April 28, 2022

How big of a lathe do I need for gunsmithing?

Gunsmithing lathes are precision equipment that enables detailed work while upgrading or constructing new gun barrels. It is a necessary piece of equipment for gunsmiths to do their duties. Since the 19th century, mechanically driven lathes have been commonplace. Many products, including guns, may now be mass-produced due to this. 

Hand-smithing is now a quaint relic of the past, while some hobbyists continue to perform it. Most major gun makers now use mass production equipment such as mechanical lathes to generate identical outcomes in their rifles. The majority of the tools you’ll need for gunsmithing are machinist tools and accessories, such as brass punches, a machinist’s hammer, and a benchtop sander/grinder, to mention a few.

Why lathe size may matter

It’s worth noting that the size of the lathe you’ll need to finish your planned gunsmithing jobs is something you should think about. The size of your lathe relies on the kind of work you’ll be doing with it. Make sure the size of your lathe matches the size of your business and the guns you’ll be working on. 

For example, if you want to work with handgun barrels, even a smaller 7×12 lathe can be the best gunsmithing lathe. However, extra space is beneficial if you plan to work on rifle barrels because smaller lathes may tumble. Furthermore, the amount of labor you complete impacts this decision.

To guarantee that you receive the proper lathe for your needs, you’ll need to take at least two measurements.

Gunsmith working on a rifle

The spindle’s centre to the lathe’s bed

If the measurement is 6″, the diameter is 12″, indicating the lathe’s size or swing.

The subsequent measurement is the distance between the tailstock’s center mount and the headstock. The distance between the tailstock and headstock mount centers determines the length of your working component. 

You can specify the overall size and width of the materials you can utilize inside the lathe by taking both measurements. Make sure you don’t choose the smallest or largest lathe for gunsmithing. Instead, thoroughly consider your needs and select the best metal lathe for gunsmithing that will benefit you the most in the long run.

Tool Height

You must consider tool height in conjunction with the available space in your shop; even the most efficient lathe in the world will not function properly if your shop lacks the necessary space. You should also consider the size of the gun barrels you plan to produce using your lathe.

Tool Length

The 14*40 Tool Length is one of the most generally stated sizes; it’s large enough for more specialized tasks but small enough to fit in a typical home workshop.

Tool Capacity

Lathes are complex, and they appear to be rather scary. If you’re new to gunsmithing or have smithed thousands of barrels, you’ll want a simple lathe that has the correct tool capacity.

Work Capacity

Not all lathes are built to deal with metal, and even those can wear out more quickly than other models. Because you’ll be working with a lot of metal, you’ll want to make sure you get a lathe that can keep up with you and won’t break down on you.

Standard lathes

It’s common for lathe manufacturers to offer an ordinary lathe for metalworking or woodworking and then build a gunsmithing version with the following capabilities.

  • Outboard Spider
  • Spider Bore
  • Different Camlock Chuck
  • Roller Tips
  • Different Quick-Change Tool

Some gunsmith lathes have an adaptor for the outboard side of the spindle and are equivalent to standard versions. And this implies that you can change it from standard to gunsmith by adding or removing the adaptor.

Mini lathes

A mini-lathe is a benchtop lathe with a capacity of 20″ between centers and a swing of 12″ or less (the largest diameter workpiece you can turn on the lathe). Most of these lathes have 1 to 2 horsepower motors and optional bed additions for turning longer spindles. The Central Machinery Precision Small Lathe is one of the greatest mini lathes for gunsmithing. If you’re looking for a low-cost choice, it’ll suffice.

This little lathe has a swing over a bed of 7 inches, which is typical for a micro lathe. It has a motor that produces 3/4 horsepower. Variable RPM is also possible with this motor, allowing for finer control. You have two options with the changeable knob speeds: 0-1100 RPM on the low setting and 0-2500 RPM on the higher level. You also receive thread support ranging from 12 to 52 TPI. 

When it comes to the space between the two centers, it’s 10 inches, which is plenty. Of course, since this is a little lathe, expecting it to churn through long barrels is unrealistic. As a result, you should be able to complete minor to medium-sized tasks with this product without difficulty.

Micro lathes

A micro lathe is machining equipment used to precisely cut solid materials such as aluminum, brass, iron, and steel. The Grizzly Industrial Gunsmithing Lathe is one of the micro lathes used for gunsmithing.

The G0709’s motor is quite powerful, with a two-horsepower output. With this much power, you should be able to go through professional workloads with relative ease. Furthermore, it has eight-speed ranges to provide you with the most flexibility possible. You can start at 70 RPM and increase to 2000 RPM, which gives you complete control. 

This lathe’s major measurements are 51-3/4″ (H), 71-3/4″ (L), and 30″ (W) (W). It is neither enormous nor so small that it will block the creation of proportionally longer barrels. The entire weight of the shipment is estimated to be roughly 1550 pounds. You also receive an 11″ faceplate, which is a good size.


A gunsmithing CNC Machine artisan must devote time to learning the ins and outs of their machine and experimenting to achieve the best outcomes. CNC Lathes are machine tools that use Computer Numerical Control (CNC) systems and are programmed with exact design instructions. 

The material or part is clamped and turned by the main spindle, while the cutting tool that works on it is attached and moved in multiple axes. The reward is the capacity to reliably duplicate a design for a small group of people who appreciate it.

The Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO is one of the best CNC gunsmithing machines available. It cuts cleanly and accurately, making project reproduction much easier. You can use the 3018-PRO to manufacture accurate replicas of various things and trust it to be consistent every time. The 3018-Pro comes with several valuable add-ons that can help you broaden your work scope. You can cut more complex materials and enlarge your work surface with an all-metal Z-Axis carrier and a Y-Extension.

The 3018-Pro requires assembly. It has a manual that allows you to see what goes where and how everything fits together.

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