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Gunsmith Salary - CRATEX Abrasives

This article is part of CRATEX Gunsmithing Tools series.
For full article click here

Gunsmith Salary - CRATEX Article Series

If you do a search on Google about gunsmithing salary, you’ll get a pretty straight answer $32,267 on average per year. Since this figure came out from five years old research we decided to dive deeper into these numbers and check firsthand how much money you can make as a gunsmith.

Is Gunsmithing a Good Career?

Like any other professions gunsmiths can earn a wide range of salaries depending on many circumstances, but most important is the experience and how long you are in the business. A simple fact is that gunsmithing is definitely not the highest paid job in the US but you can earn a decent living from it.  

According to PayScale research that is updated on September 27th, a gunsmith earns on average a wage of $15.51 per hour. The range of total pay goes from $24,520 to even $62,948. Six-figure gunsmith salaries are rarely reported and can be achieved by true experts and master gunsmiths.

Gunsmith (United States)
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Average Gunsmith Salary

Factors That Affect Gunsmith Salary  

How much money you can make depends on a lot of factors. They can be general for sure and influence your wage in the same way as other on a national level, but we’ll stress most important related to gunsmithing industry. Of course, we’ll assume this is your full-time job and not a hobby.

  • Factor #1 – Experience. This isn’t a #1 factor without a reason. As time goes by you will gain experience and be able to work on a delicate project like gun restoration, design, customization, etc. Working on complex projects (and doing it them right) will put you in a position for a higher hourly wage. 
  • Factor #2 – Reputation. There is no need to explain why reputation is important for every job. As you gain experience and skills your portfolio will become richer. A successfully completed task will build your reputation but be patient and don’t expect miracles to happen overnight. Building reputation needs time.
  • Factor #3 – Specialization. One of the factors that have the biggest impact on gunsmithing salaries. When you acquire basic knowledge as general gunsmith it is the right time to think about specialization. Engraver, custom designer or finisher are just some of the fields where you can focus and become an expert. Engraving whole or just part of the gun is more paid than simple gun cleaning.
  • Factor #4 - Do you run your own business? Running your own business usually means a higher salary (few gunsmiths reported $100,000 income per year), but this also brings some other risks as well. You need to worry about benefits, tools and breakages. Your paycheck is not guaranteed when you are your own boss. On the other hand, you have flexible working hours and freedom to work on projects you find tempting. Starting your own business just after graduating is maybe a not such a good idea. Consider the fact that tools can cost you more than $10K.
  • Factor #5 – School (certifications and training). Owning associate of occupational studies degree in gunsmithing or certificate and advanced training program can be a real boost to gunsmith salary. Additional degrees can put you in a position to ask for more when negotiating with a potential employer. Check Chapter 4 to see the best gunsmithing schools in the US or download our eBook with ALL gunsmithing schools with their contact information.
  • Factor #6 – State where you are doing business? Location of your shop or workshop (combination of retail gun store and gun repair shop) you are working for, along with local demand in most cases means different salaries too. Gunsmith salary in Texas is much higher compared to one in Mississippi. One of the highest paid states for gunsmiths is New York with $85,000 salary per year.

Extra Income

A lot of good gunsmiths do blogging as gun experts. They write specialized articles for online gun magazines, blogs or even forums. Some of them are great forum administrators. Since these blogs and forums have large audience many of them earn extra bucks renting web space for gun and armor shops.

Advice for Beginners

Like every other profession, gunsmithing has some specifics and uniqueness. Master gunsmiths have several pieces of advice especially for those who just graduated and are looking for their first job as gunsmiths:  

  1. Don’t worry about the money. As you are just starting out making $12 per hour plus benefits is very good.
  2. At the beginning of a carrier you need to learn as much as possible. Don’t think you know everything just because you have a gunsmith degree or certificate!
  3. At the beginning, your will mostly work on gun cleaning. Don’t let that discourage you.  
  4. Invest in the best tools you can afford. Never buy cheap ones!
  5. Invest in knowledge, accept new things (like using software for gun designing) and be willing to work long hours.
  6. Don’t accept work you are not capable to do, breakages will cost you a lot!
  7. Pay attention to every detail. That is the only way to build a reputation.
  8. Respect and adopt knowledge and experience of older gunsmiths. Learn their tips and tricks. It is not just about book knowledge.
  9. Don’t overload yourself!
  10. If you are going to sell guns as well, you need to be a good businessman too.
  11. Try to specialize in finishing, engraving and other gun customizations.
  12. Start creating your own knowledge base and library from the day one.

Don’t let figures mislead you. Read this interesting interview with the gunsmith, Ben Worthen. He describes how he got started, his education, what his working week looks like and finally how much money he can make as a gunsmith.

Jobs for Gunsmiths

If you are looking for available gunsmithing jobs in the US we recommend to do a search on Indeed.com and check if there is something interesting for you. According to this website, there is a big demand for gunsmiths in different positions and specializations across the US. Browsing opened positions you can have better insights on average gunsmith salary since you can filter results by Salary Estimate and Experience Level.