What is Gunsmithing?

Maybe you’re just about to graduate high school or you’re fed up with your job and looking for a career change. You like guns. You’d love to work with guns. You’ve heard a little bit about gunsmithing and you think it might be for you, but you’re not sure. “What is gunsmithing? What does a gunsmith do? How much do they earn? Where do they work?” you wonder.

Well, keep reading. I’m going to answer the question “What is gunsmithing?” for you. You’ll learn everything you need to know to decide on your next career move.

What is Gunsmithing?

Simply put, gunsmithing is the designing, building, modifying, decorating, and repairing of firearms. Like a blacksmith, whitesmith, or locksmith, a gunsmith is a highly skilled artisan. Gunsmithing requires that a gunsmith is proficient across a variety of disciplines. For example, a gunsmith is a metalworker, a woodworker, a mathematician, a ballistics expert, and a chemist. When it comes to designing and decorating a firearm, a gunsmith is also an engraver, an artist, and a materials engineer.

Gunsmiths most commonly perform tasks like:

  • Cleaning, inspecting and lubricating a firearm
  • Repairing dented shotgun barrels
  • Fabricating wooden stocks to customer specifications
  • Fabricating replacement parts from metal stock
  • Remove corrosion and touchup finish
  • Replace defective parts with factory-made replacements
  • and more

What is Gunsmithing? Gunsmith Shop

Gunsmithing Specialties

Most gunsmiths are general practitioners, taking on a wide variety of duties. Some gunsmiths choose to specialize. Some gunsmithing specialties include:


The stockmaker works primarily fabricating wooden stocks and fitting them to the metal parts of the firearm. His tools include saws, chisels, gouges, rasps, and files.


The checkerer may choose to specialize exclusively in checkering or he may also work as a stockmaker. A checkerer works to engrave the wood in small, intricate diamond patterns which provide texture, grip, and beauty to the overall firearm design.

Custom Builder

The custom builder is the most skilled gunsmith. He has a working knowledge of all aspects of the gunsmithing process as well as machining in order to manufacture individual components. The builder designs and builds a firearm from scratch or using factory parts. He’s frequently hired by professional target shooters and others who demand high accuracy rifles.

Gun Engraver

What is gunsmithing? An art. An in no position is that more obvious than with a gun engraver. The gun engraver uses hand-gravers or die-sinkers to chisel intricate pictures and patterns into the metal of a firearm. Such designs, provided they are of the highest quality, add significant value to a firearm.

How is Gunsmithing Taught?

A gunsmith can acquire his knowledge in a few different ways:

  • Local or online gunsmithing schools – This is the most common way gunsmiths learn their craft. If this interests you, check out the best online gunsmithing school.
  • The military – The Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps all train small arms or combat arms experts.
  • An apprenticeship – You can reach out to practicing gunsmiths in your area and request the opportunity to be trained on the job in exchange for helping around the shop.
  • National Rifle Association – The NRA offers and sponsors many courses in professional gunsmithing.

How Well Does Gunsmithing Pay?

What is gunsmithing? A goldmine! In the United States, a country that has over 330 million firearms, a well-trained gunsmith can expect to earn $30/hr to $60/hr, maybe even more. Your earnings depend on where you’d like to work and how hard you want to work. You can work for a firearms manufacturer, in a gunsmith shop, or you can open your own business. You can do it part-time or full-time.

Your earnings also depend on the jobs you take on and what you choose to specialize in. For example, some routine troubleshooting might net you $25-$50, but with a choke installation you could see $100-$200.

There are many variables, but what’s evident is that gunsmithing is profitable work.

Ready to Become a Gunsmith?

If you’re ready to become a gunsmith, start looking into local or online gunsmithing schools. I’ve already written my review of the best online gunsmithing school, so be sure to take a look at that. You can also find lots of great resources at Amazon by clicking on this link if you’re a self-learner.