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Custom rifle builder & gunsmith qualifications?

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Unread 02-22-2009, 10:10 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 192
Custom rifle builder & gunsmith qualifications?

On this website and many others I read a lot about guys that must have custom guns built the way they want them. Iím curious about how do you sort through all the different guys out there that call themselves a custom rifle builder.

Is there a certification they have? Was there a college degree somewhere and in what?

I have the same questions about gunsmiths. How do you know who to trust your guns to? Iíve had to take guns into the gunsmith, but Iíve never asked what his qualifications were.

How does a person become a qualified rifle builder & gunsmith?
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Unread 02-22-2009, 10:28 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Danville, PA
Posts: 1,152
Re: Custom rifle builder & gunsmith qualifications?

You can have all degrees you want, it still doesn't make that person a "smith"
It takes time (years) and a good reputation of putting together top notch rifles to "qualify". Your past customers are the ones that test you on your skills as a craftsman. Pass the test with them and the "good word" will travel like wild fire in your specific field of expertise. I'm sure there are a ton of really good small time riflesmiths out there I've never even heard of. In the same token there are some big name "smiths"who do half ass work. New customers only know of "The Name" but not the quality that preceeds them. Once your in this game a while you'll find out who really knows their **** and whose just blowing smoke up your ass.

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Unread 02-23-2009, 08:55 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 102
Re: Custom rifle builder & gunsmith qualifications?

Do a google search for "top gunsmith". I chose Gordy Gritter as my gunsmith. You can find him on you-tube, he also teaches gunsmith classes, and has a great reputation. Must be careful who you choose! more refferals the better. If a gunsmith has no web-site, offer refferals, never answer the phone, or cannot return your calls, I would stay away from.
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Unread 02-23-2009, 08:25 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: OK
Posts: 2,132
Re: Custom rifle builder & gunsmith qualifications?

I agree with Kevin, Some excellent gunsmiths started with just the abillity to run a lathe. They experimented and learned what works.

Others apprenticed under renowned riflesmiths who passed on their knowledge, for the future smiths to keep moving forward.

Some choose a 2 year gunsmith program, most of these emphasize basic skills and repair. With Speedy teaching at Trinidad that program is changing and moving into the precision rifle aspect. I took a cont. ed summer class with Speedy last year and learned many intrcicies he has used building his rifles. The man is a wealth of knowledge in that respect.

If your looking for a smith, start with some questions, thru e-mail or phone, don't be afraid to ask for references. A good smith will have no problem giving you some names and #. If you talk to a guy who thinks he knows everything, he probably quit learning. I'm a rookie by many smiths standards but I continue to learn and broaden my abilities. While striving to make every rifle better than the last. My aproach is simple, total customer satisfaction.

Last edited by Coyboy; 02-23-2009 at 08:31 PM.
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Unread 02-23-2009, 10:09 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 890
Re: Custom rifle builder & gunsmith qualifications?

I think it's like anything else word of mouth goes a long way. I just turned 49 last week and have been in business since i was 22. I have always strived for customer satisfaction and gaining business by word of mouth. Sure i have $300.00 per month yellow page ad part of the game but i cant beat repeat business. I have probably had built around 8-9 custom rifles and some just rebarreling and have had good luck. I had the pleasure and perks of being friends with Seely Masker back in the late 80's and 90's. I was shooting benchrest in those years and painting cars as a business. I began painting his stocks until he retired and gained alot of information. Seely wasent the gunsmith whom you took your shotgun to to get re-blued. But he was the man to build an accurate rifle and had a lot of winning rifles out there. But one thing that i have always noticed and the same in my business weather a guy has a price structure. Just naming a couple i seen on here and not trying to leave anyone out, take Kevin and Kirby for example. They give you a broken down price: stock, barrel, blue printing, chamber, bedding, and trigger and there prices are fair not hard to figure out. What blew my mind 20 years ago before i knew less than now and still see it today is the big price package. I had a hot shot gunsmith price me to true rem action, re barrel chambe etc., supply stock and bed , work trigger for kind of high x amount of dollars. But for the same rifle components but his rifle with his name on it 4 times the price. I asked him what the difference was, his reply a lot of tender loving care! This was almost a $1,800.00 difference 20 years ago. Now im not a gunsmith but how do you do that much tender loving care with the same components?
I've been in the landscaping business now for 15 years and i have 1 price structure for everyone. Every job gets my tender loving care for the same price.
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