Do I need to a cerficate from gunsmith school to become a working gunsmith?
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  1. #1
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    Default Do I need to a cerficate from gunsmith school to become a working gunsmith?

    I am a professional machinist with a 2 year machinist degree. Do I need to go back to school to apply to have a gunsmith business from the ATF; will the machinsist degree count for the ATF. I am in Texas and there is no gunsmith school close to me.

    Thanks

    Eugene

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    No. There isn't any certification for gunsmithing, period.

    For the FFL, you will need to meet the requirements of your local jurisdiction. Business licensing, zoning, tax registration, etc. Meeting ATF requirements is the easy part. Background check and pay the fee.

    Jeff

    Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk

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    Wow,thanks a bunch.
    I read the ATF requirements and you were right there is no requirements for certs. I have a little machine shop(lathe/mill/tool grinder/surface plates/etc) in my garage, I should be able do something fun instead of making bolts and sewing machine parts...

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    The easy part is getting the FFL. Much harder to stay legal with the myriad of rules.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ohio Mike View Post
    The easy part is getting the FFL. Much harder to stay legal with the myriad of rules.
    I agree with this 100%. If you can I would suggest you sitting down with an attorney and talking about this business venture . One that handles trusts and other gun specific issues for business. You are going to have to learn the record keeping and as stated a myriad of other thing you never knew existed !!

    It can be done and I wish you luck, but take the time to start off on the right path !

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    What exactly do you plan to do 'gunsmithing'?

    Making parts, accessories or repairing and modifying firearms.

    The former requires no FFL license nor all that hassle.

    The latter does require the license and the acquired knowledge that you need to get 1st before calling yourself a gunsmith. Like working for a gunsmith for a few years, and or going to gunsmith school.
    And there isn't much money to be made in repairs of typical $500 guns.

    There are plenty of clueless hacks already out there butchering guns and calling themselves gunsmiths.

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    Doug is correct. IF you are a machinist, ( a real one, not Home Shop Harry) then you you should already know more than the gun butchers who think cutting a chamber requires some special voodoo. If you are a real machinist you already spent 4-5 years on your basic education and skill development and you would not likely profit much from some quickie certificate.

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    There is no professional cert required, last I checked. You can be a toolmaker or a butcher.

    However, from near the end of the Obama era, a new rule was put in requiring a federal licensing, essentially a manufacturer licence, to do any repairs or mods to firearms. Besides getting approved, the cost was in the area of $2000-$2400 per year for the license.

    I don't know if it was rolled back under Trump, haven't followed up lately. As Doug W stated, not much money in it, which is why I moved away from it.That, and customers will drive you crazy. A 1 hour repair will cost atleast 3 hours with all the calls, emails, and talking.

    I do know that change under Obama affected even minor repairs/mods like trigger jobs.

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    Since you are in Texas and are probably used to traveling long distances to get to anywhere in the Lone Star State you might want to have a look at a gunsmithing school just up the pike in Trinidad Colorado. It has been around since the 1930's and has an excellent record of turning out "journeymen gunsmiths" , meaning these folks are going to actively try to find a master gunsmith to fully learn the trade as a craftsman or even as an artist. They have a 2 year curriculum for this but since you mentioned that you have already are a machinist you might wish to look at the summer NRA program. This is a 9 week set of 1 week courses that allows you to pick from a myriad of subjects . Anything from stock making, refinishing, chambering, basic and advanced machining and on and on.
    The name of the school is Trinidad State Junior College. It is inexpensive and you can stay in the dorm rooms in the summer courses. You will also meet some great folks and some very accomplished Gunsmiths...

    You will then be justified is stating that "I took a trip to Trinidad"....

    Best regards,
    Chuck

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    I know a guy that went to gunsmith school in colorado, he makes beautiful guns, yet eternally flat broke. If, and I repeat IF you can become famous for your gun creations, maybe there is money to be made, friend has been trying to get there for 30 years. From what I've seen, regular machinist can make better money than a gunsmith, ymmv.

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    If you are able to perform useful work with a lathe, mill, or other machine tools, you will sooner or later be approached to repair a firearm, or make/modify some part of a gun. Accepting these jobs presents some interesting and rewarding puzzles. Unfortunately, a shop full of this work will not provide a minimum wage for you. If you are building custom rifles or pistols for the wealthy few, or making custom parts for the warrior wantabes, you can do very well indeed. Both options bring with them the attention of the ATF, along with their ever-changing regulations and requirements. A simple mistake or omission in the records you are required to keep, will possibly result in the loss of your license and your indictment. Your license opens your premises, including your home, if your shop is at home, to the unrestricted entry and search by law enforcement without notice. A licensed shop can be a source of good income and great satisfaction for the diligent owner. If you do it, separate your shop from the entrance with a counter, or wall, and do not provide a place for customers to sit, as you will have "friends" there all day long.

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    I appreciate the info, Chuck K. Working on my own stuff is interesting enough for me. Not too interested in it as a profession now. The only way I find it personally feasible, would be to actually manufacture.

    I mostly stuck with the AK platform and comblock stuff, and developed a pretty fair rep in that community. Plus that work is not real high precision, so its fairly easy. Its just the grand total of aggravation and time put in, that makes it less desirable.

    And really it was always more of a side project anyway. I do quite well in my day job, so I'm really under to pressure to pursue it.

    A funny thing is, I would change my user name if possible, just to avoid getting asked about it. I had brought that user name here, from other sites, and shortly after, those law changes happened. But I don't want to start over as plastic new guy.

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    I am acquainted with a lot of smiths, from part time smiths to several members of the American Custom Gunmakers Guild. The very few that eat well retired with a good retirement pay, a wealthy wife, or a narrow specialty. A well known BR guy does nothing but chamber competition barrels, another has a military contract and chambers barrels for the military, another has a Haas and produces custom parts as a sideline. If you are raising a family or like to go out and eat from time to time, don't become a gunsmith.
    Gunsmithing Technology | Murray State College
    In Tishamingo, Oklahoma and it is closer to you than Trinidad. Trinidad is a great school.

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    I would suspect that, as a professional machinist, a quickie course at Trinidad would largely be a waste of your time.
    Riflesmithing in particular is little more than precision machining- you can pick up a book like Hinnant's, or the proverbial YTube videos explaining the basic operations.

    The targeting of gunsmiths during the Obama administration under ITAR has been eliminated- regulating exports now falls under the Commerce Dept, not Dept of State. Us smiths are no longer subject to the ridiculous $2250 yearly fee under ITAR.

    As mentioned, it's relatively simple to get the FFL- but you must intend to use it as a business, with "the principal objective of livelihood and profit". Business organization, local licensing, etc.

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    Well, I have been a professional machinist for 30 plus years. As a trade, you kind of have to make some choices. You can play the CNC game, it helps if you are interested in computers. If chained in a cubicle with solid works working under a control freak appeals to you I would suggest that route for the future. I eventually went the manual machinist route, and have predominantly worked for small Mom and Pop job shops. You have more freedom that way, but you are never gonna get a comparable wage. I have done what I wanted and lived on less, and usually I have had access to the machines for my projects. As for gunsmithing, I would advise the tech school route. While it is true that OJT is where you will learn the most, there is some cut and dried do's and don'ts working on guns. Remember that your product is going to wind up inches from somebodies face and produce something between 6 and 30 tons of pressure. Gunsmithing has absolutely no room for impatience or shortcuts, and damn the cost. That fact alone makes it hard to make any real money. We must do it because we enjoy it. Many people in much better circumstances than I over the years, have envied my ability to build virtually whatever.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4575wcf View Post
    Well, I have been a professional machinist for 30 plus years. As a trade, you kind of have to make some choices. You can play the CNC game, it helps if you are interested in computers. If chained in a cubicle with solid works working under a control freak appeals to you I would suggest that route for the future. I eventually went the manual machinist route, and have predominantly worked for small Mom and Pop job shops. You have more freedom that way, but you are never gonna get a comparable wage. I have done what I wanted and lived on less, and usually I have had access to the machines for my projects. As for gunsmithing, I would advise the tech school route. While it is true that OJT is where you will learn the most, there is some cut and dried do's and don'ts working on guns. Remember that your product is going to wind up inches from somebodies face and produce something between 6 and 30 tons of pressure. Gunsmithing has absolutely no room for impatience or shortcuts, and damn the cost. That fact alone makes it hard to make any real money. We must do it because we enjoy it. Many people in much better circumstances than I over the years, have envied my ability to build virtually whatever.
    Good advice. I went to Trinidad state JR college for a gunsmithing degree, and I'm not getting rich.

    As a machinist, you might consider taking some summer classes at the one of the NRA gunsmithing programs. That's how I got started, then I ended up a full time student.

    NRA Explore | Find A School

    --
    Pat Jones
    Firestone CO

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    Today you can get your class 07 license for $150.00 and some patience. If you are not book keeping savvy, or willing to dot the i's and cross the t's, don't bother doing any of this work as you are setting yourself up for a failed inspection or fines for doing it without a license. If you have some sense, are a good machinist, pay attention to details on the paperwork, you might find this to provide another income stream in a tough market. As others have said, you will not make a lot of money but you may make enough to make it worthwhile if you enjoy doing the work. I do it more for the guys I shoot with, as I have been on the other end of the months long wait for a decent barrel job or being restricted to pre chambered Savage type barrels. They pay a fair price for the work, they get it faster than most others and it does not overly tax my time to fill out all the paperwork to stay in compliance with ATF.

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    This is not a good time to make contracts with people more powerful than yourself.

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    I'm amazed at what top level gunsmiths can do, and have always wondered how anyone but a top level can make a living at it. Funny enough a friend of mine here, Finnish, trained as a gunsmith there, then did watchmaking. After a few years on watches he went back to guns... that lasted about a year. The Finns are very money savvy. He still loves his guns- came by the shop the other day and whipped out his new Sig from the saddlebag haha, but he also wants to retire comfortably before he's 100. At 51, I wouldn't be surprised if he can retire before 60- did I mentioned the Finns are savvy about money?

    A real pain for gunsmiths (in any 1st world country I imagine) is the hoop jumping. I know some utterly amazing amateur watchmakers who can do things many many pros can't, and they do them as they can and see fit. Doesn't work the same for guns.


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