Tag Archives: Brownells

Jerry Kuhnhausen’s Books

Book Cover
Book Cover

A quick aside on Mr. Kuhnhausen’s books. If you are working on a gun that Jerry Kuhnhausen has written a book about and you are not using his book as a reference you are doing yourself a great disservice.

I have heard many people I consider master ‘smiths, and even some guild members, swear by his books. They are well written, organized for easy use at the workbench, extremely detailed, and thorough.

If you don’t have the complete Kuhnhausen series you can find them at Heritage Gun Books ⇒, Brownells ⇒, etc.

The Dreaded Unavailable Part

If they practice their craft long enough, both professional gunsmiths and weekend hobbyists will eventually encounter the issue of an unavailable part.

Sometimes it might not be available because the gun is obsolete or rare. Other times the factory, the gun shows, Numrich, Jack First, Wisner’sBrownells, and all other known suppliers just don’t have any.

If you have the worn out or broken part you can use it as a template to make a new one. However, what do you do when a gun is missing the part and no supplier has a replacement or replica available?

As I have said many times, “The most valuable tool in the shop is a good library.” So when I have exhausted all of the above options, I turn to LeeRoy Wisner’s Handbook of Hard-To-Find Gun Parts Drawings. It contains 488 pages of gunsmithing goodness detailing over 2,900 drawings for hard-to-find gun parts. It also  provides instruction on selecting the correct steel, heat treatment, and fabrication.

While the Handbook of Hard-To-Find Gun Parts Drawings is an excellent resource for this type of information there are a few things to keep in mind before you embark on building a replacement part.

The first is always safety. If you do not fully understand the design, and cycle of operation of the gun you are working on, and specifically the part you are considering making, then do not work on it. Take it to a qualified gunsmith for repair. All gunsmiths are legally and morally responsible for repairing guns in a manner that does not play a role in creating any unsafe condition now or in the future.

I cannot speak for other shops, but I know I am happy to work on a project that a customer was not comfortable starting or finishing. In most cases, I am also happy to answer questions you may have about how the work should be done. Just be honest and talk openly with your gunsmith – you might be surprised by the results.

Second, it is important to remember that the drawings in the book were created by measuring used parts. The model parts may have been well worn,  fitted to a specific gun on installation, or modified by the owner. Thus, these drawings are guidelines for parts fabrication. The gunsmith will need to pair these guidelines with the condition and tolerances of the gun on the workbench to create the new part. Parts created from these specifications will need to be hand fitted.

Lastly, you will need to have certain skills and tools to make a part using this book. You will have to be able to accurately read a drawing, select a suitable material, work the material into the part, heat treat the part, etc. Price out the project before starting, you might find that it is not financially viable. It may be financially less burdensome to take the project to someone who already has the materials, tools, and skills.

So what do you do if the part you need isn’t available anywhere and the Handbook of Hard-To-Find Gun Parts Drawings doesn’t cover it? I would suggest two things.

First, I would let the good folks at Brownells know that you would like to see it added to the Handbook of Hard-To-Find Gun Parts Drawings. This will let them know what is of interest to their customers for any future editions or updates that they may consider.

Second, try and find someone who has the same gun. If you can find a working version of the same gun you can use the part in the second gun as a guide for fabricating the part you need. If you cannot find exactly the same gun keep in mind that often gun manufacturers used the same parts in many different models. If the research supports this situation you can find a gun with the same part and work with it. My caution about understanding the design, and cycle of operation of the gun you are working on doubly applies here.

If it works out, remember to make a drawing of the part for future reference and add it to your copy of Handbook of Hard-To-Find Gun Parts Drawings.

Good luck.

Most Important Gunsmithing Tool

The most important tool a professional gunsmith or serious hobbyist can have is a good library. This is especially true for those of us that work in small shops. If you have a question where will you get the answer? The answer is most often found in a book.

Wondering how to convert the safety on a Remington 870 from right hand to left hand? Manufacturer’s instructions (with drawing) can be found on page 711 of the Encyclopedia of Modern Firearms by Bob Brownell.

Need to know anything about the mysterious art of customizing the 1911? Check The Colt .45 Automatic and The U.S. M1991/M1911A1 Pistols & Commercial M1911 Type Pistols by Jerry Kuhnhausen. If it has something to do with 1911’s and it is not in one of those books there is a good chance that you don’t need to know it.

You cant remember how to use the thingamajig you bought from Brownells three years ago. Go to the binder where you keep all the three-hole-punched instruction sheets they send you and review. Oh, you don’t keep them where you can find them easily. You should, it will take less time keeping them organized then finding and downloading a new one from the Internet.

Here is a list of a few of the books, etc. in my shops’ library:

You will notice that the reference library doesn’t have to be limited to books and magazines either. I have DVDs, PDF documents, etc., and a constantly running supply of my own notes as well.

Ok, I think that you get the point. Much of what you don’t know or can’t remember is on the pages of thousands of gun reference works. Take the time to build a good shop reference library and it will earn the investment you have in it back for you many times over.


Footnotes / Sources:

1 – I keep all of the back issues of American Gunsmith that I can get my hands on. If you have any 2010 or earlier copies you no longer want, I’ll gladly pay shipping.