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Old May 11, 2013, 08:30 AM   #1
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Armorer ?

Met a guy going to gun smith school, so I said cool, your going to be an armorer, great. He said no, he was going to be gunsmith. He said armorers only replaced parts. I guess I said armorer because of my years in the Marines. Is there a difference?
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Old May 11, 2013, 08:44 AM   #2
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Probably mostly semantics, but that is generally considered the definition.

Armorer generally works with guns, tools and procedures to keep guns running with standard parts for an organization or a shop. This is like PM work plus some add ons, etc.

A gunsmith usually performs more detailed repairs where sometimes making or extensive fitting is required. This is basically "no procedure" work. It usually requires knowing or learning the functions of each parrt in the system and formulating clear fitting criteria so you can definitively say the gun will work after the repair or addition you make. Added to armorers skills are usually machining skills, welding, grinding to shape know how as well as the ability to receive a relative unknown firearm and prove it safe and functional.

For example: Sons of Guns seems to be mostly armorer work. When Joe gets involved, it is because it has transitioned from armorer to gunsmith work. I think Vince was also a gunsmith and that seems to be part of what got him the boot. He did not want to slap crap together and hope it didn't blow up like they so often do.
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Old May 11, 2013, 08:52 AM   #3
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In the police, armorers are parts swappers. Sometimes they do a little more (depending on what the factory taught them). It's the same with the lower level of US Armed Forces armorers.

In the British Army, an armourer is full trained as a gunsmith. Similarly, at the upper echelons of the (US Army & Marine) marksmanship units, their armorers are fully trained as gunsmiths too (albiet probably only long arms).
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Old May 11, 2013, 09:54 AM   #4
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Some of the armorers that built our .45's and M14's for the matches might take offense.But they were troops that lived and breathed shooting,and went the extra step to be schooled in machine work.They'd turn a barrel down from stock,and would cut and hand fit rails.One came up with a flat top and free floated M16, years before it became common.Company level armorer was pretty much a part swapper.
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Old May 11, 2013, 01:47 PM   #5
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Armorers are generally only repairmen, and know how to follow a disassembly manual, and replace a part, or modify a firearm with a rail, etc.

A Gunsmith, on the other hand, has been taught everything about firearms, to the engineering level, including ballistics, design, fit up, safety, or the whole nine yards. They are at home with working with wood and steel, and now plastics. A good majority can design and build a safe firearm from scratch.
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Old May 12, 2013, 11:58 AM   #6
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Many military armorers are highly skilled, but only in certain firearms, and only in certain aspects of those firearms (e.g., the areas affecting accuracy). The same is true of many gunsmiths (often ex-military) who work only on certain guns, like M1911s or AR-15s. A general gunsmith should be able to do almost anything in the way of repair, modification, or adjustment of a firearm. In reality, most gunsmiths will "farm out" some work to specialists. Jobs like reboring and re-rifling a barrel are simply beyond the equipment and experience of all but a few specialists.

It should be noted, though, that while a general gunsmith should be able to do something like making a hammer for an old suicide special, that does not mean he will. Some jobs are simply not cost effective because the customer will not pay for the work involved; those jobs the wise gunsmith will turn down, with no regrets.

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Old May 14, 2013, 12:04 AM   #7
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About what the others said. I was a company level "armorer." I got the job mostly by default because nobody else wanted to have to stand there and check in 150+ guns after each time we went to the field. Our main job was keeping the rust off and driving broken guns over to the main armory and sitting around while someone there fixed them.

They eventually sent me to a short school where I learned things like how to disassemble a 1911. (This was back in the 80's just before the M9 came online.)

What the troops didn't really "get" was that the basement was cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and the First Sgt tended to forget about us down there so we never got any other duty. I LOVED that job. LOL

I can't do much else these days but I can still strip a 1911 or AR completely to base parts, almost by feel. LOL
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Old May 14, 2013, 12:22 AM   #8
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I think of an armorer as being a mechanic. He can diagnose a problem and replace parts as necessary. If he tells you something can't be fixed, what he's saying is that it will take more than a replacement part to get it running again.

I consider a gunsmith to be more of a craftsman. Not only can he handle armorer tasks, he can also fabricate a replacement part if necessary, or perhaps even an entire gun if he wished to. He can examine a design and conceive of and implement ways to improve or specialize/customize the original product. He may tell you a gun can't be fixed, but in all likelihood when he tells you that, what he's really telling you is that you can't afford to have it fixed.

The military uses the term armorer to encompass a wide variety of tasks and skill levels. A military armorer can range from a guy who does nothing more than cleans guns and keep track of the weapons inventory to someone who can practically build a gun from scratch if properly motivated.
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