Welcome, all to the very first article of the new series TFB Armorer’s Bench! As mentioned in the little blurb below this series will focus on a lot of home armorer and gunsmith activities. In this first article of the series sponsored by Wheeler, Tipton, Caldwell, and Frankford Arsenal, I decided to introduce myself and some of my gunsmithing background. Aside from introductions, I also wanted to list off some preparation sort of steps before even considering taking on tasks similar to what I will go over in the future. Let’s dive right in!
More TFB Articles on Wheeler, Tipton, Caldwell, and Frankford Arsenal:
- Wheeler’s AR Armorer Ultra Kit
- Tipton Ultra Cleaning Kit Review
- Caldwell Lead Sled and Lead Sled DFT Review
- Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler
TFB Armorer’s Bench #1: So You Like Taking Guns Apart?
Welcome to our recurring series of Armorer’s Bench which is made possible and brought to you by Wheeler, Tipton, Caldwell, and Frankford Arsenal who are our sponsors. Here, we at TFB hope to inform, entertain, and even inspire any would-be gunsmith or armorer out there. Ideally, with the information I provide and with the help of our sponsors, you can have some useful knowledge pertaining to the conservation and improvement of firearms technology while at the same time sharing experiences and teaching each other new tips and tricks along the way in the comments. Digging deep into what it is to be an armorer or gunsmith has significance but what is important is what those people do to show they’ve earned that title. I am happy to share my experiences and knowledge and hope it is informative!
Make your personal safety a priority:
- Practice proper gun safety. Always make sure before the firearm hits your bench that it is unloaded and safe to be handled.
- Wear the proper safety equipment. The main one would be safety glasses (decent ones) since parts are often under spring tension and you may work with high RPM tools. Other honorable mentions would be latex gloves or a respirator when working with potentially harmful solvents and oils. Also hearing protection when working with loud machinery or test-firing firearms.
- Modifications, alterations, and customizations will void your firearm’s warranty 9.5 times out of 10. Please take that into consideration before attempting any at-home gunsmithing.
- If you are unsure about proper safety practices, disassembly procedures, or warranty standards, stop, put down the tools, and consult a competent gunsmith.
Introductions: Hi, My Name is Sam
Hello all! My name is Sam and I have been writing for TFB for roughly a year and a half. I will be heading up this new weekly segment that will talk a good bit about tinkering with guns on the bench like the title tolls. A little about me: I went to school for gunsmithing and firearms technology at Pine Technical and Community College from 2015-2019. Pine Tech is one of the best legitimate gunsmithing schools in the country due to the in-depth and wide variety of curriculum. To put it simply, they cover it all. I have a Firearms Technician Skills certificate and Gunsmithing & Firearms Technician Apprentice certificate as well as a final Gunsmithing Diploma that I received at the end of my schooling. In the late spring through early fall of 2017, I interned at FN America as a Product Service Technician. Earlier this year I was given the opportunity to go to a Glock Armorers course for free so now I am also a certified Glock Armorer as well.
Since graduating I have worked at a small family-owned gun shop in central Minnesota and do a majority of the odds and ends of shop work (we do not have the machinery and I do not own or have access to any either). I learned how to diagnose, disassemble/reassemble, fix, and make things at school but real-life throws curveballs at you all the time and it’s a skill that never stops being learned. I hope any reader out there understands that it is possible to not just make mistakes but also to not know everything let alone retain everything. In this series, I will use “Gunsmith” and “Armorer” pretty loosely. To me, the real basic distinction between an armorer and a gunsmith is that an armorer is trained to diagnose and replace broken or non-working parts while a gunsmith is educated to do all of that and in how to make a new part from scratch.
Armorer’s Bench: Know Your Limitations
Now that introductions are out of the way let’s get started. Establish with yourself if you’ve ever taken on anything like this. Are you prepared for this to go wrong? Do you have the right safety equipment? If this task somehow ends up harming you, do you have proper aid? Do you have the right tools? Have a plan and be prepared!
Armorer’s Bench: Techniques and Game Plans
As I just mentioned, it is always important to have a plan because things have a way of getting out of hand quickly. As far as firearms go, you should ask yourself if the issue is something that pertains to maintenance of the firearm, misuse (consult the manual), or obvious parts breakage or malfunction. Identify what is broken or not working. Then identify WHY! No sense in replacing a broken part if the new one will just break again for the same reason. That is not efficient and it is a waste of your time and money. After those two steps look to remedy in the best way. This may be replacing a cheap part because it would be expensive to make, making an expensive part because a cheap replacement is not available, or just contacting a manufacturer that has a lifetime warranty like Smith & Wesson for example, and ask them to fix it with their time and resources.
Armorer’s Bench: Right Tools for The Job
Aside from experience and knowledge, certified armorers and gunsmiths arm themselves with the right tools for the job. I personally am a big proponent of having the right tools. Doing a job without these tools can be absolute misery and not using something correctly usually ends up with the project hurt or you hurt and that is no good. Sometimes you may have to make the right tool because they either are not available, or it is short notice, or the tool does not exist. In a separate article, I will detail what I deem to be essential tools but for just a taste, I highly recommend the following:
Armorer’s Bench: When to Seek Professional Help
Never be afraid to ask a gunsmith for help. Go to the right one who is not an ape sitting on a stool when you walk in and takes the time to talk with you. A professional one won’t make fun of you and they have seen it all and probably far worse. If a task is too daunting or has a high potential of getting out of hand or even causing harm, it is probably best left to the professionals. The real advantage that they hold is previous experience and expertise gained from that experience. Knowing what to expect at the very least gives someone a head start. Even in the presence of professionals, it is typical that not everything goes to plan. They also have the right tools for the job! Or at least know how to make them.
As always, thank you for reading TFB! Be safe out there, have fun while shooting, and we will see you next time for the TFB Armorer’s Bench brought to you by Wheeler, Tipton, Caldwell, and Frankford Arsenal! Also, let us know what you think in the comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.
F.A.T. Wrench® with 10 Bit Set
Wheeler’s F.A.T. Wrench® (Firearm Accurizing Torque) brings perfect consistency to every screw on your rifle! This amazing handheld torque wrench lets you apply repeatable, accurate torque settings to scope rings, guard screws, and other screws, which aids in accuracy and decreases the opportunity for problems in the field. The FAT Wrench is a perfect compliment to the Deluxe Gunsmithing Screwdriver Sets. Together, they can ensure accurate tightening of most every screw on any gun in your collection.
Master Gunsmithing Interchangeable Hammer Set
Includes 2 hammer bodies and 8 hammer faces with each hammer body: metal, brass, nylon and rubber.
Hammer and Punch Set, Plastic Case
The Wheeler® Hammer and Punch Set includes a polymer/brass combination hammer, eight precision brass punches, four steel punches and two plastic punches. It comes in a handy molded case. It makes for a great tool for driving pins or drifting sights at the shooting range, or on your gunsmithing bench.
72 Piece Professional Gunsmithing Screwdriver Set
The Wheeler 72 Piece screwdriver set features 54 hollow-ground flat bits, 4 phillips, 3 torx, and 8 specialty bits all made from durable S2 tool steel with a 56-58 Rockwell “C” hardness rating. The precision-engineered bits have a concave shape that allows for insertion all the way into the screw slot of rmaximum contact to prevent burred, buggered, busted up screw slots. The kit also includes 2 non-slip, overmolded plastic handles that come in a convenient hinged storage case whcih includes a bit location guide.
Tipton Gun Vise
Learn more here!Secure your rifle or shotgun for just about any work you want to perform on it. The Tipton® Gun Vise™ is an ideal “third hand” for cleaning and gunsmithing. It features a rubberized cradle and jaws to protect and grip your gun, a quick release cam action for easy access, molded-in compartments for solvents and small parts, and is made of tough, solvent-resistant polymers.
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