Thursday, October 31, 2013


Since it is Halloween, I thought I would post something that relates to the holiday.

Years ago I read a story in a gun magazine (this was years ago, before the internet) about a custom revolversmith that had restored an old Colt Single Action Army revolver. The story had pictures of the gun in a coffin shaped gun case. I showed it to a friend of mine, who was a wood worker. He surprised me the next Christmas with a home made coffin gun case made from beautiful Black Walnut. Here is a picture of it with my Ruger Vaquero in it.
 Additional pictures including one with dimensions. It is large enough to fit a 6" N frame S&W.

Here are some others I found online

 Here is some Coffin Case cases, these are intended for guitars, microphones and drum sticks, but they are kick ass gun cases as well

Probably the coolest gun case ever also houses what could be the coolest gun ever. This Colt Detective Special is part of the Robert E Peterson collection. The collection was donated to the National Firearms Museum after his death. The gun is known as the "Vampire Hunter's Colt".
  The museum is kind enough to allow web visitors to download high resolution images (click on the pictures to see the hi-res versions).
The gun was engraved with bats (in the recesses of the cylinder flutes) and a crucifix on the top strap, then silver plated. The trigger and pins/screws were Nitre blued. They added custom ebony wood grips and a lanyard for that Euro-turn of the century look.

Housed with the Vampire Hunter Colt are six silver bullets (to kill the werewolves??) mounted in the shape of a cross. The bullets have also been carved to look like vampires. Also contained within the coffin is a silver flask of holy water (to stop the demons) and a wooden stake (also made from ebony), which I assume is to be driven into the heart of the vampire to finish them off. They also included a mirror, used to positively identify your target as a vampire (vampires cannot see their reflection....allegedly).
Enjoy the pictures and if you have not been to the National Firearms Museum's website, you should stop in, lots of really interesting guns to see, I have provided a link at the end of this post.

Special Thanks to The National Firearms Museum

Coffin Case

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Let's pause for some Gun Porn

Guns can be works of art, so in between project posts I like to post pictures of guns that qualify as art. When looking at these, I have to think about the craftsmen who put them together, fit the metal to wood, cut the checkering, engraved the steel and finished the metal. Enjoy:

The following websites were the source of the pictures, visit them and gawk at the gun art!

The National Firearms Museum

The American Custom Gun Makers Guild

Bowen Classic Arms

Gun Digest

Turnbull Manufacturing

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Gunsmithing Tools

I have posted info on the tools I use, but I have never gone into much detail. This post will cover the tools I use and what you should look for when it comes to gun specific tools.

First I should remind everyone that what I do is not really gunsmithing, I restore guns, I do not machine them, I do not make guns or gun parts.
I am more of a gun restorer or gun mechanic.

The first tool(s) every gun owner should own is a good set of gunsmith screw drivers. What makes a gunsmith screw driver different from an ordinary screw driver is the profile in which it is ground. Gunsmith screwdrivers have what is known as a "hollow ground" profile. This does not mean the center of the screwdriver is hollow, it is a term used in knife making to describe a grinding in which both sides of the blade are parallel at the edge rather than a continuous taper, the picture below explains what I mean:
using standard screw drivers may cause them to slip out of the groove and damage the screw heads, fortunately they can be repaired, see my post about it here

You can buy a dedicated screw driver set like this one from Pachmayr 
or one with interchangeable head like this one from Wheeler

Other important tools for anyone hoping to work on guns is a good set of punches. You will soon find out how many guns use pins to hold their moving parts in place, you will want both brass and steel punches, be sure to buy good quality  punches as many the foreign made ones are often of poor quality. This set from Wheeler is pretty good

If you plan on doing tear downs on S&W revolvers and other guns that use rounded pins, you will want to get some special "cupped" punches, these protect the round edge and keep the gun looking factory fresh
Brownelles sells these special punches
As does Midway USA

Besides the disposable tools like sand paper, naval jelly, bluing solutions rags etc... you will also want to invest in a good set of files. Large, small and needle files (for repairing screw heads) will be needed. I built my collection of files by buying them as I needed them. Again Brownelles and Midway USA are great sources for gunsmithing tools.
Finally a way to hold on to the guns and gun parts is essential. I use a standard bench vise with pieces of oak for protecting the gun metal from the jaws of the vice. Other people use leather or soft brass or copper to act as a cushion. Another good vice is a dedicated gun vice like this one from Tipton

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Polishing your Gun

No, not that gun! (you may remember the chant from the movie Full Metal Jacket: "this is my rifle, this is my gun, this is for fighting and this is for fun"). 

This post is about polishing the metal on your firearms, specifically stainless guns.
I have always liked the look of shiny guns, a shiny gun represents work, craftsmanship, a dedication to perfection. Most guns produced these days are not shiny, but you can change that.
When bluing guns I work on getting the metal as flat and smooth as possible. Just like in auto body work, the smoother the metal is, the more evenly it will reflect light, which will provide more shine and gloss.
It should be said that you do not need to make the metal shine like chrome to have a good looking finish. Some finishes are designed to be matte or satin.
The gun below is a Single Action Ruger that was finished in a satin finish, it looks beautiful. you will notice the metal still reflects light, but the reflection is muted. You may also notice the complete lack of blemishes. That is the key...
This gun was meticulously polished before bluing. To achieve this level of shine requires a lot of patience and care (and a good condition gun to start with)

I have several Stainless Steel guns, most of them I have polished to a high shine. The first one I did was a Smith & Wesson Model 65, it was an ex-Pennsylvania State Patrol gun. It looked a lot like this when I got it:
This is what it looks like now:
 I did the same this with my Ruger Security Six, before:
 and after:
So, this brings me to the reason for my post. I recently acquired this Smith & Wesson 629-3 Classic Hunter 44 Magnum. Those of you that do not know, the '6' in the '629' designates this gun as being made from stainless steel. The gun was part of a limited run in 1991, only 2000 of these were made. 
 Here is what it looked like when I brought it home:
The 1st step in polishing a revolver like this is to remove the grips and look for scratches that you need to remove. This gun had only two minor scratches so I stuck with 1000 grit wet/dry sand paper. Had the scratches been deeper I would have started with 320 or 400 grit, then move to 600 and 1000 grit. Remember when using the higher grit (lower number) to be careful of the roll marks and screw holes.

Once you have the entire surface sanded with the 1000 grit, you can begin polishing. I prefer to use a soft cotton towel and Mother's brand polish
Mothers is a rouge, that acts as a very minor abrasive, removing minute amounts of metal, use plenty of Mother's and move to a clean section of towel when it turns black. Take your time.

I will update this post when complete. In the meantime I will get back to polishing my gun :).

Here are the updated pictures, it is not perfect, but it's getting there
There is a great explanation of sanding/polishing here:
Special thanks to:
Bowen Classic Arms
Mob Guns
Mother's Polish