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Old September 19, 2006, 09:02 AM   #1
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I want to become a gunsmith.

What would I need to get started? Are there classes I can take? Should I start out with a book? Where I live there are absolutely no smiths. So I figure I'll have to do it myself if I want it done right. Kind of my life philosophy. I shoot my .22-250 so much that I know I'm gonna eventually need a new barrel and would love to be able to do it myself. And I know that word of mouth would eventually be "Take it to Zack, he'll be able to fix it." I'm usuallly pretty good at anything I put my time into. Except guitar LOL. It just never clicked to me. Could I get things to cut chambers and the like, or is that something that would take hundreds of thousands of dollars? I look in midways catalog and see things like go and no-go guages and have no idea what that is. Maybe gunsmithing needs to be an apprentice thing? Any suggestions? Thanks guys.
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Old September 19, 2006, 09:49 AM   #2
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A good way to get started is to attend one of the good smith schools to get the basics. Then find a job somewhere working for a smith to gain some experience.

Please note. I mean no offense or disrespect but it is extremely difficult to make a living as a gunsmith. There are many good smiths out there but talk with anyone of them and they most likely will say the same thing. You have to really love doing it with a passion. In most areas people would love to have a 'local smith' The reality is they don't/can't pay one what it demands to make a profit. This is generally the reason some places don't have one. I know of many guys that did everything they could do and just could not make it happen financially. You have to be very good and stay very busy most all the time to stay even. I think the misconception is that people think smiths make lots of money. The reality is tools, a shop, overhead, supplies, FFL, shipping, taxes, parts, gas prices, etc are expensive. The gun business is very fickle. Thats why I say you have to really love doing it because when its tight, you can still be happy doing gun work.

I don't mean to paint a dim picture but just being real. I have been in the gun business for 18 years and only in the last few have I felt like I could be on my own. It is not easy. Trust me. I wish you all of the best in your endeavors.
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Old September 19, 2006, 11:42 AM   #3
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Having been there and done that, I have to agree with the previous poster. Making a living as a gunsmith sounds glamorous, but it is very hard to make it happen in real life. I was a smith for 3 years, and during that time I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I didn't make any money to speak of. I would have done better financially if I had been working for McDonalds and put in the kind of hours I put in at the gun shop.

One reality you will constantly run into is that guns are cheap and repairs have to be cheap or the guns get retired and a newer gun takes its place. A $200 rifle that needs repairs, cleaning and rebluing will probably be sold and replaced.

Custom rifle work is the best way to get noticed, but takes many hours and a lot of attention to detail to do it right. Once you get a name for fine work and accurate rifles, you can start making wages.

My recommendation would be to take some gunsmithing classes and learn the trade, even if you only ever use it for yourself and your friends. If you do manage to make it and are successful, congratulations. If not, you have at least learned something useful.
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Old September 19, 2006, 09:55 PM   #4
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I hate to keep saying this, but gunsmithing is a business. If you don't want to learn how to run a business and deal with all the hassles involved, forget it. Too many people think that liking guns or doing one trigger job qualifies them to be a gunsmith.

If a local community college has a small business course, take it. Learn about local zoning laws, licenses, insurance, etc. No matter what you hear, getting an FFL is the easy part; getting a state or local license can be a lot tougher. Insurance premiums alone can eat you up.

Getting started isn't cheap. Those "things to cut chambers" (they are called reamers) cost $50 to $100 each. Gauges run another $150 or so. And that is for ONE caliber. You will need a lathe and a drill press as a minimum, with a milling machine a good idea. And you have to learn how to use them; if your drill slips and you mess up some customer's $10,000 shotgun, you won't get away with saying "-CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED- happens." (Especially if he has some shells on him when he gets his gun back!)

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Old September 19, 2006, 11:10 PM   #5
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Here's my standard response to this question:
Here's the hard, cold facts about gunsmithing.

If you're planning on being in the business as a pro, you're not going to get there with a correspondence or some kind of online course.

Businesses that hire gunsmiths want people who they KNOW have learned the job and can do the work.
That means a diploma from a GOOD attendance school like Colorado School of Trades, Trinidad College, Lassen College, or one of the others.

Show up looking for a job as a gunsmith with a correspondence course diploma, and they'll file your application in the waste can.
This is just the way it IS.
They need PROVEN skills and knowledge, and you don't get that by mail or online.

You can get a correspondence course and start your own business, but I'll take any amount of money that you'll bust out in less than a year.

A machine shop course to teach you how to run a lathe and milling machine is very good to have, but DO NOT think that being a good machinist makes you a good gunsmith.
Most good gunsmiths are good machinist, but most good machinist's are NOT qualified to be gunsmiths, and often are terrible at it.

Military armorers are NOT gunsmith's.
For the most part, they're parts switchers. They remove defective parts and drop in new parts.
If a gun needs more involved repairs, they're sent to a higher level to the REAL gunsmiths.
True military gunsmith's have a much higher level of training, and are almost always career military personnel. Getting into this level isn't easy.
At the very top are the true gunsmiths working for military marksmanship or special operations units.
There are very few of these people and they're the absolute cream of the crop with many years of training and experience.

Some people recommend learning as an apprentice.
This can be a good way to start, BUT... It all depends on WHO the teacher is.
The person you apprentice with may himself be a hack, and may be teaching you to be a hack too.
You'll have no real way to judge.
Plus, unless the teacher is a nationally know gunsmith AND is known for turning out qualified students, his training is also worthless when it comes to getting hired.

Again, employers hire people with good credentials, and the word of an unknown gunsmith isn't good enough.

Starting up a gunsmith business takes BIG bucks for machinery and tools. You'd be starting off COLD with no customer base, and you'll starve out quickly for simple lack of paying customers.
Remember, something like 40% of all business's bust out, no matter WHAT they are or who's running them.
That's simply new business attrition.

Also, remember as a self-employed gunsmith, you're NOT a gunsmith.....You're really a business man who gets to spend a few hours a day doing gunsmithing.
MOST of your day is spent doing business man things like filling out forms for the government, talking to potential customers, ordering materials and parts, and dealing with unreasonable customers.
If you're lucky, you'll get to do a little gun work somewhere in there.

The only way to make it starting out on your own is to have a "day job" and gunsmith on the side.
Still, very few make it this way either.
It's tough to put in 8 hours on the main job, then come home and do a little gunsmithing, and STILL have to do all the business man stuff.

If you're really serious about this, bite the bullet and go to the best attendance school you can.
At least 6 months to a year before you graduate, start looking for a job.
By graduation day, you should have a FIRM job offer.
Go to work for a company like one of the gun makers, a custom gun maker, the government, a police department as an armorer, or for one of the industries who employ gunsmiths for research projects.

Spend some time working for the OTHER guys. THEY'LL be doing all the business man stuff while you put in a solid 8 hours gunsmithing and really learning the trade.

After you've built up your skills, established your reputation as a known quantity in the industry, built up a customer contact base, and bought the equipment a little at a time, THEN you can go out on your own.

However, you're STILL subject to that 40% bust-out rate for new businesses.

Last, DO NOT expect to make a lot of money as a gunsmith.
If you figure it by the hour, most self-employed gunsmiths are making not much more than minimum wage.
Few if any of them are working ONLY 40 hour weeks.
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Old September 20, 2006, 08:35 AM   #6
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There is some personality and salesmanship involved also.You need to look good,speak well,and be able to tolerate endless customer stories that you could not be less interested in.Same with gun store owners and outfitters.If your customers want you to be successful, you will be way ahead of the game.
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Old September 20, 2006, 02:34 PM   #7
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A couple of thoughts.

Dfariswheel, even the high level military armorers are not general gunsmiths. They may be top notch at building match guns from the standard GI guns but not many know anything about guns that are not in that class or are not U.S. military weapons. (I recall one M16 expert who didn't have any idea how to remove the bolt from a Model 1903 - a couple of generations too old for him.)

ZeroJunk, all true, but that is the reason a gunsmith has to hire someone to mind the front. If he spends time BSing with customers, he gets nothing done and goes broke. Same with the guy who fixes his friends' guns free. In any business, sad to say, nice guys go broke. And the hobbyist goes broke faster.

Jim K

Last edited by James K; September 22, 2006 at 08:08 PM.
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Old September 20, 2006, 04:32 PM   #8
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I would like to have a local smith, but none around. I don't mind the idea of sending a gun off to a known good smith so much, as the fact that nowadays some shippers want to make it such a hassle to do, that I might just pass on some custom work and get rid of guns with problems. I would suspect that a local smith around here would have another job to get the groceries and do gun repairs on the side. I have seen the handiwork of some people around here doing "repairs" and "restorations" and am not that impressed.
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Old September 20, 2006, 05:13 PM   #9
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My gunsmith is a farmer by day and does the majority of the gunsmithing for the state prison and the local and county PD. Right you are about not earning that much money! I always tip him or take him stuff that I could do on my own, but am too lazy or have other things to do like tinker with the truck.

As far as machinist not making good gunsmiths I would say that this is a general statement. I was a machinist for several years and during that time I repaired or customized most of my guns myself. I even made an AR upper and lower (yes the lower is registered with the BATF) and a rifle stock similiar to the AR30 stocks but it takes AR buttstocks. Also made my own one piece picatinny mounts and rails for myslef and a few friends. Now most machinist can only setup and follow blueprints, but there are a few who have the creativity and smarts to be "fabricators" and build/design/redesign, same can be said of gunsmiths.
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Old September 20, 2006, 05:31 PM   #10
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I just picked up a rifle from the local gunsmith this afternoon.He is very capable,expensive,and busy.His counter hours are 12:00 to5:00.He's been doing it at least twenty five years.He can make you feel important while he is getting rid of you.I don't know how much of his success is his personality,but it's a lot.
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Old September 20, 2006, 06:46 PM   #11
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"Dfariswheel, even the high level military armorers are not general gunsmiths"

True, but I meant the REAL top military gunsmiths who do the work for elite units like Delta and Naval Special Warfare Development Group. (Used to be known as SEAL Six).

Since these units deal with a very wide variety of weapons including a wide range of commercial civilian firearms, they belong in the very top rank of custom 'smiths.
These elite units are constantly using or trying out commercial firearms, and their gunsmiths have to be capable of working on them, and modifying them.

One colleague recently told me that he knows for a fact that an elite "they" have experimented with the new S&W .500 Magnum pistol.
Not that they are actually using it, but that like all such units, they are constantly looking for something that might fill a special need.

These military gunsmiths are the equal of any civilian 'smith.
BUT..... these people are the very top of the military gunsmithing structure, and they are VERY few and far between.

That's why it's largely a waste of time to try to become a good civilian gunsmith by going the military armorer route.
Most armorers, military and civilian police are "parts switchers" for minor problems, with real gunsmithing problems sent up to the REAL gunsmiths.
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Old September 21, 2006, 06:52 AM   #12
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Find a day job that will allow you to earn a living. You will starve as a gunsmith. People just don't want to pay you what your time is worth. I gunsmith on the side. I limit my work to 1911s and Glocks.
When I lived in Atlanta I did a lot of trigger jobs and setting up guns for IDPA and IPSC. I made enough money to buy all the personal guns I wanted.
The hardest thing to do is charge your friends for work. I told all of mine that they were charged just like everyone else. If you don't do this you will find yourself doing a lot of free work.
Miss? That can't be a miss. Looks like a perfect double to me.
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Old September 21, 2006, 08:04 PM   #13
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Making money or being happy

If you want to be a gunsmith you had better want it for the love of the game and not the want of money. I had been in middle management positions for 25 years. Worked my way up to a sizable salary and high standard of life. After turning 45 I woke up one morning and realized life really sucked. I had ulcers, a drinking problem and was working on ruining my second marriage. I don’t know how but I bless the day this reality hit me. The only things in my life that made me happy were the outdoors and working on my firearms. Very soon after this realization I quit my job, went back to school for gunsmithing and took some classes to become a Maine guide. Now I make less money in a year than I did on my end of year bonus, and know what, it is all worth it. I get up in the morning and feel good about myself. Money is important but quality of life just blows it away. If your willing to eat mac and cheese 3 times a week so you can work 60 hours a week than go for it. I did and I’ll never go back.
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Old September 23, 2006, 07:06 PM   #14
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Dear Sir:
iIagree with previous statements - most all the GOOD gunsmiths die poor.
Keep you job and start slow and support your hobby that way,
Harry B.
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Old September 25, 2006, 11:23 PM   #15
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i do my own stuff. I live in san antonio and and managed to get aholdof some of bob day's old machines, one of them came with rediculously old begginning machining primer. read it once, figured the rest of it out myself. i can get exactly what i want, exactly how i want it, and i usually come out pretty cheap. the most important thing is to go slow and not get ahead of yourself. Get a book, get some tools nothing fancy. nothin to it
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Old May 14, 2010, 10:16 AM   #16
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A Google search allowed me to dig up this old thread. I was also interested in how much a Gunsmith could make and I found another site that shows the average salaries in each state. I'm not sure how accurate this is but most are in the $40,000 plus a year range.
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Old May 14, 2010, 10:59 AM   #17
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You wont get rich gunsmithing, but if done right you CAN make a dicient living.

Assuming you have the equipment and knowledge. Mainly a good lathe and milling machine. With those two, you can make many of the other tools and fixtures you need.

The way to make it, is dont be afraid to take in Small Machinest jobs.

Like many I wanted to be a gunsmith. Attended a few classes, (NG, NMing 1911s & M14s). Built several 1000 yard bolt guns for my NG unit. I was running the states marksmanship unit, I could get the parts but couldnt get the guns (1000 yard bolt guns, plenty of M14s 'n such), so I started building them. We could buy replacement parts, (which is anything but the action) but with a bit of creative budgeting, I got actions, (I wont go into that).

Where I made the money was taking in "small" machine shop jobs the big shops turned down.

Just an example: Making some wierd screw for a 100 year one rifle (prior too using standard threads for example) Might take you 45 minutes, and another hour arguing with the customer why he has to pay $25 or more for a 20 cent screw. Or getting a contract from Firestone, resurficing Fly wheels $25 a piece (15 min, floor time to floor time). Or bluing diesel injectors for 75 cents a piece. Why not, you have to fire up the bluing tanks anyway.

My problem was I made the mistake of putting two adds in the phone book, one for Gunsmithing, one for General Machine work. I worked my ass off. Mostly on the machine work, people dropped the job off and went back to their job of making money, Gun customers dropped the job off and wanted to BS all day then bitch because you were taking too long.

Not to mention I had a full time job as a LEO and was running a National Guard Unit.

All I did was ruin a good hobby. I got burned out quick.

I have a good retirement (from both LE and NG) and though I have the time, I'd rather spend it fishing, shooting, or playing with my grandkids.

The point being, if, as I said, you have the basic equipment and a bit of knowledge, AND KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS, you can make it IF you dont get on an ego trip and turn down small machine work. It will pay the bills. If you let your ego ("I'm a gunsmith, I dont do that little junk machine crap"), you'll starve.

To prove my point, look around your location at Machine shops, lots of big ones, few small ones. Thats where the money is.

Everyone is getting into the CNC stuff, which means there are lots of good used manual machines out there at good prices. Just take your time and you can do some pretty good work on these old machines. Howe didnt use a CNC machine.

Again, dont let your ego get in the way. First priorty is eating and feeding your family.

Now I want do anything but build my own guns, or for my kids and grandkids.
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Old May 14, 2010, 03:27 PM   #18
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I strongly suspect you never had a thing to do with these"elite military armorers", or repairmen, depending which branch you were in. I dealt with them and armorers from other countries, and none of them had a snot nosed attitude. If we needed parts or a second opinion, we got on the phone and talked to each other. As far as not knowing certain weapons, the average smith never laid hands on over 50% of the guns out there. Armorers that work mainly with small units do not really get a lot of experience with belt fed guns and mortars, but none of them I met seemed afraid to learn.
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Old May 14, 2010, 10:19 PM   #19
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Originally posted by kraigwy: You wont get rich gunsmithing, but if done right you CAN make a dicient living.
Great info. I love to listen to someone that has been there. Thanks!
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Old May 18, 2010, 01:07 AM   #20
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As a retired gunsmith of more than a few years, I agree with the above.
Find a good smith and use him. It's a labor of love.
You might want to find a couple of beat up rifles or shotguns that are still mechanically sound and work on them as a hobby.
With todays guns becoming more and more plastic, factories not selling parts and the economy, just use a good smith.
I sold my equipment and now use a great smith.
I should mention that many people have a hard time with shippers not wanting to pick up packages.
My smith has my weapons picked up at my door by Fed-X and saves me money on the shipping because he has a shipping contract with them. I don't know how many smiths do this, but it saves a lot of time, money and problems with the shippers. He does this for all his customers who request this service.
Any weapon you send has to be double wrapped and you do not want anything on the outside of the box that identifies it as a firearm.
PM me if interested and I'll give you the gunsmiths name and info. He's the best smith I have ever seen. Fast turn around and fair prices.

Best Regards, John K
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Old May 21, 2010, 03:51 PM   #21
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I realized this is a very old thread, but thought I'd toss in my .02.

There are many courses out there - online and in trade schools, be very wary of any school and do your investigation. Consult other gun enthusiasts, join your local NRA or shooting chapter and get to know your local law enforcment officers. In doing this you are setting up a line of contacts and potential customers. In the beginning you certainly will not be able to survive off gunsmith wages and will be running a part time shop. If you get accepted to a professional smith shop these are machinist's wages - $12-$20/hour - consider yourself lucky and learn everything you can.

Just like an artist this is a labor of love. You will work long hours, often dragging small projects with you to get that last piece ready for a customer. The problem is most firearms are very reliable and don't break often. With the modular concept most gun fixes are simply - take bad part out, put good part in and do a little tuning, although this is highly dependent upon the model.

I got my start working in a retail sporting goods department - developed a reputation as being knowledgeable and responding to what the customers were asking for. I had a great interest in military/law enforcement and received sponsorship from my local department to take numerous armorers courses. Once established in my local department I offered up armorer services to surrounding small departments. I was the only GLOCK armorer in the area and made decent money considering the hours invested. During this time I interned under one of the state's leading firearms instructors and receiving certification as a primary and intermediate weapons instructor.

Two key points on dealing with law enforcement - I never charged a fellow officer on a duty weapon - either billed to the department or wrote it off as an in-service. I received compensation through organizations or work on private pieces. I would also keep track on the qualification shoots of the surrounding departments and be on hand at the range for a free weapons checkup - cleaning up spent casings as payment to feed my shooting hobby.

For anyone thinking of pursuing the military route expect a long road of paying your dues, but training and experience you cannot put a price on. During my enlistment I spent every waking hour with the armorers running T&Es on new weapons and working with some of the best shooters on the planet.

As kraigwy posted - grab the small jobs! The larger firms want to sell complete packages and modifications - cater your business to the needs of your clients and you will do well.

If you are considering striking out on your own make sure all your bases are covered - establish an LLC, make sure you are properly insured, and befriend a lawyer who needs some smithing. I would also recommend establishing contact with your local federal LE, BATFE in particular, to protect yourself in this political climate. I have been very lucky operating in WI - very antigun, but have a good friend in the ATF who keeps me updated with any new interpretations.
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Old May 21, 2010, 05:20 PM   #22
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contact Dean Arnold at Murray State College in Tishomingo, OK
this is a state college with a fine 2 year gunsmithing program...
mills and lathes...stocks...etc..bob dunlap and other wll known smiths
come and teach summer classes...dean is a first class smith himself.
I've known dean a number of years and some of his students have gone
on to jobs with the feds, sig, custom shops, etc....if not MSC, look for another gun school with talented people and a good reputation.
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Old May 22, 2010, 09:18 AM   #23
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The one thing that you want to learn is safety.
What guns will take what. How to check and headspace correctly.
Cut shotgun barrels for chokes, know when they are too thin.
How to work on the trigger of hundreds of weapons.
There are so many safety issues when it comes to firearms, it will make your head spin.
Some are common sence, others are learned, but you must have a good education to learn about the safety aspects otherwise you will get sued for whatever little money that you have earned as a smith.
Take it from someone who has been there, worked his butt off, been somewhat sucessful, don't be a smith. Fix firearms of your own for fun on the side and find a real business that pays enough for you to buy all the firearms you want.
Gunsmiths don't make enough money to buy or make a lot of fine firearms.
True you can buy and trade. But you must be honest. A little old man came in my shop with a pistol and wanted $200.00 for it. You could tell he had nothing and really needed the money. I knew the pistol was rare and worth thousands. I took the gun to an apraiser I knew. It was worth thousands.
I found a collector who bought it. I could have pocketed a lot of money. You must be honest. That little old man was one happy person. Nice old guy. It gave him enough money to have a little hope.
If you become a smith be honest. You deserve to make a profit, but not rip people off.
You have to know what guns to refinish and which to leave alone. Nothing is worse than a smith who either doesn't know or just wants to make money so he re finishes a rare, old piece of history. A firearm where there are few left.
Do good work for a fair price and be honest and you will make a enough to live on after a little while. Get really good and you might make a little more.
Be one of the few who is a really good business man who gets a large operation going and runs it smart and maybe you'll make a very good living. You will notice there are few of those people around.
Do bad work or lie to customers and you will be out of business within a few months.

Best Regards, John K

Last edited by dksac2; May 22, 2010 at 09:39 AM.
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Old February 23, 2011, 12:16 AM   #24
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I know this thread started five years ago and I apologize to everyone for bumping it. However I found this thread through a Google search and I had to reply to Dfariswheel due to the nature of his comments.

Originally Posted by Dfariswheel
Military armorers are NOT gunsmith's.
For the most part, they're parts switchers. They remove defective parts and drop in new parts.
If a gun needs more involved repairs, they're sent to a higher level to the REAL gunsmiths.
True military gunsmith's have a much higher level of training, and are almost always career military personnel. Getting into this level isn't easy.
At the very top are the true gunsmiths working for military marksmanship or special operations units.
There are very few of these people and they're the absolute cream of the crop with many years of training and experience.
Just as Gunplummer said, I doubt that you've had much contact with enough military armorers to make any such judgment. It's certain that, like any other job, some are better at it and more experienced than others. But what's not true is that they're just the mindless drones you paint them to be. When it comes down to it, 90% of what most people call "gunsmithing" is just what you said: switching parts. This is as true in the civilian world as it is in the military.

I was a 45B. I've worked on guns in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Japan and darn near every large Army post in the United States, including Hawaii. I've worked on stuff for the 5th and 10th SFG, the Rangers and heck, even the frickin' Idaho National Guard once. I've even helped guys repair M198s and an M68 on an M1 Abrams, despite not knowing what I was doing. I helped a guy with an M61 Vulcan once too, now that I'm thinking about it. Basically, if anybody needed their rigs worked on, I never said no because we're all on the same team and our weapons are obviously mission critical.

Then when I was done doing all that, I worked for the Small Arms Readiness Evaluation Team (SARET) with TACOM on the Rock Island Arsenal, and I did it all over again. You might recognize TACOM-SARET from the famous M14 EBR we built there...There are three pictures of them in the latest Leupold tactical catalog, and to say I was proud to see them there is an understatement.

In my time as a dumb "parts switcher," I have repaired, modified and built from scratch, the following: the M9, M11 and M1911 pistols, the M4 and M16 assault carbine and rifle, the M590, M870 and M1014 shotguns, M24 sniper rifle, M110 and SR-25 sniper rifles, the M14 and all it's variants, the M82 anti-material rifle, M249, M60, M240, and M2 machine guns, M203 40mm grenade launcher, MK19 40mm automatic grenade launcher, the M224, M252 and M120 mortar systems, and I've even repaired AK-47s, RPKs, RPDs, and whatnot for the SF and foreign military and police forces.

Now I know I was just a knuckle dragging "parts switcher" who is no doubt barely capable of typing, but if you can't read military-speak, allow me to translate some of that into civilian-speak for you: I've worked on more Beretta 92s, Sig P226s, 1911s, AR-15s, Mossberg 500s, Remington 870s, Benelli M4s, Remington 700s, AR-10s, M1As, and Barrett .50s than probably any 20 civilian gunsmiths have in their lives, combined...Not to mention I know inside and out a bunch of hardware that most people just get to dream about and play with on their X-Box. But looking at this list, it kinda sorta looks like maybe I know about a whole lot of some of the most common guns in America...Like, maybe, some of the same stuff civilian gunsmiths work on, eh?

Let's not forget all the M68 CCOs, AN/PVQ-31s, M145s, Leupold Mk4s, suppressors, lights, lasers, rails, grips, BUISs, coffee machines and doo-hickeys and dingle-bobs I had to deal with too.

Maybe I'm not a master machinist, but I've spent lots of time at a lathe, mill, drill press, bench grinder and polishing wheel. I'll grant you I spent more time on the latter three than the former two, but I bet I've dealt with problems most civilian gunsmiths can't fathom. I've fixed broken M2s in the middle of combat while the gun was taking rounds (and they weren't shooting at the gun, you know). I've removed someone's hand from a Mk19 spade grip, after crawling through a huge pool of blood. I wonder just how many civilian gunsmiths see much combat while they work in Nebraska, other than what they watch on TV. But yeah, I guess I switched some parts here and there too.

I've removed bad parts and replaced them with good ones. I've threaded barrels and chased existing threads. I've mounted suppressors and brakes, smoothed what was rough, tightened what was loose and loosened what was tight. I've refinished and painted parts and entire guns. I've put on and sighted in scopes. I've lapped lugs, scope rings, and trued actions. I've fixed magazines, and I've cleaned, lubed and test fired guns. I've fabricated from scratch or modified existing parts to better get a job done. I've built guns from the receiver up and torn them apart down to the receiver. I've done just about anything to a gun you can do, and even a few things you can't.

So what exactly is it a civilian gunsmith does that's any different? Seems to me what this silly, drooling ol' "parts switcher" did is pretty much exactly what a civilian gunsmith spends most of his time doing. Hmmm...

Don't mean to sound like I've got sand in my mangina, and like I said I know this thread is old, but Dfariswheel, you might be the best civilian gunsmith in America, but when it comes to what gun guys are doing in the military, I think you ought to know what you're talking about before you talk about it. Military armorers do the same things civilian gunsmiths do, just with different focuses on different things for different purposes. Yeah, a civilian gunsmith might spend more time on a mill, but a military gunsmith spends more time on something else...And these days, they're doing it in far more difficult situations than your average civilian gunsmith. Unless they live in New Jersey maybe.

Last edited by Recoil1776; February 23, 2011 at 12:25 AM.
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Old February 23, 2011, 01:28 AM   #25
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Join Date: May 29, 2010
Location: Okinawa JP
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I've been active duty for the past ten years as a trigger puller, and have at least another ten in front of me, and I have to ask you this:

How long were you in before you were the guy doing the machine work? That comment was directed at armorers, not the higher echelon guys. Before I moved to an instructing billet (I am in the Corps, not the Army before you ask) my issued sidearm was a hand built 1911. I know that this was built by "armorers" (as their MOS states) in Quantico who could more accurately be described as gunsmiths. However, when I go to the armory to check it out, the throng of LCpl and PFC ARMORERS who may be able to check for barrel straightness and possibly head space and timing on a few different weapons systems are the ones who pull it out of the rack and hand it to me. Please, we all know the difference, I do not believe any offense was intended. I do commend you for your work, though I have only dealt with the Corps hand built weapons, I have no doubt you produced some amazing equipment.
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