When you start Gunsmithing School you will need your own set of basic gunsmithing tools. The requirements vary from school to school and some gunsmithing schools will give you a detailed list of the tools you need to bring, others are less prescriptive. Either way you need to have the right tools and it is most certainly worth buying decent tools from the onset as you will be using them for a long time to come – not only during gunsmithing school but hopefully for many years after when you’re working as a gunsmith.
So, what tools are in a basic gunsmithing tool kit?
Before we get to that, you need to realize that in many cases you can buy most of these gunsmithing tools either individually or bundled together into sets. There are firearm suppliers and parts manufacturers that offer gunsmithing tools and accessories; some of the most trusted names in this field are Brownells, Midway, and Weaver. Even the National Rifle Association (NRA) has its very own gunsmithing tool set that you can include in your basic tool kit. You can also ask your local gun shop for anything that you may need for your gunsmithing studies. I find that Amazon usually has the best prices so I have provided some (affiliate) links for your ease.
Some of the essential tools that you would need to include in your basic gunsmithing tool set are the following:
Basic Gunsmithing Tool #1: Hollow-ground screwdrivers
A hollow-ground screwdriver is an essential part of any basic gunsmithing tool set. It is different from a standard screwdriver because it has a squared-off, flat tip that can easily fit the slotted head of a screw. Every time you turn the screwdriver, you are applying torque to the bottommost portion of the screw’s slot and not at its tip. This prevents any danger of the screw breaking off when you try to unfasten it from the body of a firearm that you are servicing. Hollow-ground screwdrivers can either be detachable (like some types that are being offered by Brownells) or fixed; they also come in many kinds of sizes and tip variations. Those from Brownells are marketed as “Magna Tips”; they can be attached either by magnetic tips or by a clip-on mechanism.
Basic Gunsmithing Tool #2: Brass nylon hammers
The special two-headed nature of this hammer is important because of its two important uses. Use the brass hammer face to tap in gun parts together or shape errant corners; the relatively soft brass material does not leave any nicks or mars on your firearms as you repair or customize them. Use the nylon face, meanwhile, to carefully hammer or drive in fragile gun parts and sections.
Basic Gunsmithing Tool #3: Punch set
Punches are used to loosen or undo the firing pin of a firearm. There are many different types of punches that are available for use on the various kinds of firing pins that exist today. It is recommended that you get a starter pin punch set first because you can readily use them on standard straight-ended and dowel pins that are commonly found in most guns; however, you will need to have a roll pin punch set as well to deal with roll or spring pins that are now used in newer guns. Starrett offers a punch set that holds 8 varied punch sizes ranging from the 1/16 inch up to the 5/16 inch tips, while Brownells has a roll pin kit that consists of 19 different roll pin sizes.
Basic Gunsmithing Tool #4: Allen wrench set
This is used to drive in or unfasten screws or bolts that have hexagonally-shaped sockets on them. They are also known as hex keys or Allen keys, the name being a registered trademark of the manufacturer that first made them. You can buy them as a set of separate pieces or combined together in a handy tool that resembles a Swiss Army knife.
Basic Gunsmithing Tool #5: Hand files
These are important in firearm repairs and customization works where you will need to file and shape gun parts. They should be of high quality because of the extremely durable and resistant nature of the metal to which most gun parts are made of. Gunsmithing hand files range from the general-purpose 8-inch hand file to needle files that are made for use on small gun pieces and on sections that have limited spaces on them.
Basic Gunsmithing Tool #6: Pliers
Any gunsmith should have a ready collection of pliers for his tasks. They range in type from parallel-jaw pliers that you will need to hold gun sections together in a measured but sure grip, to needle-nose pliers that are suitable for smaller gun pieces. There are also padded-jaw pliers that are best suited to hold soft and delicate firearm parts in place while you hammer or punch pins on them, and chain-nose pliers which are the heavier versions of needle-nose pliers.
Basic Gunsmithing Tool #7: Cleaning brushes
Use these brushes to clean away steel filings, dirt, and other foreign particles that may potentially damage the more sensitive parts of your gun. They come with bristles that are made of brass, nylon, or stainless steel. Use brushes with steel or brass bristles for general-purpose cleaning work; for fragile gun sections such as the firing mechanism, use nylon brushes instead.
These are just some of the tools that you will need to include in your basic gunsmithing school set. Other important items include a wide set of drill bits, measurement tools like calipers, micrometers etc. One of the cheapest items but most important items you will need to buy is safety glasses.
This is just a basic list of tools that you will need and you’ll most likely end-up buying quite a bit more before you start school and will certainly have an extensive set by the time you finish. But don’t forget that in addition to tools, you will also need to buy some acquire some guns and gun parts so that you can be able to practice your gunsmithing skills on them.
Most gunsmithing schools will advise you to have 8 guns or more, including:
a) the Winchester 70, any Ruger rifle produced after 1964, Mauser M98, or any of the new rifle offerings from Savage Arms – You will use them for learning the principles behind flat breech rifles.
b) Any Howa rifle, Savage Model 110, and Remington Model 700 – The gunsmithing schools typically teach you the basics behind the servicing of safety breeches using these rifles.
c) Springfield 03A3 (also known as the M1903A3), Winchester Model 70 Classic or pre-1964 Model 70, and the Enfield P17 (or M1917 Enfield) – Use these rifles to practice the essential repair and service work that is needed for cone breech rifles.
You will also need to bring composite or wooden gun stocks, and blank barrels along with these firearms. In a future article we will provide a more detailed set of tools and guns so that you hit the ground running.