How did you gunsmiths get started

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by summitsitter, Aug 12, 2008.

  1. summitsitter

    summitsitter Well-Known Member

    Jan 31, 2008
    I was wonder how some of yall got started into gunsmithing. I love tinkering with guns and would love to be able to do more. Problems is that the only gunsmith around here shop closes before I get off work so really can't watch and learn from him too much. Also another thing..My God you gotta have alot of money to get started and get all the tools that I think you would need, not including guns to practice with. Is there anyway for a poor man to get started gunsmithing.
  2. BigDaddy0381

    BigDaddy0381 Well-Known Member

    Apr 30, 2007
    I got really luck. When I first started out. The guy that showed me has a shop where he works on guns at night from 6 untill 12 or and sells them during the day at a store front.It worked out good for me to work at nights with him and it helped him to get cought up.I have been with him for a few years now.after my house is built and my range papers come thru I'm going to get my ffl's so I can do it from my shop.

  3. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

    Jul 29, 2004

    I Do some work on my own because Every time I had a custom rifle built I had to
    work on/fix it to make it acceptable.

    Shoddy work and in an untimley manner was very frustrating.So I bought a shop lathe
    and started building my own personal rifles and have never looked back.

    Get a good lathe,basic tooling and a good gunsmithing book and you are ready to
    start ( if you don't know much about machining look for a machinest hand book

    Last edited: Aug 21, 2008
  4. Wallowa Hunter

    Wallowa Hunter Active Member

    Mar 9, 2003
    I started out as a machinist for 20 years, making all kinds of small parts. Been into tinkering with guns my entire life, as there was no gunsmith near. When I did find one it would take 6 months to a year to get a simple job done! Not acceptable in my book. I bought a small lathe for home and slowly bought alot of my tools thru Brownells.
    Just recently bought mill, a Bridgeport Series II with digital readouts on all three axis.........:)

    I was privilaged to work with an oldtimer smith in Bagley Minnesota for almost four years. After work I would stop by for a couple hours and on weekends.
    I am thankful for my time spent with him! I have bought and read every smithing book I run across. Let me tell you, some of the older books are a wealth of knowledge!!!

    Every once and a while I will run across a problem I have not had before. Thats one of the reasons I started coming here! A great site full of people with similar interest! Always willing to share what they know!!

    Nowadays I do work for 3 local new/used gun shops. Went thru all the hoops with the BATF and got my ffl. These days a smith does not have to have "set" hours to work out of his own home. Very nice!!!

    It's great work, but some of the guns I get to fix are tragic. I swear that some people have no clue that your suppose to clean a firearm once and a while!!!

    Wallowa Hunter
  5. NesikaChad

    NesikaChad Well-Known Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    I started as a machinist. Worked for a few different shops after the Marines and it just sorta happened. Now I can't imagine doing anything else.

    Great career but don't expect to get rich at it. Just know that going into it and you'll be fine.

    Good luck
  6. Len Backus

    Len Backus Administrator Staff Member

    May 2, 2001
    Hey, Guys!

    How would one of you like to write an article for the site about:

    "Five Basic Gunsmithing Things You Can Do On Your Own"

    ...when the nearest gunsmith lives 2 hours away. light bulb
  7. summitsitter

    summitsitter Well-Known Member

    Jan 31, 2008
    Thanks guys Maybe one of these days...hope and pray..
  8. Savagebien

    Savagebien Well-Known Member

    Mar 11, 2008
    i'm going to be attending the Colorado School of Trades gunsmithing program. its 14 months, 32 hours a week. i'll build a rifle while im there and learn pretty much every thing else.
  9. NesikaChad

    NesikaChad Well-Known Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    This is my opinion, and since it's America I get to share it.

    CST is a waste of your time and your money. I was the production manager for Nesika Bay Precision prior to coming to Iraq. All six of the employees I had were graduates from CST and it showed. In three years, all but one had left.

    Dakota Arms, Inc. hired one of their instructors and the guy, in addition to being a raging booze addict, was incompetent and a danger to himself and others around him.

    One of the employees there, also a graduate from that school, shot himself (TWICE) while test firing rifles in the ballistic "snail". He was too lazy to follow procedure and vice the barreled action and while testing double rifles he inadvertently set the second barrel off while the gun was in recoil, blasting the face of the snail and fragging himself in the process.

    Bear in mind he was the first one to do this (let alone the second) in the company's 24 year history.

    I have no personal beef with the place. these are just observations made on personal eye witness accounts.

    Trinidad however seems to have a pretty good program. I know three people that have graduated from that school and they all do pretty nice work. I know of a couple well established and very respected gunmakers/barrel makers that are also products of their school.

    Trade schools, IMO, aren't about education. They are about job placement.

    If you have the money to go to a school like that, then its reasonable to think that you'd have the money to relocate to a top notch gun maker's location and beg a job off him for $2.00 an hour and work for two years learning.

    I'd make a good wager that you'd come out ahead on your education and financial status. I'd also suggest/encourage you to go to a machine shop that specializes in small production run jobs and tool making. You want this because you'll see a bigger variety of work. Not just long, mundane jobs where you make love to the green button on the machine while fantasizing about suck starting a pistol because you're so bored. Making guns isn't hard, but it isn't something everyone should be doing either. Machine work plays a very large part of it so it certainly helps to know set ups, speeds/feeds, cutter selection, and how tools behave when chewing through different kinds of material.

    In four years you could/would seriously be a leg up on a lot of people in this trade.

    Good luck.

  10. msalm

    msalm Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2007
    Now for me I've been a rifle addict for many years, and it took about 10 years (or more) before I was even in a situation to get a lathe and set up a shop. In the mean time though, I've taken machine shop classes at the local tech school, and a rifle rebarreling class at one of the NRA sponsored summer gunsmithing courses. My full-time job is an Armament Tech for the military (I'm really into it). But really I think what will improve one more than anything is studying, reading, and tinkering around with your own stuff. Hell, I even picked up a sinebar rifling machine that I rifle muzzleloader barrels with and have an uncle that is a good mentor. He doesn't live nearby but loves to talk gunsmithing and machining. He builds and restores antique muzzleloaders, many parts made from scratch, including more than a few barrels on his home-build rifling bench.

    Read some of the older gunsmithing books available. There are really quite a few out there, and you'll learn how to do a lot of things by HAND when you don't have the power equipment yet. When you get that lathe, mill, etc... you'll have a lot of sound fundamentals IMO.

    It's definitely not something that happens overnight, but it's a great hobby and proffession for the lucky ones...I still need a job for the day to day, but I'll have an enjoyable retirement job in 15+ years.