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IndustryArena Forum > Hobby Projects > Gunsmithing > Lathe & Milling machines needed
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  1. #1

    Lathe & Milling machines needed

    Hello, all. This is my first post. This looked like exactly the forum I have been looking for.

    I am an 07 FFL, a firearms manufacturer. Most of our firearms can be made in our shop. Certain steps have been farmed out to others such as milling slots in a receiver tube and turning down an assault rifle barrel shoulder so the barrel will time. Most parts have been made by others as we buy quantities of parts to build the guns.

    Now I would like to keep all processes in-house. So I need a basic metal lathe (mostly to turn barrel shoulders) which is simple. I need a milling machine to mill slots 1/2" wide and 6" long. The mill must also drill very accurate holes from .125" to 1/2" in diameter. The mill also has to make cutouts in tubing that are square. Sight dovetails also need to be milled.

    Most of what we build are FN-FAL's, L1A1's, Model 1911 .45ACP pistols and the AR in it's variants. Also M1 Garands and M-1 Carbines.

    So I believe that I need rather basic machines and used would fit my budget.

    I welcome any advice and hope to find the used lathe and mill I need.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    You need to supply a bit more info. Budget $$$, center to center distance on lathe, table size and travel for the mill etc.

    Price doesn't guarantee quality but quality is seldom cheap.

    Dick Z

  3. #3
    Hellow Richard:

    My budget is $1,500.00 US.

    The FAL barrel that has to go through the chuck measures 3/4" diameter at the largest and 21" long.

    Since the barrel can be inserted through the chuck the distance from chuck to tailstock doesn't have to be very long. I only want to shave off a little metal from the barrel shoulder to time the barrel to the upper receiver.

    The milling machine will be used for cutting sight dovetails. Also for milling slots in tube receivers and boring accurate holes in tube receivers.

    I have seen ads for mini-mills, but the information is to scant to know if they would work.

    I hope this info helps and look forward to any suggestions.

    Thanks, Steve

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    The $1500 budget wont get you what you want and need for accurate gunsmithing work. You might find a used lathe that would suit your needs for somewhere close to that budget, but you will still need to add tooling. Adding a mill too will require more funds. Finding good used equipment with the ability to hold tolerances needed for gunsmithing will be challenging, if you are a good machinist you might get satisfactory results from older lightly used - but that is hard to find. A mini-mill is not going to do 1/2" slots in steel with any kind of accuracy or speed. Increasing your budget by a factor of 4 or 5 might get you the kind of equipment you need, but then again add tooling and measurement equipment and you will quickly be way beyond that.

    Then you need the skills to operate the equipment in a manner that produces the quality desired and holds the tolerances necessary. Not to mention that the learning curve can be expensive if you mess up an expensive gun component. Unless you are prepared to spend the dollars and invest the time to learn the equipment, you might be better off retaining the outside machining services.

  5. #5
    Thank you for your advice and help. It does look like my budget was way off. My problem also involves finding a machine shop to farm the work out to. They don't exist in my part of rural Florida. The machinist is a lost art. A shop that turns brake drums calls itself a machine shop. I have gone to, or called, every one in the three cities around me. There is not one machine shop with lathe and mill. I had hoped a mini mill would make the 1/2" slots in perhaps 1/4" cuts. I will keep looking for a solution.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Re: Lathe & Milling machines needed

    Read up on the ITAR regulations before you get too excited the BR6.5 website has some posts on it If you are {Building} or assembling guns and doing any machine work for pay it is a $2500.00 per year cost on top of the FFL License.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2020

    Re: Lathe & Milling machines needed

    be very careful about tight budgets, it may cost you far more $$ in the long run with outdated woreout equipment, thats more expesive to repair and maintain. stay away from anything less than a full sized mill for gunsmithing, anything smaller won't stand up to the hardened steel you'll have to work with. my suggestion would be start with a good quality mill or cnc it fills most of your wish list and can even be setup to trim and turn barrels with the right fixtures and clamping. kerp an eye on equipment sales here in the forum, and ebay or craigslist local, budget in an extra $600-$1000 just to move a machine 300miles by yourself.( trailer/diesel truck, forklift or cranes, dollies, rollers, ramps, support crew, tiedow straps fuel, food, lodging, flat tires)

    not saying it can't be done, it cost me $800 and 16hrs to move a $1000 falcon chevalier fm-63 cnc 278 miles, once i got home my machine that worked perfect in the shop before purchase rejected the rotory phase converter i purchased to the tune of 2x $800 servo amps, and possably a cpu that i havent even started to troubleshoot yet, plus 100hrs of frustrations and still adding up. so much for saving money..

    anyone willing to help repair a falcon chevalier fm-63rd is welcome over anytime, i'll keep a 6pack handy..

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