Welcome everyone to the 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 article, I decided to take a peek into something that does not really make an appearance on my bench but is supposed to act like a bench on the go. I of course am talking about my gunsmith kit for lack of a better name. I take this with me on trips or to the range all the time. It is composed of away-from-home essentials, a mish-mash of tools and equipment that may not solve every illness guns can have but it works for a good short-term “just in case” scenario. I hate that feeling of needing something and not having it so that is why long ago I put together this kit. Please excuse its disorganization, things are stacked for fit not for looks. Let’s dive into my portable gunsmith kit!
Other Armorer’s Bench Reading @ TFB:
- TFB Armorer’s Bench: Techniques and Types – Punches
- TFB Armorer’s Bench: General Bench Setup – Quick Tips
- TFB Armorer’s Bench: Closer Look – Delta Series Compact Multi-Tool
- TFB Armorer’s Bench: Closer Look – Wheeler Trigger Gauges
- TFB Armorer’s Bench: Straight From My Bench – Gunsmithing Liquids
TFB Armorer’s Bench: Gunsmith Kit
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.
Opening Note: Gunsmith Kit
Though my kit is made up of many things placed and picked over time, the core of it is store-bought. It is a NcSTAR “Essential Gun Smith Tool Kit” that I purchased off of Amazon a long long time ago. I just checked and it looks like it is still available but I believe it has shot up in price since I bought mine. I remember buying it because it did not break the bank. This is by no means my recommendation but I have enjoyed it. Before this kit, I had an Outers “Gun Cleaning Tool Chest” which is a wooden box with a drawer of cleaning rods and brushes. It also has an assemblable rack to hold a long gun while working on it. I found the space to be too small and cumbersome to move and haul around so I upgraded to the kit I have now and it has served me well.
The Initial Kit: Gunsmith Kit
The initial NcSTAR “Essential Gun Smith Tool Kit” contains the basics. It has a very good variety of punches (nylon, brass, and steel) in varying sizes. It has a smattering of micro screwdrivers (the old-school ones that do not lend much leverage but do the job if need be). In small pockets, there is a mixture of cheap screwdriver bits that coincide with a magnetic screwdriver that is included. These have been phenomenal aid in some instances. A favorite feature is the addition of a bench block which is one of the most helpful items in my book. There is also a double-sided hammer (nylon and brass), a pair of needle nose pliers, and a generic file that sees little use in the field. Lastly, there is a pair of safety glasses which are a welcome touch because I value what is left of my eyesight.
My Add-Ons: Gunsmith Kit
Tools: As far as tools go that I added to this kit, it was things of necessity such as a 1911 bushing tool or an angled pair of pliers. There is also a large and obvious box that contains Allan/hex keys since the screwdriver bit portion of the kit was a bit lacking in that category. There are a few random screwdrivers as well as one long flathead one for buttstock screws. Additionally (as I touched on in multiple articles), a torque wrench is in there to make sure things get done right. I also have a “Glock Tool” (punch) and a small roll pin punch that I found at one point that now has a home in the kit just I’m case. In the last year, I also added the Wheeler Delta Delta Series Compact Multi-Tool. Lastly, I have added a rat-tail file for the jobs that need a rounded shape to them rather than a square.
Cleaning Related: I would say about 80% of the time a malfunctioning gun is dirty or needs lubrication in the right spots. For the average Joe, a bottle of CLP or RemOil in a range bag will get you by but I like to prepare for the worst when away from my bench. That being said, I always make sure I have some permutation of CLP in my kit. I prefer G96. It is good quality, works well, and doesn’t smell terrible. I do not go out of my way to actually “clean” stuff with CLP since I believe it does a better job of lubricating and protecting. Personally, I have always thought of it as the 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner of firearm cleaning products. Does all the advertised things but it is debatable on how well vs a product that has one purpose (for more on gunsmith liquids check out this article). In this case, it is a good multi-use and short-term item without taking up too much space. I have an old sock over it most of the time so I always have a rag handy.
Beyond that, I have a Wheeler Compact Rifle Cleaning Kit which works well for most aspects. I may not have a correct-sized brush for every occasion but at least I have rods, jags, and patches. I also have a toothbrush and a large nylon brush if any scrubbing needs to occur, big or small. Lastly, steel wool is an honorable mention of sorts. It is not a cleaning accessory in my book but I think it fits well here. I have never needed to use it on the go but it doesn’t take up much space so why not?
Quality of Life: There may be a better name for this section but in a way it holds true. Within my kit, I have a gun mat that was given to me as a gift early on in my gunsmithing career. This is good for keeping the temporary work bench/space as clean as possible while a gun is being worked on. During a Glock armorer’s course a few years ago I was given a parts tray that still finds use when small parts come into play. Beyond those two items, I also have safety-related items such as safety glasses and a pair of latex gloves if I am working with something especially dirty or full of lead fouling.
Honorable Mention: Gunsmith Kit
I thought I would offer this quick one. From time to time and depending on the situation I will also place a trigger pull gauge in my kit. This is typically when I am working with a review item and plan on recording things like the trigger pull. Besides that, it normally sits at my desk most of the time.
Final Thoughts: Gunsmith Kit
I am unsure how common of a practice this is. I have always found it to be extremely handy and I can imagine on a scaled-down level it would work just fine as well. Think a multitool and some gun oil and you are probably golden for most things. This was not supposed to be anything earth-shattering. I was mainly intending it to be a bit of show and tell but also possibly provide some ideas for any new gunsmiths/armorers out there. Do any of you folks have a gunsmith kit? What is in it? Let’s hear the breakdown in the comments!
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! Also, let us know what you think in the comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.