Has anyone out there purchased a parts kit and built a pistol? I"ve seen kits for a Smith and Wesson Model 10 go as low as $50.. I'm sure 1911 kits are much more, but this might be an inexpensive way!
I've build AK's before so i have some knowledge and tooling..
First, there are no usable revolver frames available.
Frames that are available are always either for much older models in which the newer model parts will not work, or the frames are defective and unusable.
Second, fitting parts to a revolver is MUCH different than assembling an auto pistol or AK.
Certain key parts like the cylinder assembly and barrel, REQUIRE very careful hand fitting and this requires special (expensive) tooling and gages.
The cylinder and ejector must be fitted to the frame since these regulate head space, cylinder end shake, timing, barrel/cylinder alignment, and other critical specs.
Fitting is done to a NEW ejector with a special holding fixture and either a milling machine, or a high-precision surface grinder.
NEW ejectors are usually factory-restricted items and aren't for sale individually.
The barrel is NOT "just a piece of threaded pipe" that can be screwed on or off as needed.
First the barrel shoulder must be cut to align the front sight at 12:00 o'clock, WITH the correct amount of tightness to fully screw in place.
Next, the barrel/cylinder gap must be cut to very close specs with a special (expensive) cutter tool that works down the bore.
Next, the absolutely CRITICAL forcing cone in the rear of the barrel must be re-cut to an extremely close spec with another cutting tool (expensive) that works down the bore, and it MUST be set to that critical close spec with a special plug gage.
If the MOUTH of the cone is too big or too small, accuracy is gone, and the gun will spit bullet metal out the sides.
Next, barrel/cylinder alignment must be adjusted, with this requiring a alignment gage set, and some HIGH LEVEL pistolsmithing knowledge to do the actual work.
Next, the timing is adjusted, which again requires high level skills and knowledge.
Last, the action and all other parts, are NOT "drop-in" and require some fitting to insure proper and safe operation.
In short, revolvers are true hand assembled items at the factory, where auto pistols and especially AK rifles are more or less drop-in assembled.
These guns are DESIGNED to require little fitting, and in the case of the AK, other than the head space, the rest of it goes together without major work.
Companies like S&W and Ruger are using hi-tech CNC machining to make revolver parts to incredibly close dimensions.
BUT, down at the end of the line, you still find people with many years of experience assembling the revolvers with stones, files and specialized cutting tools.
Many people with older revolvers that have problems often decide to just buy new parts to repair them.
They are usually disappointed when the parts don't fit, and when they MAKE them fit, the gun no longer shoots well or safely.
And last of all, parts that have been fitted to a frame have been altered to fit THAT frame.
This means that they likely will NOT fit another frame, and often cannot be re-fitted since they have already been altered.
When a revolver ejector is altered to fit a specific cylinder and frame, it will usually be too short for another assembly.
You CANNOT "stretch" an ejector to fit another gun.
And this is why you don't see much revolver building from parts "kits". They really aren't usable to actually assemble a properly working revolver.
A pistolsmith MAY be able to use individual parts by trying them in various guns to get a fit, and that's pretty well what these "kits" are.....a collection of possible donor parts for repairs.
Dfariswheel, thanks for that post. I now feel properly informed that I won't be buidling any pisotls anytime soon.. I had no idea about the hand fitting and non drop in nature of a pistol.
From your post about AK headspacing, seems you may have built a few. If so, can you give me some ideas about other rifle 'kits' that might be possible for the novice builder?
Seems AK kit supply will soon be drying up, and i need something to do with my 12ton presson, rivet jigs, sand blaster, etc..
Back to pistols, I still stick with my good Berreta 96F - works like a charm. That Kimber Desert Warrior is a beauty too - but at $1100.. ouch.
Thanks again, Jeff
One of the easiest to build rifles out there is the AR-15 series.
Surprisingly, these often turn out to be some extremely accurate, reliable rifles.
In pistols, the 1911 has so many parts available that you can build pretty well whatever you want.
My suggestion on the 1911, is to buy a copy of Jerry Kuhnhausen book "The .45 Automatic: A Shop Manual, Volume One".
With this, you can build a nice 1911.
I would recommend starting off with a basic Government Model with few or no custom items.
Once you've figured out just how a 1911 goes together and works, then branch out.
1911 it is - Now the quest begins, again! haha
For frames, slide, and parts, Brownell's Gunsmith Supply is the place to go.
Before buying ANYTHING, buy the Kuhnhausen book, it's the best money you'll spend.
Here's what I suggest:
For a first build, stick to a basic, non-custom GI style pistol. It's much easier to figure things out when you're not also trying to make alterations for custom parts.
AFTER you get a working gun built, then you can go back and do some custom changes.
Second, for the first build, stick with top quality, name-brand parts.
ALL of the cheaper, no-name gun show or Shotgun News parts are made of castings.
These castings are ALWAYS out of spec in at least some areas.
It's tough to figure out why something isn't fitting and functioning when the parts are also out of spec.
Out of spec parts also tend to "stack".
That is, one part is slightly out, the second is also out, and the combination of the two is WAY out of spec.
When something isn't fitting or functioning, you have trouble figuring out where the problem is when you don't know what's in spec and what's not.
When you use quality parts that are in spec, when something isn't right, you can usually figure out WHICH part is making the problem and fix it.
Also, try to use parts that are as close to "drop-in" as possible.
You won't get a super accurate gun and it won't have a Match grade trigger, but after you know what you're doing, you can build better guns with better triggers and accuracy.
So, for the first build, build a more or less stock GI Government Model with good parts from Brownell's, and STUDY the Kuhnhausen book before buying anything, or altering anything.