In the course of owning and using firearms, you know that, despite your best efforts, guns can wear out over time. Parts break or need replacing. That’s what a professional gunsmith is for — a specialist who can maintain your firearms, ensuring that they remain in proper working order.
A gunsmith is a professional craftsman who works on guns, repairing, modifying, and customizing them to suit the preferences or requirements of a customer. Some gunsmiths also build guns in accordance with a customer’s requests.
When working on a customer’s firearms, the gunsmith will first examine the weapon to determine whether there are any defects or functional anomalies that need immediate correction. This includes evaluating a gun for safety hazards, such as nonfunctional safety catches. This is part of the full service that you’ll receive if you patronize the services of a skilled professional.
As a gunsmith is a craftsman, they’ll often have a varied range of skills to enable them to work on firearms. Some specialize in makes and models — e.g., the 1911 or AR-15 patterns — others prefer to work on bolt-action sporting rifles. There are gunsmiths who only work with pistols or build competition rifles. As a result, gunsmiths often need to know how to use milling machines, lathes, and grinding wheels. The use of hand tools is a prerequisite, even among those with no machining experience.
While a gunsmith may have attended a formal school, there are still those who developed their vast knowledge base from years of experience and trial and error.
What to Avoid?
It’s important not to take a gunsmith’s questions personally . Parts breakage or worn out parts can stem from user error, so it’s reasons for a gunsmith to eliminate these are possible sources. That’s what effective customer service is all about. When you purchase a firearm, it’s generally good advice to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding safe operation. If the company that produces the gun advises against using a certain type of ammunition, for example, heed that warning.
Your firearm may still experience malfunctions or other difficulties — this is no guarantee. You can, however, minimize your chances by adhering to these guidelines and practicing proper maintenance. It will also help you avoid what can sometimes be lengthy lead times, as gunsmiths, especially those working as small businesses, are in constant demand.
How to Maintain Your Firearms
While periodic repair or replacement of parts is often unavoidable, you can minimize the need for these services by taking proper care of your firearms. This means cleaning and lubricating them semi-regularly. You don’t have to do this after every shooting session, unless you fire blackpowder ammunition or cartridges containing corrosive primers.
However, you should invest in a cleaning kit if the manufacturer or private seller didn’t provide you with one. This kit should include a decent set of cleaning tools, such as bore brushes, cleaning rods, mops, jags, slotted loops, and nylon brushes for cleaning articulating surfaces.
Next, you’ll want to have some cleaning solvent and lubricating oil on hand to scrub away fouling and keep the parts running smoothly. Gun oil, gun grease, or a rust protectant will also slow the effects of corrosion.
If you store firearms for an extended period, and this includes in a safe or cabinet, you should consider adding some dehumidifying agents or desiccants. While this isn’t as necessary in arid environments, such as Arizona or Nevada, it’s advisable in humid regions. If a part doesn’t function the way it should, don’t force it.
Not every reason to visit a gunsmith stems from the need for repair, however. Sometimes you need custom work on your gun. Maybe you don’t have the skills to customize your firearm yourself or don’t want to risk causing damage to the weapon. In that event, you should find a good gunsmith who can customize your gun for you. Custom work can take a number of different forms, from replacing stock barrels or
If your rifle uses a modular design, such as the AR-15, customization doesn’t require as much gunsmithing work under most circumstances. However, not every firearm is compatible with drop-in components or assemblies. Part of the reason for the widespread interchangeability of parts with that platform is the result of its military specification.
In other firearms, for which there is no mil-spec standard, hand fitting may often prove necessary. This can require a number of different tasks, such as grinding, filing, or stoning to ensure that every part fits perfectly and operates smoothly.
Some gun owners may be wondering how background checks and ATF forms work regarding gunsmithing services. According to the ATF, if a gunsmith is returning a firearm to the person that they received it from, the gunsmith doesn’t need to initiate a background check, and you don’t need to fill out an ATF Form 4473. That’s only necessary for those who sell used and new firearms.
At IFA Tactical, we take gunsmithing seriously, and that’s why we offer gunsmithing services of our own. If you find that your firearms need to be repaired or customized, give us a call at (586) 275-2176. We’ll discuss what modifications or repair work is necessary to ensure that your weapons perform exactly as you need them to.