AGI Legitimate Gunsmithing Institute?


February 4, 2007, 02:29 AM
I'm thinking about getting some schooling in gunsmithing and hopefully getting certified. Is AGI (American Gunsmithing Institute) a legit and well respected gun smithing school? The course is taught by Bob Dunlap. I don't want to waste my time and money getting a fly-by-night certification. Any direction, help, and comments would be greatly appreciated.
TIA -Sniper

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February 4, 2007, 03:10 AM
From what I understand, Mr. Dunlap is an excellent gunsmith, and has published many books and articles on a variety of firearms.

That said, on the AGI website, it states that the courses are meant for personal information only and are not certified.

If you want the best schools concerning gunsmithing, the three I know of are Pine Technical College (I believe in Oregon), Yavapai Community College (School of Gunsmithing) in Arizona, and the Colorado School of Trades (guess what State that one's in!!!:neener: )

Good luck in your endeavors! There's always room for good gunsmiths.

February 4, 2007, 05:11 AM
AGI videos are thorough and easy to understand. The school offers a lot of valuable instruction too and is probably the best home gun school you can get. The problem with any home course is that you don't really gain the types of knowledge that you need to work in the industry. First and formost, a gunsmith is a machinist. Good welding skills are important too. These and many other skills are best learned hands on. If you want to get work as a gunsmith, hitting one of the actual schools is still the best way.

February 4, 2007, 02:38 PM
From what I've seen and the 'smiths I've talked to, having a solid formal education in machining and welding is probably the best thing you can do if there isn't a program in your area. You will actually have more knowledge and skill then you need for smithing if you complete training in both areas, and we all know you can never know to much.


February 4, 2007, 02:56 PM
No. It's a waste of money. There is a guy here who has a "degree" from them and he's called the "gun butcherer."

Enroll in a certified 'smithing school.

February 4, 2007, 05:29 PM
Thanx for all your input thus far guys.
There is a guy here who has a "degree" from them and he's called the "gun butcherer."
With any kind of training I would still never consider gunsmithing on my own. I would start out as an apprentice to someone with a good rep and plenty of work.
I'm not trying to do this full time, more like a hobby. I don't know how much $ gunsmiths make, but here in Atlanta I doubt theres enough work to feed a family.

Keep it comin' guys (and gals):)

February 4, 2007, 06:16 PM
One of my favorite gunsmith jokes: What can a large pizza do that a gunsmith can't? Feed a family of four! :neener:

February 4, 2007, 11:15 PM
The instructors are top notch gunsmiths but you can only get so much from home schooling. I don't know who recognizes their certifications other then them.
Check with your state department of labor for a gunsmith apprenticeship program.
You can get machine training from local community collages if you work many offer night courses, and find a smith looking for help to apprentice to, some state programs allow for tax breaks for the smith or help paying apprentices wages.
I have apprentices on and off, I train them to do the work in my shop my way no school does that.
Good luck

February 4, 2007, 11:39 PM
A friend of mine that had his own shop for a number of years said AGI was the best gunsmithing program you could do. Taught a bunch on how to take guns apart and fix common problems. However, a schoolin program does not a gunsmith make.


February 5, 2007, 09:04 AM
Well, you can watch Norm Abrams build a cabinet on PBS.
Will that make you a certified finish carpenter????

February 5, 2007, 02:43 PM

Remember that the only REAL professional certification anyone needs to be a gunsmith is an FFL.

There are--and were--plenty of excellent gunsmiths who have been practicing for decades who NEVER saw the inside of a classroom concerning firearms.

As a matter of fact, how did all of those old master 'smiths ever learn without a college campus?

A true gunsmith and a good machinist/welder are NOT necessarily the same. A true gunsmith is defined by their love for the firearms they work on. They are encyclopedic in their knowledge and understanding of the inner workings of firearms, and have the patience to do the job right.

One good example of a current master gunsmith who (AFAIK) never went to a gunsmithing school started out as a watchmaker.

As far as I know, until he made a name for himself he was never "certified" as a gunsmith. No degrees in the fine arts of gun repair.

Yet I don't know of ANYONE who would not give blood to get a 1911 made or worked on by Bill Wilson.

If you want it, go for it! Best of luck to you.

February 6, 2007, 09:41 AM
Never seen that term before Powderman - are you refering to Grant Cunningham?
A Gunsmith is a craftsman and a good one takes many years to evolve. A love of guns is the first requirement. You are what you do and while a certificate is a good thing to have a solid knowlege of machining and metalergy plus real skill (which comes with practice) at machining is what really matters. Having this knowlege will make you valuable in many areas and if you develop the attention to detail and personal integety which makes your work that of a FINE craftsman you will be sought after to the point that you will not only be able to feed your family but feed them well gunsmithing or not. I work with electronics but regardles of the field the people who do it just for the money are usually hacks at best but those who do it because they love it and work til the job is done and take pride in their work are the ones who excel. Learn the basics and work with gunsmithing as a hobby (find guns in distress that can be had cheap) until you can find someone you can learn from so you can DO it then if you want ceritfication get it. By that time you could be confident and skilled enough you don't need it.

February 6, 2007, 12:54 PM
AFAIK = As Far As I Know

And, unless I am gravely mistaken, the gunsmith I was referring to was Bill Wilson. I believe that he is totally self-taught.

February 7, 2007, 12:16 PM
Genrick Good advice. After you said that I realize that finding a good machinist and/or welder is tough so even if the guns were not paying the bills the odd jobs would.

February 12, 2007, 10:38 PM

Another excellent gunsmithing school is Lassen Community College, Susanville, California. As far as AGI goes, as with any other correspondence type of school, the quality of the results depend almost entirely on the quality and motivation of the student.


February 12, 2007, 10:49 PM
Several benefits of welding/machinist training:

Lots of places offer it that don't offer gunsmithing

There is never a shortage of work if you decide to do it for a living

A moderate investment in tools for your home shop, means you will never need to buy another part again (now whether it'd have been easier/cheaper to do so is a completely different story).

If you're really interested, a good correspondence course and some project guns will get you going.


February 12, 2007, 10:56 PM
Dunlap knows what he is talking about . I graduated from Lassen when he taught there and worked for him for a couple of years . No it is not the same as attending a school but it depends on what you want to do. There are also plenty of gun butchers that have graduated from many of the gunsmithing trade schools. And you don't have to have a degree to call yourself a gunsmith any guy can get a FFL and hang his shingle out there

4v50 Gary
February 12, 2007, 11:03 PM
I took several classes from Bob Dunlap at Lassen College. He's quite knowledgeable and is very skilled as a gunsmith who specialized in repairing guns.

Now, I don't know about the quality of the course, but I would guess that they're good. However, if one wanted to pursue a career in gunsmithing, they should attend their local junior college and learn to machine operations, welding and take some metallurgy courses (engineering) so they know something about metal properties.

Even with the complete AGI course and machine operations and welding, one should spend a couple of years in the gunshop for hands-on work with a gunsmith.

February 13, 2007, 08:15 AM
He was starting to film them while I was still working at PISCO . They were supposed to be the same material he presented in the DFR classes at Lassen,but with a more "correct" presentation . But I have never seen them so I really can't tell you how they compair to a class

February 14, 2007, 04:55 PM
There is a distinction between the armorer's/gunsmithing videos that most people equate with AGI, and their full-blown gunsmithing course, which is shown and described here:

This looks much more comprehensive. It must be expensive too, because I can't find a price for it anywhere. In the true heroin-dealer's tradition, they'll send you a free sample to get you started. I'm guessing it's much more involved than the 1-3 volume sets they have on everything else.

February 15, 2007, 04:40 AM
I'd say if you want to be a very good hobbyist, go the AGI route and tinker, help out friends etc... If you want to be a pro and earn a living at it, go to one of the schools (like you would for any profession), the AGI videos will make great reference materials.

The mention of Wilson not going to school is interesting...but his route would be way longer, harder and pobably more expensive then just attending a gunsmithing college in the first place. That and it's easy to look at the successful guy and say "look, he did it" but how many countless others have failed? Is the success rate higher for those who attended a school vs those who are self-taught or take a home course?

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