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GUNS Magazine December 2010 - Page 14
• HAMILTON S. BOWEN • Crankin’ on guns will be measurably easier with the right ones. teach occasionally in the NRA Summer Gunsmithing School I program, presiding over classes in basic single-action revolver work. Along with a course outline for the students, I have a list of BASiC HANd TOOlS simple hand tools necessary to the basic work we do in class. It occurred to me a few observations on hand tools would be in order for those readers who wish to tinker some with their own guns and might benefit from a bit of guidance in tool selection. There is not room enough in this entire magazine to cover the subject in detail, so we’ll limit the scope of this discussion to those tools necessary to disassemble and reassemble most guns. There are countless varieties of firearms out there but most will tear down completely with ordinary hand tools, barring those where dedicated specialty tools are required for a particular operation. If you are not a tool junkie or have a limited tool budget, you can get away with a surprisingly small collection, about a half a shoebox worth. We’ll devote some future essays to specialty tools and custom modifications. When confronted with the task of dismantling an unfamiliar firearm, there is little shame in consulting an exploded drawing (typically found in owner’s manual) or a disassembly guide such as those authored by J. B. Wood. Good chance these guides will provide a tool list. Absent such aides, a digital camera with a macro lens is handy for recording part relationships on unfamiliar guns. You can also peruse gunsmithing tool catalogs such as Brownells and look specifically for armorer’s kits for specific firearms. Tool sellers often batch up the necessary tools to service the more common guns such as the ubiquitous S&W revolver, AR-15 or M1911. Sometimes, you just have to dive in to see exactly what you need to do and have to have in the way of tools. Most guns have a pretty sensible and obvious course of action to follow in disassembly with fieldstripping a good place to start. Removing slides, bolts, cylinders and upper receivers often requires nothing more than both paws. Beyond that, you are getting into hammer, punch and screwdriver territory. After a vise and a place to work, the most important hand tools you need are screwdrivers. Not just any hardware store tools will do. You need tough, precision-ground turnscrews that fit properly your particular set of screws. While I have dedicated woodenhandled gunsmithing screwdrivers for the usual guns on my bench, the most flexible screwdriver I have ever toolsarewhereyoufindthem.the“grease gun”camefromthelargeanimalmedical sectionofthelocalfarmer’sco-op.theRuger single-actionrevolvergate-springclampis madefroma$2C-clamp. Youcandisembowelmostgunswithascrewdriver,hammerandapunchortwo(left).Good measuringtools(right)arenecessaryformorethanjustgunwork.theycanmeasurereamers, bullets,casesandcountlessotheritemsaroundtheshop. 14 used is the Brownells’ Mag-Na-Tip type. With interchangeable bits for about every screw under heaven, it is indispensible for someone who works on a large variety of guns and is a great space and money saver. Think about the cost and volume of 25, 50 or 100 different screwdrivers. Hammers and punches are probably next in order of importance. My mostused hammer is a 4-ounce crosspane. You will need a high-quality set of general-purpose punches at the very least. Since I often work on S&W revolvers, I also have several cuppoint punches for the ubiquitous dome-headed pins featured in these guns. Replaceable-tip brass and nylon punches are also invaluable where marring or distorting parts is likely. In company of hammers and punches, should be a good bench block to back up hammer and punch work, with an eye in mind to minimize damage to pins and guns. There are lots of small parts in guns that are not easily handled or manipulated by ham-handed, sausagefingered humans, so a set of generic industrial tweezers and needle-nose pliers are handy. Side-cutter pliers are good for cutting small round stock for replacement pins. Before embarking on any simple repair or service procedures, you should also try to have at a minimum a set of calipers for general measuring chores. For more precise measurements, a 1" micrometer is obligatory. Feeler gauges are handy, too. A thread-pitch WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • DECEMBER 2010