Responsible for building, designing, repairing, and modifying guns, gunsmiths are full of skill and talent.
Their duties may depend on their employer and specialization, but one thing all gunsmiths have in common is their creativity and problem-solving skills.
Perhaps not surprisingly, many gunsmiths partake in creative work like wood carving and engraving.
The main employers of gunsmiths are military and law-enforcement agencies, firearms manufacturers, sporting goods stores, and, of course, gun shops.
Earn your accredited, affordable Gunsmith career diploma online with Penn Foster in as little as 4 months!
However, many gunsmiths run their own businesses, enjoying huge perks, like financial freedom.
If you have ever considered becoming a gunsmith, we are here to help you get started.
The good news is that you can get started right now from the comfort of your own home, thanks to online gunsmith training programs.
Here is some information about these online programs.
Hopefully, you will put our tips to use as you navigate your way through the process of becoming a professional gunsmith.
Article Table of Contents
- 1 What Courses Are in an Online Gunsmith Program?
- 2 Can You Earn a Gunsmith Certification Completely Online?
- 3 How Long Does it Take to Earn a Gunsmith Certification Online?
- 4 How Much Does an Online Gunsmith Certification Cost?
- 5 Types of Gunsmith Certifications
- 6 Benefits of Online Gunsmith Training Programs
- 7 Drawbacks of Online Gunsmith Training Programs
- 8 Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Gunsmith Training Programs – Summary Table
- 9 4 Self-Study Tips for Online Gunsmith Students
- 10 Schools Offering Online Gunsmith Courses
- 11 Summary
- 12 Frequently Asked Questions
What Courses Are in an Online Gunsmith Program?
The courses you take will depend on your online gunsmith program, but here are some of the basic gunsmith courses you can expect to take:
In this course, you will learn some techniques required for the development of ammunition.
This will include lessons on swaging and casting bullets.
You can expect this course to be followed by a course in advanced ballistics, which builds on Basic Ballistics.
In this advanced course, you will learn how gunpowder and different projectiles affect ammunition accuracy.
Here, you will learn how to replace and repair gunstocks, and you will also be introduced to techniques for properly selecting wood and shaping a stock.
In addition, you will learn how to install a recoil pad, as well as how to custom fit a gunstock according to a customer’s specifications.
Devising a Business Plan
Whether you plan to run your own business or work for an employer, this course will provide you with a wealth of useful information.
With this course, you will be able to establish a formal business plan for your own firearms-related business.
You will also receive lessons on how to research and outline a plan, promote your business, and take care of your business’s finances.
Machining and Manufacturing Firearms
You will get a comprehensive overview of concepts such as machining.
Lessons will cover the science behind metallurgy and ways to shape metal to achieve the desired result.
You will also learn about milling machines, metal-turning lathes, polishing tools, and other firearms-related tools and equipment.
This course will include lessons on soldering, welding, brazing, normalizing, heat treatment, tempering gunmetal.
Finally, you will learn how to configure a barrel to a customer’s specifications.
Firearms Finishes and Engraving
This course will go over metal preparation and finishing.
Techniques for bluing, polishing, and browning will also be explained.
You will learn different types of firearm finishes, such as hydrographic, spray-on finishes, PVD coating, ferritic nitrocarburizing, and other methods.
Lastly, this course will familiarize you with different methodologies for engraving metal so that you can customize firearms.
Sights, Optics, and Accuracy
Through this course, you will gain a thorough understanding of accuracy for gunsmiths.
There will be lessons on inspecting a rifle for accuracy, installing sights, mounting optics, and using the tools required for achieving accuracy.
Other topics will include modern bolt-action trigger kits and ways to check the fit of bolt-action rifles.
By the end of this course, you will need to know how to correctly describe the procedure of rifle bedding.
Firearms Inspection and Troubleshooting
Here, you will learn how to diagnose firearm malfunctions in a variety of firearms, from rimfire and centerfire rifles to shotguns and handguns, and come up with the right troubleshooting methods.
You will also learn how to diagnose malfunctions through cartridge case analysis.
Can You Earn a Gunsmith Certification Completely Online?
Yes, you can.
If you want to pursue a career in gunsmithing, the only formal education requirement you will need will be a high school diploma or equivalent.
Then you can enroll in an online gunsmith training program.
Because you will be studying remotely, you will complete your hands-on training at home.
After completing your program, you have to earn a Federal Firearms License (FFL) from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
With this license, you will be formally recognized as a certified firearms builder and dealer.
The application process will include filling out the application form, which you can download from the ATF website, and paying a fee.
Once you have fulfilled your application requirements and completed your background check, an ATF agent will conduct an inspection to ensure you have complied with federal regulations (and possibly local and state laws, depending on your jurisdiction).
The agent will also interview you before approving your license.
How Long Does it Take to Earn a Gunsmith Certification Online?
It depends on your training program.
While some programs take as little as three months to complete, others take up to a year.
Degree programs generally take longer than certificate programs, so if you want a faster track to becoming a certified gunsmith, you should opt for a certificate program.
After you have successfully completed your training, it is time to complete your firearms license application.
The average turnaround time for processing this application, which includes an application form and interview, is about 50 to 55 days.
How Much Does an Online Gunsmith Certification Cost?
It looks like the average cost of online gunsmith training programs is around $700.
This is a solid deal compared to traditional programs, which can cost thousands of dollars, not to mention the transportation costs associated with commuting to class.
To apply for your FFL, which will be valid for three years, you will need to pay a fee of $200.
The FFL renewal cost is $90.
Types of Gunsmith Certifications
All gunsmiths possess the same license, the Federal Firearms License (FFL), which is obtained from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
However, there are different specializations in the field of gunsmithing.
You can choose one or more specializations.
Here are some of the most common ones:
- Stock maker
- Gun engraver
- Custom builder and designer
Again, the license (the FFL) is the same across all these specializations.
Benefits of Online Gunsmith Training Programs
You can study at your own pace
This is especially true if you are taking asynchronous classes, which operate on a more relaxed schedule.
If you have personal responsibilities, like family obligations or another job, you might be a strong candidate for online training programs.
That said, successfully completing an online program requires an enormous amount of hard work and discipline.
But if being a gunsmith is what you want – then it’s totally worth it!
They cost less than traditional programs
Due to the lower overhead costs needed to run an online program, you can expect to spend much less than students who opt for in-person programs.
And since you do not have to commute to class, you also get to save on transportation, particularly on fuel and car maintenance.
If you are on a budget (and even if you are not), the lower cost of studying online might alone make the program well worth it.
You can customize your learning environment
That means you can choose to learn at home or in whatever environment suits your studying preferences and needs, e.g., local coffee shops and libraries.
If you are studying at home, you can eliminate distractions, create a comfortable study area, and have all the tools you need at hand without having to carry a load of things to the classroom.
Drawbacks of Online Gunsmith Training Programs
They are not the most ideal for learning trade skills
Since trade jobs usually involve hands-on work, you typically need to work closely with an instructor in order to learn the skills of your trade.
This can be a bit difficult to achieve online, where interaction with your instructor and classmates is very limited.
Thus, you have to rely heavily on visual media, such as videos and images, to really gain an understanding of the tricks of the trade of gunsmithing.
You may feel a sense of isolation
For many people, attending class is an opportunity to network and make new friends and professional connections.
However, if you are studying online, that opportunity may be severely limited.
Still, you can connect with your classmates with the help of your program’s tools and activities, such as forums and live group discussions.
Online learning requires more screen time
Over the past several years, people have been spending an increasing amount of time in front of screens, and of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has only expedited this development.
Another contributing factor has been the rise of online learning, which, if you are not careful, can lead to a host of physical problems, such as poor posture and headaches.
This can be especially detrimental to aspiring gunsmiths, since the job is largely physical and, thus, requires you to be in decent physical condition.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Gunsmith Training Programs – Summary Table
|Benefits of Online Gunsmith Training Programs||Drawbacks of Online Gunsmith Training Programs|
|You can study at your own pace||They are not the most ideal for learning trade skills|
|They cost less than traditional programs||You may feel a sense of isolation|
|You can customize your learning environment||Online learning requires more screen time|
4 Self-Study Tips for Online Gunsmith Students
Studying online is not easy for most people, and this is certainly true for online gunsmith students.
That is because gunsmithing is a trade job that involves a great deal of hands-on skilled work.
Usually, to learn the skills of a trade job, you need to work closely with an instructor.
This can be very difficult to do in an online program.
Fortunately, there are tips you can use to take your online learning to the next level and maximize your potential as a gunsmith while studying online.
Take Advantage of Visual Media
Studying online is quite challenging, especially if you are learning gunsmithing.
Besides conducting your hands-on training at home, you should take advantage of visual media, like videos and images.
Since you will be working with your hands as a gunsmith, you will need some visual tools to help you learn the tricks of the trade.
Although it cannot entirely replace in-person instructor-student interactions, it will be a strong alternative.
Use Your Program’s Online Tools and Resources
Online training programs are not easy, and that is why most programs offer a plethora of tools and resources designed to aid you in your studies.
These include forums, downloadable PowerPoint presentations, note-taking tools, and pre-recorded videos.
Use these tools and resources to your advantage, and you will be much better prepared for the challenges of online learning.
Study in an Environment That Is Conducive to Your Learning Style
Maybe you study more productively at home — maybe you study better in libraries or coffee shops.
Whatever your learning style and preferences are, stick to them and make sure you adopt a learning strategy that works best for you.
Schedule in Regular Study Breaks
With all the screen time and demands of online learning, studying through an online program can get quite draining.
Because of that, you need to make sure you set aside time to just disconnect and decompress.
A 15-minute break every hour or so should do for most people.
Although sitting back and relaxing to increase your productivity may sound counterintuitive, it certainly does work wonders on your energy levels in the long run.
Schools Offering Online Gunsmith Courses
|Penn Foster Career School||14300 N Northsight Blvd., Suite 125 Scottsdale, AZ 85260|
|Ashworth College||5051 Peachtree Corners Circle, Suite 200 Norcross, Georgia 30092|
|Modern Gun School||1000 N. West Street #1200, Wilmington, DE 19801|
|Sonoran Desert Institute||1555 W. University Dr., Ste. 103, Tempe, AZ 85281|
|American Gunsmithing Institute||351 Second St. Napa, CA 94559|
|Piedmont Community College||1715 College Drive Roxboro, NC 27573|
Earn your accredited, affordable Gunsmith career diploma online with Penn Foster in as little as 4 months!
This article about the top gunsmith schools gives more information about these schools.
There are many online gunsmith training programs available, which you can use to jumpstart your career in gunsmithing.
Although learning the trade online can be quite challenging due to the hands-on nature of the job, you get to study at your own pace and customize your learning environment.
Besides successfully completing training in gunsmithing, you will need to obtain a Federal Firearms License (FFL), which will allow you to build and sell firearms.
The license is the same across all specializations, which include stock making, checkering, gun engraving, manufacturing, and custom building and designing.
Studying online, especially when you are learning gunsmithing, is far from easy.
But if you put some of our common-sense tips to use, such as taking advantage of your program’s online tools and resources, you will be able to thrive in your online studies.
Then you will be well on your way to becoming a thriving, successful gunsmith.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some of the biggest challenges of gunsmithing?
Gunsmithing, in general, is not an easy career.
There is a lot of technical information to learn that is not known to the general public, even among avid gun users and collectors.
That is why online gunsmith training programs are comprehensive, teaching you everything you need to know about gunsmithing and related skills.
Do firearms businesses look down on online programs?
There is no indication that firearms businesses view online programs in a negative light.
If anything, successfully completing an online program shows that you are diligent and self-driven, qualities that any potential employer would look for in a job candidate.
Where can I find out about state laws regarding firearms possession and licensing?
You can check the State Laws and Published Ordinances – Firearms section of the ATF website for this kind of information.
Do I need a special license to open my own firearms business?
The only license you will need is your FFL.
If you want to open your own firearms business, you will need to register it, decide on a business structure, and develop a business plan.
Read the full guide: How to Become a Gunsmith