gunsmithing schools?
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Old 03-07-2009, 12:08 AM   #1
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Default gunsmithing schools?

im interested in going to school for gunsmithing but i want something a bit more serious then community college courses.
i found out about the school in PA but i havent heard about any others.
im looking for a program that is full time.
can anyone help me out?
thanks for your time.

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Old 03-07-2009, 01:53 AM   #2
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Brownell's has a current listing of schools. I can only speak for CST and Trinidad since they are the only ones I have experience with. Here is a link to the list.
Brownells - World's Largest Supplier of Firearm Accessories and Gunsmithing Tools

David

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Old 03-07-2009, 09:31 AM   #3
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Hi,

There are a few schools in the US. The best one probably being the one in Trinidad, Colorado. I had a guy work with/for me who graduated from there and he was pretty sharp on knowledge.

The Colorado School of Trades also has a gunsmithing program but I think they are a bit behind the times. The practices they teach are a bit archaic. I had five guys working for me from this school and they all had to be reprogrammed a bit.

The dilemma you are faced with in this trade is that it's a cottage industry so if you want to try and make a full time living out of it, be prepared to have a humble existence. You aren't going to get rich that is for sure. I'm not trying to discourage you but just be realistic. The fluff they give you at school about graduating into a 60K/year job is BS. There are exceptions of course but the chance of landing a top paying job like that right out of school with no experience is pretty unrealistic.

Everyone in this culture knows a local gunsmith who'll do it on the cheap. He's a guy in his garage/basement. That is where the challenge is for someone at it full time. You have to compete with that guy and it's not easy. For all the indulgences we like to have, the percentage of folks who'll spend real money on a gun is low.

I charge a thousand bucks to stock a rifle. The average guy is going to scoff at that because he can buy a whole new rifle for that much money. I have no problem getting the work mind you but it took me about 6 years in this trade before I had the experience/reputation to get there.

If it's what you really want then I wish you all the best. I don't want to see anyone fail. Just have realistic expectations.

Good luck,

Chad

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Old 03-07-2009, 09:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LongRifles, Inc. View Post
Hi,

There are a few schools in the US. The best one probably being the one in Trinidad, Colorado. I had a guy work with/for me who graduated from there and he was pretty sharp on knowledge.

The Colorado School of Trades also has a gunsmithing program but I think they are a bit behind the times. The practices they teach are a bit archaic. I had five guys working for me from this school and they all had to be reprogrammed a bit.

The dilemma you are faced with in this trade is that it's a cottage industry so if you want to try and make a full time living out of it, be prepared to have a humble existence. You aren't going to get rich that is for sure. I'm not trying to discourage you but just be realistic. The fluff they give you at school about graduating into a 60K/year job is BS. There are exceptions of course but the chance of landing a top paying job like that right out of school with no experience is pretty unrealistic.

Everyone in this culture knows a local gunsmith who'll do it on the cheap. He's a guy in his garage/basement. That is where the challenge is for someone at it full time. You have to compete with that guy and it's not easy. For all the indulgences we like to have, the percentage of folks who'll spend real money on a gun is low.

I charge a thousand bucks to stock a rifle. The average guy is going to scoff at that because he can buy a whole new rifle for that much money. I have no problem getting the work mind you but it took me about 6 years in this trade before I had the experience/reputation to get there.

If it's what you really want then I wish you all the best. I don't want to see anyone fail. Just have realistic expectations.

Good luck,

Chad

im not looking to make a killing i just want to be financially comfortable.
gunsmithing would be like my dream job i love fixing things and i love guns. im looking for the right school and im gonna try to persue this if it don't work then i can always fall back on the electrical trade and do gunsmithing on the side.
thanks for your advice i really appreciate it
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Old 03-08-2009, 02:35 PM   #5
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there are also nitch markets in every area. In my area you can make good money making turkey shoot guns, barrels, and chokes. A turkey shoot is target shooting with shotguns. I know guys that have spent in upwards of $3000 on a shotgun based on a savage rifle action and a 2" diameter barrel with a laminated stock and lots of aluminum.

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Old 03-09-2009, 09:57 AM   #6
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Then the School down in Trinidad is probably your best bet for a formal education then.

Another option is through LE departments. Become a cop, go to armorer school. It's not really "gunsmithing" but you still get to tinker a little.

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Old 04-04-2010, 10:53 AM   #7
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Do you think the chances are better if one lives in an area such as mine. We have one gunsmith, who is older and wants to retire, working within at least a 50 miles radius. I would suspect there are a few parts swappers, working in basement, garages and even tabletops, who like to be called gunsmiths and even with their lack of knowledge would fit into the overall competetion for $$. But in my area it truly seems the true gunsmiths are dying off and not being replaced. A fearful trend. So I am at a place in my life to attempt something like this and I have never been rich, the only time I make 60K a year I hated the butts I had to kiss on idiots of those that slept into their job. I made it 5 years and that was about 5 years too long. prior to that I spent most of my life as a police officer and went to S&W armorer school and firearms was my real job. Got Cancer, they cured it but cure took away 60% of my hearing, no more police work. Need something new I can love doing...

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Old 04-04-2010, 04:13 PM   #8
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I have watched several friends and acquaintances try the business. None of them lasted 4 years. The business is hard. Moving away from issues such as liability for when there is an AD or a UD on a gun you worked on (there is insurance for that), and the costs of safes (customer.s guns require secure storage), and customers who drop off a gun for repair and never come back or refuse to pay (can we say mechanic's lien?), unless you are niche industry, there is an incredible wealth of tools and spread of knowledge required. Most of us know how to drop in a spring set, or swap out a grip. In some areas there are gunsmiths (just about anyone can buy a mail order gunsmith license from ATF as there is no test associated with the license and that and a general business license is enough in some towns to make the claim) that open with the expectation of nothing but parts jobs. But it is more than that. While you may indeed get a customer who just wants you to slide an adjustable sight into the dovetail on his 1911a1 clone, you may also get one who comes in with a cracked frame in need of some careful TIG welding with appropriate metals, re-polishing and re-bluing. Another comes in with an off brand revolver out of time followed by someone with a double rifle whose barrels no longer hit to the same point. Then there is the guy who brought in some guns that were in a house fire (pass on that job..) and the guy with the M-1 that every once in awhile goes full auto (check the hammer hooks). How good are you with a mill and a lathe? Are you good enough to make a new sear for the gentleman with a Glisenti 1910 with a broken sear (since Jack First is out of them) of the proper hardness? Can you make a slightly oversized hand for a Colt Police Positive or a new barrel bushing for a Colt 1903 v2? Can you make a funny shape leaf spring? Do you know why many pre 1940 Colt 380s frequently jam and what the simple fix is? Don;t forget sales tax, they will padlock the doors if you do.. Do you know the difference between a floated barrel and half floated or full bedded? Can you inlet a stock or checker wood?

I know one individual who bought the entire video collection on gunsmithing thinking that was enough to qualify him to open a shop and take in customers. Too bad only about 1/3 of his customers had work in line with the videos.

Now if you have all the knowledge, eye and hand coordination, and have a secure shop with all of the use once every 8 months (for 4 minutes) tools, and the lesser tools, can heat reat and also have good business acumen, then yes. As soon as the word spreads they will beat a path to your door and you will quickly become backed up with more work than you can handle for six months.

I met a retired S&W foreman once. He had a gunsmith shop. Weird hours by appointment only. He had a 5 shot Model 24 that was a joy to hold. Except it wasn't made by S&W. It was made by him, entirely from bar steel and memory. A non-standard 4.75" bbl cause that is what he wanted in it. He cut the frame, drilled and reamed the cylinders, made it a triple lock, but with 4 screws, heat treated what needed heat treating, made the springs, and rifled the barrel for 260 grain loads. The fit of the parts was perfect and the join for the side panel was almost invisible. He said it took him about 4 years then he shipped it to a friend and had it blued (back door) at S&W to get the proper S&W color. When he was done, he felt he was ready to open a shop. He wanted nothing to do with autos though. He specialized in S&W and Colt revolvers. Sadly he only had about a 10 year run before illness took him away.

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Old 04-04-2010, 06:44 PM   #9
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Well said Superc. You speak directly from experience. I could add an endless list but I think the OP gets the idea. It's been so long I've lost touch on which schools are the best these days.

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Old 04-04-2010, 06:52 PM   #10
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Here is my thoughts. I went to CST in Lakewood. Graduated with a great GPA, even was hired to teach after graduating. Finally went to work for a gunsmith, and dang near starved to death working for him. I worked for 50% of the labor charges. Since he had not raised his prices in 15 years, I did not make much. That said, it is a passion of mine, and I will not quit doing it, but it will be part time, with a different Full Time job, to keep the bills paid.

Oh, and be prepared for sticker shock. 20 grand is a lot to spend on a trade school.

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