View Full Version : gunsmith training ideas
July 29, 2006, 02:37 AM
I am currently trying to decide where to obtain a quality gunsmithing course and certificate. I have littiture from all the "at home gunsmithing schools" averaging in price from 500-1500. I really would like to take a course at a actual brick and mortar school with a machine shop and tools. How ever I can't seem to locate any nearby. I have always worked on all my personal firearms and enjoy purchasing basket cases to figure out whats wrong and repair them. Of course after the repairs are complete i have no problem making a little profit by reselling the piece. My plans are to open a firearms and LEO equipment store with a partner. he is totally into the tactical and equip... end of things while i am wanting to buy sell consign and repair firearms. I want to take a glock armorers course for sure as well as basic gunsmithing. Please help with any info on experiences with at home training courses and any reccomendations. The one course that i personally have really been considering is the Modern Gun School. I always see it advertised in the back of G&A and it costs a lot less than AGI. Thanks for your responses.
July 29, 2006, 06:09 AM
If you're going to work as a gunsmith the the 'at home' courses are not going to be enough. A good school and makers armorers classes are the much better way !!
July 29, 2006, 10:06 AM
Here's a way to ease into this and still keep your day job. Take a one or two week NRA sponsored summer course at a gunsmithing school. This will give you an intense, hands on, full time exposure to real gunsmithing. You can take general or specialty courses. Get info from the NRA.
July 29, 2006, 11:00 AM
The nra schools are great. Check the NRA site or check midway and they have the link. A buddy of mine just got back from the school the NRA held in Oklahoma last month and he took several of the classes. Most are around 250 each plus room and board.
July 29, 2006, 12:46 PM
AGI has a home study course that is taught just like you are sitting in the class room with Bob Dunlap at Lassen Community College. It is as detailed as the same course that he taught at Lassen, you just won't have access to all of the guns unless you have an extensive collection to work ffrom or don't mind buying a gun or two or three. They also off a machine and welding course as well as the Glock Armorers course. You will need to get the machines though if you won't to actually be able to get the most good out of that course.
Like Mete, said, it isn't quite as good as being able to have the different guns at the school and the instructor over your shoulder, but you can call and talk to Bob when you need to. This is the best home school course on the market and I have no doubt that if you pass it, you will be fully able to take on most any job that comes your way. I took it while working for a smith and believe me, having the video reference to go back to when you need it is invaluable.
A lot of folks talk bad about homeschool courses for great reasons, they usually aren't very detailed and take your money, but this one is college accredited in California where the company actually is. Check them out at the following link if you want to:
I wasn't disappointed when I got through with the course and I feel that anyone that takes the coure and passes it won't be either. It isn't a gimme course like all the others, this one actually makes you think about what you are doing and you will have to really understand the guns before you pass the tests. Bob actaully takes you through every possible problem that could be wrong with each and every gun that he shows you. The course begins with Semi-Auto Pistols, and goes through every type of pistols and revolver, through every type of rifle and shotgun, just like the college class you can go somewhere and take and spend a lot more money for room and board and this can be taken at your own pace at home and you can still keep the day job as well. Best of luck with the endeavor.
July 30, 2006, 06:25 AM
I agree with Cntryboy, AGI is the best homeschool way to go. I took the NRI & North American School of Firearms courses back in the late 80's. They had some good general info but were not worth the price. NRI's course was full of typo's and very unprofessional.
Another suggestion is to do what I did. I informally apprenticed at a local gunsmith shop when I was a teen. I worked/trained for free and swept up the shop at night.
While I don't consider myself a fully qualified gunsmith (lacking in machining skills) I do have a lot of gun repair experience from the last 22 years both civilian & LE. I hope to atttend the Colorado School of Trades when I retire.
Good luck with your plans!!!!
July 30, 2006, 03:38 PM
I will agree with folks who say that books or a video course are "as good" as a "hands on" school if those same folks will agree to have their heart surgery done by someone who watched a video instead of by a doctor who went to medical school.
July 30, 2006, 10:22 PM
The thing is Jim, a video course that is used to learn how to work on guns can be just as good as sitting in the classroom if and let me say again "IF", the person watching them has the gun to work on and actually puts his hands on the gun, or has the machines to work with as well.
Folks do online study course these days and receive college credit for it, this is the same thing basically except you have can finish the course at your own pace and not at the whim of the instructor that doesn't have time always to slow down and work with you if you have to have it. You can rewind the video an unlimited number of times and make sure you understand what is going on before moving on to the next gun or subject. I never said it was as good as going to the schools. What I said was it is the best homestudy course out there and that it is just like sitting in the classroom with Bob Dunlap because he teaches it just like he does in his lectures. He shows you exactly how to break the gun down and exactly what he does to make repairs and I mean all repairs on the gun. The only thing he actually doesn't show is some fo the lathe work, but they have courses available that show you that as well.
I guess it is one of those cases where if you haven't seen it, don't knock it before you do kind of deals. It is a very extensive video course and covers every type of firearm that the gunsmith might incurr except full autos, and they have courses available on those as well. It covers all types of repairs as well as how do the trigger job on each and every gun he shows. The course I have has more than 42 different DVD's and it contains more than 200 hours of information. The exact same information you used to be able to get at Lassen Community College. It also inlcudes inforamtion on heat treating metals, metalsmithing and prepping for blueing as well as how to hot dip blue, nitre blue, slow rust blue, Parkerizing and make springs. I wouldn't hesitate in the very least to recommend it as well as some business courses to anyone wanting to learn gunsmithing, it is that good.
I worked for a smith for a few years before I opened my doors and I can say that he only gave me half as much knowledge as I learned from the video course. Bob Dunlap is one of the best I have ever seen at showing the ins and outs of a gun and its inner workings. He is an engineer, a Master Gunsmith as well as he taught at Lassen for around 20 years and ran at one time a factory service center for almost each and every gunmaker in the United States.
I'll leave it up to each and everyone of you to make up your own mind about it. I say you can't go wrong with the course though. Check it out for yourself though and get a copy of their introductory tape and see for yourself instead of just listening to me or anyone else say what they say here on the net.
I took sevedral other home study courses through the years and I have an extensive library as well. None of the books that I heave ever read have showed me anything that I didn't get from the courses at AGI except some of the stock work and checkering.
July 30, 2006, 10:31 PM
July 31, 2006, 07:02 PM
Thanks for that info. I am also interested. I just ordered the introductory info.
August 2, 2006, 11:32 PM
Mr. Keenan, do you feel, sometimes, like you're talking to a brick wall?
August 3, 2006, 01:15 AM
You can be sarcastic about it and run it into the ground or whatever you want to, but I would ask that you know about this course before you talk about it. I respect Jim and many others here, not because of where he went to school, but for his knowledge. I don't usually make a habit of asking where a guy learned what he knows when he can clearly speak whatever it is that he knows.
Did you or anyone else that have actually gone to a school learn everything you know at that school? I would certainly think not. It ain't always the school that teaches you the most important things in life, that usually comes from experience and actual work that comes in the door. I'll hush on the subject though and close with this, just because you went to such and such school defintely doesn't make you a better gunsmith. If it did, we'd all be going to the same school to get the best education we could. I know of some very fine gunsmiths that are considered to be some of the best around that never ventured away from their own shop. They never stepped foot in a school because they learned on their own by trial and error, does that mean they don't know what they know because they didn't go to school? LOL, oh well, I'll let you decide on the subject. Make sure to look down your nose at me because I got most of my training from a local smith before I took the course. The local smith went to The Colorado School of trades and he watched some of the videos with me. HIs own words was that he never learned a lot of the stuff covered on the videos at the school he went to. He had to learn them on his own after he left. Have a good day now you hear, Brick wall over and out!
August 3, 2006, 01:12 PM
Learn gunsmithing from a video? As long as you're working on your own guns, sure, go for it. Working on other people's guns? No, thanks.
What AGI really needs to do is produce a video telling people who want to be gunsmiths how to survive on minimum wage.
August 3, 2006, 02:22 PM
Bob does an excellent job of making folks aware of what they are going to need to charge to make a living. I love the way folks try to pick this course apart that haven't seen it. He also specifically tells you to take some business courses as well which is the biggest concern isn't it, it's a business afterall.
I have always believed and been told that a man earns what he earns. If you are satisfied with minimum wage, that's what you'll make. Strive for more and you usually end up with more as long as you stay the path and know what you are doing.
I thought back to a very good article on gunsmithing by Mr. Brownell that was written a long time ago. It still holds true to this day. If a gunsmith only takes what training he gets and goes to work without ever expanding his knowledge by reading books and searching for more, you can very easily substitute watching a video here, he most likely will not expand his business or his skills. Take it for what it' worth to you.
For those of you that have been around here for a while, you have seen my posts and I'll leave it up to you to decide if I need to go back to school and get what I supposedly missed out on by not going to one. Never judge a book by it's cover takes care of it about as well as it can be said.
I know where you're coming from with most of the homeschool courses, this just doesn't happen to be one like the old "send us your money and you can go to work" type of deals that never produced enough knowledge to fill a shot glass. I would just hush about it if that was true. It is a viable option for those of us that couldn't afford to take off of work for two years going to school. Is it the end all to be all, certainly not just as the schools are not either. Just give it a chance without running it down if you have not seen it.
August 3, 2006, 03:33 PM
From the experience I have gained from this board
I would follow cntryboy1289 advice.
I went to a gunsmith school and took armorer’s courses.
Remington, Glock armorer's course. they are all (that I
know of) kind of a joke when it comes to gunsmithing.
I don’t hire people who show me a certificate to prove they
are a gunsmith. The people who are proud of their diploma,
certificate are not IMHO the sharpest pencil in the box.
Learn all you can any way you can.
Good luck to you.
I have learned to respect Cntryboy1289 opinion.
August 3, 2006, 06:56 PM
I know Bob Dunlap well. I have known Bob for over 20 years. Bob can teach, and for those who have the talent and skill to learn by watching a video, my hat is off to you.
I have known a lot of people who are afraid to charge for their work, and I have known a lot of people who are afraid to pay for good work and take their work to the smiths who charge very little. They are seldom satisfied with the quality of the work they get done for the price they want to pay, but will not pay to have it done right.
For over 5 years, I built custom rifles and did restorations of firearms. I charged well for my work, and had some very satisfied customers to show for it. I would true and lap the actions, rebarrel with good barrels, polish by hand, buff lightly then put the guns in the blue tanks for 10-15 minutes to get that deep black people want. I would sand wood until it was as smooth as a baby's behind, seal it, finish it, and chase or recut any checkering that needed it. I had collectors argue with me about how the guns they were looking at were factory mint. I disagreed with them respectfully because I had refinished the guns. I quit smithing because I had bills to pay and a family to feed, and could have earned the same amount of money working at McDonald's. Maybe I wasn't dedicated enough.
A lot of people want a custom rifle but are scared by the price, and if their guns need rebluing they take them to the guy who polishes them with wheels and dunks them in a bluing tank for 5 mins. They get what they pay for. The sad part is that by doing so, they are encouraging the shoddy worker and discouraging the quality craftsman. I now build my rifles for myself, shoot them, then sell them to people who want that kind of quality. If the rifles won't shoot, I won't sell them. Now that I do it as a hobby, I enjoy gunsmithing a lot more.
Sorry for the rant, but it's how I feel.
August 3, 2006, 07:32 PM
Schooling is the same whether it comes via the video, books, or by sitting in a class room lsitening to a professor lecture you, you either get it or you don't. Ones capacity for learning doesn't depend on the method used to learn either. This is why I am as obstinate about this as I am. Yours or anyone else's schooling is no better than mine just because I watched it on TV while learning it. I found the videos by Bob to be very easy to keep up with because I constanly rewound them and took notes. That you just cannot do in a classroom setting. I also either had the guns that were discussed, or I had access to them or I went out and bought one to have when I watched the video. Bob uses cutaway guns that make it so much easier to actually see what the part is doing just like the schools would if you were in a classroom.
If you know Bob, I think you have a pretty good grasp of how he teaches. If you ever took one of his tests, you can be taking an open book or video test and still have to be able to see the gun and understnad how it works to get all of the answers correct. He challenges you to make sure that you actually understand the operating systems and the rest of the gun. It defintely isn't a gimme test like the others have done for years. I would be more than happy to send anyone a copy of one them and see how ell they do with it.
As with any kind of profession, where you are is related to the type of work you have coming in. If you have no customer base, you have to either go to where it is or find another way of getting it in. I know where you are coming from with this and I know several who have gone the same way for the exact same reasons you spoke of. Back when I first opened my doors, I was just a general run of the mill type of gunsmith. I charged what I thought was a fair price and I had others around me that charged less. I stuck to my guns though and things have worked out for the better. I no longer take on just any type of job that comes in the door anymore and I feel I am doing much better than if I had stayed just a general repair and refinish gunsmith.
There will always come a crossroads in life where you have to make a decision based on the actual customer base that you have. Is it enough to keep you busy and if it isn't, what must you do to build the base up. I live in a small town and I keep enough work to keep me busy and make me money. I choose not to ask for business on the net because I stay busy enough as it is. That's not always the case for everyone and when it's not, you either move to a broader customer base, or you bring it to you by advertising and or going on the world wide web doing the same thing. I won't go on about it, but I think you probably already know what I am talking about.
In this day and time when you can go to the local Wally World and buy a cheap gun, a lot of folks won't spend the money to repair a gun or to upgrade it. Everyone has to evolve to stay busy and or change professions like you did. I moved on to customizing like you spoke of and haven't looked back. A fellow just cannot take on 3 months of jobs that aren't going to earn him any money and stay in business no matter how well trained he is or what kind of skills he has. Like I said before, it is a business and you have to either make it work or close up the shop. Good shooting to you.
August 4, 2006, 01:42 AM
Well said. And I agree about Bob's tests, you have to see it and understand how it operates if you want to do well on them.
I'm always glad to hear of people who are successful at a trade they love. It sounds like you are doing the right things. Good luck!
August 4, 2006, 03:20 PM
I really do appreciate that Scorch. Even if you say you are only doing it as a hobby now, you are still a gunsmith. Heck, I am just about retired now myself since all of the surgeries that I have had over the last five years. If I was to slow up anymore I wouldn't be moving at all. Take care and good shootin'.
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