Question for professional gunsmiths


B.D. Turner
February 24, 2007, 09:24 PM
I am interested in becoming a gunsmith. I would like to open a small shop here at home. I was looking for an online gunsmithing school due to all the in school training is far away from here. What are your thoughts on an online school?
I have been a gun hobbiest for over 25 years and was the sheriff's office armorer for a few years working on USP and AR-15's.

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February 24, 2007, 09:28 PM
Online schools are worthless.

If you want the education you'll need to pack up and head to the Colorado School of Trades, Lassen, Montogomery or Trinidad College(s).

B.D. Turner
February 24, 2007, 10:03 PM
Thats pretty much what I thought Green thanks for making up my mind. There is a good gunsmith school at Montgomery Community College but it is half way across the state from here. I may look around for a small shop who needs a little help in exchange for some training. This is something I could do on my days off. I am confident that I can do basic work at this point.

Does a gunsmith need an FFL? I had thought of opening up doing scope mounts, stock bedding, refinishing, cleaning. I would also like to sell hunting supplies and ammunition.

February 24, 2007, 11:54 PM
In the next couple months the U.S. Department of Labor will have an apprenticeship program for gunsmithing, with certificates for Firearms repair specialists, and journeyman certificates for Gunsmithing, barrel and stock makers, as well as master certificates. It will require a sponsor but their are incentives for the sponsor to take on apprentices so their should be openings for applicants. Veterans will be able to use their GI bill as well. their is some info at .

Jim K
February 25, 2007, 12:34 AM
The topic has been well covered and I suggest a search for previous threads. Yes, a gunsmith needs an FFL if he charges and/or keeps any firearms overnight. If you plan in going into business for yourself, the FFL is the easy part compared to all the other licenses and permits you will need, plus training in running a business as well as in gunsmithing. You need tools, equipment, and money to start up. Just getting a place to work is a hassle, not to mention "details" like insurance (gotta have it!). Don't work out of your home, even if legal. You will regret it.


February 25, 2007, 02:25 AM
As for insurance, the only place I could find that will insure a gunsmith (nope, allstate, farmers and state farm won't) is this place (

A lawyer friend of mine also recommended setting up an LLC for your business to protect you. The insurance helps, but you need to distance yourself from liability since you never know who will sue you and for what. You need to be able to walk away if things go south and not expose yourself to personal liability.

I was wondering if insurance is necessary at all with an LLC, except that they can take any assets possessed by the company. I don't know if that protects you entirely from personal liability or not. I sure wish this country wasn't so litigious... :fire:

February 26, 2007, 03:31 PM
They can and will sue you personally, by alleging you were negligent. After the case is over you fijnd out if you personally were/are liable. And if you borrow money the bank will require you be personally liable. If you have employees or partners an LLC will help. But you'll still need insurance.

February 26, 2007, 03:48 PM
That $1000 per year minimum they quoted me is sure prohibitive. Sheesh.

February 26, 2007, 04:50 PM
I've taken several of the mail order courses over the years. Yes, you do learn a lot, but no, it doesn't teach you what you need to know to do it as a business. While I wouldn't say they're absolutely worthless, I'd say they're pretty close to it and a waste of money if you're serious about becoming a smith. If I remember right, there's a gunsmithing school in PA. That's about as close as you're going to get, as there are only 5 that I know of in the entire country.

An FFL is required if you keep the serialed part (receiver) overnight. If you work on non serialed parts as I do, or can do the work while the customer waits, you're legal, but that's very limiting in what you are allowed to do. Some places allow home occupation permits as a gun store and you can get an FFL there if there are no state or local issues that would prevent it. The ATF is highly critical of home based gun shops though, so it takes a lot of convincing them that you are serious about making it a business.

February 26, 2007, 04:52 PM
Isn't there a significant difference between a gunsmithing FFL and a dealer FFL? Is it easier to get a gunsmithing FFL to work out of your home? I assume it would be.

B.D. Turner
February 26, 2007, 08:40 PM
Thanks for the help and info. With everything involved it's a wonder anyone is in the gunsmith business.

February 26, 2007, 08:43 PM
You need a FFL and a class 3 license if you want to work on full autos , although both of the places I worked had a variance to use there repair tickets for there "bound book" to make record keeping easier . Isn't it nice the feds are trying to make our life easier :barf: We're from the govt and we're here to help:barf:

March 5, 2007, 09:15 PM
Gunsmithing is a little like being a musician, an actor, a photographer, a model, painter, a writer, a professional ball player, etc.

There is so much amateur pressure on the market that the pay is low compared to the skill and effort.

I can make too much money doing consulting engineering.
Then when I hire a real gunsmith to do the gunsmithing beyond my amateur gunsmith abilities, I can see from the amount of money that I would starve as a gunsmith.

I would starve playing my guitars.

But I could make 25% of my current income as a carpenter.
I can make 25% of my current income as a machinist.
I can make 25% of my current income as an electronics technician.
I could make 25% of my current income teaching high school.

But I could not make 25% of my current income as a gunsmith, or playing my guitar.

And I have more tools than most gunsmiths.

What does it all mean?
It is not an easy way to earn a living.

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