A gunsmith is as essential to a gun owner as a mechanic is to a motorist. Not only can they help you keep your firearms in good condition and diagnose any issues you cannot fix at home, but they also offer a wide range of services to refine, customize, and improve your guns.
Learn what precision services qualified gunsmiths offer, which are their most common tasks, and what they can do for you and your firearms.
A qualified gunsmith must possess the training and expertise to use various precision equipment and tools, from the simplest hand tools to the most advanced machinist’s equipment.
The gunsmith’s range of skills and knowledge is broad enough to cover multiple fields, such as woodworking, metalworking, machining, repairs, and part fabrication.
Many gunsmiths also possess creative and artistic talents, allowing them to transform regular firearms into unique and distinctive pieces.
In turn, a gunsmith can offer you many kinds of services, which can be grouped into three categories: repairing and maintenance services, modification and improvement services, and cosmetic services.
Repairs and Maintenance
Every gun owner knows the importance of safety. One of the critical aspects of firearm safety is maintenance since a poorly-maintained gun is often unsafe to shoot.
Even high-quality firearms are prone to malfunctions and failure if they are not properly maintained. While most gun owners should know how to perform the basics, such as field stripping, cleaning, and lubricating, sometimes it’s not enough.
Maybe you possess an uncommon firearm model for which maintenance instructions are difficult or impossible to find, or perhaps your gun is notoriously tricky to take apart and reassemble. If you can’t perform maintenance yourself or think something is wrong with your gun and cannot fix it yourself, a gunsmith can help you.
Don’t hesitate to ask for a gunsmith’s help if you need to have a firearm inspected. They can detail-strip your gun, check it for rust and corrosion, perform complete cleaning and lubrication, and test it to check for proper operation.
Specific maintenance operations can only be performed by a qualified gunsmith, such as revolver cylinder timing, or checking for recoil lug misalignment on bolt-action rifles.
If your weapon has worn-out or broken parts, a gunsmith may also help you by manufacturing replacement parts. This service is essential for old or discontinued guns, for which spare parts are no longer available. With a mill, lathe, and working metals, a precision gunsmith can machine simple parts and elements, precisely fitting your gun.
Modifying and Improving Your Guns
Although many modern firearms are very modular, allowing the end-user to build and assemble pistols and rifles with all kinds of configurations, not every gun can be modified this easily. That’s when gunsmithing services step in.
If your firearm isn’t designed to easily accept replaceable or modular parts at the end-user or the armorer level, a gunsmith has the skills and equipment to modify it to your desired specifications.
If you want to install a muzzle brake on your firearm, you need a threaded barrel to install it on.
If threaded barrels are not available for your gun, a gunsmith can machine proper threading into yours with the desired thread pitch, allowing you to install a brake or any other legal muzzle device on your gun.
Barrel length adjustment
If you have a firearm with a barrel you find too long, a gunsmith can cut it down to the length you need, within legal limits, re-crown the muzzle, and if required, install a new front sight.
Just as it is possible to modify your existing barrel, a gunsmith may also offer rechambering services. Not every gunsmithing shop will offer this service, and it is not available for every barrel since some of them use steels that are too hard to work with.
However, if the service is available, a gunsmith will ream your existing barrel’s chamber to change its chambering, allowing you to use different ammunition. A gunsmith could convert a 7mm-08 rifle to 7mm-08 Ackley Improved, a .40 S&W pistol to 10mm Auto, or ream a 12 gauge 2 3/4″ chamber to 3”.
Scope and sight mounting
Older rifles don’t always possess mounting points for installing a scope. Some may have outdated or proprietary attachment points, such as an older Weaver rail.
A gunsmith can modify your gun’s receiver by creating a mounting point for a scope. They may also offer a sighting-in service, ensuring that your optic is correctly aligned and consistently accurate.
Although most shooters can improve their real-world accuracy with careful selection of ammunition and good fundamentals, enhancing a firearm’s accuracy may be essential to get the most out of a long-range rifle.
The process of modifying a gun to improve accuracy at the mechanical level is known as accurizing.
Rifles chambered for extreme long-range calibers, such as .338 Lapua Magnum or .408 Cheyenne Tactical, may require a gunsmith’s talents to extract as much accuracy as possible.
Accurizing services include:
- Replacing the barrel with a higher-quality model. The most reputable custom gunmakers often order from custom barrel manufacturers for that reason, as their manufacturing processes are very different from those of a standard gunmaker.
- Free-floating the barrel to improve shooting consistency, allowing for tighter and more consistent groups.
- On precision bolt-action rifles, installing a newer or smoother action may help improve shooting consistency and comfort.
- Tuning the trigger to eliminate grittiness or trigger creep.
- Replacing the stock with a custom-designed model. Many gunsmiths possess the woodworking skills to create a new stock from scratch.
- Re-bedding the receiver or action into a stock to eliminate flexing or shifting when shooting.
Enhancing Your Gun’s Looks
Modifying your gun’s appearance is an excellent way to make it stand out from standard models. Most visual and cosmetic enhancements fall into one of four categories: refinishing, woodworking, and metal engraving.
Refinishing and protective coatings
Refinishing is the process of removing an old or scratched factory finish from a firearm, stripping it down to the bare metal, then applying a new, typically more protective or better-looking finish, such as parkerizing, anodizing, or QPQ.
Some coatings, such as titanium nitride or NP3, may even enhance your gun, increasing hardness (resistance to wear and tear) or lubricity (making it easier to clean). These coatings tend to apply a distinctive look; for example, titanium nitride coatings appear golden, whereas NP3 has a matte silver appearance.
With specific finishing processes and coatings, e.g., Cerakote, a gunsmith can even professionally paint your gun with unique colors or camouflage patterns.
Engraving and aesthetic modifications
Artistically-inclined gunsmiths may offer engraving jobs on your gun’s wooden and metal parts. These services range from the practical, like checkering or texturing, to the purely aesthetic, including floral patterns, hunting scenes, names, and symbols.
Boutique gunsmiths may also offer additional beautification services, such as gold or silver inlaying, shaping mother-of-pearl or ivory into grips, or embedding gemstones into the stock or the receiver.
Top-level professional gunsmiths use these advanced techniques to create unique pieces, such as ceremonial or heirloom guns. Such projects often require multiple months and several hundred work hours to complete.
The full extent of a particular gunsmith’s services depends on what kinds of skills and equipment they possess. Before committing to working with a gunsmith, make sure to ask questions about the services they offer and to provide them with as much information about your needs as possible. The more information you give about the work you need doing on your guns, the more they’ll be able to help you.
At IFA Tactical, we not only offer a large selection of firearms and accessories to meet any gun owner’s needs, but we also provide a range of gunsmithing services. Contact us at (586) 275-2176 if you have any questions or want to learn more about our gunsmithing options.