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I want to start a small gunsmithing business, and initially I want to focus on the AR. I've been wanting to get into some sort of career in firearms for awhile, but the idea of gunsmithing is fairly new to me, so I don't know a lot about what all I need to do to get started. I've been around ARs my whole adult life, and I would feel pretty comfortable building one from scratch or doing whatever maintenance needs to be done on one.

In starting my business, though, what type of schooling should I look into, if any at all? Right now I'm a stay at home dad with 3 boys under the age of 5, so traveling anywhere for more than a couple of days would be out of the question, so I've been looking into taking an online course. 2 of the ones I've been looking into are Penn Foster and Ashworth College. Does anyone have any experience with these 2 courses, or know of any that are better? I talked to a lady at Penn Foster, and the program seems a little weak. I'm just not really sure if I'll get a lot of it. I'm just kind of thinking that some sort of certificate hanging on my wall will give me some sort of credibility as I offer my services.

By posting this, I guess I'm looking for anyone's thoughts on my idea, or if you think I'm going about this the wrong way. I'd appreciate anyone's input.
 

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A proper gunsmith should be an expert machinist capable of precision work on a lathe and a knee mill.
He should be adequately trained in the disassembly and reassembly of weapons, be capable of trouble shooting problems with weapons, and be a source of expertise to others.
He may also be an FFL licensed person, and have a state issued permit to collect sales taxes, and have a library of all appropriate books necessary to the tasks he will tackle.
You also must have the prpoer tools, so that when you work on a customer's weapon, you don't "bugger" it up!!!
A gunsmith shop does not need to have the specialized machines, but the gunsmith shouold have access to the machines as necessary to do repair and maybe fabrication work.
Plus lots more!!!
 

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My comments are not made to dissuade you, just to get you thinking.
I believe that many folks that want to be gunsmiths, often find a "smith" that will hire them to work as an apprentice for one to 5 or more years.
The apprenticeship allows you to learn from a master while showing what you know and what you don't.
It also gives you a chance to accumulate tools and other items needed for the trade.

Bob Nisbet
 

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Most "professional gunsmiths" are either self taught or learn through a practicing gunsmith. However, there are not many gunsmiths who do it all. With the thousands of different guns on the market no one can really do it all so most specialize. There are famous names in revolvers, pistols, various rifles and restoring for example. I got my start by hot tank bluing. I found it a good place to start because the initial investment is relatively small and it is necessary to completely disassemble a gun to blue it. There are also some things you can do without a big budget layout for machine tools like replacing small parts and springs. If you want to do machine work and haven't done any before you can take night classes and invest in small bench top machines. there are a lot of things you can do with a small (4"x12") lathe/mill combo machine. Being a machinist is a very handy thing, being one I know but I served a 3 year apprenticeship and have been doing this work for 30+ years but even that did not make me a gunsmith. My recommendation is to start with what you know, learn all you can while your doing that and take it one step at a time. Invest in as many books as you can and use the internet as much as possible. Above all be careful with other peoples guns, be prepared to make mistakes and to pay for those mistakes (Do Not make your customers pay for your screw-ups). One more thing, Get your FFL. Your most likely going to need a type 07 (manufacturing) license and what ever other permits and such that your state and local ordinances require. RESEARCH is the name of the game. :D
BTW, there is NOTHING wrong with being self taught. You don't have to go to a school or buy an expensive course. Your local community college, Brownell's and AGI are all good places to start.
 

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I am about to start the Penn Foster gunsmith program myself. There are not any gunsmiths around my area that I know of, so its kinda hard to learn from one. I am NOT an expert machinist either. Is this course going to be a waste of my time and money?
 

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Penn Foster

I looked at this a while back and thought it looked very week in substance and content. Look hard at what your spending your money on and get the most bang for your buck. See if you can get references from the school or check other forums. Google it. AGI has a video sampler for $10.00, you might check that out. Personally I like the AGI courses. :D

David Woods
Arden Gun
 

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Just a few quick thoughts: I once called the NRA aand asked which of the online or correspondance courses were worth the money and was told flat out that none of them were; that most of the great smiths never had a day of formal gunsmithing training btu that a lot of them were machinests and I would be better off buying the books and teaching myself. I did exactly that. Don't quit your day job unless you're rich; aa client base takes time to build. I would tell you that for the most part, lathe and mill work is not called for on the vast majority of gun repair. A FFL will be required if you plan to charge for your services. Brownells has almost every book on any subject of repair you would need. Buy all the different books you can starting with Gunsmithing by Dunlap. The Kinks books are great. THe NRA offers several volumes. If you don't like to read, do something else with your time. Tool buying will never end; get ready for it. I started in a 18x20 room and in short time had to expand. I was in the biz for several years before I required a mill and lathe and got them simply because I got tired of telling folks I couldn't do a perticular job for lack of machinery. I will do 100 repair jobs before I need machinery and then it's because of a rebbl or choke install or maybe a dovetail cut in a slide. Remember that there is a certain amount of liability to this type of work. I have used a number of the AGI tapes and find them good for learning about guns I may not be familiar with. While the thought of being a smith carries a type of romantic notion with it, trust me when I tell you it's a dern job with problems like any other. For me it was a difference of being on fire or not to solve those problems. Good luck.
 

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Penn Foster

I am about to start the Penn Foster gunsmith program myself. There are not any gunsmiths around my area that I know of, so its kinda hard to learn from one. I am NOT an expert machinist either. Is this course going to be a waste of my time and money?
If YOU haven't sign up or paid any money yet DON"T!!!!!!!!!! Paid for corse up front 750 dollars in stead of payments. All book learning no hands on. The one corse about getting an applying for lic. is out of date an no help. You can't have a in home gun shop new regs. have changed the gunsmith home Idea. Save your money, They got mine an i can't have a shop in my location.
 

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Piedmont Community College in Roxboro, North Carolina has a good one. Not all who grad are good, but the instructors are very very good.
Kinda my experience with cst. The instructors are great and the best way to get your moneys worth is ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS!!!!!!

A lot of guys that graduate ***** about the price, they are also the folks that take 2 hour smoke breaks and think "Good enough is good enough"

I also looked into tishomingo state university in Oklahoma (looked like a great school) but i didn't want to take 2 years of my life out for college.

The online coarse and corespondent course didn't seem to offer much knowledge, i took a look at some videos a friend of mine had bought, and it was almost entirely the stuff that anyone who has ever taken their gun apart already knows, some of the trigger tuning info was good, but some of it advised things like putting flitz in a Remington 700 trigger.
 

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Montgomery Community College, Troy, N.C.

I want to start a small gunsmithing business, and initially I want to focus on the AR. I've been wanting to get into some sort of career in firearms for awhile, but the idea of gunsmithing is fairly new to me, so I don't know a lot about what all I need to do to get started. I've been around ARs my whole adult life, and I would feel pretty comfortable building one from scratch or doing whatever maintenance needs to be done on one.

In starting my business, though, what type of schooling should I look into, if any at all? Right now I'm a stay at home dad with 3 boys under the age of 5, so traveling anywhere for more than a couple of days would be out of the question, so I've been looking into taking an online course. 2 of the ones I've been looking into are Penn Foster and Ashworth College. Does anyone have any experience with these 2 courses, or know of any that are better? I talked to a lady at Penn Foster, and the program seems a little weak. I'm just not really sure if I'll get a lot of it. I'm just kind of thinking that some sort of certificate hanging on my wall will give me some sort of credibility as I offer my services.

By posting this, I guess I'm looking for anyone's thoughts on my idea, or if you think I'm going about this the wrong way. I'd appreciate anyone's input.
Has a very comprehensive gunsmith course..Huge facility complete with big lathes, milling machines, and has taxidermy, engraving, gun finishes, blueing, welding, etc....I took Ron Power's revolver class(2 weeks) and learned enough to work on about anything...This class is no longer as Ron Retired..
 

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To get a good working knowledge of firearms i like AGI. Not only is Bob strait on his teaching but his small sense of humor is the little extra lol. A lot of it does come from the books and experience yourself like others have said on other posts. but the main thing is to get that information and learn it. Wilson combat has a decent video course for gunsmithing also. as for a ffl or licensing or anything of that sort if you can fix the firearm in the time the customer is there you do not need a FFL. BUT if you plan on keeping the firearm OVERNIGHT you DO need a FFL.
 
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