View Full Version : Gunsmiths

November 8, 2012, 05:13 PM
Are there any working gunsmiths on here with formal training? I would like to ask some career related questions/advice.


November 8, 2012, 07:16 PM

November 8, 2012, 09:40 PM
There have been numerous threads over the past year as to the career potential of gunsmithing. In summary:
Find a mentor who knows what he is doing
Treat it like a business,
Treat your customers well
Don't expect to make any money for the first five years.
Don't work for nothing.

4V50 Gary
November 8, 2012, 09:41 PM
Dfariswheel was a working gunsmith. He's retired now.

November 9, 2012, 09:16 PM
Are there any working gunsmiths on here with formal training? I would like to ask some career related questions/advice.

Ask away.

James K
November 10, 2012, 10:04 PM
I might suggest doing a search and reviewing some of the answers already given, some many times.


November 10, 2012, 10:26 PM
Without the money to attend a reputable school, you are at the mercy of local smiths. Ive been attempting to get an apprenticeship in NE Ohio for the last five years. No one (around here) wants an apprentice because an apprentice could possibly turn into a competitor.

November 12, 2012, 02:06 AM

don't work for nothing.... always charge your customers fairly, but enough for you to make some profit.

Learn all you can from any source.... American gunsmithing Institue has DVD's you can rent (smartflix.com), ask on forums, etc

TRY to find an apprenticeship... *very* difficult unless you find someone about to retire and is willing to take on an apprentice... I can only imagine this is difficult because of the competition issue... maybe if you agree to setup your shop over 30 miles from his or something like that?

Mike B

4V50 Gary
November 13, 2012, 09:47 PM
Dfariswheel - Where were you trained at? Did you apprentice? Did you specialize (some guys just build rifles, other stick with pistols, etc.)?

November 14, 2012, 09:49 PM
I started off as a trained watchmaker.
I sort of fell into gunsmithing in a jewelery store that sort of fell into doing gunsmithing.
We wound up as both a jewelery store and a trade shop for gun shops.

My specialty was restoring Colt double action revolvers to factory condition but I did most anything that came in.
The owner did shotgun work since he loved fine shotguns, and the jeweler did rifles and black powder.
I sort of took care of the "black" guns and pistols also.

4V50 Gary
November 17, 2012, 08:32 AM
Makes sense that a watch maker will understand a Python lock work.

November 18, 2012, 06:39 PM
Go to your local Community college or VO tech and take their machine shop courses. The best gunsmiths I ever used were master machinist and tool and die makers.

November 19, 2012, 11:33 AM
I've inquired over several forums, and the consensus that I've got from the responses is to go your local junior college, take some classes in machining and welding (woodwork too if possible) and buy a bunch of busted or cheap rifles then start "experimenting".

Even better, find a local smith that is willing to take you under his/her wing as an apprentice.

I plan on starting with restoration of some cheap old mausers and mosins. Perhaps tossing in a FUBAR'ed WASR-10 or something.

Good luck, if things work out on my end, maybe someday in the future we'll be collegues in the field.

November 19, 2012, 04:08 PM
But when I can i go to the Trinidad school of gunsmithing for a summer class.
There are a lot of old smiths, and new ones. Us old one, like to Liston to the new ways, and the new students, like to hear from us old guys:)
There are students there that are looking to get started and ones looking for more knowledge.
if you never been to a Trinidad summer session you need to go!


November 22, 2012, 03:36 PM
No pricing yet for the one week summer courses. What do they run $?

November 22, 2012, 03:45 PM
Some say there too expensive, but you board and room right on campus.
when you figure that into the class it not bad for what your going to learn and you have the shops open from 7AM to 10PM to work.
Ive taken my wife before and she sees the sites when I am in class.
the last class I went to was somewhere around $400 and it was 1week on the
the m14

Ed ;)

November 24, 2012, 03:41 AM
TSJC summer school costs run like this:

$350 per course week. CO residents pay $350 after the college opportunity fund is applied to the balance. Out of state students taking the course for credit pay $465.70 per course, up to 12 credit hours.

There is a one-time registration fee of $12.05.

Housing is $100/week single, $130/week married. The housing is in the dorms across the street from the Mullen building. Meals: You can purchase a discounted meal ticket at the cafeteria when you first eat there, or you can pay on an ad hoc basis per meal you take there.

No firearms or ammo is allowed in the dorms during summer classes. There are provisions to check your firearms into vaults in the toolroom during the summer classes.

The bookstore sells some tools - a basic selection of measurement instruments, polishing paper, hand files and rasps, end mills, etc.

My advice to people who go to TSJC for summer courses is to be realistic in what you expect to accomplish. It is sometimes mind-boggling how many projects some of the dabblers in gunsmithing bring, thinking they're just going to knock these projects off as fast as a full time 'smith. Hint: If you don't spend hours per week running a lathe and mill, you're not going to be going blue blazes. If you don't drive a file every day, what's a small 10 minute job to those of us who do drive a file every day becomes a two hour affair as you check, re-check and re-re-check your work as you're filing on it.

November 24, 2012, 11:35 AM
I started off as a trained watchmaker

If I ran a store and was going to hire a Gunsmith trainee, given the choice of a watch maker and a GS school trainee......I'd go for the watch maker.

It he can build parts I can't even see, think of the precission gun parts he could build.

A good machinest can build/fix anything. Just think about it, anyone can thread a barrel shank, but how many can thread a watch stim for a itty bitty ladie's watch. Heck I can't ever read the face numbers on some of my wife's watches.

Just saying.

4V50 Gary
November 24, 2012, 11:43 AM
Trinidad State has an excellent library. It boasts fourteen six shelf bookcases filled with books on gonnes, gunsmithing, knifemaking, and assorted gun related topics. The problem is that the school keeps you so busy that you won't have time to just sit there and read (the gun books are part of its non-circulating library).

November 24, 2012, 03:32 PM
That's the thing about "gunsmithing" - the term encompasses so much that it is impossible to say "you will do X in your shop."

For a shop that works on Colt revolvers and fine old double guns (where many of the parts were made by hand in the first place, and then fitted by hand), the watchmaker's skills will trump those of a guy who is a hot production machinist.

If you're in a shop that cranks out custom rifle metalwork, the machinist types will excel. At the Guild level, there will be metalworkers, stock makers and then engravers who are all putting time in on a high-end custom gun.

If you're in a shop that does clean/repair/replace jobs as their primary service, the guys who are armorers will be the ones who can bring in the money. Getting in and out of a gun in the least amount of time possible and getting the gun back to spec for a fixed price can be very lucrative.

There's no single approach to gunsmithing, and anyone who claims they know everything or can do anything on any gun competently is simply full of crap.