How To Become A Gunsmith
Career Video: Gunsmith
Are you interested in the history and production of firearms? Do you enjoy building or repairing objects with your hands? Do you have strong math and technical skills? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have the passion to pursue a career in gunsmithing.
Why Become A Gunsmith
Gunsmiths are skilled in the art of woodworking and metal, as they develop, build, and repair firearms. It is the responsibility of the gunsmith to understand how the individual moving components of a firearm work together. Additionally, it is the responsibility of the gunsmith to identify firearm issues and why a firearm may not be operating correctly. Becoming a gunsmith is a rewarding and exciting profession, as you will utilize your technical skill set, imagination, and tools to design, build, and repair firearms.
Skills & Qualities For A Gunsmith
If you are looking for employment within the field of gunsmithing, be aware that you will need to possess the following qualities and skills to obtain a gunsmith position.
- Mechanical Skills – Gunsmiths must possess exemplary mechanical skills when repairing or creating mechanical components of firearms.
- Manual Dexterity – As a gunsmith, you will work with small firearm components such as levers and springs, therefore, it is essential that you have excellent hand-eye coordination and a steady hand.
- Troubleshooting Skills – Gunsmiths must have exemplary troubleshooting skills when trying to identify and diagnose modern and antique firearm issues.
- Technical Skills – As a gunsmith, you must understand the inner workings of a modern or antique firearm in addition to solving technical, firearm component issues.
Gunsmith Work Environment
Gunsmiths typically work indoors, within a workshop setting. Gunsmiths may utilize tools such as lathes, saws, drills, and presses to create, repair, or maintaining firearms. Safety procedures are part of the gunsmith’s job, as it is imperative that they test fire the firearms they are working with. Due to the artisan nature of the gunsmith’s profession, many gunsmiths decide to specialize within a certain era, style, or specific component of a firearm.
Gunsmiths may work on antique or modern firearms. Additionally, they may work on foreign firearms, custom firearms, and various sporting weapons, such as shotguns or rifles. As a gunsmith, you may interact with customers, take inventory, or instruct courses on how to properly care for a firearm. Additionally, the profession of a gunsmith may be a solitary one, as you may work alone to build or repair firearms.
The median annual wage of a gunsmith is dependent upon their experience and education. Payscale.com recorded in December 2012, the median annual income range of a gunsmith was approximately $25,000 to $64,000.
Gunsmith Career Outlook
The Occupational Employment and Wages Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor does not specifically report on the career outlook of gunsmiths. However, data is available for occupations that are similar to the line of work, such as machinists and millwrights. These occupations are related to gunsmithing as they use tools to create, repair, and maintain equipment. From 2012 to 2022, the overall employment of a millwright is expected to decline at least 5%. From 2012 to 2022, the overall employment of a machinist is expected to increase at least 7%.
In order to become a gunsmith, you will need to obtain a technical diploma, certificate, or Associate’s degree. In order to enroll within a gunsmithing program, you will need to pass a background check. It is imperative that you have strong technical, learning skills, exemplary mathematical skills, and mechanical expertise.
The various degree programs or certificates focus on mechanical and tooling skills required to repair and build firearms. Throughout your coursework, you will learn how various firearms function, the design differences between firearms, and components of firearms. Your training will require you craft wood and metal components in order to create a firearm from scratch. The gunsmith curriculum may include stock making, metalworking, firearm safety, and various machining skills. Furthermore, your coursework may include individual classes on each component of a firearm such as bolt action, self-loading firearms, hinges, levers, and triggers. Metallurgy, soldering, and reverse engineering of firearms may also be included within your curriculum.
Many programs may offer an apprenticeship or internship opportunities for prospective gunsmithing students. In order to become a licensed gunsmith, you will need to obtain a Federal Firearms License, photo records, and fingerprints for identification and licensure purposes.