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How to become a gunsmith

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Warners, Jul 19, 2011.

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  1. Warners

    Warners Member

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    What is involved and what would be the best way to work on becoming a gunsmith? Does anyone have and good suggestions? Is there a gunsmith school? Apprentice program? How does one get started?

    Thanks in advance,

    Warner
     
  2. feedthehogs

    feedthehogs Member

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  3. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    Become an apprentice for about 10 years with a real gunsmith
     
  4. Warners

    Warners Member

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    Thanks. I visited both sites and requested information from them both. I was hoping to find something closer to the Chicago area, that I could start part time and build on while I keep my full time job (I.T. work)

    Thanks again,

    Warner
     
  5. Bubbles

    Bubbles Member

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    A gunsmith is a machinist and woodworker who specializes in firearms. To get started take some courses in metalworking, wood refinishing, and welding at your local community college. I'd also recommend bookkeeping and business accounting as well.

    Most 'smiths don't go out of business because they don't know their job, it's because they don't know how to run a business and deal with the public.
     
  6. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    There's a difference between a gunsmith and someone who replaces parts - most I have seen lately are from the latter group and not someone I would leave my gun with
     
  7. ball3006

    ball3006 Member

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    Trinidad St Jr College has a good gunsmith school. I am partial because I am from the class of 64.....chris3
     
  8. Chuck Dye

    Chuck Dye Member

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    Lassen College in Susanville CA has a good reputation. Financing tuition, room, and board on the fly might be tough, Susanville is a bit remote.
     
  9. tbutera2112

    tbutera2112 Member

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    buy anything made by remington... it will turn you into a gunsmith real quick with all the time spent fixing it
     
  10. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    REAL close to Reno and the ski areas around Tahoe though
     
  11. Warners

    Warners Member

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    Hahaha....cute...

    Warner
     
  12. mmitch

    mmitch Member

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  13. CWL

    CWL Member

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    You could investigate your National Guard's Armorer's program.
     
  14. Warners

    Warners Member

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  15. jimmyraythomason

    jimmyraythomason Member

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    MOST gunsmith work is repairing broken firearms. This is USUALLY done by replacing broken parts. It is the gunsmiths bread and butter. I did the apprentice thing in the later 1970s,evenually buying the business.
    I closed because I got VERY tired of dealing with the public "I'm not in any hurry for it" and then come by or call every day,"is my gun ready YET?"
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011
  16. Warners

    Warners Member

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    I heard back from the Colorado School of Trades yesterday. Their tuition is about $22,500 not including room and board, which they can find locally for you at the cost of about $600 a month. So it's not cheap to get a good start. Then the machinery and equipment costs to get started would also be significant. I bet it would be easy to be in $50k before you had your first customer. Not a cheap proposition, for sure....

    Warner
     
  17. Aoshi

    Aoshi Member

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    That's more then my state university, by a lot.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011
  18. gym

    gym member

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    I don't think it takes 10 years to become a gunsmith. I thing everyone learns at a different pace, and some don't learn no matter how long they watch or study. It depends on your natural ability, visualization, and ability to grasp concepts. It's more like a good machinest or combination mechanic and machinest. That's why some doctores suck, and some diagnose you in 5 minutes, because they know what they are looking for. They can go to school foerever and not get smarter only more knowledgable. First of all you need to test your aptitude at fixing things that are broken, it means a lot. Are you the kind off guy that can look at something and figure out why it isn't working? are you good with tools, have you always displayed an interest in things mechanical. It's the type of job that you must have a love and an aptitude for or watching the best gunsmith untill he falls over isn't going to help a whole lot.
    I remember growing up with guys that you went to because you knew if you couldn't fix it, they surelly would or no one could. That's the guy who will make a good gunsmith.
     
  19. Cop Bob

    Cop Bob Member

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    Humm, I got about a dozen of them... never HAD to do anything but sight em in, load em and shootem, then clean em...

    My old 870 could use some new wood, but that only from getting drug around in a patrol car for 20 years or so... I have however qualified on a 10" Lathe and a 3hp Bridgeport mill... My Brownell's account was opened about 35 years ago when you had to be a gunsmith or a gunshop to buy from them...

    I haven't had to FIX that many Remingtons.. no i have WORKED on a bunch of them... Mostly upgrades and simple bedding or scope mounts.. but actual Problems... Naw... dang few. Now Sako's, Smith long guns (when they made em), Brownings..Marlins, Rossi, a host of imports... Yeah.. The old Nylon Series 22's by Rem... yup all the time..

    The now infamous Rem Trigger... I don't buy it... But MANY a fool has tried to adjust them and screwed up... causing 90% of those problems... Because they had NO idea what they were doing...

    Trigger time, I got it... and most of my long gun time is nestled up to a Remington product... 700's, 600's, 788's, 870's, 1100's,1187's and even an old Rolling Block... Ain't Nothing wrong with em... :fire:

    Can you tell I'm a Remington fan?
     
  20. Cop Bob

    Cop Bob Member

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    Now to answer the OP's Question...

    I learned what little I know from 1st taking machine shop courses in school, no longer offered... Hanging out with some really good quality gunsmiths... A dying breed...

    I suggest signing up for Armor's courses with the various MFG's.. If it is what you REALLY want to do.. Find the BEST gunsmiths in your area and see if you can get them to mentor you.. start a tool collection... can NEVER have enough..

    maybe work under an experienced machinist (on manual machines) at a small machine shop... just to learn how to run the machines, do setups and read a micrometer.. that is a big part of it...

    The best option would be to bite the bullet and hit Colorado School or trade or similar..
     
  21. CWL

    CWL Member

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    Did you investigate your National Guard? They'll pay you to learn. Of course you may have to do some traveling...
     
  22. Warners

    Warners Member

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    No I didn't. My situation would not allow me to travel....or go away to school. I have 3 kids who are still in school and a wife that doesn't drive (fun, huh?). I was more interested in finding something I can do on the side and hone my knowledge and skills to the point of someday being able to make a little extra money on the side, while (hopefully!) keeping my full time job in IT where I've been for the past 27 years. I'm sure the best and most complete way to learn would be to totally immerse myself in it by going away to school with no distractions, etc, but that just isn't feasible for me. I'm just trying to do a little "homework" and see what the possibilities are. Thanks to all who replied so far.

    Warner
     
  23. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    To be able to learn gunsmithing, you need to be able to throw quite a bit of your life away. It is a career change and to get training in it you can only do it at certain locations. Unfortunately none of them are near you and you cannot travel or quit your job or leave your family in any way.

    This is another one of those examples where sometimes things just arent meant to be.

    You will only be able to dabble in it on a hobby basis. You are going to need a few guns that are serviceable (that is not cheap crap) so you can practice. Maybe do some stock refinishing or bed a rifle barrel. Trigger jobs are out of the question I would think because it takes learning under the watchful eye of a skilled instructor.

    Just something to think about.

    However the Grant Cunningham article is quite insightful in how he relates "piecemealing" gunsmithing education. Take machining classes at the local community college. Sometimes they have woodworking courses too. Generally these are geared towards cabinetmaking as opposed to custom furniture. The latter is more related to the type of woodwork you would do in gunsmithing.

    I was taught the old school way of gunsmithing. I do not do work for customers so some will think me not a true gunsmith. Maybe they are right and maybe not. I did receive formal training at Trinidad State, though that was only remedial lessons compared to what I know now. I then worked for 1 year for minimum wage as what would be considered today a gunsmiths apprentice. I thought of myself as merely an employee though. It was part time and it was my second job. He was an old custom gun builder who did not take any repair work. Only custom orders. For the first months I did very menial things like rough cutting stocks, stock finishing, rough stock removal on metal, ordering and receiving parts, talking with customers on the phone, and, my favorite, polishing. EVERYTHING was done with hand tools. I then got on to parts fitting and making a little and some stock shaping, polishing internals and stuff. I learned a lot but unfortunately obligations came up and I had to stop working there.

    I dont know as much as that man and I never will. But I know a lot more about gunsmithing because of it. I never chose to make a career of it because I did not want to live in the poor house. I have built exactly one custom gun in my life and it was a 7x57 rifle on a military Mauser action. It took me 2 years to build and I mangled a stock, barrel, 2 sears, and a trigger in the process of trying to make this thing perfect. My dad has that gun now and it shoots 1.25" groups at a hundred. Not bad I think. It is a hunting gun. The experience showed me what I am capable of with enough time on my hands but it is nothing I want to make a career at.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011
  24. Aoshi

    Aoshi Member

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    I agree a lot with earl's post above me. But I'm a believer of you can do anything if you want it bad enough. Maybe you can't move to go to a school or join the National Guard for free training, but if you want this enough you can do it.

    Depending on how you learn find some books or videos on simpler tasks, if you adapt pretty quickly and find yourself really enjoying this. Pick up and restore a few old shotguns or rifles. Eventually you could just work part time at a local shop, or start your own and have people send you weapons for refinishing, and what not. Buy training from someone local if you're having issues. Perhaps they won't bring you into their company, but most guys might have a hard time turning down enough money.

    Find a niche and grow from there. It's how I see a lot of companies starting in the forum world.

    ex: A racer who can't find good enough brake combo gets some machinists on the phone and designs his own. Now he designs, races, and sells his own suspension line for vintage mustangs, along with big brake kits, and damn near anything else for those things. I know of a few stories like this.
     
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