gunsmith materials checklist

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Mar 29, 2009
Westcliffe Co.
Well im going to attend trinidad state for my two year gunsmithing degree, i need a list on all the major machinery and tools i will need to purchase, these tools will be used to open a gunsmith shop shortly after. i plan to turn barrels also rechamber barrels build custom wildcat cartridges like the .14-221 walker fireball.
what machinery do i need to invest in to be able to start my own buisness and sell those high dollar custom guns.

thankyou i need a list for my grandmother to pay for it all, money is not an issue, i could go anywhere in the world to any college yet i choose to be a gunsmith and not a lawyer..................guess im crazy lol :cool:
i realize that but you dont know my grandmother though. she wants this stuff befor ei even attend the school. or else i dont attend the school
Well, that would be a serious mistake on your grandmothers part.

1. First, you have to go to the school.

2. Then you have to buy the tools the school tells you to buy.

3. Then you have to learn something useful and graduate.

4. Then you have to probably pick a speciality of some kind to make a living.

In pretty much that order.

Nobody can tell you what tools you need to buy before all that happens.

Visit a decent machine shop

You can buy all sorts of stuff that will be perfectly useless if you don't have a customer that will buy what you like.
Your interests and what sells are often dollars away from reality.
If money is not object, hire a gunsmith to teach you at your place.
Then you won't be bothered by the others students who are probably working to get through school.
well i really want that title that says im a real qualified gunsmith, and money is a problem if i dont get a degree. in order to get money for it all i need to go to college.
Look, ...

First, plan on taking some classes in marketing. Far more important than what you make is "selling it."

#2). Get the college catalogue. In there there should be instructions as to what the student needs and should bring and ... Then write a letter with the question to the head of the department... His word is law, so to speak and if you granny won't listen...

At the same time, you might ask about alumni in the area doing the work you wish to do. Might be able to take grandma to visit some machinists and wood workers and have them tell her that something new will probably be out by the time you graduate and you shouldn't buy until then... LUCK...
thanks iiranger, what im asking for is what do i need for a shop to work. I am going to make gunsmithing a career not part time like a lot of people. i already have some family that produced some outstanding custom rifles. So im asking what is needed in a shop to make gunsmithing/custom rifle making. i dont care about marketing i dont care about selling my product right now. Selling a product is not a issue on the board atm. only issue is machinery and tools for creating the rifles. I need a list of the tools for a workshop not the classes, class provides machinery i need to know what i need to do it at home so i can start listing the materials and send it off soon as possible. my grandma dosnt have very long and she is getting worse at grasping any concepts ideas. She may not be there long enough for the instructors to tell me what i need.
Oh the family i mentioned is long lost removed fathers side lol so i really dont want to talk to them till i get everything together.
How much of this do you understand?

Motor 3 - 4 HP, 220V, 3-phase, 2 speed
Swing over bed 16"
Swing over gap 22"
Swing over cross slide 10"
Distance between centers 40"
Spindle nose D1-6 camlock
Spindle nose taper MT#6
Spindle bore 2"
Tailstock barrel taper MT#4
Tailstock barrel travel 4-3/4"
Cross slide travel 8-1/2"
Compound travel 5-1/2"
Number of speeds 16
Speed range 45-1800 RPM
Range of threads (inches) 45 @ 2-72 TPI
Range of threads (metric) 39 @ 0.2-14 mm
Diametrical pitch range 21 @ 8-44 DP
Modular pitch range 18 @ .3-3.5 MP
Width of bed 10"

Vertical motor 3 HP, 220V, 3-phase, 8.9 Amps
Horizontal motor 3 HP, 220V, 3-phase, 8.9 Amps
RPM (each motor) 1725
Power transfer Gear drive Spindle taper R-8
Spindle travel 4-7/8"
Table size 10-1/4" x 50"
Table travel (longitudinal) 29-1/2"
Table travel (cross) 11-1/2"
Knee travel (vertical) 11-5/16"
Max. dist. spindle to column 23-7/8"
Max. dist. spindle to table 15-3/8"
Max. dist. horizontal spindle center to table 12-1/2"
Turret or column swivel 180°
T-slots 3 on 2-1/2" centers, 1/2" stud
Vertical spindle speeds 8
Range of speeds 108, 192, 317, 468, 552, 828, 1356 and 2400 RPM
Horizontal spindle speeds 12
Range of speeds 48, 72, 96, 132, 180, 240, 324, 456, 612, 816, 1140, and 1560 RPM Horizontal spindle sizes: 1" & 1-1/4"

Without a basic grasp of machine tools, what they do, and how you use them, nobody can even begin to tell you what to buy.

lets see the spindel is what holds your stock or in this case barrels.

The swing indicates the largest diameter that can be turned

the bed is how long the stock can be, but the real distance is determined between the spindel and the tailstock

and of course RPM is rotations per minute and all that other jaz, im no novice to machinery, im just asking what is needed or recomended for a gunsmithing workshop, is there special lathes to consider is there special drill presses which i doubt is there any other types of machines i may be overlooking?
These machines are in a local professional custom shop:


If you plan on making a living you will have to go CNC. I personally have a Rockwell 11x36 lathe, Excello 9x48 mill, assorted grinders/sanders, heat treating oven, parkerizing equipment, bead blasting and dust collecting equipment. This is just for support of my hobby, high power rifle competition. One man in a shop has to hussle. You will need experience before you try to make a living at this. School will not give you real world hands on experience. The guy I learn from went to your school and then went into the USAMU as a gunsmith. There he learnd to be a craftsman.
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thankyou howard
is CNC needed? I can opperate CAD easy enough but i was hoping for something more traditional in lathes
I prefer something that i can do hands on. i do not get a thrill in typing numbers drawing up cad blueprints and having a macine do it for me.
sorry i didnt see what you had for machinery listed thank you howard, i looked at the rockwell and that is exactly what i am looking for. didnt know if those typed of lathes could be used or not. thanks again

someone mentioned that i pay a gunsmith to teach me at home. i would love this but can not, so i have to go to school to be able to get this equipment. and for the equipment to be paid for and school i need a list of what i need to be looking at for a price list.
howard gave me exactly what i was needing. ive never been good at people teaching me, i always learn best by knowing how to do it. then just practice it till i perffect it. so i will be getting lots of experience. when i plan to come home on the weekends and such i plan to be using machinery that i got for going to school, and on spare time start turning some barrels and gathering some actions and building custom rifles for myself. by the time i get out of school i plan to have tryed to complete over 30 rifles pistols. if i got the money to do it then i should take full advantage and do so.
Milltronics RH 20 open bed CNC mill with 4th axis and 24 tool ATC with Tercite way covers, rigid tapping, thread milling, and either a Centurian 7 or FANUC control.
Harrison Alpha 1330 U cnc slant bed tool room lathe with 7 station turret, and Apha mode canned cycle software package
8" BUCK three jaw indexable scroll chuck
Hardinge tool room lathe
Starret 18" Horizontal Optical comparater with metrology software package
Brown/Sharp 24" hydraulic surface grinder
Dumor Hydraulic coupler
System One filter elements
Every Reamer David Kiff makes
Every Pilot in .0002" increments
Wilson Hardness tester
Baldor buffers
Rockwell square wheel grinders
Kaiser screw compressor/dryer
Blast media cabinet
Bridgeport/EZ track manual knee mill with CNC conversion
Hardinge 5C Collets in 1/64 increments
MasterCam version 8, 9, or X for mill.

That right there is the tool/equipment list that'll allow you to build guns quickly, profitably, and better than 9.999999999999999999% of the shops out there if you learn how to run them properly.

Here's part of my shop:

First off you are doing one thing right you are attending a very good gunsmith school.
But you aren't going to get the experience you need to open a gun shop and be successful with out a lot more than a degree. As was said earlier you must have a very good understanding of sound business practices, to make the big bucks as a builder you need time, to build up a name for yourself. I would suggest finding someone in the trade with a good name and apprentice with them. I have been a gunsmith for many years and made a very good living at it, But it isn't a 9 to 5 job, if you want it to be successful you will have to put in many more hours than anyone working for you.
When we have someone applying for a gunsmith apprenticeship we always let them know "the amount of time you will spend in study and on the job training can put a stress on you not only physically and mentally but on any relationships you might have, it is important you understand this and prepare yourself for this stress." this is true with any small business.
Buy a lathe with a large enough hole thru the spindle to get a barrel blank through. Mine has a 2 1/2 hole I also have a collet set up, and a taper attachment. I like older lathes with a lot of weight for rigidity. Although I just saw a new Accra lathe and mill that were very nice machines. As to the mill a Bridgeport style with a power chuck and power to the bed in both X & Y axis, and both the lathe and mill should have a DRO. With hand tools buy the best you can afford cheap tools means cheap work.
I read about the need for CNC machines for gunsmithing and I wonder how I made it through thirty years without one. They are not necessary for 99.99999 percent of the trade. If you are going to make complete guns including actions yes, or if you are going to make a lot of parts yes but for most if not all gunsmith work they are not necessary.
Their are a lot of things to consider when opening a shop, training, tools, location, insurance, shop set up, lighting, alarms, stock, clientele, advertising, etc...
But I will tell you this its well worth it, and if you do it right you will be happier working in the trade than you can imagine
Their are some good articles at on starting a gunshop. Also check out
thankyou kog, im going to learn at home and slowly make a name for me my first rifles will be made for me. i am extremely mechanically inclined i learn rather quick. ill be operating at home most of the time but trying ot put in full time. when i work i cant stop its a addiction of mine. a job in my eyes is sun up to sun down.
If you are going to be making rifles then selling them, you will need an 07 FFL, not the 01 FFL. There are more headaches that go along with being an 07 FFL.

As someone who hires people to work on guns, a gunsmithing "degree" doesn't mean much. I'd hire a machinist with no gun experience before I'd hire a "gunsmith degree" with little machining experience.

In this day and age to be a gunsmith you pay $200 to the ATF to get an FFL and wear a name tag that says "gunsmith".
There seems to be a lot of negative responce to your inquiry. Good luck I say. Longrifles has a good list to start. Get the latest and greatest of everything because it will be outdated by the time you get out of school. There are other measures of success than wealth. Happiness and passion for what you do come to mind.
if i wanted wealth id be a lwayer now wouldnt i? lol, i am choosing gunsmithing because if that can pay the bills which is many on this working farm. Then i will be the happiest man alive. I just got something most people dont and that is a ticket to do anything i want in the world. Money is no longer an issue and im still going to try gunsmithing. my fallback is a mechanic but i dont want to get that greasy again.
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