By: Mary and Dr. Jim Clary
We have to take issue with the name, as it is not only for gunsmiths. It is our opinion that virtually all shooters and firearms owners, not just gunsmiths, should have this set on their bench.
Jim has lost count of the firearms in our collection. Suffice it to say that we do not want the exact number publicized. Some of them date to pre-WWII days, over 70 years ago. And it goes without saying that "standardized" screws don't seem to exist between gun manufacturers.
When you tear up the head of what should be a five cent screw and it costs $0.99 or more to replace (if you can even find one), or scratch the receiver of a valuable firearm, the Smart Drive 90 set becomes not only a bargain, but a "must have". As shooters, we spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on our firearms and scopes, but commonly go cheap on the screwdrivers necessary for their maintenance.
Some of us made do for years with a $25 generic "gunsmith kit" that we got on sale at a hardware store, but in the repair, take-down and maintenance of our firearms, there were always screws that the bits didn't quite fit. As such, we are guilty of inflicting unnecessary damage on screw heads and occasionally the surrounding metal. Finally, when my loving husband slipped and scratched the finish on my favorite rifle, I said enough was enough. We needed a professional-grade kit before more screws (and guns) got messed up. When I saw the Smart Drive 90 at the 2019 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, I knew that was the set that I had been looking for for years.
The set comes with two handles, one for general work and a smaller one for close quarters, which also “plugs” into the larger handle to produce more torque or as Real Avid calls it: “Force Assist”. The Smart Drive 90 has more bits than I would have ever thought necessary, 87 to be exact. All of them made from high quality tool steel and black oxide coated to retard rust. The Real Avid folks state that their bits will fit all modern firearms and the vast majority of antique ones. So, Jim dragged our 1861 Colt Navy out of the safe and began to disassemble it. My fear turned to amazement and relief in short order, there was a bit that precisely fit every screw head in that old pistol.
It goes without saying that there are bits for our modern guns, but being prudent testers, we checked them out on our collection of Winchesters, Remingtons, Rugers and Savages. Since we were “stripping” the guns for our test, we decided that it would be a good idea to give each gun a thorough cleaning in the process. All we can say is: With the Real Avid kit, our guns have never been in better shape.
Just in case a few readers aren't familiar with the difference between "gunsmith" flat tips and the standard flat tips that you get in your hardware store, gunsmith screwdriver tips are hollow ground. The sides of the blade are parallel at the tip. A typical hardware store screwdriver blade is tapered all the way to the flat end of its tip, with the result that it will not bottom out in a gun screw slot, which always has parallel sides. This is why standard screwdrivers so often slip out of gun screws.
The folks at Real Avid have included every flat blade, Phillips, Hex and Torx tip that you will ever need. And, if all that wasn't enough, they included a scope-turret tool to simplify scope adjustments on the bench or at the range. Essentially, they thought of everything, including an LED on the large driver to illuminate your work area.
The components of the Smart Drive 90 Gunsmithing Kit are:
Large driver with rubberized handle, spin top and LED magnetic tip
Small driver with rubberized handle for Force Assist & tight spaces
Magnetic parts tray in the case
87 standard & metric black oxide coated gun bits
Hollow ground/square cut slotted tips:
3mm Group (9 bits), .5mm-1mm thickness
3.8mm Group (4 bits), .7mm-1mm thickness
4.7mm Group (4 bits), .6mm-.9mm thickness
5.4mm Group (10 bits), .4mm-1.2mm thickness
6mm Group (7 bits), .6mm-1.2mm thickness
7mm Group (9 bits), .6mm-1.5mm thickness
7.6mm Group (5 bits), .8mm-1.5mm thickness
8.6mm Group (6 bits), .7mm-1.6mm thickness
9mm Group (6 bits), .8mm-1.8mm thickness
Torx: T10, T15, T20, T25
Phillips: PH0, PH1, PH2, PH3
Metric hex: 1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm
Standard hex: 1/16", 5/64", 3/32", 7/64", 1/8", 9/64", 5/32", 3/16", 7/32", 15/64", 1/4"
The MSRP for the Smart Drive 90 Gunsmithing Kit is $99.99, which is a bargain for the quality and quantity of tools that are in the kit.