View Full Version : gunsmithing screwdrivers on the cheap...

January 26, 2013, 09:38 PM
I've been looking at gunsmithing screwdrivers for a while and always lamented that they were awfully expensive. I was at Harbor Freight the other day looking for a cutting board and ran into this set... http://www.harborfreight.com/26-piece-ratchet-screwdriver-set-96733.html They're hollow ground screwdrivers...I ended up having to grind the thickness a bit with a dremel in order to get them into the replica's screws, but this set has all the sizes needed to get our guns apart and back together....just passing along the idea.

Willie Sutton
January 26, 2013, 10:07 PM
I would be really really really careful about those... good 'drivers are well hardened and tempered. Those ones are.... "suspect until proven otherwise".

Hate to see one twist when you apply torque. Again, if you are not really torquing them... they might be just dandy.

Read up on how to harden and temper screwdrivers with a torch and some oil too... might be able to make these into decent tools depending on the steel that's in them. You can estimate carbon content by looking at the sparks thrown by a grinding wheel. I'm sure that there are internet articles on this. Roy Dunlap's book "Gunsmithing" has been my life-long reference work, if you can pick up a copy.



January 26, 2013, 10:30 PM
I agree with Willie, I've had a set made by Chapman that are older then I can recall.

January 26, 2013, 10:31 PM
Chapman works great for me. I doubt you could break one or twist it off. I only needed 3 bits to take apart any Pietta, Colt or Uberti I own, so I didn't even get the set. :) Just the 3 bits..... CM89, 90 and 93. A buck-thirty each.
I'd buy the handle, extension and even the ratchet if I was ordering all over again. But I just use the bits in standard hex head screwdriver handles that I already have and they work pretty good that way.:cool: (Some screwdriver handles have a shallower socket for the bit than others. Chapman bits are longer than standard tips)

I did go through two sets of Wheeler "gunsmithing" screwdrivers. Whittle you some out of wood before you buy those. They'll last longer and be harder to twist off than the Wheelers.:rolleyes:

January 26, 2013, 10:55 PM
Those chapman's look like just what I need,been thru 2 sets of others so far[not american made]

January 26, 2013, 10:59 PM
For the price Chapmans are hard to beat.

Sure Shot Mc Gee
January 26, 2013, 11:53 PM
Hey thanks for the effort of passing along the info on Harbor Freights screwdriver selection. And your right Sir. Gun-smithing tools including their screwdrivers are indeed expensive no doubt. But being a specialized trade I can accept the idea of having to pay more for those tools. But if I were wanting to get some good advice about gun-smithing tools. (best bang for the bucks-buying) Really. I would slip over to (The Smithy) thread here on TFLF and pose a question to those fellers. Although chances are. They'll be reasonably close to what was written here. But, having a second opinion never hurts. Again Sir, Thanks for passing along your info about H/F. :)


4V50 Gary
January 27, 2013, 12:03 AM
red96ta - After you use them, please get back to us on those screwdrivers.

January 27, 2013, 02:05 AM
Took down the Pietta Remington tonight with them and didn't have a single problem...

Doc Hoy
January 27, 2013, 05:26 AM
....I bought a set of "Task Force" screw drivers at Home Depot.

This is a set with a handle (non-ratcheting, just a socket handle) and interchangeable bits.

Please understand, I don't like interchangeable bit screwdrivers for working on my firearms.

I bought them to test the quality of the bits and the way they fit the screws. They are hollow ground, so they fit the bill in that way.

There are four sizes of flat blade screw driver bits in the set. plus a bunch of stuff that isn't needed for gunsmithing. The set was right at ten bucks.

Then I made four handles made up of a steel shank and an oak grip. I pressed a bit into each handle and then covered the part of the shank that might come into contact with some part of the firearm with some heat shrink tubing.

What I found is that the quality of those bits is very high. They fit perfectly. They are tough as nails. Well actually a lot tougher.

I have never used a driver from the expensive sets (ala Brownells) they sell
online at 11.00 per driver. So I can't compare my set to those. But I can tell you that my set has never failed me in the light home gunsmithing I do.

You might do yourself this favor though. When you get a firearm that is new to you, loosen the screws right away. Then lube them and retighten them as needed. Your Chapman set with the ratchet handle will help with the stubborn screws.

January 27, 2013, 09:18 AM
The Task Force are pretty good. Wal Mart sells a Winchester set that should be decent. Harbor Freight are not very good quality.

Doc Hoy
January 27, 2013, 09:29 AM
...I am going to check those out.

January 27, 2013, 09:54 AM
the Winchester wally world set is ok, except if the screws are tight, then they bend like a stripper on qualudes

January 27, 2013, 09:57 AM
I've got that Winchester set and broke one of the bits already. You get what you pay for generally. While thee are exceptions , I have had little luck with bargain priced tools. Glad they worked out for you. Cash is tight everywhere these days. I too prefer a fixed screwdriver over interchangable bits.

January 27, 2013, 10:14 AM
That's good to know. I'd have thought the Winchester set would have been better. Guess they'll put their name on anything these days.

January 27, 2013, 10:47 AM
I have this set right cheer. Haven't broke one yet and I take apart C&R rifles with it and if you know anything about that then you know these HAVE to be tough :)


4V50 Gary
January 27, 2013, 11:29 AM
I bought a Browning screwdriver set from Wally World years ago. Cheap metal unlike my American (circa 1980) Chapman set. I have several sets of Grace, some of which I ground to fit particular guns, but my fanciest set is the one from Brownell's.

Willie Sutton
January 27, 2013, 12:04 PM
Took down the Pietta Remington tonight with them and didn't have a single problem...

And they will probably work just fine on newer guns that do not have their screws frozen into place. As long as you do not need to REALLY apply torque, you're likely good to go and will stay that way. A little grease in the threads will keeop your screws happy.

Most slipped or twisted drivers (buggering heads and slipping off to skitter across and scratch the crap out of a nice gun) are done while removing frozen screws. New guns like our modern replicas... probably not an issue.

Well done for finding an economical solution to your daily cleaning needs.



January 27, 2013, 01:43 PM
My replicas (without exception) always come with that one screw or nipple that was installed by that air-ratchet wielding fiend who works part time 3rd shift at Pietta (and weekends at Uberti) and practically welds one screw to the frame or cylinder. Your job when disassembling a new revolver is to find that screw. It will be there somewhere and it will test your equipment and your religion. ;)