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Finding Project Rifles

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by D.Carolina, Nov 27, 2022.

  1. D.Carolina

    D.Carolina Member

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    I’m wanting to begin tinkering with firearms and learning to do basic repair and smithing work. Has anyone found a good way to acquire project guns for less than an arm or a leg?
     
    horsemen61 likes this.
  2. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    Pawn shops, estate sales, gun club word of mouth.
     
  3. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    Go into local gun shops and ask about "gunsmith specials." They are usually firearms that need repair or refinishing that are harder to sell to the general public because no one wants a gun that just needs a little work. Do some research before hand. There is no sense buying a gun to repair if you can't get parts for it, either bought or made. So know in general what parts you can get from the typical suppliers (Jack First, Midwest, Numrich etc)
     
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  4. Howland937

    Howland937 Member

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    What kind of tinkering do you plan on? Actually repairing/fitting parts to make non-functional functional again? If your level of experience and knowledge is on the lower end, maybe start with functional guns that need cosmetic fixes. That way you know they'll work, so you know when you take them apart that if they're put back together right they'll work again.

    Just my experience in working on all manner of things, it's easier to understand how they work when you start out with all the pieces... even if it doesn't actually work.

    As to where to find them, just gotta look. Most chain stores I've encountered won't accept non-working guns in trade. A lot of large shops employ a gunsmith of some sort, so they'll fix their own. Small shops, pawn shops, local forums, etc may be your best bet.
    Estate sales and auction houses don't always know the functionality of guns they sell, so it may not be disclosed.
     
  5. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    @herrwalther and @Howland937 both gave excellent advice. :thumbup:

    And I'll repeat what they said. look at pawn shops and local gun shops for rough shaped and/or gunsmith specials. And depending on your personal skill levels, maybe start with functioning firearms that just need cosmetic repairs or simple stuff such as replacing stocks or other simple parts.

    And don't hesitate to ask questions here on the forum, there are a lot of people with real experiences in different areas that will gladly help.
     
    herrwalther, Bfh_auto and Howland937 like this.
  6. tark

    tark Member

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    The Rock Island Auction Co. always discloses non- functionality. I think most of the big houses do. The smaller, local companies, you're probably on your own.
     
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  7. Howland937

    Howland937 Member

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    Yes, I'd imagine that the big name specialty houses would have that knowledge and ability. On the local level (IME) guns aren't test fired and only the most basic of functions are checked.
     
    Bfh_auto likes this.
  8. hq

    hq Member

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    Yep. I have a feeling that I don't have to find them, they find me. I used to frequent in a number of gun shops and over the time picked up more project guns than I have time to work on. The ones that aren't advertised online because they're cheap enough or in such a shape that no sane person would touch them with a ten foot pole.

    When the shop owners started recognizing me and spontaneously showing me whatever they didn't even bother to put on display but kept behind the counter for nutcases like myself, I stopped.
     
    Condorcet, Speedo66, Bfh_auto and 3 others like this.
  9. Meeks36

    Meeks36 Member

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    Google what state you are in and firearms forums. Join and make a post what you are looking for. Might also try craigslist but your post will probably get flagged. Or join armslist and in your post put your emails address. So folks who are not members can contact you. Good luck and happy hunting.

    P.S. post before and after photos of your projects.
     
  10. Remington1911

    Remington1911 Member

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    I think you need to get a real clear picture in your head of just what "tinkering" and "basic repair" is.

    If you have anything "old" you likely have done it before, replaced a spring here and there, extractor or ejector gone south, or left the gun (my G43 has that habit, using a current one to machine new ones). Is this something you plan on making money at "some day" or are you tired of taking stuff someplace to have a sight put on your 1911? If you want to make money look into that real close, a REAL gun smith is a skill that is quickly going away, and being replaced with parts swappers. If you want to make money at it first off good luck. The "good" smiths make good money....now, not always the case. If you want to do this for a living I suggest intern with some established good smith, and again good luck with that. It is an interesting area of work, these people are more like craftsmen or artists then machinists.

    Depending on the answers to all that, as well as several others that pop into your head will determine on where to go.

    I am not a gun smith, I don't have a business. I however can make a new extractor for a G43 out of a hunk of metal, I have a lathe and mill....currently in boxes waiting for a loft to be built....so many projects so little time....and money. I am a hobby monkey with all kinds of different toys because I like screwing around with that, my mind just works that way. I can pull something apart like a Model 8 and go ok, the barrel moves here and this lever does that, and pushes on this, then it slides here.......... Not everyone has a brain that works that way.

    As to your initial question, you have some good answers, and this may be your life long calling only you really know for sure.

    I was trying to think of something that would link into "fixing" gunz, and really drawing a blank. I was thinking ok what am I into that lead me here. I like old guns, and those do have issues from time to time, I can fix that....well where did you learn those skills......well I already have a lathe and mill, as well as other big metal working tools....ok why those....and then the answer hit me.

    There is a saying and I just love it, I stole it off a youtube guy I watch that also builds cars, and it so fits me. My wife busted out loud laughing and said that is it....that is you.

    The saying is:

    Why buy it for $100 when you can make it for $50 after you buy $3500 in new tools.

    If that is you, this may be an aspect of the hobby for you....That is how I got my G4015Z....and what a cool toy it is. If things like that bring a huge smile to your face....well what are you waiting for.

    Now I really have a bad itch to finish (start) my loft so I can unpack all this stuff....should have built a bigger shop...oh well.
     
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  11. Mars5l

    Mars5l Member

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    Classicfirearms has sections for gunsmith specials, usually modern stuff lately
     
  12. Jimbo80

    Jimbo80 Member

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    [QUOTE="Remington1911]
    Not everyone has a brain that works that way.
    [/QUOTE]

    Wish I did. Those that have that mechanical brain have always amazed me. My father had it and I have a few buddies that do too. All would rather fabricate something than buy it whether it cost them more or not.
     
  13. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    That's pretty much how I am. My Dad guided me in the figger it out department. Then I started earning money and buying tools. Then it was on.
    Looking back is hard to believe there was a time when I was terrified of stripping a semi auto
     
  14. Remington1911

    Remington1911 Member

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    And you know there is not one single thing wrong with one end of the deal or the other. If you want to take it somewhere to have a new trigger put in, ok. If you want to "figger it out" ok as well.

    The thing that has really hit me is the lack of "figger it out" skills in the current generation. I just hired an 18yr old kid as an intern here. He is so afraid to dive in, even knowing it is on a system that has no impact to live operation....he is full of doubt. Use your trouble shooting skills, he knows what steps to take but is afraid to take them. Working on getting him out of his shell.
     
    stillquietvoice and Bfh_auto like this.
  15. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    I hear you on the both sides. I can't draw to save my life unless it's blue print sketches. So I don't try anymore. We all have our strong points.
    I had to train quite a few people who were like that at my old job. It took constant positive reinforcement for a while. Then they were flying.
    There is hope for the next generation though. My brother's girlfriend's son is 11. He is bright eyed, respectful and eager to learn. My brother and I have been mentoring him because he hasn't had a father figure for the last 6 years.

    I have a lot of respect for people who want to learn. Especially on things that aren't "easy".
     
    12Bravo20 likes this.
  16. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    My youngest son (now 25) was always taking stuff apart to see how things worked when he was a kid. While I would get aggravated when it came time to vacuum his room, I made sure to encourage him since he learns best by hands on. So if he were to be interested in learning machinist skills or gun smithing, I will gladly teach him.

    Everyone has to start somewhere. If a person is unsure then start with the simpler stuff.
     
  17. Remington1911

    Remington1911 Member

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    Yea, I took apart a clock, it did not go that well for me.
     
    Condorcet likes this.
  18. DeepSouth

    DeepSouth Random Guy

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    There is a gun & pawn about an hour from me that has an entire “non-firing” section. Normally 10-20 guns many of them will fire they’re just really old and/or in really bad condition. A coworker of mine bought a 22 from them with a shot out brass barrel.

    I’d definitely visit pawn shops and let them know what you’re looking for and leave them a phone number. Even if they don’t have anything they are likely to come across it.

    Gun broker also has a lot of junk as well, though I have no idea how one would search for it.
     
    Condorcet likes this.
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