Gunsmithing is the art of designing, customizing, repairing, and making firearms. If you’re interested in guns and how they work, learning the basics of gunsmithing is a great skill to have.
What Are the Tools and Equipment?
To get started, you’ll need some basic tools and equipment. Things like:
- Gunsmithing tools like hammers, punches, and wrenches.
- A gun vise or clamp to hold firearms steady.
- Files, sandpaper, and polishing compounds for shaping and smoothing metal.
- Precision measuring tools like calipers, micrometers.
Disassembly and Cleaning Procedure
One of the first things any gunsmith learns is how to properly disassemble and reassemble firearms. You’ll need to understand how all the internal parts interact and fit together. Keeping firearms properly cleaned and lubricated is also important for safety and function.
Customization and Repair procedure
More advanced gunsmiths can perform custom modifications and repairs. Things like:
- Installing aftermarket parts like triggers, barrels, and muzzle brakes
- Refinishing and restocking wooden furniture
- Tig welding and machining replacement parts
- Troubleshooting and repairing feeding, firing, and ejection issues
Licensing and Certification Procedure
While you can learn many gunsmithing skills on your own, certain activities like buying and selling firearms require proper licensing and certification. Look into gunsmithing courses and apprenticeships in your area to take your skills to a professional level.
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Top 5 Free Online Gunsmithing Courses
There are several free resources online to learn gunsmithing. Here are the top 5 courses:
1. Introduction to Gunsmithing from Udemy
This beginner course covers gun safety, tools, and basic repairs. You’ll learn about different firearms like pistols, rifles, and shotguns. The instructor demonstrates how to disassemble and reassemble many types of guns. Over 6 hours of video content teach you fundamentals to get started.
2. Gunsmithing 101 from Skillshare
This popular class provides an overview of gunsmithing concepts and techniques. The instructor explains how different guns work, common malfunctions, and basic repairs. You’ll learn about machining, woodworking, and metalworking as applied to firearms. Plenty of visuals and examples in short video lessons make this a great intro course.
3. Practical Gunsmithing from Alison
This in-depth course covers gun safety, tool use, cleaning and maintenance. You’ll learn specifics for pistols, rifles, shotguns, and ammunition. The curriculum includes over 15 hours of interactive content with quizzes to reinforce key points. This comprehensive program teaches skills to service and repair firearms.
4. Introduction to Reloading Ammunition from Udemy
Want to learn how to handload your own ammunition? This course teaches you reloading safety, equipment, and step-by-step processes for different calibers. You’ll learn how to cast bullets, work up safe loads, and test for accuracy. Over 3 hours of video content provide an informative overview of reloading your own ammunition.
5. Gunsmithing and Ballistics from edX
This unique course from Purdue University examines both gunsmithing and ballistics. You’ll learn internal ballistics, external ballistics, and terminal ballistics. The gunsmithing portion covers safety, tools, and how different firearms operate. Quizzes, discussions, and peer assessments throughout the curriculum help reinforce concepts from both disciplines. This in-depth course provides a well-rounded education in 6 weeks.
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Key Skills You’ll Learn From These Courses
These online gunsmithing courses will teach you several essential skills for designing, repairing, and maintaining firearms.
1. Metalworking Techniques
You’ll learn fundamental metalworking skills like measuring, cutting, welding, and machining. Gunsmiths frequently work with steel and aluminum alloys, so understanding how to properly cut, drill, and shape these metals is crucial. Courses cover using tools like mills, lathes, grinders, and welding equipment.
2. Firearm Mechanics
Gunsmiths need to thoroughly understand how different firearms operate. Courses provide an overview of the mechanics of pistols, rifles, shotguns, and automatic weapons. You’ll learn how each component like the barrel, action, trigger, and firing pin functions. Understanding firearm mechanics allows you to diagnose issues, repair malfunctioning parts, and ensure weapons meet safety standards.
3. Customization and Finishing
Many gun owners want customized and esthetically-pleasing firearms. Courses teach skills like checkering, engraving, wood staining, and metal finishing. You’ll learn techniques for creating custom grips, decorative engravings, and finishes like bluing for a classic gunmetal gray patina. These cosmetic enhancements require an artistic eye and steady hand.
4. Legal Requirements
There are many laws and regulations around manufacturing, selling, and repairing firearms. Courses provide an overview of the major federal laws like the National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act. You’ll learn about requirements like Federal Firearms Licenses (FFLs), background check procedures, and record-keeping obligations. Staying up-to-date with laws is essential for operating a legitimate gunsmithing business.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Online Gunsmithing Education
When taking free online gunsmithing courses, there are a few tips to keep in mind to get the most out of your education.
1. Do Your Research
Check reviews and ratings of the courses you’re interested in. See what other students say about the quality of lessons, helpfulness of the instructors, and overall experience. Look for courses with high student satisfaction and a proven track record of success.
2. Take Notes
As with any online class, take good notes as you go through the video lessons and readings. Write down key terms, facts, and processes so you have them for reference later on. Some courses may have downloadable lesson guides and workbooks to help with this.
3. Ask Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask your instructor questions about topics you don’t fully understand. They want you to succeed and are there to help clarify any confusing points. Ask follow up questions right away rather than struggling through subsequent lessons.
4. Practice and Apply
The best way to learn gunsmithing skills is through hands-on practice. Some courses may require you to acquire certain tools, equipment, and gun parts to work with as you follow along with the lessons. If possible, apply what you’re learning to your own firearm maintenance and repair projects.
5. Consider Earning a Certificate
Once you’ve completed a series of courses, you may be eligible to earn a certificate of completion or specialization. This can demonstrate your new skills and knowledge to potential employers or clients. Some schools offer gunsmithing certifications that require both online and in-person training.
Next Steps After Taking Free Gunsmithing Courses Online
Some of the steps to take after taking free gunsmithing courses online include;
1. Build your experience
The best way to gain real-world experience is through internships, apprenticeships, or entry-level jobs at a gun shop or sporting goods store. Even if it’s just a few hours a week helping out, you’ll learn valuable skills that you can’t get from online courses alone. You’ll become familiar with the daily operations, tools, and equipment used by professional gunsmiths. Over time, you can take on more responsibility and work your way up.
2. Get the proper certifications
Certain gunsmithing specialties require professional certifications and licenses. For example, to become a certified armorer for certain firearm brands like Glock or Sig Sauer, you need to complete their armorer certification programs. Check with gunsmithing schools in your area to see if they offer certification courses. Some online course providers also offer virtual certification courses.
3. Consider starting your own business
If you want to work for yourself, look into the requirements to start a licensed gunsmithing business in your city or state. You’ll need a federal firearms license (FFL) to buy, sell or repair firearms. You should also investigate zoning laws, business licensing, and insurance needs. Build a business plan to outline your mission, target customers, marketing plan, and financial projections.
4. Keep learning
Technology, tools, and firearms are constantly evolving. Stay up-to-date with the latest innovations through industry publications, online courses, video tutorials, and hands-on practice. Connecting with other gunsmiths is also a great way to exchange ideas and get advice. Never stop improving your skills and expanding your knowledge.
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Continuous learning and gaining experience will help advance your gunsmithing career and open up more opportunities. With hard work and persistence, you can turn your new hobby into a rewarding profession.