Are you interested in pursuing a career as a gunsmith? Do you want to be sure that you know the most important information about this career? Well, you are in the right place; keep reading to learn the most pertinent information that will help you make up your mind about this occupation. As a gunsmith you will be considered an expert at all things related to firearms; this will include you manufacturing, repairing, and modifying guns. While you have a couple of options that will provide you with the necessary training to work in this field, you may also find it necessary to continue to add to your skills set so that you will be abreast of changes in this industry.
In order to be trained as a gunsmith you will likely want to complete an Associate of Science degree at your local college or university. It is important to note that within your associate’s degree program you will have the opportunity to specialize in repair or gunsmithing. Keep in mind, it is also possible for you to complete a certificate program in this field of study. An associate’s degree will be designed to teach you how to efficiently use, handle, and repair a wide variety of guns, how to perform stock work, and how to appropriately use the tools that are involved in the gunsmithing process. For instance, you will learn how to use installation jigs, stock blanks, gun cleaning kits, and gauges.
A degree or certificate gunsmithing program such as this will consist of primarily hands-on, laboratory type classes. Since this is a formal degree program you will also be required to complete general education courses. Within your curriculum you can likely expect to be required to complete classes like: the fundamentals of machining, stock making, handgun technology, riflesmithing theory, and gun repair. After completing a formal degree program you can also choose to complete a certification program. Typically, there are certification programs offered in areas of long gun machining, riflesmithing, gunsmith machining, and pistolsmithing. Although specific coursework may vary in order to allow it to fit specific types of guns, you can likely expect to be required to complete classes such as: arc wielding, barrel fitting, metal finishing, stock fitting and finishing, handgun technology, and gunsmithing technology. Take a few minutes and peruse the site in search of schools that particularly appeal to you. Feel free to request a complimentary information packet from any of the schools that you are interested in so that you will be better able to make an informed decision about your educational future. With your training in the field of gunsmithing it will be possible for you to work in the fields of gunsmithing, sports management, gun repair, or gun manufacturing.
A gunsmith does not build or sell guns. He or she is a craftsperson who repairs, designs and maintains firearms. A gunsmith will also personalize a firearm with engraving. This requires a variety of skills, including designing custom gun parts and modifying a firearm to suit individual needs. The skills required of a gunsmith include being a woodworker, metalworker, artisan and blacksmith. An aptitude with working with your hands is necessary. The work of a gunsmith must be precise, as even a small error can cause of firearm to malfunction. A gunsmith must pay attention to even the smallest detail.
Repairing a firearm will include cleaning, checking for damages, lubricating and putting the gun back together. Any faulty, cracked parts should be replaced. Barrels can easily become worn and no longer function accurately, so they should be replaced or changed to a different caliber. A gunsmith should also prevent accidents by checking the firearm’s safety mechanism. To prevent corrosion, a gunsmith can apply corrosion-resistant chemicals. Obviously, the greater the gunsmith’s knowledge, the greater he can repair a gun to perfect safety levels. Many gun collectors cherish old firearms or family heirlooms and want them restored to prime condition. They have tremendous sentimental value. That can be difficult if wear and tear has caused considerable damage. A gunsmith will determine whether the firearm can be restored to necessary safety standards. While it may not be possible to restore the firearm to full shooting capability, the gunsmith can clean the firearm and restore its former polish with custom engraving that can restore the original beauty, if not the old functionality. Wood can be chemically cleaned to bring back the original luster, and old dents can be removed. Sometimes, gunsmiths become artisans.
Dealing with firearms is highly regulated by the government, and gunsmiths are required to work within those legal parameters. This can involve considerable paper work. Gunsmiths must verify the identity of each gun buyer and adhere to the required waiting period. In addition, gunsmith need to make owners aware of the importance of gun safety. Safety is such an important issue many gunsmiths offer classes on the subject to their customers. There are also laws distinguishing firearm repair and firearm manufacturing, and the difference isn’t always clear. If a gunsmith’s work falls into the manufacturing category, he or she will require a special manufacturing license, in addition to the firearm license. For example, if a gunsmith purchases a gun and makes alterations on his own with the intent of reselling, a manufacturing license would be required. Also, a gunsmith who creates gun frames and sells them to a manufacturer for assembly and resell also would require a manufacturer license. When in doubt, a gunsmith must be sure to understand and follow the necessary legal requirements. Basically, any change to a firearm intended for resale required a manufacturing license.
To become a gunsmith requires a love of firearms, manual dexterity and mechanical aptitude. Replacing old parts and modifying them can result in an entirely new gun. Frequently, this means returning the firearm to proper safety conditions. Sometime, a gunsmith will simply take a poorly-made gun and turn it into a masterpiece. When working for a gun manufacturer, a gunsmith can draw up blueprints for an entire new type of firearm. In effect, a gunsmith can bring his own vision to reality. The desire for a personalized gun is more prevalent among the affluent, so a gunsmith would need to work within that social strata. This has been and remains a growing trend in gunsmithing. Designing just a few custom-made firearms each year for customers who can afford this luxury can bring in several tens of thousands of extra income each year. Another customer base for original rifle designs is professional target shooters and hunters, who demand extremely accurate firearms. A gunsmith can also be act as an expert as to the condition and value of a firearm.
Since gunsmiths work with precision tools and machinery, a background in woodworking, shop, and drafting is an excellent starting point. You will be measuring parts, so a good knowledge of math is necessary. These classes can be taken in high school or at community colleges. Many gunsmiths get their training in apprenticeship programs under the sponsorship of a Master Gunsmith. These apprenticeships are conducted under the auspices of the Association of Gunsmiths and Related Trades and usually comprise up to 8,000 hours of work experience. This is an opportunity for an experienced gunsmith to pass on his or her knowledge to a novice.
A gunsmith apprentice learns to use the necessary tools of the trade and is instructed in safety procedures, especially when working with cutting tools and drills. He or she learns how to build and design gun parts and modify and repair all parts of a gun. Apprentices usually work for fairly low wages during their training period, but they can expect an increase commensurate with increased experience. Upon satisfactory completion of the gunsmith apprenticeship, the apprentice earns a professional gunsmith certificate. There are no four-year degree programs for gunsmiths, but some community colleges offer two-year associate degree programs. An associate degree will include a general education courses, as well as classes that provide hands-on training with many types of firearms, classes in repair, design and gun customization. This includes both wood and metal crafting. Many of these classes are held in a factory environment. Students also are trained in selling guns and managing a gun shop. Most associate degree programs have classes leading to certification.
On-line programs in gunsmithing can range from five months to a year. The curriculum includes safety procedures for handling, repairing and customizing firearms. Some classes will focus on specific types of weaponry, such as automatic, semiautomatic, shotguns and rifles. Any gunsmith program will require that you pass a background check. Associations such as the National Rifle Association provide the opportunity to learn from more experienced gunsmiths and grow a business by networking. Any gunsmith program, whether for a few months or two years, prepares the graduate for the necessary licensing. A total different route to gunsmith training, and one that is free, is for army personnel to train as small arms repairers. This will lead to gunsmithing certification. The certification will be administered by a non-military agency. To qualify, military students can take a 13-week online course. Those who have completed the course can repair small firearms and supervise other personnel doing repairs. They will inspect small firearms and diagnose malfunctions.
Obtaining a Federal Firearms License (FFL)
All gunsmiths are requirements to get a federal firearms license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. You must be 21 years or older to qualify for an FFL license. Different firearm types require difference licenses. This license is not a gun-carry permit. It only allows the gunsmith to hold someone else’s gun for repair, maintenance or sale. After you submit the application, you will be contacted for an interview. An agent will inspect your work area, which must be separate from your residence. Safety procedures call for firearms to be safely locked away when not being handled, so a locked storage area is needed. Compliance with the FFL license requires detailed records for each individual firearm. You will also undergo a background check to verify fingerprints and citizenship and lack of any previous felony convictions. The fee for an FFL license is $200. The FFL license allows a gunsmith to transfer (not sell) firearms to another FFL licensed gunsmith. This can happen when:
1. The purchaser of the firearm lives in a different state than the seller.
2. The purchaser buys a gun at an out-of-state auction.
3. The purchaser buys a firearm from an out-of-state dealer.
Job Opportunities for Gunsmiths
The number of firearms owned keeps increasing each year. There are hundreds of millions of firearms owned by individuals and law enforcement agencies. This means an abundance of jobs for gunsmiths who maintain and repair these firearms. Gun manufacturers require skilled gunsmiths for repairs on guns under warranty. Working for a gun manufacturer can lead to advancements in management and design areas. A gunsmith working in the manufacturing arena can also teach at gunsmithing programs and schools. Federal and local government law enforcement agencies require gunsmiths. These are jobs with excellent salaries and benefits. A gunsmith working in a gun manufacturer’s factory can work him or herself up to a manager and supervisory position. Gunsmiths can also become consultants to gun manufacturers. Another career path for a gunsmith is to open his or her own business, offering services to gun owners and collectors. An experienced gunsmith can build a national reputation and come in contact with gun owners in different states who rely on the gunsmith’s expertise. Depending on location and expertise, a gunsmith can expect to earn up to $60,000 annually. Gunsmith working for large firearm manufacturers can earn $75,000. Designing guns for federal agencies can bring in a lucrative annual salary of $150,000.