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Old 12-09-2013, 07:45 AM   #1
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Suggestions on getting trained?

Any suggestions on getting certified/trained in gunsmithing? I have some personal experience with my own weapons but I want to eventually go into the business full time. Any suggestions on books, classes, and schools will be greatly appreciated.

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Old 12-09-2013, 04:52 PM   #2
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Consider this to be a partial "Dutch Uncle" talk about professional gunsmithing.
I'm sorry, but this is not what most people want to hear, but it's the truth:

My credentials: I was originally trained in a top trade school as a watchmaker, and worked a career in watchmaking and gunsmithing. My specialty was Colt double action revolver work, serving as a trade shop for other gunsmiths and stores.

By far the best way to become a pro gunsmith is to attend an actual top-rated gunsmithing school like Colorado School of Trades or Trinidad Junior College.

Unless you like giving people money for not much, don't even bother with the online or mail order schools, and unless you already have some near-professional level skills, the AGI video "Courses" are good only to show you enough to work on your OWN guns, NOT a paying customers guns.

As for the mail order, video, and especially internet "courses" consider this: If you were a pilot flying an aircraft in all sorts of bad weather, would you hire a aircraft mechanic who'd learned his business on an internet "class" given by god knows who?

A "Certificate" or "Degree" from internet or mail order "schools" is literally a dirty joke in the industry.
Apply for a job with one of these certificates, and you'll be lucky they don't laugh in your face as they pitch your resume in the trash.
Again, this is like a guy with an internet or mail order degree in jet engine mechanics applying to a major airline for a job.

You can take short courses in specific subjects at some of the schools, and the NRA offer short courses in summer type short schools.
Some gunsmiths like Cylinder & Slide Shop in Nebraska offer subject specific classes.
Most of these are intended for people who already know the basics.

Forget attempting to get armorers courses from gun makers like Glock or S&W.
Those are intended for law enforcement official armorers, and they are almost never open to gunsmiths who aren't department personnel.

Other options are apprenticing.
First you have to find a gunsmith who'll take you on.
Usually you get no pay and will often pay him instead. Few gunsmiths these days will take an apprentice.
Without some valid method of knowing the true skill level of the gunsmith you have no idea if he's a jack leg and is teaching you jack leg techniques.
Local reputation is NOT a valid indication of his skills, and he also has to know how to TEACH the skills. Not many can do both.

The best way to become a real pro these days is to go to a valid attendance school with a top reputation for turning out stone cold pros.
There are a number of good schools, but as above the two with the best reputation in the industry are School of Trades and Trinidad, both in Colorado.
Schools require at least two full years of hard study and cost A LOT of money.
These are for turning out real gunsmiths, not armorers and not casual hobbyists.
You need to have the intention of being a professional and willing to devote the time and money to attend school or don't waste your time.
In the top schools you don't just decide to attend. Class size is limited and they're picky. You may not be allowed to attend, or when you want to.

In short, if you're going to be a true pro gunsmith you need to be serious about it and willing to go to school. Everything else is pretty much a waste of time and money.

Owning your own gunsmithing business is an entirely different subject.
Suffice to say, MOST gunsmiths go broke in less then a year because they know little about running a serious business.
Gunsmithing is not a high profit occupation.

Here's the schools:

Colorado School of Trades
1575 Hoyt Street
Lakewood, CO 80215
Phone: 800-234-4594

Lassen Community College
P.O. Box 3000
Susanville, CA 96130
Phone: 530-257-4211

Modern Gun School
80 North Main Street, P.O. Box 846
St. Albans, VT 05478
Phone: 800-493-4114

Montgomery Community College
1011 Page Street
P.O. Box 787
Troy, NC 27371
Phone: 800-839-6222

Murray State College
One Murray Campus
Tishomingo, OK 73460
Phone: 580-371-2371

Pennsylvania Gunsmith School
812 Ohio River Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15202
Phone: 412-766-1812

Piedmont Community College
1715 College Drive
P.O. Box 1197
Roxboro, NC 27573
Phone: 336-599-1181

Pine Technical Institute
900 4th Street
Pine City, MN 55063
Phone: 800-521-7463

Trinidad State Jr. College
600 Prospect
Trinidad, CO 81082
Phone: 800-621-8752

Yavapai College
1100 East Sheldon Street
Prescott, AZ 86301
Phone: 520-776-2150

Last edited by dfariswheel; 12-09-2013 at 05:08 PM.
Old 12-10-2013, 11:47 AM   #3
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Thank you... Not looking for anything sugar coated just the truth. I appreciate the run down and I will most definitely look into one of these schools.

What is the expression...
"If you love what you do you will never work a day in your life"
Old 12-10-2013, 01:52 PM   #4
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Keep in mind that working as a gunsmith for the local range, gun shop or box store is less than glamorous and pays even less. Going rate where you are is $10-11 an hour. But, for the most part, you'll be mounting scopes and cleaning guns, maybe mounting new sights or a stock. Nothing more than parts replacement for 90% of work (50% is cleaning and that solves most of the problems anyway). Unless you specialize, get experience and develop a solid reputation in your specialty, gunsmithing is a pretty crappy business for most people.

You need to be dedicated to the life.

Old 12-10-2013, 02:27 PM   #5
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Well dedication is not really an issue lol It is better than working in politics as I have done for the last 5 years... I have a Political Science bachelors degree which is basically worth as much as anyone cares to listen to what I have to say...

Needless to say 5 years into that I became jaded and decided to use my passion for a more constructive cause. Working with guns here at the pawn shop has been nothing but rewarding... even if the reward isn't in terms of money lol

Honesty is always appreciated weasel...
Old 12-11-2013, 09:23 AM   #6
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Gunsmiths are like watchmakers, going the way of the DODO bird. I have been in LE for 40 years and worked for a pawn shop with an FFL for 25 of those. I collect Colt SAAs and custom 1911s. I work on them also. Would I want to be a private gunsmith? NO WAY! Now if I were younger and wanted a creer in it with benefits I would hit the schools mentioned then it would be a major manufacturer like S&W,Colt etc.

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