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Old October 31, 2010, 02:45 PM   #1
phydaux
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Gunsmithing Library

I made a life decision a while ago - I'm going to learn everything I can about gunsmithing.

This is actually a big undertaking. Gunsmithing is a craft that dates back over 400 years. In that time there have been a lot of genuine artisan craftsmen. There are few people alive today who could put a claim to that level of artistry. There are some, to be sure. I know I'll never be one of them.

Also, you don't have to read too many horror story threads here to realize that a lot of the people who set up a shop, hang a shingle, and call themselves "gunsmith" are a far cry from an artisan craftsman, or even a far cry from just a decent shop mechanic.

And it seems like more and more firearms aren't the beautiful heirlooms of blue steel & polished wood. They're more like toaster ovens, made from plastic and Duracoat-covered sheet metal. Once they go out of time, then it's often cheaper just to buy a new one and let the old one gather rust in the garage.

And so the ancient craft fades away, and master gunsmiths give way to "armorers" who swap parts & cross their fingers.

Well, not if I can help it.

This is a list of gunsmithing books I either have acquired or I am in the process of acquiring:


GENERAL GUNSMITHING

Gunsmithing With Simple Hand Tools by Andrew Dubino
Gunsmithing Tools and Their Uses by John E. Traister (out of print)
Gunsmithing by Roy Dunlop
Professional Gunsmithing by Walter J. Howe
Pistolsmithing by R. M. Lockley
Advanced Gunsmithing by W. F. Vickery (out of print)
The Modern Gunsmith by Walter J. Howe


Gunsmithing: Rifles by Patrick Sweeney
Gunsmithing: Pistols & Revolvers by Patrick Sweeney
Gunsmithing: Shotguns by Patrick Sweeney


SHOP TIPS

Gunsmith Kinks vol I - IV by Bob Brownell
Practical Gunsmithing by American Gunsmith Magazine
Gunsmithing: Tricks Of The Trade by J.B. Wood (out of print)
Gunsmithing: The Troubleshooting Method by American Gunsmith Magazine


REFERANCE BOOKS

The Gun Digest Book of Firearms Assembly/Disassembly Part I: Automatic Pistols
The Gun Digest Book of Firearms Assembly/Disassembly Part II: Revolvers
The Gun Digest Book of Firearms Assembly/Disassembly Part III: Rimfire Rifles
The Gun Digest Book of Firearms Assembly/Disassembly Part IV: Centerfire Rifles
The Gun Digest Book of Firearms Assembly/Disassembly Part V: Shotguns




I'd like to get the forum's opinion on these, and if there are any "must haves" that I'm missing.

More to follow,

phy

Last edited by phydaux; October 31, 2010 at 04:03 PM.
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Old October 31, 2010, 04:12 PM   #2
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I either already own or have on order all of these except the ones listed as "out of print." As it happens, a lot of the others are also out of print, but I have managed to get my hands on them by prowling used book stores and such.

And I'm putting off buying the Gun Digest books for now.

I have a notebook and am working my way through the GENERAL GUNSMITHING books, taking notes as I go.

When I'm done, I plan on working my way through the threads in The Smithy, and looking up the jobs listed in the threads in the SHOP TIPS books. I'll see if those authors have any alternate advice, or if they recommend tools & jigs to make the job easier, or offer ways to do the job without a lathe or mill.

Then it will just be a matter of gathering tools, working on my own guns, and offering to work on my friends's guns.
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Old October 31, 2010, 07:33 PM   #3
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A standard reference today are the Jerry Kuhnhausen Shop Manuals.
These are available from Brownell's, Midway, and direct from Heritage Publishing.

These totally cover all gunsmithing on a specific brand or type of gun.
Since Kuhnhausen trained new gunsmiths for the trade and for gun companies, he taught doing things the factory way.
This means there's none of the usual "Get it to work....SOMEHOW" methods shown in older books, like heating and bending, making parts, or permanently altering things just to get it to work.
While these techniques are valid on older guns for which there are no parts, doing so these days would likely get a gunsmith sued for ruining the gun.

These are not booklets and aren't just reprints of old military manuals. The info is all new.
Some manuals, like the Colt 1911, and M1 Garand and M14 rifles contain the most complete information there is, including blueprints of the parts.
Most of the Kuhnhausen shop manuals are considered to be the standard references.

Be aware that working on other peoples guns, friends or not, is usually considered to "be in the business" and the BATF demands that you have a Federal Firearms License.
If you take money, or keep a gun overnight, you are required to have the FFL.
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Old October 31, 2010, 08:41 PM   #4
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"A standard reference today are the Jerry Kuhnhausen Shop Manuals."

Being a 1911 guy, I'm well aware of the Kuhnhausen Manuals. I consider them more of referance works, exhaustive on just a single firearm and its copies. The thing is, other than the 1911 & Colt SAA ones I'm not really all that interested in the in depth treatment on a specific platform. I guess that's because those are the pistols I currently own, and thus work on. When I buy a Remingtom 1100 next spring like I plan to, I'm sure I'll be getting the Kuhnhausen Manual for that.


"there's none of the usual "Get it to work....SOMEHOW" methods shown in older books"

On another forum I refered to these methods as "guerrilla gunsmithing." The regulars were highly offended.

But then, that's the dichatomey, isn't it? On the one hand you've got the guys who are just "part swappers" - "It's not ejecting, I replace the ejector. It's still not ejecting. Damn it! Better replace the ejector again..." Then you've got the guerrilla gunsmithing "Hit it with a hammer till it works" guys. Either one of those guys could, someday, become a reasonable gunsmith.

So how do they get there? If I can figure out how they get there, then maybe I can find that road, take a walk down it a ways myself.

FWIW Gunsmithing: The Troubleshooting Method is full of "tips" that are 100% sure to ruin a firearm that is otherwise only in need of a slight adjustment. Considering it is "by American Gunsmith Magazine" i was highly disappointed with the purchase. But hey, it was $9.00 in a used book store, so what to you want?


"If you take money, or keep a gun overnight, you are required to have the FFL."

I am aware of this, and will not be taking money or keeping guns over night.

In fact, at this point I don't trust myself to work on guns I don't own. Not even for free.


Anyway, Dfariswheel, posts by guys like you and Jim Keenan are just gold. I'm very glad I found this forum. Thanks to both of you for the time you put in here.
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Old November 4, 2010, 01:22 PM   #5
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for me, you couldn't have picked a better time to post this. Thank you. I too am starting the process of becoming a gunsmith...not an armorer. i do my own woodworking around my house and my land, i love guns, i'm now working on combining them. it seems rare and there's just something to holding the end result knowing you did it. plus, i have some older, military surplus rifles and i'd like to get them as accurate as possible. I also want to restore some rifles and shotguns that used to belong to both my grandfathers. so thank you for putting all of this in one place. i was just browsing the threads for tips and thinking about posting a thread, asking for a list of books when i stumbled on yours. always nice to see people sharing what they find for the rest of us.
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Old November 5, 2010, 09:43 AM   #6
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Another one to keep a look out for is,
The NRA Gunsmithing Guide - Updated out of print

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Old November 5, 2010, 01:23 PM   #7
phydaux
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Quote:
Another one to keep a look out for is,
The NRA Gunsmithing Guide - Updated out of print
That one is sitting on my end table right now.

To "become a gunsmith" all you have to do is fill out a form and mail in a check. You can then hang up your shingle, and you don't even have to know bugger all about a craft that dates back over 400 years.

And that's what leads to a lot of the horror stories we read here on this forum.

The goal I have set for myself is to learn as much as I can in as many ways as I can. I figure I have a long, up-hill climb ahead of me.
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Old November 5, 2010, 04:08 PM   #8
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I bought the NRA guide for one specific article, How to make a takedown lever action rifle.

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Old November 5, 2010, 04:34 PM   #9
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I also strongly advise some good books on general machine work. If you get into gunsmithing you will need something more than a mill bastard file and a screwdriver set, so buy and learn how to run a lathe and a milling machine. Not cheap, but part of the capital investment. (Get a hollow headstock lathe; it will pay off immensely in work like crowning barrels.)

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Old November 5, 2010, 08:52 PM   #10
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Jim,

I'm hearing that a small bench top lathe is enough for making things like firing pins and odd ball screws. Bob Dunlap says that's all you'll need for 99% of general repair work.

That sounds fine and all, but what if I need to recrown a rifle barrle?

I once saw Larry Potterfield recrown a rifle barrle with a hand drill & a large, brass machine screw dipped in lapping compound. But I wouldn't call that "the right way."

Will a bench top mill be enough, or would someone need a bigger mill?
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Old November 14, 2010, 03:36 PM   #11
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I have a number of gunsmithing books, but just seem to look at the Weaver mount chart radius' and hole spacing in MacFarland, the chamber dimension tolerances in William C Davis, and the Mauser feed lip modification for magnums in Walsh.

Those 3 books are out of print.

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Old November 14, 2010, 03:58 PM   #12
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Machinery's Handbook and P.O. Ackley's loading manuals as there is a lot of information from one of the best
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Old November 15, 2010, 01:12 AM   #13
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I read the major and minor diameters of threads in Machinery's handbook.
I read about the blow ups in Ackley.
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Old November 15, 2010, 02:35 AM   #14
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I have in excellent condition, a copy of 'The Modern Gunsmith' by Howe ,if anyone is interested in having it.
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Old November 15, 2010, 08:28 PM   #15
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Howe

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Old November 15, 2010, 09:33 PM   #16
phydaux
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Quote:
I have in excellent condition, a copy of 'The Modern Gunsmith' by Howe ,if anyone is interested in having it.
Got mine on the internet a week or so ago.
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Old November 16, 2010, 06:18 AM   #17
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To Jim Keenan

Nice post on machine work. It is about the scariest part of the art.

To those I would add heat treating and finishing. I just got my second gunsmithing book (Traister). I am a duffer and would add this forum as a source of info on the topic.
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Old November 16, 2010, 04:11 PM   #18
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So where is the best place to start? I'm a retired auto tech that spent a few of the past 39 years as a machine operator. I have a small shop, the lathe and mill I use to fix parts on my tractors and other equipment. Which books would one get first and what would be a good first project?
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Old November 16, 2010, 09:59 PM   #19
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Gunsmithing by Roy Dunlop is probably the best single volume introduction to the full scope of gunsmithing. I also like Professional Gunsmithing. Both are in print and available for cheap on amazon.

The Patrick Sweeney books are also good, and are full of project ideas. The Rifles and the Pistols & Revolvers books are available at book stores. The Shotgun book is out of print.

Check out the MidwayUSA Gunsmithiing DVD. $20 from MidwayUSA. It's just a compalation of their youtube videos. Not good for learning if you don't understand how to use hand tools, but if you're decent at all with a drill press, taps & files then it does have a ton of ideas & tips.
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Old November 17, 2010, 09:57 AM   #20
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The AGI video on Winchester 1897 shotguns is very good. When I am watching it, I can get those 100 parts put back together.
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Old November 17, 2010, 10:28 AM   #21
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Brownell's Encyclopedia of Modern Firearms Parts and Assembly is good.
It has military TMs covering not only USGI but commercial guns used by the Army including Model 12 Winchester.
It has owners manuals and company gunsmith manuals for major brands.
It includes parts diagrams and specs on guns in production at the time.
It has charts of pin, screw, and spring sizes for most of the covered guns.
Its only drawback is that it is "Volume 1" up to 1959 and there is no "Volume 2" for later models.

Brownells also has LeeRoy Wisner's Handbook of Hard-to-Find Gun Parts Drawings.
Kind of specialized, kind of expensive, but the copy owned by my neighbor the gunsmith was a major help on one old revolver.
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Old April 22, 2018, 11:04 PM   #22
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Specialized Gunsmithing Techniques of William J.Nittler

Hi All:
My Uncle William Nittler was a stock shot gun bending expert. I was wondering if anyone of you happen have a old copy of his works and this book/cd "Specialized Gunsmithing Techniques of William J.Nittler"
I be willing to pay $100.00 plus the shipping charge.
If any information found write back to me [email protected].

TY BF
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Old April 23, 2018, 08:25 AM   #23
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"THE COMPLETE ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO PRECISION RIFLE BARREL FITTING"

There are three editions.

BY: JOHN L. HINNANT
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Old April 24, 2018, 12:23 PM   #24
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Old April 24, 2018, 05:59 PM   #25
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You need to determine what type of work you want to do...so that you can make machinery decisions accordingly.

For much work, a "bench top" mill is adequate, but you're limited to light cuts (not a big deal when you're not working by the hour), but there will be times when a full size table knee-mill is needed.

Lathe...absolutely. You need a 1-1/2" spindle bore if you intend to do barrel work through the headstock, or 36"-40" between centers if doing barrels that way. Ideally, both to leave your options open. Many larger lathes have spindles too long for barrel work without workarounds, so headstock length needs to be considered as well as spindle bore diameter.

Gunsmiths are mostly machinists that tailor their skills to firearms.
JMO, but I'd get a copy of "How to Run a Lathe"- and other information on machining before I concerned myself about the firearms end of it.

Guffey referenced a great book above- and for those of us that do barrel work between centers is a great reference and an absolute must have. I'll add a couple of my personal favorites, " The Gunsmith Machinist ", and the second one by the same name " Book Two", by Steve Acker.
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