How to become a licensed gunsmith

Written by chelsea baldwin
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How to become a licensed gunsmith
Become a licensed gunsmith to work on and repair guns. (a gun image by timur1970 from

Gunsmiths all over the country are responsible for cleaning, repairing and making different types of firearms. They work as repairmen, finishers, dealers and gunmakers in factories, sporting stores and specialised gun shops, or for the military. Some even own small businesses specialising in a different types of guns, like pistols or shotguns. Others specialise in gun services, like cleaning, engraving or repair. Gunsmiths must have a Federal Firearms License to ensure the safety of themselves and their customers around these weapons.

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    Learn about the requirements you must fulfil in order to work with guns in the area of gunsmithing you want to pursue. If you want to sell or make guns, you must obtain a Federal Firearms License (FFL) through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). You must also be at least 21 years old and certify that your business does not or will not break any state or federal gun laws once you obtain your license. There are nine different types of FFLs, numbering 1 through 3, and 6 though 11. A Type 1 license allows you to act as a basic dealer or gunsmith. As you go up in type number, you are allowed to deal with different types of guns and more dangerous ammunition weapons.

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    Enrol in a gunsmithing course, either online or at a local school, or get an apprenticeship, Tuition will vary, depending on the status of the school and the state you live in. Earning a gunsmithing certificate online can take as little as four weeks, while earning an associate degree in gunsmithing can take up to two years. If you choose an apprenticeship, know that these programs require at least 4,000 hours of work and often take up to 8,000 hours to complete, along with related classroom instruction. When deciding on a program, take into account your learning style, the areas of gunsmithing you want to work in and how much time you have to commit to learning the trade.

    No matter what course of instruction you choose, expect to learn about how to use guns, how they're made, how they work, how to repair and clean them. You'll also have to take lessons on gun laws and the legal stipulations surrounding the ownership of a gun.

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    Download an FFL application from the ATF website after completing your certificate, degree program or apprenticeship. Fill out the application forms and send them in to the ATF at the address listed on the application form. You may also send the application in electronically, but make sure you also send in the application processing fee if you do it this way. Once the ATF receives your application, it will do a background check on you to ensure you have not previously broken any gun laws and that you are in good legal standing to be able to handle and sell guns. Expect this to take around 60 days, after which you will receive a license if you pass the background examination.

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    Find a job as a gunsmith in your specialised areas and begin putting your education and gunsmithing license to work. Use the connections you made during your apprenticeship or your education to help you find a local job.

    If you sell guns, make sure you stay up-to-date on the ins and outs of your state's gun laws by visiting the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action. Although you will have learnt about these laws at school or on your apprenticeship, laws change often, so it is important to know about those changes.

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