Gunsmithing in general involves the repair and maintenance of firearms and firearm parts. The amount of work will depend on the kind of gun involved as well as the complexity of the part or section that needs to be serviced.
First of all, however, before you can service a broken or faulty gun, you should be able to identify what causes it to malfunction or break down the first place. Proper recognition and identification of commonplace firearm ailments is important because it prevents you from causing further damage to the gun and it allows you to pinpoint what gun section or component causes the problem. Make sure that you have not made any changes to that particular gun lately. If you haven’t, then you can proceed to determining the issue:
- If the gun refuses to fire, this may mean that its bullets or rounds have not properly been fed into its chamber. If the round remains stuck in the lower part of the gun’s feed ramp, it is called “failure to feed”; if the bullet goes halfway into the gun’s chamber and stays there, it is called “failure to chamber.” If these issues happen, check the magazine’s spring mechanism first; usually it needs to be cleaned or readjusted. See if the extractor, or the component that loads the bullet into the chamber, has sharpened edges to it or if it is too tight. Check also for any blockages and other foreign objects that clog up the gun chamber.
- There are times when the ammunition contains primer that does not fire correctly or if the gun’s firing pin or striker does not hit the ammo hard enough to fire the primer. Inspect the gun for any blockages in its firing pin hole or if its firing pin and stop is damaged. You may also need to modify the trigger so that the sear (the trigger part that holds the hammer back) pulls back the hammer properly.
- Extraction problems occur when a gun’s extractor is unable to remove an empty bullet case from its chamber. This normally happens because the extractor may have been deteriorated or damaged. Look at the extractor’s hook mechanism to ensure that it is still there and still working. If you see that the extractor itself is beyond repair, exchange it with a new one; if it still works, make modifications to it as needed.
- A “stovepipe” jam happens when an empty casing is not ejected fully from the gun’s ejection port, causing the case to jut out of it usually with its open end sticking out. If it is live ammo, it is a “failure to feed” and it should be dealt differently. There are two main culprits that you can check out when this ensues: The gun extractor and ejector. You may need to make corrections to your ejector to make sure that it takes out spent cases at a higher angle clear out of the port. If either the extractor or ejector is damaged, you may need to replace them entirely.
- “Doubling” happens when a gun fires two shots rapidly and in quick succession even if you have only pulled its trigger once. A faulty gun will also have the tendency to cock and fire a bullet even if you have just pulled its trigger halfway. There are many causes that you can cite for these two concerns. One is that the overtravel (the extra space in the length of a trigger) is out of line and it needs to be recalibrated. Check the hammer to see if its sear spring needs to be readjusted also, or that its surface and that of the hammer itself is in poor condition and needs to be refinished and cut anew. Note also if the gun’s safety mechanism has already corroded from too much use. You can verify this by pulling the gun’s trigger on its bare cock hammer while securing the safety. If the hammer stirs or falls off, repair the safety right away. One last thing that you will need to look out is if the disconnector or the disconnect of the gun sticks to the hammer or its sear. If this causes the “doubling” and halfcocking failure, clean the disconnector and adjust the sear spring so that it is engaged properly to the hammer.
- There would be instances where you will be unable to locate the cause of a gun’s problems or if you don’t know exactly what its issues are. If this occurs, you may need to disassemble the gun to its separate parts so that you can examine them more closely. Damaged components such as the barrel and the slide mechanism can produce unwanted failures to happen before they fail completely. Parts that were lubed or oiled too much may cause them to malfunction because of the oil reacting to certain temperature ranges. You may need to ensure that the recoil spring still works; if it does not, then you may need to replace it with a new one.
Gunsmithing repairs may also require more specialized work such as re-barrelling, scope realignment and readjustment, installation of muzzle brake systems and accurization or improving the precision of guns. However, the types of repairs cited above are the most commonly encountered, so as a gunsmith you must be prepared to handle them every time they happen.