Damaged Screw Heads

Few things make an otherwise good gun look shabby more than buggered screw heads. Here’s how to address them.

by RK Campbell

If there is anything that will made a gunsmith feel like an amateur it is damaging a screw head. We have all done it, if we’ll admit to it, although we like to think that such mistakes are in our past. Just the same, a damaged screw head isn’t always something we can avoid. Screws are run in too tight, screws are cross threaded and sometimes corrosion has taken its toll. When a screw head is damaged, no amount of custom grips or refinishing will make the pistol or rifle look right until the screw head is addressed. A damaged screw head really takes away from the appearance of a quality firearm but even a working gun or a hunting gun need not look shabby. When we are working with a period-correct restoration, the appearance of the screw heads becomes ever more important. The firearm needs to look as if it walked off the showroom floor or just left the factory.

While we have done our best to repair a firearm, a set of botched screws is the mark of a gun butcher rather than a careful gunsmith. Even if the piece came into the shop in bad shape and we have restored it to the best of our ability, if the screws arrived on our bench beat up we get the blame if the firearm leaves the shop with buggered screws. Let’s look at the damaged screw head and arrive at a means to make it right. A buggered screw head is often an indication that the rest of the gun is abused as well. Even though we have made certain that the piece is repaired correctly, we cannot really claim a restoration without fixing the screw heads.

Gun screws are unique to firearms. The hardware store is no help.

Read more in our August 2013 issue. Back issues are available.

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