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Old July 26, 2012, 04:01 PM   #1
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Gunsmiths: Questions for those of you in this career field

I'll admit, I have a venerable obsession with firearms, I love learning how they work, and I've seen many beaten up pieces that I wish I knew how to restore and provide them some TLC.

For those of you who have worked in this career field, I was curious how it's treated you. What would you say is a common job that you would perform, how did you go about becoming a smith and what advice would you give to those who would like to pursue a career as a gun smith. Would this be a viable career path, or would you recommend doing other work alongside it (Running a firearms store for example that offers smithing services)

The field has me intrigued to say the least, and it's something I'm seriously considering on going to school for, but having some input from those who actually have worked in the field would be nice.
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Old July 26, 2012, 06:17 PM   #2
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As a beginning 'smith, the most logical and practical process is to work for an existing gun shop and/or knowledgeable 'smith.
As a "general" gunsmith, you'll get a good selection of firearms to work with and to learn from. Working under an existing general 'smith, or even one who specializes is also a good way to go... you'll learn things you would never learn in the classroom.

Oddly, in most general gun shops that have a in house 'smith, much of what you will do is install sights, grips, accessories, detail strip and lubricate guns, repair range guns if they have a range... and inspect guns for safe function.
Until you develop a reputation, or do work for a known 'smith that trusts you, no one is going to give you any part of a high-end job to do. Specialization is not a bad thing, but can limit your potential until you get a reputation as a known specialist 'smith.

Once you've learned the business in the real world and have developed a reputation for quality and fair business practices... there 'ya go.

Good luck with it.
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Old July 26, 2012, 06:26 PM   #3
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These days the best way to get into the trade is to attend a top gunsmithing school like Colorado School of Trades or Trinidad Junior College.

Once you graduate, go to work for someone else for a few years. This will allow you time to really learn the trade and learn how to do quality
It'll also give you time to get a reputation in the industry and build up a possible customer base.

Starting your own business is RISKY at all times.
Most gunsmiths fail, and most fail because they know nothing about how to run a business.
Remember, you will not be a gunsmith. You'll be a businessman who happens to run a gunsmithing business.
If you don't know accounting, tax work, filling out forms for the government, dealing with customers, and ordering parts and equipment, no matter how good you are at gun work, you'll fail.
This is why smart prospective gunsmiths take business classes along with the gunsmith training. Some schools offer business classes, so TAKE them.

Last, don't expect to make much money. The only people in the trade who make much money are people like Bill Wilson who own large shops and have a number of gunsmiths working for them.
Probably the smartest gunsmiths spend their career working for someone else.

There's an old joke: "How's a large pizza and a gunsmith alike? Neither can feed a family of four".
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Old July 26, 2012, 08:35 PM   #4
James K
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I will repeat my previous advice to do a search on this site and maybe some other gun sites and read what has already been posted on the subject. IMHO, folks like dfariswheel have been infinitely patient answering this same question over and over, but they deserve a break. Try searching on "gunsmith" and read what's there already. Lots of great advice.

Jim K
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