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IndustryArena Forum > Hobby Projects > Gunsmithing > machines to build guns?
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  1. #1
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    machines to build guns?

    First off, I am aware of the laws involved, and I really don't want to go down that road or discuss the morality of firearms. I want to stick with the tool side of things here.
    I've got some idea for rifles and pistols I'd like to make, but have no machines or real machining experience.
    My CNC experience is with sheet-metal (punch, plasma, laser), not flinging chips. I know the very basics of machining from college and am good at figuring out stuff, but I'll have to teach myself quite a bit on whatever I get.
    I figure I'd need a lathe with at least a 24" range and maybe a pass-though head.
    Mill requirements would be fairly minimal, I'd think. but I'm sure I'd end up doing other things down the road if I make this investment.
    An all in one machine I'm thinking would let me do fluting easier and possibly even spiral fluting.

    Anything wrong with my basic assumptions? Any idea how much money I should be looking to get together to get a working hobby machine shop?

  2. #2
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    Look at the MAC 10 - that was designed to built using simple machine tools.
    I am sure that some Google searches will tell you more about this.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the idea, but I am looking to build what can not be purchased. Its usually cheaper and easier to just buy what can be bought.
    I figure I'll buy barrel blanks and stuff like springs, firing pins and trigger parts.

  4. #4
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    When I finally get around to building my shop, I plan to spend $50k or more. I will probably end up with a Haas mill and a Haas lathe and additional support machines.

  5. #5
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    It seems like long, deep, custom, precision work like that would either need a "gun drill" setup, or perhaps some kind of EDM that can reach down 30 - 60 inches. Otherwise, what could you offer that is not already off-the-shelf ?

    The industry directions tend to be:
    - Really small bore - around 1 - 2mm, ultra high speed
    - Larger bore - 12 guage long, 10 guage, 25mm, 40 mm, 50 cal
    - Related barrel porting work
    - Various other methods of reducing recoil such as shock absorbing movement
    - Direct machining of some of the accessories with the blank
    - Composite stock integration
    - Specialized finish related equipment
    - Alignment fixtures
    - Test area for checking results
    - Non traditional actions and firing methods

    Some of this depends if your goal is to be a traditionalist with a lot of hand work or more modernistic / futuristic oriented.

  6. #6
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    Maybe one of those magnetic guns they use to shoot 2 x 4's thru concrete walls. That'd be fun.LOL

    Serious gunsmithing requires good machinery and a lot of skill. The skill part comes with a lot of VARIED experience. Doing the same thing over and over and over is not experience, it's repetition.

    Dick Z
    DZASTR

  7. #7
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    I've been in the firearms industry for a long, long time now and started the company I am with long ago. Currently we CNC parts and accessories, along with sewn softgoods. We are a class 7 FFL (firearms manufacturer).

    Sounds like you want to buy barrel blanks, chamber and assemble rifles. (BTW, guns are on ships )

    For this line of work, the best thing you could do is apprentice with someone immediately. Find a gunsmith to mentor you, one that specifically does long range rifles, and see if you can get hired on to learn. Plan on a year or two minimum. Sounds like you have the basics, but will need to learn lathe work, chambering and assembly, and there are some things to pay attention to. Toss in some basic manual mill work too.

    It is a tough direction to go in today's market. We're currently riding a bubble which is great but the overall trend is "firearms are not politically correct" and sales will ultimately get tight again. This is a market dominated by very talented niche manufacturers and machinists with the same passion you have. It is competitive and you'll have serious work to do to understand the market and pick up on opportunities.

    I'm sure you have priced bbl blanks, stocks, bottom metal, triggers, etc. to find your assembled pricing, and have realized there isn't much $$ in it. Add in the problem that bbls are about 6 months to a year out, stocks almost the same, and if you're after any major AR parts about 2 years out as of now. So you have time but the bubble may be shrinking by then.

    Honestly, I'd find something with a wider consumer base as it will be more financially rewarding. This industry is competitive, full, and shrinking. It is easier to grow in a sector that is growing as your slice of the pie gets bigger by default. To grow in a shrinking sector means taking business away from someone else. Hope that makes sense.

    That's my two cents on it!

    Hope to see you at the SHOT show someday.

  8. #8
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    Well Spoken TacDriver

    The best equipment to build firearms lies between your ears!! Building firearms is more of an art when speaking of long range, accuracy and dependability.
    I've been building (hobby) for years and started with hand tools. I now have a complete machine shop with CNC in my back yard just waiting for me to retire from the working world. Someday!
    This is one of two current projects in their infancy.
    Good luck and get the education you need and purseu your passion!
    Bill
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails photo.JPG  
    billyjack
    Helicopter def. = Bunch of spare parts flying in close formation! USAF 1974 ;>)

  9. #9
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    machines to build guns?

    Bill are you French? Purseu?
    A lazy man does it twice.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bill south View Post
    The best equipment to build firearms lies between your ears!! Building firearms is more of an art when speaking of long range, accuracy and dependability.
    +1000 Perhaps it could be called "machinist's art."

  11. #11
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    I've recently looked into something similar and after talking with many gunsmiths and those that went to the 2 year college course gunsmithing degrees. They all told me unless it was something I was just dying to do I would be better off financially to keep my day job. One smith I know has a good year to year and a half wait for his work and he told me he makes less owning his own shop than he did as a shop floor machinist. So much to know, so much equipment and tooling to buy and so much competition from well known established name smiths it can be hard to get into the game and actually survive.

    I still have the desire to build custom rifles and may see about doing it as a hobby while acquiring equipment and doing work for others now and then to get my name out there once I am proficient. But I will keep it limited in what I do to keep things easy on me and make sure I do the best work I can at a few things while keeping overhead down as much as possible.

    I'm not sure what kind of education you have regarding metal and processes as you mentioned no real machining experience. One thing you should really consider is if you are knowledgable enough to select the right metals for the job at hand or understand the need to harden some steel in certain areas on certain parts etc. There is a lot to know just in assembling a rifle from parts and just doing the basic assembly, chambering, bedding etc. Once you get into making entire guns from scratch that is a whole new set of knowledge to have at hand.

    Oh and a 3 in 1 would not be a good idea IMO.


    Bo

  12. #12
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    micro machine shop

    I send all newbe machinist here. this is a detailed illustration of what is needed to do machine work even thought this guy has small Chinese machines it gives a detailed account of what it takes to machine metal.
    Micro-Machine-Shop.com

    Happy Hunting
    archie =) =) =)

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