Basic Gunsmithing

Basic Gunsmithing

What Do Gunsmiths Do?

Anyone who reads the magazines of the Firearms Industry is aware that most all stock firearms can be enhanced through the services of custom Gunsmiths.

Most firearms are made on an assembly line. The techniques and science oriented improvements like CnC or computerized milling, flat planners and robotic welders that are utilized today may seem adequate for most shooters, there is still a lot to be desired. They haven’t invented the robot yet that can analyze, adjust and modify a weapon for the custom needs of the shooter.

As you get better through practice, you will find the weapon was designed for masses and your personal needs might differ. For example, the enhanced Colt Government model shown which started as a very used and abused blued model has had some of the most popular upgrades. Better sights, better grip, dual ambidextrous safety, enhanced grip safety, flared speed magazine entry, and reworked trigger and tune. A factory look matte and brush chrome finish and you have a winner. This is gun alchemy, a silk purse from a sows ear and a very proud owner.

Anyone who reads the magazines of the Firearms Industry is aware that most all stock firearms can be enhanced through the services of custom Gunsmiths.

  • The gunsmith can do the final finish work that mass production techniques do not do.

  • The gunsmith is your repair person if something should fail after the warrantee period is over.

  • The gunsmith can enhance and improve on what the manufacturer has considered acceptable. He answers to a higher calling, you!

  • The gunsmith can enhance performance and accuracy.

  • The gunsmith can do it all at once or a singular process at a time as long as things are done in the correct order.

Things To Consider


The first thing any shooter needs is a sight picture that allows him to reliably repeat his sight alignment on target. There are a myriad of sighting systems available for handguns, rifle and shotguns that are an improvement over factory issued equipment.

You would not believe the firearms we get in out of the box that literally couldn’t find the barn much less its broader-side.

High visability fixed and adjustable sights are available with options as rear sight optical/ front sight configurations and fiber optic materials for both front and rear. AP&W will be glad to help clients make decisions in these areas based on anticipated usage of the firearm in question. Latest aid to sights are the Fiber Optics, simple , inexpensive, opens up a whole new world of opportunities.

Trigger Pulls And Common Sense

DISCLAIMER: Note: For safety purposes we do not make specific claims nor recommendations to shooters without consultation and communication as to the experience, training and qualifications of the shooter.

Even then, the clients final decision rests with the shooter as to his or her preference. The ultimate rational decision lies with the gunsmith who will take into account, common sense, safety factors, the specific firearm, condition and anything else that may compromise safety.

The firearm needs a trigger pull that will allow the shooter to reliably release the fire control 

mechanism without creating excess wobble in his sight picture. The degree of reduced trigger pull will depend on what the shooter’s experience level will safely allow him to deal with. Also, the type of usage the pistol, or rifle, or shotgun is intended for. Common sense guides us here.

On factor very importantly overlooked is the size of the shooters hand. Many Police Departments with smaller officers or female officers found by altering the trigger length for the smaller hand, scores at the range and accuracy improved. Some manufacturers now make specific models and grip extensions for the smaller handed shooter. Even Glock has grip extenders on series fours.

For self defense firearms should not have trigger pulls like target pistols. Your adrenalin will easily take pounds off a trigger. Hunting firearms due to the variety of weather, terrain and excitement factors are figured differently. A short deer brush gun will be set up differently than a long range 270 for plains deer at distance off a support.

Competitive target guns will vary by type and the rules within the shooting sport the firearm is built for. Revolvers, or semi-auto’s vary by firearms design limits and the fact that most of these handguns are for defensive use and must reliably ignite the primer every time.

Pull Weights

This is true and common sense will also tell you too light a trigger pull on a defensive weapon isn’t smart. Like we said, adrenalin doesn’t know the difference between two pounds or six pounds. Just as a bullet doesn’t know the difference between a perp and your pet poodle.

Pull weights generally are guidelines. They pertain to acceptable limits for firearms usage for a diligent, practiced, trained, conscientious shooter but are not the rule. I will gladly discuss the pull weights with you based on your qualifications and experience for safety reasons.

We have seen single action pull on carry guns from the factory at 4 pounds to almost 10 pounds, whereas hunting rifles, shotguns and some handguns came through lighter. So the smart thing to do is discuss it. Do whats best for your safety, and those around you.

Remember, the criteria that I have set forth are the first safety considerations in a custom firearm. Further work is sometimes a waste of the client’s time and money. A firearm with a poor sight picture and 8 lb. trigger pull may shoot great groups from a machine rest, but most shooters will never shoot to their potential under these handicapping conditions. I call these custom modifications, user friendly modifications.


After the sights and trigger have been taken care of the next step is mechanical accuracy. Basically this requires that the firearm is launching the projectile from the same place, mechanically, each time the sights are correctly aligned and the shooter is exercising good trigger control. The means by which this is accomplished by the custom Gunsmith varies from firearm to firearm. This involves barrel fitting, alignment, slide performance and final lapping etc.

If you want to stop right here, the firearm should do anything you wanted it to do within your personal shooting capability. There are also human mechanics or the addition of some attribute which accomplishes not only and esthetic appeal but functions like the forward assist shown in the picture above. Those port like cuts assure a grip when front charging a round.

Aesthetics – The Next LEvel

Custom enhancements take the weapon or firearm to a higher level of user friendly appointment. This is the “art of Gunsmithing”. Modifications that make the firearm more esthetically pleasing, or wear and corrosion resistant.

After market parts that make operating the firearm more comfortable, or accelerate the shooters ability to bring the firearm into service can be added to many different firearms. If after market parts are not available, many custom Gunsmiths can reconfigure existing parts to accomplish their client’s wishes. Be careful what you ask for, this can get pricey.

Extended safeties and magazine catches are available for most of the more popular makes of handguns and long guns.

Checkering or stippling can be applied to gripping areas that create both an enhanced gripping surface and add to the artistry and overall appearance of the firearm. I have added beavertail grips areas to Browning HP’s, CZ75 style pistols, SIG 210’s, and Walther PP Series handguns. These modifications give the firearm a more unique exotic appearance, but, most importantly, make it more comfortable to shoot.

Porting systems and compensator systems are available to allow the shooter to both shoot faster and reducing recoil.

Shooting faster is great fun, but these systems also reduce wear and tear on the gun and the shooter.Ask any Pro or Semi-pro shooter about Tendonitis. Tennis is not the only sport that creates Tennis Elbow.

Prices for these types of modifications vary by the complexity of the work involved to create the final product the client desires. Porting is the most reasonable, averaging around $110.00 per gun.

Engraving at almost any level absolutely enhances the appearance of a firearm. If the firearm is manufactured with good roll engraving offset coloring is also an attractive addition to the original, or after market finish on the firearm. The right color depends on what the client wants to create.

It’s obvious from a stock government Colt 45, to the full house STi shown here, there is no limit to what we can do and create.

We recommend the following businesses:

WWW.KENSIGHT.COM Contact them for your sight needs or questions.

WWW.MODERNSPARTANSYSTEMS.COM Spartan chemistry can increase accuracy, optimize reliability and reduce cleaning time by 75%

Read The Small Print

If you see the word REFIN or REFINISHING used in any of pricing tables, next to, or conjoined with a column, or part, it means a small sum is added to refinish the part after the gunsmith has done the necessary filing, stoning, grinding, buffing, welding or sawing.

Obviously when metal is removed or reworked some cosmetic changes have to take place to restore the part to match what it’s supposed to be which is the final delivered finish after metalworking is done. There is a lot of information here and if we missed one of those which need refinishing, we apologize. Also we might find a flaw in your gun that could require a touch-up and we’ll try to advise you upon discovery of either operation.

Some Small Print:

  • Our Minimum Shop Charges of Fifty dollars ($50.00) includes written estimates.

  • Our Minimum Handling Charge is $12.00.

  • On all the newer S&W, Taurus and similar firearms with combined lock type integral safeties, there will be a $25.00 dollar surcharge to plate, repair, assemble and disassemble these products due to the intricacies of these additional parts.


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