gunsmithing school and career following.

Discussion in 'Rifle Talk' started by skog, Aug 7, 2005.

  1. skog

    skog Guest

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    I am considering going to the colorado school of trade for gunsmithing. Does anybody have anything good/bad to say about it. I currently have 3 years completed with 2 years left for a degree in mechinical engineering but the farther i get in the more i relieze that it is not what i want to do. Also what kind of career oppertunities should i expect after grauduating from there. I would like to build one off customs or working for a nice place doing building and servicing mid to high end guns. I would like to open my own shop way down the road selling and servicing. I really dont want to work at the local or chain (ie gander mountain) place doing trigger jobs and bore sighting rifles all day. Also what kind of salaries are involved in this line of work. I am sure it would be less then the $50K I would expect my first year as an engineer.

    thanks
    skog
     
  2. shooter93

    shooter93 Well-Known Member

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    First and foremost....it's always better to work at a job you love than at one you don't no matter the money made. I always wanted to be a builder so that's what I did despite the many years employees made more at than I did. It's been a terribly hard and long road to where I am now but I loved every minute of it...and there were lots of minutes....the owner of a business puts in twice as many hours as anyone else. I'm not trying to scre you out of anything but I know something of the custom gun busuness to. I've been around thousands of high grade guns and an extremely good friend of mine builds guns as well as anyone in the country includin Crum and Miller...the premier builders. First,,as far as employment at a custom shop....competiton for those slots is fierce, The custom gun business is a difficult one. There is a lot rides on name reconition which takes years to acquire and in truth may never happen. Very few builders get the 5 and 6 digit guns we see and fewer still get enough of them to make a serious living at. The rifles my friend builds for around 5,000 are easily the equal and I believe superior to the 10,000 dollar starting model of men like D'Echols. They certainly have better wood and more detailing than those yet he has a hard time selling them because few have heard of him. He has built a number of rifles for some of the most promenint gun writers who barely give an acknowledgement. He still does assorted repairs to help keep the doors open. I do however believe that in time he will do well. I give him all the help I can and hope to soon be able to advertize nationally which is very expensive. Sorry this went so long and as I said...do what you love....but remember that your chosen business like any business is a long hard road. Have fun travelling it...I did and still do.
     

  3. skog

    skog Guest

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    When i said custom 1 offs i guess i meant built to order guns. I never dream of even getting to work on guns in the 5 figure range. while would be nice i understand that the call for that level of guns is almost nothing. I would be very happy to produce product in the 3-5k range. I really like the idea of a gun that is built to take a beating under harsh hunting conditions, is light but durable and shoot 3/4 MOA. While I think pretty guns with inlay and marble cake stocks have a place my passion is more for function over form. It may be that I am just a greenhorn and havent learned to appricate "pretty" guns or my limited budget that i can justify the extra clams that dont increase performance.

    As far as the business owner's time goes I know all about that. I used to work at a company that was me and the owner (and sometimes a general laborer when and extra hand is needed) for several years. When he went out of town on hunts (usually 2 to 3 weeks a year) I was incharge of billing, bidding jobs, paying bills, on top of my normal field work of maintace and installs. Those are some of the busiest days that i have ever worked. I am not sure what it was though i kinda liked it. I have since moved on to a different job (engineering co-op , when i decided engineering wasnt for me) but remain good friends with the owner. I hunt his property every year. He is now retired and sits back and lets the money roll in. I know very well that he has worked very hard and had very tough times to get to this point but I think the ends justify the means.

    skog
     
  4. shooter93

    shooter93 Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't trying to talk you out of anything skog, quite the opposite, I'm always in favor of one persuing their dreams and working at what they love. One of's is what my friend does build and he's lucky that most of the people who come to him want high grade hunting rifles not just blueprinted Reminngton 700's with shielen barrels dropped into McMillian stocks. I have nothing against those types of rifles but bielieve me there is a great demandfor wood stocked embellished hunting rifles. Everyone I know who has them built also uses them and hunt with them, they aren't just for show. The problem with that market is getting a foot in the door ehich takes time unfortunatly. Write to anyone of the Custom Sporting gun builders you see advertised in Rifle Magazine and you will find they all have a backlog. I only posted what I did because of my exposure to this field and to tell you the real truth behind owning a business. Like I said....I started in my trade 38 years ago,,,it was hard....that didn't matter...I have loved every minute of it and have no plans what so ever to retire from it. So....if this is what you truly want to do....go for it with a passion...do what you need to do to keep the doors open....and never ever quit. I wish you the best of luck.
     
  5. Dirigo

    Dirigo Guest

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    i also want to be a gunsmith/shop owner. i want to join the USMC and be a Small Arms tech first
     
  6. luv2safari

    luv2safari Moderator

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    Skog,


    Lassen Community College in Susanville, CA is also one of the very best schools and is small enough to give more "hands on" teaching. The famous gunsmith, Bob Dunlap, was director there for years. I still send some work to the gunsmith school there in Susanville and send my special guns to Bob. He retired and moved to Oregon. Look up his site; the name of his business is PISCO...Pacific International Service Company...

    You might go on line and look up Lassen College.....The school in Trinidad, CO has a very good reputation, also.

    L2S
     
  7. Drop-Shot

    Drop-Shot Super Member

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    Skog I agree with Luv2 on Lassen Community College,I attended there for a very short time,the grant I was promised didn't come through and I could not afford it without the grant.They are super!There is one in the Denver area and Trinidad CO,folks will hire the best before you graduate,but don't expect alot to start.I was told that 10.00-12.00 per hour was good wages to start,that was a company that works on military contracts,I would have had to move to Denver.If you could find a good person to work for, you would do well,the public can be brutal.I wish I would have been able to proceed,you have to find a niche' something you do excessivly well like pistol actions,rifle actions,shotguns etc.and excell at it.The gunsmith thats the best at rifles here makes 30-40 K and the shop down the street has been in business for 12 years and has never made 30K since he has been in business,proceed with the knowledge that you won't make as much as an engineer but may be happier.Drop-Shot
     
  8. mountainview

    mountainview Super Member

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    Skog,
    The above folks make some very valid points and I'll add that the great thing about a Mech Eng degree is the breadth of the program. After I graduated I was able to do many things other than hardcore mechanical design. I've also seen many Mech Engrs go on to do an incredibly diverse range of things.

    I'd look at the g-smith school as a sideline to pursue while getting established in another career. Also I'd like to recommend talking to a career counselor or co-oping (work and school have some major differences) so you can make sure you are headed in the right direction when you take a full-time job.