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American Handgunner March/April 2011 - Page 36
PISTOLSMITHING Alex Hamilton THE INSIDE SCOOP ON PISTOLSMITHING TECHNIQUES Frequently Asked questions hen you have been in the gunsmithing business for over 42 years as I have, you have tried a jillion products. Only a few are worthy of accolades. Customers always want to know what a gunsmith’s favorite products might be. That way they don’t have to wade through the BS swamp shelling out money and time just to find out the product doesn’t even come close to doing what the thin-lipped bowtie salesman said it would do. Here is a short list of stuff I like and products proven to be of consistent quality and, much to our surprise, actually do what the ads say they will do. W on the internal workings of pistols and revolvers, I’ve never found one that is worthy and never recommend grease on any internal working surfaces of any firearm. It tends to collect grit and dirt and become goo. CleAn it I’ve always liked Hoppe’s No. 9 Bore Solvent, a light duty carbon and copper cleaner, for general purpose firearms cleaning. Hoppe’s has worked well for me for my entire career hammering on firearms, but the real reason I like Hoppe’s is the smell. It smells manly and makes my shop smell great. If you need a heavier duty cleaner to remove copper fouling Sweets is the one I use. For looks alone nothing is better than a high polished and blued finish, but for durability, rust proofing, and very good looks the modern baked on polymer finishes are hard to beat. Nickel plating stains and wears very fast, but looks great on an engraved pistol with inkedin background. Hard chrome is close to the perfect finish, but it’s silver in color and more of an industrial finish. Now here is a product I will stand by to the day I die and that product is Birchwood Casey’s RIG. This is a grease you can soak into a piece of Chamois skin like we used to use to wash our cars or a piece of cotton cloth about 3x3" will do. If you have prize antiques guns stored in safes, hanging on your office or home wall or just laying around on table tops, a thin coat of RIG will preserve the finish and keep the beautiful blue from rusting, pretty much forever. I buy, collect and sell antique arms of every conceivable make and vintage and the first thing I do after the gun is received is put a light coat of RIG on all exposed surfaces. Finish it lube it For a general “lubricating” oil on either heavy use competition pistols or revolvers or seldom shot carry pistols and revolvers I like Neil Keller’s synthetic Kellube. It stays put under hot and heavy use and a little bit goes a long way. Every gun leaving my shop has this wonderful stuff on all working surfaces. I like the fact it’s synthetic in that it doesn’t get hard or cake with time. However, even though I dearly love Kellube there is always a can of pure 3-In-One oil right next to Neil’s superb concoction. I don’t know what’s in 3-In-One, but it’s probably some sort of very pure fish oil blend that is as close to a perfect organic oil, with a history of use in sewing machines and other fine machines dating back over 100 years. It’s inexpensive and available everywhere. As for grease Kellube (synthetic lube), Hoppe’s No. 9 (solvent and after-shave lotion!) and RIG Universal Gun grease (used as a preservative) are among Alex’s “most favorite” products he uses in his shop. Aim it ProteCt it There are a bazillion sights out here in gun nut land, but the one I personally like the most — and the one I get the most requests for — is Wayne Novak’s low mount rear with a dovetail front. They are sterling sights, with consistent high quality and come in just about any style you like. * For more info: Kustom Ballistics (260) 724-3065; Hoppes #9 (913) 752-6105; Birchwood Casey RIG (800) 328-6156; novak sights (304) 428-2676; www. americanhandgunner.com/productindex Good old 3-In-One oil (yup, that one …) is a favorite oil-based lube in Alex’s shop. The classic Novak sight remains the most popular asked for sight at the Ten-Ring Precision shop. 36 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MARCH/APRIL2011