View Full Version : im thinking of becoming a gunsmith

03-04-2009, 5:21 PM
does anybody know how i should go about doing this? i dont really have time to goto a school so im thinking about online courses. has anybody done this? as of now im considering penn foster career school. its $800 and takes 12 months i think they said.
i need some help deciding if this is a good idea or not. can i actually make money doing this as a newcomer?

03-04-2009, 6:16 PM
Its hard to beat hands on instruction.. I'm sure there are some quality online courses, but the Lassen College instructors are unsurpassed.. Even if you just take courses a week at a time, you can check the summer schedule, and take some vacation time to attend, I think you could really benefit from attendance. Couple it with some online stuff, and viola! Well rounded.. Not sure there is alot of money in it, unless you specialize in someting particular, and do something that no one else does, but it might make for a good side gig.. Weapons systems technology as a whole has become more reliable, and simpler. Gunsmithing is an unfortunate victim of it..

03-04-2009, 6:23 PM
Lassen is the way to go check for the summer week long classes.

03-04-2009, 8:57 PM
Lassen has an outstanding reputation. I wouldn't suggest going strictly online. Lack of hand's on instruction/practice will give you trouble actually performing tasks and finding work.

03-04-2009, 9:06 PM
I dont consider myself a gun smith at all. I did take classes at Lassen and will continue to do so its a great program. What I did before was go to gun stores and ask to buy broken or junk guns legally of course. Id then try to figure out how they work and experiment. Ill be up in Susanville this summer if they still offer the color case hardening class and am looking forward to it. Personally I cant see how you could learn the stuff on line. Therese allot to machining, parts reading, welding, and what not that requires hand on experience. Good luck and it never hurts to introduce yourself to local gunsmiths and ask if you can volunteer to help for free.

03-04-2009, 9:20 PM
DO it DK. Super discounts for anyone that lives in Santa Cruz County!

03-04-2009, 9:30 PM
In my view you'd be best served at Lassen doing their Gunsmith program. You should also find a mentor that you can apprentice under.

03-05-2009, 4:05 AM
Start out buying a few good books- I've seen GREAT books at secondhand shops- the old books teach lost arts like filing, and how to care for your files!

I've learned enough on my own over the last 16 years that I can do anything up to (but not including) major milling or lathing operations. I'm pretty sure I could pick up the last two if I had easier access to the machinery- for that, you can take great community college classes for under $100 too (I'd like to take welding someday also- I can weld, but not well).

I just do it as a hobby though, for friends and myself, and occasionally the hapless calgunner :D

Get yourself a C&R license, and start out tinkering with some cheap beater rifles- it's a good way to learn wood finishing and glass bedding. You can still get workable turds for $60-70, and end up with something halfway decent. Nothing beats learning by experience. If you decide to take the class later, you'll get more out of it too (the shortcuts will make more sense).

As your skill and bravery improve, you can move on to fancier guns, and your friends will trust you to work on theirs! Building from parts kits is great too- and you save money over buying a production weapon, while (hopefully!) ending up with something of far higher quality.


03-05-2009, 6:34 AM
DO it DK. Super discounts for anyone that lives in Santa Cruz County!

Discounts ...?

dirtykoala, I don't think anyone goes into gunsmithing to "make money". You can make a living (once you establish yourself), but the smiths who make money are the one's building high-end custom rigs ... once they've established themselves.

As noted, your proximity to Lassen College makes it the best choice for getting a taste of gunsmithing. You should consider the earlier suggestion of attending a week-long class in the summer. You should also look into attending some machining classes at a local community college. I think DeAnza (http://www.deanza.edu/workforceed/manf-cnc.html)is the one with a really good program for machining.

03-05-2009, 7:32 AM
thanks for all of the input guys, i didnt mean "make money" like i though i would be delivering people their guns in my new ferrari, i just mean, is gunsmithing worth all the work for how it pays on the side?

03-05-2009, 7:48 AM
I think a lot of guys get into it because they want to be able to work on their own guns and it sort of grows from there. As an example, I'm planning to buy a CNC mill in the near future so I can make/modify my own parts. I might be able to make money milling parts for other people, but the mill is really for my own interests.

Also keep in mind that if you're an independent gunsmith (as opposed to working for someone else) you'll need an FFL to work on other people's firearms.

03-05-2009, 7:49 AM
depends on how long it takes you to get the skills - I'd imagine people who do it on the side enjoy the work in addition to the peanuts they make.

03-05-2009, 6:10 PM
thanks for all of the input guys, i didnt mean "make money" like i though i would be delivering people their guns in my new ferrari, i just mean, is gunsmithing worth all the work for how it pays on the side?

It's a passion driven hobby that pays a bit if you price things right. The industry thing is if you kiss the "right arssses", just a write up in a gun magazine will do wonders for your business.

Oh, be careful when dealing with CGunners here. If your prices are "too high", you might be accused of gouging by members.....;):D