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First post, I hope I wasn’t supposed to introduce myself in a different section first.

I have a little over a year left on my contract in the Marine Corps and I have been thinking of pursuing a career with firearms.
If I were to go to a school such as the Colorado School of Trades to learn about gunsmithing, how many opportunities would I have once I’m done with the school?
How hard would it be to get a job with a firearm manufacture researching and design new products or upgraded existing ones?
Are there many opportunities to work for a company like GA precision?
How hard would it be to one day start my own firearm business, whether it be manufacturing or repairing/selling firearms? How much work is there really out there for a gunsmith?

Those are some questions I have had on my mind here recently. I have looked around on the internet for some answers. But, due to such a small audience asking questions on gunsmithing any kind of information I found was just kind of vague. I am hoping that there is someone on this site that has experience with gunsmithing that could answer my questions and/or give me some good advice. Thanks.
 

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First of all, Voodoochild, welcome to ShootersForum!

As one of our founding members often said to new guys, "Rules are simple, be nice and join in."

I would give you the same advice about becoming a certified gunsmith as I would about any other line of work: If you dedicate yourself to learning the skills needed, and apply what you learn, there is no reason you can't make a good living doing something you already know you enjoy. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the vast majority of money spent on firearms, by average citizens, is discretionary. I mention this because I've known several full-time and part-time gunsmiths who expressed frustration over how inconsistent their income was. You have to develop a very good reputation, which can take years, before you get to the point where there is more work than you can handle, and even then you won't ever make a fortune, as a gunsmith. You don't see very many highly skilled and highly respected gunsmiths who are still in their 20's, or even 30's.

Still, if it's your dream, pursue it with enthusiasm and commitment. That's all any dream takes to make a reality.
 

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I recently graduated from CST and am in the process of getting my own shop set up.

There are a great many job opportunities in the gunsmithing trade, for example gander mountain currently has 8 or 9 positions advertised and many other shops/manufactures are looking for gunsmiths.

I haven't looked at the R&D side personally, but i would imagine unless you have a lot of previous experience in Mechanical design you would have to work your way up in a company until a position became available.

The Idea of working for a company like GA really appealed to me at first, then i found out that most of these companies pay $10.00 an hour , not exactly the wage I was looking for after spending 14 months of time and $20,000 on tuition. The jobs are available but you might look into what the pay is before you get your heart set on a particular company, I live in Oklahoma, before i decided to set up my own shop i was more than willing ot move for a job, but not for $10 an hour.

Starting your own shop is a question I am involved in right now, it takes a considerable amount of money, you need facilities (building mine) Insurance, operating expenses, and a large number of tools/machinery plus an FFL. I got lucky in that i have my own property in a nearly ideal area for gunsmithing. The hardest part is getting enough money to keep your shop open until you are making enough for it to pay the bills.

CST is an excellent choice in schools, But like anything else you get out what you put in.

Your background in the military will open many doors in this industry.
 

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I'm not a gunsmith, but have about 50 years experience in using their services. I don't know if apprenticeship programs are available, but there seems to be a shortage of experts who work on precision firearms used in competition. I think an advanced apprenticeship program that provides training by an outstanding expert beyond the basic gunsmithing of a school would be highly desirable. The gunsmith I most recently used for trigger work on pump and lever rifles has retired and the one I use for competition shotgun work including release triggers is now only working part time and is 60 miles away. I've had a few gunsmiths tell me they wouldn't do this type of work because of liability concerns.

I don't know much about the Colorado School of Trades as an educational entity, even though I live less than a half hour from it. Several years ago (20?) I had some work done by 2 gunsmiths who were instructors there - one of whom who did excellent .45 accuracy and trigger work has retired and the other bought a bar and gave up gunsmithing. I've heard some complaints about the customer service there (which may reflect the customers and the condition of the guns taken there for repair), but that cannot be used to evaluate the quality of the instruction.

Good luck and thanks for your service. I would think the Veteran Education benefits should help with the tuition and related costs.
 

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Voodochild , Since you are already in the military , Have you checked on the Marine Armorer School . Perhaps you could take a Burst and get into that School . Or you could switch branches , I know the Army has such a school ( I'm a graduate of it , 40 years ago ) That way you get paid to go to school , instead of paying to go to school and trying to make a living at the same time . I'd give the idea a hard look , today's economy is not conducive to starting a new business , especially in luxury items ( which most guns are ) I learned the trade over many thousand nights with a cantancoros , opinionated , Genius . That's the hard way , and no matter which school you go to , most of the knowledge you die with will come after school !
 

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If you already have a background as a qualified machinist or tool and die maker, your training in gunsmithing will allow you to add significantly to the knowledge you already have and apply it to this specific area.
If you do not have the background which would make you a semi-expert using a milling machine and a lathe, etc, you will be starting out with a big handicap.
One more thing, you should have good eyesight (Either natural or corrected), or you will be trying to overcome another significant handicap.
 

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Well I hope my thoughts are not taken as an insult or wrong in some other way.

I certainly don't think that gunsmithing should be treated as a primary career choice to start off with. Let's face it. The market is too small. If you already had a machine shop/wood shop it could quite easily be a supplemental income.

I just don't want to see people fail and loose their shirts at a hobbyesque type business. Most people would just go and buy a whole brand new gun to suit their needs. Or do it themselves. Let's face it, most gun type people (that I know of anyway) already are the toolhead type and can and will do most "gunsmithing" themselves. Short of actually making new barrels and actions (which require a huge capital investment) gunsmithing is kind of simple.

I guess my point is that anything short of major milling/drilling I would just do myself. And, quite unfortunately for you, I think that most of us can do a degree of some sort.

I personally think that your best bet is to go into a machining/engineering field. And slowly work gunsmithing into your income.
 

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I have thought about becoming a gunsmith too, but only after I got my B.S. Degree. I know a couple really good smiths that have built custom high end firearms a good part of their lives, and they got their start by having an interest, immersing themseleves in it, and they started by working on their own stuff. After a while, people started asking them to work on their guns, and how many many years later, they are at the top of their field, but retired to say the least.

I may someday become a smith yet, but it will be because I have gotten all the tools for myself and have learned from these smiths that are seasoned veterans of the trade. Then maybe if people like my work I Might start doing some side work after my regular job. I have also been asked if I have any interest to take over on shop and I error towards no because it's not big enough money maker for me, and I would like to keep it as a hobby unless I find I have some uncanny skill to do certian things.

Also, getting your name out ther sometimes involves going to many many shoots, competitions, and good advertising. People can hear about you all day long, but all they care about is. Will it get done right, and does it shoot as good as you say it will, and your reputation.

Just my $0.02.
 

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Let me just say, I agree with the others on the income.

I would also like to say that in many places there is a strong need for gunsmiths. For instance, where I live, unless you want to travel 50 miles or so, there is not a local gunsmith. The guy that I used to take my work to, passed away last year.

I have noticed in my area, that most will not even look for a smith. If something is broken, they will either trade the firearm or set in the back of the safe and go buy a new firearm.

Also something I have noticed,, many of the smiths that are here will not do any custom work what so ever, and alot of the shooters I know, are in need of some sort of custom work one way or another.

I hope it works out for you, and good luck. Stay focused on the dream.

Rugerfan
 

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Also something I have noticed,, many of the smiths that are here will not do any custom work what so ever, and alot of the shooters I know, are in need of some sort of custom work one way or another.

Rugerfan
That's what I have gotten into, and that's what I would do if I were to become a full time Smith!
 
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