What does a gunsmith do?


December 19, 2007, 11:36 AM
I am curious as to what you all feel qualifies someone to be a gunsmith. What should he be able to do?
For instance is he a machinist, engraver, stock maker, barrel maker, etc...?
What should he charge an hour?
What should his mark up be on his merchandise?
What services does your favorite smith offer?
This is for an article in the gunsmiths e-magazine

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Jorg Nysgerrig
December 19, 2007, 11:42 AM
I am curious as to what you all feel qualifies someone to be a gunsmith. What should he be able to do?
He should be able to make or repair guns.
For instance is he a machinist, engraver, stock maker, barrel maker, etc...?
Depends on the smith and more importantly, what I want him to do. If I need a safety on a FN Mauser action refitted and he doesn't know how to do that, it doesn't matter if he's master engraver of the century and a legendary stockmaker.
What should he charge an hour?
Too many variables such as competition, overhead, quality of work, experience, location, specialization, etc to make any kind of generalization.
What should his mark up be on his merchandise?
Again, too many variables to make generalizations. I could certainly give you the business school answer, but this is a firearm board.
What services does your favorite smith offer?
He makes things fit together in ways beyond my understanding.

December 19, 2007, 12:03 PM
I am curious as to what you all feel qualifies someone to be a gunsmith. What should he be able to do?
For instance is he a machinist, engraver, stock maker, barrel maker, etc...?
Could be anything from someone who installs grip panels on 1911s to someone who can build a flawless race gun from scratch. It kind of depends on where your interest lie and what there is a market for in your area.
What should he charge an hour?
Most of the ones I've seen charge flat rates per job, like $50 for a trigger job, $25 to install sights, etc.
What should his mark up be on his merchandise?
Merchandise will usually be dictated by the going rate of other gun shops in the area, or you can match it to prices on the internet if you want a lot of business (although that might not be possible buying in small volume). The services are what people will come to you for usually.
What services does your favorite smith offer?
Depends on what kind of gun. Being able to do nice triggers, good stock bedding, smoothing actions, carry melts, basic stuff (installing sights or other aftermarket parts) of course, refinishing (bluing, parkerizing, dura-coat, etc), fixing problems like locked-up actions, messed up barrels, other people's fubars. I'm not into engraving but some are and there's probably money to be had there.
I think these are the guys that have ads in the gun magazines, haven't tried their courses but it might be a place to start if you are a beginner http://www.americangunsmith.com/

December 19, 2007, 12:53 PM
He beats on 1911 slides with a hammer making lots of noise. Eventually this will allow him to grow his pile of scrap metal or put it back on a frame where more fitting will make it glide as though on ball bearings without play.

December 19, 2007, 09:15 PM
I would like the name of your smith so I know where not to go.

December 19, 2007, 09:34 PM
He tells me the inner secrets of each gun. He fixes my older ones so no one can tell. He helps me overcome my deficiencies with his mechanical magic. He encourages me to buy the very best to add to my holdings. When I bring him something he has never seen before, he admits it, and we discuss why he has it--then he fixes whatever needs fix'en. He tells me that he is very "busy" and I have to be patient. (If he weren't busy, I wouldn't be there.)

When I don't listen to him, he is still a mentor, a friend and a mechanical wizzzzzard !! When I do listen to him, -----damn, he's right !!

He's my gunsmith.

Ed Ames
December 19, 2007, 09:57 PM
A gunsmith does, in broad categories:
Clean & Oil Customer Gun
Metal Finishing
Sight Work
General Barrel, Action, and Rifle Work
Shotgun Work
Muzzle Loader Work
Handgun Work
Stock Work.

The charges range from $40 to $80 per man hour, with labor to rebarrel a revolver ranging from $50 to $100.

Source: Brownell's Catalog page 240. :D They have a survey of gunsmith shop typical prices and services.

December 19, 2007, 10:57 PM
A gunsmith should be able to put a piece of raw steal on a lathe a turn a barrel (or other part).

A gun mechanic should be able to order a new part and replace it.

A drunk monkey should be able to assemble an AR. (ie. me)

December 19, 2007, 11:07 PM
Let's see, on a typical week at this time of the years I will repair/replace the vent rib on a shotgun barrel.
Remove a couple of stuck choke tubes.
Detail clean five to ten firearms of all types.
Install a set of sights on a handgun or two.
Repair a broken firearm or two which may include ordering or fabricating the needed part/s.

I check military firearms for servicability and may perform this sevice a couple times during the week.
This occurs more frequently during the summer months.

I may custom build one or two AR15 rifles during a month.
This has been slowing down in the last three months.
I may custom build three to six M1 and M14 type rifles during a year.

I may rebarrel three bolt action rifles in a good year.

I will box several firearms during an average month for repair under the manufacturers "Lifetime Warranty" plan.
I generally do no work on these firearms because it will void this warranty.

I am a Glock certified armorer and generally do work no more involved than replacing sights and recoil spring assemblies, they rarely break, good stuff.

Most of todays new high quality firearms are so well made and fitted that the average home shopman can replace the majority of parts himself.
The rest of what is out there normally comes with that all important "Lifetime Warranty".

I do this job part time and spend no more than fifteen hours a week in the shop.
In a good month I will clear about $800.00 and work strictly by the individual piece.

This isn't a career you will become wealthy doing unless you come up with a specialized and trendy service that everybody wants and you will mainly do this on the reputation of your name while spending anywhere from sixty to ninety hours a week marketing your product line.

I have heard that school certified gunsmiths working for manufacturers will average about $40,000 a year normally working a forty hour week.

For most of us, the job is a labor of love and pleasure more than a career meant for monetary gain.

December 19, 2007, 11:11 PM
Pretty cool thread! When I grow up and retire for the 2nd time (first retirement was at age 35), I will seek to have a hobby as a GS, but I would plan to work only on 1911s. :D


December 19, 2007, 11:37 PM
The gunsmith I use can do just about anything you want. I don't know if he does engraving though. I do know that he's been able to do every crazy/stupid thing I've ever asked him to.

December 20, 2007, 02:53 AM
Thank you gentlemen I am getting some very good info. Keep it coming

December 20, 2007, 03:16 AM
My gunsmith?

He chambers barrels (with very precise tolerances) and does a multitude of minor tweaks.

He sends out the stock stuff, and pretty much the rest of it. Doesn't touch anything but custom actions or Remington 700s, and that grudgingly. No handguns, no shotguns, no blast-a-matics.

If you can't figure out how to bore-sight a boomstick, you're too stupid to be his client.

My _other_ gunsmith does 1911s...

December 20, 2007, 04:34 AM
Thanks to all for the information also. I think I've found a good gunsmith in my area. Was shooting at the range the other week and accidentally got one of my 9mm mixed in with my 380s. Put it in my Bersa and released the slide and it jammed. We tried to get it loose but couldn't and the owner of the range gave me the name of a local gunsmith. Called him and he had me come on over to his shop. Didn't take him long to fix my problem and he checked my gun and test fired it. Also gave me some good advise on maintaining my Bersa. He showed me some of his work and he had some very nice guns that he had reblued and refinished the stocks on. I was impressed with him, his shop and his work that I saw. Am planning to take an older shotgun to him for refinishing and bluing. So I guess some good came out of my accident with no harm to my pistol.

December 20, 2007, 04:43 AM
We work bloody hard.Depending on experience good gunsmiths should be able to identify a problem and remedy it.We also make stocks (made to measure).Engraving is an art and takes years of practice,it should be left to only the experienced.
In short we do anything that relates to a firearm.It takes years to get a good reputation in this game,once you have it you are never short of work...

December 20, 2007, 08:35 PM
What does a Gunsmith do?
They take my money and make me feel like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. I hate them, but it is always worth it.

December 20, 2007, 08:39 PM
i would love to one day become a gunsmith its everything i love
working with machinery
working with my hands
and well.....GUNS

but im 17 i have time to work on this

December 20, 2007, 09:33 PM
getting into witty debates and urging gun owners to use firefox because it has a built in spell check.
He used to drive a cab.
He used to live in NYC.
He doesn't know anything about gunsmithing but wishes he did.

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