Man and machines: the tools that made your gun aren’t terribly important, except when selling a bill of goods.

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I don’t know if this qualifies as a rant, but I’m annoyed when a gun is advertised as being “built with [insert well known firearm brand] machinery.” Depending on the gun being peddled, you’ll hear Colt machinery, S&W machinery, even Beretta machinery.

It’s horse excrement.

Colt doesn’t make machinery, and neither does S&W. The machines they use are produced by machine tool manufacturers; in the old days, before we allowed our basic manufacturing capabilities to be decimated, that would have been companies like Cincinnati and Monarch. Today that’s likely to be Komo and Okuma.

The cutters those machines use, for the most part, will be made by companies like SGS and Hanita. On occasion certain specialized cutters may be produced in-house, but if they’re needed on a production basis the company will draw up the specs and have them made in quantity by a company that specializes in making cutters. Ditto for EDM (electro-discharge machining) tools and electrodes.

What things, aside from their products, will the company almost always make themselves? Jigs, workholders, and certain kinds of molds. Together those are generically referred to as ‘tooling’, and when people say that a certain gun is produced on ‘machines’ what they really mean is that they’re using jigs that were at one time produced by the named company.

The ironic thing is that tooling wears over time and has to be replaced regularly. A gun that a decade ago might actually have been made on tooling that came from the larger manufacturer almost certainly won’t today – the tooling will have been replaced, perhaps more than once, in that time period. The new tooling is unlikely to have been made by the original company.

Tools don’t make guns. People do. It’s the dedication of the machinists and foundry workers and quality control people that make a gun, not a machine or a jig. The milling center may have once been used by Colt or S&W or Beretta, but today it’s operated by whatever company is making the product now. It’s their people, their talent, and their management that dictates the quality of the gun you’ll get.

Who once owned the machine is as relevant to the gun produced as the previous owner of your car is to your speeding ticket.

-=[ Grant ]=-


About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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