CAS TOPICS > Gunsmithing

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St. George:
One of the most common gunsmithing projects in C&WAS is smoothing an action.
Numerous articles have been written and even more gun parts have been ruined by guys trying for that "extra edge" that in many cases, their own increased practice would have refined.

No matter.

There will always be someone available to do that sort of work, and some guys really are worth the money spent - as long as the shooter possesses the sophistication the really be able to use it.

On the other hand - some "cosmetic" things can be good for those Colts and Remingtons and Smith & Wessons and one of those is the benefit of good, highly-polished screws - complete with absolutely straight slots.

Fire-bluing of gun screws is something that can be done easily as long as you have patience and a good eye for color.
In essence, all you really do is to polish the head (and the end, if exposed), to a fare-thee-well and head over to your torch.

Obviously, you'll be clamping the screw in something like a soft-jawed pliers, so as not to burn yourself.

Now, with your torch set for a moderately wide flame, hold the screw head up to it and watch it heat up.
It'll take a minute, but it'll change color.
As it does - decide what color is best for your gun and once you've decided that - immediately quench the screw in oil.

Practice on used gun screws - not wood screws or anything similar - practice on what you'll work with.
After some time, your eye will tell you that you're getting a color match and once that happens, you're on your way.

Fire-blued screws add to the overall "look" of a firearm - giving that slightest hint of "extra" work having been done.

Now that you have a set - make certain that you have screwdrivers that are straight-sided and fitted to the screw slot.
Those slots - when flared or peened - are the first indicator that whoever disassembled the gun may not have known what he was doing.

Buy yourself a good set and take care of them.

For good gunsmithing equipment - Brownell's has a "Cowboy Action Catalog" - call them toll -free at 1-800-741-0015 or email at, and get a copy.

Personally, I like the screws made by "Peacemaker Specialists", as they give you a very deep slot that looks good and their finish is superb.

There are some top-notch gun books out there, so buy them and read them thoroughly before you tackle something, and be sure to take your time.
It'll pay off in reliability and more importantly - in pride.

Scouts Out!

FloraBama Kid:
I never know it could look so easy! Thanks Scout for the tips on fire-bluing screws.

I've been looking for a set of good drivers but haven't found anything within my budget. I've been using a set of Craftmans bits and I know it a matter of time and I "bugger" up something.

St. George:
If you're just working on Colts and their clones - Dillon's sells a single screwdriver from Peacemaker Specialists that'll handle all their screws.
Works on Smith & Wesson Schofields, as well.
Grace and Cylinder and Slide both make good ones and Brownell's make a set with replaceable bits, as does Chapman.
You can get what you need for under $25.

Brownell's handles all manner of gunsmithing equipment - they're online, as I mentioned, so take a look and go shopping.

The point is - get some good ones soon.
Screwdrivers that aren't straight will walk out of the slot and burr the edges and you know as well as I do - that's the first thing you see when you're looking at a gun...

Scouts Out!

w.b. masterson:
Bought a jig from Brownells several years ago that allows you to change a straight screwdriver into a "hollowground" driver.  That's all those Peacemaker screwdrivers are.  Shore is cheaper than buying special drivers.  You can make a pretty good driver from an Allen wrench if you have any extras laying around.  I made several of those when I was working in the steel plant.  Good tip on the fire blueing.  If you had added some cobalt to that hot metal, you could have made them case hardened.


St. George:
I agree - an Allen Wrench or some Hex stock makes a good screwdriver - the Colt Factory screwdriver for the Pre-War Colt Woodsman pistols was made that way.

On a Colt - with the deep holes in the backstrap - I like polished round stock.

Making a screwdriver's not really all that hard, but a lot of guys are just starting out, and their accumulation of tools is still limited, so buying good ones are their best bet initially.

I thought about your suggstion for a case-hardened screw head and I'm not sure I'd like the look.
The fire-blue adds an "accent" to the mottled grey-blue frame that I like.
I'd think the case-hardened head would blend too much and start to look like holster or handling wear.

May be worth trying on something else, though...


Scouts Out!



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