Discussion in 'Gunsmithing Forum' started by Mr.Borax, Nov 29, 2020.

  1. Mr.Borax

    Mr.Borax New Member

    I'm in my early 20's and i'm wondering how I could go about becoming a professional gunsmith. I've already purchased many books about gunsmithing. I don't have any guns though and I can't buy any(no money). I already kind of have a plan but I want to hear from people already in the gunsmithing hobby/industry. Please and thanks
  2. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator Lifetime Supporter

    Well, am NOT a smith in the sense of making a living at it, but have been going at it as an amateur for some time now. Couple of random thoughts for you-

    1. There are gunsmiths, and there are parts replacers. Replacer- customer breaks and extractor, you put in a new one. That's ducky as long as there is not an unresolved problem that will break the new extractor, AND there is a new extractor available. I like old guns- times I will need to take a bit of O-1 steel, a file, and start making a part I need- because nobody has a part for a .22 rifle made in 1906.
    2. You will need tools-proper screw drivers, and several type of punches- and a solid padded vise. Tools accumulate over the years.
    3. You need references. On line is OK, but ink on paper is better. My firearms reference bookcase is full.
    4. There have been 2 traditional means of learning a craft- go to school (like the Colorado School of Trades for smithing) or be an apprentice to someone that is already doing that. Add to that a 3rd route- electronic training. Quality varies, but allows you to study at your own pace.
    5. There is a major difference in WORKING as a smith, and running a gunsmithing business. You can be a great smith, lousy businessman, and lose your butt. If that is what you plan to do, better take some business classes.
    6. Smithing is working with wood, metal, and lately, synthetics. If you cannot afford junker guns to practice on, can you afford wood and metal? If you are learning how to finish a stock, or inlet for a barrel, you can practice on a scrap bit of beech, birch, walnut, etc. Learning how to checker? Find a bit of wooden closet rod.

  3. OLD Ron

    OLD Ron Well-Known Member

    In my experience it is a fun hobby .
    I fell into a good deal on a entire gunsmith shop & bought it with no idea what most of the tools did .
    In the winter I work on learning how to do what ever the gun needs . All of it takes practice to develop a skill well enough to have a nice finished gun .
    There are many skilled guys on the internet that will help & videos on how to do things too . Take advantage of there skills & find what works for you .
  4. microadventure

    microadventure Well-Known Member

    gunsmith seems to be a vague and nebulous term. there is no one clear distinct definition. I am willing to settle for armorer, capable with an AR-15 and things I own, and nothing else..
    Mr.Borax likes this.
  5. Mr.Borax

    Mr.Borax New Member

    Yes, thats what i'm thinking. Working at some gunstore as their armorer/gunsmith.
  6. Ozark Hillman

    Ozark Hillman New Member

    I have done some gunsmithing and attended a school 30 plus years ago. If I was going to do it all over again I would go to school to be a machinist then would find a good gunsmith to to an apprenticeship with.
  7. Txhillbilly

    Txhillbilly Well-Known Member

    To be a true gunsmith, you need to be a machinist first. If you don't know how to run / use an end mill & lathe, all you'll ever be is a parts changer when it comes to firearm's.
    Go to a trade school and learn how to be a machinist, then find a good gunsmith that will teach you the trade.
    Triumphman and Mr.Borax like this.
  8. Triumphman

    Triumphman Well-Known Member

    There's so much to not just read out of a book, but just the tools and equipment needed to become a smithy is very pricey, so you being so young is to your advantage.

    You need to first know how metal parts is made. This is where being a machinist comes in with lathe, mills, manual crank & electric hand drills all way up to drill press, routers, Dremels and their tool accessories, saws(wood & metal) and even the lowly hammer and nail.
    Hope you have a steady hand when it comes to taking a block of wood that could cost upwards of $500 due to its character, then using powdered sander(s) and your own hands to shape that wood into a rough form, then take wood carving, other(different) woods for forearm tip and heel along with epoxy and join up, make a comb and then checkering the wood and finally doing a TruOil or French Handrub finish, to turn that what is already expensive wood into a $1500 gun stock
    You'll also need to learn metallergy. This is knowing your metals and what's needed for making or repairing a part with welding, silver soldering, heat treating(if needed), then also learning about the different forms of "Blueing" from cold to hot acid(salt) dipped for whole guns or just sanding/polishing/buffing then metal treatment for spot blending after a repair.
    Nowadays there's the ceracoats, duracoats and other metal treatments and coatings.

    Gunsmithing is a beautiful hobby that takes days to read about, but a lifetime of being an apprentice at, since there's so much to learn.

    My dad was a "country" self-taught gunsmith. He had 30+ years of working as a machinist. Helped neighbors or the family with their gun mishaps. He made much of what he needed, such as bluing salt tanks, some carving/checkering tools, carved and shaped blank stocks to fit actions/barrels for hunting rifles he built. What I mean by built, he would purchase old Springfield 1903 30-06 mauser action rifles or abused Remington 700's and completely disassemble them down to the last nut and screw, cut the barrel if needed, then sand, polish, blue(or nickel finish) all needed parts and re-assemble until he had a finished product. I helped when I could and learned much from him. He had books -- man did he have books about everything that involved a gun from screw sizes and taps needed, bullet types from weight to length, to barrel types/bore diameters and best barrel twist(s) for type of bullet used.

    A gunsmith's life is always learning about not just the old stuff, but also what's new and shiny that comes along.

    Good luck Mr. Borax, you have a great life ahead of you if you continue into this much needed field. I have the talent to do my own gun fix and repairs today, but my age is against me to think about doing gunsmithing as a job.
  9. danf_fl

    danf_fl Retired Supporter

    There are a lot of lazy people out there who want their guns cleaned.
    Start there. The knowledge of how things go together and work can be learned.

    Get to know some of the smiths in your local area. They may be able to assist you. But remember, a smith is normally paid for what he knows.
    Rifling82 and Mr.Borax like this.
  10. echo1

    echo1 Active Member

  11. Notrighty

    Notrighty Well-Known Member

    My favorite gunsmith now deceased told me years ago almost half of his work came from bad smithing or owners trying to work on their own stuff. Stuck bullets from bad hand loads and jamming pistols cause they were put back together wrong. He said the guns are far more reliable than the people who mess with them. The day he said that I was there to drop off a rifle I had unsuccessfully tried to repair.
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  12. Mowgli Terry

    Mowgli Terry Well-Known Member

    The two old gunsmiths, now deceased, knew how to use files and hand tools. Did beautiful work.
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