Becoming a Gunsmith: Anybody here?

This is a discussion on Becoming a Gunsmith: Anybody here? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I'll be going back to school next year when I'll be able to afford to be a pretty much full-time student. I'm trying to decide ...

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    VIP Member Array blitzburgh's Avatar
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    Becoming a Gunsmith: Anybody here?

    I'll be going back to school next year when I'll be able to afford to be a pretty much full-time student. I'm trying to decide between two different majors (won't get into those) but thought about attending gunsmithing school as well on the side if it can fit into my schedule. It'd be more so a hobby but I'd also like to make money from it as well, even if just on the side. I'd like to really get to know firearms more intimately and have a better understanding of just how exactly everything works.

    I've checked out some schools, requirements and career "road maps" on it but I was curious if anybody here has attended and would like to hear some first person accounts, details, things I should know, etc.

    Thanks in advance.
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    Member Array ItalianSteel's Avatar
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    I'd love to know more about this too. I don't know about doing it as a trade per-se but I've always liked the mechanical aspect of guns (much like I appreciate fine analog watches). I'd love to attend some schools/classes just to have a better understanding myself.

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    blitzburgh

    There is a gunsmithing school right in Avalon, PA. 15202 on the "Death Stretch" (Ohio River Blvd.)
    Here go da link.

    Pennsylvania Gunsmith School: Pittsburgh PA

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    VIP Member Array blitzburgh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItalianSteel View Post
    I'd love to know more about this too. I don't know about doing it as a trade per-se but I've always liked the mechanical aspect of guns (much like I appreciate fine analog watches). I'd love to attend some schools/classes just to have a better understanding myself.
    That's exactly why I wanna do it. Career wise, I'll be focusing on my other schooling but would like to do this to know as much as possible about the arms I care so dearly for.
    "Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God." - Benjamin Franklin
    "Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn." - C.S. Lewis

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    VIP Member Array blitzburgh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QKShooter View Post
    blitzburgh

    There is a gunsmithing school right in Avalon, PA. 15202 on the Death Stretch (Ohio River Blvd.)
    Here go da link.

    Pennsylvania Gunsmith School: Pittsburgh PA
    Thanks! That's the exact one I'm thinking about attending actually. :)
    "Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God." - Benjamin Franklin
    "Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn." - C.S. Lewis

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    VIP Member Array blitzburgh's Avatar
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    And Death Stretch, you got that right when it comes to Ohio River Blvd
    "Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God." - Benjamin Franklin
    "Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn." - C.S. Lewis

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    VIP Member Array mprp's Avatar
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    Nice blitzburgh, and best of luck to you!
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    VIP Member Array blitzburgh's Avatar
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    Thanks!

    It'd be awesome if somebody who has gone through the course(s) could chime in and give their personal experiences.

    I'm really hoping I'll be able to juggle my schedule just right to fit in both since I doubt I'll have the time to do the gunsmithing classes after graduating.
    "Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God." - Benjamin Franklin
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    Call Braverman Arms Company. I have not been there in a while but, they have at least one great smith there and he can probably give you some helpful information about the school. It's worth a shot.

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    VIP Member Array blitzburgh's Avatar
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    Very much so appreciated, QKShooter.
    "Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God." - Benjamin Franklin
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    one of the best.....Colordado School of Trades. Had a friend that graduated from this program after 15 years in accounting and finance.
    Went to work for Beretta USA years ago. Wish I'd listened to him then and followed him into the program.

    Gunsmithing Schools - Lakewood - Colorado School of Trades
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    Blitzburgh -

    Your mailbox is FULL and another member is attempting to send you a message and is unable to do so.

    Please thin out your private messages in your mailbox.
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    VIP Member Array varob's Avatar
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    I looked into this a few years ago also as a hobby, and the gunsmith I spoke with said it helps if you are mechanically inclined and have a background or knowledge as a machinist.
    Don't believe what you hear and only half of what you see!
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    I looked into this a few years ago also as a hobby, and the gunsmith I spoke said it helps if you are mechanically inclined and have a background or knowledge as a machinist
    Definitely.

    There are two kinds of gunsmiths. There are the parts changers, which about 90% of them fall into, and then there are the gunsmiths that can do it all.

    Even so, there are many that specialize. There are so many different categories of guns out there that some choose to do just one thing and they do it well. An example. Some guys do nothing but target rifles and don't have a clue about making a .45 run.
    Others do nothing but AR's and know little else.

    We had a gunsmith here employed at one of the local shops that graduated from the Colorado School of Gunsmithing. He may have had the basic knowledge, but he was like a bull in a China cabinet. He ended up making people hate his guts. He took a Wilson Custom Combat that was brand new and put ball pein hammer marks all over the front of the slide to change out a front sight. It was pitiful, I saw it and couldn't believe it. He didn't have the basic tools to do what he needed to correctly do. He screwed up more stuff than he fixed, I was often employed to fix his screw ups.

    One thing that most people overlook, it the expense of tools. Its having the correct tools and the know how to use them that makes the difference. It wont do you any good to know how to re-barrel and re-chamber a rifle or blue print an action if you don't have the proper tools. Most of them cant do simple machine work. Having a mill or a lathe puts you way ahead of most people. Having the ability and the experience to use them puts you way, way ahead of most of them.

    Most gunsmiths underestimate the advantage of having a machinist background. Part of the school that you will go to will be about running lathes and mills. They are expensive and the equipment required to use them usually doubles the cost of tools.
    Basic essentials like tool bits, drill bits, mill bits, tools posts, tool holders, collets, vises, and everything required to support that will be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Having digital readouts on your equipment is a plus and will save much time and effort.

    Reputation (a good one) is very important. Once people find out that you are there and that you are actually capable of doing something, you will have more work than you can imagine. If you get into a nitch and do something that very few people do, you'll get backlogged but that's not a bad thing, its job security.

    I started out several years ago just to augment my retirement and have something to do. I did not anticipate the volume of work that I soon got. Right now I am several months out.

    Another thing to think about. If you can get into the Class 3 world, do it. The time is right. Suppressors, short barreled rifles and even shotguns are at an all time high. There are not a whole lot of Class 3 dealers. If you get into gunsmithing, go full out and become an 07 FFL ( a manufacturer) and get the 02 SOT, then you can do anything. Just selling suppressors to people that want them can be very profitable. If you happen to be the only guy for a long ways around, you will become the go-to guy on that stuff and people will search you out to throw money at you.

    I can not stress how valuable having a machinist background is. I don't mean a CNC Machinist that just pushes buttons, I mean one that can make a part from scratch, use the proper metallurgy, be able to hold some very fine tolerances. Those people are getting old and retiring and no one is stepping up into their shoes. Now that we have done away with vocational programs at high schools and colleges, people with that ability are fast disappearing and people with those skills can name their prices.

    Start by taking apart every gun you have and seeing what makes it tick. You soon figure out what tools you need to make your life easier and certain techniques of disassembly and re assembly. If you are mechanically inclined, you'll be able to figure out how to put stuff back together. Be advised, some times it not as easy as one thinks. I have had many people bring me guns that were in parts in plastic baggies that needed put back together. First one I ever got was a Ruger Mark 2 pistol in a plastic bag.
    Let me tell you that was a learning experience.

    If that's what you want to do, it can be an enjoyable experience. You'll gain valuable knowledge and if you enjoy what you are doing, you'll never "work" a day in your life.

    And one other thing. Some gunsmiths are the grumpiest people on the planet. Have a friendly personality and if you happen to have the gift of gab, your bank account will reflect it. You want people to enjoy coming to see you, not dread it.
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    HotGuns - You really said it all. 12 Stars for that great reply.

    On the bright side regarding Lathes and Milling machines etc. & related equipment - to where the OP resides...

    In the former "STEEL CITY" for a while there so many steel fabrication and specialty machine type shops were "going under" that lathes and mill/drills and other assorted machinery and machine shop equipment was being offered for sale at almost You Come And Haul It Out Of Here token prices.

    I don't know about nowadays but, there still remains a lot of used equipment in the Tri State Area as home hobby machinists get increasingly older.

    A lot of folks in Pittsburgh and surrounding area that worked in machine shops would take a lathe home and other related equipment when the place they worked at closed up.

    They still come up for sale occasionally when the Wife sez: Honey...WHEN are you going to get all that damn stuff out of the basement?!?
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