Monday, September 3, 2012

Choosing a Gunsmith

Photo Courtesy of MA Customs Firearms and Ammunition, Jesup, GA
Some say choosing a gunsmith is like a woman picking a hairdresser. Some say it’s like choosing an auto mechanic. I say it’s like picking a doctor. If you’ve got a cold, you go see your general practitioner, but if you’re having chest pains, you don’t go to a proctologist.

There are gunsmiths out there that are good all-around smiths, and there are smiths out there that are better at rifles or shotguns than pistols, or better at 1911’s than revolvers or better with S&W’s than Glocks. Just like finding that doctor, you have to find the right gunsmith.

To find potential gunsmiths, ask around at gun stores and ranges, check the yellow pages, or do a Google search on the web. If you’re looking for a smith to work on your Remington 700 before deer season, you could also ask around at high power rifle competitions. The same stands true with pistols. Who knows, you may get lucky and one of the competitors might be a smith.

Once you’ve found a candidate, interview them. Find out how long have they been a gunsmith; what is their specialty; what shooting experience do they have; can they provide references? You should also ask them what they will charge to do the work you want done, have they ever done this particular job before, and how long it will take. Good gunsmiths usually have a healthy backlog of work, so don’t be in too big of a hurry. Also ask if they have any kind of warranty on their work? If you don’t like the answers or you’re getting bad vibes, don’t feel bad about walking away.

I took my M&P in to the smith at the local range, mostly because he was convenient, and partially because I didn’t know better. I felt pretty sure I wanted just to have an Apex kit installed to lighten up the trigger pull. He convinced me that he could manually work the trigger to reduce the pull. I was a little reluctant since I was sure the Apex would be fine, but he seemed competent and this would save me about $70. So I went ahead with his plan. I had the gun back in 3 days and the pull was a lot better.

Five months and exactly 700 rounds later, in the middle of a USPSA match, the M&P double fired on me. When it happened, I was a bit shocked. I wasn’t sure what had just happened, but the RO knew and had me stop. Luckily, there was an S&W Certified Gunsmith shooting the match that day. He checked it out in the safe area and told me what was wrong. That afternoon I visited another gun shop where the owner was a smith. After talking to him for a while, I found out he was an S&W Certified Gunsmith as well. He told me what parts I needed and that if I got the parts, he would install them for just $25. I’ve only had one problem related to this work since he installed the Apex kit, and that was a roll pin that decided it wanted to start easing out as you shoot. It never backed out more than 1/8”, but I mentioned it to the guy that did the install and he replaced the pin, on the spot, for no charge. Now every time I visit his shop, I pick his brain about my future projects. He’ll get more of my business.

Be safe.


  1. I am currently in the process of creating a website discussing education and career alternatives for those who do not want to go to college and get a four year degree.

    One section of my website is devoted to gunsmithing. Would you have an interest in writing a more detailed article on this subject or allow me to repost this to the site and credit your blog?

    Please contact me at:


    The site is located here:

    What is a gunsmith

  2. Thanks for pointing out that there are gunsmiths that are good all-around smiths, and ones that are more specialized for rifles or shotguns. You also mention asking around at high power rifle competitions for a trusted gunsmith. I think it's a good idea to choose a gunsmith that also has a passion for hunting or target shooting so that they can also recommend ammo or accessories.