October 31, 2013, 07:54 PM
How are the gunsmiths in your area with regard to finishing a project on time?

If I go to a gunsmith, he gives me a price he'll charge for the work and I ask him how long it will take. If I'm cool with both numbers I leave the gun.

I've only used two guys here in town...and so far both have been horrendously wrong in their estimates of how long it would take to get the gun back to me.

The first guy said maybe a week or two...three MONTHS later I got my gun back. He's a nice enough guy...but I decided I would try someone else next time.

In early September I dropped a few guns off with another gunsmith. I'd used him once a long time ago...he's been around a long time and has a good reputation. He was super informative...I learned more from the guy in 10 minutes than I could in a month of searching on the internet. He said it would take a month to get the work done. We are approaching the two month mark and I've not heard a thing from him (he doesn't like people to call and check...he makes it very clear that he will call you when it's ready...and I'm fine with that).

I have no burning need to get those two guns back right away...but it does make me curious to know if this is a local thing...or if gunsmiths in general aren't very good and estimating their workload. What say you?

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Jim Watson
October 31, 2013, 08:31 PM
My 1911 guy cannot abide work hanging over his head. He will work long hours to finish a job on time or early.

Otherwise, turnaround time is variable, usually long.
I got a shotgun back quickly from a shop that I had given up on any reasonable delivery time from. But that was an exception.

And read the boards. The good gunsmiths are overloaded but afraid to turn down work no matter how far behind they are, until it gets out into the years.

October 31, 2013, 08:52 PM
I had a bad experience with a local gunsmith... I dropped off a gun, called him a month later to check on it and he didn't even know what gun I was talking about... I gave him another month and checked back in with him and he says he can't fix it and to come get it... Well, I went to get it and he said his Dad has the keys to his shop and he can't get in... I had to come back the next day to finally get my gun back...

I guess gunsmithing is one of those things that just takes TIME...


October 31, 2013, 08:58 PM
I dropped a gun off at one place and 3 months later it was untouched. I took it somewhere else and had it back in 24 hours. Place #1 is no longer in business.

October 31, 2013, 09:43 PM
Only one I have ever used around here finished early. He seemed like the kind of guy that liked to be a head of schedule all the time. Could be that he always quoted too long of a time, but given the options, I would rather have that.

October 31, 2013, 11:10 PM

It's a constant variable. A lot depends on the time of year also. The month leading up to opening day is just nuts for them, and understandably so. Then there's the nature of the work you're requesting too. Here's the thing, gunsmiths fall into two distinct groups; wood guys and metal guys. Therefore, a rebarrel job taken to a wood guy will get farmed out to a metal guy & vice versa. Find out, if possible, what kind of smith he is before you take work to him. Then there's the sub-set of bluing. Usually the metal guy will also run a set of hot tanks, but not always. And then not all people who perform bluing services really know what they are doing. Finding a top-notch does it all in his own shop smith is a true once in a lifetime event.

I know one wood magician, one metal guy who also runs a very good bluing operation, and one does it all guy. The does it all guy is about a hundred miles away, but his work makes the showcase custom books.


October 31, 2013, 11:14 PM


You may pick only two of the above...

It's all self-leveling in the open marketplace :-(

October 31, 2013, 11:24 PM
CB900F has it right. You'll regret pushing a gunsmith out of his comfort zone. Researching what your project will take is useful, even if you are not competent or equipped to perform the work yourself. It will make for a more intelligent conversation with the gunsmith, and give you a better grasp for how hard a challenge you are requesting.

Brownells publishes "typical" shop charges for most common work, which will also give you incite into degree of difficulty. (time = money).

Parts for a project can be a serious bottleneck too. For example, if you are asking a gunsmith to rebarrel a rifle, the barrel has to come from somewhere. The good custom barrels makers are also heavily backlogged. So if your candidate gunsmith can't point to a barrel blank that will be tagged for your project, it could be a long time before he can even start. Even the more common parts can be an issue if Brownells or similar are out because of heavy demand. Ideally you want your gunsmith performing work he has done before. Full custom is slow, expensive and uncertain for success.

October 31, 2013, 11:25 PM
I believe #2 post got it. They will not turn down work, so your project pretty much sits on the back burner until it's gotten to. This is not exclusive to gunsmiths.

October 31, 2013, 11:37 PM
I live in boonies, we have one local smith, I don't ask him about time. He calls when it's done, and since he does respectable work that has always been good enough for me. I have had occasion to send pistols away and I have had good to excellent service from CZUSA and RIA.

October 31, 2013, 11:39 PM
I waited 18 months for a barrel change on a J model S&W. Never happened. The smith finally admitted he did not have a jig for that model and was afraid he would tweak the frame if he tried to remove the barrel. I wish he could have told me that after the first 30 days... I am not complaining about knowing his limitations just the amount of time it took for him to fess up.

The only other job he did for me was crown a barrel and mount a front site which was happened promptly.

October 31, 2013, 11:41 PM
I have a very nice Gentleman who is a top rated Smith who has repaired three guns for me while I sat there and talked with him. Can't beat that.

November 1, 2013, 12:31 AM
A lot depends on how extensive the work you want done is.

For stuff that a smith does all the time, he should have a good handle on the time needed with the only variation being seasonal increases in demand (hunting/competition seasons) or familial health problems (most smith are small shops). I've seen a SIG action tune that is normally quoted as 6-8 weeks, take anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months.

I try to pick a smith for a job according to their specialty. While their are still good generalist out there, you'll usually get better results from a specialist.

I know a SIG specialist who can also build up a hunting rifle from a bare action...he likes the '03 Springfield...which is a work of art. Trigger, action, barrel contour and fitting between wood and metal are spectacular...but, you shouldn't even ask for a time frame; unless you just want to be disappointed. In his spare time, he builds top tier 1911s (estimates are in years)

dagger dog
November 1, 2013, 07:21 AM
I've had a the same smith shorten, drill, tap and install a new bead, on a pump shotgun while I waited, and then take 4 months to repair a Marlin 60 failure to feed, and only after a phone call, in which he apologized.

So go figure !

This smith did a great business with the local PD, and was very much in demand because of his excellent work.

Had a 686 S&W that I wanted bead blasted, went downtown to the shop and there was a note on the door stating he no was longer in business ,and referenced another smith.

November 1, 2013, 07:36 AM


You may pick only two of the above...

So true. :D

This is exactly why I have learned to do so much myself. I know my limitations and don't push it and certainly don't do much "machining" :eek:, but my buddy always has a couple of his collection at a 'smith for MONTHS for the simplest of things. Once I went to one of the shops he goes to....there was a bullet hole in the window. I guess I missed the fireworks by a day or so. :(

Lex Luthier
November 1, 2013, 08:03 AM
Small business is sometimes like that. You take on as much as you can, because like it or not, business is feast or famine. I always hoped to get all my projects done on time/ budget, but it just didn't always work out that way.

The only way I learned my lesson as an imperfect business owner was to lose business due to my unwillingness to stick to deadlines. Take your guns back and find someone else. Take the time to tell the guy why you are taking them back, but do it in a calm and mature way. If he is keeping it real, he will respond in kind. If he scratches back, you know what kind of man he is.

November 1, 2013, 10:43 AM
Just to remind you folks that the gun you drop off is most likely not the only gun the gunsmith is working on. One also has to consider the time frame of parts delivery and availability. I've ordered S&W parts that were special order and the wait time was at least 90 days and thats not counting delivery time. Your good gunsmiths are busy folks simply because they do great work which accounts for the long wait time to get your gun back. Also remember we are talking gunsmith here not a parts changer.

November 1, 2013, 10:50 AM
Your good gunsmiths are busy folks simply because they do great work which accounts for the long wait time to get your gun back. Also remember we are talking gunsmith here not a parts changer.

ding, ding, ding...we have a winner!

November 1, 2013, 10:55 AM


You may pick only two of the above...

It's all self-leveling in the open marketplace :-(
Sorry but I must disagree. Gunsmithing is an art and your good gunsmiths are neither fast nor cheap. The demand for their services negate fast and cheap.

Heaven help me if I ever choose price as the deciding factor on who works on my firearms after all my life my depend on their proper operation. Never cut corners with your firearms.

Taurus 617 CCW
November 1, 2013, 11:06 AM
Just to remind you folks that the gun you drop off is most likely not the only gun the gunsmith is working on.

This is often the case, especially during hunting season. I wish I had a sign at the counter that would explain this concept. Customers expect that their gun gets worked on the moment they drop it off; while failing to realize that it is a first come, first serve business.

I have a lot of customers that are patient and understanding when it comes to lead times but there are always the few that expect instant work while they wait. Sometimes I think that they expect a gunsmith to be just like a 1 hour photo. As Chef Boyardee so eloquently quoted, "Good food takes time."

November 1, 2013, 11:16 AM
Local gunsmith in my city, last time I checked, was saying it would take about 6-8 weeks to even touch a gun dropped off. Not a horrendous wait at all after reading through this thread. My buddy needed some work done on a rifle and was able to get it back within 2 weeks at the same gunsmith, this was just some very simple work though that wouldn't really qualify as gunsmithing so much. My friend just didn't have the tools and it was cheaper to bring it to a gunsmith.

Great guy to deal with though, if he can't do what you want he lets you know very quickly, usually when you try and drop the gun off, and usually will recommend someone that can do the job.

November 1, 2013, 12:41 PM
I try to avoid getting anything done that will take a year to do. A lot can change in a year, Like your entire life, and his. Once you go out that far, you are taking the chance of never seeing the guy or the gun again. People close up businesses and move.
With a one man operation it happens more times than we might imagine.
Unless the Smith is a "Legend" and has a staff and well established business, I will not consider leaving an expensive, gun in his possession for a year or more.
And him telling me that I can't call every few months is a load of crap, I call to see when my car is ready, what's the difference. Sounds a bit high strung to me.

November 1, 2013, 04:33 PM


You may pick only two of the above...

It's all self-leveling in the open marketplace :-(

You can pick two, but then THEY pick one!

November 2, 2013, 08:22 AM
Having worked as a professional gunsmith I can tell you that turn around time is based on several things such as number of jobs ahead of you or wait time gunsmith experiences in getting parts.
If gunsmith leases use of machining tools as I have to do now, the customer waits as does the smith for those machines to come available.

I never charge for services until the job is completed and estimates are hard to offer correctly.
I normally estimate high, some people balk but those that accept are pleasantly suprised when the job completes at a lower than estimated price and that makes for repeat customers.

Word of mouth is a gunsmiths best selling tool and all the fancy advertising doesn't mean dick if he cannot satisfy his customers.

November 2, 2013, 10:34 AM
I think what wee need to do is have a Gunsmith Appreciation Day.

November 2, 2013, 10:59 AM
Where I live there is ONE gunsmith you can trust to do quality work and exactly what needs to be done. His backlog varies by complexity of what needs to be done. Changing sights - 3 weeks. Anything more complex 3-4 months. He gives you a date and calls either 1 week early or exactly the time he has given you.

He has so much work, you just have to "take a number and get in line." The only exception he makes on delivery times is emergencies. We had the National Police Shooting Championships earlier this year and a person from Germany had a problem with a gun - he fixed the gun in one day so the person could continue with the competition.

November 2, 2013, 12:42 PM
I think it's one of those deals where they are good at fixing guns, but running a business, not so much. Their are a few other occupations that I can think of that are the same way but I will refrain from mentioning them here in order not to offend. (Do I get points from the moderators for that?)

November 2, 2013, 01:06 PM
My local smith has numerous signs in his shop that basically say if you call and badger him he will just tell you to come and pick up your gun and have the work done elsewhere. When he gets it done the work is great and the price honestly is much lower than I would expect. One problem is that we are asking the gunsmith to work on something whose value to us may be mostly sentimental, but its true value in the open marketplace is not so much. Then we complain if the price is too high, but pay it anyway, because a non-functioning gun is worthless. When you consider what is at stake (peoples' lives, or the success of their expensive hunting trip, or the continued pleasure at the range) and also figure in the capital investment to really be a full-service smith, and the fact that we all blab to each other and if the work isn't just right word will soon spread, it is hard to see how anyone would want to do this. The gunsmith does keep 2A alive for us by keeping our precious guns in working order from generation to generation. So thanks to the gunsmiths out there.

November 2, 2013, 02:34 PM
Seems to me in the somewhat limited dealings I've had with that particular profession is that the "nice guys" quality of work usually doesn't match his demeanor and the a**hat's work is usually superior........wonder what the reason for that is?

Wolfgang james
November 2, 2013, 04:23 PM
I was a fabricator at a small shop and there was a back log for my work. If you wanted it fast and cheap one of the other guys got on it in a day or two but if you were looking for a highre quality job then price and time frame went out the window. Ill get to it in a few weeks when your work order hits the top of my pile. You will get what you pay for and good things come to those who wait. When I heard I need it ... the first thing I asked was why did you wait til ... before to come in?

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