Armorer / Gunsmith Training Question

Armorer / Gunsmith Training Question

This is a discussion on Armorer / Gunsmith Training Question within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Hope this is the right forum, if not ... SWMBO posed the question to me over the weekend of "If I wanted to get certified ...

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Thread: Armorer / Gunsmith Training Question

  1. #1
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    Armorer / Gunsmith Training Question

    Hope this is the right forum, if not ...

    SWMBO posed the question to me over the weekend of "If I wanted to get certified as a armorer or learn how to be a gunsmith, what training would I need to take and where could I take it?"

    I said I knew Glock offered an Armorer course and I suspect other gun makers do also but I know little about the former and nothing about the latter. I knew nothing about what is involved with becoming a gunsmith. I said I would reach out to the experts here and see what they could tell us or point us the right information.

    So what's the scoop?
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  2. #2
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    You might want to check with your community college system, some do offer gunsmithing courses; here is an example of one near me in North Carolina.

    Gunsmithing - A30200
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  3. #3
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    So what's the scoop?
    Here's my take on it.


    There are many gunsmiths that are nothing more than parts changers. These guys go to the various Manufactures armory courses and learn how to tear down a particular gun to parade rest.When a gun comes in for repair and anything is in doubt, they simply change the offending part to make it work like it should.

    Most gunsmiths are in this category and they aren't too hard to find. Most of them are part timers because they cant make a living doing that, there isn't enough business to keep them up and running. There are several in my area, but they are either retired guys with pensions or they do it on the side to augment their paychecks or add to their gun funds.

    I have known several gunsmiths that took various college courses and they ended up specializing in one thing. Guns are so different in design and function that its hard to become very proficient in all of them so most people choose to specialize.

    Some choose to become experts in Colt Government models. Other choose to become really good at bolt action rifles and others choose either shotguns or handguns. Some can do them all to a certain degree, but they are a jack of all trades and a master of none.

    Lots of people think they want to become one, but somewhere along the way they realize that there is a lot more to it than what they originally thought and they become discouraged.

    To be a great gunsmith you must have a machinist background. There are some great gunsmiths that are well known throughout the industry and all of them have machinist backgrounds. With that being said, not everyone has the talent to be a good machinist. There are some that are barely adequate, some that get by and some that have the natural talent and ability to figure things out and work within some very small tolerances. Its a fact that most people, gunsmiths included, are very limited in this ability. Other gunsmiths are great at what they do, but they stop at doing machine work for several reasons.One is the lack the skill or practice of using machine tools such as a lathe or a mill. Another is that properly equipping a shop setup to do gun-smithing can be very expensive and it can take a long time to realize an actual profit.

    There are lots of parts changers, but there are precious few people in the industry that can re-barrel, chamber and head space a rifle, make parts from scratch using blueprints or from actual samples provided,and one needs to have a background in metallurgy, welding,machining as well as some business skills and some people skills. The ones that are talented enough to have some of the skills mentioned for some reasons or another seem to lack people skills, which can be a total turnoff to customers.

    Something else to consider. Many vocational schools and Universities have shut down their vocational programs and auctioned off their equipment so they are getting harder to find. The ones that still teach Machine Shop courses are teaching CNC techniques which are great if you want to produce thousands of parts with million dollar machinery, but it has little to do with the skills that are actually required by a gunsmith.

    It can take years to become a competent machinist or a competent gunsmith and its one of the reasons that many skilled crafts have apprenticeship programs because it takes years of experience with some one that knows what they are doing as a mentor and teacher.

    One of our local gun shops hired a young man that graduated from the Colorado School of Gunsmithing, one of the better programs out there. He had the pedigree, along with a pretty looking certificate hanging on the wall. Although he had done what he needed to do to get certified, he lacked the experience of doing it. Try as he might, eventually he got the reputation of being a hack job and he tore up more stuff than he fixed. Broken taps in guns, hammer marks on some high dollar custom Government models, vice grip marks on blued surfaces,losing parts to guns he took apart, leaving parts out of guns he put back together, it wasn't long until the word was out and people quit bringing stuff to him. He seemed to be a nice kid, he just didn't have the skills or the patience to do what needed to be done. I got volunteered to fix many of his botched projects and I heard the negative stuff all the time. Still do on occasion. He eventually quit gun smithing and moved off somewhere else.

    If one is the kind of person that like to tinker with stuff to figure out how it works, can work well with their hands and is fairly coordinated and can devote the time patience and money that it takes to make it all come together, then it can be done but it sure isn't as easy as people think it is. If one can do that, it can be a very rewarding and very profitable buisness.
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    Always though of getting into that myself. My cousin was an old-timer that could do most all, but specialized on shotguns. I can see why you would pick a certain area-the field is almost too wide/vague. Some in this area are parts swappers. Not very many restoration or coatings specialist around. You might actually do well to check into that. Lots of hunters need their guns cleaned, re-blued or want a good water-proofing like parkarizing or that new coating that's water-applied as a wrap (like a temp tatoo) for camoflage in all kinds of patterns. There are dips, baked coatings, etc. Just be careful with the Gun Scrubber-know a guy that the Beretta factory told he could use this stuff on his 92-fs model and apparently they have coated aluminum. The finish came right off. Because "they" advised him it was ok, he sent the gun back and they actually sent him a NEW one. Of course you have to fill out the paperwork, swap numbers properly and shipping junk that goes along with it. (One of the reasons gunsmiths need to have an FFL...so you may legally keep track of a firearm and have it properly paper-worked for your tax purposes). I'd take HotGun's advice and look at a specialty that you like and can perform comfortably.

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    Considering she is ready to retire and is looking more for how to perform general maintenance at a level above field stripping but below manufacturing a new slide on a CNC from a block of steel, I suspect less gunsmith and more armorer type training.
    Last edited by babarock; December 24th, 2011 at 12:01 AM.
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    Most of the manufacturers have Firearms specific armourers course that she can take. Its just a matter of paying for the course and lodging and shipping for a few days and becoming a certified armourer. Once you do that, you can do warranty work for that company.

    I'd get the more popular ones like,Colt,S&W, Sig, HK, and what ever seems to be popular in that area.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    Most of the manufacturers have Firearms specific armourers course that she can take. Its just a matter of paying for the course and lodging and shipping for a few days and becoming a certified armourer. Once you do that, you can do warranty work for that company.

    I'd get the more popular ones like,Colt,S&W, Sig, HK, and what ever seems to be popular in that area.
    Around the Atlanta area, if she wants to do this, I'm thinking she would start with Glock due to their popularity and the Glock facilities are only a hours drive. Who would be next would depend on location, schedule and if they offer the course to civilians. I've see several that state you have to be a LEO and she isn't.
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