LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This Instructable is about SAFETY. The intention of this lesson is to help gun owners store their firearms safely and securely rather than having them in reach of anyone who should not have access to them… including children, burglars, home invaders, politicians, government apparachiks and your common garden variety idiots. The design of the device outlined in the following steps will be a great step forward in ensuring peace of mind, safety and security.
This is not about me and it certainly is not about you and/or your political views on the Second Amendment. That being said, I’m sure that some of you will not appreciate this tutorial. If that's the case, just do what I do and move on to another creativity-inspiring learning lesson. In this educational Instructable, SAFETY is more important than the dismantling of our beloved Constitution.
That being said, let's get on with the fun stuff without "putting an eye out with that thing!"
Step 1: Get Your Stuff Together!
I started by examining the interior of my existing firearm safe and found that there was a lot of wasted space in the body of the steel box. I wanted to figure out a way to store my rifles and pistols in such a way as to ensure they were not jammed up on one another, which often is the cause of incidental damage due to nicks, dings and dents. In addition, the system had to allow for easy access to any of the firearms, especially at the back of the safe without emptying the entire box to get at a one particular gun.
So I did an internet search and found a product from “storemoreguns”, which appeared to meet my requirements except for one thing… price. Their website showed that the price for six of these devices was $19.95, which meant that I had to be prepared to put out a lot of cash to buy a wand for each of my rifles. I also went to my local sporting goods store, which carried the devices. They only had one single example… yup, just one.
The product appeared to be injector-molded plastic and not really to my liking so I decided to fabricate a similar system. I thought about it and came up with a great garage-engineered design. I fiddle-faddled with numerous sketches and finally came up with a viable solution.
I went to McFadden-Dale Industrial Hardware in Santa Ana, California because they have EVERYTHING a person could ever need for any type of project…any project… anything… bar none! I went up and down the aisles and picked out a number of items including:
1) ¼-20 x two inch washers – Box of 100;
2) ¼-20 x 3/8” long flat head slotted machine screws – Box of 100;
3) ¼-20 x 1” coupling nuts – Box of 100;
It’s always much cheaper to buy a 100-count box of nuts, bolts, etc versus less than 100. The cost in many instances, are less when you buy whole boxes. The total for the parts was less than $25.00 and there was enough to make 100 rifle supports. Not bad considering the cost of the commercially available system.
The next thing I needed was a material in which to fabricate the shafts. The shafts would be inserted into the coupling nuts and extend down into the barrels of my firearms. I considered 1/8” bronze brazing rod but similar to 1/8” acrylic plastic rod, it was just too expensive.
I went to Industrial Metal Supply in Irvine, California and purchasing ten 12’- 0” lengths of 3/16’ diameter brass rod. Each gun support required 14 inches of rod so I had enough brass rods for one-hundred firearm supports. The cost was $36 and some odd cents.
Total for everything so far was a little more than $66.00… winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Step 2: Drill BAY-BEE, Drill!
The next step was to begin the process of assembling the firearm supports. I used a counter-sink drill bit to ream out each washer, which allowed the 3/8” long machine screw to set as flush as possible to the top of the washer through the washer and into the countersunk coupling nut.
Be very careful, it’s easy to over drill the washers and wind up with a floppy assembly. You are going to have to use some eyeball judgment here. You may wind up messing up one or two or the washers but don’t lose faith, you’ll figure it out. Remember that you can always drill the washer two or three times rather than over-drill it and make the hole too big in the washer. So take your time and test-fit the screw occasionally to ensure you're drilling it to the correct depth.
I drilled out and assembled fifty at a time. The washers and the coupling nuts were placed in a vise and systematically drilled until all of them were completed and ready for the next step.
Step 3: We Don't Need No Stinkin' Welder!
This is a no-weld Instructable because I wanted every gun owner to be able to do this project without the need for a welder. So you don't have to be a "weldor" to pull this one off! Each of the washers was attached to the countersunk coupling nuts with ¼-20 machine screws and a couple of drops of red Loctite thread-locker. I screwed them in until they were real tight because I didn’t want them to loosen up after they were all assembled. The assemblies were then heat-set with a propane torch.
I also took an air-powered die grinder equipped with a 80 grit sanding disc and sanded the top of the machine head screws to make sure each was flat and even with the face of the washers. This also served to roughen up the surface to make the velcro stick tenaciously. Let's get on with it!
Step 4: Dancin' 'round the Brass Pole! ... Ok, You Caught Me... I Meant Seven Gauge Brass Rod...
It’s now time to turn our attention to the brass rods, which will be inserted down the gun barrels and support the firearms in an upright position. I took five twelve foot long pieces of brass rod at a time and clamped them in my soft-grip vise so I could cut 14” lengths five at a time. This shortened the overall sawing time tremendously. Afterwards, I rounded off all of the rods on one end on my grinder and my polishing wheels. This end will be inserted down the rifle barrels.
Each of the brass rods were epoxied into the open end of the coupling nut. It’s imperative to make sure that they are straight and not leaning to one side or the other. So take your time and do it right the first time. The seven gauge rod works well for every rifle caliber except for anything smaller than .22 caliber. For .17 HMR or B-B/pellet guns, I used 14” pieces of 11 gauge welding rod. The smaller diameter rod holders was left zinc plated and unpainted. This way, I can visually tell the difference between the two rod diameters.
Step 5: Stick It to Me, BAY-BEE! Uh-huh, Uh-huh!
A 2” square piece of self-adhering Velcro was cut from the roll and attached to the tops of the discs. they were then trimmed with a razor knife and a scissor. This step will take a little time so you may want to do it in front of the TV while watching the latest violent zombie series marathon of your choice.
You're going to have to clean the scissors every once in a while with acetone because it will get gummed up with adhesive from the velcro.
Also, take you time and don’t get sloppy! Fit and finish of the final product are everything. If it doesn’t look professional, it isn’t professional. You’re worth being called a pro and your work should show it!
Step 6: Okay Now, It's Gettin' Good!
I emptied my safe to get the top shelf out. Once it was out, I flipped it upside down and applied the loop carpet to the bottom side of the shelf so the firearm supports could be velcroed to the underside of the shelf. I stapled the carpet to the wood shelf using 1/2" staples in a staggered pattern. I then hammered each staple down into the nap of the carpet.
If you get a carpet lift, smack it down with a staple because you really can't use too many staples. Once installed, you can test-fit the firearm supports and admire how really effective they are.
Step 7: Load'em Up and Move'em In!
It was time to put the rifles back into the safe. And yes, my safe will now hold fourteen additional rifles that previously would not fit. The trick is to arrange the firearms in a logical order based on the measurement of each weapon from the bottom of the trigger guard to the top of the scope or other sighting appurtenance. This does not include the depth of the empty rifle magazines if you decide to keep them in your rifles while stored in the safe (and who doesn’t do that?). So, if you own rifles that take the “Dreaded Banana Magazine”, try to arrange all of them in the same row, whether it be the back row (pacifist-row) or the front row (At-The-Ready-Warrior row). Don't be afraid to experiment with the layout. Spend some time thinking about the hierarchy of the arrangement and the ease of retrieval.
Step 8: Stand Back and Beam With Pride!
I saved so much money fabricating the rifle support rods myself. My supports are sturdier, don’t flex, are corrosion resistant and won't scratch the lands and grooves of the rifle barrels because they are brass similar to your cleaning rods.
By the way, I want to thank my friend from Arizona for allowing me to use photos of his safes in this tutorial. It's amazing how far Bill will drive to take advantage of this kind of creativity. Actually, he assisted quite a bit when he was in my workshop.
Bill's safes are equipped with West Marine air dryers, which have continuous duty fans. These devices are used to keep sailboats dry and mold and mildew-free while moored in the ocean. They really keep the inside of his safes toasty warm and moisture free. Bill stated that his air dryers have been operating for over ten years straight without stopping. I have to get myself one of these for my safe.
I know you’ll grin with intense pleasure when your wife gives you the green light to buy some new firearms now that you have more than enough room to store them properly. You know what? You have one fantastic wife there! How the heck did you get so lucky?... you owe me one for this tutorial!
As of today, every one of my firearms is now safely stored and locked securely in my safe. I no longer have to worry about unintended consequences due to mishandling by children, young adults, amateurs or reckless pajama-boys.
Let me know how this firearm support design works for you. I know you will be very pleased with the results!