Small gunsmithing triumphs for the mechanically challenged


August 29, 2013, 10:34 PM
You know who you are.

Fess up.

You are a disaster waiting to happen when it comes to having the right tool or knowing how to use it.

What are your small but meaningful gunsmithing triumphs..

Here's two of mine:

1) Drilling out the rivet that was holding in a sling loop that I wanted removed, without hurting me or the gun.

2) Using a punch to remove a dovetail blank from a Ruger No. 1, and replacing it with a folding open leaf rear sight without scratching the receiver.

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August 29, 2013, 10:52 PM
I wouldn't say that I am a disaster nor am I mechanically challenged, but I did fit a replacement bolt to a Colt Single Action Army once. Probably the most complex project I have completed.

August 30, 2013, 12:13 AM
My first AK build was... interesting.

But it works without issue!

August 30, 2013, 12:15 AM
Drilling out the AK gas piston rivet, re installing peening and finishing.

My first AR build was a LOT simpler.

August 30, 2013, 01:09 AM
I'm just happy if I can clean, lube, and reassemble my gun without ending up with "spare parts". :D

August 30, 2013, 03:30 AM
adding aluminum pillars and glass bedding my rifle.

August 30, 2013, 05:32 AM
Had to make a disconnector pawl for my Spanish Ruby, as the original was missing. These guns are not known for exacting tolerances and thus interchangeability of parts, so I made my own using a Dremel and cutoff wheel, a file, and a stone. Runs flawlessly, and gives me a great sense of satisfaction whenever I shoot it! (

Can you guess where I found steel of the exact thickness, and roughly the same hardness? (

Outlaw Man
August 30, 2013, 08:54 AM
Nice work, Sleazy.

I'm not normally a disaster waiting to happen, but I managed to install the gas block backwards on my new AR barrel and didn't notice until it was almost completely reassembled and I was trying to get the bolt back in. I thought, "how could they have sent me a gas tube that's too long for a rifle length system?"

I managed to get it back apart, gas block installed properly, and everything back together without messing something else up or hurting myself too badly.

It's the small victories that are sometimes the sweetest.

Red Tornado
August 30, 2013, 09:26 AM
Using aluminum can shims to lighten the trigger on my Mosins. It's easy, but still it's a great feeling.

August 30, 2013, 10:53 AM
Most recently completely disassembled and then reassembled a Volquartsen MarkII 10/22 trigger (a spring had popped out, but putting it back in required multiple attempts and eventually I had every part out and back in).

Yo-Dave trigger on a CZ452

Created a pin to fix a jammed Beretta 90.

Sanded out a collapsible Butler Creek stock to free-float a .920 barrel.

Fixed a faulty elevator on a used Marlin 22 lever.

Next project is replacing a broken trigger on a Baby Browning that I bought used last week....with the trigger already broken.

Now if I can just take apart and put a Ruger Mark III correctly....have previously failed miserably!

August 30, 2013, 11:16 AM
Removing and installing a gas block on a Daniel Defense AR barrel - removal of the tapered pins on a DD standard sight is not a job for the fainthearted as I found out!

Series 70 conversion on my Colt Rail gun.

Converting a Saiga to a legal AK.

August 30, 2013, 12:04 PM
Using a broken-off Q-tip as a slave pin to hold the barrel in place reassembling my PF-9. You don't do it right and the gun locks up, requiring much vigorous jiggling in X-Y-Z axes to get it to open again so you can do it right.

August 30, 2013, 12:21 PM
481 - Left over parts is the hallmark of efficiency!

No big thing, but I made leaf springs from auto feeler gauges.

August 30, 2013, 12:33 PM
Actually installing a new barrel on my Savage 12 FV and having it shoot pretty well.

Bwana John
August 30, 2013, 01:19 PM
I aint afraid..... :uhoh:

Have Dremil tool, will travel.

If you cant fix it with a blowtorch and a single jack hammer, it's an electrical problem.

August 30, 2013, 01:31 PM
Very small. On a Glock extractor plunger assembly I found the little nub end that faces the rear missing. I found a nail the right size, cut to length, filed and sanded it until it was very close to the original. Treated it with EEZOX and installed it. Fits great, works great. 10 minutes work.

Like is said...very small.

August 30, 2013, 01:47 PM
For me just disassembly and reassembly is the limit of my expertise. So far I have been able to find all the springs that went flying, found all the small parts and ended up with no parts left over...and it works!!:)

August 30, 2013, 02:43 PM
Changing the mainspring on a P.08 Luger.

August 30, 2013, 02:44 PM
diagnosing, finding, and replacing a latch pin on a rust bucket parts gun, with a perfectly and smoothly functioning &^*%-ugly Army Special revolver the result....
my finest "gunsmithing" hour

August 30, 2013, 04:52 PM
I replaced the connector spring (the little pendulum thingy that switches the trigger from one barrel to the other when the first barrel is fired) on a single triggered SKB double barreled shotgun. It only cost the price of the spring, two phone calls to an understanding gunsmith 5 states away, and many cuss words.

August 30, 2013, 06:02 PM
Removed the springs from a Ruger standard once to give it a good cleaning afrer shooting the heck out of it. One went flying across the room, never to be found again. Went into town to the local hardware store and lucky for me the guy was a retired LEO who took pitty on a 14 yo. He even figured out which it was and took his own gun apart so we could match the size and coil. He was my hero. I often revisited him to my surprise, with dads blessing, to learn everything I could. He really mentored me.

August 30, 2013, 06:12 PM
Unless it's bolt on or screw on, I will mess it up on gun repair. I don't know why, I'm pretty mechanically inclined, just not in this area.

August 30, 2013, 09:00 PM
I completely forgot about taking my Colt Trooper III all the way down, repairing a sticking issue (took awhile to figure out*), replacing hammer and trigger springs with lighter versions and wow what an awesome shooter.

*Face of the forcing cone was actually too close to the cylinder exit. The gap was too tight, when revolver got hot, it would stick. Only happened when hot. When I measured it before the free gap was OK, but on the small side (good right?). But in the restrained position, it was like 0.0005" too tight. I just touched it with a stone. Perfection! The amazing thing it was like this since day one from the factory, I bought it nearly new from an estate sale.

August 30, 2013, 09:40 PM
I'm OK with manual tools: hammer, punch, file, etc. Give a power tool (any sort) and my wife considers me a weapon of mass destruction.

August 31, 2013, 01:24 AM
Friend of mine was having problems with his Beretta 682 skeet gun. It just did not like to fire the top bbl. I' know the previous owner had issues with it as well. It had been worked on by a local smith and had been rebuilt by Coles - still had issues.

I took it apart and figured out someone had been messing with the inertia system sears and had damaged a surface on the sear. I had the owner order a new inertia mass for me. The sear surfaces have to be fit to the hammer release levers. So I worked the surfaces back with a stone until they properly engages the hammer levers.

Works perfect.

August 31, 2013, 01:57 AM
As a student of the Engineering discipline, I tend to take for granted the mind's eye God has blessed me with. On that note, my single greatest gunsmithing victory was when a former co-worker learned of my penchant for firearms and the next day brought me a Savage 67 he'd acquired from his grandfather. His grandfather had at one point started to disassemble it for repair and passed before it was completed. At the disadvantage of a box of misc. parts and a detailed exploded drawing procured from the internet and the advantage of him being a competent machinist with shop at his disposal, we proceeded to reassemble the ol' girl and had her pumpin' shells within a week. I don't consider the gun itself my victory so much as the satisfaction of helping my friend finish it.

August 31, 2013, 08:38 AM
Not so much a gunsmithing thing, but with regards to reloading , I have a LEE progressive press. I got it from a friend who was frustrated with it. I've since polished some parts, lubed, unlubed, bent, and tweaked, disassembled then reassembled several times.... I can now sit down and run 1000 rounds with maybe 30 re-dos

August 31, 2013, 12:37 PM
My AR build was relatively easy and straightforward.

My M1911 build, starting with an Essex receiver and questionable quality parts from a surplus wholesaler was something of a much more epic undertaking. I learned to appreciate the fine art of using Swiss files and of buying parts from a name brand manufacturer in order to have a gun that was truly functionable and worth the effort.

August 31, 2013, 12:40 PM
... At the disadvantage of a box of misc. parts and a detailed exploded drawing procured from the internet and the advantage of him being a competent machinist with shop at his disposal, we proceeded to reassemble the ol' girl and had her pumpin' shells within a week.
Nice job! I believe that is called "forensic gunsmithing"!

August 31, 2013, 02:16 PM
I've liked to mess with stuff since I was little, I had a friend who went to south America every year dove hunting, he had a Browning sweet 16 that was his pride & joy that he used. The shell were the old kind with the saw dust & glue bases and they left a mess in the action. So when the gun started to jam he would spray it with wd 40 and shoot some more. He would bring it home sort of clean it and put it away till the next time. Well it got so bad that he gave up on it and got another gun that he could use but he really missed that sweet 16. He was talking to a Dr. friend and asked him who he could get to help him get the old gun back shooting and he suggested me. So I ended up with the gun, I took it apart and found that he action was gummed up with what looked like particle board from the combination of the fiber & wd 40. I soaked it in solvent and put it back to gether and found that it was hard to put shells in the magazine tube, so I took it apart and found that at one time it was disassembled and the screw that held it in place was put in wrong and left a burr on the inside of the tube which made the hulls hard to load. I peened that bump out put it back together and it ran like a champ. When the owener got it back he asked me how much do I owe you and I told him nothing. But a couple of years later I went to buy my first vehicle and I worked with the salesman on a 1978 bronco and he gave me the price and I told him it was too rich for my blood, well the owner of the place over heard it and came in and looked it over and quoated me a price that was in my price range ($2000 less) YEP the sweet 16 owner.

September 2, 2013, 09:04 AM
I bought a Marlin Camp 9 on Gun Broker that was TOTALLY MISREPRESENTED as a shooter in good shape. From a dealer, too. The barrel and receiver were spray painted and it was not possible to tell from the pictures - this was done on purpose, it was pretty worn internally and not diclosed (but the wood was fine). Plus the supplied aftermarket magazine didn't work - it was not a shooter and it was in rough shape. I griped at the seller and he refunded some of my money and gave me two S&W mags. At the point the deal evened out and now I had a project.

I stripped, sanded and polished and got reblued. New springs, buffer, some replacement pins and parts. Cleaned and waxed the wood. Now very nice, with a great patina. I was daunted at first but went in head first and came out with a great sense of satisfaction.

September 2, 2013, 11:45 AM
I once took my Browning Buckmark all the way apart and put it back together. :D

This is minor, of course, and not even a gunsmithing triumph, really, but the manual from my Buckmark is tremendously unhelpful. Browning doesn't "recommend" removing the slide and leaves no instructions for doing so. (When I did, I found a bunch of grease from the factory that was making my slide sluggish, but that's another story.) It seem as though the assumption on the part of the manufacturer is that no one is interested or has the capability to disassemble the firearm completely.

Short aside: I can't blame Browning for that, though. The dominant mentality in our culture is that we can either replace something when it breaks or pay someone else to fix it for us. As a result, many of us (I include myself in this category) have not the slightest idea how to diagnose or fix mechanical devices when they fail. Rant concluded. Sorry for the hijack.

September 2, 2013, 11:53 AM
Just switching out the magazine tube follower in my Marlin 1895 was a triumph for me. Thank god for youtube videos!

September 2, 2013, 02:01 PM
Fixing the light hammer strikes on my Marlin 39TDS and replacing the buffer in my Marlin model 75.

Lee Roder
September 2, 2013, 06:06 PM
Reaming round the hole through my revolver's cylinder for the ejector rod to remove the sloppy manufacturing defect I found before, of course, I noticed the rod had a flat side, for a reason!


If it ain't broke, don't fix it, and when you do fix it, understand how it should work, I mean really understand, not just THINK you understand

September 3, 2013, 01:51 AM
Take apart and clean a Mini-14 182 series when all you have is a 187 series manual. (Its NOT the same!)

September 3, 2013, 01:53 AM
As it turns out, it's only slightly more difficult to re-assemble a Ruger 22/45 that's been taken completely apart than it is to re-assemble one that's just been field stripped.

September 3, 2013, 06:06 AM
I changed the hammer spring on Browning Hi-power, using only a pair of small tweezers and a wooden bench to sit on. Problem was that the thread on the spring guide was worn and only the small pin was keeping it all together.

September 3, 2013, 09:52 AM
I'm Generally really good at pulling em apart and putting em together. For better or worse I guess, I Tend to watch a video the night before and do it the next day, and have been good thus far, guns are generally far less complex than what I typically deal with.

There has been one notable exception. My Ruger mkII was failing to extract and jamming another round into the partially pulled empty. I stripped it down, to give it a look see. When I pulled the recoil spring out of the bolt, the Firing pin fell out, which drew the "huh that's not supposed to be" look on my face. The roll pin and spring that are the firing pin stop and return were gone, the pin sheared and the spring popped, after that the firing pin rode high and steaked the round in the chamber. That one had to go to the gun smith to get the chamber right again.

September 3, 2013, 05:47 PM
I bought some lighter Wolf springs for 2 of my revolvers, and actually managed to get them installed and put back together!

And they both work too! :D

September 3, 2013, 06:03 PM
1. Drilled out a stripped grip screw in my old 1911 I once had in order to replace the grips. It was stripped from the factory. I didn't mar the finish or hurt the gun.

2. Fit a tapco t6 stock to my Norinco sks m with a pocket knife by taking a small amount of material off the rear tang area of the stock.

Sent from my mind using ninja telepathy.

September 3, 2013, 06:08 PM
I loved the title of this thread.

One time I took a file to a old browning hi power slide to try to smooth the action up...definitely didn't turn out too well.

September 3, 2013, 07:17 PM
Complete teardown and reassembly of a Marlin 60 action.

September 5, 2013, 07:23 AM
One of my pocket pistols has no field strip procedure for cleaning. So I am surprised every time I come back from shooting it at the range that it works after I clean it. I have to do it at my computer desk every time since I have an exploded parts diagram on my desktop.

September 5, 2013, 07:08 PM
well...I am mechanicaly inclined, i just dont have good access to proper tools all the time. My latest triumph was shortening an aftermarket 5 round magazine for a winchester43 (stuck out the bottom) down to a flush fit 3 rounder. used a dremel with a cutoff wheel, a pair of smooth jawed channel locks and a couple files. It came out far better than I was hoping.

September 5, 2013, 09:01 PM
This year I fit a brand-new .45 ACP cylinder to an old S&W 2nd model hand ejector that had originally been in .455, but that some "Bubba" had reamed out (sloppily) for .45 Colt. Had I known how many hours it would take me to time each chamber, and how stiff and sore I'd be when done, I'd never have attempted it. Needle file the ratchet star for that and try...needle file some and try...needle file some and try.....a little and try...then on to the next and try...file some and try.....file some and try....file some more....stoning.... My upper back and the pads of my fingers were a mess by the time I was finished. But the timing and endshake are now perfect, and she shoots like a dream. So while I can now add fitting and timing a S&W revolver cylinder to my list of acquired gunsmithing skills, I'll never do it again.

September 6, 2013, 08:22 AM
co-worker brought a Grendel .380 (precursor to KelTec) that he had completely disassembled due to dropping in salt water. Took me several hours to figure out what went where and then had to make slave pins to reassemble. Told him next time he dropped it in the water....just leave it.

September 7, 2013, 12:09 AM
Took apart a S&W Model 10 snubby, removed the hammer, cut the spur off, polished, and cold blued it. Looks like a pro job, and it was a great excuse to buy a cheap dremel tool.
Then came time for re-assembly. Since I took the rebound slide off to make the hammer easier to remove, I had to make a tool to re-install the slide and spring. I cut the tip of a brass cleaning rod at an angle, and used it to press the spring and slide in. That spring is STIFF, but the "tool" made it easy to install.

I have to admit I don't consider myself mechanically challenged, but I tend to be impulsive when it comes to these types of projects. It's not uncommon for me to start a job before I have all the necessary tools and or knowledge.

September 7, 2013, 12:29 AM
Replacing the broken hammer strut on my Astra A90 with a pair of hemostats and flat head screwdriver.

September 7, 2013, 01:59 AM
Removed the springs from a Ruger standard once to give it a good cleaning afrer shooting the heck out of it. One went flying across the room, never to be found again. Went into town to the local hardware store and lucky for me the guy was a retired LEO who took pitty on a 14 yo. He even figured out which it was and took his own gun apart so we could match the size and coil. He was my hero. I often revisited him to my surprise, with dads blessing, to learn everything I could. He really mentored me.

Cool Story. Its funny sometimes where we find that friend, or mentor. Sometimes its someone much older than us and they become a good friend. When I was in my early 20s I had a great friend who was almost 80. Loved guns and loved to talk, had no children. We spent hours talking guns at his house and shooting, then when the parkinsons got to bad, I would stop by three times a week for a few hours to just talk, maybe cook him some dinner. When he passed it was just me and him in the nursing home room. It was sad, really, but at the same time, he didnt go alone.

Nowadays my best friend is my uncle. We shoot and reload together and he has proven to be a great mentor. In the last few years I have started to outshoot him. He likes to play the star wars thing with me and say "You once were the student, but now you are the master" lol. Great guy.

September 7, 2013, 03:13 AM
Just finished my 1st ar lower. "Only" took me 6 hours and countless trips to youtube, but I actually learned a lot.

Plus side, not a single scratch!

September 8, 2013, 12:07 AM
Stripped down my 1943 Mosin tonight to clean out the cosmoline. Only took me 3 hours to get it all. Rather proud of myself that it went back together with no extra pieces on the table.

Deus Machina
September 8, 2013, 12:30 AM
I think my most 'minor' triumphs are converting my Saiga to standard pistol-grip form, then removing the front sight, cutting the hood away, and threading the barrel.
That was a long-but-not-difficult project for me.

For some reason I just can't understand people that can't figure out a tape measure or screwdriver.

September 8, 2013, 01:01 AM
I had a RIA GI model 1911, and decided to make it into a Tactical model. Sent the slide to Novak to have tritium sights installed, and ordered the RIA Tactical hammer, trigger and beavertail from Advanced Tactical in NV.

Then came time to fit the beavertail to the GI frame, and there was a LOT of steel that had to come off! A lot more than I expected. It quickly morphed into a project from Hell, but I was committed now. Just took my time and worked slowly with files and sandpaper, and it turned out perfectly! When I was done I had it polished and blued, and I now have a beautiful pistol and a wonderful shooter. I'm the only kid on the block with one like it.

Took my ratty old mutt Garand, had the metal parts all refinished, then bought a new stock set from Dupage and did a lot of wood shaving to get it to where I wanted it. It's beautiful now, IMO, and she must love me because she shoots better than I could have imagined she ever could.

I bought a 1914 Mauser .32 pocket pistol from a co-worker and it just wouldn't work right, wouldn't release the striker to fire. My gunsmith couldn't fix it and gave it back. So I started fiddling with it and discovered the sideplate wasn't perfectly flat, it was bowed just a few thousandths. If I pushed on that plate with my thumb, it would fire every time. So I very carefully smucked that sideplate with my little hammer, and it works fine now!

Redneck Engineering at its finest!

September 8, 2013, 05:57 PM
I wouldn't call myself mechanically challenged, but years ago my buddy gave me a really nice Mossberg 500AT - apparently a special trap model that did not release the slide action even after the trigger is pulled. At that time I hadn't done any tinkering with firearms other than shoot and clean them. I was only 20 and didn't even have any tools to speak of. Anyway, Mossberg said it needed a whole new trigger assembly and they would not sell me one directly. Comparing the trigger groups with another 500 revealed an extra pin that mine was drilled for but did not have. I was able to find a nail or something with the same diameter, cut to the proper length and used a center punch to flare the ends enough to lock it in place. I was quite proud of myself at the time and I still use that shotgun 25 years later.

September 8, 2013, 08:43 PM
Does loading a clip errrr magazine count? LOL!!

September 9, 2013, 12:43 AM
My "skills" haven't had to work as hard as most of the posts here.
I have an old (~50 years) Stevens 12 ga. SxS that cracked the stock on both sides of the tang-mounted safety. I removed the stock, drilled small holes and counter-sunk two sheetmetal screws (thin, flat heads) and filled the holes and cracks with a 2-part epoxy. Screwed them together and let them cure, then scraped & sanded the bleed-out off, filled the countersunk screw heads with wood filler, and restained the wood. Hasn't given me any problems since I did that 15 years ago.

Got new grips for a 90 y.o. Colt .32 auto but they didn't exactly "fit" even though they were the same part number. I had to sand off the inner face of the misfitting panel (only one) as well as remove some material from a couple of the edges (rotary tools are your FRIEND!!) so it would fit down into the metal frame.

Nothing too hard. I leave metal working to people with better skills than mine! :)

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