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How to Find a Gunsmith School

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Gunsmithing is a century’s old art that you can practice either as a career or a hobby. Regardless if you want to set up a gunsmithing business or fix firearms as a side job, you’ll need to attend an accredited gunsmith school and complete an approved course of training. Gunsmithing schools offer students the opportunity to learn this craft through a combination of technical instruction and hands-on learning. If you’re interested in studying to become a gunsmith, the first step is to find a qualified school.

Most gunsmithing programs accept applications from students of all ages, but it’s likely that you won’t be able to begin studies until you’re at least 21. If you’re considering becoming a gunsmith, it’s a good idea to apply to your desired school early. Programs in this art are in high demand, and courses at many colleges and trade schools fill quickly. You should also check on state and national licensing requirements for gunsmiths so that you understand what you’ll need to do to secure your license.

Locating a Gunsmith School

When it comes to locating gunsmithing schools, it never hurts to start in your own backyard. Community college, trade schools and private schools can all offer gunsmithing programs. Choosing the right type of school is largely a matter of preference and financial aid planning. While the three types of schools that offer gunsmithing programs are very different, the programs themselves offer similar coursework.

Finding a gunsmithing school in your local area is as simple as getting on the Internet and conducting a search for programs in your county or state. If you have a specific post-training career in mind, talk to employers in that part of the firearms industry and find out what schools and programs they prefer. You can also check school websites for program details.

Checking School Accreditation and Reputation

As you search for a gunsmith school, remember that accreditation is key. You should always ask school staff about the associations through which they are accredited and if the school accreditation is in good status. For example, the Colorado School of Trades is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and the Colorado Department of Higher Education, Division of Private Occupational Schools (DPOS).

In addition to holding accreditation, the school you attend should also have a great reputation. Ask current and former students at your target schools whether or not they’d recommend that gunsmithing program. Talk to potential employers about schools that consistently graduate excellent gunsmiths. Keep in mind that the Colorado School of Trades gunsmithing school is widely considered one of the top five gunsmithing programs in the U.S.

Should I Go to Gunsmithing School In Person or Online?

There’s no doubt that gunsmithing is a highly technical trade that requires hands-on practice. Recently, online gunsmithing programs have popped up at several colleges. While such programs may offer convenience for students who can’t travel to classes, aspiring gunsmiths should reconsider this type of training. After all, online training doesn’t offer the opportunity to work hands-on with experienced gunsmiths and instructors. This can lead to serious gaps in abilities and knowledge.

In contrast, a traditional gunsmith school provides in-depth, practical training that prepares students for real-world work in the field of gunsmithing. Students who study at the Colorado School of Trades benefit from working with instructors who are passionate about firearms and are eager to share their knowledge. Get in touch with an admissions counselor at CST today to learn more about our exciting, highly respected gunsmithing program.

Founded in 1947, the Colorado School of Trades (CST) has been a gunsmithing training destination since its inception. Our gunsmithing school enjoys a worldwide reputation built on a nearly 70-year history and a long list of successful graduates recognized by top Gunsmith employers everywhere. Find out more about a career in gunsmithing by visiting our website.

Gunsmithing: A Guide to the Job Duties of a Gunsmith

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Gunsmithing is an exciting trade that can easily turn into a lucrative career. Gunsmiths are highly sought by firearms manufacturers and collectors for their vast knowledge of gun design and mechanics. They also possess refined skills in the art of designing, building and repairing firearms of all types, including pistols, hunting rifles, military rifles, shotguns and others. Before applying to a college or trade school to learn gunsmithing, it is important to consider all of their duties and what is expected of them.

Gunsmithing Overview

Gunsmiths are skilled tradespeople who design, build, modify, renovate and repair firearms of all sorts. They may also engage in creative work, such as metal engraving and woodcarving. The duties of gunsmiths vary by specialization and employer. The primary employers are firearms manufacturers, military and law-enforcement agencies, gun shops and sporting goods stores.

Because the general duties of gunsmiths are so broad, they must possess or acquire a wide range of skills, including all of the following:

• Metalworking
• Woodworking
• Parts fabrication
• Mathematics
• Chemistry

Gunsmiths must be proficient in using several types of tools in order to perform their duties adequately. In addition to using hand tools, most gunsmiths must use power tools and machinist tools. Finally, gunsmiths have to stay abreast of all local and federal laws pertaining to firearms. These laws may change frequently, and they may be very complex or difficult to understand.

Duties and Responsibilities of a Gunsmith

The overriding responsibility of a gunsmith is to ensure that the firearms he or she is working on operate safely and according to specifications. No matter what specific process they are engaged in at the moment, gunsmiths must observe safe gun-handling procedures and ensure that customers, assistants and coworkers do the same. All of the mechanisms of the guns must be inspected for safety, and any deficiencies must be fixed before the job can commence or continue. Following are just a few of the reasons why guns may be unsafe even when handled properly:

• Assembled incorrectly
• Parts missing
• Cracks and other damage
• Obstructions
• Improperly aligned
• Timing problems
• Excessive wear and tear
• Firing pin deformities

Common Tasks Performed by Gunsmiths

Following are some of the most common tasks that gunsmiths may be called on to perform:

• Assemble and dissemble firearms
• Inspect, clean and lubricate firearms
• Remove corrosion from metal gun parts
• Repair damaged guns
• Add custom or aftermarket parts, such as swivels, recoil pads, sights, scopes, grips and stocks.
• Repair or refinish wooden handles, grips and stocks
• Touch up engravings and other markings
• Fit barrels
• Remove dents
• Correct headspace of guns and cartridges
• Replace barrels and firing mechanisms
• Modify pull weight and other trigger mechanisms

Gunsmith Specializations

Many gunsmiths are generalists and deal with duties as they are presented, but others focus on one of several specializations, which may call for specific tasks to be completed. A few of the most common specializations are as follows:

• Custom manufacturer – A custom manufacturer designs and builds unique firearms according to a customer’s specifications or desires. In order to complete jobs, custom gunsmiths may use stock parts or raw materials, which requires advanced machining skills.
• Finisher – Once a firearm has been manufactured and assembled, it requires some degree of finishing. Finishing jobs may including Parkerizing, bluing, browning and case hardening.
• Stockmaker – Stockmakers specialize in carving rifle stocks, shotgun stocks and pistol grips from one of several species of wood, including walnut, maple and birch. In order to be successful in this specialization, stockmakers must be proficient in using saws, files, chisels and other woodworking tools.
• Engraver – Many pistols and rifles are exquisitely engraved with patterns or pictures. This work requires a steady hand and the ability to use pneumatic engraving systems or hand engravers.

The History of Gunsmithing

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Gunsmithing is a trade with a truly distinguished past. The first firearms date back to the 1200s; they were invented in China. This technology eventually made its way to Europe, and Italian craftsmen assembled that continent’s first gun barrels. Now, during the Middle Ages, a professional needed to belong to a guild, which was a group of people with the same occupation. The gunsmithing trade was so new, though, that it didn’t have its own guild for a long time. Therefore, gunsmiths started to join blacksmiths’ guilds.

In medieval times, many national governments maintained large storehouses of weapons, and gunsmiths often labored near those sites. An example would be Italy’s arsenal in the northern city of Brescia. Then, as the general public gradually became aware of the work that gunsmiths were doing, the trade gained recognition as a distinct career. Thus, around the mid-1400s, gunsmith guilds began to form. Among the first of those groups was one that originated in Suhl, Germany, in 1463.

Of course, being a gunsmith in those years demanded tremendous patience and knowledge. Indeed, making guns meant being proficient in several trades, woodworking and metalworking among them. It frequently took as long as 400 hours to produce a single gun, and apprentice gunsmiths toiled for many years before striking out on their own.

When it came to gun production, England lagged behind many other countries well into the 1500s. To rectify that situation, King Henry VIII began to ask leading gunsmiths from across the continent to live and work in London, and many of them eagerly accepted the invitation. Thus, gunsmiths such as Belgium’s Peter Van Collen opened shops near the Tower of London, the site of Britain’s royal stockpile of weapons, and they began to train British citizens in their craft.

Naturally, it wasn’t long before this trade began to blossom in North America. Colonial gunsmiths mostly made rifles; the majority of handguns came from Great Britain. Those American craftsmen developed a unique firearm: the long rifle, which was also known as the Kentucky rifle and the Pennsylvania rifle. It featured an elongated barrel, which made it easier to shoot fast-moving prey from considerable distances. Plus, it was an economical weapon in that it used less blackpowder than traditional rifles. Unsurprisingly, it was a hit throughout the colonies.

Of course, American forces would soon win independence for their nation, and pioneers began to cross the vast continent in search of new places to live and farm. Gunsmiths were often called upon to furnish such brave families with guns and ammunition, and many of those professionals would also make money by repairing a wide range of items ― clocks, for example. Due to the high demand for gun production and repair, the industry flourished throughout the 1800s. Then, when the Confederacy seceded and the Civil War began, the Northern and Southern governments suddenly needed a great many rifles, and manufactures were swamped with orders.

The late 1800s and the 1900s saw a vast array of innovations in gun production. For example, automatic handguns began to appear in the 1890s, and the Browning Automatic Rifle premiered in 1918. Further, the Glock pistol, which was the first successful gun to be partially made of plastic, debuted in 1982. However, even as firearm manufacturing moved from small shops to large factories, gun enthusiasts still sought handmade and personalized weapons. For that reason, many gunsmiths who owned their own businesses ― people like Emil Koshollek and Alvin Linden ― prospered. In fact, such individuals continue to thrive, and many of them rely on respected institutions like the Colorado School of Trades for the latest gunsmith-related news and information.

How To Find A Job With A Gunsmithing Degree

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

You already finished a gunsmithing program and earned your degree. Now the search for the right job starts. If you have not already applied for and obtained a Federal Firearms License, it is helpful to take this step before applying for jobs. Having your FFL is a good distinction and is also a great way to make some money while you consider careers with different companies. If you have your FFL, you can advertise your services independently and even charge a small amount of money to handle firearm transfers.

Getting A Federal Firearms License

This process takes some time but is not as difficult as most people assume. The first step is to visit the ATF’s page regarding how to get a Federal Firearms License. Photographs, fingerprint cards and several other pieces of information are required to accompany your application. When you are ready to fill out and submit your application to the ATF, download the entire application.

Independent Work Builds Credibility
Some companies will want to know what you can do and what they can expect from you before they make the decision to add you to their staff. A gunsmith is a vital asset to any gun retail store or gun manufacturing company. The gunsmith’s quality of work affects the volume of customers and what people have to say about the business as a whole. For this reason, most gun stores and especially manufacturers want to hire gunsmiths with experience. Most recent graduates with gunsmithing degrees wonder how they are supposed to find work if most companies prefer experienced gunsmiths. One of the ways to do this is to start by doing some independent work. Advertise for free in forums, in local newspapers and online. Try to line up some jobs and ask the customers for letters of reference if they are satisfied. These will be helpful in a job search.

Apprenticeships And Internships Build Skills
If you live in a remote area or if it is not possible to complete gunsmithing jobs independently to build credibility, another option is to seek an internship or apprenticeship position. Some gunsmiths who work independently may be willing to provide training. In some cases or in remote areas, the only option may be to volunteer for a short amount of time to work with an experienced gunsmith. While no person wants to work for free, the experience and good references gained from the internship can be used to apply for a career with a manufacturer or gun shop.

Contact Major Companies
Start by applying to gun stores and manufacturers close to home. Go apply in person at each one. Be sure to have a polished resume and a personalized cover letter. Do not send the same letter to every company. Part of what makes a good gunsmith is precision and care. Let those qualities reflect in a personalized letter that talks about the uniqueness of the company and how individual skills contribute to that company’s goals. For a better range of opportunities, send resumes and cover letters to major manufacturing companies. Follow up with the letters by contacting each company. Join firearm forums and groups online to watch for word-of-mouth job opportunities.

Gunsmithing jobs are possible to find with persistence and patience. If you are interested in becoming a gunsmith in Colorado and have not yet completed training, consider institutions such as to help you get on the right path. After completing gunsmithing training, the job search is the only step left to starting the right career.

Famous Gunsmiths Throughout History

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Gunsmiths can dramatically alter the course of the firearms industry. Some designs and innovations continue to make a powerful impression hundreds of years after their introduction. In addition to a state-of-the-art facility, the Colorado School of Trades offers a gunsmithing curriculum as unique as the following 10 legends in the industry.

Although he was an accomplished gunsmith who improved the design of the revolver, Samuel Colt is best known for his business prowess. He led the field in assembly-line gun production that made the revolver commercially viable. The company that bears his name later manufactured the Colt .45 and the M16.

Eliphalet Remington was a blacksmith, who made his first flintlock rifle by hand at the age of 23. He would develop the reflection method of straightening rifle barrels and produced the United States’ first successful drilled, cast-steel barrel. The company he founded is still making guns like the highly regarded Remington Model 700 bolt-action rifle.

While working at the New Haven Arms Company, Benjamin Henry received a patent in 1860 for the world’s first reliable lever-action repeating rifle. During the Civil War, it was called the rifle you could load on Sunday and shoot all week. It demonstrated the advantages of rapid fire at close range.

In the early 1860s, Dr. Richard Gatling received a patent for a hand-cranked, multi-barreled piece of light artillery. Firing an unprecedented 200 rounds per minute, it was the first reliable, easy to use rapid fire weapon. The forerunner of today’s modern machine gun, the weapon was designed to eliminate the need for large armies.

Originally making Mauser rifles for hunters, Carl Walther became an influential pistol designer. His pistols retain a reputation as some of the most reliable weapons ever made. In addition to his innovations, Walther is well known for his cultural influences because the iconic fictional spy James Bond’s favorite firearm is the Walther PPK.

John Browning was one of the most prolific gun designers in history. He is credited with 128 patents. Many of his designs are still in use today. His most successful weapons include the M1911 pistol, the Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR, and the M2 .50 caliber machine gun. Designed in 1933, the M2 is still the primary heavy machine gun for numerous armies around the world.

Canadian-American John Garand is best known for developing the M1, the first successful semi-automatic rifle to be widely used by the military. A patent for the rifle was issued in 1934. General Patton called the M1, “the greatest battle implement ever designed.” Garand also designed a light machine gun and an early prototype bullpup rifle.

Eugene Stoner is the gunsmith who designed the AR-15 rifle that would be adopted by the US Army as the M16. The rifle featured a straight-line barrel/stock design, composite materials and forged alloy parts. The result was a much lighter, easier to control infantry rifle. Stoner is regarded as one of the most successful gun designers of the 20th century.

Mikhail Kalashnikov is best known for his design of the AK-47. The model and its variants remain one of the most popular and widely used assault rifles in the world. It is highly regarded for its low production costs, ease of use and reliability under harsh conditions.

Uziel Gal is the German-born Israeli gunsmith who designed the Uzi submachine gun. It was the first weapon to use a telescoping bolt that enabled the magazine to be housed in the pistol grip..

Students and enthusiasts can log on to for more information on gunsmithing and the Colorado School of Trades.

The Top Careers In Gunsmithing

Monday, June 29th, 2015

As a trained and qualified gunsmith graduate of the Colorado School of Trades (CST), you can pursue top career opportunities. Learning to make repairs, produce weapons for competition, and improve firearm accuracy prepares you for challenging and rewarding jobs. Our instructors are experienced gunsmiths who can provide the knowledge that you need to succeed. Our state-of-the-art lab provides 18,000 square feet of space and will prepare you for careers like these:

  • Performing Repairs
    Job duties include coordinating the building and rebuilding of weapons to improve accuracy, develop product improvements and devise accurate ammunition loads. Making sure that weapons are ready for duty before issuance is an essential task, identifying faults and providing repairs. Gunsmith duties require a successful applicant to perform field maintenance on a variety of weapons that rifles, handguns, shotguns. Performing basic modifications to an inventory of weapons may include work on laser and light systems and vehicle mounting systems as well as the ability to attach night sights and scopes.
  •  Filling Machinist Duties
    A lathe machinist may need to use G-codes for programming and set ups. Familiarity with Fanuc controls is desirable but not necessary. Experience with all methods of turning is essential. A successful applicant can machine parts, maintain or repair existing dies and assemble new dies. The gunsmith has responsibility for managing the department and for making sure that all firearms in the department are safe.
  • Repairing Small Arms
    Qualification requires an understanding of internal and external ballistics as well as machine tools and mechanical equipment. The ability to build custom rifles and pistols in addition to working without supervision is essential. The ability to work with weapons systems independently allows a successful applicant to demonstrate adaptability. The position requires a gunsmith to design and fabricate small arms based on blueprints or drawings that a customer may provide. A gunsmith repairman may need to consult with government officials regarding all aspects of the weapons department. Specific duties relate to ammunition and fundamentals of ballistics, weapon mounts, optic systems and prototype development.
  • Designing Custom Rifles
    Satisfying customer requirements for making enhancements to semi-auto, full auto or manual bolt rifles is essential for a successful gunsmith in our design shop. The job requires the testing of custom rifles for feed as well as function to ensure customer satisfaction. Understanding the importance of maintaining our high level of customer service is essential in order to satisfy the demands of our civilian shooters, law enforcement officers and hunters. Working with a customer’s rifle, a gunsmith may need to bolt the lugs and the lug seats, bolt the face as well as the nose and square or true the factory receiver. Providing assistance to customers with the selection of the cartridge, action, barrel and stock for specific uses requires the skill and knowledge of a trained gunsmith.Our gunsmithing shop is the largest in the United States, and it gives you a unique opportunity to gain practical experience in gun repair. Our advanced technological equipment includes Mastercam software as well as ProtoTrak and Haas lathes that enhance your learning experience. CST offers the highest quality of trade education that can lead you to a rewarding career in gunsmithing. Large firms as well as small gun shops offer challenging and financially rewarding careers for you as a trained gunsmith.