My friend Bryce Towsley has recently completed a new book: Gunsmithing Modern Firearms: A Gun Guy's Guide to Making Good Guns Even Better. I considered reviewing this book with some misgivings. I am to gunsmithing what Washington, DC is to sound public policy: a zero.
Oh, I can do a detail inspection of GLOCK pistols and install sights on them – and the federal government can do something worthwhile. I’m not quite sure what that would be at the moment.
But Bryce is mechanically sound – and another thing Bryce can do is write; entertaining, instructive and detailed, he takes duffers like me along the path he followed in doing some rather serious work in “making good guns better.” When he finds that’s not enough of a challenge, he takes a collection of parts and creates ‘builds,’ something I should never be tempted to do.
He brings gun crankery into the modern era by a complete, frank and candid discussion of the modern firearms finishes: coatings. Not stopping there, he takes the reader by the hand and teaches the best way to prep the surfaces for the new finish and to apply them – and to cure them. A very humorously told tale of his “oven,” a device he created to cure coatings brings to mind the books from Brownells entitled Gunsmith Kinks.
He doesn't just build and repair guns, Bryce is also an accomplished shot and an experienced hunter.
Bryce takes homely guns – the Mosin and a GLOCK 22 trade-in – and makes them his own with considerable work and detail. He builds a rifle without a lathe and later in the book describes a cost-effective gunsmith-appropriate lathe, currently available and one he’s acquired to do his work.
No gunsmithing book would be complete without building a 1911 and an AR-15 from parts – Bryce puts his mark on each, making them personal. In fact, all of his work is personal as is his conversational writing style.
I’ve heard it, long and loud, from people in my cohort who decry the loss of story-telling in gun-writing. We speak of the greats from our youth who wrote stories (more than reviews), tales that made us want to be gun-writers, accounts that touched our very souls – I’m as bad about that form of nostalgia as the next guy.
Here’s my message: stop complaining and read Gunsmithing Modern Firearms. Doing so took me back to the greats that graced the pages of 1960s and 1970s issues of Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times and GUNS Magazine. Bryce does this while telling a modern tale of trying to buy gear “off the economy” in his locality and facing the loss of a thing called “customer service;” he did that while discussing something as simple – or not so simple – as determining why “When a Good Gun Goes Bad.”
His method for cleaning a gun – a disliked chore by him and by me – is alone worth the price of the book. If you’ve taken any guns in on trade or bought used, you likely know what I mean.
The book is dedicated to Bob Brownell, a father of modern home gunsmithing and the provider of gear to the professional gunsmith trade through a company extant to this day. The foreword is written by Pete Brownell.
I simply can’t recommend Bryce’s book enough – and it’s not because we’ve worked together at media events. It’s because it’s a good read even if you never intend to rebarrel a rifle, refinish a pistol or actually go through the trauma of cleaning all the crap out of a shotgun barrel.
If you like guns and you like humor, this is the book for you – available signed by the author here.
- - Rich Grassi