One of the most fascinating things I learned years ago in my gunsmith shop related to broken guns. I discovered an amazing number of folks had broken guns sitting in their closets or stuck up in the attic or stored in the basement. More often than not, these guns were set aside because of a missing or damaged part. Other than that, the guns were just fine and could easily be put back into service.
While I definitely appreciated the work and the income it provided, in most of these cases, the owners could easily have taken care of the problems on their own. The one thing I had that they didn't was the knowledge of where to get the needed parts.
Thirty years later not all that much has changed. Even with the Internet, many folks still are unaware of where they can purchase needed parts. Here are 10 good sources for parts.
Numrich Gun Parts Corp., Numrich is the world's largest supplier of military and commercial parts, including obsolete and some current production models. It's the No. 1 parts source for out-of-production firearms.
Brownells, While primarily the premier gunsmith supply house in the United States, Brownells also carries parts for current production guns from over two dozen different manufacturers along with many repair parts for obsolete guns.
Bob's Gun Shop, This is basically a one-man operation that's been around for many years. It's an especially good source for many European commercial firearms imported during the 1960s.
S&S Firearms, S&S specializes in antique military gun parts for everything from flintlocks to the M1 Garand. The firm also carries an extensive line of parts for modern reproductions of antique firearms.
Springfield Sporters Inc., Another smaller family business started in the early 1960s, Springfield Sporters carries a variety of older foreign and U.S. military parts. It often has parts some of the larger suppliers don't have.
Amherst Depot, This company has a large selection of M14 and M1 Garand parts, including National Match sights. Amherst also has M1 Carbine, '03 and '03A3 Springfield, and Model 1911 parts.
Poppert's Gun Parts, This company offers parts for many obsolete commercial and military firearms, with an emphasis on civilian sporting arms. It has a wide offering of parts for older .22 rimfire rifles.
SARCO Inc., SARCO is one of the older suppliers of surplus military parts, and because it's been around for decades, it often has items you won't find anywhere else.
Wisner's Inc., This small, unique company produces new parts for obsolete guns. It does not sell parts taken from older guns. All the products it offers are current production.
Nu-Line Guns Inc., Nu-Line specializes in parts for Winchester rifles and shotguns, with an emphasis on the Models 12, 101, and 97. The company also offers gunsmithing services.
Admittedly, this is not the definitive listing of parts sources, but if you need a part, one of these outfits probably has it. But before you send off an order, you absolutely must be able to describe and identify the part you need. "I need the little thingy that hits the plunger that kicks out the shell" will not do it! You must identify the make, model, and caliber or gauge of the gun you are working with. Don't just say it's a Model 12, for example, as that could be a Winchester shotgun or a Remington .22 pump rifle. When identifying the specific part you need, use the correct name for that part, and that means the name the manufacturer.
If you're not sure what the part is called, check out the websites of some of the parts suppliers. Most have schematics with the parts labeled, numbered, and named. Using that information with your order will go a long way toward making sure you get exactly what you need.
You have to understand that there is no factory turning out replacement parts for older, obsolete firearms. More often than not, the parts these suppliers have come from guns they've purchased and disassembled for the individual components. Consequently, the supply and availability can vary from day to day and week to week. If they don't have the particular part you need today, don't get discouraged. Wait a few weeks and try again. It often takes time to find the particular part you need for an out-of-production gun.
If you have an older European commercial or sporting firearm made prior to World War II, finding replacement parts can be especially difficult. One of the reasons for this is that often very few of those guns were imported into the United States. Some came in only as war souvenirs with returning GIs. As for finding drawings or contacting the original supplier, much of that information was destroyed during the war, and many — if not most — of those manufacturers are long out of business. In those cases, you may have to contact a gunsmith about making the missing part.
Far too many good guns have been put aside that could be operable with just a bit of attention and work. Finding a replacement for a worn, damaged, or missing part is normally not impossible or difficult. By knowing about some basic sources and dedicating a few minutes to searching the Internet, you can often take the first steps in putting a good gun back into service.
Until next time, good luck and good gunsmithing!