American Handgunner’s 2020 Special Edition of DIY Guns – Gunsmith Projects & Pro Tips

American Handgunner’s 2020 Special Edition of DIY Guns
American Handgunner’s 2020 Special Edition of DIY Guns

USA – -( “A man’s got to know his limitations,” Executive Editor Tom McHale recalls from Detective “Dirty Harry” Callahan of “Magnum Force.” “It’s good advice,” he acknowledges, “because sometimes you gain the most valuable experience by learning what not to do.”

Do-it-yourself gunsmithing can get a bad rap — not many people endeavor to make adjustments to the trigger or safety of a fine 1911 without the necessary skill or know-how. Thankfully, an abundance of fixes and improvements fall closer to the “beginner” end of the experience spectrum. American Handgunner’s 2020 Special Edition of DIY Guns features entry- to mid-level gunsmithing projects to achieve any number of upgrades, refinements, and — for those ready to tackle the advanced — complete builds.

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Despite the modern engineering of today’s impressive firearms, there’s always room for improvement. Tom McHale narrates how to upgrade a polymer pistol barrel to make an off-the-rack service pistol a tack driver, while Ray Fleck outlines installing a red dot sight on a Browning 92. Frank Jardim’s instruction on how to replace a muzzleloader’s broken ramrod — because it’s a matter of when it happens, not if — will help make the process much easier.

Stepping up the difficulty level, Tiger McKee takes an S&W M&P .38 Special pre-Model 10 to perform a “rat rod”-style conversion on the well-used revolver. Preferring a more “raw” look, Tiger focuses on performance with modifications to the trigger guard, hammer, front sight, and finishes among other things. When looks are a factor, Jeremy D. Clough’s primer on creating a “barbecue” gun — a pistol dressed up nicely enough to display at a social gathering — paves the way.

Upon fulfilling a childhood dream inspired by the legendary “Star Wars” film series, Will Dabbs MD, shares, “My friends, you simply have not lived until you stroll onto a public shooting range packing a fully operational full-auto E-11 stormtrooper blaster.” Dabbs successfully constructed a functional blaster Imperial forces would be proud to carry using a Wiselite Sterling SMG and surplus parts. He readily admits, “It takes a little mechanical talent to pull this off, but I have honestly completed tougher builds in my home workshop.”

Insights and tips found in DIY Guns offer a crash course on how a Dremel can be a handy gunsmithing tool, why Loctite products are more than just thread-lockers and making custom tools, such as a useful scribe and a revolver ejector-rod wrench, right at home.

Yet it also assures some jobs are best left to the professionals with recommendations on who and where to reach out when the time comes.

Topping the DIY Guns Special Edition giveaway package is a Rock Standard FS-45ACP from Rock Island Armory. Chambered in .45 ACP with a 5″ button-rifled barrel and full-length guide rod, the pistol’s smooth, angled, snag-free style allows for a quick draw. The winner will also receive an Ambidextrous Sweat Shield 2-in-1 Holster from Remora Holsters and a Streamlight Protac HL-X flashlight. Valued at more than $775, readers are encouraged to enter the free drawing by visiting

FMG PublicationsGet the first, or next, great gun project started with the 2020 Special Edition issue of DIY Guns. Included in the issue are an updated Custom Gunsmith Directory and the 2020 Resource Guide to help locate firearms, gear, parts, and accessories. DIY Guns is available for purchase at and on Amazon in both print and Kindle e-book formats.