How to become a gunsmith

If you have the desire to become a gunsmith, you must be passionate about it and have the knowledge required to work as a gunsmith. 

Gunsmiths must have knowledge and skills in a variety of areas. 

Gunsmiths must know about various types and models of guns, this will enable them to design and add custom parts to weapons and enhance them to boost performance. 

Working with metals and metal finishing requires knowledge of chemistry. Gunsmiths must know about chemistry and maths. 

Gunsmiths must know how to read blueprints and work with computer-aided design software as well. 

Gunsmiths must also know how to carve, weld, and work with tools like mills and lathes. 

Here in this article, we have highlighted what is required to become a gunsmith. The work of a gunsmith, training needed to become a gunsmith. 

What is the work of a gunsmith

Gunsmiths repair, build, sell and customize firearms like handguns, rifles, and shotguns. 

They can perform simple tasks like cleaning, repairing, inspecting, and assembling and disassembling guns.  

They can also do detailed work like refinishing metal, engraving designs in wood and metal, plus designing customized guns. 

What type of training is needed for a gunsmith 

Becoming a gunsmith requires both training in the field and basic knowledge of skills. 

Gunsmiths can learn their craft in different ways, including;


Gunsmithing is a notable and legalized apprenticeship program so you can locate a place to work as a gunsmith’s helper.

Working as an apprentice under a gunsmith will allow you to learn the trade. It is an alternative to having formal training. 

You must pay close attention to details while working as an apprentice to enable you to learn properly. 

Military experience 

Working in the military can enable you to gain the experience needed to become a gunsmith. 

Some gunsmiths come to this field after gaining experience in the military or working as a repairperson. 

Completing a degree or certificate program.

There are a small number of technical colleges and community colleges that offer programs in Gunsmithing. They are often called gunsmithing schools.

These programs may require as little as 6 months to obtain a diploma or certificate or may require two years to obtain an associate degree.

The National Rifle Association also offers training programs. 

Students undertaking gunsmith training programs work under the direction of experienced educators, taking courses in topics like:

  • Firearms safety.
  • Machine shop safety.
  • Firearms repair.
  • Stock making.
  • Firearms conversion. 

They are also taught skills like welding, metal finishing, gun bluing, and working with complex machine tools.

Students also practice and master their skills using their school’s tools and firearms. They are also taught management skills. 

Associate degree programs in gunsmithing take about two years to complete full-time. Students are also taught general education coursework like:

  • English.
  • Mathematics.
  • Science.

Colleges that offer associate degree programs can also offer certificate or diploma programs that require little time to complete and do not include general education coursework. 

Attending one of these programs is a great way to learn how to be a gunsmith.

How long does it take to become a gunsmith?

It takes 6 months to complete a certificate or a diploma at technical colleges.

Obtaining an associate degree at a college or university in gunsmithing will take two years of study. 

Military experience or apprenticeship can also add to the number of years required to become a gunsmith.

However, it takes several years of practice for gunsmiths to reach the level of mastery required to open their businesses.

Certification and Licensing required

Gunsmiths who operate as a business must have a valid federal firearms license or FFL. 

This is because they often take possession of guns belonging to another person. 

These licenses are issued by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

To apply for an FFL, gunsmiths must be 21 years old or older. 

They must submit a copy of their fingerprints and a fee along with their application. 

The ATF will use the fingerprints submitted to run a criminal history background check. This is because a person with a criminal record would not be given a license. 

The local ATF field office will also conduct an in-person interview with the applicant.

The interview is necessary to show that the gunsmith has the required knowledge of firearms and how to use them. 

The gunsmith must prove that a separate work building is provided that is not a part of the residence.

This building is where all gunsmith work is supposed to be carried out.

Before an FFL is issued, an agent comes to the gunsmith’s work area and inspects to ensure the premises meet the specified code.

Also, it is required that the firearms not being repaired or serviced must be kept in a locked area.

Additionally, details of every transaction must be recorded for every firearm that comes into and out of the building. 

What are the Job opportunities for a gunsmith?

As a gunsmith, there are several job opportunities available for you. 

Gunsmiths can work for gun manufacturers. 

Gunsmiths can also work for government agencies. This is because government agencies need to maintain and repair firearms carried by officers.

Plus, someone trained and licensed as a gunsmith may establish their own business.

This would enable them to serve the gun owners in the community as they repair broken and customize firearms and install other parts.


Becoming a gunsmith requires knowledge and skills. One must be passionate about it.

Gunsmiths repair, sell, build and customize firearms and thus, to become a gunsmith one must know about doing all these. 

You can learn how to become a gunsmith by apprenticeship, military experience, or acquiring a certificate or degree. 

Also, a gunsmith must have a valid Federal Firearms License to be able to practice which is issued by the ATF. 

To be eligible for the license, you must be 21 years and above and fulfill all the requirements needed to obtain the license. 

As a gunsmith, you can work for a gun manufacturer, or government agencies or open your own business. 

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