Need help to start out gunsmithing

Hi everybody,

I am a newcomer at Armed Figures. I want to start out gunsmithing. I have some rifles to be converted. The thing is I dont know what is the best kind of glue for a permanent bond with the kind of plastic weapons in the hobby are made of -wich I don´t know-. I need to know wich are the tools for this work. I guess I need some table vises, some kind of clamps, or other tools to line up the different pieces to be glued and to hold them in place until the glue is dry. If you were is so nice as to list, or even better, post picks, of the tools you use and some pics of your workbench or work desk it would be highly appreciated.

Please feel free to tell me anything you think I ought to know to obtain the best results.


Welcome to the forum @Rocketman.

Here are some of the things I use that are quite useful:

Glue - Bob Smith Industries Maxi Cure. Have tried many glues but this has been more reliable than other options I’ve tried. Materials in rifles can range from resin to varying types of plastics and I’ve found this stuff tends to cope well with a range of materials. Comes in handy as some 1/6 brands use glues that have a weak bond. It’s a slightly thicker formulation so apply sparingly or test on some scrap first so you have an idea of working time before it sets.


Non Permanent Adhesive - 3M 300SLE double sided adhesive sheets. These work great when you have weapon accessories that fit loose on a rifle and 300SLE is made for better bonding to plastic surfaces. A small piece of this on the bottom of the accessory is usually enough to hold things in place and can be removed without damaging paint or when you want to make a change.

Other items that are handy are small hobby files. Jeweler ones are typically available in much smaller sizes and come in handy when you need to file in a tight area. When you start mixing and matching weapon accessories even within the same brands a bit of filing of the inside edges of the accessories make it much easier to fit them to a rifle.

A pin vise and some small diameter brass rod comes in handy when you need to fix broken barrels or flash hiders. I prefer the one by God Hand as there drill bits are all labelled for size and much less fragile but there drill and drill bits are hard to locate outside of Japan. A good magnifier/lamp combo is recommended as it makes working on smaller scale stuff much easier. I’ve not made use of any vises or clamps.

You might get some other suggestions from @turkeyshot as he does quite a bit of weaponsmithing.

Thank you so much to the both of you for your prompt and kind and informative replies.

Now I have to go bed. Its 04:33 late night here in Europe. I hope more people cooperate. I really need a lot of information.

Kind Regards.

You might like to use these as well:

Drilling holes or increase diamter

Cutting (not sure if a supersonic blade justifies its price)

Hi again and thanks Chpo,

mi main problem now is that the barrel of Easy & Simple L119A1 is too long -according to my estimation comparing it at 1/6th scale with an M4 - so I will have to cut it and line up correctly the two new resulting pieces until glue is dry so I´m gonna need some clamps or some kind of artifact to do it. Seems difficult to align it right and some adjustable “holding tools” and some explanations on how you guys do it could be wellcome.

Anyway, as I told you I am a newbie at gunsmithing and knowing how a complete workbench ought to be sholud be great.

Thanks in advance.

You could insert a thin needle into the connecting ends of the cut barrel. Might stabilize and provide a straight visual.

Correct, you want to drill and pin. With a pin vise you would drill a hole in the center of either end then use something like brass rod to hold them together and give a bit more stability, with a bit of adhesive on the face of either side. The tricky bit is getting the center hole drilled in the same position on either piece while keeping it straight as that effects your alignment. It’s basically the same process people use when assembling miniature figures for games like Warhammer.

Hi Rocketman, welcome aboard! I for one will certainly welcome another weaponsmith to the forum.

Thanks for the shout out @AdamC!

To respond to your first question regarding tools - the short answer is that is is really up to you. It will come down to your own skill set and how often you will plan to use them. If you are only doing 1-2 basic weapon mods, you really won’t need many tools and can get away with a very basic set. However, if you plan to do a lot or more detailed modifications, you will likely want more tools. Here is a list of some of the tools that I use regularly. I do a lot of mods, so the investment in all of these tools was worth it for me. However, while you are starting out, I would recommend that you just focus on building a basic kit with the tools I have highlighted in BOLD. You can also get more as you go…

  • HOBBY KNIFE. I prefer the types with interchangeable blades for fine work, although you could also get away with a standard box cutter type for most purposes.
  • TWEEZERS. I have a large selection as I use them often, but to start with, get 1-2 basic versions.
  • FINE-BLADED HOBBY SAW. Hobby stores sell a range of very fine bladed saws. These are great for when your knives won’t get the job done.
  • SIDE CUTTERS. Typically used by scale model makers to remove the model spares from the sprue tree. Arguably the easiest way to chop a barrel when modifying 1/6 scale guns.
  • FINE FILES. Jewellers or modellers files are fine grained, although they can still show scoring marks. I like to use small metal nail files as the grain on these is much finer and does not leave marks the same way that regular files do.
  • SANDPAPER. Get various different grades. Very fine ‘wet and dry’ paper is great for removing any marks left from cutting or filing.
  • FINE-POINTED PROBE. Whenever I any working on a custom weapon, I always dismantle it as far as possible. For M4 type rifles, this is done by pushing out the pins in the receiver to all ow it to be dismantled. A fine probe comes in very handy for this. Similar approaches are used for other weapons as well - but they are all different. Alternatively, you can you a pair of fine-pointed tweezers for this.
  • SUPERGLUE. Various different types are available - some very thin and runny, and others are quite thick. Very fast drying time.
  • MODELLING GLUE. Standard hobby glue only works on styrene. Not as strong as superglue. Dries much slower and allows you much more room for error.
  • STYRENE SHEETS AND STRIPS. Comes in lots of different shapes and sizes. Probably won’t be used during basic modifications, but indispensable when getting a little more creative.
  • MILLIPUT. A 2-part modellers epoxy clay. I use this to build new shapes in some of my more adventurous projects. Can be shaped and sanded.
  • MODELLERS PUTTY. Good for filling gaps. Can be shaped and sanded.
  • ROTARY TOOL. Dremel or similar. I use a small Japanese battery powered rotary tool for grinding and carving.
  • PIN VICE. Small had-held drill for drill small holes. You will be surprised how often you will use this.
  • PAINTS. Get a selection of hobby paints. Focus on some of the more common colours associated with weapons: metallic greys and metallic black for metal parts; black, tan, green, and khaki for plastic parts.
  • PAINTBRUSHES. You will need a range of different modelling paintbrushes to cover up and surgery done during your mods or when adding new paint jobs to weapons. Very fine brushes are good for bringing out small details.
  • AIRBRUSH. If you go down the road of giving your custom weapons new paint jobs, an airbrush is highly recommended. It gives a much smoother finish than painting with brushes. I initially used modelling spray paint, but found the colour choices limited before graduating to an airbrush. The airbrush is far easier to control the paint flow, is much less wasteful, and gives you the option to mix your own paint to get the exact colour you want.
  • MASKING TAPE. Comes in very handy when painting (especially when spray painting) to protect parts of the weapon from over-spray.
  • LIQUID MASKING SOLUTION. This stuff is really cool - you just paint it on the areas you want to mask and wait for it to dry. When it is dry you can spray paint all over it. Then once the paint is dry you simply peel it off to reveal the unpainted areas beneath.

I don’t worry about clamps. The drying time for superglue is very fast, so you can often get away with just holding the part in place for 10-20 seconds until it dries (being careful not to glue it to your fingers in the process - don’t laugh: you would be surprised how easy it is to do).

To shorten the barrel on the L119A1, I agree with what @chpo and @AdamC have already said: 1) chop the barrel off the the desired length; 2) use you pin vice to drill small holes in the end of the barrel pieces to be glued together; 3) insert a short length of pin or wire into the holes to help align the barrel and strengthen the bond; 4) add superglue and hold in place until it is dry. Again, don’t worry about using clamps - just eyeball it in.

If using wire as a pin to align the 2 halves of the barrel, I would suggest drilling a slightly larger diameter hole than the wire so that you have a little room to maneuver in case your holes are not perfectly in the middle.

I hope this helps. I look forward to seeing your mods. Please share them here with us. Cheers!

Hi all and thank you so, so much for the list Turkeyshot.

I have to shorten the barrel of the L119A1 I own and I have bought the american version of Accuracy International AWM in 338 Lapua Magnum that comes with E&S Overwatch Shooter figure and I want to convert it to the British L115A3. And I have an Steyr AUG A3 a found on ebay and I want to convert it to the latest version of Aussie Austeyr for an Aussie grunt custom I want to make departing from a BBI Barney SASR figure accesories. This are just the first works in the list.


For airbrushing, what sets will do? I’ve been considering getting one in order to repaint certain parts and weapons, as well as for gunpla.

I do not pretend to be any sort of expert on airbrushes. There are a lot of different types, styles, and models available. I would recommend going with a double action model which gives you greater control over the airflow and the paint volume. I am still relatively new to airbrushing myself and just have a cheap airbrush teamed up with a small portable air compressor.

If you want just repaint the weapon with one color you can use a good brush and i would highly recommend arylic paint. I use Vallejo Model Colors for it. Easy to work with and thinning with water. If you want to use a airbrush you need a lot of practice to get good results. Specificaly for very fine paint jobs and camoflague. You need a good airbrush, suitable air compressor and practice. The advantage is a very fine, and thin paint aplication and you can realize color transitions a lot better and faster than with a brush.

I usually paint my parts flat black.

If you will just be looking to paint your weapons flat black - forget about the cost and learning curve of the airbrush and use aerosol can spray paint instead. It will give you a much smoother finish that trying to paint with a brush. I have used Tamiya hobby paints to good effect. They have a range of colours suitable for painting weapons.

For added realism, I would suggest painting the ‘metal’ parts of the rifle a different colour than the ‘plastic’ parts. They have a range of metallic paints which give a slight pearlescent sheen simulating metal. The best of these that I have found is the Metallic Black (TS-40). Metallic Grey and Gun Metal are a little too light.

My advice would be to cover the ‘plastic’ furniture (handguard, grip, stock) of the rifle with masking tape and spray the ‘metal’ parts first with a light coat of metallic black. Once dry you can remove the tape, giving you some nice definition between the metal and plastic parts.

I would also suggest that you get your hands on a can of modellers matt varnish. This will remove all of the gloss sheen from the weapon while also protecting the paintwork underneath.

Please share some pics of your progress. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

I tried using rustoleum flat black before, and the results were…unsatisfactory, to say the least. Whether it was because I sprayed too close, I used the wrong paint, or probably both. I’m looking to paint the HK416D from that E&S Urban warfare figure, particularly the stock, the grip, and the handguard. Of course, I’m also planning on bashing a M110 recce rifle, which will probably take the place of that 416 as my CAG sniper bash’s primary weapon. But, still, good advice!


I´m gonna be careful not mentioning brands nor shops for it is making posting difficult. The website software keeps stoping me all the time…

there´s a brand making paint, accessories and tools for military modelling with the name of Kalashnikov rifle that has a limited range of spray colours that include a desert sand, black,“metal”, aluminium, olive drab, etc. The best thing about it is that they sell cheap two sets of 4 difussers per set for several different very thin lines. One of those diffusers is even called “Chisel like line diffuser”.

By the way, I searched to no avail in Spain, France, Portugal and Italy the double sized adhesive tape AdamC recommended to me. And no American online shop seems to ship Worlwide. There are miriads of German brands in the Continent making these kinds of cell phone cracked screen repairing tapes but I have taken very seriously AdamC experience and advice and “We will always have London”. I found at a British online shop three different kinds of 3M 300SLE tape: Non precut sheets, sheets precut into 2mm stripes and sheets precut into 5mm stripes (weird that they are measured in milimeters rather than fractions of an inch). I guess a Picatinny rail at 1/6th scale must be 3mm or 4mm wide -I am feeling too lazy in this Covid19 confinement to have measured it-, so this precut sheets seem like they are gonna be useful and easy to use.