How do you become a gunsmith?

AfshinAfshin Member Posts: 17

So with retirement in sight, I've been thinking of doing part time gunsmithing. Based on some stuff I read on the internet, seems like apprenticing is the best way to go. Unfortunately, I don't see that route working for me since this is something I want to do on MY schedule during retirement (i.e. don't want a boss). Are there formal courses?

Hey forgemonkey, how did you get started? I definitely do admire your knowledge of the 1911's inner workings.


  • asphalt cowboyasphalt cowboy Member Posts: 8,572 ✭✭✭

    Two that come to mind are Colorado School of Trades out of Lakewood Co., and Lassen Community College out of Susanville Ca.

  • mark christianmark christian Forums Admins, Member, Moderator Posts: 22,961 ******
    edited November 22

    The easiest way was to have been in the military and let Uncle Sam train you. Failing that, you need to go to school. AGI, the American Gunsmithing Institute, being perhaps the best known. I've been a GB forum member for over 18 years, and while we've had a number of people say that they are going to take formal training, I don't recall any who actually completed the course. Good luck.

  • pulsarncpulsarnc Member Posts: 4,389 ✭✭✭

    Depends on your location . Two places come to mind in North Carolina . Lenoir community college and Montgomery community college. Both of which offer highly rated gunsmiths programs

    cry Havoc and let slip  the dogs of war..... 
  • chollagardenschollagardens Member Posts: 4,427 ✭✭✭

    I attended classes at Lassen Community College a long time ago. If I remember correctly I got the information from the NRA.

  • WarbirdsWarbirds Member Posts: 15,507 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November 22

    It is relatively easy to become a Glock Armorer & being as they only have a total of 35 parts with the magazine, that could be a good first step.

    If you can tear down a Glock the dozens of copies out there are not all that different.

    I think you must be a member of GSSF, and have $1,000 and 3 days to spend in Georgia.

    I have been meaning to do it just as something of interest to me.

  • Ditch-RunnerDitch-Runner Member Posts: 18,724 ✭✭✭

    there is (was ) a gunsmith I lived some what close too many years ago he did the "home school classes' to get his certification that was hanging on the wall of his shop I think it was from the old add's in the back of hunting and outdoor books "want to be a gunsmith "

    regardless he loved what he did and a decent fellow and gunsmith he always had a back log of customers and i never heard a complaint but that was 45 years ago , he had a small shop ( two car garage converted into his shop maybe )

    best of luck to you

  • Ricci.WrightRicci.Wright Member Posts: 1,759 ✭✭✭✭

    wow!! A thousand dollars for the Glock Armorers course?? They insisted I take one a few years back. We had been selling Glocks for almost 20 years and I kept a bunch of small parts in stock but had never been to the class even though it was free for us. I went to one in S.C. and it was pretty cool. You spend the first half of the day learning to repair the gun then go to lunch. The second half is just stories of all the dumb stuff folks have done with Glocks. Sticking them in the bath tub to see if they will shoot under water was one I recall.

    I attended a two day Sig pistol class maybe 15 years ago and it was much more detailed. I remember the final test was going up front and selecting all the parts you needed to build/reassemble a Sig 229 pistol. You had to get every part you needed the first time and you had a set time, 20 min.?? to turn the parts into a working pistol. I passed.

    I also did a S&W M&P class on the M&P pistols and that was good too.

  • Gregor62Gregor62 Member Posts: 2,473 ✭✭✭

    I wouldn't spend a nickel on training until you find out if you qualify for a class 1 FFL. It's a requirement to keep firearms overnight.

  • gesshotsgesshots Member Posts: 14,268 ✭✭✭
    edited November 22

    To work as a gunsmith, manufacturer or dealer, you need a federal firearms license, or FFL, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). This is the agency responsible for overseeing and issuing federal firearms licenses. A federal firearms license does not authorize you to carry a gun. - Wiki

    Best of luck !

    It's being willing. I found out early that most men, regardless of cause or need, aren't willing. They blink an eye or draw a breath before they pull the trigger. I won't. ~ J.B. Books
  • He DogHe Dog Member Posts: 48,597 ✭✭✭

    Mike Whiskey for one, became a gunsmith. Trinidad, Colorado has a well respected school.

  • BrookwoodBrookwood Member Posts: 7,858 ✭✭✭
    edited November 23

    I would never claim the title "gunsmith" but do enjoy being a hobby gun nut that started out mainly working on muzzle loading rifles and pistols.

  • bustedkneebustedknee Member Posts: 1,744 ✭✭✭
    edited November 22

    We have a couple guys near me who simply said, "I be a gunsmith!".

    They screw-up a scope installations on a regular basis.

    They would be better off just being an "agent" for real gunsmiths - send the gun off for the customer, receive it back then charge the customer a handling fee.

    I can't believe they misspelled "Pork and Beans!"
  • nononsensenononsense Member, Moderator Posts: 10,645 ******

    This topic always gets a lot of attention and responses because so many folks want to try their hand at 'part time gunsmithing'.

    There are three methods available to learn gunsmithing:

    1) Actual in classroom schooling. Usually through Community Colleges for two-year accredited programs. Non-profit educational learning. Hands-on training.

    2) Commercial gunsmithing courses, classroom and hands-on but they exist to make a profit whether you learn anything or not.

    3) Online courses for profit. They use a title of 'college' but they are simply a loose framework of what is referred to as gunsmithing courses. The hands-on aspect? You're on your own. Buy your tools and more importantly, your own machines.

    I suppose you can add apprenticeship although those opportunities are few and far between here in the U. S.

    Part time gunsmithing is what real gunsmiths do after retirement. What do you think you will be capable of actually doing after a couple of NRA short courses? You could always take a short course from a knowledgeable gunsmith who charges for it but you will only learn to work by rote, mimicking what they did without the background knowledge and experience.

    Real gunsmithing, whether part time or full time requires licenses and insurance. I have to carry a 2 million dollar policy just for liability... there is no escape for 'I can just do a little bit on the side'.

    Do some real research and don't forget about adding in the dollars required.


  • gesshotsgesshots Member Posts: 14,268 ✭✭✭

    YouTube is your FRIEND. Thousands of DIY tutorials, Ed Brown, Brownells and many other vendors will show you how to install their parts, which they hope you will purchase ... after all they are not communists !

    One other thing ... find yourself a copy of Gunsmithing - Roy Dunlap Amazon has NEW copies, Used can be had from many sources . You will info that hasn't been available for years ! Roy was best buddy's with the immortals of two generations past. Tom Shellhammer was his shop foreman!


    It's being willing. I found out early that most men, regardless of cause or need, aren't willing. They blink an eye or draw a breath before they pull the trigger. I won't. ~ J.B. Books
  • pulsarncpulsarnc Member Posts: 4,389 ✭✭✭

    Forgot to add this so here goes .... Eastern NC is full of military retirees. Army , navy , Air Force , you name it ! My general area is flooded with gunsmiths due to the proximity of a degree program at Lenoir Community College . All paid for by the gi bill type benefits . How much competition will be in the area you are considering going into business in . Just food for thought .

    cry Havoc and let slip  the dogs of war..... 
  • OkieOkie Member Posts: 352 ✭✭

    Just get a Dremel tool and a flat bastard file, start working on Savages, Mossbergs, and H&R.

    Not a great loss if you lose ground trying a repair on these makes.

  • us55840us55840 Member Posts: 31,589 ✭✭✭✭

    Spend a few years at a qualified gunsmith school and graduate in the top 2% of the class.

    Then spend several years as an assistant to an experienced, qualified gunsmith and learn all you can.

    Never forget --- after completing the above, you still still learn new things every day.

    Education is a learning process, sometimes by making mistakes, and takes place every day you are alive.

    "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it." Abraham Lincoln
  • BikerBobBikerBob Member Posts: 2,422 ✭✭✭

    You could look at old forum pictures and start by trying to emulate some Worls Class 10/22s.

  • Chief ShawayChief Shaway Member, Moderator Posts: 5,938 ******

    Yepper, when you can master drilling a hole out smaller, then you be a gunsmith.

  • AfshinAfshin Member Posts: 17

    Thanks for all the great advice gents, even the humorous ones. I'm afraid living in Dallas, Texas doesn't afford me with many educational choices. I haven't been able to find any local places that offer gunsmithing courses.

    I actually have quite a collection of tools (including a metal lathe) and not worried about the funding or getting the FFL. Also, this endeavor isn't geared towards making money to live on, but rather doing something I like and feeling useful during retirement. That's why working as an apprentice to a serious gunsmith who needs me to work on his schedule is not an option.

    Youtube has been invaluable. Not to toot my own horn, but I've gotten pretty good at doing some trigger jobs (I say some because I won't muck with the complex ones like a 1911). But Youtube only takes you so far.

  • Ricci.WrightRicci.Wright Member Posts: 1,759 ✭✭✭✭


    Says they are 13 miles from Dallas.

    The MT Training Center was established as a partnership in Grand Prairie, TX, on September 4, 2001.

  • WarbirdsWarbirds Member Posts: 15,507 ✭✭✭✭

    Dang! I know exactly where that place is. I thought it was a truck driving school only. It used to be an open garage. The type where they had every tool and lifts, etc and you paid for a space and did your own work on your car.

    Don’t speed in that area particularly on Marshall drive- it cuts through between HWY 360 & the toll rd and Grand Prairie’s finest have issued many tickets right there.

  • AfshinAfshin Member Posts: 17
  • Aztngundoc22Aztngundoc22 Member Posts: 2,125 ✭✭

    OK :

    Lets See :::

    I started 'working' on firearms while in early high school : basic stuff ( learning ) ,

    Went to local college ( machine tool & die ) very good base for 'smithing' ,

    worked under the wings of an fantastic 'smith' ( a couple of years worth of time ),

    took 'smithing' courses ( video & correspondence ) ,

    Went to several 'armory' & factory sponsered ' classes !

    Read , Read , Read & Read !!!!!

    Im now 62 & retired !

    I miss the 'smithing' , and still learning !!!

    Good Luck !

    Thanks !!!

    The more people I meet : The more I like my Dog :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

    I Grew Old Too Fast (And Smart Too damn Slow !!!) !!! :o :?
  • AfshinAfshin Member Posts: 17
    edited November 23

    Oh, I plan to keep reading and learning, and not just about gunsmithing. But I have to admit that I find it very relaxing working on guns. I guess I want a reason to be able to tell my friends that now they'll have to pay me to work on their guns 😉

  • Mr. PerfectMr. Perfect Member Posts: 59,619 ✭✭✭✭

    So apparently it's not just guessing which parts will fit together and reaming holes smaller any more.

    Some will die in hot pursuit
    And fiery auto crashes
    Some will die in hot pursuit
    While sifting through my ashes
    Some will fall in love with life
    And drink it from a fountain
    That is pouring like an avalanche
    Coming down the mountain
  • MIKE WISKEYMIKE WISKEY Member Posts: 9,296 ✭✭✭

    "Mike Whiskey for one, became a gunsmith".............thanks, (no 'H' ;-) ). 3 years army as a 45b20 (small arms repairman) 2 years in 'Nam. The m-16 was 'new', we 'blew' up several conexis full of them 😋. Started my own shop when I got out & bought tools as I could afford them. Helped several 'youngsters get started. subscribed to just about every gun magazine out there and many books (you have to like to read!). Retired several years ago (wife unit likes warm winters) but still do my 'own' work and part time at local gun shop in Az. U-tube is for anything "black and plastic", I hit the guns shows for 'rescue-me' type guns. I guess what I'm trying to say is "if you haven't 'lived' guns up to now it is too late to start. the junk the factories are barfing out now aren't worth fixing. If you want, pick a 'specialty', 1911's, m-98 mausers', ect. and learn all you can about only them.

  • Butchdog2Butchdog2 Member Posts: 1,193 ✭✭✭

    First and foremost, a good memory.

    Second, take Ruger Mk- 1, 2, or 3 apart and put back together with eyes closed.

    Third, loose and find that elusive cylinder pin and spring in the dark at least 20 times and you are set to begin.

  • buddybbuddyb Member Posts: 3,857 ✭✭✭

    Most of the real gunsmiths around here were also good machinist and they found out that there is more money and steady work in being a good machinist than a gunsmith.

  • AfshinAfshin Member Posts: 17

    Good Memory - Check

    Ruger MK Hell - Hate doing it with my eyes open

    Lose and Find springs and pins - Check Check Check ...

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