Thursday, March 06, 2008

Are you sure you know what you're doing?

When I was stocking gun store shelves, one type of item I tried to make sure to keep in inventory was gunsmithing tools: files, stones, and yes, even Dremels.
"But Tam," I'd hear, "there's a gunsmithing department out back! Why are you stocking that stuff?"

Exactly. And there's nothing like an overconfident DIY'er to keep them busy, too.

There are a hundred and eleventy ways to booger up your gun unless you know exactly what you are doing. While light primer strikes caused by backing out the strain screw on your S&W revolver to "make the trigger pull smoother" are fairly easily remedied, it can cost a lot of money to find out that it's hard to put metal back that shouldn't have been taken away in the first place.

Now, I like gunsmiths. A lot of my friends are gunsmiths. I don't want them to starve. But I think that they wouldn't mind me reminding folks to be sure and know what they're doing before they try and take metal away.

Besides, it's not like anyone listens, anyway. ;)

19 comments:

OA said...

Often the best learning experience for a DIY'er is to spend money on parts, bugger up said gun (or car), then spend a lot more money to pay someone else to fix said ham-fistedness. Either you get better, or you get broke.

Anonymous said...

Kind of the same train of thought, but far different venue was when decades ago Parnelli Jones was running up front at the speedway. It wasn't so much he was so fast, but his crew hung stuff (like extra shock absorbers, etc.) on his car to make people think 'it' made his car go faster, when in fact they knew if copied as it was by almost everyone, it would SLOW THEM down. It worked.

Selling lots of gunsmithing tools at a gunshop is almost a certain guarantee the house gunsmith will never run out of work.

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Noah D said...

*eyes the same unaltered gap on his Rock Island*

Yep, leaving that alone. 'Polish' I'm fine with - 'grind' is one of those words that means 'Stop, you idiot!', for me.

pdb said...

Stop looking at me like that.

Don Gwinn said...

You don't scare me! I took a four-barrel Quadrajet carburetor off a 1986 Chevy pickup and took it apart, THEN looked at the directions.

Someday I plan to put that back on the truck.

Carteach0 said...

Lol.... well said.
Of course you are right.... nobody will listen. At least, not those who would cut and pray....

I have some stories to tell... and If I ever get drunk enough, you bet I'll share. Don't wait up though....

Gregg said...

Guns, guns are easy. They are simple mechanicsl devices, measurements and tolerances are crucial, but they only have a few failure points.

Cars, well, modern cars are difficult with thousands of failure points. Admittedly, cars are a lot more forgiving, especially where measurements and tolerances are concerned....

Aaron said...

Doing it yourself is and anyone can do it...as long as they know their limits.

If all you can do is disassemble, clean, and reassemble, then stick with that, etc.

Now, if you have some cheap commie mil-surps to play with, knock yourself out. Otherwise, know your limits!

Dr. StrangeGun said...

I put some guy's Nork AK mainspring back together (in the reassembled way) at the shop the other day. Used two strips of scotch tape and a spring :)

I think the same day I figured out field stripping both a Mauser 1910 and a Sterling pocket pistol as well.

But metal removal? Not after a hell of a lot more practice at it than I have now. Well, there was the P22 that needed tweaking, but I can knock a sharp edge off a chamber without power tools.

TBeck said...

Last week I called around to find a smith willing to install a set of aftermarket night sights on my XD.

The first guy wanted $60 and had a two-week wait. Screw that.

Gander Mountain had a four week wait!

The guy at Pro Shooters offered to do it for $30 in two days. Sold!

Now, I've tried to swap XD sights before using a vise and some careful work with a brass punch. The front sight drifted out just fine. The rear got stuck and I ended up taking it to a smith. That's why I didn't waste time in the garage this time.

When I picked up the slide today the smith told me that he was going to have two prices for sight installation; one for XDs and a lower one for everything else. He screwed around for and hour the night before getting those sights out and then in.

Note to self: there is an XD sight pucsher on EBay for $99. There may be an opportunity here...

HTRN said...

There seems to be 3 categories of people who fool around with guns and don't get paid for it.

1)Skilled metalworkers who like guns - usually machinists or Tool and Diemakers.
2)Average people with some mechanical skills and know their limits
3)Idiots who have no clue and booger up perfectly good guns.

Unfortunately, Group 1 isn't that big, and Group 3 is disturbingly large.

Tam said...

"Note to self: there is an XD sight pucsher on EBay for $99. There may be an opportunity here..."

Don't waste your money. The boys in the back had to use the Bridgeport to mill XD sights out as often as not...

The Croats obviously don't believe in changing dovetail cutters very often, as they cost real money.

Alan said...

2nd that.

The $99 XD sight pusher is for the new sights AFTER you mill the factory ones off.

Mike in Austin said...

I once purchased a used Ruger GP-100 very inexpensively at a gun store. I soon discovered why it was for sale - unless the trigger was released 110% before pulling it again, the cylinder locked up. Sometimes on the first pull of the trigger the cylinder locked up.

I took the whole thing apart, including the trigger group, to see if I could diagnose it. It seemed, comparing the pieces to the online exploded-gun diagram, a piece was bent oddly when it should have been straight.

I put the gun back together and mailed it off to Ruger detailing all my actions and the gun's history as a used gun purchase, asking them to fix it and bill me. I got a free Ruger repair and a letter saying that the bent piece should indeed have been straight. They also polished out some scratches and cleaned it very, very well. HipHipHooray for Ruger customer service....

So I also wrote about this while it was going on, on a gun forum, to see if anyone could give me some info on the likely problem. I got blamed immediately and multiply for buggering up the gun by disassembling the trigger assembly myself. Since I wasn't qualified. Because I only owned the gun, I guess.

At least I didn't use a Dremel on it, the forum contributors really would have shamed me for that....

Tam said...

If you'd been a real DIYer, once you'd gotten it apart, you'd have started bending and filing bits immediately, whether you knew what they were or not. For shame!

There's nothing wrong with taking one apart. Worst case scenario, you show up at your local gunsmith with a bag o' gun and a sheepish expression on your face. It's what some folks do after they get them apart that makes money for the gunsmiths...

Gewehr98 said...

That should be a bumper sticker: I haz Dremel, so I R gunsmith.

Anonymous said...

That said, if you MUST go at it yourself...

http://www.homegunsmith.com

og said...

me, I do things because I can't afford to have a gunsmith do them- until it comes to the Good Stuff, like the Arisaka, or Ma Bell. Then I take the stuff to McGowan, who treats me right. No better way to make it happen.

Pistols? a couple strokes with a fine ruby stone on the sear and sear notch, MAYBE. Wheelguns? a good CLEANING will often make them better than they were, and I never met a wheelgun that wouldn't improve just by use.

Too many bubba'ed guns out there already.

TBeck said...

Right now I'm debating whether or not to cut the factory sling swivel off of the gas block on my Mini-14 and then try to remove enough metal from the sling stud to allow it to accept a normal QD sling swivel.

It seems straight forward and given that my father-in-law is a retired machinist, should go failry well.

But still I hesitate...