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Old April 28, 2010, 10:53 PM   #26
Junior member
Join Date: January 23, 2008
Location: MI
Posts: 1,398
Well I got alot of opinons but nobody has laid down any numbers.
Have YOU bothered to figure them out on your own? Apparently not.
that makes me think that many of you are not trained as smith.
Do I have a piece of paper on the wall that says I paid a school and showed up every day? No. I do have 10 years experience assembling ARs, building bolt action rifles, a few years of machining, plus 3 years as an 07 FFL Class 2 SOT under my belt. I can speak with knowledge about the industry and as an employer in such.

I don't care what school you went to, what your GPA was, how many awards you won, or if you slept with the deacon's daughter. Out of school you have no experience in the real world of the industry and you aren't worth much as you are a huge liability. You are worth the bottom rate and not a penny more. You want more money you have to earn it. You have to prove to me you are worth it. That fancy piece of paper from the school isn't worth anything to me.

Gunsmithing is a business of reputation and experience. Little else. A local gunsmith has messed up a lot of guns. Simple stuff like a D&T for a scope mount. So many people still talk about that from 4 years ago and won't go to him anymore. That shop is losing thousands of dollars per year in gunsmithing revenue because of that mistake.

But I think a fair wage might be $15 with benifits. Im no bubba, my work was good enough to win me a scholarship.
Then by all means hold out for the company that will pay you $15/hr with benefits, since that's what you think you are worth. Trouble is the employer will pay you what they think you are worth, not what you think you are worth.

And Im way better than 5 other schools out there based on what I saw at the Brownell's career fair.
Telling you right now get off your high horse. Your work was judged better than other "gunsmith trainees". I'm not impressed. Gunsmithing is a profession of humbleness. Just get the job done right, get paid, and move on. The gun industry does not cater to the "I'm so awesome" attitude. They will tear you to shreds.

But I know I am no way experianced.
This is why you aren't getting $15/hr plus benefits. My machinists start at $10 per hour no benefits. Perks are guns can be bought for cost plus $20. That's it.

I have about $3000 in tools now but no lathe, mill, tanks, belt sanders, drill press etc. I guess I would still need to get another $2000 in hand tools and guages. Many of the shops out there already have mauch of these things in there stores already.
If you aren't intimately familiar with this machinery, you aren't worth much as a gunsmith. A certificate from a gunsmith school is not a talisman that says you are a gunsmith. You have to prove it. You do this with experience.

Going to gunsmith school isn't experience. It's an awareness course. Sort of like you go to school for Criminal Justice, but you learn to be a cop by being a cop and walking the beat. You aren't a gunsmith until you are in the field and your mentor says you are. It's a title that is tossed around a lot. I have seen a lot of "gunsmiths" in my day, but very few gunsmiths.

As far as overhead in the gun stores. The rent, lights have to be paid regardless if there is a smith there or not. Their main buisness is to sell guns. The guns on the shelf are the overhead. Those guns sitting on the shelf could be better use earning interest if they don't sell quick. The counter help cost you a days wage no matter if he sells a gun or not that day. And he usually has to sell at least 1-2 day just to break even for the shop to cover his wage. But the smith generates income for the shop for just by being there. Ever shop i've ever checked is back logged with work. So he should be billing customers $65 X 8 hours everyday. Even with tooling costs, insurance and electricity and $12 and hour does not even come close to $65 and hour charge rate.
Quite clear you have no idea how a business is run and how the industry works.

So that said, only those who are working as trained proffesional gunsmiths need to answer. No home smiths or self taught guys with machinist backgrounds. I want to know what the smiths out there who work for big gunshops make.
Wow. You are something else. Take a look at the Brownells catalog for their average gunsmith shop charges. That's what they charge based on their experience, reputation, local market, and materials plus their overhead. They set their fee by their overhead.

I forgot to add, Im 38 working on my 4th career. I also have a BA in criminal justice, was a production manager, in public safety and a field service tech. I was making $10 with full benifits straight out of school in 1995.
Nothing stands out there.

I do love what I do but I have to look out for me so I have to ask.
So you spent time and money on being educated about a career path without knowing or having any clue how much your starting wage/benefits package will be nationwide?
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