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Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by BuddyTrapChamp, Jun 22, 2011.

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  1. BuddyTrapChamp

    BuddyTrapChamp Member

    Dec 30, 2010
    Is becoming a Gunsmith Worth it
  2. Ljutic111

    Ljutic111 TS Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    I guess if you know what you are doing and treat people fairly with competitive pricing then YES . I know of 2 Gunsmiths in NJ and PA who I will never recommend for anything done on a gun .
  3. td_ict_ks

    td_ict_ks TS Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    If I could have made a living rather than a survival I would still like to be doing it!
  4. Rastoff

    Rastoff Active Member

    Apr 25, 2009
    You have to be available, fast and do quality work. You also have to understand what you need to charge to make it work.

    Consider what it will cost you to do the work. Include things like electricity, heating, cooling, parts, building cost and most of all time. Then think of what you need to make to make it worth while for you. Then consider how much business you expect to get. Cut that number by 20%. If what is left over is an acceptable salary to you, go for it. Otherwise consider it a hobby.
  5. kiv-c

    kiv-c Member

    Nov 30, 2009
    Many an enjoyable and satisfying hobby has been ruined by trying to make a living at it.

  6. sliverbulletexpress

    sliverbulletexpress TS Member

    Jul 1, 2009
    If you want to be considered a "tinkerer" by the general public (a good friend gunsmith was referred to as that not long ago), deal with the public, expect to be more competent than a doctor, and the big one, deal with the ATF, it looks like a great way to make a modest living.
  7. GunDr

    GunDr Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Let me run a few numbers for you...

    You charge $50 per hour for your labor. $50 per hour times a 2000 hr work year will equal...$100,000. Not too bad but wait....Now figure in your time with customers; on the phone and in the shop(don't have the coffee pot visible), figure in your time to unpackage, write up a work order, enter the guns into the FFL book, repackage the firearm, do the online shipping, remove the gun from the FFL book, and repair any worn or broken machinery, and warrnty repairs, runs to the post office, the bank(not all that often,hahaha) the hardware store, placing orders for inventory, and don't forget those pain in the ass jobs that take longer than you can charge for....let's subtract 50%, now you're at $50,000.

    If you're still following me, lets continue....

    Business expenses....Mortgage for the building, elec, telephone, internet connection(50% of my communications), heat(8 months here in MN), insurance(building and contents, customers' guns, liability), alarm system, property taxes, FFL License, and advertising...lets subtract another 20%...now you're at $40,000.

    Oh, I guess we can't forget the thieves in Washington, they want to get paid and they also want to share "your wealth" with the less fortunate...there goes another, lets say 30%(Fed & State)...that now leaves you with apprx $28,000 to feed yourself and your family, pay your home mortgage and utilities, gas for the Yugo...etc....final talley...$14 per hr take home. Oh, you like to shoot, then subtract that also.

    All this for an established business. If you're starting new you'll need tools, equipment, inventory, a few cases of Rommin Noodles, and most of all, gaining a REPUTATION for quality work.

    Probably the most important is a very understanding wife that knows that your job is more passion than profit.

    This is just a quicky run down. There's definitely other hidden costs that can rear their ugly head, but at times those can be off-set by a few cash jobs. You can also add more to the yearly income by contributing more hours at work, but that fine line between work and family needs to be monitored carefully.

  8. halfmile

    halfmile Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Green Bay Wisconsin
    Our local guy is a retired machine shop foreman who did it part time all his life. He still does it but shoots sporting clays and trap more since retirement.

    I seriously doubt if he could have made a decent living even though he is an excellent smith and his shop is at his home.

  9. wolfram

    wolfram Well-Known Member

    Jul 17, 2007
    I really don't know how the independant guy could make a go of starting up his own shop from scratch. It seems like a very lean market with a ton of liablility.

    Something to consider when you hold a true custom piece in your hand and wonder how there could be $3K worth of work in it.

    Now the worth it part depends on a person's desire to work at what they enjoy. Thankfully it is worth it to a few talented people out there but everyone of them has paid or is paying serious dues to enjoy and practice their profession.
  10. Stl Flyn

    Stl Flyn Well-Known Member

    Apr 6, 2010
    I like Gun Dr.'s analogy. After all he would know. You also have to consider that clay sports shooters are very picky and demanding. There can't be any possible reason for a missed bird on your part. After that I think you really have to have patients for the precision in which most parts have to be done. Most of all you really have to enjoy working on guns. The money is just the bonus. I know that has to be a good feeling when you hand back a gun to someone and they smile seeing that it looks, and feels perfect, and they go to the range and add birds to there average because of what you did. Hard to put a price on that. Although if you get that response enough you can always adjust your labor costs. LOL
  11. SMITH47

    SMITH47 Member

    Aug 21, 2008
    once a year i get to watch Dan with Giacomo sporting at the Southern Grand (silver dollar). it is such a delight to watch his pleasure in solving the most difficult situations.. fingers and hands in rapid motion and a smile as he finishes and sometimes the owner is watching and is handed the results !! seems as if the more difficulty there is gives the most satisfaction ?? i know PBB (Mike) knows what i am talking about..

  12. PerazziBigBore

    PerazziBigBore TS Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Ernie.. First.. I love Dan and his family as if they were my own.. They have taken me under their wing and taught me more about rebuilding Perazzi's than I ever would have learned by myself.. It all began under the watchful eye of Giacomo.. who trained Dan for over 16 years before selling him the shop..

    Now.. Dan has to slow his hands down for me to see exactly what he is doing...but he has been kind enough to do so when I get "Perazzi" lessons..

    Nothing Dan will ever do on a Perazzi is a challenge..After over 18 years..it's just another gun to be fixed.. The hardest part is telling someone their cat2 MX8 Perazzi is shot out.. It's tired... dead... will always have a sticking top lever because the tables on both the receiver and mono-block are shot..after 600,000 rounds and little care.. The bolt face is shot.. the hinge pins are gone.. the barrel ears are down to nothing..the locking bolt channel is vastly oversized.. AND can't you make this feel.. shoot.. and lockup and open like a new gun for $300?????? The answer is no... but a newer frame would be alot cheaper.. Giacomo..I am sure has the most experience in the WORLD..rebuilding these old,tired guns..In Italy..a newer gun would be required every few years...the older Perazzi is a loaner gun for a bird hunt.. Easy street..a few flat a year.. and most older Perazzi's are there after 150,000/200,000 rounds... Still basically a new gun..
    The factory will charge you so much to repair an older one.. you'll buy a new one.. or slightly used one.. Luccio..at Perazzi USA is a great gunsmith too... but bring your checkbook.. A $300 bill from Dan is a $650 bill from Perazzi.. So.. even in Perazzi USA.. Dan gets to see the major rebuilds far more often the Perazzi USA does.. In fact..it is rumored Dan does most of their bluing.. as well as bluing for some major rebuild and custom shops.. Dan in turn swaps out case coloring to them.. You should know who that is.. but they will be nameless.. What all of this adds up to is experience..

    I'm good at complete tear downs.. Love to do locking bolts..and general rebuilds..and barrel fitting..(I really like barrel fitting..When you get a problem child perfect..a huge feeling of satisfaction..) Now.. not that many are a big problem..and a few just don't go.. period.. unless you either change to oversize pivots..or weld up and recut the mono-block..(BIG JOB)..I've welded up the mono-block and recut them.. Nothing I want to do again..but doable if you must..I'd get another barrel first.. Dan would probably pull the barrels and reinstall them on a newer.. late model mono-block that the barrels split by the porting..or something minor that rendered the barrels useless..but the mono-block as new..Not sure that doing that would be cost effective.. Guess it depends on the barrels.. Anyway.. I'll miss you all at the GRAND this year.. Maybe next year G-d willing.. Dan has promised me a permenent position on any workbench he owns.. My learning is never over..Maybe next year..Triggers..

    Shoot well and often.. You get to New Orleans.. come see me.. Mike
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