We’re talking, of course, about our nemesis, Bubba the Gunsmith. Bubba is dim, but crafty and possessed of a certain animal cunning; he doesn’t appear wearing an oily shirt with an oval “Bubba” name patch embroidered over his heart. Nope, he’s insidious and and the evil he does lives on long after he’s interred; but he may call himself by many other names. (One sure clue: if the guy says, “I got it like that. Sumdood done it,” you’re in the presence of the doer: Bubba his ownself). But in general, you can’t count on the Gump of Gunsmithing to out himself.
Fortunately, while he can hide himself, he can’t hide his effects. By his fruits shall ye know him; Bubba’s telltale spoor is as recognizable as a reindeer herd on the Lapland snows; to follow his sign you only need the skill it takes to follow tracks. Train tracks. Here are a few of the “tells” that suggest that you’re dealing with Bubba’s enthusiastic if untamed craftsmanship:
- #1: Your M16/AR-15 front sight base has screws instead of factory-style taper pins. Double Bubba Points for wood screws. Treble points if it’s visibly canted. The first photo shows a screw-on FSB, which people use because they’re afraid of screwing up a drill, ream and pin job (a screwup that’s really possible if you’re reckless or overconfident, and don’t make or acquire a jig). Source: an ARFCOM thread, now archived. Second photo shows a canted FSB from another ARFCOM thread. While a canted FSB is normally a Bubba product these days, Colt built a few over the years, often when their UAW local was looking for a new contract. A canted FSB may not be visible to the naked eye, but you will run the rear sight all the way to one side and still be off target. Bubba is in Da House.
- #2: Your AK trunnion is attached to the sheet metal receiver by screws instead of factory-style rivets. Extra Bubba Points if they’re wood screws here, too. (And welding is also half-assed and a sign that Bubba is in Da House). Like the AR screws, this is caused by fear of using the right industrial process: set rivets. Mikhail his ownself says, use rivets. This screw job is even sadder, as AK-Builder and others will sell you the right tool for short money, and it’s easy to do this right. (It can be difficult to get an AR FSB right).
- #3: Your barrel was shortened by hacksaw and Mark I eyeball, and so it’s not exactly straight. (“What’s a muzzle crown?” says Bubba. He thinks it’s a Japanese gentlemen who keeps flagging you at the range).
- #4: After he hacksawed the barrel off, Bubba never got around to attaching a front sight. You can only focus on one sight at a time, so why waste time installing two?
- #5: There’s a Dremel tool on the gunsmith bench. (Every smith probably owns a Dremel, but the non-Bubbas have the decency to stow it away. The tool in the open will be a Foredom). Bubba uses the Dremel for everything that he doesn’t use a hacksaw or hammer for.
- #6: After the trigger job, your revolver is DAO.
- #7: After the trigger job, your AR doubles.
- #8: Your gunsmith also doubles — as a lawyer, telling you the ATF will not care about your double-firing AR. (They’ll take great delight in sending you to Club Fed until 2023 or so).
- #9: He has an AR with one of more of the trigger guard bosses on the lower receiver broken off. (Extra points if it’s your AR, which was fine when you gave it to him. Double extra points if he built it from a forging or 80% lower, and there’s no trigger guard because he doesn’t have the right drill. Treble extra points if there’s no bolt hold-open because he also doesn’t have the right long drill).
- #10: Your scope crosshairs are a few degrees off plumb. Extra Double Bubba points for every degree beyond 3º that it’s off.
The cold, hard, ugly fact is that Bubba is in a whole lotta houses out there, and he’s sawing, hammering, and don’t forget Dremeling his way into new adventures even as we speak.