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Gunsmithing School/Certification?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by Drusagas, Apr 1, 2008.

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  1. Drusagas

    Drusagas Member

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    Well, I've looked around on the internet and only could find one "Gunsmithing Certification course" with PSU (Pheonix State University) and honestly I've never heard of them and don't know if they're legit or not. So, I was wondering if anyone knew of a place to get a gunsmithing certification or degree in Texas? I like to tinker with guns but would like to know a lot more before I do anything really serious. Plus it's on my wishlist to get an FFL one day and I've heard it helps a bit if you're a gunsmith. Any help on this would be appreciated.
     
  2. ieszu

    ieszu Member

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    Trying to figure that out....
    Getting your FFL does not require being a gunsmith, the ATF doesn't care so long as you check the right box.

    I don't know of any place in Texas, but check the NRA's website, they have a listing there, which includes such places as PGS (my alma mater), Colorado School of Trade, Larson Community College, etc.

    IMHO, most of the places you see online, from the "certification" given by the video gunsmithing course, to a particular website that "certifies" you if you pay a membership fee are all garbage. Nothing meets a brick and mortar institution for a gunsmtihing course.... no matter how many times you read/watch about how to chamber a barrel, drill and tap for scopes, etc. you will never accomplish it without lots of trial and error. A flesh and blood teacher is invaluable, especially after you graduate and you need some advice on a customer's project.... they generally have been there and done it.
     
  3. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Member

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    The online "certifications" are like the "college degrees" you can buy on line..... Totally worthless.
    Apply for a job as a gunsmith with one of those, and the employer will simply toss them in the trash.

    The better gunsmithing schools are either fully accredited trade schools or junior colleges that offer real degrees.

    Here's the available schools in the USA.
    The top schools are Colorado Schools of Trades, Trinidad Jr College, and Lassen College.
    Get a degree from one of these, and employers sit up and take notice.


    Colorado School of Trades
    1575 Hoyt Street
    Lakewood, CO 80215
    Phone: 800-234-4594

    Lassen Community College
    P.O. Box 3000
    Susanville, CA 96130
    Phone: 530-257-4211

    Modern Gun School
    80 North Main Street, P.O. Box 846
    St. Albans, VT 05478
    Phone: 800-493-4114

    Montgomery Community College
    1011 Page Street
    P.O. Box 787
    Troy, NC 27371
    Phone: 800-839-6222

    Murray State College
    One Murray Campus
    Tishomingo, OK 73460
    Phone: 580-371-2371

    Penn Foster Career School
    ICS-Intext
    925 Oak Street
    Scranton, PA 18515

    Pennsylvania Gunsmith School
    812 Ohio River Blvd.
    Avalon
    Pittsburgh, PA 15202
    Phone: 412-766-1812

    Piedmont Community College
    1715 College Drive
    P.O. Box 1197
    Roxboro, NC 27573
    Phone: 336-599-1181

    Pine Technical Institute
    900 4th Street
    Pine City, MN 55063
    Phone: 800-521-7463

    Sonoran Desert Institute
    10245 East Via Linda, Suite 102
    Scottsdale, AZ 85258
    Phone: 480-314-2102

    Trinidad State Jr. College
    600 Prospect
    Trinidad, CO 81082
    Phone: 800-621-8752

    Yavapai College
    1100 East Sheldon Street
    Prescott, AZ 86301
    Phone: 520-776-2150
     
  4. ieszu

    ieszu Member

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    Trying to figure that out....
    I disagree with the Lassen College part... I had a classmate of mine at PGS who graduated from there, said all he really learned was repair/part replacing, and at PGS he learned stock making, machining, repair, blueing, and numerous other things that employers are looking for.
     
  5. Drusagas

    Drusagas Member

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    Awesome guys ;) Seriously, I should have just come here first like I do for other gun questions. Would have saved me quite a bit of time last night. I will definately keep all this in mind.
     
  6. frogomatic

    frogomatic Member

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    I'm attending Colorado School of Trades, good school, I'm learning alot. Stocks, mill and lathe work, bluing, welding, trouble shooting, and custom work. There are a lot of advantages to going to a good school, the deals I can get on guns right now is just obscene.
     
  7. UKarmourer

    UKarmourer Member

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    Back home with my family, Never to return to Iraq!
    I emailed CST a while back asking for info and never got a response!
    must try again
     
  8. Durby

    Durby Member

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    Wow, ieszu, I would question your friends experience at Lassen. I am currently attending, and it is not like that at all. We have learned machining and welding, refinishing and bluing and have done lots of work on bolt action rifles so far. I just made my Enfield 1917 feed 375 Ruger cases, with a barrel I contoured, threaded, chambered, and cut the extractor cut. I also welded up the bathtub on the rear bridge, made my own bolt handle and welded it on, crowned the barrel, drilled and tapped it for scope mounts, etc. It is definitely not parts replacement. The second year of the program is DFR, or design, function, and repair classes. This covers some parts replacement, but is not limited to it. You also learn how to make most of the tools you use. The whole program is two years, and you get two degrees if you have general education with the gunsmithing.
     
  9. codemutt

    codemutt Member

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    Another question

    I'm very interested in learning as much as I can about gunsmithing but I'm afraid that I cannot move to another state to attend a brick & mortar training program.

    I understand that in terms of getting a paying job as a gunsmith the online degrees are junk.

    Is there nothing available for self study that can get you to the point where you can work on firearms as a hobby or even as licensed dealer other than a brick and mortar degree? Maybe studying on your own and asking a local gunsmith if you can volunteer some labor?

    Sorry if these questions are dumb but I'm quite ignorant about this.
     
  10. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Member

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    The mail correspondence courses are better than nothing, but again, since no real pro sees your work, you have no way to judge whether you really know what you're doing.

    Problem with getting a local gunsmith to help is, you have no real way of knowing if HE really knows what he's doing.
    Since there is no competency requirement for gunsmiths, anyone can go into business and claim to be a gunsmith.
    Local reputation does help, but I've seen a fair number of gunsmiths with good local reputations that were terrible hacks.

    If you intend to charge money to repair guns, you'd BETTER know exactly what you're doing.
    People get really unhappy when their gun comes back and it's not perfect.
    Even good friends can be quick to sue.

    So, unless you can find a genuinely good gunsmith to help you out, (most won't because who wants competition) you're left with messing up your own guns to learn the trade before taking in anyone else's guns.

    You CAN become a good gunsmith without going to a real school, but the deck is very much stacked against you, and you'll be unlikely to make any money at it versus the outlay in licenses, tools, and equipment.
     
  11. havoc7usmc

    havoc7usmc Member

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    North Border in Vermont
    Modern Gun School S Albany's,VT

    I've seen the advertisement for this gunsmith school and it's a mail order school so it so be kicked off the list as a "school". I think all of the senior moderators should open a Gunsmith school. I'm grateful for this web site and the expert advice I've found here.
     
  12. codemutt

    codemutt Member

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    If some of ya'll know, what are the best books on gunsmithing?

    Appreciate the replys, thanks.
     
  13. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Member

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    Most gunsmithing books are old books written back in the days when new parts were almost impossible to get, and they had to make parts.
    Most of these books have lots of info on heating and bending, and soldering.

    These techniques aren't really acceptable these days were new parts are fairly easy to get.
    For that reason, probably the best books are the gun-specific Jerry Kuhnhausen series.
    These books are actual shop manuals written as teaching aids for gunsmith trainees by Kuhnhausen.
    Each book covers one specific type of gun. Many of the techniques and procedures will work on other guns:


    http://www.midwayusa.com/esearch.ex...o+Begin+Search.x=7&Click+to+Begin+Search.y=15

    For some books, there are also videos.

    Since Kuhnhausen trained gunsmiths for the industry, he insisted on "doing it the RIGHT way, which is the factory way".
    This is how the factories do it, not the old "get it to work somehow".
     
  14. jordan1948

    jordan1948 Member

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    Penn Foster is legit, I'm currently enrolled in a diferent course but plan on doing the gunsmithing one as well
     
  15. krs

    krs Member

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    Forget gunsmithing until you're a CNC machinist if you're after making a career of it.

    Jerry Kuhnhausen's books are the single best reading source available today.

    BATF insists that you be a for profit business before they'll issue a license to you, and that means that you've got local business licensing issues taken care of and have a state license issued by your state's franchise tax board or whatever it's called in your state. Your city and county folks will want to know that you aren't near schools, that you have methods to secure your wares, to assure that you aren't polluting, that you have adequate parking, that you aren't going up in smoke, and on and on, and then on some more. Thing is that all licensing agencies are tax collectors and they will insist on having you up on their lists as a source of revenue. When you aren't making money and paying into the coffers they'll come a calling to see what the problem is and if they think you're up to something besides tax generating activities they'll shut you down before you can say "But...!".
     
  16. codemutt

    codemutt Member

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    Thanks very much for the Jerry Kuhnhausen recommendation. There are so many books out there on firearms maintenance and gunsmithing an uninitiated person like me has a hard time sorting out the good from the not-so-good.

    It makes good sense to use factory parts when you can get them.

    However I'd also be very interested in "the old ways". Number one because we really can't be sure there will always be factories that supply spare parts. That can depend on many factors, especially unfortunately politics. But also because there are many firearms for which there are not any parts available even now. My father has some of those, handed down from his father.

    So any additional info on authors who describe "the old ways" would also be much appreciated.

    I think I'll be living in a very rural area and maybe I'll have less trouble with state and local approval if I decide to try to get licensed and earn $$$ with gunsmithing work.

    Thanks again.
     
  17. koginam

    koginam Member

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    I have to disagree with krs, I retired 3 years ago as a full time gunsmith after more then 29 years of owning my own shops, and I have never used a cnc machine in my life, I don't know of any gunsmith that even has one in his shop. Now if you are going to build lots of guns from scratch yes they might come in handy but many gunsmith have built thousands of guns with manual machines, they just aren't cost effective for the number of parts you would use them for in a normal gunsmith shop. Many shops have manual lathes and mills maybe a few other machines but for most gunsmiths that's it.



    I know several very good gunsmiths who make a very good living and they have only a drill press and a few hand power tools, they replace parts and do stock work and metal coating.

    I have been a coordinator for TAOGART, www.taogart.org , for a couple of years in there gunsmith apprenticeship program, I find it hard to place an apprentice applicant with a sponsor if they have only a correspondence course as experience. some courses will give you a basic understanding of firearms theory but you get little or no hands on experience. I would not say not to do the course I think any information we get is valuable but understand what you will be getting from the course a basic understanding of firearms theory.

    PSU is not a certified course by any real certification program it is a scam and if you show up with a certificate from them you wouldn't be taken seriously.

    What ever you decide good luck its a great trade.
     
  18. havoc7usmc

    havoc7usmc Member

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    I prefer Armor.

    I agree with Koginam. I know a very good Gunsmith that is self taught and has used only Manuel machines. He builds some of the best shooting rifles and 1911's I've ever seen. I've been to a few factory armorer's course's and seek out and pick the minds of those who know, like on this web site or people I met at the factory. I have a small mill. drill press and lots of the tricky gunsmith tools that make the job possible. I do a pretty good business and I'm often called a Gunsmith, which I educate them in the difference between Gunsmith and Armorer...I'm an armorer with basic machining skills.
    With the cost of moving to another state and full time school is just not realistic to some of us to attend a brick & mortar school. In short. Any reliable info and practical application under a competent person in this field is better then nothing. Just remember! Be honest to yourself about your capabilities and most important...be honest to your customer about your skill.
    I've seen a lot of half $#* jobs from guys that will tell you they can cut a dove tail and cut a frame and have never done it to begin with.
    I will now step off of my soap box. for the younger crowd, that means I'll shut my ^&#* mouth.
     
  19. codemutt

    codemutt Member

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    I think havoc7usmc has described what I would like to acheive, armorer with basic machining skills (at least as a first goal, which is lofty enough).

    I'm curious as to the small mill you have, havoc. I do other kinds of repair stuff as a hobby (motorcycles) and have done some tightly supervised machining for some modifications on a RE 500.

    Having a manual mill / lathe is something I've considered from time to time.

    I'm stuck with self-education although the idea of apprenticeship crossed my mind. I'm glad koginam posted the link to TAOGART. I'm pretty old and not looking for a career per se -- I've got that and it's not related to firearms at all. But I'm after a hard skill. Is it possible to apprentice part time as a volunteer -- ie no pay -- long as the student is serious about it?
     
  20. koginam

    koginam Member

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    codemutt
    It is absolutely possible to trade labor for training, unfortunately to qualify for a U.S. department of labor journeyman's gunsmith certificate you have to be a paid apprentice. Its their rule not ours.

    I have had several volunteers help in the shop doing grunt work like cleaning guns, stock finishing, working the counter, in return for training and using my equipment. Many are good craftsmen. A gunsmith can use help in those areas and as you learn they may give you more responsibilities, make the offer and be prepared to show what you can bring to the deal in the way of experience.

    While the objective of TAOGART is to provide qualified journeyman gunsmiths to the trade, they will help anyone with advise, and training.
     
  21. havoc7usmc

    havoc7usmc Member

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    Hey Codemut

    I have a Grizzly mini milling machine. I like it and it's perfect for us taking the slow road to gunsmithing. It's perfect for dove tails, cutting frames for ramped barrels and porting slides and barrels. It's come close to hunting season so it's mostly set up for drill & tapping scope mounts right now. I'll tell ya, when it comes to scope mounting, and the amount that I do, this is what I've come up with. We have a lot of granite companies around here and they have a lot of good finished scrape pieces of various sizes. I got lucky and found one that was 18 x 18 inches. I have it on a level table with various scope mounts attached (epoxy to the top). When someone comes in to have a scope mounted I take their rings and scope and mount them on the table, then I place an index mark on the rings and the scope, I have a line on the wall that is leveled for reference to the cross hairs. I then remove and remount on the customers rifle it saves a lot of time and guess work...simple, cheap and accurate. As always I'm open for any ideas.
     
  22. FSCJedi

    FSCJedi Member

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    I have been thinking VERY hard about using my GI Bill to go to the Pennsylvania Gunsmith School when I get home from Korea. Would a few of you current certified gunsmiths mind if I PMed/emailed you and asked a few questions? Just who all is actually certified here? haha
     
  23. codemutt

    codemutt Member

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    Thanks for all the information, fellas.

    I went straight out and looked at the Grizzly stuff.

    I'd like to know about lathes guys use too, for pistols and for long guns.

    Much obliged.
     
  24. Atla

    Atla Member

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    I just applied this morning for the Montgomery Community College in NC for gunsmithing.

    Hopefully it's worth a damn. The course descriptions looked okay.

    And at any rate it's a start.
     
  25. havoc7usmc

    havoc7usmc Member

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    Taogart ???

    :confused:Hey Koginam, Can you tell me a little more about TAOGART, I've never heard of it. my small, simple wondering mind wants to know.

    Thanks.
    Guns out.
     
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