You’ve done the hard work to diagnose and repair the firearm in your care and now its time to head to the range to test fire and see how it performs. It is good practice to always be prepared with a fully loaded range bag with specific and general tools that can assist in case you need to fine-tune or make a repair onsite.
Here are my recommendations of must-have items for your bag:
A screwdriver set, a multi-tip driver, and bits is a good choice so that you can; tighten screws, and mounts, and disassemble and reassemble the firearm if necessary.
Recommended: Weaver Optics Driver and Hammer Set
A hammer and pin punch set. If the action becomes jammed and you need to disassemble it to remove a live round or adjust the timing on a part.
Recommended: Real Avid Hammer Pin Roll Punch Set
Be sure to include a brass drift punch to use for adjusting sights. Pack a center punch or chisel punch too in case you need to stake a part into place.
Recommended: Brass Punch Set from Otis Tech
Dead blow hammer, sometimes you just need to give something a solid whack!
Recommended: Magna Matic Precision Steel Deal Blow Hammer
Multi-piece steel cleaning rod, in case you need to tap out a stuck case or a bullet from a squib round. (It has happened to me several times. A full-length coated steel rod is even better).
Recommended: Backcountry Supplies Outers Coated Steel Cleaning Rod
Tigger Pull Gauge, it is always interesting to know what actual, versus felt, trigger weight.
Recommended: Lyman Products Electonic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge
Masking tape. Gunsmithing tip: One way I use this is to determine how far back the bolt handle goes back on a semi if there is a consistent short cycle. Placed over the action, along the slot where the operating handle rides, when fired you can see how far back the operating handle tears the tape. That give you an indication and you can trouble shoot the problem from there.
Torque wrench and drivers or sockets. If mounts are loose, you want to be able to torque them to the correct foot pounds.
Recommended: Fix it Sticks
Loctite. If you find screws or mounts that are loose and shouldn’t be, it is an opportunity to lock them in place.
Cleaning kit, sometimes all it needs is a good cleaning. (Probably should have done that back at the shop in the Ultrasonic cleaner!)
Recommended: Chicago Knife Works Cleaning Kits
Gun Oil and a good grease. Excessively “dry” guns that are tightly fitted will bind. A bit of grease or gun oil properly applied will do miracles. However, keep in mind oil and grease attract and collect grit and grime. LESS is often MORE….wipe off the excess and keep it out of the bedding of the stock.
Recommended: Liberty Gun Lube
Your digital camera or smartphone. Take pictures and videos to see what is happening with the gun when firing, or when something is broken you can show the customer a picture. Not just to post on social media (although I guess you can do that too….)
Magnifying glass, to look at firing pin indents, seeing cracks in metal parts, and many other uses. For example when a .22 Rimfire misfires, take a look at the indent in the rim of the case. How large is it? Is it the right shape? How deep is it? Does it look like it is providing enough disruptive energy?
Dial caliper, notepad and a pen to take notes and record measurements.
Recommended: Lyman Products Steel Dial Caliper
Pliers and vise grips. Files, bring a few sizes and some emery paper to smooth edges.
Sight pusher if you have one.
Recommended: Real Avid
Don’t forget a full set of Allen wrenches including those annoying super tiny ones that are used on many of the electronic sights these days.
Bore light and flashlight for seeing in those dark places.
Recommended: Hoppes Cleaning Tools
Don’t forget hearing and eye protection! Protect what you have got!
Targets and a Stapler. Dang, I always forget those, and you don’t want to be that guy shooting at paper plates…. Just saying.
And now you need a great range bag to put everything in. I recommend this Side Armor Range Bag from Uncle Mikes which has space for everything you need and includes:
- Roll up double-zippered flap over main compartment.
- Web handles and removable padded shoulder strap.
- Foam padded walls in main compartment adds protection.
- Padded pistol rug.
- Lockable zippers.
So start gathering what you need now before you head to the range. With these basic tools you will make the most of your time.
Gene Kelly is Master Gunsmith as well as a published author, and public speaker. He is the Founder and President of the American Gunsmithing Insitute and the Gunsmithing Club of America.