Buying Bits & Pieces For Your Blasters

Gear | Accessories |
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Tips From A Master Parts Guy.

His Royness and I were talking the other day. He said he’s heard from readers they sometimes struggle when trying to buy the parts and pieces needed to keep their guns running, or to make those guns suit their needs better. The reason we were chatting about all this is I’ve been looking at, writing about, cataloging, buying and using all those little gizzies for almost 40 years during my career at Brownells. I’ve retired now, and can put what I’ve learned to good use. Roy thought I might be able to help a bit. It’s easy, but not always simple to find what you need. Perseverance, though, will pay off in a successful project.

BITS-7

The Numrich (Gun Parts Company) website and their wonderful
catalog series is a wish-book of monumental proportions for
anyone needing old gun parts or accessories. Reserve hours of
spare time to spend going over the tens of thousands of things
they have.

BITS-6

The Brownells website shows schematics for the factory guns
they stock parts for. Use that resource to find the right
bit you need for your gun.

Categories

There are two distinct categories of parts — factory replacement parts and aftermarket accessories — and they take slightly different approaches. The basic formula is decide what you need or want, find a source you can trust and order.

If a broken part is the problem, you’re likely looking for a factory replacement. Diagnosing what part is broken is a whole ’nuther kettle of fish so we’ll assume you figured it out. The obvious thing is call the manufacturer, but many of them don’t deal directly with consumers. This leaves you with whomever they designated as their parts distributor.

Now for some shameless advertising: Brownells is the largest distributor for current production factory guns. In fact, they are parts distributors for 23 different brands. The easiest thing to do is head to their website, find the “schematics” tab near the top of their homepage and click on it. Find the make and model of the gun you need to fix and start looking for the broken part. Just click on the part number and you’ll be really close to checking out and getting your baby back to perfect health.

For guns that aren’t current production, the best place to start is The Gun Parts Corporation. They carry a gazillion parts for guns of all sorts (old guns, newer guns, odd guns, etc.) and can probably help.

If you’re not sure what the name of the part is, one place to check is Brownells Encyclopedia of Modern Firearms. Published in 1959, it has schematics and parts list for every US-made firearm from that time period. Even if your gun was made later, the parts names can be a big help. Other great sources of information are the Gun Digest books of Assembly/Disassembly Guides. They have detailed instructions and photos which can really help you get Betsy back together correctly. Handgunner’s own J.B. Wood has written a bunch of them and did a great job.

For really obscure parts and services, hit the Brownells website again, go under the “Learn” tab and type in “source list” for their publication “Gun Parts Source List.” There you’ll find addresses for major gun factories, right down to people who repair Unertl scopes, some who carry parts for a Remington 11, and others with parts for really obscure guns.

BITS-5

The Brownells Encyclopedia of Modern Firearms is chock-full of
exploded drawings of your favorite guns. An iconic “bible” in 0
the industry and a real life-saver at times.

BITS-3

Good old-fashioned takedown books, like this one on
assembly/disassembly by J.B. Wood, are essential
to help you keep your guns running smoothly.

Other Goodies

For accessory parts, the first thing you need to do is decide what you want to improve or accomplish and what your budget is. Let’s start with one of the common upgrades — sights.

Do you want to see them in the dimly lit hallway of your house, or do you want an easy to see front sight? Both are better than factory sights but they accomplish different things.

It’s possible to make the Glock trigger a lot better than stock with a 3.5 lb. connector from someone like Lone Wolf, and doing a bit of Dremel polishing on key areas. It’ll set you back less than $20. Or, you can make it great with a complete trigger system from Glockworx in the $140 to $250 range. It all depends upon how “nice” you want it.

BITS-1

A simple trigger bar conversion for a Glock can make a huge
difference in the trigger pull. But where do you get one?

BITS-2

“Bold” sights like these from Battlehook may be much different
than tritium “night” sights — which do you need?

BITS-4

This XS Sights “Threat Interdiction” sight is a back-up sight
for an AR. But how would you find it? Who sells it? What info
do you need to know to get one?

How To Choose?

Read magazines like, well, Handgunner and pay attention to the small stuff the writers talk about. They might mention how the sights performed, how the trigger felt, etc. and you can develop some ideas. Catalogs might show a wide selection of various parts, shown side-by-side with several choices. Their copy often lists the advantages of each product and can teach you a lot.

The next step is the websites of those distributors. The same copy will be there but, for me, finding comparisons is a bit harder. Type in “Glock sights” and you get many hits, “Glock tritium sights” narrows it down but doesn’t show the plain, black target sights which might be what you really want.

With the whole “grain of salt” thing in mind, start checking the internet for advice. There are forums for everything but you run the risk of getting what I call the “Keyboard Kommandoes.” Those self-described experts have an opinion on everything but actual experience with nothing. If you’re an experienced gun guy/gal, you’ll recognize them quickly but for a beginner it’s trickier. When all else fails, trust the advice of a valued friend who knows for sure!

Once you’ve decided what you want, check the catalog and online retailers. I like the big guys since they usually have good customer service and guarantees. Remember though, some products cover such a small niche, or don’t have sufficient price margins, the big guys can’t sell enough to cover their costs. For those, you’ll go direct to the manufacturer or some of the small, niche resellers who specialize in select areas of the shooting world. Google can be your friend for these.

There ya go, those are my tips to get started on the great parts quest. Take some time, dedicate some thought and have at it. If you have questions, drop me a line at [email protected] and Roy will make sure I get it.
 
For more info: www.gunpartscorp.com, Ph: (866) 686-7424; www.brownells.com, Ph: (800) 741-0015
By Larry Weeks

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