It doesn’t matter if you prefer handguns, rifles, revolvers or semiautomatics, chances are that at some point during your firearm usage tenure, you will need the expertise of a gunsmith for one reason or another. Understand that we tend to cater to newer shooters here; the services of a gunsmith are not only for those looking to create the ultimate high performance race gun. There are plenty of newer shooters who need little tweaks and adjustments made to their steel in order to make their shooting experiences more pleasurable. However, at the same time there are seasoned shooters who make a mistake and damage their firearm. In either case, you, my friend, need to employ a gunsmith.
So how do you pick a gunsmith? What do you look for?
- Reputation – Word of mouth is the best way to find a gunsmith and most smiths find that customer referrals will represent a good chunk of their business. Talk to people at your local range or at matches for recommendations. Your local gun store can also probably recommend someone, provided its does not offer their own smithing service, which many do.
- Specialties – Not every gunsmith is going to be 100% capable of working on every firearm known to man. Most specialize in a few disciplines. For instance, a gunsmith with the great majority of customers bringing him hunting rifles for repair and customization may not be qualified in working on the timing issue in a revolver. Similarly, a smith specializing in custom .38 super race guns may not be the best choice for addressing the issue you are having with an old Winchester 1892 Carbine lever gun.
- Examples – Look around your gunsmith’s shop! Does he have examples of the fine work he is doing? Maybe some finished pieces and partially finished pieces along the same lines of work that you might be looking for? There is no reason not to question your gunsmith on what he is comfortable and not comfortable doing.
Remember that when choosing your first gunsmith or moving onto a specialty one, that he or she is a busy person and, more importantly, is in business. They will not have all day to chat with you, but at the same time, it is in their best interest to sell their services to you as a new shooter in terms that you can understand, in a friendly way, and at a price point that will not make it prohibitive for you to return to them. Hopefully not in tears with a box of smoldering gun parts in your arms.