What Does A Gun Smith Do?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing Forum' started by s1mp13m4n, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. s1mp13m4n

    s1mp13m4n New Member

    Hello everyone. I am interested in guns, but I only know basics such as gun safety and cleaning. That is about it. I am going to college right now and am unemployed. Right now I am using school loans to supplement income. I am curious about being a gun smith. I have some questions. Can you make a supplemental income doing this? What are the most common jobs for a newbie? I have read that you need expensive hands on training and I have read that you can learn pro gun smith stuff from DVD and do not need a $20k shop for most everyday work, so which is true? I realize I would have to start at the bottom and clean guns and replace worn out parts with replacements parts. The truth is that I do not own gun smith tools and do not have machinist or welding knowledge. i would like advice from those in the trade or retired who can offer advice. For now i am looking at the AGI video program.
  2. Jpyle

    Jpyle New Member

    A top notch gunsmith is a machinist first and a gun expert second. I doubt that you will be able to learn the trade from a CD or a DVD. You may learn the answers to the test that is required to get a license but you will have zero hands on knowledge. Your best course of action is to learn at the knee of a master, sweep the floors in the shop if that is what is required to learn the trade. There are no shortcuts to being a journeyman machinest or a master gunsmith.

  3. s1mp13m4n

    s1mp13m4n New Member

    One thing I noticed is that with the AGI DVD course even the master gun smith guys learned from traditional schools back in the 50s and 60s before they worked in the trade and now teach through video. There are no schools near me plus I am taking online college and for now am a house husband with a wife and 4 year old daughter. There does not seem to be a gunsmith in my area that I am aware of.
  4. CGS

    CGS New Member

    If there were a school in my area I would have joined a long time ago. Sadly I would have my leave my job and family and travel out of state for 2 years, and that's not going to happen. Maybe if I were 18 again, but not now.

    Here is how I learned, a combination of AGI and tinkering with my own guns. A 40 minute AGI video is not going to teach you everything you need to know about a specific firearm. Their videos are a great head start, but not the answer to every firearm question you may have. I learned mostly by doing. Sure I would have made alot less mistakes by apprenticing under a master, but that just wasn't an option. Go buy some beater guns, get the corresponding AGI video, task yourself with a project, and do it.

    Fail, Fail and Fail again. I learn by making mistakes. I learn more from my failures what not to do, than I do from my successes. I hate to lose and I remember most of my mistakes. Mess up on your own beater guns and you will learn and immense amount of information. Take them apart completely. Leave no screw or nut or spring or detent in place. Then clean them, strip them, refinish them, and put them back together.

    That's how I learned. I wouldn't consider myself a master, but I do know my limitations. The 2 years as an apprentice mold maker (like a machinist) did help, but honestly I don't use my vertical mill all that much and have no room for a lathe.

    If you can't find a school, just go out and buy the cheapest beat up run down rusted and broken guns you can find, and start tinkering.
  5. JonM

    JonM Moderator

    true gunsmithing is a lost art. the original smiths could take a block of metal and a pocket knife and whittle out a gun in a few days...

    but seriously what most of us call gunsmithing is just putting parts in a gun and minor fitting of parts. gunsmiths of the past used to make the parts they needed to repair a firearm. modern manufacturing has pretty much eliminated that sort of thing.

    most people you see today that call themselves gunsmiths have no real gunsmithing degree or pedigree. there is no diploma you need to become one.

    over the years ive picked up enough knowledge working with my own firearms and some military training that im able to effect repairs on gun types ive never handled before. any trip to a gander mountain cabelas or bass pro and look at whom they call smiths and you will quickly see a distinct lack of real gun knowledge.

    what will help is a good understanding of just how guns work. once you understand how a revolver works, a semi auto pistol, lever gun, bolt gun, shotguns in semi/pump/break open work then you have a good basic background.

    one of the easiest guns to start with is the 1911 as it is easily detail stripped down to the last screw. learn how the parts work with each other learn what a sear does and how it interacts with the trigger and hammer as all guns no matter the design work off this principle.

    everything in the modern gun world is a varient of the sear/trigger/hammer relationship.

    if i need machine work done like lather or mill work i find a machinist as i dont have the space or desire or care to spend the money on those types of machine tools. i do have a bench grinder and drill press neither of which take up a huge amount of space and arent that pricey.

    my press and grinder let me do 95% of all i need to do along with a vice wood blocks hollow ground screw driver bits inch and foot pound torque wrenches roll pin and pin punches, softa nd hard hammers some small pliers of various types bubble levels and some specialty tool for things like ar15 barrels and recievers.

    anyway you can go in as deep or as little as you want. whats hard is getting a good enough reputation that people will trust you with their firearms.
  6. danf_fl

    danf_fl Retired Supporter

    Take a look at getting a part-time job in a military armory.
    You may have to get a background check and all the other stuff, but that works for you later on.

    Do a job search through the state's employment rosters and find out if there is a contractor handling the armory for the security detail.
  7. MisterMcCool

    MisterMcCool Well-Known Member Supporter

    They don't do anything quickly!
  8. hiwall

    hiwall Well-Known Member

    Now days starting out gunsmithing is way easier than in the past. With the internet many many things can be looked up so easy. Many places to buy parts from with a schematic right there online. Detailed takedown info on just about any gun is just a few clicks away. Have a gun problem that you can not quite figure out, just google it and odds are you can have it working in no time. You can see the parts prices and availability and so can tell your customer quickly how much and when parts will be in.
    Let me tell you it was way different in the 70's and 80's and early 90's when I was gunsmithing.
  9. dsstrpc_88

    dsstrpc_88 New Member

    I'm currently attending modern gun school....I would have loved to go to the big school in Colorado, but couldn't. Luckily, there's an old gunsmith in my town who is willing to teach me the tricks of the trade. Its definitely a big help having use of his facilities! (lathe mainly)
  10. Salvo

    Salvo New Member

    I play a lot of video games, and watch old westerns, mostly.

    Oh yes, and I eat a lot, too.
  11. clr8ter

    clr8ter New Member

    I think the 1st response was the best one. Assuming you're talking a full-line gunsmith. I have noticed that around here, most people who call themselves "gunsmiths" aren't. I honestly don't know where I would take my gun for some of the more critical repairs or upgrades.
    For instance, threading a barrel sounds easy. It was recently brought to my attention that if you don't make the threads concentric TO THE BORE, forget it. easy to make threads, hard to do it correctly.
  12. Axxe55

    Axxe55 The Apocalypse Is Coming.....

    being a true gunsmith is a passion and desire to work on firearms. it's a skill and vocation that takes years to learn, and is best learned from a master gunsmith as an apprentice. biggest problem is that few these days want to devote the commitment and the time it takes to truly learn as those before did.

    yes learning online and from DVD's will teach you some things and with the internet, it's easy to google many problems and find a solution to that problem. but it's no replacement for learning from a master and doing it hand on.

    and you're an unemployed father with a wife and a four year old? i don't mean to sound harsh, but trying to be realistic. you might think about finding another career that will allow you to better support your wife and child rather than trying to build a career in gunsmithing. even the few talented gunsmiths i know have full time day jobs and do it at night and on the weekends.