Is gunsmithing a lost art?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by jarhead127, Oct 13, 2021.

  1. jarhead127

    jarhead127 Member

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    Looking to get some minor work done on one of my pistols that's a little beyond my comfort level. Problem is, only gunsmith around these parts retired couple years ago. Now, I live in a rural community (outside Dover, OH), but there's 2 cities close by with a population around 25K combined. That's not a large number but the vast majority are gun owners. Coupled with the fact there's a large Amish population nearby + they are not only hunters but exceptional craftsmen.

    So what's it like in your area, is this a lost art? And as the gun ownership rises rapidly, is this something next generation should be considering?
     
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  2. champ0608

    champ0608 Member

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    Certainly the days of having a quality local gunsmith are all but over. In my experience, if you want specialized work done, you need to mail it out.

    But most people, will just buy another gun before they get the one they have fixed/improved. Or they have a gun that you can just snap more black plastic doo-dads to...no need for a smith.
     
  3. entropy

    entropy Member

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    With the rise of Tupperware guns with modular systems, I'm afraid it is a greatly reduced art. :( There are thousands of parts replacers out there that can build AR's, 10/22's, etc. as I can too, but fewer that are capable of rebuilding a Colt revolver correctly (I did some back about 30 years ago but none since then) or building a bespoke shotgun or rifle. They can still be found, but you'll probably have to send the gun to them. I always worked for shops, but only do work for family and friends now, and with only hand tools, and a table drill press, that isn't much.
    If you need shotgun work, I have a list of go-to guys.
     
  4. jarhead127

    jarhead127 Member

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    Yah know that "modular system" is a point well taken. Wondering now if that wasn't by design of the mfgs. Most everything that happens today in government/big business is literally engineered, it don't just happen that way.
     
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  5. South Prairie Jim

    South Prairie Jim Member

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    I don't think gunsmithing is a lost art rather just tough to make a full time living tinkering with someone's hunting rifle. New builds are a little different animal as guys are expecting to pay 3-7 thousand dollars each so a Smith can put one together in a week after all the parts arrive plus a little tinkering you probably made a grand and now the next issue is paying for all the equipment required for top notch work. So its not a lost art just more specialized.
    The new term is Accuracy Smith
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
  6. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

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    Here it depends on what you're looking for....rifle work near KC is easy to find. KC is home to GA Precision and Manner's stocks. There's a couple area guys that apprenticed at GAP and have now opened their own shops. There's also a few general gunsmiths on both sides of the river..(KS and MO).
     
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  7. 357 Terms
    • Contributing Member

    357 Terms Contributing Member

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    The internet.
    I can go online and find parts for nearly every gun I own.
    I can find specialty tools (sight pushers, blocks, screwdrivers etc) cheap.
    YouTube videos walk people through all kinds of gunsmithing procedures.
    Anyone with a little mechanical ability can do a lot of work formerly reserved for gunsmiths.
    Its probably taken a lot of work away from people that were already struggling to make a living at it.
     
  8. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    Good gunsmithing is nearly a lost art. There are a lot of folks who can assemble parts, but really fine trigger work needs a master's touch. It's a potential career field, if you have the aptitude for it.
     
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  9. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    Throwaway society and their throwaway products.

    Cheap rifles like a Ruger American are not worth messing with and neither are Taurus handguns. The gunsmiths out there are not trained on these types of guns nor do they generally want to work on them. Not because they cannot but more so because of the people who own them. Someone who buys a cheap gun is not going to want to pay out what a gunsmiths time is worth and when they do they will want to cut every corner, which a good gunsmith will not do.

    In the same vein as “play stupid games, win stupid prizes”, you get what you pay for and you reap what you sow.

    There are few “gunsmiths” around me who “specialize” in ARs and Glocks :confused: What an insightful specialization.

    I asked the “gunsmith” at one of the local places what work he usually does. Barrel threading is very common so at least he knows how to use a machine tool. After that it is mods to ARs and Poly pistols. Cerakoting type finishes. Scope mounting. Cleaning. They turn down more complicated things like FTE/FTL/FTF type stuff if it in not an AR or Glock type pistol.

    Basically there is very little trigger modification work requiring stones and/or improving the existing trigger. Only trigger replacements. No rebluing. Only cerakote or duracoat or the like. No stock work or refinishing. Sometimes drilling and tapping for scopes or sights but there is little demand. Nothing even remotely involving shotguns. Nothing requiring a file. They really don’t even work on 1911s or nicer bolt actions.

    I think this trend will continue as ARs, Glocks, and other inexpensive guns become ever more popular.

    I have the skills to become a “real” gunsmith full time but there are few people willing to pay for this kind of work. I would make money “specializing” in ARs and Glocks I guess but that isn’t what I want to do.

    I’ll just stick with being a mechanic, which surprisingly lets me use a lot of the same skill set and make way more money.
     
  10. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    In one way, the art is at it's highest level ever. There are men turning out essential perfection every day. The only trouble is that they are backlogged by a couple of years, and charge thousands of dollars for their work.

    For routine stuff, like action work and such, it does seem to me that it is harder to find competent people than it was a few decades ago. I don't know if it's nationwide or just local to me, but whereas I once had half a dozen good and honest 'smiths within driving range, I now have one or maybe two. And by the same token, I once had a list of two guys to avoid, and now it's ten or so - people who are either incompetent, liars, or crooks.
     
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  11. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Gunsmiths can be as specialized as auto mechanics. Some only engrave. Some only work on pistols. Some only make custom rifles. Some do only repair. Some specialize in revolvers. Some only work on flintlocks.
     
  12. The Glockodile

    The Glockodile Member

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  13. Axis II

    Axis II Member

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    Unfortunatly we are in the throw it away culture. When something quits working you just throw it away and get a new one. These generations dont give a hoot about learning mechanical stuff.
     
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  14. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    Much of modern gunsmithing is replacing broken, worn, or missing parts. Something doesn't work, replace it with an OEM replacement ordered from Numrich or a dozen other parts suppliers. Some gun smiths don't even bother to properly mount a scope or lap rings anymore. And if you need something special done like case hardening, metal finishing, stock work, or checkering, you have to be good at internet searches and shipping a firearm to have the work done. Yes, gunsmithing very much is a lost art. And that is quite the shame.
     
  15. gonoles_1980

    gonoles_1980 Member

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    The gunsmith I used retired. I don't see how you can make a living just being a gunsmith. You'd have to own a gun and ammo shop and have gunsmithing as part of your services.
     
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  16. gobsauce

    gobsauce Member

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    Because it just so happens to be cheaper to replace than to fix. I adored my Plymouth Neon, it was my very first hand-me-down, but it became such a hassle to fix, it ended being cheaper to buy another car.
    Similarly,if your revolver is completely out of time, you might just buy a new one instead (my case with an 1851 Navy)
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
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  17. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I wouldn’t say it’s lost, there are still people out there that can make things from an understanding of what task needs to be performed and create an elegant soultion.

    That said, many people wouldn’t pay what it costs to utilize that knowledge and skill set.

    From that standpoint we are an ever increasing “throw away” population. Your not going to pay a guy $125/hr to diagnose and fix your $20 coffee pot.

    For the same reason your not going to pay a gunsmith to return your $60 Marlin 60 back to original condition.
     
  18. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    One group near me apparently has as much business as they can handle, despite astoundingly high prices. (They once quoted me $275 to cut a front sight dovetail into the barrel of a percussion revolver.) So maybe the secret is to open your shop in a conservative upper-class neighborhood...
     
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  19. somethingbenign

    somethingbenign Member

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    I remember asking around about gunsmithing when I was younger and looking for a career path. Was trying to find someone to apprentice under and all of the five guys said they didn't want to be slowed down by a new guy, I gave up after that. This was about 12 years ago. I get not wanting to train someone as part of the job but these skills disappearing aren't just customer sided issues.
     
  20. South Prairie Jim

    South Prairie Jim Member

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    It is far from a lost art in Montana. Screenshot_20211013-121742.png
     
  21. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    There is a real reason for small shops NOT to take on an apprentice.

    If it is just me in my shop, I should, but don't really have to bring the shop up to OSHA standards for health and safety, and if I hurt myself in the shop it's my own fault. However, if I bring an employee into the shop, I have an obligation to bring the shop up to safety standards, and maintain it at those levels, which is an expense. Further, there is the expense of maintaining an employee, payroll tax, and such. It goes beyond just being slowed down trying to teach a new guy stuff, that's not that intrusive, maintaining the level of administrative paperwork for an employee, or even just some guy standing around in the shop, that gets time consuming.
     
  22. somethingbenign

    somethingbenign Member

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    I understand all that, betweens parents and step parents there has been four different companies owned at one point or another. Of these guys I asked two where multi guy operations and the other three were single guy shops. I'm just pointing out that sometimes the issue isn't entirely these young wipersnappers, even if it is 75% our fault.
     
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  23. Ironicaintit

    Ironicaintit Member

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    I wouldn't say lost, but definitely few and far between. But that's true of a lot of caveman arts.
     
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  24. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    Yup. I placed an order for a custom flintlock duelling pistol...three years ago. I expect to pick it up at the World Muzzle-Loading Championships next year.
     
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  25. AK Hunter

    AK Hunter Member

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    I have been looking for a part for an old pistol & can't find one online so I thought to ask some local gunsmith if they could make one & no one wants to attempt it. Looking for a firing pin for a Grendel P30.
     
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