View Full Version : Colorado School of Trades

June 21, 2011, 10:56 PM
Seriously considering attending the Colorado School of Trades, anyone have any experience with this institution? I know that it's not going to turn me into some master gunsmith, but is completion of this course going to get me set up on the right track? I would prefer to do an apprenticeship but they don't grow on trees and I might as well use my GI Bill while I've got it. Thoughts?

June 22, 2011, 10:32 AM
The school has an excellent reputation to train gunsmiths in their 2 year vocational program. However, if you contact the "tech dept" @ brownell's, you should be able to speak directly with some actual graduates of that campus. Pursue your dreams !!!!!


June 22, 2011, 01:58 PM
One of the very best .I went there many years ago and they still have the fine reputation.
Remember that in a school like that the more you put into it the more you get out of it !!

June 22, 2011, 07:27 PM
Colorado School of Trades and Trinidad Junior College in Trinidad Colorado have about the best reputations in the industry for turning out stone cold professional gunsmiths.

A degree from either will get you a job interview.

June 22, 2011, 10:21 PM
Sounds great! I have a tour of the facilities next wedenesday and will probably start initial paper work.

July 7, 2011, 08:30 PM
Any idea on how much the program costs?

July 7, 2011, 09:15 PM
No idea how much it costs, but I do know that you get to build a custom rifle as a school project so start thinking about that and what you would want.

July 8, 2011, 09:00 AM
I have the paperwork lying around here somewhere, but if I remember correctly it's around $18,900 plus around $160 for books and another $3500 for tools and gun parts (also during the application process there's a $300 fee to reserve your spot). The $3500 goes towards anything you make during classes that isn't for a customer gun, you keep. Plus there's the custom rifle build where they said we'll be building a custom Remington 700 with a wood stock and a synthetic stock for it. The part that I'm happiest about is the fact that only about 15% of the course is in a classroom setting, the rest is hands-on.

July 8, 2011, 11:14 PM
For non-military folk what are some of the most "prestigious" gunsmith schools around? After one graduates from one of these schools what would be the chances of actually making a good living? I am really liking this idea of gunsmith school, I have to justify the expense for something other than a hobby.

July 8, 2011, 11:23 PM
Colorado School of Trades is one of the best.

July 9, 2011, 09:23 PM
Has anyone ever dealt with http://www.americangunsmith.com ? Do they offer the same level of training and accreditation?

oooJuice000 when would to be starting? I am trying to figure out how to pay for it. I would love to go though.

July 10, 2011, 01:07 AM
Apparently they're all full up for classes until around January, so I'll start some time around then. I've seen a couple of the AGI videos before and to me they are okay, but my opinion is that nothing beats direct hands on training and 1 on 1 instruction. Plus at CST you are required to repair/modify 35 firearms before you complete the course (CST runs as an active gun repair shop) and to me this personal hands on experience is invaluable. Also (to answer your question from before) from what I've been told job placement directly out of the school is very common.

Side note: I'm a huge fan of the fact that the school REQUIRES you to be a member of NRA while in attendance :D

July 10, 2011, 01:04 PM
For what its worth,,, AGI has an uncanny knack for trying to enlist anyone into the ranks of their school, and by that I mean don't solicit that school unless your ready for the bombarding of junk mail and sales pitching,,,,They are relentless.... And the cost was like 4000 to 5000 bucks!!! but not totally "hands-on". The colorado school I hope is more than that.:) Good luck finding a good trust worthy school or maybe a super gunsmith that is looking for an apprentice may be the ultimate best, really..:)

July 10, 2011, 06:24 PM
No mail order or especially internet "school" is in the same universe as the attendance schools like Colorado School of Trades or Trinidad Junior College.

You can pick up some good general hobby information from AGI but it will not qualify you to be a real gunsmith or get you a job in the trade.
If you apply for a job with an AGI "degree" the application goes straight into the waste basket.

In the schools, you have a real master gunsmith looking over your shoulder and telling you that you're doing it right or wrong, and offering techniques to make it faster or easier.
They usually have tests and performance tasks with grades assigned.
If you flat out aren't cut out to be a gunsmith, the attendance schools will let you known, one way or another by poor grades or by simply telling you.

The mail order and internet schools only care if you continue sending in the money.

James K
July 10, 2011, 08:34 PM
If you were a fighter pilot, would you want your plane designed and built by guys who learned from a video course?


July 10, 2011, 08:46 PM
After reading more about the "video" course, I can't see how they would have any benefit to me. Having a hands on course would be the only way to go. After attending the course what would be the sort of jobs that one would be able to obtain?

July 11, 2011, 12:28 PM
You can get a starting job in a shop , like a appertenceship.
I have no idea of money but it wouldn' be much.

July 11, 2011, 07:35 PM
There are a surprising number of places that employ gunsmiths. Among them:

Local gun shops wanting a gunsmith on-site.
Big chain sporting good stores sometimes hire gunsmiths.
Big custom shops that build a lot of guns. These may be rifle, shotgun, or pistols. I don't know how big shops like Bill Wilson hire, but there are jobs in the big custom shops.
Law enforcement departments and agencies hire armorers, the bigger one's often employ full gunsmiths.
There are private companies involved in defense work and scientific research that employ gunsmiths.

A smart new gunsmith gets a job working for someone else for at least a few years. This gives you time to develop your skills, build up a reputation in the trade, figure out what kind of work you want to do, buy the equipment, and learn how a business works.
Remember, a gunsmith in business for himself is a businessman FIRST. Most gunsmiths who fail, fail because they know nothing about how a business is operated.

Go to one of the better schools. At least 6 months before your ready to graduate start looking for jobs. The day you graduate, you should have at least one FIRM job offer.
The clowns wait until graduation day then start looking.

July 18, 2011, 04:36 PM
I graduated CST in 1987. Very good school. All hands on. Work on firearms all day everyday. Expect to spend 200 hours just on making a light-tight dove-tail with only a hand file and bluing a firearm to a perfect matchless finish (the slightest imperfections and you will start over). Skip stock making if they will let you, unless you are speciallizing in it. Cost for schooling was very low in 1987. After getting into D&F I went days (8 hours) and nights (4 hours), in 87 we needed 2200 hours and all of your major projects completed to graduate. Did mostly side work (for cash while in D&F, befriend local shops and collectors and you will get real busy, real fast). You will do alot of blueing and rebarrel work if you work on the school's customer supplied firearms. If you want to make money in this industry, you may want to specialize. Do not go to work for a large firearms importer when you graduate IMHO. PM me if you are looking for more info.

July 18, 2011, 09:51 PM
ArizonaRick, Thank you for your comments regarding CST. I have been trying to figure out what I really could do with the training that I would receive there. My fear is that I already have a 4 year degree which is worthless and don't want to spend the $22,000 if there really is not going to be any realistic way to make some money. I have been a real estate broker and financial adviser for
the last 12 years and really need a career change. I have to justify the expense.

Did you specialize while attending CST? If so, what in? What are some of the most money making productive areas to specialize in?

Thank you for your help.

July 19, 2011, 04:56 PM
I had a BS in Business from a private university, US Army Commission (ORD Branch) and then I attended CST. Yes, this is hard business to make money at. It is a labor of love. Think business first. Keep your start-up costs very low and your operating cost very low. Consider working for two years for someone else before you hang out a shingle. Buy good quality - used equipment when ever you can. Focus on what is in demand for your market area. Find a "nitch or two in your market". Spend time with the shooting / hunting community and find out what is "in demand". Follow the money. Learn to say NO, in a very polite way. Focus on what your are competant at. Live in a market area that can support you. Sorry, I could not open your PM.

chris in va
July 20, 2011, 05:52 PM
I only have one thing to add.

The local Gander Mountain was hiring gunsmiths for their new store where I lived. After it opened and the dust settled, I had a chat with him about getting hired and he said they only pay $11/hr, and he's completely certified. Said he was lucky to find *that* job.

July 23, 2011, 10:52 PM
Has anyone attended or know someone who attended http://www.pagunsmith.edu/faq.php

I am comparing a few schools around the country. Lucky for me, my family is very mobile.

July 24, 2011, 07:20 PM
Pennsylvania school also has a good rep.

July 25, 2011, 07:32 AM
We had a fellow who graduated from CST gunsmithing course and set up a shop in my town. He knew nothing about gun repair. He might have been able to put a barreled action in a pre-inlet stock and screw it in place, or mount a scope but that was about it. As far as making or repairing parts, his knowledge was zero. He didn't last long enough to make the first payment on his big expensive milling machine. I believe the best, maybe only, way to become a gunsmith is apprenticeship. Hands on doing it.

July 25, 2011, 10:17 PM
Graduated from PA Gunsmith School in 2009, I have been gainfully employed by a shop local to my hometown since graduation. I now have near 60 guns backlogged at any given time, the work is there and I will tell you I work on a lot of junk, but I suppose it is all a part of 'paying my dues' the quality of the guns I am getting in is steadily on the rise and there is rarely a 'bad day' at work. At the end that is all that matters, if it weren't for having to pay bills I would do it for free ;) Gary, Jim, and Eric are great teachers, and the guys your really should talk to if PA Gunsmith School is on your list