5 Beginner DIY Gunsmithing Projects

Do-it-yourself (DIY) gunsmithing projects can range from beginner to expert levels of difficulty. Doing an easy upgrade, personalization or modification is a great way to get started in the world of gunsmithing, and you will feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment once you complete a project. You’ll become more familiar with the workings of your piece, making you a more experienced and responsible firearm owner.

Tools to Have Handy

According to the Sonoran Desert Institute School of Firearm Technology, the following proper tools are a must have for introductory gunsmithing. Of course, if you have a specific beginner DIY task in mind, you can research tool kits specifically for that project, but the majority of these are good for more advanced gunsmithing projects as well – making them worth investing in when you decide to attempt harder projects. A work bench and barrel vise are also recommended for many gunsmithing projects. 

Hand Tools:

Ball peen hammer 

Delrin-tipped/brass hammer combo

Roll pin starters

Standard pin punch set 

Allen keys

Torx head drivers

Needle nose pliers

Armorer’s wrench

Slotted screwdriver set

Bench block

Power Tools:

Power drill

Drill press

Cross slide drill press vise


HSS Drill bits

Rotary tools


All-caliber cleaning kit

Non-chlorinated brake cleaner


Gun oil

Protectives glasses

Replace Your AR’s Trigger for Increased Accuracy

Probably one of the simplest mechanical DIY gunsmithing projects to start out with is replacing the trigger on your AR. A quick and easy upgrade, swapping out your factory trigger for a modular unit will improve the accuracy and overall crispness of your firing. Requiring very little in the way of disassembly, you’ll only need to tinker with the safety and pistol grip to install the entire modular unit. After these two pieces are reattached, it’s ready for shooting! Take time to practice and get used to the improved sensitivity of your trigger pull before heading out to the field to enjoy.

Install a Free-Floating Rail System on Your AR

Installing an aftermarket floating rail system on your AR provides you with ample opportunity to personalize your firearm with plenty of useful accessories such as flashlights, grips or sighters. You’ll enjoy increased efficiency of after-round cooling and your hand support will increase in comfort. Aside from ensuring the alignment of a few pieces, this DIY upgrade is primarily externally oriented and easy to successfully complete.

Mounting Optics for Increased Accuracy on Any Firearm

Mounting optics on any firearm is a simple process, and easy to master. It only makes sense that a dedicated firearm owner would want to become more intimately acquainted with their weapon as their aim, accuracy and general level of expertise increases. Perhaps one of the most important parts to becoming more comfortable with your gun is learning how to mount and adjust rifle scopes, sights, and red dots to fit your personal anatomy and shooting style.

Many home kits are available to help you ensure the levelness of a scope adjustment as well as the accuracy of your boresight. As long as you take your time and gather the correct tools beforehand, this is one project that is easy to do and won’t disappoint. 

Replacing Sights on a Handgun or Rifle

Replacing factory iron sights on both handguns and rifles with something a bit more conducive to low light situations, or for night sights takes only a little patience to complete. Sometimes all you may want to do is replace the front sight to help brighten your field of vision, or focus your eye more clearly over the target. This does require being a bit more intimate with your firearm, especially when dealing with staked sights that require removal and re-staking – but rest assured, it is a very doable project even for the beginner gunsmith. 

Extended Slide Stop Release Replacement for Quicker Reloading

This is another project that takes a bit more knowledge and time concerning your gun parts, but it is a simple task. Replacing a slide stop/release lever with an extended version to take advantage of a slide stop release for quick reloading, rather than depending on the racking method can give you a distinct advantage if you shoot competitively. You may need a specific tool for pin release that is designed to work with your handgun, but a quick check on the manufacturer’s website should give you all the info you need. 


These DIY gunsmithing and firearm projects are something that any beginner can master without issue, and will even allow you to become more comfortable with firearms to help you become a more effective gunsmith -and build confidence for future projects. 

Trigger housing replacements, AR modifications, optics, sights, and parts designed to enhance your shooting experience are generally budget friendly and help create a more customized look and feel. 

We’d love to hear about your own basic, and even advanced DIY firearm projects below, and as always, please share!

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