Any suggestions for gun (not improvised) manufacture books


May 10, 2004, 03:45 PM
I'm interested in finding a few books on the construction of commercial quality firearms. I'm not interested in the improvised weapon books as I already have those and they aren't really what I want. I want to build a few firearms (legal) myself from an 80% casting (say an AR), then a 20% casting (say a 1911), and then maybe come up with something on my own for the heck of it. Something to challenge and build my skills.

What I'm looking for are a few books on the best ways to work with materials to produce a quality firearm. Books that would cover issues like choosing barrel twist rate/material, machining techniques for locked breech weapons, bolt action assemblys, choosing gas tube size based on powder/caliber/bolt weight, metal finishing techniques, recoil characteristics of different designs (say gas or blowback), how to match a recoil spring to a slide weight, how to calculate stress induced from a cartridge firing, etc...

I've bought a few gunsmithing books but they are always very light on the actual design/analysis material and heavy on the finished product. Are there even any books out there like what I want? I'm beginning to think I should just stick with the machinist, metal working, mechanical engineering, and material science books I have and work from there based on existing designs.

Any suggestions, either gun related or general material fabricaton that might be useful?


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May 10, 2004, 06:50 PM
Hi Deavis,

There are a few books out on Gun Design,but none that I know of on manufacture except for one dealing with sxs shotguns(and it doesn't go into much detail).
The only others I know of are original works dealing with muzzle loaders.

You can look on eBay for American Rifle Design or American Handgun Design(it may be American Pistol and Revolver Design).I think I have a duplicate of one of them if it looks interesting to you.

As for "80%" build ups,look at Roderus Custom Gunworks,
as they are way ahead of everyone else on that subject.

I'm trying to find a reasonable print of an AR 10 lower to machine up my own.

Hope this helps,Robert.

Jim Watson
May 10, 2004, 08:32 PM
I have never seen the like for modern guns.
Frank DeHaas wrote books on building single shot rifles.
There is a book in print with supposedly detailed instructions on converting a double barrelled shotgun to a double express rifle.

May 10, 2004, 08:45 PM
Thanks for the input guys. I've scoured every book store I can find and no dice. I never thought about it, but I guess the fact that we have so many quality firearms for such low prices makes it sort of useless to publish books on how to build them. Why do it yourself when you can buy it for so cheap? sigh... That leaves me only one option. Careful experimentation and a little reverse engineering when the time comes. Thanks.

May 11, 2004, 08:55 AM
There is a very specific (to include the engineering formulas and math) booklet on building single shot actions available from the publishers of Popular Machinest.

AGI has video courses that will take you through the 80% AR and 1911 if you already know how to use a lathe and mill.

There is a (rather basic) book on shotguns available from Safari Press. I think it's by Chris Austyn.

Other than that (as I get up on my soapbox) modern gun manufacture is rarely done using hand and/or basic shop tools. Modern gun designers have to know metalurgy, composites, synthetics, and a whole bucnh of rather nebulous science. A quick look through the above mentioned single shot book will let you know if you should attempt your own design. If you can't follow the math, don't start down the trail.

That being said, a basic gun is one of the most simple things to make.

Jim K
May 15, 2004, 04:45 PM
I think you are looking in the wrong places. Gun work is not some kind of obscure magic, it is simply a variation of machine work. Check your local community college or trade schools for a good course in machine shop basics. You need to learn to run a lathe, a milling machine, a drill press, and all the other tools and equipment needed to do work in metal. You also need to learn how to measure and to read blueprints, how to heat treat metal, how to weld and silver solder, how to use taps and dies, etc.

For design, you need to buckle down to some tough learning. The reason most folks (like me) don't get heavy into design is mostly because we aren't smart enough to work out things like gas pressure buildup, heat dissipation, force vectors and all the other fancy stuff that goes into producing a good design. That is why engineers and physicists get paid big bucks by companies to design seemingly simple things like automobile engines. And why attempts to modify successful designs often don't work.

There are no "how to" books on gun design that I know of; the stuff you want to know is in books on engineering, metallurgy, fluid behavior, calculus and physics.


May 16, 2004, 01:03 AM

Thanks for the input but I think you misunderstood what I am looking for. Without sounding conceded, I've got an engineering degree, CNC machinery, and other nice resources on hand. What I'm looking for is a place to start that will get me to a useful design without wasting a bunch of my time with redundant information. That is why I'm not interested in "how to books gusmith a pipe into an Uzi", they are far below what I want, technically. I understand how to build a cheap firearm that will work, but that isn't what I'm interested in.

If I could find a book filled with equations for the dynamics of gas as related to firearms, awesome. If I had a book discussing various chemical processes as they relate to useful firearm finishes, great. Discussions of polymer strength and longevity under repeated use in a firearm, even better. Physics, calculus, and machining are not a problem. Wasting a ton of time to discover what people already know and have done is not what I want to do.

Sure, I can log onto a few journals and look up some articles on coatings, alloys, and polymers, wade through a few physics papers on the stress dislocations in ubermaterlium, but then I have to turn those into something useful on a firearm. I've done that sort of reading and now I want to see how smart *experienced* people apply those things to their designs. I'm interested in the theoretical and practical applications of science as related to the production of a practical, reliable, quality firearm. Something I can make and say, "dang, that really is a fine weapon... and it works!"

Traveler, I'll check out the book you mention having the engineering formulas and math. Thanks!

Jay Kominek
May 19, 2004, 01:41 PM
You might take a peek at
Most (all?) of those books are out of print, though, and difficult to come by.
You can find some via Abebooks ( I've managed to acquire "Automatic Arms", "Elements of Ordnance" and "Thermodynamics of Firearms" from booksellers listing there. I'm still waiting for someone to put "Theory of the Internal Ballistics of Guns" and "Interior Ballistics of Guns" up for sale (at a price I find reasonable, anyways).

I havn't had time to do anything more that peruse my acquisitions to confirm their condition upon arrival, but if you've got any questions about their content, hit me with a private message, and I'll take a look. "Thermodynamics of Firearms" is definitely a scientific text, though. I'll have to put some significant effort into brushing up on my thermo before I can read it.

May 19, 2004, 06:31 PM
My father got a dozen gun patents and sold his guns to the US army.
He had a book, "Hayes Elements of Ordiance".

A book I like is "Building a single shot Rifle" by Mueller.
The stress calculations in there are just like how my father showed me.

I would warn you that developing a new military gun without an r.f.q. can be a waste of effort.

May 19, 2004, 08:43 PM
Clark - Already ordered it, its been on backorder for a while now at amazon . :fire: I saw a video of the XM8 and figured, hell I can do it better than that, lol. j/k I'm only interested in making them for myself unless you want to put in an order for the first one off the line :D

jkominek - Thanks for the input. I'm going to check out those titles. They sound much more like what I'm looking for, actually, exactly what I'm looking for. Time to see if my schooling is going to pay off.

4v50 Gary
May 20, 2004, 12:11 AM
Have I got the book for you. However, I can't read it either. It's in Chinese and I'm going to find someone to translate it someday. I bought it when I visited Norinco.

May 20, 2004, 03:16 AM
I have been reading the gun patents that are recent enough to be on line.

I have been trying to make carry guns more powerful and smaller.

The Seecamp recoil spring patent really blew me away.
One of those type assemblies is in my Para Ord P10.
I am sure there are things to learn everywhere, I just happened to have the background to understand the genius of that one patent.

I can explain a little about that:
How can you get low spring index coils to function is a very short space that reduces in length by 1/2?

United States Patent 4,201,113
Seecamp May 6, 1980
Telescoping return-spring assembly for automatic handguns

May 20, 2004, 03:10 PM
Here is a book that describes function and it is an engineering textbook

Brassey's Essential Guide to Military Small Arms: Design Principles and Operating Methods by Derek Allsop
Published: August, 1997

May 28, 2004, 02:09 PM
CMC, thanks for the lead. That is the newest book I've seen so far!

May 28, 2004, 04:38 PM

May 31, 2004, 01:50 AM
*insert grand vision of a .45ACP chambered roller-locked ala CZ52 full-size frame*

In more seriousness, have you considered copying an existing design? I'd do it that way, decostruct another design and get my own cues from it...

June 2, 2004, 12:26 AM
mfree, that is exactly my plan! :)

1) 80% AR-15 receiver
2) 20% AR-15 receiver
3) billet receiver
4) upper, bolt carrier, etc... full build from scratch

Then a 1911 in the same manner.
Afterwards a bolt action rifle or maybe a pistol from scratch

Then I want to try out my hand at something simple. I think this gives me plenty of time to practice my machining, finishing, and CAD modeling. I want to get a system down for this. Then... who knows, maybe work on Clark's suggestion of "make carry guns more powerful and smaller".

I'm busy trying to get together all the books everyone recommended and do some serious reading. Hopefully I'll be posting pictures in a year of steps 1-3.

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