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Old May 31, 2013, 01:30 PM   #1
Join Date: January 20, 2013
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Advice on what to pick as a smithing project

Hey guys haven't been on here in a while but the gun bug has bit me again. One of my last post I asked about smithing a model 70s. I want your guys opinions, I currently want to take up gun smithing from home as a hobby and I want to know what you recommend starting with, I have an old model 70s that I can use or should I pick up an old RIA 1911 and practice with that. What do you guys think will best to tinker from home. I have the money to buy everything I need to buy equipment for fitting, checkering ,finishing, ext . Just want to hear your thoughts, if you have any other guns you recommend or ideas for a project I'm all ears.
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Old May 31, 2013, 01:36 PM   #2
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Of your 2 choices, the RIA 1911 - IMHO, it can't help but be improved, by whatever.

Actually, I wouldn't recommend either to a beginner as a learner/practice piece - I'd suggest, rather then either, obtaining a "cock-on-closing" small ring Mauser 1893, 94, 95, 96 boltgun that somebody's already bubba'd, and learn the basics on that.

FWIW, the Model 70's (Winchester, I'm presuming) worth too much to screw up, and any 1911 can be dangerous if altered by an unknowledgeable person.

Pistolsmithing is much harder, and takes more skill/knowledge than shotguns & rifles - which makes them better primers, IMHO.


Last edited by PetahW; June 4, 2013 at 10:07 AM.
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Old May 31, 2013, 02:27 PM   #3
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That sounds like good advice. The Mauser more or less how are the parts availability on those and what do they retail for? Also any creative ideas as far as what would you do to it or experiment with?
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Old May 31, 2013, 05:36 PM   #4
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Before gunsmithing, comes just taking guns apart and figuring out how they work.
And then putting them back together, successfully, of course.
You can do that with what you already have.
Get a repair manual and have at it.
Walt Kelly, alias Pogo, sez:
“Don't take life so serious, son, it ain't nohow permanent.”
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Old May 31, 2013, 05:45 PM   #5
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I have a pretty large collection if guns, at least for a 23yr old. I feel pretty confident taking apart and reassembling all my guns and even doing minor repairs. Im really interested in actual metal work suck a doing checkering , fitting, finishing and minor barrel repairs. But I agree that starting with the basics is very important
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Old May 31, 2013, 05:51 PM   #6
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There are also some common things people do that screw up their guns, these are basic repairs that you will come across frequently, here are a few.

Replacing the front sights on rifles as they get bent/busted easy if dropped.

Fixing the extractor on guns that have an internal extractor and a new gun owner breach loads a round and releases the slide stop not knowing it will damage the gun.

Another is how to repair damage from dry firing a single action revolver.

I am sure there are many more.
Colt M1911, AR-15 | S&W Model 19, Model 27| SIG P238 | Berreta 85B Cheetah | Ruger Blackhawk .357MAG, Bearcat "Shopkeeper" .22LR| Remington Marine Magnum SP 12GA., Model 700 SPS .223
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Old June 2, 2013, 02:10 PM   #7
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I'm partial to Rem 700. Simple and reliable, and the parts are easy to come by. Go to Brownells and order any of the Gunsmith Kinks books. Very entertaining and great advise. Good luck.
My life's goal is to put a rifle behind every blade of grass!

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Old June 2, 2013, 08:34 PM   #8
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Even with today's climate, you can get FEG Hi Powers at barely over $200 on Gunbroker. It is a classic pistol, with 100% parts interchangeability with the original Browning Hi Power.
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Old June 3, 2013, 02:04 PM   #9
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I guess I'd also ask what you want to learn. Refinishing, building an AR from parts, sporterizing an old surplus rifle, tuning a target pistol, reconditioning/restoring a shotgun, mounting a scope, sighting in a gun or any of a million other things.

My suggestion is to start with one (or a few) project guns that you don't care if you render them inoperable. Moisin Nagants for example, are relatively inexpensive and readily available. Used revolvers, Ruger Mark I/II/III target pistols, old S&W revolvers or any 1911. Put together a list of things you'd like to do/learn and go to work on them, one at a time. Reassemble and test after every modification so you know what's happening.

The second thing would be to read. Read every manual on the type of guns you want to work with, read every basic gunsmithing book you can find and every reference to firearms in general. Once you understand how things work and are put together, it gets easier. AGI and other companies sell videos on a whole lot of gunsmithing projects. While the entire course is likely not worth the money, individual videos can help.

Lastly, you don't need a gun to practice many of the skills you need. Practice filing on a steel bar. Checkering on a piece of hickory or walnut scrap. Pick up the appropriate tools and practice. Get copies of the Brownell's and Midway catalogs and use places like Numrich for parts. There are gunsmiths who replace parts, there are gunsmiths who do minor fitting and there are gunsmiths who build entire firearms from a block of steel and some duct tape. Decide what you're interested in and start playing.

Remember, gunsmiths work with deadly explosive devices that can kill or injure themselves, bystanders and clients. When in doubt, take it to a more experienced smith to check it out.

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Old June 3, 2013, 04:29 PM   #10
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An inexpensive 1911 would be my choice for a starting project. Fitting beavertails, checkering, sights, finishing (polishing, bluing, parkerizing)...there are just a big bunch of things that can be done to improve a cheapie and learn from at the same time. Parkerizing can be done on a camp stove with a stainless container and doesn't require lots of equipment...just one small example. None of this stuff is beyond anyone that wants to learn and will put out some effort. Take a 1911 and the sky is the limit as far as how far you want to go with it.
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Old June 3, 2013, 07:39 PM   #11
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Go with something inexpensive. Remember, you're going through a learning curve and your first piece will not look like it came out of Doug Turnbull's shop.
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Old June 3, 2013, 08:28 PM   #12
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IMO,..Look to Track of the Wolf and Dixie catalogues.

You might look for John Baird's book on the Hawken Rifle.Bivens wrote a book on recreating the longrifle.Ned Roberts wrote The muzzleloading caplock rifle.
Tgere is a Foxfire book where Herschel House does a step by step building a poorboy mountain rifle.

While there are many styles of muzzleloader,a true Hawken replica is a very practical choice.

Learn the rifle Sam and Jake Hawken produced.

Then buy a barrel,a Griffin hook breech,a Siler Lock kit,wedge keys,escutcheions,a buttplate,thimbles,sights,etc

To build the lock,you will do some filing,drilling,tapping,simple torch heat treating.And you will fit a sear/hammer relationship.

You will fit a barrel channel,a simple octagon one

a crescent butt plate.

A breech plug fit up and clocking the octagon is good practice for fitting any barrel later

You will file and fit sight dovetails,solder a rib and thimbles.

If there is still Maple Magic,it works,but the old school aqua fortis method of staining and bringing out the grain of maple is fun

An L and R double set trigger bar will teach you some.

You can do a fine brown job at home.Mark Lee formula from Brownell's works.

I think building a muzzle stuffer is a fine way to learn a bunch of skills and get beautiful results,probably cheaper,using a basic set of tools.

First one I built was a .36 with a Douglas octagon barrel.It would shoot a ragged hole at 50 yds,round ball and pillow ticking.

Then I built a .40 flinter for my wife,and a true Hawken clone in .54.

I have the Cherry Corners blueprints of Mariano Medina's Hawken,which is at the museum of the fur trade in Chadron,Neb.if I recall right.

I had it on a table at a Collector show once.Some folks stopped,got all glowy eyed...ooooh!Ahhhh!Who is the maker?

"You are looking at him" I'm not famous,so then they would leave.

There was an old man at the show,a Hawken expert.He had good things to say about my work.

I'm an amateur,been building 30 yrs or so as a hobby.Springfields,Mausers,the P-14 magnum rifle..muzzle loaders,1911's,AR's,a Rolling Block...

Now,I just took an 03A3 receiver and bolt to a 1903A4 clone.

And I suggest you begin with a muzzle loader.

Last edited by HiBC; June 3, 2013 at 08:45 PM.
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Old June 5, 2013, 06:53 AM   #13
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Just a thought....

One instructor showed me a pre-'64 Model 70 receiver. It had been polished in its entirety. The exterior metal that was finished to a bright polish. The metal below the stockline was also polished. Even the inside of the receiver was polished! It's for a custom gun of course and when you pay more, you should get more.
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!
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Old June 5, 2013, 08:41 PM   #14
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id start with an old cheap mosin, sporterize it or what have you. they are cheap and tons of fun
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