John Torelli - Jersey Small Arms Gunsmithing

Millville NJ

The Tips Page
"If it's not broke, it will be if you don't take care of it !"

This information is provided freely with the understanding that the end user has the responsibility to determine whether or not it applies to his particular situation. I accept no responsibility for damage, abuse or misuse of your firearm. Help preserve your right to keep and bear arms - use your guns responsibly.

(Page Updated - February 10, 2024)

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Cumberland Riflemen Gun Cleaning Seminar 


-Lubrication: "Keeping your gun alive"
-Headspace: "Gauging Safety"

-Browning Auto 5: "Friction ring operation"
-S&W Model 1000: "Gas Piston Jams"

-Colt 1911 Info: "Standard Safety Checks"
-Colt 1911 Info: "Firing Pin Block Safety Assembly"

-Handy Accessories: "You need this stuff."

-BATF Purchase Forms: "All three pages of it."

Lubrication - Keeping your gun alive

"What should I use to oil my gun?"

Let's start with what you shouldn't use - WD40 or anything like it. WD-40 is a fine light duty oil and rust penetrator. Your gun is most likely blued. Blueing is a rust process. WD-40 removes rust. Over time the regular use of WD-40 on your gun will leave the finish bare metal! There   is a product on the market called Tri-Flow that's a Teflon based lubricant with remarkable staying power. I've recommended this product for many years and have never been disappointed. Tri-Flow has repeatedly gained first place in comparison tests. It's only possible drawback may be its odor. It has a slightly sweet smell that may be detected by game animals in the field, although I have no evidence that this is so. (By the way, I have no financial interest in Tri-Flow, I just know that it works.)

"What about grease?" 
Grease should generally be avoided. Most of it is wasted and only collects dirt. The dirt sticks to the grease and rapidly builds up deposits that creates a strain on the mechanisms. This strain can get so bad that the part either jams or breaks. Springs are especially prone to this situation. When I get this type of repair, it usually requires several hours with scrapers and solvents to dig the debris out of all the cracks and crevices it gets into. By the way, this advice goes for cooking grease (and oils) too. Not only does it present the same problems, but it smells really bad!

"I squirt some oil into my gun after hunting and then put it in my gun rack. Shouldn't this be enough?"
A lot of good guns have been ruined this way. Squirting oil into a gun does nothing for cleaning it and is about the worst way to go about lubricating it. Most parts in a gun don't need oil. When you stand your gun up in your rack and all that excess oil slides down towards the  back of the reciever, it slowly seaps into your gunstock creating oil soaked areas and stress cracks that will eventually split or break your wood apart. This excess oil also creates the same dirt collecting problems as grease. In cold weather all of this is aggravated as the oil or grease stiffens and turns into a very effective gun stopping glue.

"OK then, what should I do?"
Start with a clean, oil free gun:
1) A little oil on slide rails and bolt assemblies.
2) On shotguns with recoiling barrels lightly coat the magazine tube where the recoil spring and friction rings ride.
3) A touch of oil in the trigger mechanisms and a light coat inside the receiver.
4) Wipe down the exterior with a silicone impregnated cloths sold for about two bucks at most sporting goods stores to remove
finger prints.
5) DO NOT oil the inside of pistol magazines. The oil can contaminate ammuntion and collect dirt, lint, dust, etc. which could keep your rounds from feeding properly. DO wipe down the exterior with a cloth and use a cotton swab to clean the insides.

"That's all?"
Almost. Some rules to remember:
1) Never get any oil near the gas system of a gas operated firearm. The combustion gases that work the action will immediately
turn the oil into a baked on sludge which will effectively shut down your weapon.
2) Never over-lubricate. It can only trap dirt and damage your wood. Use just enough to help prevent rust and provide a little
more slickness to your action. Believe it or not, most guns will work just fine with no oil at all.
3) Take the time to learn how to disassemble and thoroughly clean your firearm. I can highly recommend the assembly/disassembly
books from Gun Digest written by J.B. Wood. I have them all and refer to them regularly.
4) If you do nothing else, every once in awhile pick up your firearm and look at it. Is rust forming anywhere? Does the action feel
OK? Is it loaded? Did you check it when you picked it up? ALWAYS, ALWAYS check to see if the weapon you are holding is loaded. NEVER make any exceptions to this rule.

"I have a Flaming Arms Super-X .30-06 Lever Action Assault Rifle, how do these tips work for me?"
I'll gladly try to help with questions about individual brands or types of guns. Many do have more specific requirements. Give me a shout.

     Headspace - Gauging Safety

                  (Forster Headspace Gauges)

Over the last few years there has been a major influx of surplus military firearms into the United States. Personally, I love it. As a dealer, I've gotten a lot of satisfaction out of helping customer's complete their collection of, for instance, British Enfield rifles. As a Gunsmith, however, I need to point out that many of these old rifles have been around since before the beginning of the last century and may be unsafe to fire due to excess headspace.

Headspace can be thought of as something like this: The cartridge in your chamber is in a safe with the bolt of the rifle as the door. That cartridge has to be held tightly by the door or the cartridge could rupture and allow the explosion to vent back out of that door with disastrous and dangerous results. Headspace gauges are used to determine how tight this lock-up is.

For each rifle that you want to check you must remove the bolt and COMPLETELY disassemble it. The stripped bolt must be able to enter the barrel breech with no resistance and the bolt face must contact the gauge properly or you will not be able to feel the lockup when you close the bolt on the gauge. Next clean out the chamber, being absolutely certain there is no powder residue, rust, oil or anything else in it that will prevent the gauge from properly seating in the chamber.

The chamber gauges are specific to the caliber of gun. Be certain you obtain and use the correct gauge for your various rifles. The gauges come in "Go", "No-Go" and "Field". The "Go" gauge is used primarily for fitting new barrels. You should only need the other two. Start by slipping the "No-Go" gauge into your chamber and then gently close the bolt on the gauge but DO NOT try to force the bolt handle down. Instead, ease the bolt handle down onto the gauge. It should NOT close completely. If the bolt does close completely remove the gauge and insert the "Field" gauge and try again. If the bolt closes completely on the "Field" gauge the gun may be unsafe to fire. If it does not close completely it is presumed safe to fire, however accuracy may suffer and the rifle should be considered ready to retire.

Just remember to play it safe. If the gun is marginal it's best to hang it on the wall in a place of honor and use something else. The gauges can be purchased from Brownells, Inc. Check out their web site for ordering info.

    Shotgun tips -

      Browning Auto 5 Friction Ring Assembly


The above illustration of a Browning Auto 5 Shotgun shows its rings set for heavy loads.

- (
1) In front of the Recoil Spring is the Steel Friction Ring with it's concave end facing forward.
- (
2 & 3) In the middle is the split Bronze Friction Ring with its wide flat Spring surrounding it .
- (
4) The Guide Ring permanently attached to the barrel, also has a concave depression in it.
- (
5) The Magazine End Cap secures the arrangement.

When the Browning A5 is fired, the barrel recoils rearward trapping the tapered ends of the split Bronze Friction Ring between the Guide Ring and the Steel Friction Ring forcing it to compress and drag on the magazine tube. This slows the rate of recoil allowing for safe ejection of the spent shell case and subsequent feeding of the next cartridge as the Recoil Spring pushes the entire assembly forward.

If light loads are used, for example "birdshot", the Steel Friction Ring (
1) would simply be turned over so that the flat end would then be facing forward, or the ring can be "stored" near the receiver behind the spring. This prevents it from compressing the Bronze Friction Ring assembly (2 & 3) and allows the lesser power of the light load to work the action.

The Browning A5 Magnum ring set consists of nothing more than two more Friction Rings and another Bronze Ring Assembly.

"I don't feel like fooling with the rings when I shoot heavy loads, why not just leave them set for light loads?"

You can, but it will pound the hell out of your gun and leave your shoulder black and blue for several days. Not much fun. In reverse, if you try to shoot light loads with the rings set for heavies the gun will fire, but only once. Light loads don't generate enough recoil to overcome the friction rings and the action won't cycle completely, if it cycles at all. At best you'll have to work the bolt by hand to eject the fired shell and load the next round. Or worse, it may partially extract the fired shell leaving it jammed halfway out of the gun with a live round coming up the feed guide. Unless you like disassembling your gun with live ammo jammed in it, while your out in the woods in December, I suggest you set the rings properly.

        Smith & Wesson Model 1000 Gas Piston Fouling

Manufactured for S&W by Howa Machinery of Japan the Model 1000 is a very sound gun indeed. Although S&W got out of the shotgun business in 1985 a good many Model 1000's are still being used regularly. The first thing to look for when a Model 1000 begins to malfunction is the black sticky residue shown on the Piston in the photo to the left. The Piston is the heart of the gas operation that works the feeding and ejecting of the gun. To get to the piston remove the barrel (is it necessary to remind you to unload it first?) You should be able to easily remove the Pressure Valve. Next remove the pin that connects the large black ring on the outside of the magazine tube to the Piston inside the tube and slide the black ring off the tube. The Piston should come out easily if it's clean, if it looks like the one in the photos it won't.


The photo to the left shows the culprit in this mess. It's the Piston Shock Absorber and it's located next in line down the Magazine Tube. The Shock Absorber is just a steel washer with a rubberized cushion stuck to it. After many years and especially if any oil gets on it, the cushion dissolves and leaves a part of itself stuck to the Piston as the Piston bumps into it under recoil. Replacements have recently become available through the Gun Parts Corp. and they seem to be quite durable. Over the years, however, I've been replacing these worn out Shock Absorbers with a plastic (not rubber) hose washer available at most hardware stores. Just trim the washer to fit the tube snugly and place it on top of the remaining factory steel washer. One other thing to look for is dents on the long slots on either side of the magazine tube where the Connecting Pin rides. When the Shock Absorbers get really bad it can allow the pin to slam into the end of the slots denting them up pretty badly. This can cause the entire assembly to stick and create a jam. The best preventative for all of this is to NEVER let any oil get anywhere near this assembly.

Colt 1911 Style Pistol Info


1. Cock the hammer (chamber and magazine empty of course).
2. Without depressing the Grip Safety, pull the trigger. The hammer should NOT fall.
3. Hold the gun normally, so as to depress the Grip Safety and then flick the frame mounted Safety Lever up and try to pull the trigger. The hammer should NOT fall.
4. Without pulling the trigger, push on the back of the hammer with your finger. The hammer should NOT fall.
5. With the hammer still cocked, flick the frame mounted safety lever down. The hammer should NOT fall.
6. Hold the gun normally, with the frame mounted Safety Lever down, pull the trigger. The hammer SHOULD fall.
7. If the hammer falls at any time other than at #6, your pistol is unsafe to use and in need of repair. Feel free to contact me and I'll try to help you out.
8. For those of you with Series 80 Colt style pistols there is one more thing to check. Lock the slide back and turn the gun over. Depress the firing pin release plunger and make sure it's not sticking. I don't have much use for this particular safety device, but if it's jammed up into the slide it will defeat it's purpose of preventing the firing pin from moving unless the trigger is pulled.



These are the parts involved with the Colt Series 80 1911 style handguns and some copies. At the top is the plunger (visible with the slide locked open and veiwed from underneath) which blocks the firing pin from moving forward unless the trigger is pulled. It is spring powered to keep the thicker end down and in contact with the firing pin. The part in the middle is the finger which rotates and pushes the plunger upwards. This allows the firing pin to pass through the narrow middle section of the plunger. This finger is moved by the lever at the bottom. The lever itself is moved by the rear of the trigger when it contacts the levers lower extension as the trigger is pulled to fire the gun. A very clever arrangement that helps prevent the gun from going off should it be dropped directly on the end of the hammer, on a hard enough surface, from sufficient height, while fully cocked with a live round in the chamber. Other wise it does nothing useful.  
  In most factory guns these parts go about their business un-noticed by the user, however, almost any modification to the sear or hammer surfaces, such as in a trigger job, will almost always destroy the fragile timing of the parts and cause the gun to misfire. The parts can be removed with no ill effect on the operation of the gun so long as the two lower parts are replaced by a small frame filler plate available from Brownells for about $15.00. Removal of the plunger will only leave an empty hole in the bottom of the slide. Be aware that removing a safety mechanism in this age of political correctness could void warranties or leave you liable for damages under the unique circumstances that the safety was designed for, but at least you'll know your gun will fire should the need arise. It's up to you.

Don't miss out on this link.
It's one of the most comprehensive sites about the 1911 pistol I have ever found.

Just about anything you could ever want to know about the 1911 pistol is posted here.

1911 Home Page
1911 Home Page

Handy Accessories


Whether it's camo nylon or a leather Cobra strap there's nothing handier than a good, comfortable sling. It's a must for climbing in and out of tree stands, covering rocky terrain or activating another hand warmer in a snow covered field. Get one with an Uncle Mikes Quick Detachable swivel and you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.


You've got to carry a Leatherman utility knife. The needle nose pliers, phillips head and standard screwdrivers alone will be more useful than you could ever imagine. You'll find everbody around you wanting to borrow it for some reason and then not wanting to give it back. Check one out and you'll be amazed at it's capabilities. If you need to repair your gun in a wilderness situation it could salvage your hunt, or save your life. I don't go to church without my Leatherman.


If your concerned about the future, or for that matter the present, DO NOT go to Cheaper Than Dirt and click here for the reason why



For all of the people who think you can walk into your local sporting goods store and pick up an AK47 like you were buying a bicycle, click on one of these forms and read carefully.  Your doctor doesn't ask you this many questions! By the way, don't copy these forms to use in place of originals.  BATFE will not accept them.  There are official forms that can be mail ordered from the BATFE web site for dealers use. On the back of these forms there are explanations to the various sections, which can actually be quite helpful. 

NOTE:  These forms are the new forms that came out in August 2024. 


   4473 Page 1

4473 Page 2

 4473 Page 3

Most states also have they're own additional requirements which are covered under the Federal Governments book entitled State Laws and Public Ordinances - Firearms, the last edition being ATFP 5300.5. Now let us not forget, that after all of the above you still have to wait for approval from the National Instant Check System (NICS). Your firearms dealer is required to make this call before you can actually take possession of your firearm.  New Jersey charges an additional $15.00 for this "service" whether you are approved or not. Oh, and remember that you must also have an official government photo ID with you before you may take your new gun home.


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