View Full Version : what's a fair hourly rate to be charged by gunsmith?

July 25, 2001, 02:32 PM
I did a search on this and didn't come up with anything.
I've never taken anything to a smith before but have to pretty soon (just to check headspace on an old WWII gun that I just picked up, and to see if it's safe to shoot).
Anyway, what should I expect?

(BTW, this is in Virginia if that makes a difference)

July 25, 2001, 03:41 PM

I'm no real expert, but the general answer would be what ever the market will bear. From what I can tell, smiths are charging anywhere from $25 to $55 per hour. Here in Tucson smiths are averaging about $35 per hour. The checking of a headspace is not that complicated if they have the guages. I paid $20 for the a headspace check a few months ago.

Your milage may vary

kurt IA.
July 25, 2001, 05:31 PM
From Brownells, Shop Price Survey.
Per man hour $35 to $75
Check head space $20 to $40
Expect something in between.

Bud Helms
July 25, 2001, 07:28 PM
I wouldn't pay a gunsmith by the hour. That's a blank check. I don't pay for any service by the hour. I pay for a job done, based on a written quote or posted charges whenever possible. If an estimate for a job is calculated based on some hourly rate, that's fine. But that's the price. Period. Agreeing to pay for time spent without a limit is the best way to make someone's car payment without getting the job done.

No, I haven't been burnt by a gunsmith, but auto work and home repair have taught me this lesson. Paying by the hour is a losing proposition. Paying by the job is the way to go. That should include materials. Replacement parts are different, but should be priced up front on a contingency basis.

That may sound cynical, but it's my $0.02.

George Stringer
July 26, 2001, 07:25 AM
Madscientist, most smiths will treat checking headspace as a flat rate job. Almost all my work is priced by the job. But, Sensop, there's a lot of work that a smith does that can't be charged that way. If I have to make/rebuild a part for instance I'll tell the guy up front that he will be charged by the hour and I'll tell him what I think the max price will be. I don't charge folks while I'm eating lunch or on the phone or talking with a customer that comes in while I'm on that job but I don't work for free either. It just comes down to whether or not you trust your gunsmith and if you don't trust him to charge you fairly then you shouldn't have him doing work for you in the first place. George

Bud Helms
July 26, 2001, 06:16 PM
There is such a thing as a Gunsmith you trust ... I will agree. Custom work and building parts from scratch ... that may be different. But you would use someone you trusted for that anyway.:D I wasn't on a rant against gunsmiths in particular...;)

July 26, 2001, 07:14 PM
My take on hourly work vs. bidding the job.

I like paying by the hour, but the contractor has to give me a rough estimate up front and keep me informed on the progress.

My 21 years of experience with renovations on my 85-year-old house has been that paying hourly works out better if I'm dealing with someone who knows what they're doing and aren't learning as they go.

To bid a price on a job, they have to calculate their hourly rate times the hours in a worst-case senario, plus materials, and then add 15% or 20% to cover hidden problems. (The houses in this neighborhood have slate and standing seam flat metal roofs, box gutters, boilers, radiators, plaster walls, and everything is old and probably been incorrectly repaired at least once before. For instance, dig into an interior wall and you'll end up having to mess with the old iron pipes for the gaslights or maybe a knob and tube circuit. The exterior walls are 14 inches of brick.)

Maybe it's just because I'm dealing withs good folks, and friends.


Art Eatman
July 26, 2001, 09:32 PM
MadScientist, many gunsmiths have set prices for relatively standardized work--check headspace, or mount a scope; crown a muzzle, or do a trigger job, etc.

For some jobs there is no choice but straight time. A competent smith will have a pretty good idea about the length of time needed, though.