large clear plastic bag when disassembling and reassembling helps keep springs and all them other little itty bitty tiny pieces from going "ASP". :D

January 21, 2000, 09:15 AM
Top, Have you graduated from your Jennings already? :)


January 21, 2000, 12:09 PM
You guys are great! Keep all these good ideas comming! And to mcshot.........You just had to get that little dig in there didn't you. The J-22 is at "ACE's" Shop for major "tuning". Stay tuned :D- :D

Proud,dues paying,member of the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy"

January 22, 2000, 01:22 AM
hey Wallew,thanks, i was begining to think it had something to do with the one sock outa the dryer sindrum!lol,.Topkick,stick with it!thanks to George and the folks here,iam "becomeing a smith",lots of good info here!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gale McMillan
January 22, 2000, 01:09 PM
Most of us got into the business because we couldn't find anyone who could satisfy us or we couldn't afford to have other people work on our guns. We all got our start with help from others so if you ask for help don't worry because if the guy you asked won't give you an answer its because he doesn't know! Feel free to email me anytime you have a question. It would help me settle the score for all those who taught me along the way