Gunsmithing, also known as firearm maintenance or repair, is the process of repairing, modifying, or building firearms. It requires specialized knowledge, skills, and tools to ensure the safe and proper functioning of firearms.

One of the essential tools used in gunsmithing is a tap, which is used to create or repair threads in metal.

There are three main types of taps commonly used in gunsmithing:

  • Taper taps have a gradual taper at the end, making them suitable for starting new threads.
  • Plug taps have a slightly tapered end and are used to deepen or clean existing threads.
  • Bottoming taps have a flat end and are used to finish threads.

When it comes to tap sizes, there are two categories: metric and imperial. Metric tap sizes are measured in millimeters, while imperial tap sizes are measured in inches. The most common tap sizes used in gunsmithing include M6, M8, M10, ¼-28, 5/16-24, and 3/8-24.

To avoid mistakes when using taps in gunsmithing, it is crucial to:

  • Use the correct tap size for the job
  • Use enough lubrication
  • Avoid forcing the tap

Choosing the right tap size for a project involves:

  1. Determining the thread pitch
  2. Considering the material being tapped
  3. Consulting a tap size chart

Safety precautions should be taken when using taps in gunsmithing, such as:

  • Wearing protective gear
  • Securing the workpiece properly
  • Using the right tools for the job

Taps can be sharp and powerful, so it is essential to handle them with caution to prevent injuries. By following these guidelines, gunsmiths can effectively use taps to repair and maintain firearms.

Key Takeaways:


  • Know the different types of taps used in gunsmithing, including taper, plug, and bottoming taps.
  • Use the right tap size for your project by considering thread pitch, material, and consulting a tap size chart.
  • Follow safety precautions such as wearing protective gear, securing workpiece properly, and using the right tools to avoid common mistakes in gunsmithing tap sizes.


What Is Gunsmithing?

Gunsmithing is the skilled trade of designing, repairing, and modifying firearms. Gunsmiths possess expertise in various areas such as metalworking, woodworking, and machining. They use specialized tools and techniques to ensure the proper functioning and accuracy of firearms. This craft requires extensive knowledge of firearm mechanics, ballistics, and safety regulations. Gunsmiths may also customize firearms to meet individual preferences or competitive shooting requirements.

Combining craftsmanship with technical knowledge, gunsmithing is crucial for maintaining and improving firearms. Historical evidence shows that gunsmithing has been around since ancient civilizations, where skilled craftsmen produced weapons for hunting and warfare. These early artisans laid the foundation for the modern practice of gunsmithing.

What Are the Different Types of Taps Used in Gunsmithing?

Gunsmithing requires precision and attention to detail, which is why having the right tools is crucial. Taps are an essential tool in gunsmithing, used for creating internal threads in metal. However, not all taps are created equal. In this section, we will discuss the different types of taps used in gunsmithing, including taper taps, plug taps, and bottoming taps. Each type has its own unique purpose and is used in specific situations to achieve the desired results. Let’s dive in and learn more about these important tools for gunsmithing.

1. Taper Taps

Taper taps are commonly used in gunsmithing for creating tapered threads in holes. Here are the steps for using taper taps:

  1. Select the appropriate size of taper tap based on the desired thread size.
  2. Secure the workpiece in a vise or clamp to prevent movement.
  3. Apply cutting oil or lubricant to the taper tap and the hole.
  4. Align the taper tap with the hole and start turning it clockwise.
  5. Gradually increase the pressure as you continue to turn the taper tap.
  6. Use a tap wrench or T-handle to provide leverage and control.
  7. Continue tapping until the desired depth is reached.
  8. Reverse the taper tap to remove any chips or debris.
  9. Clean the threads with a thread chaser or brush.

Fun fact: Taper taps are designed to gradually decrease in diameter over their length, allowing for easier starting and alignment with the hole.

2. Plug Taps

Plug taps are a type of tap commonly used in gunsmithing to create threaded holes. To use them effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the appropriate size of plug tap for your project.
  2. Make sure the workpiece is securely held in place to prevent any movement.
  3. Apply lubrication to the tap to reduce friction and make threading smoother.
  4. Align the tap perpendicular to the workpiece and begin threading by turning it clockwise.
  5. Slowly and steadily rotate the tap while applying downward pressure to create the threads.
  6. Periodically reverse the direction of the tap to break and clear any chips or debris.
  7. Continue threading until the desired depth is reached.
  8. Once the threading is finished, remove the tap by turning it counterclockwise.

The use of tap and die sets can be traced back to ancient times, with evidence found in Egyptian tombs. These tools have evolved over centuries and play a crucial role in gunsmithing, allowing for the creation of precise and durable threads in firearm components. Today, plug taps are an essential tool used by gunsmiths and enthusiasts to ensure the functionality and reliability of firearms.

3. Bottoming Taps

Bottoming taps, also known as bottoming taps, are a specific type of tap commonly used in gunsmithing to create threads at the bottom of blind holes. To effectively use bottoming taps, follow these steps:

  1. Begin by preparing the workpiece and drilling a hole with a diameter slightly smaller than the desired thread size.
  2. Next, align the bottoming tap with the drilled hole, making sure it is perpendicular.
  3. Before beginning the tapping process, apply cutting oil or lubricant to reduce friction and ensure smooth cutting.
  4. With steady and even pressure, gently turn the tap clockwise.
  5. Continue turning until the tap reaches the bottom of the hole, ensuring that the full thread depth is achieved.
  6. Slightly reverse the tap to break off any chips or debris.
  7. Use a thread chaser or brush to clean the threads and remove any remaining debris.
  8. Inspect the threads to ensure they are clean, smooth, and properly formed.
  9. If necessary, repeat the process for any additional blind holes that need to be threaded.

What Are the Standard Tap Sizes Used in Gunsmithing?

In gunsmithing, precision and accuracy are of utmost importance. This is why having a thorough understanding of the standard tap sizes used in this craft is crucial. In this section, we will discuss the two main categories of tap sizes: metric and imperial. By familiarizing ourselves with these measurements, we can ensure that our gunsmithing projects are executed with the highest level of precision and quality. Let’s dive into the world of tap sizes and their significance in gunsmithing.

1. Metric Tap Sizes

Metric tap sizes are widely used in gunsmithing projects. If you need to choose the right metric tap size, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the thread pitch of the hole you are tapping.
  2. Consider the material being tapped, as different materials may require different tap sizes.
  3. Check a tap size chart to find the appropriate metric tap size for your project.

True story: A gunsmith once needed to tap a hole in a firearm made of stainless steel. By following these steps, he was able to successfully choose the correct metric tap size and complete the project without causing any damage to the firearm.

2. Imperial Tap Sizes

When working on gunsmithing projects, understanding imperial tap sizes is crucial. Here are the steps to consider when working with imperial tap sizes:

  1. Determine the thread pitch required for your project.
  2. Refer to a tap size chart to identify the appropriate Imperial Tap Size for the chosen thread pitch.
  3. Consider the material you are tapping, as different materials may require specific tap sizes.

By following these steps, you can ensure that you are using the correct Imperial Tap Size for your gunsmithing project, resulting in accurate and precise threading.

What Are the Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Taps in Gunsmithing?

When it comes to gunsmithing, using taps is a common practice for creating threaded holes in metal. However, even the most experienced gunsmiths can make mistakes when using taps, which can result in damaged threads or broken tools. In this section, we will discuss the common mistakes to avoid when using taps in gunsmithing. From using the wrong size tap to not using enough lubrication, we’ll cover the key pitfalls that can easily be avoided with proper technique. So, let’s dive in and learn how to use taps effectively and efficiently in gunsmithing.

1. Using the Wrong Size Tap

Using the wrong size tap in gunsmithing can lead to damaging the workpiece and compromising the integrity of the threads. To avoid this mistake, follow these steps:

  1. Measure the hole or thread you need to tap.
  2. Refer to the tap size chart to identify the correct tap size.
  3. Select the tap that matches the desired size and thread pitch.
  4. Ensure the tap is properly aligned with the hole or workpiece.
  5. Use steady and even pressure while turning the tap clockwise.

True story: A gunsmith once attempted to use a tap that was not the correct size, resulting in stripped threads and a costly repair. Always double-check the tap size before proceeding with any gunsmithing project.

2. Not Using Enough Lubrication

Not using enough lubrication when using taps in gunsmithing can lead to damage and poor results. To ensure proper lubrication, follow these steps:

  1. Select a suitable lubricant specifically designed for metalworking.
  2. Apply a generous amount of lubricant to both the tap and the workpiece.
  3. Use a tapping compound or cutting oil to provide lubrication and reduce friction.
  4. Reapply lubricant as needed during the tapping process to ensure the tap and workpiece are properly lubricated.
  5. Clean off any excess lubricant after tapping is complete to prevent buildup and potential issues in the future.

3. Forcing the Tap

Forcing the tap in gunsmithing can lead to damaged threads and a compromised finish. Follow these steps to avoid this common mistake:

  1. Ensure the tap is aligned properly with the hole before starting.
  2. Apply steady and even pressure while turning the tap clockwise.
  3. If you encounter resistance, stop and reverse the tap a half-turn to break up chips.
  4. Continue tapping with steady pressure, using cutting fluid to lubricate the process.
  5. If the tap becomes difficult to turn, do not force it. Back it out slightly and clear any debris.
  6. Inspect the threads frequently to ensure they are clean and undamaged.

Remember, patience and attention to detail are key when using taps in gunsmithing. Avoid forcing the tap to achieve the best results and maintain the integrity of your project.

How to Choose the Right Tap Size for Your Gunsmithing Project?

When it comes to gunsmithing, choosing the right tap size is crucial for a successful project. With the variety of thread sizes and materials used in firearms, it can be overwhelming to determine the correct tap size. In this section, we will discuss the key factors to consider when selecting a tap size for your gunsmithing project. From determining the thread pitch to checking the tap size chart, we will guide you through the process of finding the perfect tap for your specific needs.

1. Determine the Thread Pitch

Determining the thread pitch is crucial in gunsmithing to ensure compatibility and proper fit. Follow these steps to determine the thread pitch:

  1. Inspect the threads: Examine the threaded portion of the gun part for any visible markings or numbers.
  2. Thread pitch gauge: Utilize a thread pitch gauge tool to measure the distance between threads and accurately determine the pitch.
  3. Thread count method: Alternatively, count the number of threads within a one-inch span and refer to a thread pitch chart for corresponding measurements.
  4. Consult manufacturer specifications: Check the gun manufacturer’s documentation or contact them directly for any specific thread pitch information.

2. Consider the Material Being Tapped

When selecting the appropriate tap size for your gunsmithing project, it is crucial to take into account the material being tapped. This will ensure efficient and successful threading. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Identify the type of material: Determine if the material is softer, such as aluminum, or harder, like steel.
  2. Choose the suitable tap material: Opt for a tap made of high-speed steel for softer materials, and a tap made of cobalt or carbide for harder materials.
  3. Consider the surface finish: For delicate materials, use a tap with a smoother surface finish to minimize the risk of damage.
  4. Select the correct tap geometry: Different materials may require different tap geometries for optimal performance.

Pro-tip: When tapping harder materials, it is recommended to use cutting fluids or lubricants to reduce friction and prolong the life of your tap.

3. Check the Tap Size Chart

When working on a gunsmithing project, it’s important to make sure you are using the correct tap size. Here are the steps to check the tap size using a tap size chart:

  1. Identify the thread pitch of the hole you’re tapping.
  2. Refer to the tap size chart provided to find the corresponding tap size for your thread pitch.
  3. Confirm the tap size by using a thread gauge to check the fit.

Pro-tip: Remember to double-check your measurements and always use the appropriate tap size to ensure a precise and accurate thread.

What Are the Safety Precautions to Follow When Using Taps in Gunsmithing?

When it comes to gunsmithing, safety should always be the number one priority. This is especially true when using taps, a common tool for creating threads in gun parts. In this section, we will discuss the essential safety precautions that should be followed when working with taps. From wearing protective gear to using the right tools, we will cover everything you need to know to ensure a safe and successful gunsmithing experience.

1. Wear Protective Gear

When participating in gunsmithing activities, it is essential to prioritize safety and wear appropriate protective gear. Follow these steps to ensure your safety:

  1. Always wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from any potential flying debris.
  2. Use ear protection, such as earmuffs or earplugs, to prevent hearing damage from loud noises.
  3. Wear gloves to protect your hands from cuts, burns, or exposure to chemicals.
  4. Consider wearing a dust mask or respirator to avoid inhaling harmful particles or fumes.
  5. Wear a sturdy apron or coveralls to protect your clothing from oil, grease, or other stains.

Remember, safety should always be the top priority in gunsmithing. Invest in high-quality protective gear and follow proper safety protocols to minimize the risk of accidents or injuries. Stay safe and enjoy your gunsmithing projects!

2. Secure the Workpiece Properly

To properly secure the workpiece in gunsmithing, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a stable workbench or vise to hold the workpiece securely.
  2. Ensure that the workpiece is clamped tightly to prevent any movement during the tapping process.
  3. Use appropriate clamps or vises that provide a strong grip without causing damage to the workpiece.
  4. Consider using non-slip materials, such as rubber or gripping pads, to increase stability.
  5. Position the workpiece in a way that allows for easy access to the tapping area while also prioritizing safety.

3. Use the Right Tools for the Job

Using the appropriate tools is crucial in gunsmithing to ensure precision and avoid damage. Follow these steps to ensure proper tool usage:

  1. Identify the specific task and determine the necessary tools.
  2. Conduct research and gather all required tools, including screwdrivers, punch sets, and specialized gunsmithing tools.
  3. Ensure that the tools are in good condition and well-maintained.
  4. Select the correct tool for each specific task to prevent any potential damage.
  5. Adhere to manufacturer instructions and safety guidelines while utilizing the tools.
  6. Clean and store the tools properly after use to preserve their effectiveness.

True story: A gunsmith once attempted to install a sight on a firearm without utilizing the appropriate sight pusher tool. As a result, the sight became misaligned and required additional repair work. This incident serves as a reminder of the importance of using the right tools for the job to achieve optimal results in gunsmithing.

References to Related Keywords

When it comes to gunsmithing tap sizes, it’s crucial to have references to related keywords to ensure accurate and efficient work. By including these references in your research and planning, you can guarantee that you have the correct tap size for specific gunsmithing tasks.

Some common related keywords to consider include:

  • thread pitch
  • tap drill size
  • tap chamfer

These references will provide valuable information to assist you in selecting the appropriate tap size and achieving precise and reliable results in your gunsmithing projects.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the proper drill sizes for gunsmithing tap screws?

The tap and drill chart posted by moderator emeritus Walt Kelly on The Firing Line forum provides the proper drill sizes for various gunsmithing screws, including sizes such as 6-48. This chart is accompanied by a photo for easy reference.

What is the 75% thread rule for tap sizes?

The 75% thread rule states that the tap size should be approximately 75% of the threaded hole’s diameter. This rule is important to ensure proper thread engagement and strength in the screw joint.

How can I browse and order gunsmithing tap sizes from McMaster-Carr?

Customers can browse the catalog of products on the McMaster-Carr website to find gunsmithing tap sizes under the “Fastening & Joining” category. To place an order, customers can either email the company or call the provided contact number. They also have the option to log in to their website for easier ordering and to view order history.

What are some categories of products available for gunsmithing needs on McMaster-Carr?

McMaster-Carr offers a wide range of products under categories such as abrading & polishing, building & grounds, electrical & lighting, fabricating, fastening & joining, filtering, flow & level control, furniture & storage, hand tools, hardware, heating & cooling, lubricating, material handling, measuring & inspecting, office supplies & signs, pipe, tubing, hose & fittings, plumbing and janitorial, power transmission, pressure & temperature control, pulling & lifting, raw materials, safety supplies, sawing & cutting, sealing, shipping, and suspending.

What is the contact information for McMaster-Carr?

Customers can contact McMaster-Carr by calling (630) 833-0300 or emailing them. They can also log in to their website for easier ordering and to view order history. The company’s website requires JavaScript to be enabled in the browser for full functionality.

What are some tips for using tap and drill charts for gunsmithing?

Tap and drill charts, such as the one posted by moderator emeritus Walt Kelly on The Firing Line forum, can be a helpful tool for determining proper drill sizes for gunsmithing screws. It is important to follow the 75% thread rule and to use a tap drill that is slightly smaller than the screw’s diameter. It is also recommended to always use a lubricant while tapping and to go slow to prevent breaking the tap.

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