Making a firing pin

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing Forum' started by ScottG, Oct 8, 2008.

  1. ScottG

    ScottG Active Member

    Ok, JD and others, how would one go about making a firing pin for an old, old .410 shotgun?

    I have my grandfather's "Enders Royal Western," probably made by Crescent Arms, that he bought in 1930. I can take it my my usual smith, but he charges $40, so I'm wondering if it can be done at home with a few basic household tools: hammer, shears, and grinding tool. What should the pin be made of? What tools to use to make it? If I don't have the old one, how do I go from there.

    This might be my first (and probably, only) gunsmithing project, so I'd appreciate help....
  2. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

    Scott - Honestly, I don't think this is a home project. There are few things I have fabricated from scratch, but truthfully, it's not my strong suit. I leave that to Brett. :D

    But, for the sake of argument, what I would do is find a similiar model that could be modified instead of trying to make one from scratch. You might have to do some research on other firearms that the manufacturer turned out, see if they used similiar components, maybe find a parts gun or something.

    If you HAD to try and create one from scratch, I am going to say you are going to need some sort of metal lathe, to be able to turn down whatever bar stock you end up deciding on ( you could go with aluminum - high grade, easy to work with, not as strong; you could go with steel alloy - stronger, harder to work with; or other metals that I know next to nothing about ;) ). I suppose you could choose some close in size round stock, and make the necessary mods by hand, but you are risking uniformity if you don't have something like a lathe making the precision cuts on all 360 degrees of the pin.

    Presumably you have some sort of firing pin now that you can copy. You are probably going to need some dial calipers, which aren't cheap, and a lot of scratch paper to go through.

    Best of luck though - it's an ambitious undertaking. Hopefully one of the other guys has done something like this before and can be of more help. Just not my area brother. Sorry...


  3. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    I thought Brownells used to sell stock that you could fab parts out of. It would take the proper grade of steel, fabricate it then heat treat it. Wrong grade of steel and it will be too soft or too brittle.
  4. BillM

    BillM Well-Known Member Supporter

    Can it be done? Yup. I made a firing pin for a '73 Winchester a LONG time ago with nothing more than common hand tools. Took about 3 forevers to do, attempts 1 and
    2 turned out badly, but I got it. Still have the rifle, firing pin still works just fine.
    But then I was young and foolish, my time was worth zero, and I was (and still am) a
    stubborn SOB at times.

    Is it round? The butt end of a broken drill bit is OK stock to start with. Anneal it
    if needed, chuck it in a drill, spin and attack with files. Harden and then draw so it
    isn't so brittle. Look at it as a learning experience. If you figure your time as being
    worth ANYTHING, pay the 40 bucks and move on.
  5. AR Hammer

    AR Hammer Guest

    This thins the pack out pretty quickly!

    First off,
    Let me start by saying $40 is a smoking good deal for a properly made firing pin considering the time and effort you are going to invest to make this thing correctly!

    Secondly, is the firing pin round or flat stock?

    Flat stock is MUCH easier to work at home, but most of the firing pins from the era are going to be short and round...

    When making firing pins for my 'old timers' around here,
    I usually start with a piece of spring steel, and turn in in a lathe.

    Springs from small import cars work great for stuff like this, no sense in trying to turn down some huge American made spring from a truck just to make a firing pin!
    You can get them for cheap or for free at the salvage yards.

    You will have to heat the spring and straighten it so you can work it correctly. That means a torch with some 'Gumption' or a small kiln and propane torch.
    Dull red is plenty to straighten a section of coil spring!
    The straighter you get it, the less it will beat you stupid trying to work it!

    If you cheap out, you can use a section of bolt shank from a long bolt.
    Cut the head and threads off the un-threaded part of a bolt, and use that metal for the firing pin.
    Even a grade 8 bolt won't be as good of quality of steel as a car spring... But it will work.

    Heat and cool the section of spring steel or bolt shank you have several times, letting it air cool, or if you have a small kiln/forge, let it cool in the edge of the kiln/forge.
    This will soften the metal for working, and it's called 'Annealing' the metal. (pronounced A-Neal-ing)

    If you don't have a lathe, you can spin it in a drill press and use a file or 'Dremel' type tool to rough it down into the general shape you need.

    Once you get it to the general shape, you will need to go very slowly with files to get the precise shape you need for the firing pin.

    I usually do the final fitting work with a comparator and a stick covered in fine grit emery cloth to get the dimensions exactly correct.

    Remember to leave enough turned down space behind the pin to cut it off from the stock tail that is in the drill chuck...

    Once the pin is formed and you are satisfied with it, then you are going to have to HEAT TREAT it...
    (This is what separates the men from the boys!)

    You are going to have to 'Normalize' the metal, that means heating it up until it looses all magnetism.
    When a magnet won't attract the metal anymore, it's reached it's proper temprature...

    You need to 'Quench' the metal in oil or lard that is about 100°F, and be prepared for FLAMES! They always flair!

    I keep mine in a pan with a lid so I can snuff the flames out.
    I used to use lard & oil, but it goes rancid and stinks to high heaven!

    Now I use mostly automatic transmission fluid, some engine oil, and some paraffin as a mix, but I don't think you will need anything but ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid)

    Remember, your firing pin MUST go in Point first!
    The first part to hit the liquid will be the hardest, and the point of the firing pin should go in first!

    Now your pin is at it's 'Hardest', and it's BRITTLE!
    If you try and use it now, it will break!

    You need to 'Draw Back' the temper of the metal a little...
    This is done by Re-Heating the pin, and 'Quenching' it again...
    This time you don't heat it up as much, just until it starts to barely show some color, and quench it in 100°F oil...
    And let it lie in the oil until you can retrieve it with your fingers.

    Once you do the retrieval, then you can cut off the excess and polish it out...

    You should really make more than one when you do this,
    You will be VERY surprised how often they will break when they hit the quench oil!

    I wouldn't make the long, slender firing pins found in todays firearms like this, but for the older, shorter, thicker pins, this works VERY well...
  6. matt g

    matt g Guest

    AR Hammer knows of what he speaks. I spent quite a few years working as a machinist/welder/metal worker. He has laid out the right way to undertake the project. It really makes the $40 that the 'smith wants seem like a good deal doesn't it?

    Machining and fabrications are labors of love. You really have to want to do them, as it is generally cheaper and easier to buy something than it is to amass the tools and materials needed to make it yourself.
  7. ScottG

    ScottG Active Member

    Hmmm, I guess it's more complicated than snipping off the front of a nail and shaping it to fit....:eek:

    Thanks for the info. I did find what I believe is the original pin, or one that was fabricated for the shotgun a couple of decades ago. I'll ask my dad about it. Maybe I'll just keep it as a wall hanger.
  8. AR Hammer

    AR Hammer Guest

    I should hope I know what I'm doing, since I've been a machinist for over 30 years and owned my own machine shop for over 20 years...
    I'm betting the 10 years spent as a Military Armorer didn't hurt my abilities at all.

    I've also designed and made my own guns, and I don't mean 'Kit' guns...
    Everything from boring and rifling the barrels to designing and winding springs, to building locks...

    To the OP,
    Now that you actually know how much effort will be put into making a firing pin from scratch,
    (not getting guess work)
    I'm guessing it will cost more than $40 to get one made properly, if you can find someone that CAN make one properly in your area.
    This isn't exactly everyone's cup of tea...

    What I would do is collect all the information I could find, Year, Model, Maker, Serial Number, and zip on over to 'Gun Parts Incorporated' web site and drop them an E-mail, see if they can find your part in their bins.

    You might be surprised how many of the early gun parts interchange with different models made from the same manufacturer,
    Or how many models were made by the same maker with different brand names on them...


    Enders Royal Western or Crescent...?

    Hammers or Hammerless?

    Double or Single?

    Coiled Main Spring, or Flat Main Spring?

    I can't give you a firm 'Gun Smith' answer without some information...



    One Piece Firing Pin For Hammerless, $11.35

    Single barrel, coil main spring firing pin, $9.40

    Last edited: Oct 8, 2008
  9. Rob VanHart

    Rob VanHart New Member

    I have been fowlowing your advice on how to make a firing pin and at the stage where I want to know what a comparater is you mentioned ? I have a slot cut in the pin i am copying and its a angled crosscut dovetailed at one end and beveled on the other ,how do i get it exact as what i am copying ? do you make firing pins if i send you the old one and another that isn't broken ? its for a older Antonio Zoli over under shotgun ? Rob
  10. Ram Rod

    Ram Rod New Member

    I had a couple of Stevens single shots way back when. I think the firing pins were made out of eight penny nails. Seriously.
  11. ScottG

    ScottG Active Member

    I'm pretty sure that's what my grandfather used....
  12. AR Hammer

    AR Hammer Guest

    If I can keep our 'Moderators' from banning me or slowing my connection down (SC) so badly I can't respond,
    I'll try and get an answer out.

    Comparator is a 'Pear' shaped set of calipers that measure the OUTSIDE of the pin you are trying to duplicate, and transfer that measurement over to the pin you are MAKING.

    They are usually stamped out of heavy sheet metal, have a rivet hinge at the top, and have a screw for opening and closing them.
    I'm sure you have seen them, just didn't know what they were called....

    The REASON you use a comparator is so you don't wear down the measuring faces on your caliper or micrometer...

    If you have the OLD firing pin, you actually don't need to know the diameter of it at any given point,
    You just need to transfer that dimension over to the new pin as you grind/file/machine it.


    The reason you don't use nails, coat hangers, ect. is because you can't count on the metal to harden, soften, not to crack, or anything else.

    A grade 8 bolt, if it's a really good quality bolt, is a good start, but nails are made of crap metal and they are just AWFUL for hardening without cracking or crystallizing.

    Common 'Tool Steel' is DIRT CHEAP, easy to work, Hardens well, and usually comes with heat/quench instructions so you know what you are working with...
  13. ScottG

    ScottG Active Member

    Thanks for all the info AR, but I think I'll just take it to a smith. Easier, cheaper, and faster than I could do it....
  14. matt g

    matt g Guest

    Why would any of us do that when I've already agreed with you twice in this thread. Also, FYI, this forum isn't set up with the SC option.

    If I were to try to machine a firing pin, I'd probably use an old punch or chisel, then quench and temper it.