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Simple gun smithing tool set recommendations?

Discussion in 'Maintenance & Gunsmithing' started by pdrake, Mar 11, 2014.

  1. pdrake

    pdrake WA Active Member

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    I would like to buy my first set of tools dedicated to firearms (no longer use the mechanics tool sets bought over the years for delicate tasks). First off, I really need to get a basic set of screw drivers and hex heads. What is a good basic set? My budget is $100, but that could change based upon your recommendations.

    I just happened to be at Cabela's the other day and looked at a set made by Wheeler's. I checked the reviews on my phone before a purchase, and they were quite critical, so I didn't buy the set.

    My older rifles in particular have very odd-sized screws, and I don't want to damage them with tools designed for automobile engines.

    Thanks.
     
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  2. GOG

    GOG State of Jefferson Well-Known Member

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  3. pdrake

    pdrake WA Active Member

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    Thanks. I will look into that one.
     
  4. GOG

    GOG State of Jefferson Well-Known Member

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    I also have a standard set of gunsmithing punches and a mallet with double heads, one plastic and one brass. I don't have roll pin punches and have gotten along without them for quite a few years, but one day I'll probably buy a set just because. I also have a Tipton rifle vise that cost about fifty bucks years ago and it's paid for itself many times over.

    Another suggestion; I have the Gun Digest Assembly/Disassembly manuals for pistols, revolvers, centerfire rifles and shotguns. They are an excellent resource. They used to be around twenty-five bucks or so each. Even if they've gone up, they're worth having.

    Good luck, tinkering with firearms is really fun and educational.
     
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  5. NWCustomFirearms

    NWCustomFirearms Vancouver, WA Bronze Vendor Bronze Vendor

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    I've used the Magna screw driver set from Brownells for over 15 years and love them. A good micrometer, ball peen hammer, punches, dental picks for cleaning, sandpaper and blocks, patches and other cleaning supplies, gun oil, various needle nose pliers, a scribe, a benchblock made from a hockey puck (to save money) those are the things I use everyday in my shop. The Jerry Kunhausen manuals are probably the best gun specific books around. The more you get into it the more tools you'll end up buying, files, stones, specific jigs and vises etc... It's never ending. Good luck
     
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  6. Grizzly_A

    Grizzly_A Portland Metro Area Member

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    Most of the sets are really close in comparison. You're really looking for hollow-ground bits, and I assume you want made in USA. From there it's customer service.
    The magna-tips are good. The Chapman set is very good and in your budget, also sold at Brownells. You also get a little more variety in types of bits, and not as many flats.
    http://www.chapmanmfg.com/MasterKit.html

    Just watch out for the "branded" sets that are really common and as they are usually imported and made with different materials that are either to brittle or to soft.
     
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  7. wichaka

    wichaka Wa State Well-Known Member

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    Checkout Wheeler Engineering along with Brownells for tools.

    First thing to learn...don't go to the local hardware or tool stores for most things. They are not compatible with 'smithing.

    Puch set - Starrett
    Hammers - ball-pein and combo brass/nylon
    Screwdriver set
    Files - Nicholson or Grobet
    Micrometers - slide rule type, outside and depth.

    Some specialized tools are gimmicky at best, some are must haves...just depends on what you're working on.
     
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  8. coop44

    coop44 Tacoma ,WA Well-Known Member

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    I use grace and chapman drivers, starrett punches, stones where I can find them. a few taps, and a handle. cleaning rods and brushes, lotsa solvent, good cotton patches (if ya start out clean everything goes easier). find a hockey puck, drill a few small holes in it makes a good non marring surface for driving pins in and out. brass punches and a brass drift, and of course a teeny ball peen hammer. lots more too, it just seems to keep piling up.
     
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  9. jordanka16

    jordanka16 Albany, OR Active Member

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    A good set of screwdrivers is a necessity, marred up screws on a gun are a good sign that someone who shouldn't have been fiddling with it has been. For a long time I used a craftsman set that had replaceable tips, worked great and wasn't very expensive, biggest thing to look for is them being hollow ground. after that a set of brass or nylon punches and a nylon hammer. With those basic tools you should be able to take care of most problems, some guns will require special tools which you can add as needed.

    I've found tackle boxes to be ideal for storing tools and small parts as well, I probably have 6 of them and I don't even fish, lol.
     
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  10. pdrake

    pdrake WA Active Member

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    "...marred up screws on a gun are a good sign that someone who shouldn't have been fiddling with it has been..."

    Exactly my thoughts. Thanks to all of you--these recommendations were exactly what I wanted.
     
  11. Velzey

    Velzey Estacada, Oregon Gunsmith Gunsmith Bronze Vendor Bronze Supporter

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    I agree with all of the above, mostly .. Wheeler is made in China and I have snapped off allot of tips. I went with brownells set and never had a proble.

    I make my living working on guns. For small punches I use craftsman simply because I break them they replace for free.

    I use copper, lead and thick leather in my big bench vise. I think the copper is 1/16 and the lead is the same. The leather is 1/8 thick. When you get yourself a good deadblow mallet use it for just gun work. Don't getting he faces imbedded with anything that will marry the finish on what your hitting.

    The jerry k books are some of the best!!
     
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  12. thorborg

    thorborg portland oregon Well-Known Member 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Unless your in a war, never use a tapered screwdriver and if your driver tip doesn't fit the slot tight to all four edges, Stop, wait untill you can find the right tip, on older items always use Kroil or similer penitrating agent well before your effort.Always buy the best you think you can afford then add atleast 50% you won't regret long term. If you buy "sets" of anything, if possible, select from thoes you can get replacment parts from, nothing worse than a nice kit with broken or missing key components and other brands wont fit. As a novice, don't hurry your project, buy only what you absoutely need for it this way you can afford better quality tools, more likely you will use them again and don't get stuck with a bunch of cool tools you never use. make a home for your tools and always clean them and put them away immeditely after use, they will last longer, you'll know where to find them with less chance of your project getting sctatched form the clutter. Lastly, Kits are not always a wise choice. I have many with 80% of the contents never used plus some if the most usefull, I made myself.
     
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  13. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    The wheeler engineering stuff may have been good once, but it's turned to crap. I recently lost my barrel nut wrench, went over to cabellas and bought one, returned it two days later after snapping the pins off. Don't buy, it's junk.

    I tend to work mostly on military guns (AR, AK, M1Carbine) so I use a lot of the military specific tools (if you need to replace an extractor on an m1carbine, you need the tool, forget it otherwise). Since I also have a machine shop, I also tend to make many of my own tools, naturally you need a wide assortment of punches, hammers, screwdrivers. For most of my screwdrivers I have a decent craftsman set, and then I have my good screwdrivers that are all hollowground (Xcelite brand), and then a collection of others I bought from the snap-on truck for specialized tasks.

    Reamers, taps, drills, dies for chasing threads and making new ones. There are a few custom jigs I have for locating the FSB on AR's. A decent bench vise is a must, as well as lead wire, lead sheet. I would recommend a drill press, even the small hobby models they sell are useful if you don't have really high hopes (would not use for drilling scope mounts unless I had a good jig that held the receiver in the right place.)
     
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