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A gunsmith is a firearms expert who modifies, repairs or manufactures guns. Training options for this profession include online certificates and career diplomas in gunsmithing. All gunsmiths must have a Federal Firearms License in order to be in compliance with the Federal Firearms Act of 1938. A Federal Firearms License can be obtained by making application to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. There are a number of online gunsmith programs that have a great reputation.
Gunsmiths are professional craftsmen who design, build, repair and modify guns and, above all, ensure the safety of firearms. Gunsmiths are responsible for inspecting firearms and repairing any problems or defects that can result in potentially dangerous gun failures, including improper assembly, missing parts, cracks, obstructions caused by damaged barrels and safety-mechanism malfunctions.
To perform the assorted tasks required of their trade, gunsmiths must use a variety of tools. These tools may include hand tools like hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers. Machine tools are also necessary for gunsmithing tasks, especially the lathe, which cuts, sands and drills, and the milling machine, which is used in conjunction with metalworking tools like reamers and borers. Measuring and safety equipment are also important for successful gunsmithing work.
Gunsmiths are trained professionals who create, repair and modify firearms. From the design of a custom firearm through the manufacturing and building process, a gunsmith may play one or several roles. Gunsmiths also make functional and decorative modifications and customizations. The first responsibility of gunsmiths is to ensure the safety of any firearm they build, repair or modify. Because they must possess an assortment of skills and undertake a variety of tasks in their trade, gunsmiths use an array of tools. Some of these tools are available in kits sold by distinguished firearms parts and tool suppliers like Brownells.
The trade requires basic hand tools, like hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers. Other important hand tools include punches, files, stones and other tools commonly used in metalworking.
Gunsmiths are professional creators, repairers and customizers of firearms. Like armorers and other firearms-related occupations, a gunsmith may also be called upon for such basic tasks as assembling and disassembling, cleaning and inspecting a firearm for damage or mechanical problems. However, professional gunsmithing is not limited to basic firearm maintenance. A gunsmith may design a gun, make parts for it and build it. Gunsmiths can also perform extensive repairs on broken or damaged firearms.
Firearm customization separates gunsmiths from other firearm repairers. Professional gunsmiths can make practical or aesthetic modifications to existing guns, changing not only appearance but also handling and even accuracy. An important part of a gunsmith’s professional responsibilities is to ensure that firearms are safe to use.
Prospective gunsmiths may have a background in metalworking, woodworking or machinery. They comprehend the mechanics of firearms use and are frequently firearms enthusiasts.
Aspiring gunsmiths can begin learning the trade in a few different ways. Gunsmithing apprenticeships allow student gunsmiths to work under the guidance of an experienced gunsmith and gain hands-on experience learning directly from experts. Pending government approval, The Association of Gunsmiths and Related Trades intends to match experienced sponsors with students pursuing gunsmith apprenticeships. The organization currently is accepting applications for both sponsors and apprentices.
In the course of their career, gunsmiths take on numerous tasks, such as designing, building, repairing, cleaning and inspecting firearms and making functional and decorative modifications and customizations. Gunsmiths need a variety of skills to successfully complete their work. To develop these skills and learn the trade of gunsmithing, aspiring gunsmiths need professional-grade training.
Taking courses from an accredited college is one way to begin a gunsmithing career and prepare for entry-level positions in workplaces like firearms factories, sporting goods stores and small gunsmithing businesses. However, travel concerns, time and even tuition costs can make it difficult for some students to take traditional classes on a college campus. Some aspiring gunsmiths choose to develop their skills through correspondence or online and distance-learning courses at reputable traditional or online-only colleges.
Certain colleges and technical schools offer certificate and associate degree programs in gunsmithing. Trinidad State Junior College, Yavapai College and the Pennsylvania Gunsmith School are three of the more well-known schools in the United States to offer these training programs. Students frequently complete college-level gunsmith education programs within two years. Educational gunsmithing programs usually require students to spend time gaining hands-on experience in settings such as machine shops. Students may have the opportunity to work with different types of guns during their education.
Trinidad State Junior College in Trinidad, Colo., has offered gunsmithing courses since 1947. Aspiring gunsmiths can choose to take only gunsmithing courses to earn a certificate, or they can add general education classes to their gunsmithing course load to graduate with an associate degree. Trinidad State Junior College also collaborated with commercial firearms manufacturer Brownells to create the Brownells – Trinidad American Firearms Technology Institute, which opened in January 2010. The Trinidad, Colo.-based gun shop, which provides a full range of services to customers, provides graduates of gunsmithing programs with the chance to learn how a gunsmithing establishment operates and develop their business management and entrepreneurial skills.
Some aspiring gunsmiths learn the trade through apprenticeships under the instruction of experienced professionals. Currently, an organization called The Association of Gunsmiths and Related Trades is accepting applications for both professional gunsmith sponsors and prospective apprentices and intends to fill apprenticeships, pending governmental approval.
Apprenticeship instruction includes the proper use of gunsmithing tools. Correct operation and safety practices are especially important in the cases of machine tools like milling machines, which are often used with metalworking attachments such as reamers and borers, and lathes, which are used for cutting, sanding and drilling. Gunsmith apprentices usually spend a minimum of four years learning from their sponsors. They develop skills in making gun parts like fixtures and gunstocks. Apprentice gunsmiths also learn to perform repairs and modifications on barrels and other parts of firearms. Apprentices earn income for their work, though their wages may begin as low as the federal or state minimum wage and increase with experience. The Association of Gunsmiths and Related Trades outlines requirements for apprenticeships, including an hourly requirement of work experience, and administers competency exams. Successfully completing an apprenticeship will earn the apprentice a professional certificate.
Colleges and technical schools also offer certificate and associate degree programs. Curricula usually call for students to gain hands-on experience with different types of firearms over a period of four semesters, or two years. Classes may focus on skills like design, repair and customization. Courses may also teach skills in gunsmith specializations, like work with a particular type of gun. These programs frequently require students to complete a number of hours of work in a machine shop setting. Noted gunsmithing schools include Trinidad State Junior College in Trinidad, Colo.; Yavapai College in Prescott, Ariz.; and the Pennsylvania Gunsmith School in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Trinidad State Junior College and firearms manufacturer Brownells have collaborated to launch the Brownells – Trinidad American Firearms Technology Institute. The full-service gun shop provides students who have already completed college-level gunsmith training at any school to spend an additional year developing experience working in and learning to manage a gun sales and gunsmithing establishment.
Some traditional colleges and online-only institutions also offer distance-learning gunsmithing programs that allow students to complete the curriculum from any location at their own learning pace. Some programs, like those offered by Ashworth College and the Penn Foster Career School, are advertised as able to be completed as soon as five or six months after beginning. Like apprenticeships and traditional college courses, online gunsmithing programs also include basic instruction in firearm and gunsmithing tool safety. Skills like gun repair, stockmaking and metal finishing can also be taught through online programs. Additional lessons or courses can focus on particular types of firearms, including types of rifles and shotguns, semiautomatic pistols and single-action and double-action revolvers.
Additional sources of training include the military, in which several branches train variants of gun repair personnel, and the National Rifle Association.
A gunsmith is a professional who builds, repairs or modifies firearms. Gunsmiths may be involved in the creation of a gun from the early stages of design and building or may repair existing guns. A gunsmith may also be called upon for such basic tasks as assembling and disassembling, cleaning and inspecting a firearm for damage or mechanical problems. Professional gunsmiths practice not only basic firearm maintenance, but also are capable of making functional and decorative modifications, completing extensive repairs and conducting renovations such as re-finishing older firearms.
To complete this work, gunsmiths must acquire an array of skills that require them to use a variety of tools. Hand tools necessary for gunsmithing include several types of hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers. A gunsmith must also have precise measuring tools, like inside and outside calipers and micrometers, and vice grips and clamps for holding a firearm in place on a workbench during repair or modification work. Machine tools greatly expand the gunsmith’s abilities. Lathes, which can be used to cut, sand and drill materials, are important for a gunsmith’s work. A milling machine is used with metalworking attachments like reamers and borers. Safety equipment is especially important for gunsmiths when using machine tools and working with potentially hazardous processes such as welding.
A gunsmith is a trained professional who creates, repairs and modifies firearms and may be involved in the creation process from the design of a particular gun to making functional and decorative modifications and customizations. The first responsibility of a gunsmith is to ensure the safety of any firearm they build, repair or modify.
Though some gunsmiths are general practitioners of the trade, many specialize in particular skills or particular types of firearms. Some specialists, like custom builders/designers, stockmakers, checkerers and niche manufacturers work primarily with the design and construction of the firearm, as a whole or in specific parts, such as the gunstock, barrels and triggers.