But Where Do You Get Them?
By Ted Yost
I’m nearly as interested in the history of my trade as I am in its future. Where we’ve been, and how far we’ve come in even the last 20 years is nothing short of amazing. This morning I was thumbing through the Sept/Oct 1996 issue of Handgunner and there were lots of stories about how far we’d come in the 20 years since the first issue in 1976.
One area changing dramatically is the sourcing of needed parts for repairs and customization of our handguns. That 1996 Handgunner was chock full of ads from parts sellers. The internet was still young, and the e-commerce we enjoy today had not yet come to the industry on any noticeable scale. Repair and OEM replacement parts were still sold in the old way, with paper catalogs and either written or telephoned orders.
The parts business is very different now, but one thing remains constant — most of us have at least one older gun sitting idle because it might need just one hard-to-find part to put it back into service. The advent of online sources has been both a good and a bad thing for those seeking obsolete parts. The parts once obscurely hidden away are now in full view of hordes of desperate seekers, and they are being snapped up to restore and repair many of the old guns in need.
The bad news is by their very nature, obsolete gun parts are a finite treasure, and as they are purchased and re-purposed, they are eliminated from the pool, and the search once again becomes difficult. We also have to remember these parts frequently have been used, and fit to guns in a time when this meant something — parts from one gun may not work in another of the same model without some alteration.
The matchless joy of opening a box of new parts!
Responsibilities — And Resources
It’s up to us to be good stewards of these obsolete treasures and make sure if the goal is to save an old gun, to do so correctly and safely. Try not to let an obsolete part go to waste — they aren’t likely to make more. I have a few “old standby” sources I use, but there are a couple you may not be aware of which just might be able to help you. In no particular order, here they are:
Brownells: brownells.com, (800) 741-0015. For recently produced or discontinued guns, Brownells is tops. Parts are factory new, OEM. Not to mention thousands of gunsmithing supplies!
Numrich Arms: gunpartscorp.com, (866) 686-7424. Possibly the world’s biggest supplier of obsolete military and sporting gun parts. They buy old stock from companies and even individuals so you never know what you’ll find.
Bob’s Gun Shop: gun-parts.com, fax (501) 767-2750. Bob’s has been around for a lot longer than I’ve been in the business. Good selection of older European handgun parts.
Wisner’s, Inc.: wisnersinc.com, (360) 748-4590. Not used, but newly fabricated parts for classic arms. Top quality Colt handgun (non-1911) parts.
Hoosier Gun Works: hoosiergunworks.com, (800) 497-7320. Obsolete commercial and military parts.
Midwest Gun Works: midwestgunworks.com, (636) 475-7300. Commercial, recent, obsolete parts, factory OEM.
Gunbroker: I use Gunbroker (gunbroker.com) extensively. Offerings are continually changing, but Gunbroker offers the ability to save your searches so you can keep looking later if you don’t find what you’re looking for today. Sometimes you just have to have patience!
Sourcing replacement and customizing parts for modern guns is easy by comparison to the obsolete replacement stuff. Today’s sellers are organized, competitive and up to the minute with the newest offerings. E-commerce has taken customer service to new levels, providing the ability to get the best stuff faster than ever. Brownells is likely going to be everyone’s first choice, but believe it or not, though — they don’t carry everything! Here are a few of the companies I’ve used when I’ve had to dig deeper. Let me know if you know any I’ve missed.
Shooter’s Connection: shootersconnectionstore.com, (502) 570-4112. Exceptional selection for the competitive shooter, customizer and custom smith.
Dawson Precision: dawsonprecision.com, (866) 300-1911. Innovative, top quality products for competition or carry for a wide variety of popular sidearms.
Top Gun Supply: topgunsupply.com, (440) 729-7273. Among others, a good source for SIG SAUER goodies, including those from Bruce Gray’s Grayguns.
Harrison Designs: harrisoncustom.com, (770) 419-3478. Well organized webstore primarily for 1911 customizing parts along with quick, accurate service from a guy who understands what he sells.
I don’t think any list like this can ever be considered complete, and frankly, knowing how to search is almost as important as where. Don’t discount the parts manufacturers themselves in your quest, along with factory makers. Wilson Combat, EGW and even the smaller shops like Stan Chen Custom and Warner Precision are always coming out with new products. You’ll almost always find these items on the company’s site before they appear in the mainstream market. It pays to stay current!