Repairing an Old Firearm? Here’s How to Do It
Are you holding onto a cherished gun that’s well past its prime? Antique firearms can have both sentimental and monetary value. Maybe you just like the way guns were made in earlier times, or maybe you think you can make a profit off of selling an antique firearm. Either way, here are a few steps you can take to restore it to a noticeably improved condition.
The first thing you’ll need to do is gather some important information about the firearm model you’re working with. Make sure you know the correct make, caliber, and other similar specifications. Try to figure out when it was manufactured, and by whom; this information will help you locate parts, as well as reveal the history of your firearm. If your skills as a gunsmith aren’t developed enough for the gun you’re restoring, you can consult with experts who are familiar with the era your antique gun is from. Document everything you learn.
Disassemble the Firearm
Break the gun down into its individual pieces, right down to the body of the weapon, firing mechanisms, and screws and all. Be gentle and firm when handling antiques, as there’s no telling what damage there might be until closer inspection. Bear in mind that you might need specialized tools to take the gun apart completely. Keep everything organized in one place. You could look into purchasing a compartmentalized organizer from a hobby store.
Examine each piece for imperfections like rust, dust, dirt, grime, and other wear and tear. Your cleaning kit should have gloves (latex or an alternative if you’re allergic), solvent, lubricant, a cloth, cleaning rods, cotton swabs, and a boring brush. If anything looks damaged or broken, put it to the side to handle separately later. Keep in mind that you can make mild repairs to damaged parts, but note that you probably shouldn’t be firing a weapon that hasn’t been expertly refurbished with the proper materials.
Replacement and Refurbishment
Any gun parts that are cracked or otherwise damaged can be difficult to replace. Since most firearms that need to be restored are old enough to be considered antiques, their parts aren’t in high demand or even necessarily still being made. AR-15 rifles for sale online sometimes have interchangeable parts, but a gun that was made several decades ago won’t make it so easy.
If the parts can’t be repaired or replaced with something else by you or a professional gunsmith, this could be problematic. Fortunately, the recent advent of 3D printing can come in handy here. If you can get a good enough mold made of the parts, they might be able to be recreated reliably. Unless you are working with a highly-durable 3D printer that can create sturdy replacement parts, once again, it is advised not to pursue discharging said firearm. Improper part material could lead to irreparable damage to the antique.
The last part of the restoration process is usually the finish. The finish affects the aesthetics of a firearm, as well as its functionality. Restoring the finish involves applying a bluing solution to the metal or steel parts. Make sure every surface you’re going to work with has been wiped clean before you use the solution, and be sure to work with gloves and goggles on, in a ventilated room. You can find bluing solution at metalworking stores.
You don’t have to get rid of a firearm just because it’s been out of commission for a long time. As long as you have the time and attention to devote to it, your old gun can be back to working order and looking great in no time.