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Old February 23, 2011, 02:23 AM   #26
BigBob3006
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If you're serious about being a gunsmith, write the University of Colorado in Tinidad, Colorado. This is an excellent school. I'll bet their available on the internet.
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Old February 23, 2011, 04:10 AM   #27
phydaux
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I'm middle aged, I have a job I don't like that gives me no satisfaction, and that offers me no free time to pursue hobbies or spent quality time with friends or family.

A few months ago I started seriously considering a mid-life career change to gunsmithing.

After doing a lot of research, I determined that it would take a minimum investment of $20,000 and at least a year of full time study/practice.

At 45 years old and with a wife & a mortgage to support, I just don't see this as a possability.

I wish you luck in your endevor. For me, this will be just another dream that died.
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Old April 26, 2013, 12:51 PM   #28
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another bump - Since the economy and state of this once great Country has taken some drastic turns since the last post thought it would be interesting to see if some of the original posters are still around and what their views are now concerning gunsmithing, especially since I want to get into it.

I own a small business now and its very successful but I want to do something I enjoy. Someone earlier mentioned that being happy is more important than having money, I agree and now I'm looking into gunsmith schools (the one in PA is looking good so far).
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Old April 26, 2013, 04:24 PM   #29
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With all due respect to military weapons folk, Most of it is function.

A Purdy is form and function.

I'm a machinist, worked in a custom pistol shop, and respect both.

A missed file stroke on a century old mint Colt SAA is different than the same miss on a fighting weapon.

And the S&W 500 isn't the first 50 they have looked at. ;-))
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Old April 26, 2013, 05:35 PM   #30
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One very important thing....

Ignore "Son of Guns" and their clones.

Total BS
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Old April 27, 2013, 06:29 AM   #31
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PA School of Gunsmithing in Pittsburgh PA....

The 2 top gunsmithing trade schools/programs Im aware of are in CO & in metro Pittsburgh PA. The PA training program is called the PA School of Gunsmithing. I think.

The other class in CO(near Denver I think) is also considered worth the $$$ or time. Bill Lauthridge, of www.Cylinder-slide.com offers professional level skill training & classes.

For handguns & pistolsmithing, I'd consider the www.AmericanPistol.com site. The members or guild may guide you in finding the best course or school.

If I recall; the former gunsmith/shop exec: Vince from Discovery's popular Sons of Guns unscripted show said he went to the PA gunsmithing program in Pittsburgh.
I lived in Pittsburgh from 1995-2000 & considered using my GI Bill $ to become a professional gunsmith(pistolsmith).

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Old April 27, 2013, 08:34 AM   #32
4V50 Gary
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Some comments

Military armorers vary in skill, depending on their level. Some are parts swappers. Others are fully trained in some areas of gunsmithing (note: gunsmithing tends to become specialized nowadays and there are some guys who do nothing but build rifles, others who work on particular handguns, some who do nothing but shotguns, repair specialists, engravers, blackpowder rifle builders, etc.). I know one gunsmith graduate who enlisted into the Army and was promised a billet in the Army's Marksmanship Team as one of its armorer. He had to attend boot camp first.

Schools are a good place to start and their graduates vary in the level of skill and knowledge. As to which is best, that depends on the skill and adeptness of the individual student too. Some students are just better than others (therefore the worst graduate from the best school may not be equal to the best graduate from the worst school).

Gunsmithing school graduates are probably best off seeking employment from others. First, no one really graduates as a "master gunsmith" and are really only journeymen upon graduation. Second, by working for others, they don't have to start from scratch including developing a business plan, getting a loan, develop a marketing plan, developing a client base, etc. Instead, when they work for others, they trade their labor for money. So, while they work for someone else, they can accumulate experience in the field and build up capital for their own enterprise. BTW, there is no shame in not having your own business. Some folks just aren't businessmen and there are plenty of good gunsmiths who work for others.
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Old April 27, 2013, 11:29 AM   #33
Dixie Gunsmithing
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Gunsmith Training.

You can do a correspondence program, but you really need to do an apprenticeship after it, as hands-on experience counts for an awful lot. They never mention this on the ads about these schools. Believe me, I went this route over 30 years ago, but apprenticed under a gunsmith who knew his stuff.

Next, not all courses are the same, and some would teach you some mighty unsafe things, as I have looked over a few available now.

If I were to recommend two, the first would be Modern Gun School, who actually makes you do some bench work for a grade. Next, would be Penn Foster, who is the same as the old North American Gunsmithing School, in Scranton, PA.

The rest, sorry, but I wouldn't recommend them.

Now, if you have the time to go to a professional brick and mortar school, then you can look into Yavapai College, Piedmont Technical College, Piedmont Community College, Murray State College, and Trinidad State Junior College. I also know there's one in Pittsburgh, but I heard they taught that it was all right to color shotgun frames with a torch, instead of properly case hardening them, so I reserve my judgment on them.

If you go to a brick and mortar school, then you can probably find a job right out of school, but with the above correspondence courses, you'll need to have work experience with them.

If you start your own business, you'll soon find just how expensive this work is, and that nobody will want to pay you what you're worth. You will find out just how high business overhead is, and when you charge for it, customers will balk.

These TV shows on the Discovery channel are not showing the many customers who take their gun, and walk out, and its not all glory either.

My last piece of advice is to learn to run a lathe, and a milling machine. You would do better to have a 36" lathe, and a small mill to make parts and tooling with. If you want to do refinishing, I advise you to learn how to make the finish match the factories, or else, you wont be doing it very long.
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Old April 28, 2013, 11:58 PM   #34
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One good start would be to search this and other gun sites for "gunsmith" and "gunsmithing" and read all the information already posted. Most of it is excellent and with different viewpoints from beginners to skilled craftsmen.

Jim
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Old April 30, 2013, 10:56 AM   #35
Harry Bonar
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gunsmiths

Sir;
Virtually, all gunsmiths die poor!
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Old April 30, 2013, 02:17 PM   #36
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Quote:
Sir;
Virtually, all gunsmiths die poor!
nothing wrong with poor
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Old April 30, 2013, 10:38 PM   #37
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I've been poor and I've been rich........rich is better.
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Old May 1, 2013, 07:19 AM   #38
Dixie Gunsmithing
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I ought to mention American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI), too, as they do offer a video course, which is conducted mainly by Bob Dunlap. I have watched, pretty much, the entire course. They cover things that a correspondence course does not cover, or cover well, and I didn't care for the hot caustic bluing video. They use a different system to Brownell's Oxynate 7.

What they do show, that is good is:

Making springs
Heat treating and case hardening (a must)
Assembly/disassembly/operation using cut away guns
Hot water bluing
Sear systems (a must)
Rebarreling/chambering/headspace (another must)
Bedding a stock (by Darrel Holland)
Plus, they have a machine shop and welding course video.

If you can find this as a used course, it will be very much cheaper, but you will not be able to take the exams, nor get a diploma that way. However, it would be good to compliment a correspondence course with.
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Old May 1, 2013, 07:33 AM   #39
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Quote:
I ought to mention American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI), too, as they do offer a video course, which is conducted mainly by Bob Dunlap. I have watched, pretty much, the entire course. They cover things that a correspondence course does not cover, or cover well, and I didn't care for the hot caustic bluing video. They use a different system to Brownell's Oxynate 7.

What they do show, that is good is:

Making springs
Heat treating and case hardening (a must)
Assembly/disassembly/operation using cut away guns
Hot water bluing
Sear systems (a must)
Rebarreling/chambering/headspace (another must)
Bedding a stock (by Darrel Holland)
Plus, they have a machine shop and welding course video.

If you can find this as a used course, it will be very much cheaper, but you will not be able to take the exams, nor get a diploma that way. However, it would be good to compliment a correspondence course with.
I'll keep my eyes open for these tapes but I would never try to pass myself off as a gunsmith without serious hands-on experience from a school. The tapes will give me a much better understanding of whats going on before I get into school
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Old July 25, 2015, 11:20 PM   #40
Yaderp
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Retired and just because

This has been something I have planned on doing for a few years when I retired. I am now 57 and have retired. I have about $150,000 to put into this business/hobby to start off. What do I need to get first (other than a complete training). I would like to become really proficient on 1911s and accurizing both 1911s and rifles. Any ideas?
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Old July 26, 2015, 12:27 AM   #41
Dixie Gunsmithing
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I would look at Modern Gun School first, and take their advanced course, before spending a ton of money on tools and a shop.

Modern Gun School:

http://moderngunrepair.com/
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Old July 26, 2015, 04:21 PM   #42
Clark
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Most likely everyone who posted before me know more about and is a better gunsmith than me.
I am an amateur gunsmith, and I have paid real gunsmiths to do my TIG welding for me, despite having all the right equipment.

But I doubt many have my ability to make so much money as me with so little talent and effort.

I could play guitar for a living and supplement my income with food stamps.
I could be a gunsmith for a living and do a little better.
I could be an engineer employee of a corporation and make $140k/year
I could be a contract engineer and make more.
I could be a consultant engineer and make more.
I could be an investor and make even more.

I have interviewed enough engineers and spoken to enough gunsmiths to know that any good gunsmith could have been a good engineer.

When I talk to a gunsmith that is smarter than me and works harder than me, and yet cannot pay for a tooth implant, it hurts.

What does it all mean?
Gunsmithing does not pay much for the talent and effort required.
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Old July 26, 2015, 05:50 PM   #43
tobnpr
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Quote:
Gunsmithing does not pay much for the talent and effort required.
It does, for a few that are well-positioned in their niche- and have the reputation for quality work and the efficiency to make $$ at it.

I had a potential customer email me about installing a PE mount on his Mosin-Nagant ex-sniper. It would require un-plugging the mount holes (three each side of the receiver), re-drilling and tapping them, indicating all the holes on the mill (not an easy task and I haven't even thought through the process of doing it on BOTH sides of the receiver)...

Then, taking an un-drilled mount, and transferring all six of the hole locations to the new mount (again, two sides, so double the set-up time again) to drill the mounting screw holes.

How in the world would one estimate time for a task like that when you've never done it before...and I know I'd give him a coronary with a quote. Sure as heck isn't a $20-$30 per hole scope mount d&t job.

So, as with a lot of work sometimes undertaken in this trade, it's done as a labor of love (meaning, bend over...), or just take a pass because I'm too busy to spend a good part of a day messing with it. Seems to be the case much of the time, that the labor hours involved in a task just don't equate to what the customer would equate to a reasonable "price point".

Kudos for keeping this nine-year old thread alive. Must be a record
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Old July 26, 2015, 07:18 PM   #44
4V50 Gary
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Don't overlook those summer NRA gonne smithing classes either. That's where I got my start (took 8 classes at Lassen) and took a 1911 class this summer. They're great for people who work full time and can take a week off from work. You can learn a lot in those classes too.

Trinidad has a general gunsmithing class where the students bring in all sorts of things to work on. One guy had to make a V spring from scratch. In relief carving taught by Jack Brooks, the guys learned to do rococo carving on their stocks. They even have weekend machine shops now (2 day machine shop for those who already know how to use a lathe/mill and need access to them).
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Old July 26, 2015, 07:24 PM   #45
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Note that this is a Zombie thread. Just about everything on the subject has been said, so please read it before posting.

Jim
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Old July 27, 2015, 08:12 AM   #46
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A lot of good points made here, but for overall content, I would go with kraigw's post. You BETTER be a machinist if you plan on doing gunsmith work. Just looking through a tool catalog price list should be an indication. You should get a job in that first. I used to get VOTECH kids in the tool room during the summer where I worked at. You can not teach mechanical aptitude. You either have it or you don't. If you think you can handle it, then slowly start in on the gun work. Gun work part time is the way to go if you want to make money at it. I am pretty much out of it now. There is a grey area about working on guns and holding an FFL. I don't want the hassle of an FFL at this point in life, but pretty much only make parts anyway. Still, it brings a couple bucks in now and then.
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Old July 27, 2015, 09:33 PM   #47
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Yes, Jim, I read it and it is extensive!

Still does not address my question, though. Apparently my post was not read thoroughly or I wrote too sparsely to get my meaning across. First, I have allocated $150,000 to the purchase and installation of tools, equipment and raw materials needed to start. Second, I do not give a flip if I ever make one thin dime. This is something I have always wanted to do. I plan to learn and then use what I learn to accurize and tune weapons for law enforcement officers since I was once one of them, many, many years ago and know exactly how it feels to carry a "worn slap out" firearm into a potential shootout - not good! Third, I fully expect to do this as a hobby and ultimately learn to build the best 1911 handgun that I can buy and for anyone else, then, who wants one, I will sell one or two a year. Finally, I plan to add a reloading operation to my shop and build a full function 500 yard range on my rural property. I just wondered about what I would be needing most badly. A lathe, drill-press, CNC, milling . . . and which brands are the best at what they do. If more money is needed, I can handle that but really just want to hold initial costs to 150K and add to as needed. Again, thanks for any advice.
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Old July 27, 2015, 10:05 PM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yaderp View Post
Still does not address my question, though. Apparently my post was not read thoroughly or I wrote too sparsely to get my meaning across. First, I have allocated $150,000 to the purchase and installation of tools, equipment and raw materials needed to start. Second, I do not give a flip if I ever make one thin dime. This is something I have always wanted to do. I plan to learn and then use what I learn to accurize and tune weapons for law enforcement officers since I was once one of them, many, many years ago and know exactly how it feels to carry a "worn slap out" firearm into a potential shootout - not good! Third, I fully expect to do this as a hobby and ultimately learn to build the best 1911 handgun that I can buy and for anyone else, then, who wants one, I will sell one or two a year. Finally, I plan to add a reloading operation to my shop and build a full function 500 yard range on my rural property. I just wondered about what I would be needing most badly. A lathe, drill-press, CNC, milling . . . and which brands are the best at what they do. If more money is needed, I can handle that but really just want to hold initial costs to 150K and add to as needed. Again, thanks for any advice.
pm sent.

-TL
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Old July 28, 2015, 09:46 AM   #49
4V50 Gary
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If you want to work on 1911s, go learn from Cylinder and Slide. Bill Laughridge was the man who showed, despite Colt's engineer's thick report stating it could not be done, that a 3" barrel 1911 would work.
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