ADE'S Orange County Gunsmith
As Old World As It Gets!
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949-306-2028
Mark Bunach - Master Gunsmith
-35 years of Practical Smithing-

Repair - Fabrication - Customs - Restorations are a Specialty - Cleaning & Maintenance

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OCG Gunsmith Straight Talk

Since relocating my Gunsmith shop from the Midwest to California I have noticed a stark difference in the buying and shooting habits of the different regions. I have also noticed many different philosophies pertaining to the care and maintenance of weapons in general. I will try to dispel some myths I have heard recently and also give my OPINION pertaining to some of the maintenance regimes I have heard about in the shop. The one thing I do know for a fact is that in the shooting world opinions are like a@#holes and everyone has one. I try to take the commonsense approach while applying engineering facts and I am sure someone will have a different one other than mine. Everything I mention below has worked for me for a very long time as I have applied it to 1000's of guns.

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness and A Fine Tuned Machine.
The manufacturers in recent years have marketed their new poly style  weapons as being anti corrosive and wear resistant and who can forget Glocks advertisement about the weapon that sat at the bottom of the ocean and was able to fire. The  truth of the matter is, Guns need to be cleaned and cleaned regularly. I do not care who the manufacturer is or what type of material it is made out of ALL guns need cleaning and  maintenance between each and every firing session. Some weapons i.e. 22's in particular, that go through large amounts of rounds in one session NEED to have the barrel  scrubbed to maintain peek accuracy while on the firing line. While you don't absolutely need to be Mr. Spotless with your 22 barrel during a session you will notice a marked  improvement in consistent accuracy if you brush the barrel every 100 rounds or so on  big shooting days and every 25 rounds if you are doing any kind of competitive shooting.

My gun is Stainless Steel or Poly so I don't need to clean it or clean it as much as I would a blued weapon.
    This statement absolutely blows me away as I have never heard it before anywhere but here in California. While Poly and Stainless are more corrosive resistant and resistant to scratches and salt spray the materials still amass the same amount of grunge and lead / powder residue that a blued gun does. That means the mechanical parts that rub together get just as dirty and just as fast as a blued gun will. When you fire your weapon minute particles of brass, burnt powder, copper, lead and other heavy metals get left behind. As these particles build they slow down the reaction time of springs, cause additional resistance to parts sliding against each other, slowly build in between your  extractor (the hook that pulls the brass from the chamber) and it's resting place and decrease's the tolerances (gaps) in between all moving parts. The Sludge that is created acts like fine rubbing compound that wears away the smooth surfaces that touch each other. Even though the weapon still goes bang after not cleaning it for six months does not mean you are not compromising accuracy and longevity of the weapon. Your weapon is a machine not unlike your cars engine. You need to change the oil to get rid of the dirt and allow for clean oil to function on the matting surfaces for 100% smooth operation. Which leads me to my next myth (or practice I have seen).

If I don't clean my weapon I will just add oil to it when it has a problem.
   I see many different types of weapons come through my shop and the one most notable thing I see is the amount of oil / grease that gets applied to guns in varying stages of cleanliness. Using the correct type of lube for your weapon is just as important as how much is applied. My most recent obscure sighting was on a brand new 1911-A1 (a $2300.00 variant) that a gentleman brought in to be reassembled after his first cleaning attempt. Every part was covered in axle grease. You know the basic cup grease that goes into wheal bearings. Are you done rolling on the floor with laughter now??? But seriously education is the key point here in cleaning and maintaining your weapon. (will continue about that customer later). I have had some Glocks come in that don't actually shoot because they are so gummed up with filth and you guessed it more oil. One gun in particular comes to mind, it was a model 19 that you could not even pull the slide back on without great effort. When I asked the customer when he had cleaned it last he said he had never cleaned it in the three years of owning it as the salesman that sold it to him told him how great and durable the Glock was and that you never needed to clean it and to just oil it regularly. You would not believe the amount of oil that dripped from the weapon and the amount of burnt oil covering the outside of the barrel itself. The customer got a $150.00 bill for the amount of time it took me to scrape and polish the caked on mess into a working weapon. Here again knowledge is the factor just like in my previous example.

With both of these customers no knowledge of their weapon brought them to a point of having to spend additional dollars they would not have had to if they just took the time to read the manual or learned some very basic skills. EVERY gun owner should know how to field strip and clean their weapon PRIOR to going to the range the first time. If you don't have the skill set PLEASE DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR A LESSON. I will always take the time to show any customer how to disassemble and clean their weapon.

BASIC BEST PARTICLES
A. Get to know your weapon before going to the range.
B. Obtain basic cleaning supplies and the correct type of gun oil for your weapon.
C. Clean your gun when your finished firing it BEFORE storing it away. Or bring it to a competent Smith to do it for you.

 Assembling and disassembling your weapon.

Rule number one, if you don't know what your doing don't do it. Although I will constantly preach about completely disassembling your weapon and cleaning it every time you shoot you should also know how to do this process prior to attempting the task. I constantly get all types of weapons brought in where they were cleaned and reassembled incorrectly or missing key parts. This simplest issue is the weapon may not function but the biggest problem is the weapon may START functioning in a manner you don't want it to making the weapon UNSAFE.

Always read the manual prior to taking your weapon apart. Pay close attention to how the parts fit together and come apart. Pay closer attention when reassembling the the parts fit the and function in the same manner before you started. By all means the biggest rule is, if it does not fit DO NOT FORCE IT. Do not use a hammer, screw driver or any other object to force parts back together as YOU WILL DAMAGE SOMETHING. If you have a problem STOP and bring the weapon to a qualified Smith for reassembly before any damage is done to the weapon or yourself.

 

 

This is what happens when you store a gun without cleaning and oiling it properly prior to putting it into a plastic container for about two years.

 

 

 

The 1911 below is an example of poor gunsmtih work by a another local shop along with poor maintenance. Notice the rust in key areas of operation. This weapon came in with a 2.5lb trigger pull that was doubling and firing when the weapon was bumped with the grip safety NOT depressed.


 

Poor gunsmtih work by a another local shop shows how NOT to cut a Novak sight in and then try and fix the too deep of cut by hammering the lip to tighten the dovetail. Notice the multiple tool marks on the slide, a sure sign of an amatuer machinist.

 

 

 

 

This is how NOT to reassemble your 
$1800.00 custom 1911.

As you can see the recoil spring was inside the frame on the full length guide rod but the guide rod was inserted from the OUTSIDE of the weapon. A pair of pliers was used to turn and lock the barrel bushing into this position. Ultimately the bushing had to be cut off and replaced along with a damaged barrel.

Ammo and how it affects the machine we call the Gun. (Factory Vs Reloads, Hand loads, Specialty Loads)

 As the costs of the base materials and labor has increased so has the costs of good, high quality ammunition. As in any other business model, ammo manufacturers have a fine line to follow between quality vs price vs profit. At many of the Gun Shows in and around Southern California I have seen reloading companies selling their wares at drastically reduced prices with customers wheeling ammo out by the dolly load. Then I see the customer in my shop the next week with a projectile stuck in the barrel. Yes Literally ! ! ! See picture below. I will not name the ammo reloading company that sold this ammunition but I will tell you that the customer actually pulled the trigger 5 times and there were 5 projectiles stuck down this barrel. The second issue here is again KNOW YOUR WEAPON ! How could you not be in touch with your weapon enough to know that even 1 single projectile did not make it down range, either by sound or looking at the target prior to pulling the trigger 5 times.

Below is another example of local remanufactured ammo coupled with not knowing your weapon prior to shooting it for the first time. This was a brand new unfired AR-15 that blew up on the owner. If you look closely in the picture you will see dried packing grease still in the bolt that was not cleaned out prior to firing the weapon. This coupled with an obvious overcharge in the remanufactured ammo caused a catastrophic failure as the bolt did not even have a chance to unlock the lugs.


Commentary From A Gunsmith:
Credits at end but PLEASE READ FIRST BEFORE JUMPING TO BOTTOM OF PAGE ITS WORTH THE TIME.

    ..........There’s the picture-and it isn’t exaggerated.  In city, town, and country, there are legions of “Franks.”  We find them everywhere.  Slowly, but surely, our male citizenry is becoming emasculated to the point of utter helplessness.  Sliding along, content in their weakness, glorying in their inability to do things.  Proud of the fact that they’ve never been taught to use their hands-and blind also, to the fact that they know mighty little about using their heads. 

    Work-honest, decent labor, skill of fingers, accuracy of eye-somehow it seems to be beneath the present generation.  The business man in his office sticks out his chest, holds “conferences,” frowns and looks wise, preening himself on that thing he calls “ability.”  Then he sharpens his pencil by sticking it into a little machine and turning a crank-or more likely screws down the point of an automatic gold one; has his finger nails cleaned by the blonde in the barber shop; calls a service man to change a tire on his car; wears a little useless penknife on his watch chain and sends it to a grinding shop to be whetted! (Sharpened)-yes, he does just that.  We’ve been pampered to the point of helplessness-and if we don’t watch our step, we’ll find ourselves at the point of uselessness. 

    The average man who owns a gun-I said the average-takes it to the gunsmith to be cleaned-usually two or three weeks after using it.  But the average man of today doesn’t own a gun-knows nothing about a gun-and brags about his ignorance.  “Reform” has one wonders-in the way of making us a race of saps. Not that lack of gun knowledge, or a liking for firearms constitutes a man a sap-but the general trend of the times is doing this very thing, and the supercilious attitude of the general public towards those things on which our forefathers built the nation, is but one of the visible evidences of it.

    Back in the hills, or on the farms, conditions are better.  Living close to nature gives man a better viewpoint, a keener appreciation of the fundamentals.  People are judged more by their ability than by their appearance or their social accomplishments.  The man in the far places is not easily fooled by honeyed words of so called “reformers” who seek to take away our God-given rights; he promptly places him in his proper classification-and in so doing he doesn’t call a spade an agricultural implement.  

    The pioneer of yesterday saw, thought, and acted clearly-with understanding.  Having no one else to depend on, he learned to do things for himself.  He built his cabin, fenced his fields, cultivated them with home-made tools, and filled his larder with game which he shot himself-sometimes with a rifle made with his own hands, or by the hands of a neighboring smith, with the crudest of home-made equipment.  Civilization, as we know it today, was not essential in his scheme of things.   

    Since the inception of our nation, the love of firearms has been a natural instinct of the American.  Not as a means of slaughter, except in defense of life and property, or to provide food for the table.  This heritage has been passed down to us, to be received by some, and rejected by many.  Civilization has in some unaccountable manner, twisted our brains. 

    The pioneer loved his long rifle, and gave it all the care and attention given by the true gun-crank of today-for the pioneer instinct is not entirely extinct.  Thanks to the efforts of the National Rifle Association of America, each year finds a greater number who have learned of the wholesome sport awaiting them on the range, and in the woods; while the call of the bob-white and the honk of incoming geese is a perpetual inspiration to those who have inherited a love for the smooth tubes.  And try as they may, the sob-sister element will probably never succeed in wholly depriving us of our love for the sport of shooting-for what is bred in the bone is born in the flesh.  The male American who scoffs at the sport is either an alien by nature, or else is deliberately perverting his natural ideas.  

    The arms of the pioneer expressed his individuality-and each was, perforce, a custom built arm.  For there were no great factories as there are today, equipped to turn out quantity production.  The man who wanted  gun told the smith how he wanted it built, and the smith built it that way.  Each gun embodied the pet ideas of the owner-ideas evolved from the necessities of the day and of the locality.  As time went on, the private gun maker was gradually replaced by the factories-and firearms began to lose their individuality.  Living costs advanced, and with them the cost of material and labor.  The machine-made factory rifles were acceptable because they were both good, and cheap in price-costing far less than the hand-made muzzle loader-and possessed the advantages of greater speed of fire, greater facility of loading, more compact construction, besides greater power and range.

    Yet in his acceptance of this new arm, the shooter never entirely lost his desire for expression of his personality in his weapons.  The evidence is found in he several fancy grades of factory guns still supplied, and which usually are merely stock guns with added engraving and other decoration. 

   With the growing scarcity of our big game the need for more powerful hunting arm has grown apace, and hunters have learned that the military type of arm, being more highly developed, is now the best adapted to their requirements.  So there has come into the field, not a new industry, but the revival of an old one-the building of special arms to the ideas of the individual, on modern actions adapted to the load he desires to use.  This industry has been further aided by those, who while still clinging to the traditions surrounding the old “standbys,” yet desired certain changes and refinements.  Special stocks designed to fit, butt plates with trap for cleaning materials, pistol grips that serve a definite purpose instead of being a mere wart under the shooter’s elbow, sights adapted to his eyes, barrels of gilt-edge accuracy, trigger pulls sweet and crisp, instead of reminding one of opening a cash register-these are some of the many things the custom-gunmaker of today is called upon to supply, by shooters who have learned what they want and who can afford to pay for it.   

    But for every shooter able to buy the gun of his dreams there are hundreds who must count their cash more carefully.  And they,-like the pioneer who having plenty of time and little cash, mined and smelted his own iron, felled his rock-maple tree, and built his flintlock,-will retire to their improvised workshop, and with such tools as are available, produce the weapons they want.  For failure is not written for the true gun-crank.

             The gunsmith, for some reason or other, has always surrounded himself with an aura of mystery; leading the shooter to believe that his craft was a gift from the gods, not to be encroached upon by ordinary mortals.  True, gunsmithing is a highly specialized trade-but there’s no black magic about it.  It requires  mechanical skill, and an understanding of principles, just like any other mechanical trade.  Sawing off the end of a stock isn’t so very different from sawing off a piece of oak flooring-both require a sharp saw, and ability to follow the line.  It’s no harder to file a spring or a hammer than it is to file a door latch-and either one may be ruined if you fail to stop in time.  The jeweler makes a ring of silver,  and oxidizes it-but he thinks the bluing of a gun is a deep dark secret.  The dentist makes a gold crown and puts it on a tooth-why shouldn’t he also make a gold bead sight and fit it to his rifle? 

   Many, if not most, of the so-called “trade-secrets” of firearms manufacturers are wide open secrets.  The trouble has been that the factories had no reason for telling their customers how to do their own work, and the small amount of data available has been in most cases the work of  gunsmiths who, meeting the necessity as it has arisen, have worked out fairly good methods, but not necessarily the best methods by any means. 

   The man who prides himself on his inability to sharpen a lead pencil may well gasp at the sight of another man-perhaps one who is not a mechanic by trade-making and fitting and checking and finishing a rifle or shotgun stock; or spending long hours filing out some small part that “quantity production” methods would complete in a few minutes; or in bluing a barrel when there are factories better equipped to do it.  “Does it pay?”  he will ask.  Of course not!-not as he would figure it.  The gunowner cannot count his time at so much per hour and come out ahead on the job.  But, in using his non-productive time to do work that perhaps he could not afford to buy, he acquires beautiful, well fitted and finished and smooth working arms that are a constant source of pride and satisfaction, because products of his own handiwork-expressing his own individuality.  So of course it pays him to do it. 

    Gunsmithing is not child’s play.  It is hard , slow, painstaking WORK, calling for reasonable skill, the proper tools (many of which may be home made), and a whole lot of patience and attention to small detail. Yet it is perhaps the most fascinating pastime in which a shooter can indulge, next to the actual use of his weapons in the woods or on the range, affording him the opportunity of having exactly what he wants, at a price he can afford.

The above passage is from Clyde Baker's Modern Gunsmithing Handbook Copyrighted in 1928 which is now out of copyright. 

The thing that moves me the most about this is passage is how more so today than then ever it rings true. My grandfather was a metal smith, working in the packing houses of Omaha Nebraska, making wooden barrels and rings to pack the meat in. His skills at forging and working metal were passed on to me in his home garage work shop where the centerpiece was an old pot belly stove converted into a forge and garage heater as well. Grandpa was a Gunsmith and during those long winter days I was privileged to watch and learn from an old master who was resoldering old doubles, Blueing with Old School Pure Nitrate Concoctions and creating parts from raw metal. I watched intently as he took the hammered metal from the forge and with just a few files, rasps and stones created a replacement part or spring to tolerances today's CNC equipment is just beginning to duplicate if you have a skilled programmer on the other end.

As Gunsmiths go today I see the same things happening. Machine shops that call themselves gunsmiths are in my mind no more different than the manufacturers mentioned in Clyde's passage or the Franks that just want to turn that golden crank to make a buck with their pretty machines. Anyone with a rudimentary mechanical inclination and $300,000 of their family's money can become a gun or parts manufacturer by plugging some numbers into a CNC machine from drawings that are now in the public domain from the military to make a 1911 or whatever and call it "CUSTOM" by adding a few changes here and there. It takes a true GUNSMITH to be able to take a piece of metal and HAND cut and FIT each and every part into a unique functioning piece of pure art. 

In California I see more Franks than anywhere. People with more money than brains who listen to  the manufacturers marketing crap, created by people who have never held a weapon in their hand let alone taken a fine stone to a sear and reshaped it to perfection. The Franks like to look all the pretty widgets and rails that can be added to most anything these days and discuss them intently on all of the Forums that are out there to infinitive insanity. Then you get the Frank that has a gripe and spreds discontent because he spent x amount of dollars and can't hit the broad side of the barn the first time he puts 10 rounds through his new widget laden piece of commercial crap. The fun part here is that no matter how many dollars you spend you still have to be able to shoot to the level the machine is capable of and a GREAT shooter can make anything shoot well. I get Franks in my store that think my shop is a Jiffy Lube (tm) where they can get miracles performed in less than 24 hours and they deserve it. These are the same guys who do nothing but complain about the cost of my services and would be dissatisfied if they were handed the golden goose for ten cents and have no knowledge whatsoever except from reading something somewhere on a internet board.

The boards to me are good and bad. They can be a GREAT place for a novice to find out basic information about a particular weapon and enhance their learning power about that weapon. I also think that a great amount of discression should be applied when reading much of the non-sense that is posted by self serving trolls that have nothing better to do with their time than to complain or who are seeking  their 15 minutes of fame behind a blind computer terminal because they are one of the many Franks that can't actually do what they say they can do. Anyone can memorize something someone else wrote and defend it to infinity because they read it on the internet, but it takes a truly wise man to go out and DO, then make his own intelligent conclusions based on FACTS from his own trial and error. I do believe thats called LEARNING.

The other thing that amazes me is how many self proclaimed gunsmiths (machine company's, shade tree's and manufacturers) who have so much spare time on their hands to sit and post crap on the boards to begin with. From what I have seen it usually surrounds pumping up their company and bad mouthing any one else who is in their market segment. If a company or gunsmith has that much time on their hands do that do you really think they are a good gunsmith? If they were truly as good as they they say they are don't you think their bench would be full of work and their time better spent at their trade? At OCG my day begins at 7:00am and stops at 8:00pm. My bench is full of custom builds and antique restorations. I do not have time to think about anything other than creating a quality product for my existing customers or trying to school perspective new customers in what they truly NEED to achieve their next level of personal marksmanship or how to restore grandpa's treasure.

To sum up all this narrative, If you want to have your weapon repaired or enhanced by someone who knows metal and weapons and who still hand fits everything he touches and can produce truly one of a kind weapons stop by and see me or give me a call, I will be more than happy to spend my time with you. If you are looking to keep up with the Jones's on the cheap than please look to my competitors as I'm sure they will be more than happy to take your Frank dollars. The next time you you sit in front of that computer to read or post nonsense to the boards why don't you take that same time and go LEARN YOUR WEAPON on the range or at your bench.

Also one last piece of personal advice from my Grandfather who told me this time and again,

"If you make it through the day without learning something new then you have wasted a day of your short life"
In Memory of Frank VanLong (1906-1996) Belgium Master Gunsmith, Fabrique National (1923-1938)

Mark Bunach
Master Gunsmith
2/07/2010

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