Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by unlimited4x4, Aug 22, 2016.
Montgomery Community College in Troy, NC http://www.montgomery.edu/
Trinidad State Junior College in Trinidad, CO http://www.trinidadstate.edu/
Lassen Community College http://www.lassencollege.edu/
Murray State College Tishomingo, Oklahoma http://www.mscok.edu
All of the above offer two year programs as well as the NRA sponsored summer gunsmithing courses that will let you get your feet wet.
The following also offer two year programs.
Colorado School of Trades in Lakewood, CO http://schooloftrades.edu/ Pennsylvania Gunsmith School in Pittsburgh, PA http://www.pagunsmith.edu/
Let me ask you one question. If you now have a job, what do I have to know/learn to do your job? Can I just walk in, express an interest, and get hired to do your job?
If not, you have a choice of online/correspondence schools. If you need a college degree, the only one you have as an option is Sonoran Desert Institute. If the degree is not required, American Gunsmithing Institute and Modern Gun School are alternatives.
AGI has a better teaching technique and great support, SDI uses a lot of YouTube personalities and teaches at a lower overall knowledge level and Modern Gun School has specific tasks they teach, along with projects you must turn in.
You will see many posts on the internet about how people will never go to a gunsmith with online training, how you must have machinist's training, how online training doesn't qualify as training and how you can never get a license to work from home. All of those are false. You'll also hear how you can't earn a living as a gunsmith, how you're going to get raided by the feds and how you'll have to pay more in fees and taxes than it's worth. All of these are mostly false.
There are over 50,000 working gunsmiths in the US now, a number that hasn't changed that much over the last few decades. If there is no way to earn a living at it, that number would be going down. There are about 25,000-30,000 FFL holders working from their homes. Puts that "You can't get a home FFL" argument to rest. Many gunsmiths don't own or use a lathe or mill. Since gunsmith schools graduate about 100-150 students a year, there are a ton of working gunsmiths who never went to one.
As for a living, you won't make as much as an airline pilot, software engineer or CPA. But you can make a living wage, doing what you want, where you want to do it. You may get raided by the feds, but you have to be doing something wrong to have that happen. If you're buying 10,000 AR rifles a year and your records show 120 sales each year, you're going to get raided. As for fees and taxes, they are part of every small business. If you don't want to deal with those, go to work for someone else.
Now, your question is about the best way to achieve your goals. Sadly, nobody here can give you an accurate answer. The best way is individual, and your best way may be different from mine or the guy down the street's. Do your research, study your options and choose what you find to be best for you.
Resident school means moving and living in a new area, full time school for two years and a guaranteed job prospect. Like most schools though, it will be years before you pay off the education.
If you belong to a shooting club, work to become the goto guy for repairs. Do these as favors to build experience.
If you want to work for someone else, look to your local gun and sporting goods stores. You'll get $10-12 an hour cleaning guns, mounting scopes and swapping sights, but it's experience on your resume. There are also 200 applicants for each opening.
Gunsmithing requires two things - knowledge and skill. You can get knowledge by reading and studying, as in the online or correspondence schools, but skills only build with hands-on time.
Buy beg or borrow broken guns and work on them to build your skills. Once you learn the functions of the parts, you can figure out and fix just about anything. Knowing how to adjust the timing in a Colt Police Positive doesn't make you a gunsmith, knowing why you're deepening the locking bolt recess in the cylinder does.
And get over the "I don't know how to do this" mindset. No gunsmith knows how to fix a gun he's never seen before until he works through how the gun is supposed to function and solves the problems with the gun.
Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
If you want to go this route, might I suggest taking a year plus of machine shop at some junior college? Also learn some wood working so as to develop familiarity with hand tools. Throw in some NRA summer school classes and then try to find a smith who will accept you as an apprentice.
Mind you, some smiths don't want to bother teaching and will hire only grads from a two year gunsmithing program. Some are even more particular and want people from specific schools that they trust.
Quite recently the FBI was looking for an armorer who would work at Quantico. You had to be a grad of Co School of Trades or the equivalent.
If you already have machining, there is a jr college in Montana that offers a two year degree too.
When I was there, Custom Rifle building was really in vogue.
Custom pistol work seems to have taken over and right now, it ain't easy to get into Trinidad!
I graduated Trinidad in 1961 and the instructors at the time were superb.
Bill Prator on metal work Lou Mrace on stock work and Jim Wilson on quite a bit of theory.
I was encouraged to make a set of stock making chisels hat I still use to this day.
I parlayed my Trinidad days to a career in the toolmaking field and was VERY successful at it.
Separate names with a comma.