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S&W-Smithing Maintenance, Repair, and Enhancement of Smith & Wesson and Other Firearms.


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Old 05-17-2020, 01:35 PM
fleabus101 fleabus101 is offline
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I've been fortunate to be friends with an accomplished gunsmith that I've known 35+
yrs. He's wound down as our ages progress, but he' s available when I need him. Esp since
I recently had my stroke. Still working thru it
but it gets better.
I was wondering how many of you have seen the decline of Smiths in your area. I count myself very lucky to be able to call on him.
Just had him cking some parts for me.
What the thoughts on your experiences getting
projects worked on that need more experience/
expertise than you have.
Appreciate your input/thinking about this.
Best J R..
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Old 05-17-2020, 02:07 PM
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Completely agree. The decline of experienced, hands-on gunsmiths is becoming a real problem. I see more "large scale" shops coming on-line; I can't speak to their quality or cost of service. Offering a variety of services, several gunsmiths, you can't pick your own person, etc... I have heard the lack of trade schools, overall decline of interest in the gunsmithing trade, cost of learning, are primary reasons we are seeing less and less new blood going towards this specialized trade.

As collectors, owners and shooters, I believe the best we can do is share our knowledge and experience, and support our local gunsmiths and shops with work. I have taught myself some of the basic repairs and actually enjoy working on gun repairs when I am confident I can do the job correctly. Lots of great info here and knowledgeable folks.

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Old 05-17-2020, 02:20 PM
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Thumbs up real gunsmiths disappearing

From what I can see, experienced true quality gun smiths are either back logged on repairs or expired for health reasons. The younger generation, hobby gunsmiths, try to repair a problem but winds up intensifying the problem and complicates the issue. A true gunsmith will fix the problem, if possible, instead of buying a new part or trying to find an old part. Basically, there are very few drop in parts so if a gunsmith is experienced, he or she will fix the part that is broken or need of adjustment. I am a graduate of American Gunsmithing Institute on phase 1 for pistols and still acquiring experience on my own guns. Sure, I may have to make a part several times before I make the right one but that is experience and hands on is the way to go for repairing old guns or new guns but that takes a lot of looking around the Pawn shops or FFL's for used firearms that are in need of repair or purchasing one that is cheap. Fixing extractors and sears are basically a science in Physics and mastering the true corrections on that problem. The AGI courses are difficult and their method to fix a problem is Design, Function, and Repair. When you look at a firearm or anything you want to repair, how is it designed, how does it function and when I know those two concerns, I can repair the problem. You can use that method on just about anything you want to repair. I think, if one wants to select a substantial business, Gunsmithing is the way to go. This has been a breaking record for guns this year and lets face it guys and gals, someone has to fix these guns. I know graduates of the AGI are making the six figures working on broken guns and enjoyment at the same time. I am glad a completed the various courses with AGI and continue to enjoy the art of repairing my guns since I only have a FFL C&R License.

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Old 05-17-2020, 02:31 PM
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There's a huge difference between the guys who can slap a bunch of aftermarket parts on an AR or Glock and the true gunsmith who can manufacture a tiny part in their shop to replace a broken our out of spec bit on a firearm.
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Old 05-17-2020, 02:34 PM
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I'm pretty sure the gunsmiths at my LGS are still the classic, old fashioned, can fix or make anything, types of smiths. Thank goodness!
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Old 05-17-2020, 03:01 PM
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As mentioned having someone with the lathe,
presses, and fabricating, welding, machine skills and experience working on various firearms over time is a blessing to have around
near me. I think of having to send something
away, wait, and trust a stranger with a piece is
something I would really hate to deal with.
Esp when dexterity isn't what it used to be.
Just thinking how things are in your realm
dealing with projects that require knowledge
and exp to accomplish these days.
I count myself lucky and grateful.
J R..
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Old 05-17-2020, 03:38 PM
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I’ve used Clark Brothers in Warrenton, VA for minor repairs w/good success.
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Old 05-17-2020, 04:16 PM
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These are very true observations.
The tough skills are the artisan and technical ability in a broad base of fundamentals, and, the intelligence (problem solving skills) to use them well.
There are a number of contributing factors to take into consideration:
- The mentality of a general public (customer base) that thinks only in terms of disposable goods.
- A shift in manufacturing to cheap, cookie cutter firearm designs built to the same aesthetic as every other generic household item.
-A generation, or more, brought up on easy answers and instant gratification. Why invest in learning the skills and acquiring the knowledge when a quick buck can be had now slapping on parts off the shelf?
- A hostile political attitude. I'm sure many potentially qualified individuals chose other career fields that seemed more stable over the long haul. Consider too, that in some locales, just something as basic as getting your firearm to a gunsmith legally is a major hassle!
- The tradition of "apprenticeship training" has largely disappeared from our society. It's been replaced by an emphasis on expensive four year academic institutions which were never intended to be vocational in nature! Junior ends up with a degree in communications, $100,000 in debt, no real job experience, and an attitude that they should be hired at the top level of the income bracket.

But, this also ties into the drastic drop in the number of brick and mortar gun shops. I don't remember the numbers, but in the 1990s, there was a politically backed effort to crack down and/or harrass FFL holders. That saw a lot of folks leave the business.

On the upside, a free market usually steps in and fills a need where one exists. There's certainly enough information and resources available to train new gunsmiths.
Are there enough savvy customers with the means to support good gunsmiths?

Last edited by 6string; 05-17-2020 at 07:06 PM.
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Old 05-17-2020, 04:36 PM
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Finding a competent gunsmith able to work on revolvers is difficult nowadays. We have one in the area who is typically backlogged weeks if not months...but he is very good.

We had a great one when I was living back in Connecticut, Gunsmithing LTD (Mitch Schultz) in Southport, CT. His shop is in the old Sturm Ruger plant. I grew up not far from Rugerís plant. Connecticut was in the forefront then in firearm manufacture, sadly, politics and social change have changed that and most of the great gun manufacturers have either left or downscaled to shells of their former selves.

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Old 05-17-2020, 05:09 PM
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From what I've seen, the good revolver smiths are dwindling down to just a handful across the country, due to most of the really good old timers retiring or dying off. There still seems to be a good amount of interest in a quality revolver these days, though.

I feel fortunate to have spent a 45 year career (so far) in the tool & die trade, going through both Boeing and Cessna in house tool & die programs early on. I have been building and shooting custom S&W revos for most of that time. I now have a home based machining business making prototypes of new inventions for myself and others.

I have always felt that the holy grail of revo smithing is a really good D/A trigger pull. It is possible to get there if you are an accomplished smith, but most people will never know how good their gun can be. To that end, I have invented a semi-drop in parts kit for the frame mounted firing pin K,L and N frame guns where the trigger gets lighter as you pull it, similar to a compound bow. This has never been done before in the history of revolvers. The last major advancement in this area was in 1909. It is adjustable to fire different primers, so the starting pull weight can vary, but it always ends up at S/A pull weight at the end. This way the average person can just buy the kit, trade parts, and have a very good D/A revolver. I'm hoping to get all the administrative ducks in a row in 3 or 4 months time.
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Old 05-17-2020, 08:25 PM
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Our hobby which was once a very popular national pastime, has been whittled down to a cottage industry. Politics, political correctness, public shootings, brain washing, etc. have all contributed to this and while gun ownership has grown recently, the sources for purchasing, servicing and ammunition has been shrinking. This will cause prices rise, acquisition to become more involved and seriously skilled and talented gunsmiths to become far and few between. A sad commentary - but true as I can see it. I wish it weren't this way and unfortunately there's not a lot of optimism left. That said..... I HOPE I am totally wrong!
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Old 05-17-2020, 08:53 PM
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We lost our great gunsmith last year, and he was only 84! He had gone thru the S&W school, was a great smith. There is one in Or. over by the coast that is good, but inconvenient.
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Old 05-17-2020, 09:48 PM
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Unfortunately, they are few and far between these days. Most of them are parts changers, not gunsmiths.
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Old 05-17-2020, 10:06 PM
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so true I know of only one in north east ohio
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Old 05-17-2020, 10:42 PM
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In AZ we are fortunate to have Frank Glenn and Nelson Ford both in North Phoenix. I have dealt with both and always leave knowing that my firearm was in the best hands.
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Old 05-17-2020, 10:58 PM
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Most new gun owners care about two firearms and two only:

Glocks and AR-15s.

Both hardly ever require anything a few YouTube videos and some parts from Brownells canít solve on their own.

About the ONLY thing most local gunsmiths in my area know how to do is install night sights... and even then they are not good at it. Had one local guy try and remove night sights from my Beretta for a fresh pair and clearly used a punch on the actual sight, not the dovetail insert. Seems these ships hire people who donít even have a gunsmithing license?

Gunsmithing as we know it is all but dead and is dying daily.

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Old 05-17-2020, 11:56 PM
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A top craftsmen in my trade is worth a minimum of $38. If a shop is paying a full time gunsmith just $30 an hour it cost them about $45 ah hour. Match social security,pay the workmen's comp and unemployment insurance, etc. Then there is the equipment cost and space for that, parts inventory, and book keeping on his services. So, just to break even they need to charge $50 an hour. Detail stripping a revolver and reassembly takes 30 minutes minimum and add in any diagnostic time and its $50 bucks before he really adjusts anything or replaces a part. Set a barrel back a thread? Have to be moving right along to do it in less than 3 hours. You can spend most of a day doing a full blown tune up. Most won't want to shell out $250-500. Hey you can buy a new plastic fantastic for that.

Its like custom knives. Ya, I can sell them for $200 up. But, 99% just by a $19.99 special.

Everyone wants a craftsmanship. Few are willing to pay for it.
That makes being a gunsmith a tough way for most to make a good living.

I can get by on a S&W revolver and have most of the tools. Most of the rest of them would take some time and more tools to learn well, I got Remington's down pretty well, but thats it. Little stuff I can figure out. But, for me I only do what I want and mostly only on my own stuff. Labors of of love. I don't think there is any real money in it even if you did it full time.

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Old 05-18-2020, 07:06 AM
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...Everyone wants a craftsmanship. Few are willing to pay for it...
That is the problem right there. Add in a lack of patience on the part of the customer. I see threads all the time about a six month wait or longer to get something repaired or built. If the smith doesnít have a back load he is new or not very good.

In NE Ohio, I am aware of at least two good ones still working.

Kevin
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Old 05-18-2020, 07:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISCS Yoda View Post
I'm pretty sure the gunsmiths at my LGS are still the classic, old fashioned, can fix or make anything, types of smiths. Thank goodness!

If you still have guys like that around, support them. They are getting far and few between.

Most of the new breed I see are parts swappers.
The can replace the sights on a Glock, drop a trigger kit into an M&P and maybe build an AR from parts. But, they are not gunsmiths in the traditional sense.

Part of it comes from the guns that are now in vogue. Striker-fired plastic and ARs. They lend themselves to that level of knowledge and that is what we are getting.

You don't need to be Hamilton Bowen to drop an Apex trigger into a Shield.

For those of us who still appreciate a good revolver, it is getting to be a problem.
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Old 05-18-2020, 08:00 AM
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A True Gunsmith is quite a rare item these days. In my day to be called a Gunsmith required Machinist skills with the ability to make parts to a fine degree of tolerance, Mechanical Skills, ability to read Prints and weld. Today it Bolt on Bob who clams to be a Smith.
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Old 05-18-2020, 08:00 AM
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I agree. Lots of people work on guns, but replacing parts is a long ways from being a gunsmith. A local shop just made a big deal of adding two "gunsmiths". They build AR's and boresight customers rifles. So far that's all I've observed of their gunsmithing skills.
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Old 05-18-2020, 08:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrnurse View Post
A True Gunsmith is quite a rare item these days. In my day to be called a Gunsmith required Machinist skills with the ability to make parts to a fine degree of tolerance, Mechanical Skills, ability to read Prints and weld. Today it Bolt on Bob who clams to be a Smith.
"Bolt on Bob". I like that. If you are ok with that I'm going to start using that.
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Old 05-18-2020, 11:14 AM
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Feel lucky if you have a licensed gunsmith in your area. We have a couple self taught tool and die makers that do a little gunsmithing. I'm glad S&W's seldom require gunsmithing and what little has been required I have been alb to do myself. Anything major and we are having to hunt up someone and having to mail the items out.
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Old 05-18-2020, 12:46 PM
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If you want to end up with a million dollars doing gunsmithing, start with 5 million and dive in...
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Old 05-18-2020, 01:45 PM
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Years ago I sacrificed time and money to attend two gunsmith schools in hopes of filling a need for a mechanic to repair and build comp revolvers and 1911ís. At the time New England and the Midwest were pretty strong in PPC, IPSC, plates, pins, silhouette and Bullseye. After schooling I worked part time in a couple of shops honing my hand skills but mostly learning machine operation. I stretched and sold half my collection to buy tools and tooling and to set up a small shop, advertise and license. For six years or more I kept a backlog of at least seven to ten guns every month which was enough without pissing people off. I took on servicing rental guns at two indoor ranges that usually required fully two days a week always a rush. These guns were generally abused, dropped and dirtier than you can imagine from low cost range reloads. But it was a great learning experience and the volume got me familiar with several factory parts dept people and how to play the game.

After about six years it didnít require a business major to realize if your good and busy you can barely make a living or about half of what a construction worker made. It seemed like the business was always on the edge. Iíd find myself farming out machine work cause I couldnít justify new tooling for the mill or lathe. But I soon realized it was often smarter business wise to farm out some machining or welding work to small operators I knew and trusted. In this day and age it doesnít alway pay to try and do it all when a specialist will do it faster, better and cheaper. The poster who stated he knew gunsmiths making six figures is very very hard to believe. Might gross six figures but unless he is marketing a proprietary part or accessory I donít believe it. Smithing is an ever evolving trade that like repairing electronics or outboard motors requires continuous schooling, a stream of tools, fixtures and parts and if you want to make serious money you make race or performance parts and/or accessories. Just browse Brownells today then, if have them, look at a 70ís catalogs and notice the hundreds of non-factory performance parts offered. A CNC shop or EDM set up and two people can corner a market ó for a while anyway.

Itís a satisfying business with the right type of clientele. That is real shooters who appreciate good guns and good work at a fair price. Online business where nobody knows each other and communications are weak is a different situation Iím sure. I left the business when you still walked through the door. There are still lots of very qualified gunsmiths working today and more coming out of the schools. Remember though, just going to school doesnít guarantee you are going to come out worth a damn, or want to work at it. There are charlatans in every trade so buyer beware. However the really good shops are going to be busy like every other skill or trade so you wait your turn or ? And it should be understood that the price you paid for a gun should have no bearing on a gunsmiths time and charges. Every gunsmith knows all too well that the basic 2.25 hr job can go over the cliff for just one pin or screw that doesnít like you. If a person is serious and wants to seriously build a gunsmith business ( not a hobby ) then realize your likely never going to make any real money and if you let your heart run the books instead of your calculator youíll probably go broke.
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Old 05-18-2020, 02:36 PM
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The previous post is the most realistic view of the gunsmithing world I've read in a long time. This is the way it is, folks. You may make your reputation building custom guns, but the money is in aftermarket parts.

The reason is because the parts are a production item that, if done correctly, you can make many more dollars per hour on than doing bench work. If done wrong, CNC is just a faster way to make scrap. You still have to keep close tabs on profit and loss numbers no matter what you're doing.

I only work on my own guns because doing it as a business just doesn't pay very well. At least I'm not a good enough businessman to make it pay. There's a big difference between being good in the shop and being good at running a business. Very few are good at both.
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Old 05-18-2020, 02:58 PM
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The previous post is the most realistic view of the gunsmithing world I've read in a long time. This is the way it is, folks. You may make your reputation building custom guns, but the money is in aftermarket parts.
Sounds like the path Wilson, Brown, et al., followed.
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Old 05-18-2020, 03:35 PM
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My gunsmith/GS owner cannot find affordable front counter help with a solid understanding of what they are selling, so is constantly interrupted in the back where he is smithing to answer customer questions.
So he is now backing out of the back room to spend more time at the counter.
As he put it, he can either makes several thousand $ a day in the front, or several hundred $ a day in the back.
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Old 05-18-2020, 04:27 PM
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The recurrent view mentioned that is erroneous is that there is some sort of a gunsmith license. You need an FFL to take in other persons guns as a business. You only need to use the FFL and call yourself a gunsmith. The only member of The American Custom Gunmakers Guild that I am aware of that has only been a gunsmith as an occupation is Jerry Fischer. He is a legendary rifle maker but has a good cash flow from the scrapers he makes with his wife. You can get stuff done fast, cheap or well done. Pick 2. A one man shop is becoming a thing of the past because without another form of cash flow they can't spend enough time on the bench to get good at something and run all the paperwork that has to be done to keep the business legal. If you work for someone like Les Baer you spend you whole day doing one thing. Checker front straps, fitting slides or cutting dove tails for sights. You don't actually build a gun till you are so high in the food chain and you wanted to you can't go out on your own because you signed a non compete clause when you started. If you want to have a local guy support him from the beginning. If he does good work bring him a lot and don't balk at whatever he or she ( there are a lot of talented women) wants to charge.
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Old 05-18-2020, 05:07 PM
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Finding a really great GS at a somewhat affordable price who can get the job done in a fair amount of time and has good communication skills is like finding a snowball in Hawaii in July
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Old 05-18-2020, 06:13 PM
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There are gunsmiths then there are parts swappers, armorers & Bubbas. If you can't make any part you ain't a gunsmith. I owned a gunsmithing business for over 30 years (now retired). I apprenticed from Grandpa who could build or fix anything then went to machinist & welding schools to learn modern equipment. Grandpa did everything the old way, made all parts, welded, tempered, made springs, checkered, etc. I did very little retail & had no interest in it. In the 80's I made good money sporterizing Mauser rifles, I could make more on a Saturday than working all week @ a regular job (I worked another job 8 hrs. a day to help pay bills + 6hrs.@ night 4-5 nights a week & all day Saturday). Like mechanics most gunsmiths prefer to work on custom projects, not change a tire on a Kia or clean your gummed up Mossberg. There's no real money in repairs: Good guns don't need much, cheap guns aren't worth it... & there's always the dork who checks his broken rifle the day before deer season & doesn't understand poor planning on his part isn't an emergency to you or the other customers he wants to bump. Custom builds are fun but time consuming & require a lot of expensive tools (you could buy a new truck cheaper). I sold most of my tools when I retired & despite whining from those who want me to I'm NOT buying more, I like being retired. The only guns I work on now are my own projects (or a very few close friends). No, I don't want to look @ your Glock, Mossberg, Hi Point, Taurus, Remington or other gun that costs more to fix than it cost. Hint regarding Remington 700's: If your gun goes bang when you close the bolt soak the trigger in alcohol for a couple days, scrub & stop using Remoil, sewing machine & 3-in-1 oil. Hoppes is the cure.
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Old 05-18-2020, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by chief38 View Post
Finding a really great GS at a somewhat affordable price who can get the job done in a fair amount of time and has good communication skills is like finding a snowball in Hawaii in July
You'd have to climb the mountain for that!
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Old 05-18-2020, 07:17 PM
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Most of the time when people speak of "gunsmith " in generic terms , what they're really seeking is a competent Armorer . ( Yes , there is a shortage of reasonably available competent armorers ).

The Golden Age of Gunsmiths in every town , if not every street corner to a large extent included guys who worked as Machinists either in the Military , or defense contractors during WWII or Korea .. Any still alive , are mid 80's to 90's .

It's only slightly joking to describe the career path to become a true Gunsmith ( or custom knife makerl) : Become an experienced tool & die maker, or master machinist . Decide you hate your job so much , it's worth it you to take a 50 to 75% pay cut to work on guns ( or make custom knives ) instead .
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Old 05-18-2020, 09:56 PM
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It's a GREAT TIME to start learning at least the basic GS-ing skills. Finding a competent GS will get harder and harder!
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Old 05-18-2020, 11:08 PM
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I've been at this for 50+ yrs.
30+ of it full time as a one man operation.

I do just about all of my own work. About the only things I have to send out now are casecolor for large parts (frames,ect), Plating for same, and Hot Salt Blue.
Everything else I do myself.
Stockmaking, checkering & carving,wood finish, metal work, metal finishes, parts making, welding (could be better!), bbl work, restorations, upgrades, engraving and inlay, ect.
It's all pretty much self taught and what I could pick up from others at shops I did work for and few I work in.

I had no real specialty though 'restoration & upgrading' might come close.
I was able to make a very nice living in those 30+ years as a full timer doing the work and a very nice extra $$ job as a part time job before that.

I was never in to the retail side of the gun business. Never had a 'store' as such,,no walk in traffic.
Nice and quiet, I do my work and the jobs got finished. The customers got to be pretty much an established group. They knew me and trusted me with their firearms.
Now I don't take in any new work. I have a bunch of project guns from all those years back that never got worked on. Now is the time. Now or never and some will probably be never!

It can be a very nice business, it's all in what you expect from it.
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Old 05-18-2020, 11:53 PM
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[QUOTE=JayFramer;140776660]Most new gun owners care about two firearms and two only:

Glocks and AR-15s.

That's the demographic most of my local "gunsmiths" cater to. A year or so ago I looked for smith to swap out a cylinder on a model 36. A few long-time smiths who had practiced far enough into the Internet era to have good online reputations had recently retired. The gentlemen I did eventually consult with had no experience or interest in working with revolvers. Nothing wrong with slapping AR parts together, I just wish some of the new generation would develop a level of curiosity and reverence for guns that pre-date the black plastic fad.
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Old 05-19-2020, 06:15 AM
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Between the advent of CNC fabrication and the use of plastic in manufacture, the demand/need for gunsmiths has gone the way of the lamplighter
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Old 05-19-2020, 06:53 AM
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Default Many Factors at Play

With increasing competition among gun manufacturers, many now offer custom touches as standard that were once gunsmith modifications. The extended safety on a Model 1911 is just one example of a former custom modification.

A second factor is the proliferation of polymer gun frames, particularly in carry guns, that are often ready to carry right out of the box and don't usually require gunsmith attention unless you're changing sights.

My own gunsmith is getting on in years and in poor health. His rifle work was often used on the Leupold optics catalog to showcase their line of scopes. The first sentence of this paragraph fits me also: my need for custom touches is rapidly waning.

Lets not forget that a true gunsmith is also a true machinist. Machinist skills are being designed out of new products. Just my opinion, right, wrong or somewhere in-between.
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Old 05-19-2020, 07:24 AM
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I have gave up looking for someone too work on my S&W revolvers. I can change the main spring but that is my limit. I find it's cheaper and less trouble too pay extra for a super nice one and when it quits working put in the bottom of the drawer and buy another one. I now have 2 K frames .22s in the drawer but I still have 2 that working ok. At my age that may be enough. Larry
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Old 05-19-2020, 10:27 AM
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I don’t have a gunsmith anymore, he passed. He was the kind that could build a rifle from scratch, fix revolvers and stock work. Not to many guys are going to risk what it cost to tool up a shop when politics may shut it down. It aggravates me to see signs on gun shops that say gunsmith on duty. They come in two types, the AR mechanics who think they are gunsmiths because they have bought the tools. The other kind are wanna bees who have a bucket of dollar store tools to build ARs. I wouldn’t let these guys near any of my guns. Some know their limitations and won’t take in work that is above their pay grade.
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Old 05-19-2020, 10:40 AM
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Sad but true. Just like real auto mechanics.......................All we have now is parts changers.
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Old 05-19-2020, 11:40 AM
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Threads like this make me feel lucky. I don't know any good gun smiths. But, I do have really good metal skills, a small lathe and a couple mills, A S&W Armorer manual and a copy of Knudson's book and the patience to work it out. I am not going tto make a trigger or hammer, but I can buy those. I can ream a cylinder, fit and time it. Install a barrel or set one back. Slowly bought or made many of the specific tools. I am slow. but I am doing it because I like and want something the way I want it. Most of it is not rocket science, and the tolerances are with in my abilities. If I come out .002 on the barrel gap its not a big deal if I shoot for .004 in the first place.The worst thing you can do is get in a hurry or heavy handed.

Get a couple of old guns and go to tinkering. I have a model 10 has been through a lot in my hands. J&G has or had some model 10s minus barrels for $130 bucks, lots of places have parts. Books are for sale, videos available,

I am not going to build the worlds most accurate bench rest gun. But, then I don't need the worlds most accurate bench rest gun.

Solid, reliable with decent accuracy I can manage, given time.I have messed up a few parts learning, price of my education, so far I have not wrecked a frame.
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Old 05-19-2020, 12:13 PM
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Many moons ago, an old time gunsmith posed the following question:

Q: What is the difference between a pizza and a gunsmith?

A: A pizza can feed a family of four!
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Old 05-19-2020, 12:14 PM
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I would say to tool up proper shop you would be talking at least $250k.
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Old 05-19-2020, 12:19 PM
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Way back in 2003 I read an article that said "When it absolutely,
positively must work, knowledgeable people from all over the world
send their guns to Karl Sokol." Karl does business as Chestnut Mountain
Sports.

I had, and still have, a Colt's Gold Cup National Match, that I carried at
the time, and I had to depend on it absolutely, positively working every
time, so I sent it to Karl. He did an excellent job, using all Ed Brown
parts. Seventeen years later it still works flawlessly. I understand that
he does great work on revolvers as well.

There are still some great gunsmiths around, and he is one of them.
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Old 05-19-2020, 02:12 PM
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Quote:
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I would say to tool up proper shop you would be talking at least $250k.
Interesting. I know that sounds like a whole lot of money but if your going to, do it right and do it with good machinery and tools and donít sacrifice on floor space. Worn out unreliable machinery and tooling cost way too much if quality and a schedule are important. Itís the incidentals, the tooling, the stuff that fills the voids between the big ticket items that runs up the bill. Then the building, lighting, heating and ventilation, insurance is a big nut, safe storage, etc. The gunsmith business requires so many levels of skills and accordingly tools and materials compared to other trades that if your just getting started and donít have much capital itís like a medical doctor coming out of school owing his first twenty years to the bank. And doctors can get loans. Try your hand at a bank with a gunsmithing business plan. Better off selling legal dope.

There is some good news though and it has to do with machinery costs. Lots and lots of small machine shops are being auctioned off. Those days of ten Bridgeports and rows of lathes are over its CNC and right now the economy is shriveling so a sharp eyed buyer can get some nice machines for .20-.30 cents on the dollar. Build or buy a rotary phase converter if you donít have three phase cause most all industrial equipment is such. The way I see it you can equip a small shop for less than half of what it cost tens years ago.

2152hgís comments should inspire those who have the drive and heart for the business. Not saying he would be interested but years ago a young guy would find an older craftsman and offer his labor in exchange for knowledge. I did it several times to learn wood boat building then again some of the elements of gunsmithing. Location and opportunity are a challenge but there are always ways if you want it bad enough. Growing up as a kid Frank Pachmayr used to let me sweep the shops and allow me to ask and try to pick his gunsmiths brains, some anyway. I was too young so it was a wasted opportunity. Anyway Iím trying to say that the skilled old timers are the true best source For learning the skills of a trade like this. Most of them donít want to pass without sharing and helping to keep the trade alive.

Rick
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Old 05-19-2020, 04:28 PM
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It used to be the talent pool for competent DA revolver armorers, and springboard for moving up to fullfledeged 'smith were the S&W and Ruger LE Armorer's course graduates . Either moonlighting , or post retirement . But alas , with the Revolver Era winding down 30-35 yrs ago, they are getting thin on the ground also .
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Old 05-19-2020, 06:56 PM
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I will go a step further about gunsmiths. I have lived in WV all my life. I have owned firearms for 40 years. I have known of one all round gunsmith,that made a living of it and lived in WV.
The rest are hobbist that specialize in a certain discipline of firearms. I don't know of any local gunsmiths that could install and chamber a rifle barrel.
I shoot competitively and had all,my pistols were built out of state. I have paid for one recoil pad to be installed. I now do all my work myself as I need it.
The profession around here never really existed.
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Old 05-20-2020, 10:08 AM
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I started out in the 1940's ( my first FFL 12-49) later became 12-49M (gunsmithing was considered manufacturing),
I apprenticed to a gentleman who held his Meisterbrief from Germany. Made me hand file a block of steel into a ball, then after I proved I could run the lathe allowed me to assist with rebarreling military rifles into sporters.
I chose to specialize in handguns....New York City at the time only required the fee of $2.00 and you could call yourself a " gunsmith".
Later they woke up and had a test. Many failed and were no longer allowed to be licensed.
They licensed some partially...NO MACHINE TOOLS ALLOWED.
My license was endorsed NO RESTRICTIONS.
I tried to hire men to work for me who had gone to gunsmithing schools. None I could trust to work on the NYCPD handguns which we specialized in.
Through the years I became a Colt Parts distributor and factory authorized repair depot.
(Our shop repaired more S&W products than Colt as they Colt was not as popular due to pricing)
When it came time to retire, sold the Police Equipment business to the employees, but they had no one qualified to be gunsmiths.
No longer able to even work on my own remaining items.



'.

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Old 05-20-2020, 10:22 AM
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Today, the term "gunsmith" doesn't mean what it once did. In the way back, a gunsmith was often a master machinist who could not only fit but manufacture parts. In the modern era of the plastic fantastic, "gunsmith" is a term often used to describe someone with a knowledge in parts replacement at the level of a law enforcement armorer.

My LGS just announced they'd hired a second "gunsmith". When I asked a few questions I quickly determined the individuals skill set revolved around dropping in plastic fantastic trigger kits, mounting and bore sighting scopes, etc. Nothing that required any fitting or machining of parts, etc.

The old school gunsmith is a dying breed. The modern equivalent is a plumber, not a machinist.
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