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Tools of Gun Owners and Gunsmiths
Some assistance by Spiggy, of Calguns
See also: Firearms Measurement Tools
The list below is separated into a number of categories. Overall, it represents a more or less logical progression from basic gun owner tools, to small-business level requirements. I'm not particularly interested in documenting consumables here, although there are a few overlaps. Generally speaking, most of the categories will assume you've already purchased the items in the lower-tiered categories.
- Cleaning rods
- A bore snake is useful for rapid cleaning, although the rod is more traditional and versatile. You can live without a bore snake, but not without a cleaning rod.
- Toothbrush - optional but useful.
Light Gunsmithing Tools
These tools will end up in the arsenal of nearly everyone who does things with their weapon beyond the simplest of cleaning.
- Bore lights allow you to inspect the condition of guns' barrels.
- Boresighter - laser or optical; useful for rough calibration.
- Clear work area (or magnetic bowl) - to avoid losing small parts
- Dental mirror (optional but very useful for inspecting chambers and throats)
- Digital camera or camcorder (optional) - to have a record of where parts were, before you came along.
- Dremel or Roto-Zip
- Needle nose pliers
- Magnet (optional but very useful for picking up ferrous parts)
- Magnifying glass
- Left-handed drill bits - useful when dealing with stripped-out screws. It'll loosen the screw while you're drilling into it, then you use a left-handed tap to remove the screw.
- Levels - for mounting scope rails or fitting scopes.
- Hex wrenches
- Picks (very useful to reposition wires and springs)
- Torque Wrench (for scope ring screws)
- Airbrushing kit (optional, for applying certain paints)
- Black paint pen (good for covering up nicks on painted steel)
- Sharpie marker (good for covering up nicks in parkerized steel)
- Sander (or just use sandpaper / steel wool)
- X-Acto Knife - for fitting stocks.
Building or Modification Tools
This does not include specialized tools, such as AR-15 armorer's wrenches or AK-47 rivet jigs.
- Angle grinder or Roto-Zip
- Barrel vise blocks - to hold barrels steady while installing things on them
- Blowtorch - for spot heat treatment; unnecessary for most purposes not involving AK's
- Bolt cutters - for shortening screws or bolts as appropriate
- Drill press
- Hammer, 3lb
- Headspace gauges (go, no-go, and field, in the calibers being worked on)
- Heat gun (for drying parts)
- Heavy duty pliers (channel lok or visegrips ideal)
- Sharpie or other marker (for marking cuts or covering scratches)
- Shop press - where AK-47's are concerned, this is mandatory to progress beyond bottom-tier builds. 6-ton may work, 12-ton is the minimum effective power, 20-ton is ideal
- Spot welder - recommended over normal welders in certain, very limited cases (i.e. rails on AK's)
- Strong magnet - when building, scraps of steel get dropped and need to be picked up efficiently.
- Taps and dies - may be required for some builds.
- Wire clippers - for shortening springs
- Welder - necessary for CETME or G3 builds.
When price is little object and the desire is to do the job as effectively as possible.
- Air compressor
- Blasting cabinet
- Bluing tank
- CNC Mill - for mass or limited production of parts
- Electric oven capable of 500 degrees (to cure paint)
- Kiln (for heat treating steel)
- Lathe - to make barrel extensions, etc
- Mill - trimming down parts with perfect control
- Roto-Zip (forget dremel tools)
- Parkerization tank
- Parts washer
- Powder coating gun
- Ultrasonic cleaner
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