What Does a Gunsmith Do?

A gunsmith repairs, assembles, and customizes firearms according to customer needs and specifications. Read on to find out more about the skills, training, and licensing an individual needs to pursue a career as a gunsmith. Schools offering Gunsmithing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Requirements

Gunsmiths clean, repair, fabricate, assemble, and disassemble firearms. To do so, they use machinery or design their own tools. Gunsmiths typically specialize in one particular area. These professionals also must be licensed. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), a gunsmith needs a license to customize, engrave, and work on guns. Gunsmiths also must be aware of state, county, and city firearm laws.

Important Facts For Gunsmiths

Similar Occupations Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machinist, machine builder, machine shop manager
Professional Certification No
Work Environment Gun range, gun store
Licensure Yes

Required Skills

Gunsmiths must have expert knowledge of how guns operate and of firearm safety. Knowledge of technical math and algebra is also helpful. Clients often come to gunsmiths with specific requests. It's helpful for gunsmiths to have good customer service skills to ensure that detailed customization requests are fulfilled. Gunsmiths need many additional skills, including:

  • Attention to detail
  • Steady hands
  • Dedication to precision
  • Ability to operate machinery
  • Metallurgy and woodworking knowledge
  • Expertise in grinding, polishing, and filing firearms
  • Welding and soldering techniques

Education and Training

While some gunsmiths may train on the job or through apprenticeships, many choose to enroll in a gunsmithing training program. Many community colleges and technical schools offer associate's degrees or certification to aspiring gunsmiths. These programs typically take two years to complete and train students for entry-level gunsmithing jobs. Some online training is now available for gunsmiths. Students may also opt for training provided by a professional organization.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to PayScale.com, the majority of gunsmiths earn between $22,011 and $59,854 a year, as of September 2015. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not provide information specific to the field of gunsmithing, O*Net Online categorizes the field as one type of unspecified maintenance and repair workers. The BLS predicts that the employment of such workers, including gun smiths, should grow by almost 9% from 2012 to 2022.

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