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It's a continuing subject of discussion on gun forums," I took my gun to a gunsmith and @#$%&!" The result is that the individual wasn't a gun"smith" but more the local spark plug changer for guns and not all that, too.

Much the same on watch forums, do we really want to stretch "watchsmith" to describe the nice lady who installs a new battery in our Casio with that term? I thought "smiths" as used in those words were for people who could expertly create parts out of whole cloth which mesh with other parts they created to form a complete assembly which no other would be like. Bespoke.

And if they can at least drill and tap scope mount holes for mounts, include them, too. Precision machining is definitely part and parcel. But, "xxxsmith" for someone who roughs out a piece of lawnmower blade and wraps the handle with duct tape? I'm thinking a bladesmith at the apprentice level would have words over it. Same for someone in Switzerland feeding parts into a robotic assembler - she's not likely a "smith," and for that matter, may not be Swiss either.

Same with our guns. Someone operating a cold hammer barrel forge machine could be more appropriately titled a "machine operator" and get paid better, too. I wouldn't expect them to be proficient in the hand fitting of a shotgun "lump" or installing extractors, tho. As for running a button die to get the rifling, not. A CHF operator installs a mandrel on the fixture and the hammering does it. BTW, most pistol barrels in America are CHF, except cheap Kahrs, which are button rifled yet that takes more labor. But the capitalization is cheaper. There's no figuring beancounters.

It will be a hard course changing our descriptive terms, and I dont' think "gun mechanic" will do when the auto trades have let that one slip to "that guy Mom calls when she needs her tire changed" and he walks over from the end of the block. Then you hear "My auto mechanic said this one has a different tire pressure thingy and only the dealer can do that."

I sold tire pressure thingies in the last job I had, and have installed them myself, but I have learned to avoid any connection to the word "mechanic" when it's so loosely applied. I might DIY most jobs and farm out some, just as many gun owners do, but I also understand I'm not expecting a "carsmith" to be working on it. Hang around the hot rod forums in the day and yes, there were guys casting and boring their own blocks. Really.

We have a long long way to go to not only stop describing a qualified "assembler" with a term meant for "bespoke hand fitted creator." What the word might be is up to the gun owning public, but so far, "gunsmith" is over the top for at least half of those who hold themselves out to do the work. And maybe they need to come up with that new job title themselves. Not likely when they enjoy the status of being a "smith".
Posts: 169 | Registered: December 14, 2021Reply With QuoteReport This Post
I'd rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not
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I mean I do.. the number of quality gunsmith's out there are few and dwindling by the day.
There needs to be a governing organization like ASE for mechanics. (maybe there is!?)

Alot of gunsmiths are actually armorer's
Posts: 7477 | Location: Bismarck ND | Registered: February 19, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I am not in favor of more governmental regulation. Find a gunsmith who knows what they are doing.
Posts: 11693 | Location: Stuck at home | Registered: January 02, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Oriental Redneck
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So, what are you suggesting, OP? More regulations from The Man? Who is "we"?


Posts: 22050 | Location: TEXAS | Registered: September 04, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I am very fortunate that in the next town over we have an excellent gunsmith. If they don’t have a lathe then they probably aren’t a gunsmith.

The bummer is that he’s in his upper 60’s and smokes like a chimney so if you stop by his shop you will smell like cigarettes the rest of the day. Once he’s gone it’s basically box store guns around here.
Posts: 2847 | Registered: January 25, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Yeah, what the OP said. A gunsmith is a person who can take raw metal stock and turn it into a perfect cube, and then turn that perfect cube into a perfect sphere.

I'm an armorer. I can drive a pin and replace a spring. I'm a far cry from a person who can time a revolver cylinder. Fortunately today's Lego guns don't require much in the way of skill to maintain. Unfortunately, the number of people I'd trust to work on my heirloom guns is minuscule.

An apprenticeship is the least I'd expect from a gunsmith.
Posts: 389 | Registered: June 11, 2018Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Or carpenter, or electrician and etc. Where does it end? In any trade or profession, the level of experience and quality varies. Caveat emptor.
Posts: 3042 | Location: Western PA | Registered: July 20, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of powermad
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The number of quality anything is dwindling by the day.

Having ASE certs doesn't mean much to me.
Getting a Mack Master Tech certification is meaningless to me.
Any idiot can have those now, doesn't mean that I would trust them to put air in my tire though.

I work on my guns but don't consider myself a gunsmith.
More an Armorer, basic maintenance and part changing with the tools to do so.

As far as automated production of stuff, say automotive.
The last engine that I put together for myself I spent a ton of time CCing the head chambers, gasket matching the head ports, etc.
As I was waiting on the machine shop to finish up pressing in studs for roller rockers I was flipping through a Summit catalog and seen the new World Products head that had bigger ports and valves, already CC'd with studs for rollers. For half of what the machine shop was charging me to clean up the heads and all the valves and springs for them, not to mention the time spent behind a die grinder.
After that if the heads needed anything more than a resurface I just plopped a set of those on.
Posts: 886 | Location: Portland Oregon | Registered: October 01, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I worked with a guy who did ffl transfers and his business card advertised that he was a gunsmith.
I thought that was really cool so I started asking what kinds of things he did.
It turns out that all he really did was clean guns and do simple scope installations.
So, I must be a gunsmith too and most everyone on this forum qualifies, who knew?

No one's life, liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session.- Mark Twain
Posts: 3151 | Location: TX | Registered: October 08, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
delicately calloused
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I’ve learned to smith my own guns. Quicker, cheaper and better in most cases. I’ve hired local smiths before but for convenience, I preferred the diy approach.

You’re a lying dog-faced pony soldier
Posts: 27621 | Location: Highland, Ut. | Registered: May 07, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
I can't tell if I'm
tired, or just lazy
Picture of ggile
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I think we should have a more specific definition as to what constitutes a 'gunsmith' as opposed to, say, a 'gun repairman'.

To me, a 'gunsmith' is someone who can build a gun from the ground up along with being able to handle the mundane gun repair situations and has the necessary equipment to do his job.


"The problems we face today exist because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living."
Posts: 1749 | Location: South Dakota-pheasant country | Registered: June 20, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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There's a local gunsmith who operates a couple of offices. I didn't realize it was the same guy, as he uses different business names. One at an outdoor range, one indoor. He has offices at both. He wrecked an AR rifle at the outdoor range shop years ago. A few years back I happened to be at an indoor range and had the resident gunsmith replace the sights on a pistol. Before I realized he was beating on my firearm, he took a hammer to the sights and destroyed them.

I don't think he needs the government to come judge him for his ability or come up with a licensing system, but I've definitely run into more than a few who claim to be factory-trained armorers or gunsmiths, who were anything but. Shingle was out, floor space rented, but they couldn't do squat.

The best regulation continues to be word of mouth. The only question is the reliability of that word.

On the other hand, even barbers and hair dressers need certification, these days, to cut hair. It does seem anyone can hang out a shingle claiming to be qualified to hammer away on someone's five thousand dollar rifle.

Buyer beware. The title of "Doctor" takes some doing to get, but there are good ones, and less than stellar ones. The ability to pass certification doesn't necessarily mean you want your family operated on by that guy.

Take a regional airline flight lately? Look in the cockpit? That kid look younger than your son, a high school junior? He holds a type rating and an airline transport pilot certificate. Doesn't really make him chuck yeager, though. Don't scare yourself. Shuffle past the door, don't look in.

Gray haired gunsmith mashed my firearms. Didn't make him good, or even necessarily experienced, and one has to ask, what kind of experience did he have? Doing bad work for twenty years doesn't make one good; just experienced at doing bad work.
Posts: 6499 | Registered: September 13, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by kidcop:
A gunsmith is a person who can take raw metal stock and turn it into a perfect cube, and then turn that perfect cube into a perfect sphere.

Sort of, that's the other end of the problem. Today we have lots of excellent machinists who call themselves custom gunsmiths, but one doesn't nessisarily make the other.
Posts: 19274 | Location: 18th & Fairfax  | Registered: May 17, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
I Deal In Lead
Picture of Flash-LB
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Most certifications in my line of business aren't really what I would call a certification, they're attendance certificates.

If you pay the money and go to the class and are still breathing at the end, you're certified.

There are exceptions, but not many.
Posts: 7808 | Location: Gilbert Arizona | Registered: March 21, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Oh stewardess,
I speak jive.
Picture of 46and2
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If you have a sight pusher and get paid to use it, you're a (basic) Gunsmith.

Or an Armorer.

You might be bad, dumb, or crooked about it, but you're still a Gunsmith.
Posts: 25531 | Registered: March 12, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Prepared for the Worst, Providing the Best
Picture of 92fstech
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There's a big difference between an armorer and a gunsmith. An armorer can troubleshoot and swap factory parts out and do basic stuff like change sights, mount a scope, or peen a dovetail. I'm an armorer on multiple platforms...most of the gun-specific classes I took to get those certifications lasted one or two days. I have the knowledge necessary to service those guns, but I'm in no way a gunsmith.

A true gunsmith can actually hand-fit or manufacture properly functional parts from scratch. He understands the very specific tolerances and spring weights necessary to produce an optimally functional gun, as well as how to machine and work with metal to maintain the proper hardness of the various parts employed. And he likely spent years in school and apprenticeship to gain that knowledge.

The only way to really evaluate what you're getting when shopping for a 'smith is to know the right questions to ask. What stuff is he going to do to you your gun, and how is he going to go about it? And get references...look at other guns that he's done and talk to other customers. What kind of reputation does this guy have, and is he turning out reliable, functioning stuff that is done right, or is he just some butcher with a Dremel and a set of spring snips? Just because somebody know how to lighten a trigger doesn't mean that he's doing it right, or not introducing other problems in the process.
Posts: 5368 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Sounds like SIG Forum needs to set up their own standards. Something like the Craftsmen Guilds of the past.

We do have a serious number of members. We do share, via the forum, recommendations of who to go to for work.

We might even set parameters - ie “Gunsmith, Master Gunsmith, High Master”, etc.

Kind of like “buying local” to support the community. Getting the ‘smiths on the forum to be willing to list themselves would be a start. Getting the customers to rate them would be the next step (a bit more of a risk for the smiths). As long as they don’t expound on their greatness when they are not, reviews would generally be good.

Potential, the idea has potential.
Posts: 1938 | Location: south central Pennsylvania | Registered: November 05, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by 46and2:
You might be bad, dumb, or crooked about it, but you're still a Gunsmith.

I long ago learned that “gunsmith” was a guarantee of nothing when it came to skills or knowledge, but that’s true of almost any title. At one time the term referred to someone who, as a few would require, was capable of producing a gun from a block of metal and wood, but is that reasonable today? Should we be able to demand that Grayguns fabricate a curly maple stock for my sporterized Mauser, including checkering and perhaps inletting a gold engraving from a sawn piece of lumber? What about rust bluing the barrel and receiver? “Oh, you can’t do all that, and you dare to call yourself a gunsmith‽” Roll Eyes

Yes, it’s too bad that there are incompetent people who call themselves gunsmiths, just as it’s too bad there are incompetent auto mechanics, plumbers, electricians, doctors, dentists, and incompetents in any other profession. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.

“The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
— Bertrand Russell
Posts: 44833 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Yeah, that M14 video guy...
Picture of benny6
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I don’t really know what I am. I was professionally trained to fix helicopters. In my personal time, I learned how to build guns on my own. I use a lathe and a mill to install heavy M14/M1A and Garand barrels.

I use pull through reamers and lathe reamers to chamber unchambered and short chambered barrels. I epoxy bed M14’s and Garands. I can build a full M14 from a parts kit which requires hand lapping and custom fitting.

Bula defense and other gunsmiths send me their rifles to work on and epoxy bed.

I’ve never had any formal training as a gunsmith and I’m 100% self taught. I haven’t learned how to thread a barrel yet. I haven’t learned how to contour a barrel yet.

What does that make me?


Owner, TonyBen, LLC, Type-01 FFL (Site under construction).
Posts: 4656 | Location: USA | Registered: February 13, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Doesn’t the custom gunsmith guild have some accreditation and levels of quality?

When I think of gunsmith I think Hamilton Bowen, Bobby Tyler, Novak’s etc. I have friends that have the vices and sight pushers and scope levelling tools etc for basic stuff. Above what I feel I can do on my own.

I have a REM 700 that has the bolt handle solder broken off and the bolt is stuck in the gun no need somebody to remove it and re attach it. I’d prefer someone local who I can see previous work and will ship if necessary but it’s obviously a job for a pro who knows what’s up with REM actions.
Posts: 3939 | Location: Florida Panhandle  | Registered: November 23, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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