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Smith Schools/Making a Living

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  • Smith Schools/Making a Living

    Hey guys, Looking for some help and opinions. I just turned the big 30, and of course was hit with the, "what am I going to do". My wife, who is the best, suggested that since I've been shooting since I was six, and that guns are my life (besides her, of course ; ) ) that I should go to a gun smith school and try to make a living at it.

    1. Is this possible - to make a nice living being a gun smith?

    2. What schools should I look into?

    Any personal stories, etc would be appreciated. Thanks for your help guys!


  • #2
    I dont know anyone that went to gunsmithing school and was able to get a job working for another 'smith or a manufacturer. The few 'smiths I know and myself started their own business. I started with a pawn/gunshop and pretty much taught myself by working on my own guns first and by just tinkering. Id take every gun I got in the store apart to learn how it operated.

    I wouldnt go spend the money for the school unless you are sure you can get a job or have the finances to start your own business. If I were you Id check into getting an FFL and work out of my house, this way you can work a "regular" job while you are building up a customer base and getting your name out there. You may or may not be able to get an FFL working out of your house, it all depends on your zoning board. It is frowned upon now by the ATF. Youll have to show that you have a safe to store the guns and the biggest drawback is that they can enter and do a compliance check without a warrant.

    You can make a great living and do something you actually enjoy doing. If theres anything I can help you with dont hesitate to ask.


    • #3

      I will be lucky enough to be going to gunsmithing school in the fall of 2003. I have done a lot of research on the schools. There there are unfortunately relatively few schools.
      Here is what I have found:


      Colorado School of Trades
      1575 Hoyt Street
      Lakewood, CO 80215
      Ph: 800-234-4594

      Lassen Community College
      P.O. Box 3000
      Susanville, CA 96130
      Ph: 530-257-4211

      Montgomery Community College
      P.O. Box 787
      Troy, NC 27371
      Ph: 800-839-6222

      Murray State College
      Tishomingo, OK 73460
      Ph: 580-371-2371

      Pennsylvania Gunsmith School
      812 Ohio River Blvd., Avalon
      Pittsburgh, PA 15202
      Ph: 412-766-1812

      Piedmont Community College
      P.O. Box 1197
      Roxboro, NC 27573
      Ph: 336-599-1181

      Pine Technical Institute
      1000 4th Street
      Pine City, MN 55063
      Ph: 800-521-7463

      Trinidad State Jr. College
      600 Prospect
      Trinidad, CO 81082
      Ph: 719-846-5631

      Yavapai College
      100 East Sheldon Street
      Prescott, AZ 86301
      Ph: 520-776-2150


      Modern Gun School
      500 North Kimball, Suite 105
      Southlake, TX 76092
      Ph: 800-493-4114 Harcourt Learning Direct

      925 Oak Street
      Scranton, PA 18515
      Ph: 800-233-4191

      I live in Wisconsin, so I took a tour of the school in Pine City, MN. It was pretty neat, and I wanted to start right away!!! The instructor was very kind in showing me around and answering my questions. He said that a great many of his students end up working for Gander Mountain (a sporting goods/hunting store chain) and other retailers. Some work in the Industry, such as for Magnum Research in Minneapolis.

      Anyway, good luck!!!

      Stay Safe,

      [This message has been edited by GreyMan (edited 09 April 2002).]


      • #4
        You are better off looking for a local community college and take all the machining and machine tool classes you can.
        A class or 2 in metallurgy would be good also.
        The top gunsmiths usualy started out as machinests or tool and die makers if they have any formal training at all.



        • #5
          Great advice. Machine shop course really helped me out.

          <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by strmrdr:
          You are better off looking for a local community college and take all the machining and machine tool classes you can.
          A class or 2 in metallurgy would be good also.
          The top gunsmiths usualy started out as machinests or tool and die makers if they have any formal training at all.



          • #6
            I would also suggest getting your hands on the Brownell's catalog. It has everything just about for gunsmithing imaginable. You can buy books and videos and teach yourself by tinkering or restoring. I have done trigger jobs, feed ramp jobs, polishing, and restoration just by tinkering in my basement and buying crap supplies from the local gunsmith. I ordered some videos and books over the years and have found that they really help. I think the maine thing is that you have to be the type that has the mechanical mind- I don't really but if I look and study something long enough I can pinpoint the problems. Get the Brownell's catalog first then decide which direction you want to venture into. Theres alot of money in pistolsmithing and re-finnishing. You need the proper tanks, beadblast cabinet, and supplies and tools. Good luck!


            • #7
              Bryant, all

              First off, thanks for answering my questions. Heres the next one:

              What books or videos would your recommend I buy?



              • #8
                If I were you I would learn how to program computers. Get a decent job, then take
                some machinist courses and maybe try to
                ease into it part time.


                • #9

                  Ironically, that is what I do. I am a SE for a large computer company (think opposite of pc's), and make nice money, but money doesn't really matter in the long run to me. I mean it does, but I would take a large pay cut to be happy. I'm going to do just like you said, start off as a side business and try it from there. Once again, thank you all for your incite and emails, I appreciate it!


                  • #10
                    Hey, don't imagine you can be happy just by doing something you love. All the advice here seems excellent on learning gunsmithing, but misses a detail: doing the technical stuff, being a skilled repairman or custom builder, is only a part of running your own shop.

                    If you get going, then find you are trapped in a grind that is basically a job you cannot avoid because you are the boss too, you STILL won't be happy - and you won't have the dream anymore either.

                    So may I suggest you look at the life that goes with this choice, talk to the people who made it, visit their homes with your wife, and talk to a small business counsellor.

                    Being happy is harder than having the ideal technical scope of work, I have found.