Basic gunsmithing tools

Written by ron sardisco
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Basic gunsmithing tools
Guns large and small require repair and the proper tools. (The gun image by yaros from

Gunsmithing can be a rewarding hobby for anyone who enjoys detailed precision work. Like any work on a mechanical device, it requires the proper tools. Every model of gun requires its own specialised tools, but all firearms work involves the same basic tools. The most important qualification for basic gunsmith tools is that they are quality tools. Inferior, discount house tools will mar the surface of your gun and may create a hazardous condition. Firearms repair requires the utmost caution and strict adherence to safety standards.

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Gunsmith Screwdriver

Gunsmith screwdrivers are different than any other screwdriver you will find in a hardware store. The reason is that garden-variety screw slots are tapered to be smaller at the bottom than at the top. Gun screws have straight slots. If you try to use a screwdriver that is tapered, it will not reach the bottom and will turn out of the slot, leaving an ugly scar on your gun. Gunsmith screwdrivers, hollow-ground to give them parallel sides that properly grip the slot, are made from high-quality steel so they do not bend easily.

Basic gunsmithing tools
An example of a hollow-ground screwdriver tip. (screwdriver image by Henryk Olszewski from


A solid vice is essential to gunsmithing. Gun parts are intentionally very tight due to the stresses placed upon them. A sturdy vice attached to a solid bench is necessary to support the work piece. The vice jaws must be modified to protect the delicate surfaces of the gun; liners of nylon, wood and soft metal are available, or you can make your own. A supplemental, pivoting-head vice can be handy depending on your task.

Basic gunsmithing tools
A clamp-on vice is not sufficient to suppor gun work. (Old metal vice on a white background image by terex from


Invariably you will need a hammer to remove or install one of the many pins holding a gun together. Every hammer has its purpose. When working on guns you need at least three: ball-peen, brass, and hard plastic or nylon. The ball-peen hammer is for the toughest jobs in hidden places where damage to wood or metal finish is not a concern. The brass hammer is for direct contact with a finished part because it will distort before the much-harder steel of the gun. The plastic or nylon face is useful where you need just gentle persuasion and absolutely no chance of marring the gun's surface.

Basic gunsmithing tools
This brass hammer from a home tool kit is not exactly what you want for precision work. (golden hammer image by Maxim Petrichuk from

Punch Sets

Precision punch sets are useful for removing the myriad pins used to assemble firearms and their sub-assemblies. Punch sets are available in steel, brass and nylon. You can buy them in sets or individually to fit the gun you have at hand. These punches are designed to grip the face of the pin when you strike it so they do not slide off and scratch the gun's finish.

Safety Always

Guns can be dangerous when not properly handled. Never work on a gun unless you have personally verified that it is unloaded. Always wear eye protection when hammering, filing or drilling wood and metal. A shop apron will protect your clothes from the various lubricants and solvents you will encounter when practicing your hobby.

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