Tools worthy of the guns they’re used on
One thing that I’ve learned in my 50 trips around the sun is that any job — ANY job — is easier and more pleasant when you have the right tools. And nowhere is this more so, than in the world of firearms. If you do your own gunsmithing, assembly or even minor maintenance, it just makes good sense to invest in high-quality, specialized tools to make the job go easier and minimize the chance of damaging your work. There are few worse feelings than realizing you just marred the finish on a gun worth hundreds or thousands of dollars because you didn’t buy a $10 tool to make the job a bit more foolproof.
So…when I buy tools for gunsmithing, I get the very best. And when it comes to punches (which have a variety of applications), no one is better than Mayhew Tools of Turners Falls, MA, who offers an amazing array of specialty punches. Mayhew offers at least two kinds of punches of interest to the gunsmith. The first is the “pilot punch” (pictured above). The pilot punch features a little “dome” at the tip. This dome seeks the center of a roll pin, ensuring that the punch will stay centered on the pin during the strike, which greatly reduces the possibility of an off-center strike that can mar a gun’s finish (and send you through the roof).
The second essential punch is the rollpin starter. While the picture doesn’t show it, these punches have a small hollow in the tip for insertion of a roll pin. Using these punches to start a roll pin keeps the punch away from the insertion point on the gun and reduces the procedure of starting a roll pin to a two-hand job, which is especially helpful for those of us not blessed with three hands. AR-15 and other military guns use roll pins in several highly visible places, so this punch is vital for preserving the finish on the gun while installing the pin.
These are only two of several punches and other tools that Mayhew offers the gunsmith. They also offer, for exemple, brass drift punches that can be used to adjust front sights without damaging the bluing. I highly recommend an investment in some Mayhew punches before you make an expensive mistake with something else.