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View Full Version : Where to find gunsmithing classes?


Soundman
09-02-2007, 6:17 PM
Does anyone know of any gunsmithing classes/schools in the Los Angeles area?

Pulsar
09-02-2007, 6:19 PM
None in the LA area, only one in the entire state is far north, in Susanville. I think there is a school in Arizona, but I wouldn't swear to it.

CSACANNONEER
09-02-2007, 6:23 PM
In the 50s, at least some high schools in the LA Unified School District offered "gunsmithing" as a shop class. Every participating student was REQUIRED to bring a handgun to school. You should call LAUSD and ask them if they still offer this program and if so, could you enroll as part of their adult ed. program.

Soundman
09-02-2007, 8:04 PM
Only 1 in the state! I know Cali sucks for gun ownership, but for pete's sake LA is one of the biggest cities in the country. That's amazing. Do any of you have any experience with any of the online programs like Penn Foster, etc...?

VegasND
09-02-2007, 8:06 PM
I took some night gunsmithing classes in the '70s. I think it was at Whittier High School, but it's been so long the details are fuzzy.


In the 50s, at least some high schools in the LA Unified School District offered "gunsmithing" as a shop class. Every participating student was REQUIRED to bring a handgun to school. You should call LAUSD and ask them if they still offer this program and if so, could you enroll as part of their adult ed. program.

CSACANNONEER
09-02-2007, 8:53 PM
I took some night gunsmithing classes in the '70s. I think it was at Whittier High School, but it's been so long the details are fuzzy.

You're not alone. The '70s are fuzzy to many people.

VegasND
09-02-2007, 9:01 PM
In more ways than one...

Pulsar
09-03-2007, 12:32 PM
Only 1 in the state! I know Cali sucks for gun ownership, but for pete's sake LA is one of the biggest cities in the country. That's amazing. Do any of you have any experience with any of the online programs like Penn Foster, etc...?

That's really not that surprising, there are really only about 10 schools in the country that teach gunsmithing. California belive it or not, is one of two that has it taught at a Commmunity College. It's got a ton of support from the NRA, and students get dealer discounts from Brownells and Midway for life, and manufacturer prices from Leupold.

I'm actually a graduate from that program and have a nice job in gunsmithing in the sacramento area because of it.

randy
09-03-2007, 10:26 PM
Finding a machinest school would be a good start. Good smith's are good machinests.

ar15barrels
09-04-2007, 12:31 AM
Finding a machinest school would be a good start. Good smith's are good machinests.

Swap the order of that statement around and it becomes even MORE accurate:

Good machinists are good smith's

If you want to become a gunsmith, become a machinist first.
If you can run all the machines in a machine shop, gunsmithing is pretty simple once you learn how to dissassemble and assemble guns.
I come from a machining background.

mltrading
09-04-2007, 6:34 PM
Try AGI (American Gunsmith Institute). They offer video courses. That's the best gunsmith courses I can find so far. It's not cheap, though. The prices are from $3k or $4k.

However, Randall @ AR15Barrels is right, you need to be a good machinist first.

BTW, the certificate of gunsmith program/courses is irrelative to being a gunsmith.

Pulsar
09-04-2007, 7:59 PM
BTW, the certificate of gunsmith program/courses is irrelative to being a gunsmith.

For now, the NRA and most of the manufacturers are in the process of trying to make a certification system for gunsmiths. Too many garage gunsmiths out there who ruin more guns than they fix.

And BTW, those AGI videos were created by Bob Dunlap, who was the head instructor for the gunsmithing program at the college in Susanville. He left there about 5 years ago due to some serious disagreements with the president of the college (president was anti-gun). But supposedly (and this is through the rumor mill) Mr. Dunlap is going to be coming back to the school since the President got sacked.


And as said before, a good machinist is a good gunsmith (being a good tig welder helps too). The program I went through had the first six weeks as nothing but Machine Shop (that's 8am-5:30pm and the shop open to use till 9pm 5 days a week).

Really the whole semester was machine shop and metalurgy, with the last couple weeks dedicated to finishes to metal (like bluing, color case hardening and parkerizing). Knowing metalurgy is very important too. You need to know
how to do things like case harden (for example firing pins should be case hardened) and get oil hardening steels to the proper hardness (can't have the sear harder than the hammer or the sear will wear out the hammer, rather quickly too). Being able to solder and braze is important too.

metalhead357
09-04-2007, 11:37 PM
None in the LA area, only one in the entire state is far north, in Susanville.

I dunno about it being in Susanville....

SHASTA COLLEGE *had* one program....dunno if its still going; In Redding...but yep-- you're right-- it IS in FARRRrrrRRR north in comparison to LA........

ar15barrels
09-04-2007, 11:59 PM
Try AGI (American Gunsmith Institute). They offer video courses. That's the best gunsmith courses I can find so far. It's not cheap, though. The prices are from $3k or $4k.

I bought one of these just to see what they were about.
It was trash, too boring to sit through.
It was just a guy sitting at a bench, dis-assembling and re-assembling a gun.
Very poor use of graphics or other teaching aids besides the video of him working.
VERY boring, to the point that I fell asleep and had to start over later to pickup where I fell asleep.

scoutpup99
09-05-2007, 3:16 PM
Does anyone know of any good machinist classes in Riverside county? I have always wanted to learn metal working.

Daniel

Pulsar
09-05-2007, 7:37 PM
[QUOTE=metalhead357;739229]I dunno about it being in Susanville....
QUOTE]

Guaruntee it's in Susanville, I R a graduat of the gunsmithing program at the community college in Susanville. One of the best things about living there was Reno was only an hour away :)

metalhead357
09-05-2007, 7:49 PM
Learn somethin' everyday round here.....:)

Know what's what with the Shasta Program??????

Pulsar
09-06-2007, 7:26 PM
TBH I've never even heard of it, and while I was at school in susanville the instructors we're always talking about the other gun schools in the country. The one in Susanville has been there since the 40's and is one of 4 NRA programs in the country.

NeoWeird
09-13-2007, 6:54 PM
Sounds about right. Wasn't it Landsen County Community College that taught the gunsmithing classes up north? If I remember right it's the highest regard school right now in regards to gunsmithing and there is something like a 2 year wait to get enrolled in the courses.

Personally, I am trying to become a gunsmith/manufacture down the line and I have been somewhat trail-blazing it. Took Machining classes at Valley College although I can't really recommend the school because the main night school teacher doesn't really do anything at all (first day was required materials, second day safety, third day "this is the on button....get to work" - literally) and would avoid answering questions and tried to teach through frustrated experimentation. It didn't work - I learned more in a week at work than I did from ALL of the semesters I took there. The head of the department is a much better teacher but he only really teaches during the day which wasn't practical for me working full time and all. I can Arc-weld and am looking for a Tig welder to teach myself with (with aid from the welders at work of course). Right now I am working on plastic processing scerws and barrels and wouldn't you know it it's just about the same thing as gun barrels (threads, contours, tight tolerances [ like +.0002 - .0000], concentricity requirments, etc).

In all honesty find a GOOD machine shop that will start you on reduced pay to be trained for your 3 month probabtion period, or something similar and you will be good off. I too agree that the AGI videos are boring (I've had their "Master Gunsmith" set with all the extras for about a year now and I've only gone through about half the handguns section) but they are worth it if you look at it like this:

The videos are literally LECTURES from the college. I talked with the people at AGI and they explained that what had happened was a friend of Bob Dunlap's was worried because of his diminishing health and warned him to try and get his knowledge down for future generations. They ended up just setting up a camera in his classroom for one year and compiled all the college lectures into the video courses. So you get the same information as the college students, only you get close ups, different angels, etc but you don't get the GREAT help of being able to ask questions.

You do get certified from a California Board of Education accredited school at the completion of their courses. This alone was the main reason I got it. I know more about firearms than most people I've met, I can take them apart and tweak/fix them on my own, and I am a very good machinist but what makes me different from some Joe Nobody in his garage who has no real education in it? I bet if I could hand you a copy of a certificate from a real school that says I am a gunsmith it would change ANYONE'S mind. I don't really "need" the courses for the knowledge, but that paper at the end will be invaluable for my future plans.

NeoWeird
09-13-2007, 6:59 PM
Hey Pulsar:

One thing I've had trouble finding was a good metalurgic reference/textbook. It seems like everything I find is a watered down entertainment read, almost like a 'for dummies' book. Did you guys ever get any REAL instruction in it, or have a real metallurgy reference? I've got a good grasp on metal types, structures, etc. but I want to get a good book I can read to give me a much better understanding of metals. Any suggestions or any that come to mind that have been particullarly helpful?

Pulsar
09-13-2007, 8:32 PM
Yeah, didn't really have any good metalurgy books. Really all we had was lectures on the subject, and then they threw us to the grindstone. Mostly we were taught how to harden steel, and how to make springs. The spring making class is fun, nothing like the suspense of watching the instructor trying to break this brand new V-spring you created in the vice.

virulosity
09-13-2007, 10:02 PM
Search for materials science books for mechanical engineers. The materials classes I took for my degree were heavily metalurgical, although not as much as I hear they were in the 70's and 80's. I don't think a 'smith would need much more in depth information than that though.

dw1784
09-13-2007, 10:42 PM
One thing I've had trouble finding was a good metalurgic reference/textbook. It seems like everything I find is a watered down entertainment read, almost like a 'for dummies' book. Did you guys ever get any REAL instruction in it, or have a real metallurgy reference? I've got a good grasp on metal types, structures, etc. but I want to get a good book I can read to give me a much better understanding of metals. Any suggestions or any that come to mind that have been particullarly helpful?

do u have the machinary's handbook? if u have the pocketbook ver, get the latest 27th ed. Comparing to the 26th, a lot of the math has been added. It's on CD too.

I also use the ASM metals handbok. Here's the online desktop ver (http://products.asminternational.org/hbk/index.jsp)(subscription req). You can also find it online from various sources, desktop ver and the full 22 volume ver.

A324
09-13-2007, 10:47 PM
Lassen Community College in Susanville offers a good smith course during the normal school year and has some classes during the summer as well.

Check the course catalog for a complete list of all the gunsmith related classes offered.

http://www.lassencollege.edu/docs/classes_programs/Degrees%20and%20Certificates%20Final.pdf

http://www.lassencollege.edu/

radioactivelego
09-17-2007, 1:49 AM
In the 50s, at least some high schools in the LA Unified School District offered "gunsmithing" as a shop class. Every participating student was REQUIRED to bring a handgun to school. You should call LAUSD and ask them if they still offer this program and if so, could you enroll as part of their adult ed. program.Mother of God...

Tell me more. This is like erotic fiction writing itself. I was already pissed when you couldn't even find a metalshop in SFV anymore... but gunsmithing?

Tell. Me. MORE!

metalhead357
09-17-2007, 5:59 AM
Mother of God...

Tell me more. This is like erotic fiction writing itself. I was already pissed when you couldn't even find a metalshop in SFV anymore... but gunsmithing?

Tell. Me. MORE!

Well, Gunsmithing left "my" district before I went to "my" high school but did have a shop class. It DID have an archery range...but no longer any classes for it; while my JUNIOR high DID have classes for it---was on the east coast:cool:. One of my uncles remembers/talks taking rifle classes in the early 60's out in Utah...........

NeoWeird
09-17-2007, 10:03 AM
do u have the machinary's handbook? if u have the pocketbook ver, get the latest 27th ed. Comparing to the 26th, a lot of the math has been added. It's on CD too.

I also use the ASM metals handbok. Here's the online desktop ver (http://products.asminternational.org/hbk/index.jsp)(subscription req). You can also find it online from various sources, desktop ver and the full 22 volume ver.

I have the following books:

Machinary Handbook 25th edition
Machinary Handbook Guide
Shop Reference for Students and Aprentices
Machining Fundamentals
Machine Shop Practices Volumes 1&2

The machinary handbook is the closest thing I have, or can find, to what I want. There doesn't seem to much out there in the form of detailed information on the subject. I tried looking through an Engineering Handbook before to see if I could find something but it seemed like the Machinary Handbook but with more geometery and it just didn't seem worth the effort to look for it since I figured it would be the same basic overview of the subject.

Pulsar
09-17-2007, 12:03 PM
That machinery handbook is a godsend. I'm always going to the back pages to find out what speed I should be running drill bits at, saves your drill bits big time, and makes for much cleaner cuts.

ldivinag
09-17-2007, 2:20 PM
lassen is hiring a PT gunsmith instructor:
http://www.lassencollege.edu/docs/HR_employment/Gunsmithing%20Instructor%20PT%208-07.pdf

ar15barrels
09-17-2007, 2:45 PM
If anyone is interested in a metalshop class, one is currently offered at Venice High monday evenings from 6:15 to 9:00 or on Saturday from 9:00 to 3:00

There is no curriculum.
You work on your own projects.
The instructor shows you how to use the machines.
$50 for the year of monday nights or $50 per semester of saturdays.
Class started last week.

I'm doing the monday night session to learn to tig weld.

Shop 8 is near the corner of Walgrove and Venice.
Enter off of Walgrove.

NeoWeird
09-17-2007, 3:23 PM
That machinery handbook is a godsend. I'm always going to the back pages to find out what speed I should be running drill bits at, saves your drill bits big time, and makes for much cleaner cuts.

Are you talking about actual RPM or cutting speed?

Personally I don't use the cutting speeds anymore unless it's a material I don't have much experience with. The machinists BEST tool is his ears. They will give you instant feedback as to if something is wrong, being forced, not enough force, etc. I remember when someone said that to me and I was thinking "Yeah, ok, just another guy trying to make himself out as better than the rest of us." and then I started doing real machine work and you pick it up quick.

If you ever get a chance to run a lathe that allows adjustment to spindle RPM while it is cutting give slight variations in speed a try while the thread screw is engaged. You'd be surprised how much a 5% increase/decrease makes a difference, ESPECIALLY when you are hitting chatter.

ar15barrels
09-17-2007, 3:56 PM
The machinists BEST tool is his ears. They will give you instant feedback as to if something is wrong, being forced, not enough force, etc.

Exactly right.
In addition to the sound, the shape and size of the chips gives a good indicator as well.

My CNC shop buddy told me to just push carbide tools in chromoly until the chips get really small and you can't tolerate to stand in front of the lathe.
I built a shield to stop the chips from hitting me. :D

You know it's time to change the insert when the part starts to get warmer and the finish goes to hell.

Pulsar
09-17-2007, 6:07 PM
I'm talking RPM, not feed speed. Feed I've always done by noise and feel.

Oh and carbide, I'm happy with sparks coming off, especially when I've got the bit in a fly cutter on the mill.

Of course this is only when I'm making tools, when turning a barrel I make sure that barrel never get's hot, it should always be cool enough that you can comfortably touch it. That means it may take 45 minutes to do one pass while contouring a barrel, which equates to close to 10 hours to contour, but it's well worth it.

NeoWeird
09-17-2007, 9:55 PM
On the CNC lathe I work on at work I use NOTHING but carbide (we got some nifty ceramic inserts but I don't mess with them as I don't use anything other than tool steels, and some alloys).Even with coolant the chips come off hot enough to burn with the feed rates I run at (.125" depth of cut at 600 FPM on a 4"x120" screw). I remember one time a short while back the chip fell down my long sleeve (yeah I know, but it was SO cold) and the chip threaded itself through my sleeve in two places so it got pressed against my skin. I had little hatch mark welts on my arm for a week. There's also nothing quite like when a blue chip hits you in the face and latches to your skin. Ahhh....good times.

I know my carbide is gone when the chips come off in strings that look like extra course springs. I just have a little fetish in me that I have to pick them up and break them off into small pieces in my free time. My finger tips go to hell, but I just love it.