Expert Gunsmithing Services Available Through Veronesi Gunworks

| February 7, 2019

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT) – Firearms can be many things to different people, from a means of protection to a sustenance to a family heirloom, but when a firearm needs work, who do you turn to?

Veronesi Gunworks, located just outside New Bethlehem, is a business dedicated not only to the sale of firearms, accessories, and related items but also to a full range of expert gunsmithing services.

“We are the only full-time shop in the area that does real gunsmithing, beyond just mounting a scope or putting a sling on a gun. We actually build guns and we work on everything from flintlocks to machine guns,” owner Tony Veronesi told exploreVenango.com.

They are also one of the few Class III NFA weapons dealers in the area, meaning they can sell suppressors, short barreled shotguns, and even machine guns.

Veronesi began his business from his father’s basement in 1996 and graduated from the Pennsylvania Gunsmith School in 1998. After his graduation, he first built a shop in Seminole before purchasing and renovating their current building, located on State Route 28 just south of New Bethlehem on the outskirts of Distant, in 2013.

“We walked in the basement here, and some of the ceiling tiles were missing. I could see corrugated steel up above, which meant there was a concrete floor upstairs. I made the decision right then that we were going to buy it, and we bought it that day,” said Veronesi.

With a showroom and sales floor upstairs showcasing everything from Liberty Gun Safes to a wide range of firearm options and a workshop downstairs stocked with every imaginable tool a gunsmith could need, Veronesi Gunworks has a lot to offer.

Veronesi equipment

Fire Restoration

One of the vital services Veronesi offers is fire restoration.

“When someone has a house fire, and their guns are not in a Liberty Safe, even if there’s no heat damage to the gun, the stock’s not charred, nothing’s melted, nothing like that, the smoke from the burning insulation and construction materials is very acidic, so what happens is, most guns are blued, that acidic smoke and soot gets on the gun and it’s hygroscopic so it draws moisture out of the air,” Veronesi explained.

“Then you’ve got a wet acid on the blued metal and it begins attacking it right away. It removes the bluing within hours. It’s fast. So what happens, we want to get the guns in just as soon as possible. We want to get them here, and we have a special solution that we put them in that neutralizes the acid to stop the damage, because if it’s let go, they’ll rust and pit very deeply.”

According to Veronesi, after neutralizing the acid, they then tear the gun apart and assess it for damage.

“If we get the guns fast enough, usually we can just get by with cleaning them, putting them back together, and sending them on their way. That’s rare though. Usually, if we don’t get them within a few hours of the fire, they do need re-blued, and if they come in weeks after the fire, which sometimes happens, sometimes they’re a lost cause. They can be rusted enough that we can’t polish the pits out. The metal can get so rusted and pitted it can’t be saved.”

While rusting and pitting from smoke damage is the major concern with firearms that have been through a structure fire, the often strong and lingering smoke smell is another aspect.

“No one wants to get their guns back smelling like a house fire,” Veronesi said. “The solution that we use to neutralize the acidity also removes the smell from the firearms. The wood sometimes does need to be refinished to get rid of that smell, and if it’s not a sealed finish, if it’s an open grained wood, that smell can kind of permeate the wood and we can’t remove it, so what we do then is we seal it in by finishing over it.”

Some gun owners may be concerned about the cost of this kind of restoration following a fire, but according to Veronesi, that may be less of a problem than people realize.

“Most homeowners insurance, if your firearms are stolen, will only cover up to $3,000.00, but if they are in a house fire, they will cover you for significantly more, up to the amount that you’re insured for. Most homeowners insurance does cover the restoration of firearms after a fire.”

Veronesi equipment 2

Other Services

Although fire restoration is one of the more common types of restoration they handle at Veronesi Gunworks, they have a full range of gunsmithing services and handle all kind of firearm projects.

“Say someone brings in grandpa’s old firearm that the bluing’s worn off, whether it’s that or restoration from fire damage, it’s really the same process. We polish the metal to remove all of the pits that are possible to remove. Sometimes you do have a pit that is deeper than the stamping on a gun, and you have to leave the stamping, so you’re forced to leave a little bit of pitting. Then we polish them, and then they get dipped into a bluing tank, which is a boiling bath of chemicals that creates a black oxide on the outside surfaces of the metal, called bluing, that offers moderate protection from rusting, and it’s a decorative finish.”

While bluing is the most common finish for firearms, it isn’t the only one. At Veronesi’s, they’re prepared to handle anything from Cerakote, a thin film ceramic coating for which Veronesi’s even specially manufactures in their own ovens, to color case hardening.

“Color case hardening is a very old finish. It’s used to harden the metal and also fancy it up a bit with beautiful mottled case colors,” Veronesi explained.

“When you look at a lot of older firearms they’re finished like this because they were made of low-carbon steel that couldn’t be hardened by traditional heat treating, so with color case hardening, you’re actually forcing carbon into the outside of the steel and then quenching it. The reason it’s called case hardening is you have a case of very hard steel on the outside with the steel soft in the middle.”

While the finish is obviously important, to keep a gun unrusted and in top firing condition, it needs to be in firing condition first, and that can be an issue with some older gun restorations.

Parts for older guns aren’t always easy to procure, but that doesn’t stop an expert.

“We do welding if a firearm is too worn, and we can’t get parts for it and need to weld up the old parts. If parts need machined or even made because they’re obsolete or you can’t find one, we have the machinery, mills, lathes, surface grinders, and heat treating ovens, that we can do that in-house,” Veronesi said.

“If you need a firearm engraved, we also have a laser-engraver here, so we can do engraving. If there is a firearm that needs to be restored and the pitting is deeper than the engraving, a lot of times we can even engrave the existing engraving deeper, and then we can polish the pits off, but we’re taking higher-end restoration here.”

Veronesi-Gunworks-Engraving

Taking on Projects Large and Small

In a conversation with Veronesi, it is hard to miss his love for his work and the respect he has for the firearms that his customers entrust to him.

“A lot of times someone will bring a gun in that was their grandfather’s. Firearms are often kind of a prized possession. I can’t think of any other consumer product that people say ‘this was my grandfather’s and he gave it to my dad when he was a kid and my dad gave it to me’. What else lasts that long? A lot of the total restorations are like that, where people say ‘I want this to look like it did in 1943 when my grandpa bought it new’.”

According to Veronesi, they’ve had the opportunity to handle many restoration projects, including a few really historic guns.

“We restored a 1914 Hotchkiss French machine gun from World War I to firing condition, and we also restored a French Chauchat, which is a French light machine gun, to firing condition.”

Their expertise has made them the go-to business for many in the firearms industry in our region, from other gun shops who don’t have their own gunsmith in-house, to a number of rental ranges who bring their guns to Veronesi for servicing.

“If it’s anything big, they send it here.”


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