Big Wheeler

Nigel Allen


Wheeler-set-2Arguably, screwdrivers are the most used, most important gunsmithing tools – yet how many airgunners ‘make do’ with whatever screwdriver is in the general tool box or immediately to hand? It’s a rhetorical question: you only have to look at the chewed-up screw heads of pre-owned air rifles in the racks of your local gun shop to know the honest answer!

Screw heads vary massively in size, and no single screwdriver is ever going to cater for every slot width, depth and type. Over the years, I’ve accrued loads and loads of different screwdrivers to suit my own and the high volume of test rifles that pass through my hands – and it’s a mighty big tool box, I can tell you!

But they’re all going to the next car boot sale because I’ve just got what I think is the ultimate box of tricks – the Wheeler 72-piece Professional Gunsmithing Screwdriver Set, now being to distributed to UK gun shops courtesy of Edgar Brothers.

Supplied with long-handled and ‘close-quarter’ screwdriver handles, the kit contains 69 Torx, Phillips, Allen and fl at-blade bits – with no fewer than 54 of the latter in a multitude of widths and thicknesses to suit just about every slot-headed screw ever to grace an airgun! Indeed, Wheeler actually measured up over 100 fi rearms before determining the size range for this 72-piece set – and a nice touch is that they’ve doubled up on the thinnest of blades should you inadvertently sheer one.

Not that you’re likely to, mind you. That’s because the bits are made from engineering-quality S2 tool steel, hardened to 56-58 Rockwell ‘C’ – and the flat-blade bits are also hollow-ground, so that they’ll fit into the deepest of slot heads without burring over the tops.

At £84, you might think it’s too much to splash out on, but this is the most comprehensive set of smithing drivers I’ve ever come across, all inside a custom case measuring just 275x185x70mm! Effectively, just over a quid a bit – pretty good considering their high quality.

If you’ve got a special rifle that needs handling with kid-gloves, or just want to keep your kit looking ‘as new’, then a proper set of gunsmithing screwdrivers is easily justified. I can’t see any reason for not investing in one and wish I’d had this Wheeler set 30 odd years ago. If I had, I wouldn’t have bu***red up as many screw heads as I have done!


Using a common screwdriver blade


Using a specially shaped hollow-ground blade

Using a common or garden tapered screwdriver blade on a deep-slotted screw head can cause the slot’s edges to ‘silver’ and, in time burr over – most unsightly! However, a hollow-ground blade is specially shaped to fit into the deepest of slots, for a much more exact fit.

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