View Full Version : Which school of Gunsmithing to attend ?

July 14, 2000, 04:43 PM
First let me say that although I rarely post here, I read the forums every single day. To me, TFL is consistently educational and entertianing, far above and beyond the vast majority of websites and forums.

To Rich Lucibella and all the esteemed Moderators, I say Good Job and keep up the Good Work.

Now a question for the enormous TFL braintrust:

I am considering attending a gunsmithing school with the goal of becoming a professional gunsmith. At which of the available gunsmithing schools will I come out the other end with the most knowledge of practical gunsmithing ?

Anyone with personal experience?
Any information will be helpful.

Best regards

Audemus jura nostra defendere

July 14, 2000, 05:16 PM
Tishimingo, Ok and there is one in Colorado that is good also.

July 14, 2000, 06:04 PM
The one in Prescott AZ I think isn't too bad.Might try for info from them.The course just has been completly reworked.
If you want Ph number or address e mail me and will send

Age and deceit will overcome youth and speed.
I'm old and deceitful.

[This message has been edited by beemerb (edited July 14, 2000).]

July 14, 2000, 06:21 PM
Our son is currently doing just that at Colorado School of Trades in Lakewood. Theirs is a 14 month program and seems to be pretty good.

4V50 Gary
July 14, 2000, 09:17 PM
Forget Lassen College in Susanville, CA. The program lacks the support of the administration and the machinery is old. I would consider the one in Colorado or Yavapi in AZ.

July 14, 2000, 10:06 PM
Jeff, Tishimingo? Murry State College? (Or what ever it is called now.)

July 14, 2000, 10:42 PM
altough not a gunsmith myself while attending an nra class at the school in colo. i met a few of the students. and this school seems to touch on all the bases of gunsmithing. also i have had a few of the students help me on a few projects and was more than pleased with the info they gave me. well worth it. however colorado at this time is in the middle (hopefully more like the end) of a boom. so it can be a little pricey to rent.

Bob Locke
July 14, 2000, 10:54 PM
One of the guys I work with p/t went to the school in Colorado.

He can do anything you want to any gun you put in his hands, I think! :D

Seriously, the man knows guns, PERIOD. And he's an excellent machinist because of it as well. He could take a piece of stock and turn it into a functioning firearm in two days. Of this, I am convinced.

July 15, 2000, 01:11 PM
JHS, I don't know the offical name know, I left Oklahoma in 1991, but I think that is what it use to be called. Most refer to it as 'Tish'. I have seen the work of the students and was amazed at the quality of work for a student. Much of it is done by hand before they let them on the machines to do it the easy way.

July 15, 2000, 04:47 PM
I forgot there is one in Pine City MN too.I toured it and was impressed by the instructors.

Age and deceit will overcome youth and speed.
I'm old and deceitful.

July 16, 2000, 12:31 PM
You'll find most schools offer about the same basic curriculum however the quality of education fluctuates at many, mostly because of the use of student instructors (students on friday, instructors on monday) see if you can work with a very experienced gunsmith first then go to a school you'll learn more at the school if you have some basics with you first. You'll also find out if you really want to become a gunsmith before you spend allot of money... Most gunsmith schools have students with a very low success percentage so going to school doesn't guaranty your own success..

July 16, 2000, 12:48 PM
The Oklahoma school is at Murray State College in Tishomingo. Here is a link to the gunsmith course description: Gunsmithing (http://www.msc.cc.ok.us/acad/aas/business/gunsmithing.html). It looks like some scholarship assistance may be available Gunsmithing Scholarships (http://www.msc.cc.ok.us/commun/nra/scholar.htm).

Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines...

July 16, 2000, 09:27 PM
Thank you to all who have replied.

I was leaning toward the school in Lakewood, Colorado, due to the brevity of the course compared to the others.

Quality of instruction, of course is the primary consideration.

But it looks like I may be packing for Colorado

Once again. Thank you all for the information.

Audemus jura nostra defendere

July 17, 2000, 05:33 PM
Good luck to you; sounds like you have made a good choice. The brevity of the course has a down side: no breaks or vacations, so the course is not much shorter, just very compressed. The instructors sound very good, and you do get a solid base in machining after doing everything you can by hand -- with a file (as our son says they are told, "The file is your friend! :D")
The advice about high rents is accurate; our son rents an efficiency in an "amusing" neighborhood for $400, probably nothing included (but it's air conditioned!).
If you do go, look up Joe (George) Piper.

July 17, 2000, 05:33 PM
Good luck to you; sounds like you have made a good choice. The brevity of the course has a down side: no breaks or vacations, so the course is not much shorter, just very compressed. The instructors sound very good, and you do get a solid base in machining after doing everything you can by hand -- with a file (as our son says they are told, "The file is your friend! :D")
The advice about high rents is accurate; our son rents an efficiency in an "amusing" neighborhood for $400, probably nothing included (but it's air conditioned!).
If you do go, look up Joe (George) Piper.

July 17, 2000, 05:36 PM
Sorry about the big DITTO; I hit the button twice. :o

Greg G
July 18, 2000, 07:55 AM
I'm a native OKIE and know people who have attended there. I know a teacher and the gunsmith that runs the range I belong to went to school there. They said it is a good school. If you ask the teacher where he went to college he will say, M.I.T., Murray in Tishimingo.

July 18, 2000, 09:49 AM
The Colorado school has a website at www.gunsmithing.com (http://www.gunsmithing.com) .

If you choose to come out here, let me know and I'll help you get settled.

July 18, 2000, 01:58 PM
Everyone refers to 'the' school in Colorado. Besides the school in Lakewood the is Trinidad State Junior College in Trinidad, CO. They have a gunsmithing program there. As far as I know, it gets more attention from the NRA (advertising and sponsored programs) than the school in Lakewood. I've not attended either, so I can't really compare the educations. Lakewood is 'big city' and Trinidad is 'small city'. If that makes a difference, check out TSJC.

July 20, 2000, 01:49 PM
Morgan, thank you for the offer. I just may take you up on that.

mrsMTN, How much longer will your son be at the school? My time frame for arriving looks like near the end of the year, if I indeed do decide to attend.

The Colorado School of Trades is sending me all the pertinent information, so I should be able to make a final decision sometime soon.

Thanks to one and all for the helpful information.

Audemus jura nostra defendere

George Hill
July 20, 2000, 02:10 PM
Moving to the Gunsmithing forum.

July 21, 2000, 06:53 AM
He will be there until March or April of '01.If you would like to speak to him before that, e-mail me ([email protected])
and I'll give you his number. I'm sure he'd share his opinions and observations freely(always has! ;))

Jon K
July 21, 2000, 11:23 PM
I graduated from Colorado School of Trades about 11 months ago. I can highly recomend it. You start with the basics and progress from there. The one thing I really liked was the ability to learn and work on just about anything you wish. You can go as far as you want to. They have alot of new equipment (and some old stuff too). The head instructor is very good and has excellant knowledge. The head night instructor is a great person also and very knowlegable.
Rents are not cheep in the lakewood area, but jobs are plentyful and it is not hard to find one that pays a resonable wage.
There is a gunsmithing business one block from the school. The owner is a great guy and he hires CST students to work at his shop. If you get on at his shop he will teach you much.
If you can arrange to go to Lakewood prior to moving there and find an apartment or house to rent you will be ahead of the game.
The other great thing about CST is that after you graduate, help is only a phone call away. There are instructors there day and night.
I can not remember having so much fun at school in my life. I loved attending the school and was sorry it had to end.
One last thing. The tools supplied are included in the tuition. Ask for a list of the supplied tools and buy what you can elsewhere. You will save money and have less money to repay on your loan. The tool box is the biggest rip off. Get your own. Other than slightly high priced tools the school is a good value for your money. Good Luck- John K


July 22, 2000, 08:48 AM
I attended the Colorado School of Trades in Lakewood back in '75 just long enough to figure out that I'd never be a good gunsmith. (I can replace parts, and I can shoot 'em, but I just can't really do that "gunsmith magic.") However, the instructors at the school were excellent, with about 9,000 years of accumulated experience.
I still remember one of the stock making teachers, Dean Wentworth. He had a glass eye that never pointed in the right direction. He was a "wood wizard". It was rumored that after his parents died, he went around their house ripping out all the doors, door frames, and cabinet fronts because they were rosewood. He supposedly had enough to last a couple of lifetimes of making endcaps, forends, etc.

Interestingly enough, Wayne Novak and Art Lekie (sp?) of Behlert were in attendance at the same time I was.

Tidbits: the school had a state-of-the-art alarm system which was so sensitive that it had been known to alert from stocks swinging in the breeze, or large mice running across the floor. It was said that the alarm system was better than that at the Denver mint. It was also a fact that an alarm alert from the school had a guranteed 30 second police response time, MAX. The mint was a 2 minute time.

They were very concientious about safety, too. You put on your safety glasses as soon as you walk through the door, and they didn't come off 'till you were out of the shop area.
No ammo was allowed. If you needed to test fire a gun, you went to an instructor, and he would draw ammo from a locker, and then the two of you would carry gun, ammo, and a blaze orange flag on a 3 ft. pole to the test room. He would take the brass back with him. If you needed to test feed, you would be issued dummy ammo in the appropriate cal. along with a similar flag with a "D" on it to affix to your bench while you tested.
One fellow thought he could slip by the rules and brought in some -06 ammo for testing the feed. As he closed the bolt, the gun fired, and the bullet hit the cement floor and richocheted upward and hit another student on the rim of his safety glasses. He was damn lucky, the bullet bounced off the frames, and he escaped with a bruise and a black eye.
Two instructors grabbed the offender and litteraly THREW him out of the building, informing him if he ever set foot on the property, he'd be arrested for trespass, and that he could just kiss his tools, books, etc, (about $400 worth, a damn considerable sum in '75) goodbye. He was never heard from again.

Every Thursday was trap day, when whoever wanted to could take off to the range with one of the stocks instructors and shoot trap all morning. The school also allowed every student 5 hunting days off each year.

I highly recommend CST. You may be able to find an equal elsewhere, but you won't be able to find better. I'll be so bold as to state that the only way you'll learn the art of gunsmithing better than you could at CST would be to spend years apprenticing under a master gunsmith.

Shoot straight & make big holes, regards, Richard at The Shottist's Center (http://forums.delphi.com/m/main.asp?sigdir=45acp45lc)

July 23, 2000, 12:36 PM
11xray, there is also a good school in north carolina.... Montgomery college i think,it's a regular school so there should be student assistance. There was a write up in one of the gun rags a couple of years ago, and it was mentioned as one of the better schools even though it is not so well known.

July 23, 2000, 03:51 PM
Re: student assistance, our son received all kinds of financial aid (state and federal) even thought CST has none of their own, so the school participates in all the aid programs, if that's a concern.

July 24, 2000, 05:39 PM
OK, my 2 cents worth. I am attending the gunsmithing program at Piedmont Community College in Roxboro, NC. (about 25 mi North of Durham, NC) It is more an apprenticeship program than most of the other schools. NOTE: I have attended seminars (NRA and others) at Trinidad and Montgomery Tech (Troy, NC) and have spoken to ex-students of other schools. Fred Imerhof (sp), who used to teach Remington's classes, told me that Susanville (CA) was a "gun mechanic's" school and that Piedmont was a "custom gunsmith's" school and that the others fell somewhere in the middle. I have seen nothing to contradict that. At PCC, you will fit and chamber 5 barrels (Minimum), and build 4 stocks from blank, 2 one piece and 2 two piece. I don't think any of the other schools go this far. All of the schools teach machine shop about the same. Some of the schools refered to by others are no longer in service (Pine Tech, for sure). There is a new school starting in Eastern Washington state. If anyone has any questions, e-mail me at [email protected]

Mike Foy

July 26, 2000, 11:10 AM
I graduated from CST in Nov. 1997. CST has the best program of all the schools. And the reason I say that is CST is one of the only schools that has their own gun room. They take in work from the outside. And to graduate you MUST work on AT LEAST 35 firearms before you will successfully complete the school. I personally recommend going on nights. The head instructors name is Ross Argabrite. Like all the instructors there, he is a graduate of the school (in '90 or '91) and is the best of all their instructors. I know, I was on both days and nights. I also know all the instructors there. Don't get me wrong, they're all good and they are all nice, but Ross just seems to care a little bit more about his students. He has a saying "You don't know all things yet, there are just tricks of the trade that you need to be exposed to." He also says, "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin."

Also, during the summer time, the school can become exceedingly hot. Hey, if it's 90+ degrees outside, the building inside can be 95+ or hotter. On nights, it's not nearly so bad. The flip side is during winter time it will be a little colder. All said and done, not only did I get a great education, but I get to hang out with a great group of people whenever I want (I still live here in Denver).

And I have met some of the graduates from Trinidad and Yavapi.... Well, my parents told me if you can't say nothing nice, keep your hole shut. Nuff said....

July 26, 2000, 01:16 PM
I had a sneaking suspicion that there might be a graduate of CST here at TFL.

You fine people have made making this decision so much easier for me than it otherwise would have been.

This thread is even helping me with the negotiations with The Little Woman.

Once again, a sincere Thank You to all who have replied.

Audemus jura nostra defendere

Jon K
July 29, 2000, 12:17 AM
More info for the little woman. If you do go to C.S.T. you will find Lakewood a nice city to stay in. It is a relitivily safe place to live and some parts of it are beautiful. There is plenty of shopping and lots of things to do. As I had said before jobs are plentyful and pay fairly well. The winters are not at all bad and fall, spring and summer are wonderful. Colorado is a beautiful state and there are many scenic places to go to in just an hour or two worth of driving. Denver offers lots of cultural activities (just don't take your firearm into Denver!!!). Lastly, if you want your husband to be successful in gunsmithing, CST will give him the tools he needs to become a professional gunsmith. Best of luck to both of you.---John K