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Old April 26, 2015, 02:17 PM   #1
45Frank
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Gunsmithing Screwdrivers?

I have gone thru a few screwdriver sets over the last thirty years or so but they all always seem to twist or break or don't fit correctly.
What brand of screwdrivers do you use? Best quality for the best money?
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Old April 26, 2015, 03:20 PM   #2
rcmodel
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I use Chapman.
Dont think I have ever broke one in 40+ years.
I have worn out a few to where they get slick on the end.

Replacement bits are very inexpensive if you ever need to replace one.

The little ratchet handle is very nice when you have a tight screw.
Chuck the shank in a drill press, apply downward pressure, and use the ratchet to break the screw loose.
Zero chance of it slipping out.

http://www.chapmanmfg.com/collections/all

Brownell's Magna-tip is very good too!
http://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-to...sets/index.htm

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Old April 26, 2015, 03:25 PM   #3
Malamute
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Ive used the Chapman also. My dad has a Brownells set, and its very good.

I've broken a number of tips, I just order more, they are easy to deal with.

The tips are actually designed to break at a certain point. I dont recall the specifics, but Chapmans site may detail it, or Brownells site may have some info. The tip is supposed to give before damaging the screw head or breaking the screw.

Many sets have a basic set of sizes, and many intermediate sized in between. I've ground tips to fit things a couple times. Consider tips to be consumable items. I have many spares in sizes I've broken.
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Old April 26, 2015, 05:25 PM   #4
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I have used both the Chapman and Brownells sets, the Brownells bits are much better. Easily worth the price difference. That being said, I use the extension and ratchet from the Chapman set with the Brownells bits for the real toughies.
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Old April 26, 2015, 06:01 PM   #5
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Torque Chart for Chapman

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/06...eChart.JPG?240
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Old April 26, 2015, 06:13 PM   #6
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Chapman.

You can spend more but not do any better than Chapman at the price. They are designed to break rather than damage heads. If they break...Chapman will replace for free.

Never, ever scrimp on tools. Purchase the most expensive tools you can afford. Cheap screwdrivers will always disappoint.
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Old April 26, 2015, 08:42 PM   #7
dfariswheel
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Brownell's Magna-Tip are the best in the industry and are the gunsmithing industry standard.
They're super hard and extremely smooth. Quality is outstanding.

If you break a bit, Brownell's will send you a new one FREE.
Brownell's offer more sizes then anyone else, and are 100% American made.

With the Brownell's sets you only buy them once. They last a lifetime.
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Old April 26, 2015, 08:42 PM   #8
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I bought my first set of Magnatips over thirty years ago and they are still going strong. Just bought an additional set to expand my capabilities and replace a few I've lost over time or modified for special uses.
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Old April 26, 2015, 08:51 PM   #9
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The Grace hollow ground set is the cat's meow.
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Old April 27, 2015, 03:40 PM   #10
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Gunsmithing screwdrivers, including Chapman's, are designed to break before the screw head is damaged. Waste of money where I come from. The bits are scarce, expensive and not easy to get.
Any cheap screwdriver can be ground to fit and screw and work just as well.
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Old April 27, 2015, 03:44 PM   #11
Malamute
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Quote:
Any cheap screwdriver can be ground to fit and screw and work just as well.
I disagree. Cheap screwdrivers are soft, will deform in use and damage the screw slots. Not the same at all, and are not hollow ground unless one takes the time to hollow grind them.
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Old April 27, 2015, 04:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
You can spend more but not do any better than Chapman at the price. They are designed to break rather than damage heads. If they break...Chapman will replace for free
Brownells replaces their Magna-tips for free, but Chapman charges for replacement bits as I already bought a few of them.
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Old April 27, 2015, 04:39 PM   #13
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I've had to pay for replacement Chapman tips also. It isnt a big deal to me at this point. If I were starting from scratch, the Brownells set is probably the way to go. I started with the Chapman set many years ago and I cant complain overall about their quality and utility for my use. I'm not a gunsmith, or use them every day, but have been satisfied with them. My dad has a Brownells set. My set seems to have more sizes in the basic set that actually fit the screws I use them in than his set does.
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Old April 28, 2015, 07:51 PM   #14
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I didn't realize Brownells will replace the broken bits. I have broken a few of the very smallest ones and just bought a bunch of replacements instead.

Oh well, they are a good company and I don't begrudge them a couple of bucks.
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Old April 28, 2015, 08:57 PM   #15
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Gunsmithing sets, styles ....

I had a cheap, promo style kit I got in the mid 1990s. They were okay for kitchen table gunsmith uses.
I tossed the kit around 2012 or so when the bits and tools got rusty-covered with crud.
I obtained a new compact screwdriver set. It was a Winchester logo brand. The bits are coated for wear-rust and it handles okay.

If I went pro or had a work-shop/tool room, I'd get some stuff from Brownells or MidwayUSA. Lenny Magill & www.glockstore.com has some cool stuff for Glock owners/armorers.
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Old April 28, 2015, 10:18 PM   #16
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I really like the ratchet on the chapman, but I have broken a couple of the small bits. and the shaft keeps shifting the handle some. maybe I'm using it wrong. wouldn't be the first time.
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Old April 28, 2015, 11:06 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunray View Post
Gunsmithing screwdrivers, including Chapman's, are designed to break before the screw head is damaged. Waste of money where I come from. The bits are scarce, expensive and not easy to get.
Any cheap screwdriver can be ground to fit and screw and work just as well.
Reminds me of a mechanic I worked with who made the claim that Harbor Freight tools are just as good as Snap-On.

There cheap tools, there are good tools, and there are the appropriate tools. You can't have all three.

I've used Harbor freight pin punches that bend or round off within a few strikes. I went to Proto and Snap-on and do not regret it.

I've seen too many cheap screwdrivers that the shank doesn't even fit tight in the handle. Junk. I've seen too many cheap bits that tear up screws rather than shear off. To you, it seems a bit that breaks when over torqued is a waste of money. But I'd rather replace a broken bit than chew up the screw and have to then drill it out. Waste of time (and money) where I come from.

Buy once, cry once. To me, it's not worth buying HF or other junk tools, even with their lifetime warranty. It's not a matter of IF they break, but WHEN, and it's often with very little use. Cheap tools that break can be dangerous. I have scars to prove it. Had a JobSmart (available from Tractor supply, total junk) 19mm hex wrench snap... no, shatter, one the second bolt I was removing. The jagged end sliced up my hand pretty good.

If you've got to modify your tool to make it fit, and do so without a second thought, you have neither a good tool, nor the appropriate tool. Which means you have a cheap tool.

But hey, its your stuff, your money, your choice.

To address the OP:

I use a bit set by Blackhawk (the economy brand of Proto). If ever they break or wear out, I'll replace them with either another Blackhawk set, or maybe Snap-on or Blue-Point. If your guns have value, the tools you use to work on them should also have value, or your risk lowering the value of your guns. A big long idiot scratch at a screw boss or pin hole doesn't do much for resale value. And if you do that to someone else's gun, you're probably going to pay more than you would for the appropriate tool would have cost in the first place.


**I'm an industrial mechanic for a living, so I take my tools very seriously. I don't mean to insult or offend with my opinions, but I'm not going to allow bad advice to go unchecked.**
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Old April 28, 2015, 11:37 PM   #18
rcmodel
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I agree.

Chapman screwdrivers are kinda like old craftsman wrenches & sockets.
They fit, and were small enough to fit in tight places, and seldom ever broke.

Not a Snap-On quality by any means.
But easily affordable.

And well above the Chinese crap gunsmith screwdrivers sold by Walmart, Midway, and Harbor Freight.

rc
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Old April 28, 2015, 11:50 PM   #19
Jim Watson
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There are quarter inch hex drive screwdrivers all over the place, any length, any size handle, ratchet or plain. Get one that you like the feel of and then buy good bits from Brownells or one of the reputable industrial tool companies. I have five.
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Old April 28, 2015, 11:52 PM   #20
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I use Chapman's. They just work. I tried the Wheeler Engineering set and they all broke with light torque, absolute chinese garbage.
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Old April 29, 2015, 12:02 AM   #21
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Most professional gunsmiths won't admit it, but if truth be told, Sunray's answer is very common.

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Old April 29, 2015, 12:07 AM   #22
ColtPythonElite
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I often grind to fit.
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Old April 29, 2015, 08:58 AM   #23
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In my years of pistolsmithing I decided that there are the Brownells Magna Bit drivers - and everything else. I bought and still have a complete set of Grace drivers and every single blade was ground with the sides not parallel to the other side. I think they are made in China now - it's a shame because they used to be pretty nice drivers for the price. I would avoid them now. The Chapman set will get you started (and fits easily into a range bag) but if you have the money to spend - buy the Brownells.
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Old April 29, 2015, 09:31 AM   #24
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I use the Brownells Mag-na-tips for my general work. For the occasions where a specialty bit is needed I use my Wheeler Engineering 89 piece set. Not as high of a quality but they have many of the specialty bits that would cost a lot more.
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Old April 29, 2015, 09:49 AM   #25
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Have the Wheeler set precisely because of what Taurus 617 notes: it includes a lot of bits that I seldom use but need at rare intervals. However, I learned that Wheeler's bits are soft and it does not take much to bend the smaller blades.

Slowly converting to Magnatips.
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