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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 Tools

  • 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
  • Files
  • Flashlight
  • Hammer
  • 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
  • Punches
  • Picks (very useful to reposition wires and springs)
  • Screwdrivers
  • Wrenches
  • Torque Wrench (for scope ring screws)
  • Vise

Refinishing Tools

  • Airbrushing kit (optional, for applying certain paints)
  • Black paint pen (good for covering up nicks on painted steel)
  • Paintbrushes
  • 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.

Top-Tier Tools

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

Cleaning Consumables

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Topic revision: r14 - 24 Sep 2011 - SeanNewton
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