So ya wanna be a gunsmith???

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SPDguns

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I get occasional inquiries of what it takes to be a gunsmith. I'm shooting from the hip and won't get it all in here so feel free to pitch in. Real gunsmiths like @Bunguffer and @rijas will be along shortly-
It takes time and patience. You have to be a problem solver and diagnostician. Don't be the guy who just throws parts at a gun until it works. Figure out what the problem is and go from there. You have to be a woodworker, metallurgist, machinist, welder and others I can't think of now. Know your market. I was the gunsmith for a small mom and pop gun store here in town. General repair is where the money is. I invested in a mill but according to my math I would have had to do 40 hours of machine work to break even on it before I could turn a profit. At $100 per hour in my market, that would equate to 10 years. I sold the mill. Don't take on more work than you can keep up with. There are horror stories of guns that disappear into gunsmith hell and don't get out until months later and they may or may not be fixed. Know your limitations, a good gunsmith knows when to say no. Be upfront and honest. I missed a part on a gun I worked on for a member a while back. Guess what? I'm gonna tear the whole thing apart to put in a $6 part...for free. I've helped several members fix their guns on the forum or on the phone so they didn't have to bring it in. I was at my wits end when my ATV brakes locked up. Another member helped me fix it with a phone call. Karma is as good as it is bad.
If you are serious, the closest option is MIT. (Murray In Tishomingo). They only accept 35 students a year and the competition is fierce. I'd recommend getting a real job while you learn to be a gunsmith. As for apprenticing, there are several reputable gunsmiths in the area but I don't know if they offer apprenticeships.
If you specialize, it will take time to get your name out. Ed Brown, Wilson, Geissele, Ron Power, etc. and those guys didn't just show up on the scene and be a hit overnight. Be careful of YouTube University. There's some good info on there and there's a lot if Bubba's. Discernment is knowing which is which. I've had customers bring me a bag of gun parts because they saw something on YouTube. A month or two ago, I had a difficult fix for a member's gun. There were two different solutions all over the Tube and NEITHER was the fix. I took the time and figured it out. I did NOT put my fix on the Tube. If you tell me "you built your own AR-15", I am not impressed. If you can change your spark plugs, you can "build" an AR-15. If you have an AR-15 and you changed out the handguard and stock, IT IS NOT "CUSTOM"!!!

I'm headed to work, I will answer questions as best I can.
 

Catt57

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You also forgot to mention the liability that goes with it. You mess up your own $100 "pawn shop special" and break it in half, no one gets hurt but a Benjamin Franklin. You put a scratch on someone's "custom finish, blueprinted, long rage, cowboy action revolver with optic and night sights" and your day is going to suck pretty bad. But even that won't hurt as bad as if you forget or neglect to keep your books in order for when Uncle Sam comes to visit.

This is a big part what keeps me doing it as a hobby and I won't even touch someone else's gun for the above reasons.
 

carready

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Totally agree sir! One here got overwhelmed, screwed his books, and in turn screwed all his customers over.
It is hard to keep up sometimes but knowing your limitations is key. Don't take on what you can't do or too much to do. Luckily when I get booked up, I can send them to you! LOL

Be safe out there tonight buddy!
 
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You also forgot to mention the liability that goes with it. You mess up your own $100 "pawn shop special" and break it in half, no one gets hurt but a Benjamin Franklin. You put a scratch on someone's "custom finish, blueprinted, long rage, cowboy action revolver with optic and night sights" and your day is going to suck pretty bad. But even that won't hurt as bad as if you forget or neglect to keep your books in order for when Uncle Sam comes to visit.

This is a big part what keeps me doing it as a hobby and I won't even touch someone else's gun for the above reasons.
Would you describe that Murray course as "hands on". From reading the College website curriculum seems very "classroom"
 

Schlafftablett

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I very much disagree on money being in repairs. I found that specializing in a narrow band of custom work is far more profitable and the customers easier to deal with. If a guy breaks his gun its akin to having your car break down... its something that NEEDS done not something you want to do and they often want to nickel and dime you to death and then tend to slow pay as well. Offering custom work, you usually only get folks who want to spend money and have planned for the sale. It's just my .02.
 

mn_danger

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@SPDguns thank you for taking the time to share your insights and experience. This is the kind of information that usually has to be earned and learned. Good advice to all of us who have thought about jumping into gunsmithing from time to time. That being said, I look forward to bringing you a bag of parts someday 😅
 

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