In general terms, a gunsmith is a person who repairs guns and makes sure that they operate in a safe manner. In order to make this happen though, a gunsmith must do a number of different tasks. There are many different types of gunsmiths and they all do different things although every gunsmith should be able to do certain basic jobs. Many gunsmiths after mastering the basic functions of a gunsmith choose to specialize in a specific area. Most of these basic jobs are learned either through an apprenticeship or in a gunsmithing school.
Some of these basic jobs that a gunsmith needs to master include being able to disassemble a weapon, clean it and inspect it for any damage. The gunsmith also needs to be able to lubricate the parts and reassemble the gun in working order. After inspecting the weapon, the gunsmith needs to be able to repair any defects or problems that are found. For example, a gunsmith may detect some corrosion on the gun that needs to be removed or the finish may need to be touched up. The gunsmith may also have to repair damaged or burred parts with a file. A burr is a rough spot on the gun. A gunsmith will also need to be able to replace defective parts with either hand made parts or factory made replacements. These parts may need to be hand-fitted. Making hand made parts is usually only done by very experienced gunsmiths.
Some other repairs that a gunsmith might have to make to a weapon include repairing dented gun barrels, particularly on shotguns, or even replacing a worn barrel that has fired to many rounds. A gunsmith may also have to detect and repair any problems with feeding, ejecting and firing bullets from the gun. A gunsmith will also have to repair the wooden stock parts of a gun and refinish the wood or replace the wooden stock altogether.
Making repairs is not the only job that a gunsmith has to perform. There are a number of customizations to guns that most gunsmiths also do. Some after-market customizations that a customer may ask a gunsmith to do include adding a scope or iron sights to a gun. A customer may want new butt plates and grip caps added or even a recoil pad. The customer may request that the weight of the trigger pull be modified or that the caliber of the gun is changed by changing the barrel and modifying the receiver. After any repairs, the gunsmith also has to test fire the firearms with conventional loads to make sure that the gun operates properly. The gun smith may also have to fire proof loads to check that there is enough strength in the parts under an over load condition.
Other cosmetic changes or repairs may also be required from a gunsmith. The gunsmith may be asked to clean up or deepen engravings or markings on the gun. They may also be required to checker or re-checker the grip areas of the gun. The gunsmith may also be called upon to check the accuracy of the gun and help make it as accurate as possible
Another job for a gunsmith is to design and build guns using stock barrels and receivers. One of the hardest jobs that a gunsmith can be asked to perform is to build a gun from scratch from some blank steel and a piece of wood.
Quite often a gunsmith will choose to specialize and focus on a certain aspect of the gunsmith trade. There are a number of different specializations that a gunsmith could choose to pursue.
The most highly skilled gun smith is the one that specializes in custom designs and builds guns from scratch. Gunsmiths who specialize in this area are usually employed by professional target shooter who need an extremely accurate rife.
A second type of specialization is in the area of finishing. A gunsmith has to treat the metal parts so that they are resistant to corrosion. A third type of specialization is a gunsmith who focuses on making stocks. The stocks are carved from wood and fitted to the metal parts of the gun. The stock is also made to fit the owner’s body. Specializing in stocks is frequently connected to the checkering of the stock which can be another type of specialization. Gunsmiths will cut small grooves in part of the stock where the gun is gripped.
Hand gravers, a fourth type of specialization for the gunsmith, will cut pictures or designs into the metal part of the gun. The engraving is usually only done on the receiver. Other types of metals, such as gold and silver may be used in the design as well.
While most gunsmiths can work with any type of gun, some gunsmiths choose to specialize in working with pistols and revolvers. In order to specialize in this area, the gunsmith needs to be able to perform a number of the skills already mentioned.
Overall, a gunsmith needs to do a number of different but equally important jobs in order to keep weapons safe to use and in good working condition. Each skill needs to be mastered either through an apprenticeship or by studying in a gunsmithing school.