i wanna be a gunsmith

Discussion in 'Maintenance & Gunsmithing' started by gunslinger1911, Mar 7, 2011.

  1. gunslinger1911

    gunslinger1911
    WA state
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    Been doing all my own work for a while now on a short list of pistols and rifles...I want to learn more! Anyone have a shop where i could help out a little? Maybe let me push a broom around and learn some tricks of the trade? I work hard and learn fast and would be an asset to anyone that would take me in! Is there a Gunsmith school around here anywhere??? :D
     
  2. MarkAd

    MarkAd
    Port Orchard
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    the best one is in Colorado.
     
  3. MountainBear

    MountainBear
    Sweet Home, OR
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    The best two are in Colorado. Colorado School of Trades and Trinidad. Trinidad has been getting consistently better over the years. CST seems to yo-yo between excellent and just good.

    Get your training there and you'll be ready to apprentice with an experienced smith. Only had a few friends go straight from school to their own shop. Only know of one who's been relatively successful. The rest closed up and went to work for other established shops.
     
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  4. deadeye

    deadeye
    Albany,OR.
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  5. Silver Fox

    Silver Fox
    Puyallup, WA
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    Gunslinger-

    Are you a disabled Veteran with a rating of over 30%?

    SF-
     
  6. billdeserthills

    billdeserthills
    Cave Creek, Arizony
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    Funny cause I never heard of no Gunsmith License before?
     
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  7. gunslinger1911

    gunslinger1911
    WA state
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    no?

    ...and thank you to everyone who responded...i will be sure to follow up on these leads :D
     
  8. HollisOR

    HollisOR
    Rural OR, South of Dallas
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    2X,

    There are associations. The American Gunsmithing Association. A good place to ask is the people at Brownells. Also a piece of paper is just that. The quality of work speaks for it self. There are videos and classes, pros and cons to all of them. There are general gunsmiths and specialty gunsmiths. There are some that are Machinists, a very good skill to have. Specializing is the easiest route to go, but work may be slim at first.

    There are people who will take your money. Also you need to asses your skills and abilities.
     
  9. Silver Fox

    Silver Fox
    Puyallup, WA
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    Gunslinger-

    I only asked because the VA VOC REHAB will pay for the enhanced master gunsmith program from AGI. There is a wealth of knowledge, tools and reference material you get in the deal. I am in the same boat you are in and I will give you some tips.

    1. your age. If you are under 30 you will have some challenges. Some guy who is 40+ with a high dollar firearm will be reluctant in dropping off his baby with you.

    2. machining, lathe, refinishing (metal and wood), welding, grinding, filing all require motor skills of the hands. Pick one to learn and then move onto another. You literally need to train your hands.

    3. Read books. There are many references out there and just like auto mechanics you can't remember all the ins and outs of each firearm. You need books and as cheesy as it sounds get a book on firearm disassembly, pick a firearm and learn how to disassemble it yourself. If you don't have the firearm, but a used one and follow the directions. EDIT: confidence of your own skills is very important. You need to learn to tame that nasty inner voice of lack-of-confidence. If you are nervous about it your customers will be nervous too. Its O.K. to loose a spring, get used to it all the gunsmiths have lost springs, just be prepared to replace it or spend time really looking for it. Hint: extendable magnet wands from Harbor freight will be your friend.

    4. Start budgeting and buying gunsmith tools. If you found a smith to apprentice with he will be most impressed if you have at least your own basic tools. I am thinking under $300.00 will get you started. EDIT 2.0: If you are serious about this, start looking at your monthly finances and budgeting for accordingly. If you have a $60.00 a week smoking habit maybe its time to quit.

    5. Learn a sub-project of gunsmithing and hone in on it. For example: wood stock refinishing. Who does it anymore? The old timers are fading out (very sad but true) and the new guys are only around plastic. Checkering is another.

    6. Keep pictures of everything you work on. They will speak volumes of your work and you can go back and see how you progressed.

    I've been doing an 'internship' at South Ridge Arms for awhile now and I've learned a lot but it isn't a drop in the bucket for what I want to learn. I've been into firearms since I was 17 and am 40 now and have quite a collection and have worked the gunshows for years with 23 years in the National Guard, I still don't know enough. ALso there is the whole running a small business aspect (learn quickbooks if you go at it alone) too.

    If you want, PM me your email address and I can recommend you some very basic tools you will want to get to make fewer mistakes than I did.

    SF-
     
  10. HollisOR

    HollisOR
    Rural OR, South of Dallas
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    Silver Fox, well said. IMHO, specializing helps to acquire the skills faster. Doing everything, is a endless study.
     
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  11. buick455

    buick455
    se portland
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    Do you want to be a gunsmith as a job or a hobby? If you don't see gunsmithing as a fruitful career then my sugestion would be to look into the Machinist classes at you local community college. Because you will learn how to run a mill and lathe, while also using precision measuring tools. And while the job market seems like there are no jobs available most people miss that there are many manufacturing facilities that have rec's out for skilled machinist and can't fill the openings ( trust me I know I'm in the business )

    If you become a good manual machinist then gunsmithing is about tayloring you skills to specific tasks like hand fitting barrels and bedding stocks.
     
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  12. Wizkeybear

    Wizkeybear
    Se Indiana
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    I'm approved for Voc Rehab but counselor is telling me they won't pay for gunsmithing school. I'm trying to do the AGI course because I can't move for school. Any helpful information?
     
  13. NWCustomFirearms

    NWCustomFirearms
    Gunsmith,Vancouver
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    Holy crap I sincerely hope that site is a joke! LOL

    The two schools are probably your best bet, I went to CST in Denver and I know someone there right now. AGI home video course is good for some general knowledge but probably not your best bet for training. Do NOT use youtube as your sold source of gun training! LOL If I had to do it again, I would take machining and welding classes before attending CST.
     
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  14. cd123

    cd123
    Seattle
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    C.A.R. Firearms was looking for an unpaid intern. You could learn a lot. They know what they are doing and it would be cheaper than school.
     
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  15. rcnpthfndr

    rcnpthfndr
    E. Washington
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    SF brings up a lot of good points that should be heeded. i would add this is my own opinion and under the assumption you want to go solo eventually.

    1. don't go cheap on tools
    2. refinish in house IE; park, cerakote, durakote, case color hardening, wood refinishing, etc.
    3. work to master a type IE: tactical bolt, benchrest, FTR, cowboy action, 3-gun, etc.
    4. get a C&R license; you can send them to brownells, midwayusa and other gun parts places and get a discount on tools, parts etc while you are figuring out what ya want to do.
    5. attention to detail. this will make or break your reputation.
    6. communication. be BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) with the customer and listen to what it is they want.
    some people cant handle the wait and will harass you weekly if not daily. some people dont know what it is they exactly want and will go back and forth even after you have ordered parts. then there's guys like me who you tell the wait will be 18 months, i will see ya when the time comes. you cant work on my stuff if i have you on the phone everyday.

    at the end of the day, pick a school or training then work for someone who is building what your discipline is before you go solo.
     
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  16. PDXSparky

    PDXSparky
    Keizer / Hillsboro
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    Community college for machinist school if available in your area would be a great start down the road to gun smith.
     
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  17. JRuby

    JRuby
    St. Helens Oregon
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    I thought for a long time I would like to become a gunsmith but the reality is I don't have the time with my other projects. I have a good carreer in IT and hence am willing to pay a good gunsmith for thier service. I am a better customer than I could be a gunsmith especially when it comes to the pros like Vezley and Mountain bear and others.
     
  18. Medic!

    Medic!
    What just happened?
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    No need to be a master.

    It's never a bad Idea to know how to do a bit of everything.
    The more the better.

    You never know when ''You'' might be all you have. ;)
     
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  19. v0lcom13sn0w

    v0lcom13sn0w
    45th Parallel
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    ^^this. when i started my career in the automotive industry, all i had was a box of tools and prior experience... no formal training, no ASE certs, nothing. just a guy who liked working on cars. i did work for an independent shop part time for a couple years shadowing a technician.

    i remember in my interview, i was asked of i had ASE certs. i said no. then, my boss said "ASEs dont fix the car, to me(my boss) they dont mean sh!t. ive hired some complete idiots that were "master certified." he hired me with some specultion so he put me on the express lube for a short time to see how i did and go from there. immediately, i let me work speak for itself. for the last 7 years i have grown into a (what i consider)competent technician. i learn new things almost every week and only hope i'll learn as much as some of our senior techs have forgotten.

    i still dont have all my ASE certs. i have 5.
    also, i do have over 300 GM specific certifications but thats just what they are... pieces if paper. it looks good but thats it.

    IMO, no amount of certifications will make a guy do better work. integrity, hands on experience and good customer relations is all that matters in real life.

    sorry kind of off topic but i can kind of relate to a guy who wants to start in a very hands on trade. i wish you the best OP! good luck!!
     
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  20. NCW_Robert

    NCW_Robert
    Wenatchee
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    It would seem this is a good route... but....

    Where I live we have a community collage and about 3 yrs ago they started a machinist program. I attended the opening. I met up with some old friends, one a local CEO who was sponsoring the class via donating a CNC mill.

    I found out their 2 yr course was 20k.... I was like WAIT, WHAT? the person from the school I was talking to immediately said "we got financing", I was kinda disgusted as I am a huge cheapskate.

    So I while I do recommend you go the learn to be a machinist route [I am one] I question spending a ton of $$ on it like my local community collage would have you do if you showed up there. Try though as maybe your local community collage don't have their heads up their arse on the cost of the class.

    Maybe try this, place an ad in your local Craigslist asking for local machinist to mentor you on becoming a manual machinist.

    A few months ago I needed help with machining a part for my mill, since it was my mill and it would be "apart" I could not do it myself.

    Placed a Craigslist ad and about 5 different local machinist contacted me and offered help.

    The guy who I finally chose was a retired master machinist, he took up dealing in machinery as a hobby after he retired. He was a target shooter extraordinaire who could build his own guns from scratch if he wanted. I actually ended up buying an old but serviceable bridgeport mill from him for "far far" less then anything I ever seen listed locally in craigslist rather then doing the mods to my crappy bench top mill. Deals are got by knowing the right people many times.

    So maybe you can try that, place an ad in Craigslist saying you would like to learn to become a machinist and would like a mentor. If some one contacts you tell them you would like to learn to be a manual machinist with an eye towards Gunsmithing.

    I would not mention gunsmithing in the ad up front or your ad might get flagged and removed.

    Advise: do not take the ad down after one person contacts you, leave it up. Nothing wrong with working with multiple local people and you might find that one "golden" opportunity like I did to meet up with the perfect person plus make a new friend.

    Learning to be a manual machinist is pretty much mandatory if you want to be a gunsmith. You can only do so much with a file or grinder and tools. Very soon you will need a lathe or mill do get your gunsmithing jobs done.

    Good luck with what ever direction you go, it will be fun.

    ~
     
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