Monday, February 8, 2021

Parts is Parts

Following in the spirit of my post on keeping AR pattern rifles in good repair, I’d like to talk about the importance of having spare parts on hand.

As discussed previously, all firearms need periodic maintenance in addition to regular cleaning after use. Any time a firearm is field stripped, parts should be checked for wear. Documentation provided with the firearm will most likely have recommendations regarding replacing springs as well as other wear prone parts, so RTFM: Read The Firearm Manual. If the firearm didn’t come with a manual, as is often the case with used guns, check the manufacturer’s website. They may have a copy available for download. There are also a number of web based resources for manuals, such as this PDF Manual library.

With that out of the way, what spare parts should be kept on hand? Much of this will depend on the type, make, and model of firearm. For example, with 1911 style pistols I tend to keep a firing pin and spring, some magazine springs, a couple of recoil springs, a recoil spring plunger or two, and some of the smaller springs and pins on hand. Most of these parts are available in this convenient pack or this one.

It’s important to understand that springs wear through cycling. The more a gun is used, the sooner the springs will need to be replaced. The best source for firearm springs I’ve found is Wolff Gunsprings.

Small pins can get lost, or in some cases launched, during disassembly and reassembly. Pretty much every 1911 owner has at one time or another sent their recoil spring plunger into low earth orbit, sometimes never to be seen again.

The recoil spring and guide rod in most modern pistols are a single assembly. It’s not a bad idea to have one or two of those on hand for emergencies.

With striker fired pistols, it’s not recommended to disassemble the striker assembly itself, but there are reasons it may need to be removed from the slide. In case it gets lost or damaged, a spare is an inexpensive insurance policy.

If there’s any likelihood of removing the striker assembly, the slide end cap will have to be removed first. This is another one of those parts that can go flying and vanish into an alternate dimension. These also tend to be inexpensive, so having an extra on hand just makes sense.

One improvement I recommend specifically for Glock owners is replacing the takedown lever with an extended version, like those made by Lone Wolf Distributing. It makes disassembly so much easier. This part is listed as the slide lock lever. When replacing the slide lock lever, it’s a good idea to have a spare slide lock lever spring or two on hand as well. Keep in mind these parts are often specific to the model, and sometimes generation, so order carefully.

For handguns with removable grip panels, spare grip screws are a good investment. I already mentioned magazine springs earlier, but followers, floorplates, and (if appropriate) floorplate locking plates can mean the difference between using that magazine now or waiting for the part to arrive in the mail.

Most of the part categories I mentioned for pistols will also apply, to some degree or another, to rifles and shotguns as well. If a favorite rifle has a removable striker, keep a couple of spares in the parts bin. If a pump shotgun magazine tube endcap isn’t retained, maybe have one of those in there too.

Specifically for AR owners, there are prepackaged sets of commonly lost parts. Aero Precision offers one which is appropriately enough called the Oops kit. They also have a field repair kit which overlaps the oops kit and includes most of the pins and springs needed for the lower receiver.

In addition to one or both of these kits, I also recommend having some firing pin retaining pins and a few sets of gas rings in inventory. Be especially careful with these though, as any spare AR parts have a habit of growing into a new AR build.

One final point on spare parts: Murphy’s Law applies here as it does everywhere else, by which I mean the one part no one ever thinks they’d need may be the one that breaks or get lost.

Obviously, this is by no means a complete list of spare parts to keep on hand, but hopefully, it will get people started on a spare parts bin to potentially help reduce future aggravation.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License

Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to