“Ask the Gunsmith” is intended to be a directory of information that is so brief as to never be discussed on the blog or website, but still having important information for those looking to learn more about guns, shooting, gun politics, laws, gun modification, gunsmithing, etc.
Essentially it is a collection of posts the editors or authors from www.netgunsmith.com have made in different forums and platforms in the past and ongoing, as well as any questions readers email or ask in the comment section of the www.netgunsmith.com website.
If you have a question that doesn’t involve illegal modifications, ways around the regulations or laws, or advise that would promote less than safe shooting, please email us or comment to us in a thread, and we will attempt to answer it as soon as possible. It is best to contact us directly, as we often do not check the comments everyday. This post will change daily in most cases.
www.netgunsmith.com specific questions and answers
Question: On another topic, being an actual gunsmith; are there any trade schools online or brick and mortar that you would recommend for someone interested in training to become a gunsmith?
As for the gunsmithing: what part of the country are you in?
I myself never went through a so-called “certification” program to be a gunsmith. I learned with 16 years of hard work and apprenticing. At that point I felt comfortable in performing all of the gunsmithing tasks I have ever been asked to perform. I started when I was 14 on a full time basis with my grandfather, a man who had been doing it since 1958.
The rest was self taught by pushing the envelope. I would consider going through a program if I thought it could add to my skills, but in my limited exposure to such programs, I feel unsatisfied with their curriculum.
Colorado school of trades has a good school, as well as Yavapai community in northern AZ, another you may consider if you have time and travel expenses is Susanville (Lassen college) in Northern ca.
I don’t know of any specific lists of apprentice accepting gunsmiths, that exist, unfortunately. Many people are very leery about allowing people into their gun businesses, especially when the person cannot demonstrate major skillsets first. I would be willing to work with you if the logistics can be made to work. I have trained several people in the last ten years to do a wide range of gunsmithing techniques.
There are a ton of Gunsmthing schools, but I would avoid online courses, unless you have an extensive knowledge of guns AND mechanics AND are familiar with using shot tools, and I would instead look for an intensive program through one of the great community colleges around the U.S.A.
SMALL CARRY WEAPONS
Question: Regarding your article on the HP-22 by Phoenix, what is your opinion of their .25ACP and your opinion of the .25 caliber in general particularly for use as a back-up gun round (not a primary)? What is your opinion and experience with the Hi-Point line of pistols and carbines and how do you view them as cheap “camp” guns, “throw-away” guns or confiscable altenatives to our primary weapons?
In a gunsmithing accident, my grandfather was mistakenly shot at point blank range by a .25 ACP (out of a lorcin model) in the gut. 3 hours later he was released from the hospital with a piece of gauze over it, some antibiotics and some painkillers. It penetrated 2.5 inches in his soft belly area. This is but one account I have had with this bullet that leads me to believe it is woefully underpowered. I once shot a target at 21 feet (7 yards) backed by two layers of 3/4″ plywood with a .25ACP and it ricocheted back at me sending shrapnel into my protective glasses. Bear in mind that the air rifle I was shooting just minutes before was routinely penetrating `1/4″ into the target backing.
Ballistic gelatin tests on this bullet show it to be incredibly inefficient in times of need, with a larger slower bullet and less penetration than just about any other projectile, including the .22LR.
The only small calibers I would use in a tiny gun for backup are .22LR and the .32 family. I prefer to go larger even, as I carry an HK P7M13 or M8 as a primary concealed carry weapon. When I anticipate being in a wilderness setting or in a dangerous area, I use a specially modified HK USP which shoots a 10mm round, which in my opinion is the ultimate pistol defense round. Both of these guns are $2K+ in cost, and not readily available usually.
I chose to write the article on the HP22 as a result of being so fond of the .22LR for its low price, ease of use by many individuals, and the long reputation of good performance out of my guns. I buried 8 of them (the HP 22) in strategic locations underground in case TSHTF, and along with each went two bricks of 500 rounds. Total cost was under $250 for each of these “caches”. People think I am extreme. I call it being prepared for anything. I travel a lot, and in an extreme situation, my family may have to leave without me, or meet me somewhere, the last thing I want my gf and her son and my children doing is trying to clear out the safe full of guns. Lock it down and get to somewhere safe… I can handle the rest. It may be a bit extreme I guess now that I look at it in writing.
22LR is cheap, can kill just about anything if the correct distance and placement is used, and is easy to find in a dire situation. It also has plenty of effect on people if you know what you are doing and where to shoot.
The .25 ACP by comparison is weak, cannot penetrate heavy clothing often times, and is at minimum 2.5 times the cost of the high end 22LR available.
As for the cheaper brands, I do not like them at all. Not because they can’t be used effectively, but because there is significant investment in any firearm, and I think a used weapon can be had for around the same price that will ensure reliability better than the cheaper guns. Sure there may be lifetime warranties, but that is a function of needing to avoid being sued by consumers, not because they believe they have the best engineering. The most potent (think: +P and +P+) rounds cannot be used in these cheaper firearms, and I regard them as little better than paperweights. That being said, I do like the kel-tec guns and other cheap brands, as they have shown they can perform reliably. I would probably never personally own a hi point or anything similar, but that does not mean that some people do not have success with the platform. Some clarification: my choice is not because I look down upon the Hi-points and others, but because I have no experience with them, and I already own weapons which I deem sufficient in the same style as them. I hear very good things about them in general; I just don’t think I will ever have the need to buy one.
Used weapons are my choice if budget is an issue.
If you worry about having guns taken from you, there are other ways to avoid this, including cash and carry laws, cheap imports like the Tokarev and Makarov, etc. Curios and relics may also provide a means to an end for cheap which are unregistered so to speak. I highly doubt the BATF will ever again get to the point they did with WACO and Ruby Ridge on a large scale. The people at risk are those doing bad things, or being blatantly illegal in gun modifications, etc. I cannot condone any type of illegal activity.
If you plan on buying a firearm, do so legally and do it through a party you feel comfortable with to avoid future concerns. The best way to avoid having your guns taken away are to become an activist and support the second amendment activist already going strong; don’t associate with criminals, sketchy people, and do not perform any illegal activities with your firearms, or try to game the system. Practices safety and legal compliance: you will likely never face confiscation of your weapons.
LAPPING A 1911 FRAME TO SLIDE
Question: Mr. Gunsmith, after reading your posts you have me convinced you know what you are talking about.
I have a question for you. I have a Colt Series 80 1911. I once made the mistake of taking it in to a local shop to have the action “accurrized”. At the time I did not know what this work involved. Well, they put it in a vise and went from there and I don’t think they did a very good job. The rail on the frame has some rough edges on it. Can something be done to smooth the edges without creating too much movement in the action? I carefully smoothed the edges with a very fine stone but would like to do more.
Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: I would need to see some pictures to be sure I’m telling you the right information.
If you can send me those I would be able to render a better opinion: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now: there are several things it could be: Are the edges you speak of, on the back of the frame rails and visible at the frame/slide contact points near the hammer and underneath the firing pin retainer? If so, does it look like the frame rails are slightly bent down and hammered into place?
If so, this could be just an old school version of fitting slide to frame. Before oversized rails were an industry standard, the frame had to be bent on the rails or otherwise modified to achieve a tight frame to slide fit. The awkward edges may be the dimension keeping the gun tight enough to improve the slide to frame fit. There may not be a 100% contact edge on the rails, and that may accentuate the deformation of your edges. Until I see pictures, I cannot render a full opinion.
Another thing you may consider is to hand lap the edges. I would caution against using a free stone, as you have little control over metal being taken off, even if you are highly skilled with it. Try some lapping compound and hand lap to achieve a smoother edge contact. But use the finest grade compound you can find for reasonable money. I would say no heavier than 600 grit and not lighter than 1000 grit. I prefer 1000 grit, but it takes more patience and if the edges are too rough you may need to start with a heavier grit like 600 or 800. You can find these at Brownell’s via this link:
(In full disclosure I am an affiliate and will make some commission if you follow this link, but am appreciative if you do)
Link to Lapping compounds and associated tools:
The process is simple: Remember as with any modification go slowly. Use moderation, and do not expect perfect results unless you pay attention to details and avoid a heavy hand.
It is better to spend two hours cleaning and ten minutes lapping, than ruin your slide to frame fit.
Disassemble the guns completely if you can. If you cannot, then tape over the disconnector hole, internal parts, etc., and work very cleanly to avoid bad results.
Put a dab of compound at the back end of the slide rail inside the rail and mate the slide to frame. If upon moving fully the slide from front to back locking positions, the rails of each piece (frame and slide are not fully showing evidence of the compound add a bit more and repeat the process.
Once you have achieved full coverage of the lapping compound, add one single small drop of oil to the slide and frame rails and work the slide for approximately 5-7 minutes or until you feel the roughness decreasing. DO NOT exceed this time limit, and look for the exact moment when you feel the action has achieved a smoother feel. It may only take 25 repetitions or less than a minute and a half.
Clean the firearm completely, and avoid allowing solvent to drip into action areas. Upon reassembly put some light grease or coke tube lube on, AFTER you apply a drop or two of oil to determine all the grit is gone. Only add grease AFTER you determine there is not remaining grit. You can tell if there is still grit, but looking at the oil, if it is cloudy, colored or dusty, you need to clean it better. Cycle the firearm under recoil spring pressure to test the fit and determine if the edges still bother you.
A WORD OF CAUTION: this method WILL take metal off, and while it will not give considerable slide to frame play, it will loosen the tolerances slightly, albeit at a controlled rate, and at the same level for each piece involved.
If this is not enough information, please contact me directly at email@example.com
Here is a list of links with basic descriptions to their content on sites that ask general questions for “experts” to answer:
UPDATE 4/01/2012: A poster on a Zombie forum asked about the regulations with shotguns and civilians in the U.S.
My answer pointed his to several articles on the www.netgunsmith.com website and highlighted some generic rules about shotguns when hunting or using them as a self defense tool, specifically the length requirements and the difference between local/state regulation and federal regulation. We also briefly touched on import regulations for shotguns, like we talk about on the Benelli M4 article in the archives here at the website.
UPDATE 3/31/2012: A poster on the firearmstalk forum asked about an opinion on the Keltec PMR30 and whether or not it had some viability as a consistent and reliable gun.
My answer is located at : http://www.firearmstalk.com/forums/f21/22-avoid-744/index24.html
My answer covered some basic problems experienced by the factory in the first few production runs with the weapon and how he could avoid some of the concern when purchasing one. I talked about the overall quality of the PMR 30 as well.
The poster on askville (an Amazon.com site) (my name is “TheGunsmith”)was asking for liberal opinions and support on arguments against pro gunners who think that people would be armed for self defense. The original poster is anti-gun/pro-gun control.
My answer spoke to the obvious need for high legal civilian gun ownership rates, as on a recent trip to Europe I was astounded by the uneasiness in Rome, Italy (almost complete gun control, high crime rate)compared to Geneva, Switzerland (high gun ownership low crime rate). I also spoke about Cesare Beccaria an Italian philosopher and his stance on law and punishment.
On wikianswers.com (my name is “Benworthen”); a question was asked: “Does gun control prevent gun violence?”
My answer is located at: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Does_gun_control_prevent_gun_violence
My answer talked about the rise in concealed carry permits in Florida which coincided with a large decrease in crime rate, as well as the obvious facts that no such study has ever linked gun control definitively to safety increases or crime rate decreases.
On wikianswers.com (my name is “Benworthen”); a question was asked: “Who said: when guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns?”
My answer is located at: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Who_said_when_guns_are_outlawed_only_outlaws_will_have_guns
My answer quoted Cesare Beccaria and talked a bit about the famous NRA bumper sticker which bore this slogan.
On yahoo answers (my name is “worthen_benjamin”); a question was asked: “Is Red Jacket Firearms just a bunch of BS?”
My answer talked about the media influence on guns, and the help consultants and experts give from “backstage” to ensure these shows can go on.
On yahoo answers (my name is “worthen_benjamin”); a question was asked: “Would a 3″ slug shotgun shell kill a bear or not enough?”
My answer included some basic information about my suggestions and about the responsibility hunter must employ while on a hunt.
On yahoo answers (my name is “worthen_benjamin”); a question was asked: “What is a firearm ejector and how does it work?”
My answer broke down some basics about different ejector types and a bit about basic shell extraction theory.
On yahoo answers (my name is “worthen_benjamin”); a question was asked: “Is it difficult to fit 1911 frame/slide etc together?”
My answer talked about the difficulties of building any gun that isn’t a drop i fit type of project, including some basic information on tools.
On yahoo answers (my name is “worthen_benjamin”); a question was asked: “Guns for felons who stay on the straight and narrow for 30+years?”
My answer talked about states with liberal gun laws and about potentially making your own 80% gun.
On yahoo answers (my name is “worthen_benjamin”); a question was asked: “Why were England militarily unbeatable through a lot of the eras, like the renaissance, late medieval etc?”
Talking about English superiority during their war years.
On yahoo answers (my name is “worthen_benjamin”); a question was asked: “Would you give $300 for a used Sig 228?”
Some basic things to look for on an alloy frame/steel slide used gun, to insure you are getting a good value.
On yahoo answers (my name is “worthen_benjamin”); a question was asked: “Can you have any gun on you without a ccw as long as the firing pin is removed?”
Talking about the chance of getting shot if you carry a weapon thinking you can do whatever you want. Touching also, on the benefits of understanding laws.
On yahoo answers (my name is “worthen_benjamin”); a question was asked: “If you have been arrested as a juvenile with 5 felonies & all charges dropped can you still be an F.B.I Agent?”
Information about background and character checks.