How to Become a Gunsmith

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how to become a gunsmith

You may have a dream that one day you would like to become a gunsmith and for good reason. You have always been a firearms enthusiast and the idea of making a career out of working on weapons is something that just makes sense. But how do you get started? What has to be done? Let’s see if we can make how you can be a gunsmith a bit clearer for you.

If you came to this website to find how to become a gunsmith, then you have made the right choice. Whether are you are thinking about gunsmithing as a career or you just really want to work on your own firearms, the path is basically the same. There will be some training, practice and hard work but the overall effort is well worth the time you have put in to it.

On this page we will show you what we deem to be the best way to become a gunsmith in the shortest amount of time as possible. Throughout this page you will also see some links to other parts of this website that gives deeper coverage to certain areas that you might find helpful. This page is strictly an overview of the steps that you should consider if you truly want to become a gunsmith in today’s world.

The staff here at GunsmithTraining.Org hope that you find this article enlightening and educative. If you have any questions or suggestions to make this page or the entire website better, please feel free to contact us. Our email address can be found on the About Us page.

In each tab below, you will find the various steps that we feel should be followed, especially if you are considering gunsmithing as a career. We believe you should follow them in order but we understand if you have the need to jump around. As mentioned earlier, throughout these steps you may find links to important resources or pages within our website that gives more detailed information.

How Can You Become a Gunsmith?What's First?Training?Need a License?Experience Needed?Need a Job?Any Other Tips?

Quick and Easy Guide on How To Become a Gunsmith

Those who want to become a gunsmith should know that you are about to undertake what we consider an amazing path towards independence. If you have the motivation and desire, it is possible to make gunsmithing a viable career choice. But before you can even think about opening your own business, you need to know what it takes to even consider yourself ready to be a gunsmith.

We have put together what we consider the five most important steps you will need to take to become a gunsmith. This is a fairly simple road to follow but one that should be mapped out before you begin. You will need to know what to expect on your journey from a firearms enthusiast who wants to tinker to a trained gunsmith that can help serve your community.

So are you ready to learn on what it takes to become a gunsmith in today’s world.

Before You Enroll in Gunsmithing School

We believe that those who want to become a gunsmith are doing so with noble intentions. We were given the Right to own firearms for protection, hunting and even for fun. But before you decide to go all in and enroll in a gunsmith program, you should know that it will not be just a walk in the park.

Believe it or not, some of what you have to do to become a gunsmith starts before you even take a step towards training. Preparations must be made and certain requirements should be met. You most likely have completed some of these items before but just in case here is a checklist of what should do before you start to train to become a gunsmith.

  • Make out a list of reasons you want to become a gunsmith
  • Create a list of goals that you would like to accomplish by learning gunsmithing
  • Do a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of gunsmithing
  • Try to decide whether you want this be a profession or a hobby
  • Graduate high school or earn your GED
  • Talk with local gunsmiths about their thoughts and opinions
  • You should do some research on what the job entails
  • Take a look at what the requirements are for being able to get a Federal Firearms License (FFL)
  • Consider attending woodworking and metalworking classes before gunsmith training
  • Spend a little time brushing up on your math skills
  • If you are a convicted felon or have a restraining order against you, consider a different career
  • Stay away from hardcore drugs as most schools will have you go through a drug screening
  • Check out the median salary and projected outlook for gunsmithing
  • Try to decide what kind of gunsmith you would like to be
  • You should be somewhat mechanically inclined
  • If you are not mechanically inclined, consider taking some classes like auto repair to get an understanding of the principles of mechanical devices
  • If there is a tool and die class available, consider taking it
  • Read up on the history of firearms and the different types
  • Attend a firearms or gun show and talk with dealers and gunsmiths
  • Check in to local, state and federal laws concerning firearms and gunsmithing
  • If you don’t already, consider joining a firearms advocate group such as the National Rifle Association or the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF)
  • Spend some time talking with other firearms enthusiasts
Whatever you do, make sure that you are wanting to become a gunsmith for the right reasons and it makes sense. Just go through this list and make sure that you have most of these before you want to start training. Some of these you don’t need right away but these conditions can help you succeed in gunsmith school.

Get the Right Training

Like most craftsman trades, gunsmithing is an art that you have to learn from experienced or master gunsmiths. Your choice is basically an apprentice program or through formal training. In our experience the easiest way to get training is by going to one of the accredited gunsmith schools.

Most of these training programs are held at vocational/trade schools or community colleges around the country, albeit a small number of these programs are available. Deciding which school or program to attend can be difficult. Check out our latest article on ways to help find the right school which includes tips such as:

  • Finding accredited schools
  • Comparing the cost and length of training
  • Questions to ask
  • What you should look for
  • The types of requirements must be met
  • How to find the real information about the school and the training program
There are also some online gunsmith classes too. These are great for those in specific situations that make going to a campus-based school difficult and offer a comparable education. However, you will need to schedule some time to be able to do the hands-on portion of the training. Read more about this on our online classes page.

These training programs are split between classroom education and hands-on or practical training. Some of the subjects covered in your training will include:

  • Introduction in to the History of Firearms
  • Firearms Function and Design
  • Maintenance and Repair
  • Firearms and Shop Safety
  • Reverse Engineering
  • Metalcrafting
  • Stock Making and Customizations
  • Gun Sights and Scopes
  • Operation of Hand and Machine Tools
  • Milling, Sanding and Grinding
Gunsmith training can be completed in as short as a few months for a diploma or as long as 2 years for those seeking an associate degree. While we believe that there is an advantage for those earning an associate degree especially when it comes salary and finding jobs, the choice is left to you and your specific situation. It should also be noted that there are a lot of specialty classes that can help you to continue to learn after your training and may even be useful to set yourself up in a niche area.

Getting Licensed

As you probably already know, if you plan on working on other people’s weapons or selling them you will need to acquire a Federal Firearms License (FFL). You will need to meet certain requirements in order to get the FFL such as:

  • Must be 21 years old or older
  • Must not be an illegal alien
  • You’ve never been convicted of a felony
  • You do not have a history to mental illness
  • You were not dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces
  • You will need to pass both an electronic background check and a fingerprint check
The FFL is given out by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). It typically takes 60 days to complete the entire process. So keep that in mind.

Gain Experience

Like most professions, real world experience is one of the best teaching tools. Sure, you can get great training through one of the gunsmithing schools, but you still may need to be seasoned before you think about opening your own business. Basically, we feel there are two viable ways to get this much needed experience that you can choose from.

The first one is working as an assistant for an already experienced gunsmith. This will give you a chance to not only hone your own craft but also learn some potentially helpful techniques from someone else. Think of this as an entry level job where the pay is just okay but you gaining the skills necessary to do your own thing.

The second option is an apprenticeship program. Even though it is possible for you to skip formalized training and go straight in to an apprenticeship, you should think about doing both. This way, you will be getting a double bill of training that can only help you in the long run of your career.

During this phase where you are gaining experience, you can also decide if you want to place your focus on one area within gunsmithing.

Finding a Job

After you have received your FFL you have some choices open to you. You have to ask yourself if you want to open your own gunsmith shop or do you want to work for someone else. Both options have pros and cons associated with it but it mainly depends on how much motivation and desire you have.


For most gunsmiths, owning their own shop is the end game. This is what they have worked so hard to achieve and this where they make their living. We’re not going to lie, it can be tough especially at the beginning. Here is a quick hit list of the pros and cons of owning your business.


  • You are your own boss
  • You hold the career and future in your hands
  • Success can be life changing
  • Independence and freedom
  • Tremendous amount of pressure
  • Must keep paper records for 20 years and well organized
  • Failure can wipe you out financially
  • May be very slow at the start


The other option is working for someone else. This may be other gunsmiths, sporting goods stores, armories or even firearms manufacturers. You will need to update your resume and search out available positions through the classifieds or online job postings.


  • Regular paychecks
  • Less pressure than owning your business
  • Don’t have to think about work 24/7
  • Regular pay raises
  • Possible office or shop politics
  • Can be let go without warning
  • Company closings
  • You’re still working for someone
Okay, some of those may not be real turnoffs and we readily admit that we favor opening our business instead of working for others. However, you should get the gist of it all and seeing that there are choices you will have to make on your own. Whatever you do, just remember you are working in one of the greatest professions that ever was.

Tips for Success

More than likely, you will want to be successful in your new career. We didn’t want to become a locksmith to fail. Below you will find some tips that can help you not only gain and keep customers but also become successful.

  • Be proud of your work and make each project important
  • Work diligently to complete orders on time
  • Be accountable for any errors or mistakes
  • Safety is extremely important
  • Keep up on the latest trends or industry changes
  • Show some initiative when talking with potential customers
  • Network
  • Head to gun shows and talk with buyers and sellers
  • Set office hours and try to keep to them
  • Always try to be positive when talking with clients
  • Work hard and show customers are important
  • Always be reliable in every facet of the business
  • Don’t be afraid to be creative
  • Create new designs or always be on the lookout to add to your current services
  • Be positive and not negative
  • Don’t bring up topics that can alienate you and your customers
  • Treat customers with respect

Next Move!

Now that you’ve seen what steps it takes to become a gunsmith, what do you say? It is a great profession that serves a purpose in this country. We help keep American citizens safe. Not too many jobs you can say that about.

The next step is up to you. You can get in touch with gunsmith training schools by filling out the form in the top right hand corner of this page or you can continue reading other pages on this site for more information. Whatever you do, if you have the goal to become a gunsmith, don’t give it up.