Best CNC Machine for Gunsmithing in 2021 (Reviews and Comparison)

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We admire hand-crafted pieces from hand-held tools because they’re unique, but imagine duplicating such success not only quickly but consistently.

A gunsmithing CNC Machine craftsman must invest the time to learn their machine’s ins and outs and experiment to get the best results. The pay-off comes in the ability to consistently recreate a design for a handful of people who admire the work.

Some turn their hobby into a career. Imagine the return-of-investment when you can pull up a file and deliver intricate professionally engraved pieces.

We are here to help you choose a CNC machine to get you to that point.

Here is a brief comparison chart to see the devices we reviewed side-by-side.

COMPARISON CHART

IMAGE PRODUCT

Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Router Kit GRBL Control 3 Axis Plastic Acrylic PCB PVC Wood Carving Milling Engraving Machine, XYZ Working Area 300x180x45mm

Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO
  • Frame Material: PF+ Aluminum
  • Z-Axis Component Material: Nylon
  • Spindle: 775 motor, 24V, 10k RPM
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VEVOR CNC Machine 4 Axis CNC Router 3040 CNC Router Engraver Machine 500W CNC Router Engraving Drilling Milling Machine MACH3 with Usb Port for DIY Artwork Cutter 4 Axis,3040,500W

Vevor CNC Machine 4 Axis CNC Router 3040
  • Frame Material: 6061 Aluminum Alloy + 6063 Industrial Aluminum
  • Z-Axis Component Material: 1202 Trapezoidal Screws
  • Spindle: 8k RPM
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SainSmart Genmitsu CNC Router Machine 3018-PROVer with GRBL Offline Control, Limit Switches & Emergency-Stop, XYZ Working Area 300 x 180 x 45mm

SainSmart Genmitsu CNC Router Machine 3018-PROVer
  • Frame Material: Aluminum and Acrylic (buffers)
  • Z-Axis Component Material: ABS
  • Spindle: 775 motor, 12-24V, 10k RPM
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Next Wave Shark SD120 CNC Machine

Next Wave Shark SD120 CNC Machine
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Z-Axis Component Material: Carbide V Bit
  • Spindle: Sold separately
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Mophorn CNC Machine 3018 GRBL Control Wood Engraving Machine 3 Axis CNC Router with Offline Controller Milling Machine for Wood PVCs PCBs

Mophorn CNC Machine 3018 GRBL Control
  • Frame Material: 2020 Aluminum
  • Z-Axis Component Material: T8 stainless steel screw rods
  • Spindle: 775 motor, 12-36V,10k RPM
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Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Router Kit GRBL Control 3 Axis Plastic Acrylic PCB PVC Wood Carving Milling Engraving Machine, XYZ Working Area 300x180x45mm

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Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Router Kit GRBL Control 3 Axis Plastic Acrylic PCB PVC Wood Carving Milling Engraving Machine, XYZ Working Area 300x180x45mm

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Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Router Kit GRBL Control 3 Axis Plastic Acrylic PCB PVC Wood Carving Milling Engraving Machine, XYZ Working Area 300x180x45mm

Specification

Effective Engraving Area300 X 180 X 45 mm
11.8 X 7.1 X 1.8″
Frame Size400 X 330 X 240 mm
15.7 X 13.0 X 9.4″
Frame MaterialPF+ Aluminum
Z-Axis Component MaterialNylon
Spindle775 motor, 24V, 10k RPM
Rated Power60W (Max: 120W)

The CNC 3018-PRO isn’t the latest developed by SainSmart, but it still has amazing features and advantages over newer devices. It uses Arduino and Grbl support, and it has video tutorials, training and other user-created content online already.

WHAT WE LIKE

It cuts accurately and precisely, which makes the reproduction of a project far easier. You can make accurate duplicates of various items and trust the 3018-PRO to be consistent each time. 

The 3018-Pro has great add-ons that help you expand your work scope. You can cut harder substances with an all-metal carrier for your Z-Axis and/or expand your work table with a Y-Extension.

The 3018-Pro requires assembly, though the assembly process does allow you to see exactly what goes where and how it all fits together. 

PROS

  • Excellent starter machine with online tutorials and content.
  • It offers an add-on Laser for great precision burning.
  • Increase your work scope with add-ons
  • The offline controller module complements its portability.

CONS

  • The extensions are really cool but you must pay extra.
  • Assembly may be difficult for beginners.
  • You might have incorrect information from online resources
CHECK PRICE

VEVOR CNC Machine 4 Axis CNC Router 3040 CNC Router Engraver Machine 500W CNC Router Engraving Drilling Milling Machine MACH3 with Usb Port for DIY Artwork Cutter 4 Axis,3040,500W

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VEVOR CNC Machine 4 Axis CNC Router 3040 CNC Router Engraver Machine 500W CNC Router Engraving Drilling Milling Machine MACH3 with Usb Port for DIY Artwork Cutter 4 Axis,3040,500W

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VEVOR CNC Machine 4 Axis CNC Router 3040 CNC Router Engraver Machine 500W CNC Router Engraving Drilling Milling Machine MACH3 with Usb Port for DIY Artwork Cutter 4 Axis,3040,500W

Specification

Effective Engraving Area300 X 400 X 55 mm
11.8 X 7.9 X 2.2″
Frame Size610 X 450 X 390 mm
24 X 17.7 X 15.4″
Frame Material6061 Aluminum Alloy + 6063 Industrial Aluminum
Z-Axis Component Material1202 Trapezoidal Screws
Spindle8k RPM
Rated Power500W

The CNC 3018-PRO isn’t the latest developed by SainSmart, but it still has amazing features and advantages over newer devices. It uses Arduino and Grbl support, and it has video tutorials, training and other user-created content online already.

WHAT WE LIKE

It cuts accurately and precisely, which makes the reproduction of a project far easier. You can make accurate duplicates of various items and trust the 3018-PRO to be consistent each time. 

The 3018-Pro has great add-ons that help you expand your work scope. You can cut harder substances with an all-metal carrier for your Z-Axis and/or expand your work table with a Y-Extension.

The 3018-Pro requires assembly, though the assembly process does allow you to see exactly what goes where and how it all fits together.

PROS

  • Excellent starter machine with online tutorials and content.
  • It offers an add-on Laser for great precision burning.
  • Increase your work scope with add-ons
  • The offline controller module complements its portability.

CONS

  • The extensions are really cool but you must pay extra.
  • Assembly may be difficult for beginners.
  • You might have incorrect information from online resources
CHECK PRICE

SainSmart Genmitsu CNC Router Machine 3018-PROVer with GRBL Offline Control, Limit Switches & Emergency-Stop, XYZ Working Area 300 x 180 x 45mm

CHECK PRICE

SainSmart Genmitsu CNC Router Machine 3018-PROVer with GRBL Offline Control, Limit Switches & Emergency-Stop, XYZ Working Area 300 x 180 x 45mm

CHECK PRICE

SainSmart Genmitsu CNC Router Machine 3018-PROVer with GRBL Offline Control, Limit Switches & Emergency-Stop, XYZ Working Area 300 x 180 x 45mm

Specification

Effective Engraving Area300 X 400 X 55 mm
11.8 X 7.9 X 2.2″
Frame Size610 X 450 X 390 mm
24 X 17.7 X 15.4″
Frame Material6061 Aluminum Alloy + 6063 Industrial Aluminum
Z-Axis Component Material1202 Trapezoidal Screws
Spindle8k RPM
Rated Power500W

Sain Smart’s 3018-PROVer comes mostly pre-assembled, saving you time so you can get to work quickly. Its sleek, sturdy design matches the great features it offers.

Let’s talk about tech. The 3018 comes with an offline controller to review readouts and control the device without connecting to a computer. It now uses Toshiba TB6s109 drivers for better performance but still utilizes open-source Grbl v1.1. You can even take manual control of the mill without a computer if you want as well.

WHAT WE LIKE

The 3018 also protects its users with limit switches to prevent the Axis from moving beyond its range. The Emergency Switch will kill power to the machine and stop it in the case of an emergency. Acrylic safety baffles protect you so you can see what the device is doing and also contains dust.

The customer service could be of better help, but it worked as intended. It even came with 2 US plugs; nice to have a spare just in case.

PROS

  • Comes mostly pre-assembled (15min. assembly out-of-box).
  • Great safety features – limit switches and emergency switch.
  • Amazing aesthetic design.

CONS

  • The laser module is great but purchased separately as an upgrade.
  • Difficult dealing with the company for replacement of defective parts.
  • Some bits don’t deliver on the promise.
CHECK PRICE

Next Wave Shark SD120 CNC Machine

CHECK PRICE

Next Wave Shark SD120 CNC Machine

CHECK PRICE

Next Wave Shark SD120 CNC Machine

Specification

Effective Engraving Area300 X 400 X 55 mm
11.8 X 7.9 X 2.2″
Frame Size610 X 450 X 390 mm
24 X 17.7 X 15.4″
Frame Material6061 Aluminum Alloy + 6063 Industrial Aluminum
Z-Axis Component Material1202 Trapezoidal Screws
Spindle8k RPM
Rated Power500W

Beginners to CNC machines enjoy the benefits of the Shark SD120 coming fully assembled. This compact piece is on the larger side but still fits easily on the side of your work table. It offers a large engraving area that accommodates most pieces you will come across. This allows you to work on other projects like plaques and signs, which stretches your repertoire beyond gunsmithing.

WHAT WE LIKE

The 3D carving capabilities along with a sizable library of 3D models allows you to cut intricate pieces with complex engravings. 

The Shark SD120’s software allows you to proceed in two ways. Use the Pendant interface to control the device and create a project you can later transfer to a USB to plug into the pendant- no need for a computer.

The second way requires a computer and allows you to tackle more challenging projects. Now, your creativity is your limiting factor. The Virtual Zero Unlimited programming fits your design so it matches curves and angles previously thought impossible.

It would be nice if the routers were actually included; it’s almost on par with Mophorn’s 3018 GRBL Control not having software.

PROS

  • Large engraving area.
  • Can be used without a computer.
  • Comes fully assembled.

CONS

  • Requires a PC to do the more complicated work and take full advantage.
  • Requires a good amount of space.
  • Difficult to move.
  • Routers are sold separately.
CHECK PRICE

Mophorn CNC Machine 3018 GRBL Control Wood Engraving Machine 3 Axis CNC Router with Offline Controller Milling Machine for Wood PVCs PCBs

CHECK PRICE

Mophorn CNC Machine 3018 GRBL Control Wood Engraving Machine 3 Axis CNC Router with Offline Controller Milling Machine for Wood PVCs PCBs

CHECK PRICE

Mophorn CNC Machine 3018 GRBL Control Wood Engraving Machine 3 Axis CNC Router with Offline Controller Milling Machine for Wood PVCs PCBs

Specification

Effective Engraving Area300 X 400 X 55 mm
11.8 X 7.9 X 2.2″
Frame Size610 X 450 X 390 mm
24 X 17.7 X 15.4″
Frame Material6061 Aluminum Alloy + 6063 Industrial Aluminum
Z-Axis Component Material1202 Trapezoidal Screws
Spindle8k RPM
Rated Power500W

WHAT WE LIKE

This CNC machine offers a good number of features. The frame is sturdy aluminum, and the drills and step motor are strong and cut well. It has a simple design, but that makes it perfect for those who want to learn the hobby. 

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

It is a compact device, which makes it highly portable. This benefits those who live in apartment complexes or neighborhoods where noise may be an issue. Just take the Mophorn 3018 and set up shop in a less crowded area.

The Mophorn CNC Machine 3018 GRBL Control supports Windows XP SP3, win7, win8, win 10 and Linux. However, it lacks the software to utilize it as efficiently and effectively as it can be run. People offer programs online but at a cost. I see this as a huge disadvantage because while things like add-ons we expect to cost extra, basic software should be included.

Consistency is not one of this device’s strong strengths either, and sudden, unknown stops may cause you to scrap the piece you were working on. 

PROS

  • Excellent starter machine with online tutorials and content.
  • It offers an add-on Laser for great precision burning.
  • Increase your work scope with add-ons
  • The offline controller module complements its portability.

CONS

  • The extensions are really cool but you must pay extra.
  • Assembly may be difficult for beginners.
  • You might have incorrect information from online resources

Buyer’s Guide

Space

Consider how much room you have in your work area before buying a CNC machine for gunsmithing. It should be a no-brainer, but it’s a limitation many overlook as they get caught up in the excitement of gear. Bust out that tape measure and make sure you don’t buy something you will have to return. Measure twice, buy once.

Weight

Think about the CNC machine’s weight early on by deciding what you plan to do with it. Manufacturers make models that will fit easily on a desktop and others that could crush your desktop. 

Go for something lighter if it will be something you need to move constantly. Buy heavier models if they will be stationary. More importantly, keep your requirements and restrictions at the forefront of the selection process.

Power

Don’t neglect how much power your machine requires to run. You’ll need lots of power to cut through metal, and some of it will be particularly tough to cut through. Don’t buy a machine that’s perfect for your workshop and budget but blows the power every time it’s turned on.

Affordability

Cost is more than the monetary investment to buy a CNC machine. Be mindful of how much time and effort you will spend to learn the ins and outs of your machine. 

We fully enjoy all that we can do with our machines, and we certainly don’t mean to dissuade you if you are a first-timer. But ask yourself if you are willing to invest all of this time  and money? There are few worse things for the furthering of a craft than to have individuals do it all and then have the worst time.

Closing Thoughts

The best all-around CNC machine is the Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO. It is an excellent choice for someone starting out, and there are tons of resources available to you. Let’s not forget you can either add on several features as you gain experience or buy them all as an experienced user.

The world of CNC machining does not cheapen the craftsmanship of an artist. It magnifies it and multiplies it so many others can enjoy the art. Don’t let fools on the Internet fool you into thinking it’s as easy as “CTRL-C” and “CTRL-V” (cut and paste).

Other Recommendations:

https://arcandanvil.com/best-arbor-press/

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