Become A Weapons Manufacturer?


PDA






Aftermath
July 21, 2009, 01:07 PM
I am going to start my senior year in high school in a few weeks and I'm starting to think I will go to a technical school to learn lathe and mill use in their "Machine Technology Program". I was thinking of a dream job, and building guns sounds pretty cool.

I understand Kel-Tec was a just a machine shop that starting making guns after a few years.

What would be a good choice after technical school, work in a machine shop or as a gun smith? Or would there be more education that would help out?

If you enjoyed reading about "Become A Weapons Manufacturer?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
CoRoMo
July 21, 2009, 01:23 PM
You might look into the Colorado School of Trades. I've heard that it is one of, if not the, top gunsmith training center.

Also, a degree in mechanical engineering wouldn't hurt.

hth

spartywrx
July 21, 2009, 01:46 PM
I second the engineering degree. That can lead to a lot more opportunities if the gunsmithing/building thing doesn't work out. Its more expensive, but I'd imagine the job market is rather stable. It will also make you pretty damn good at building things.

(I almost went down the engineering path, but I ended up in medical school instead)

GRIZ22
July 21, 2009, 02:07 PM
Also, a degree in mechanical engineering wouldn't hurt.


I second the engineering degree.

Being a machinist will teach you how to do things. Being an engineer will teach you why you do those things.

scottaschultz
July 21, 2009, 03:17 PM
Being a machinist will teach you how to do things. Being an engineer will teach you why you do those things.
And then get married and you will learn how NOT to do things and why NOT to do things!

Scott

Acera
July 21, 2009, 04:53 PM
A good machinist, like a good welder, will always have a job. You can first get your career going, then gradually turn to gunsmithing as first a hobby, then larger if it pans out. This will give you something to fall back on if times get tough.

You will learn skills at school, but perfect them through many years on the job. Very few things can be taught at school that immediately make you a functioning expert once you graduate. Use someone else's money and equipemnt to get good at your craft.

LoneCoon
July 21, 2009, 04:57 PM
Combine the two. Get your two year degree and become a machinist, then go back to school and get you degree in Mechanical engineering.

Because you'll have experience from the machine shop, you'll be able to see how things work. Being an engineer, you'll then know WHY they work, and how you can make them work better. A machinist with an engineering degree is uncommon, and it will serve you well even if you don't go into firearms manufacture.

Officers'Wife
July 21, 2009, 05:20 PM
I also agree to the engineering degree but for a different reason. Very few of the engineering students I went to school (chemical) with work in their field of study. But at last contact all were working far above minimum wage. With a working knowledge of machining and a Mech Eng degree you would be a killer applicant in any field you chose to go into.

rcmodel
July 21, 2009, 06:25 PM
Lots of skilled machinists can build a gun.
But not many of them can make a living and pay the bills doing it.

Even George Kelgren (Mr. Kel-Tec) failed at his first few gun making business ventures (Intertec, Grendel) and went bankrupt.

First you need to be a business school educated businessman, able to make sound business decisions.

Only later will the machine tool & gunsmith classes be of use if you intend to do anything except fail.

rc

oneounceload
July 21, 2009, 06:28 PM
Get an engineering degree, coupled with an MBA, then get the hands-on skills and go to town.......

Mags
July 21, 2009, 06:30 PM
My uncle tried it ending up losing close to 1 million dollars due to something about patents. He had set everthing up and was already producing gun parts such as heat shields and grips, had the labor and the machines but for some legal reasons he lost almost everything and is no longer an entepeneur and now works in a repair shop for heavy equipment. Maybe you heard of his company maybe not it was called "ZMag".

Polar Express
July 21, 2009, 06:36 PM
back up plans are nice. I suggest military service (I wish I had done that) as well.

Since you asked:

in some order:
military service (perhaps work to be an armorer)
bachelors degree in Mech. engineering
MBA to teach you how to make good business decisions
machinist school for hands on skills
gunsmith training for gun specific stuff.

it sounds like a lot, but you also have a big dream (good for you! I totally support giant goals and dreams) and each one of those will give you wisdom and experience to accomplish your plans well.

freakshow10mm
July 21, 2009, 06:46 PM
Machining
Welding
Engineering
Business

If you want to be a gunsmith, go to gunsmithing school. If you want to make guns, be a machinist and engineer. For goodness sakes learn how to design parts with the machines available. Too many guys can't draw a circle unless they use Solidworks and design things that are impossible to make.

ThrottleJockey72
July 21, 2009, 07:02 PM
in some order:
military service (perhaps work to be an armorer)
bachelors degree in Mech. engineering
MBA to teach you how to make good business decisions
machinist school for hands on skills
gunsmith training for gun specific stuff.
Your kidding right? That's nearly 20 years of school. When exactly is this guy ever going to actually DO anything? I think we all know what happens when you over prepare or take too long in doing so, you lose sight of your goals and get distracted or stuck in something other than intended.

PLRinmypocket
July 21, 2009, 11:31 PM
I would say go for engineering degree before going to school for machining, or just skip the machining school and learn machining as a hobby, or from the machinists you will likelly work with. This is the path I took. I'm no master machinist, but I can run a mill and lathe without breaking too many tools (CNC and Manual). Learning the machining does help your designing skills too, since you know what the limits of manufactureing are.

a BS in engineering is tough, and requires lots of math. You tend to forget that the longer you are out of school. Sure there will be some math in the machining technical school, but not that much. It would likelly be harder to go for the engineering degree after the machining school.

SavageMOA
July 22, 2009, 01:59 AM
I want to eventually get into the firearms industry myself.

I'm now almost halfway to having my BS in mechanical engineering, just like these fine people have suggested to you. Having experience on a CNC machine may get you an assembly line job, but you won't ever be able to design anything.

As far as going into engineering, there's LOTS of math. And once you finish all the math, you progress into more math. Then science. LOTS of science. See where I'm going with this?

I'm finishing up Calculus IV right now, and I'm not even halfway done with my math courses.

Aftermath
July 22, 2009, 02:06 AM
Thanks for the replies so far! I checked out the Colorado school of Trades and it was 18k plus living expenses and someone mentioned that maybe it should be the last place I would go. I have had my priorities wrong so far in school and made horrible grades, so I couldn't be directly admitted the local School of Engineering which requires at least a 2.5 GPA. I would need to go to community college first to earn good grades and transfer. Even with a 4.0 this year I don't think my average over the years would be 2.5

I was thinking of machinist technical school first because I would need a decent job as soon as possible to start saving for college and paying student loans off. My folks have not set any money aside for college and I am unsure how much they will be able to help.

Do any of you make parts for guns?

22LRFan
July 22, 2009, 02:37 AM
I would recommend going the gunsmith route if you want to go into business by yourself. However, I don't think you would need to know everything about the gun-making process if you want to slowly get into the weapons manfacturing game. Perhaps you and a couple of your future classmates could open a machine shop that specializes in weapons accessaries (like sights or something). From there, the company could gain enough resources to become bold enough to fill out the right BATFE forms to become a manufacturer.

Just because you do not have a law degree doesn't mean you can't win a court case by hiring a lawyer. You can hire, or become partners with, various specialists that would understand the different aspects of a business.

My other, slightly unrelated, advice is that many people do not end up in the fields that they were once trained in. I suggest you try to further your education in something that has your interest. That's the only way to make sure that you are doing something that you love.

freakshow10mm
July 22, 2009, 10:01 AM
Even with a 4.0 this year I don't think my average over the years would be 2.5
Been there before myself.

Gun parts can be a decent side job. Guide rods for auto loaders, firing pins, thread protectors, small parts for obsolete guns like the old Stevens, Mossberg, etc.

I've been in the gun business for two years, so take this with a grain or two of salt. Products in this industry, in order to sell and keep selling, have to be perfect in every respect. That means quality materials, design, execution. No tooling marks, perfect finish. The standard is set high. If you can reach it or exceed it, great. If not, it isn't for you.

Look at Nikon, Leupold, Burris. If you can't make a scope that looks that good, it isn't worth the business plan. If you can't make an AR15 upper that looks as good as a BCM, you won't sell them for the premium they do as a barreled upper. Quality sells.

Another thing about bringing products to market. Retail is nice because the net profit is all you. Wholesale is nice because you make money on volume. Your per unit price is lower but, in my case with ammo, I'd rather sell 20K rounds to a gun shop on one invoice and make a few hundred dollars that sale then sell a hundred boxes of 50rds each. The key in this industry isn't retail, it's wholesale. Dealer direct wholesale is gaining ground. When you can fill orders for a few hundred units, distributor sales might be up your alley. A great distributor for gun parts is Numrich aka e-gunparts.com. Take a look at their online catalog at parts that are rarely in stock but fairly easy to make. If you can make a bunch of those parts with quality and in volume without giving up quality, market them to places like that.

RedLion
July 22, 2009, 03:33 PM
I'll be the first to stand up and say a law degree would probably be the best. The gun industry hasn't really had any new designs since the 1950s. The only real changes have been what caliber, what material, and where things are located on the gun.

Since the gun industry, as we've seen lately, is completely controlled by the government, I'd stick with law. Look at Cavalry arms, or Olympic a couple years ago, or Adkins, or even companies like Norinco or Poly Tech. All those companies, big and small, innovative or not, had life or death dealings with the Government, not to mention companies like Colt or FN having entire legal branches for their company. You can get a BSME or a technical machining degree, but then go an get a law degree. Then you can make quite a bit of money, and when you get involved in your own gun company, you'll at least have a good idea of what to expect if you make something like the Adkins Accelerator, plus have some cash on hand to hire a few more lawyers, cause you'll need them.

freakshow10mm
July 22, 2009, 03:58 PM
Leave the legal crap to the professionals. That's what you pay them for.

MagnumDweeb
July 22, 2009, 06:52 PM
The machinist bit like a welder isn't a bad idea because again you'll have something to fall back on. Heck I'm in law school, a trained(but I have to wait till I have my J.D.) Civil Circuit and Family mediator, an NRA certified Pistol instructor, and owner of a new sole proprietor ship(got my landscapping business back, the buyer messed it up royally and I'm rebuilding it cheaper than it cost me to build it), and I'll be opening a carpet cleaning business in December.

Now I'm only 24 and I can tell you some wise words. Don't rush anything, I've rushed many a things and it's added nothing but failures and missed opportunities to my long list of accomplishments. Always keep an eye to the future, don't plan too heavily on one thing. Heck I one day want to crank out my own guns too but that's a far off project. I've met kindly old Israeli freedom fighters out in the Dimona(Demona, been too long so the spelling is off, near the Arad or El Arad area) who were still milling solid receivers out of steel billet and rendering 80% receivers for the future because you just never know.

Before you rush into anything look at what you have as far as tools and machines around you. I've homebrewed AMD65, Romy G, Yugo M70, CETME, and STENs in semi-auto only. I know other homebrewers and without having someone who has made the mistakes there to show you the ropes you will make costly mistakes, I've almost made a few(almost loaded buckets with water rather than sand when I was getting ready to harden the stamped receivers I had cranked out for my AK variants, if there had been fire I would have been in trouble).

I know homebrewers that are kidney doctors, are air conditioning salesmen, lawyers, and machinists. It takes all types. And it will especially take money. So good luck to you.

bigalexe
July 23, 2009, 12:43 AM
Personal piece of advice from a current engineering student age 21. DO NOT put all your eggs into one basket as far as an engineering specialty. If you want to become a machinist diversify as much as you can. Many of the machine shops around here (Im in the Detroit outlying area) were in the "Very Solid" Automotive sector and almost ALL of them have all but shut their doors. The only one I know still going strong is a gear manufacturer who makes government/military vehicle parts.

Making guns would be cool, but don't make that your only business.

I'm now almost halfway to having my BS in mechanical engineering, just like these fine people have suggested to you. Having experience on a CNC machine may get you an assembly line job, but you won't ever be able to design anything.

Please do not say your instructors are telling you this. CNC Programming and Machining experience is a MUST if you are going into engineering. I believe you will find your prototyping goes much faster if you understand the machines used to create what you are building. I've been warned on multiple occasions to avoid engineers that don't know an endmill from a sliced of drillbit. Learning CNC Programming and manual machining as an engineer isn't about learning to just run the machines, there are fundamentals of how stuff works there that a good engineer should know unless of course your not actually designing and have a job doing flow analysis or accident reconstructions, in that case keep your white shirt and let me play with the machines.

If you enjoyed reading about "Become A Weapons Manufacturer?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!