DIY Gun Sales
For Home + Hunting


Many people buy cars and trucks with visions of custom rims, custom lighting, custom body parts and high-performance add-ons like custom exhausts and superchargers.
When fully tricked out, the vehicle is an extension of its driver’s personality, an avatar.

In recent years, the same thing has happened with firearms. Rifles, handguns and shotguns remain specialized tools for acquiring game, target games and personal defense, but they have also morphed to express an owner’s individuality.

This trend has created a vast, lucrative market within the firearms industry for aftermarket accessories.

At the same time, the simplicity of contemporary firearms and the ease of customization creates a parallel market for do-it-yourself (DIY) gun reinventions.

The West Coast Way

Mike Gascon, an employee at Oregon Rifleworks in Medford, Ore., contends Oregonians are natural tinkerers by virtue of their pioneer heritage.

“Even in the Portland area, Oregon is a DIY state,” Gascon said. “From the guy who makes a stencil to put leaf shapes in your latte to somebody who customizes an AR-15, it’s just something that’s part of our culture here.”

With the evolving demographics of firearms ownership, the barista might also be the guy or gal who customizes a GLOCK or transforms an AR-15. Those platforms are essentially blank canvases — easy to accessorize.

It helps immensely nearly three generations of veterans who served continuously in war over the last 30 years developed an intense affinity for the firearms they used in the military. The civilian market always shadows military trends.

“Around 2004–’05 is when AR customization really kicked off,” Gascon recalled. “A lot of the pictures coming out in publications were really pushing the whole ‘action-guy-from-overseas’ thing.”

The melding point was from 2005–’12 with the convergence of the tactical and competition markets, Gascon noted.

“Guys really started working with each other,” he said. “Geissele makes some awesome hand guards, some awesome triggers. When competitive shooters started looking at what professional triggers could do for them and companies eased back on ruggedness and reliability, that’s when it was a match made in heaven.”

According to Gascon, YouTube has made every gun owner more knowledgeable. In many cases, it gives them enough knowledge to be “dangerous.” Oregon Rifleworks fills the gap with in-store workshops with professional armorers, as well as with a full inventory of tools to perform the necessary tasks.

“Part of our business model really pushes the DIY aspect to the point we even host and teach workshops on how to build your own lower receiver.”

Mike Gascon Oregon Rifleworks Medford, Ore.

“Part of our business model really pushes the DIY aspect to the point we even host and teach workshops on how to build your own lower receiver,” Gascon shared. “We have all the tools in a classroom setting and armorers there to answer any questions and show people how do it.”

The beauty of this model is it requires no development. It’s like wild fruit waiting to be picked.

“We wanted to serve an existing community that didn’t have everything all together in a brick-and-mortar store,” Gascon said. “This really sets us apart from other shops. We’re helping people along their journey through education for competition, home defense and hunting. We welcome all shooters.”

A major thrust is welcoming novices, which forms a communal atmosphere.

“We really keep an open attitude to people,” Gascon relayed. “Our shop is known for, ‘I’ve never built an AR, what all do I need?’”

After accessory or aftermarket parts, they need tools. Astute retailers like Oregon Rifleworks have a full selection for all price points.

“Magpul has an awesome kit,” Gascon noted. “Bevlock’s kit is awesome, too. Once people are made aware of those tools, they buy them. And then the parts — everything from short safety throw levers to gas tubes, different buffers, adjustable gas blocks and buffer springs. The rise of the adjustable gas block is fantastic to see.”

Oregon Rifleworks offers a full range of instructional services to do-it-yourself gun enthusiasts.
While customers can access a bevy of information on YouTube and other sources, there’s nothing
like the personal connection during a build class — which is where storefront dealers have a leg
up on online-only resources. Those stores that can market this advantage are primed to grow
their audience of DIY customers. (Photo: Mike Gascon)

Southern DIY Comfort

In the Southeast, AR-platform owners are very fond of powering up their rifles, and Talon Tactical Outfitters in Tallahassee, Fla., has the materials and expertise to help them.

J.D. Johnson, chief operating officer of Talon Tactical Outfitters, said many of his customers are interested in powering up their AR platforms above 5.56-cal.

“Most folks we deal with are doing something outside the norm,” he said. “The people building their own stuff are building them in 300 Blackout and 6.5 Grendel. We do more 6.5 Grendel builds than anything for people who want to hunt with them.”

Another popular trend Johnson noted is building 9mm handguns with extended braces for plinking, for carrying in vehicles and for home defense.

The fun and satisfaction from a reconfiguration is in doing it yourself. Talon Tactical Outfitters cultivates a lucrative niche empowering do-it-yourselfers.

Johnson believes it’s important to distinguish between DIY armoring and DIY gunsmithing. Armoring, which comprises an overwhelming majority of builds, is merely swapping out parts. Gunsmithing is far more involved.

“We teach an armorer’s class,” Johnson stated. “The student is actually buying the components. If somebody is buying a considerable dollar amount of parts from us, we are more than happy giving them advice. If they buy everything from us, we show them how to do it.”

The classes employ Real Avid armorer’s kits, which contain all of the tools necessary to do standard customizations.

“I’m a big fan of Real Avid’s Master Armorer’s Kit,” Johnson confirmed. “It’s easy to use for the novice armorer.”

For example, it contains a tool to install the front takedown pin to an AR-15 lower receiver.

“That can be difficult, and novices also tend to launch detentes across the room,” Johnson said. “Real Avid makes a tool that goes in a pinhole and captures the detente. It makes this particular operation very simple. It also comes with a torque wrench.”

“If somebody is buying a considerable dollar amount of parts from us, we are more than happy giving them advice. If they buy everything from us, we show them how to do it.”

J.D. Johnson, Chief Operating Officer Talon Tactical Outfitters Tallahassee, Fla.

Many DIY armorers neglect torquing, sometimes to their regret.

“We see ARs in here all time where the barrel nut is under-torqued or over-torqued,” Johnson said. “Real Avid’s AR Wrench works on multiple different buffer tubes and castle nuts.”

“There’s a few of their things I’d like to see them do better,” he added. “I’m not tickled with the quality of some of their punches. They chrome-plate some of their punches, which I don’t care for, but for somebody who’s going to do just one or two, they’re fine.”

GLOCK handguns can be taken down and reassembled with a single punch, Johnson affirmed.

“The most popular handgun on the planet is stupid, stupid simple to work on,” he added.

One notable development in the DIY department is a burgeoning selection of scope mounts for AR-style rifles, according to Johnson. Shooters are learning cantilever mounts work better for the particular platform than conventional mounts because they eliminate the flexing that occurs on a full-length Picatinny rail. The Burris P.E.P.R. not only stabilizes a scope, but it also aligns it for proper eye relief.

Of course, Talon Tactical offers equipment and instruction for DIY scope work. Popular products are scope alignment kits and ring conditioning kits.

As DIY customization grows more popular, more manufacturers will likely offer firearms conducive to accessorizing, and aftermarket suppliers will provide the products. The trend ensures a positive cash flow far beyond the sales of guns and ammo while also creating excitement and enthusiasm among gun owners.

DIY GUNS features a wide range of projects designed to customize, create, improve and
enhance any number of firearms, shooting platforms and related accessories — with only
a modest selection of tools and level of skill.

Break Out The Tools — FMG Special Edition DIY GUNS Is Coming!

“Upgrading, restoring, fixing and even building your own firearm will cost time and money,” lends DIY GUNS Editor Tom McHale, “but spending some time getting your hands dirty is a great way to leave the chaos of everyday life behind.”

Inside the latest Special Edition issue of DIY GUNS, at-home gunsmiths and armorers will discover articles with step-by-step instructions and ideas for legally converting an M1 Carbine into a fully automatic M2 version, salvaging a special gun from high-mileage wear and tear, how to custom-mold a holster for today’s hottest handguns, fitting a bushing to a 1911 barrel, customizing a Ruger Wrangler, transforming a Remington 870 into a home-defense gun, personalizing a GLOCK, converting .22 LR cases to .223 bullets, how to lower a hammer spur and more!

DIY GUNS hits newsstands June 28 and will be available for purchase online at

Click To Read More Shooting Industry June 2022 Issue Now!