The amateur gunsmith walks into a store—usually a sporting goods or similarly themed retailer—and purchases a gun to suit his or her most basic needs, often without a lot of beforehand planning.He may choose an improved scoping mechanism or some other attachment.
The intermediate gunsmith understands guns fairly well, knows the best weapon to perform in a particular situation, and purchases or orders the right kind of parts to build a weapon to his taste.
The expert gunsmith, on the other hand, can do more than these things—he can build a gun from home, often assembling virtually from scratch.
Who Builds Guns At Home?
The ever-growing list of individuals interested in building a gun from home is more diverse than one might think initially. Gun enthusiasts from all lifestyles often participate in this rewarding activity, from doctors and real estate agents to former military personnel or law enforcement officers.
Neither is it limited to men; hundreds of women have built a gun at home using a kit, blueprint, or instructions found online. However, not everyone is allowed to build a gun at home, in a shop, or via an instructor, and the following people represent just a few exclusions:
- Convicted felons or people otherwise barred by the local, state, or federal government from owning or purchasing a weapon/gun
- Non-citizens of the United States
- Those disqualified from gun ownership for other reasons
Gun Building-Related Laws and Obligations
A few different laws can be cited as reasons to build a gun, even for those who are not professional gunsmiths yet. One of the most popular is the Gun Control Act of 1968, which states that an unlicensed individual may make a firearm.
The main restriction mandated by this law is that the person building the gun cannot do so for any reason other than for personal, home use.
It cannot be sold, built for use as a gift, or willed as part of an inheritance to someone else. Since it does not have to be registered, the law is clear on what happens to the gun when the owner passes away or does not want it: it must be destroyed.
The Second Amendment (U.S. Constitution) is also cited frequently amongst potential and current gun owners. Since the Founding Fathers paved the way for Americans to have the right to possess guns for personal safety, the court system today would have an incredible uphill battle to restrict or strip away this basic right.
These weapons may be restricted in how they are used and what happens to them in the end, but basic gun ownership is guaranteed unless the owner falls into one of the three categories mentioned in the preceding section.
Sourcing Parts for Building a Gun
A variety of sourced parts (those bought from a third locale, business, or country) necessary for building a gun are available for online purchase, and many stores and retailers in the world carry a wide selection of common and uncommon gun building materials.
Two of the most expensive purchases associated with gun building are the milling machine and 3D printer, and together they often cost around $1600, depending on brand name and similar information.
These necessary items facilitate the assembly process greatly, and without them, the gun building process is far slower and more tedious at best. The blueprints and tools rarely cost as much as one would think, and the average gunsmith can build a gun for less than or equal to the retail cost of a similar weapon in terms of design, suitability, or function.
Tools and Skills Required to Build a Gun
Gunsmiths do not need every fancy tool known to the craft in order to get started, and in fact, many people start with a workshop, a few basic tools, and a specific design or blueprint. The workshop does not have to be a whole building or even a whole room dedicated to gun building either; just a flat surface dedicated to the process. Once the process becomes a bit more complicated, the milling machine becomes a necessity, but this only has to be purchased once and not once for every project.
One of the main skills needed by a good gunsmith is practice, so the more experience gained the better the outcome becomes in most cases. Some people choose to pursue an apprenticeship with a master or courses through a community college in order to gain maximum proficiency. Courses such as those that deal with machining are common, but choosing a military training course may also be helpful for those who have that option available.
Finishing and Testing the Gun Building Project
There are many warnings surrounding this phase of the project, especially for amateur gunsmiths or for new gun styles/designs. Once the gunsmith is certain that the project is finished in its entirety, the test phase becomes the most important step in the entire process. The test phase can be especially hazardous without much care and consideration, and at this point, the gun can present as much danger to the shooter as to the intended target.
One of the most common test methods, and one of the safest as well, involves a somewhat complicated rigging of string and target so that the gunsmith does not hold the gun when firing for the first time. The Internet is a great source of blueprints and detailed instructions for rigging the test apparatus, and this can be an excellent alternative to risking the gun blowing up and costing the gunsmith a hand (or a life).