How To Find A Reputable Gunsmith

Feature | How to Find a Reputable Gunsmith

June 2, 2020 / Comments (1)

Gunsmithing Tips

Are you in need of a gunsmith? You must choose the right one if you seek his/her specialty. Here are tips on how to find a reputable one.

Finding a Gunsmith Worth Your Time

The majority of gun owners will purchase factory-produced firearms and happily use them as-is for self-defense and sport.

The average gun owner does not have a need for a gunsmith unless they need to repair a weapon, or they find themselves wanting an engraving on a family heirloom.

But for those competing at a high level or those that collect antique guns, the need for a gunsmith – or several, with different specialties – will arise often.

They vary significantly in their skill levels and areas of expertise, so finding and selecting the right gunsmith for you and your project is a tall order.


You may end up traveling several states away to connect with a gunsmith that meets your needs.

Gunsmiths can be broken down by the type of work that they do, but other factors like price and quality of workmanship will play a role in the person you choose to work with.

All gunsmiths should have access to high-quality equipment, and general knowledge of machine shop skills.

The 3 Types of Gunsmiths

 

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While each gunsmith you come across will have certain skills that shine, they can be classified as 1 of 3 types:

  • Repair & Restoration
  • Cosmetic Enhancement
  • Custom Modification

While the skill level of a Custom Modification gunsmith is significantly more specialized than your average Repair & Restore gunsmith, there is no need to seek out and pay for the highest quality work if that isn’t appropriate for your needs.

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You wouldn’t take your Corolla to a Ferrari detailer for an oil change, so don’t over-research or overpay for a simple scope mounting or polishing.

Paths to Becoming a Gunsmith

When it comes time to select a gunsmith, you will want to ask how the candidates came to be gunsmiths.

There are several paths they could have followed or any combination of them:

  • Gunsmith Training Program at a community college or vocational/trade school
  • Apprenticeship at a shop
  • Self-taught

Keep in mind that while a certificate program may give you peace of mind that the gunsmith is well- rounded, no certificate or diploma can take the place of genuine interest and hands-on experience.

How to Find Gunsmiths

Before you get to the process of selecting a gunsmith, you first need to find several to consider. The best ways to find one are:

  • Local gun shop recommendations
  • Local gun shop bulletin board
  • Gun club member recommendations
  • Gun magazines and publications
  • Collector organizations
  • Google

Try to get several reviews or examples of each gunsmith’s work so that you can determine if their skills and style match your needs. The more information you have, the better.

Selecting Your Gunsmith

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of gunsmiths, get in contact with them – either on the phone or in person, if possible. You’ll want to ask them several questions.

  • Where and how they trained in their field
  • How long they’ve worked as a gunsmith
  • How many jobs like yours they’ve taken on
  • Names of references for similar work to what you require
  • Specific details of the work you’re requesting and if it’s a good fit for what they do
  • Price estimate
  • Delivery time

A slightly more expensive and well-known gunsmith may be worth the money if you eventually plan to re-sell your firearm.

They typically take great pride in their work, having a genuine interest in firearms.

Finding a gunsmith who is both reputable and a good fit for your project can be a challenge, but great workmanship is out there.

Doing your research and being clear with your needs will help make the process smooth, and the results exceed your expectations.

Have you worked with a gunsmith before? Do share with us your experience in finding him/her in the comments section!

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One Response to :
How To Find A Reputable Gunsmith

  1. Francis James Goss says:

    Gentleman

    I am a collect of sporting and hunting rifle for over 50 years. I found a like new HK 770 hunting rifle in .308.

    The problem is in 44 years it appears the rifle to meet EU restrictive hunting and gun control laws and the US FINANCIAL crisis in the 1980’s HK stop shipping these very well made, but complex hunting rifles to USA by HK USA. It was report the american dollar exchange costs HK to stop importing these roller systems hunting guns.

    Several videos show how fast these hunting rifles cycle say 550-650 rpm. That second or third shot , when properly place would take down almost any North America big game.

    So here is my issue, contacted HK USA and over 35 gunsmith and only found one who would inspect the HK770. Some said parts is the issue. But on inspection by a local gunsmith it jam on the initial cocking.

    That gunsmith was paid by the seller and gave up when the three piece bolt assembly fell apart. He later stated he never ever work on any HK hunting rifles, and admitted he was not qualified and it was not his gun!

    After emailing 35 gunsmith and asking HK for a list of qualified armorers here what they said. NADA! no parts, since HK discontinued import when guns are over 20 years old, or trying to find a HK armorer is like trying to find a HK ARMORER qualified on HK770, they are either retired of dead.

    After a 30 day search found one in New Hampshire near Maine border John Andrewski. Nice old timer and he said worked on HK770, but does NFA title II fully automatics, will same G3 roller delay blow back systems.

    As a collect and having well over 60 firearm and one being a HK94 loved the fast cycling systems and thought the system would be simular. Well to my surprise the HK770 and 630,940,300 SL6&7 are different animals.

    The 94 did not have a locking lever( to bolt head to keep from bouncing) or the two tube receivers where the carrier is welded to a tube that rides in that top tube, not a gas tube, and make for a simple stripping.

    Instead the HK770 bolt assembly is in straight line with the recoil spring. Different racking handle that folds, and when you start to rack and unfold it, it unlocks that locking lever, which allows the locking piece to move away from the rollers, then unlocks the head ! Complex, yes, but the like new HK770 has more levers and springs to function together when you rack it than G3.

    So here are the levers and springs to work together as follows:

    1. locking lever that operates like a see/saw . When in battery the lug locks bolt head say 44# small spring
    2. support lever , which we believed was added to help the next lever get a mechanical advantage?
    3. folding cocking lever that at first unlocks lever 1. then moves to rear and locks to sear the hammer
    4. hammer and hammer spring say 50# ( in my case manually pressed down with upper receive off)
    5. After say 2″ of rearward travel that stout recoil spring 44#? is fighting to push forward
    6. finally in rear travel position one more lever they call the bolt assembly Catch.

    Reports are when all these levers and spring come in a few inches of racking you need a lot of force.50#

    In email a fellow named Marc Whitacre, a writer for AMERICA GUNSMITH ASSOCIATION magazine spent some time and emailed the below US ARMY G3 study. Very helpful! He has an article in G3 next month.

    So after disassembly four time and spending hours figuring out the three piece bolt assembly, finally reassembled the bolt. A kid and German Airforce gunsmith video was helpful. Just a trick of the trade, when you know how!

    In my case I will leave the bolt disassembly alone for a while. However when I disassembled to clear the jam at say 1″ of rearward racking and top receiver cover, buffer and recoil spring off; took padded flat head screw drive and gently twisted between barrel extension and carrier. It move another 1/2″ or so and completely unlocked the head from the carrier locking lever lug. So that lug sits in an unlock ridge on the head.

    Then assembly could be moved freely by folding cocking lever. It was tight. Then grease the bolt sides and bottom of assembly , which was removed, then the lower receiver tracks, cocking lever opening in lower receiver slot and oiled the rollers.

    Reassembled and let sit vertically in gun cabinet. Next morning I tried for a fourth time and it work, but I saw how used HK770 showed bluing gone in the top of the cocking lever opening, not bottom, so I place my palm, unfolded the cocking lever press up with palm and pulled back; got 2″ or so past the locking lever lug and surprised it did not jam. The head was unlocked and the locking lever up on top of head!

    But the recoil spring was trying to go to battery. Had to use all my arm force, at age 77, and finally got the cocking lever on the rear catch. It work as designed, it just was new and never lubed! No BAR😣

    HK770 Owner’s manual does not give you the lubercation points, but several videos shows grease on assembly.

    If you read this far, I would like to find an HK ARMORER who could tell me why it keep jamming at the locking lever and head area. Besides being a bitch to rack the sold if that SLAM into battery was worth the 10 hours work, of which 5 hours was spent on reassembly of the three piece bolt assembly, close to the G3!

    Once used the rate of fire on the G3 goes up from 600 to 900rpm. Thats say 125 5 round clips!😀

    Frank Goss CPA, FFL C&R

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