Firearm Design Schools and Colleges: How to Choose

Firearm designers, often called gunsmiths, require knowledge in gun assembly, loading mechanisms, optical sights and safety options. A firearm designer may work to supply firearms for retail or the military. A number of schools in the U.S. offer certificates and degrees in firearm design.

How to Choose a Firearm Design School

Firearm designers should have skills in wood and metalwork and must be detail-oriented and able to perform precision work. Work may be dangerous, so designers must be cautious when lifting heavy machinery and test-firing guns. Designers commonly work in sporting good stores, custom gun shops or military bases. Schools in the U.S. offer certificates and associate's degrees in gunsmithing as well as mechanical engineering degrees with specific design coursework.

Important considerations:

  • Individuals should seek schools with internship programs or hands-on workshops.
  • Some schools provide generalized design programs while others have specific design models on offer, such as handguns, shotguns or rifles, allowing choice of what most fits career goals.
  • For a more comprehensive understanding of the industry, look for a school that covers regulations and legal issues with firearm ownership and transport.

Overview of Programs

Gunsmith Certificate Program

Certificate programs fit novices wanting the basic knowledge and skills to enter the firearm design industry. Certificate programs may cover:

  • Blueprint reading
  • Machine tool operations
  • Hand tools
  • Welding
  • Precision measurements

Associate of Applied Science Degree in Gunsmithing Technology

Associate degree programs may interest individuals with basic knowledge of firearms or those wanting to acquire skills to become a professional firearm designer. These programs include courses in:

  • Machine metal work
  • Metal finishing
  • Functional design
  • Ballistics

Mechanical Engineering Degree with 3-D CAD Coursework

A mechanical engineering program that includes coursework in 3-D CAD (computer-aided drafting) may be appropriate for those who want to gain an advanced education and in-depth understanding of design work. These programs cover advanced coursework in thermodynamics, vibrations, manufacturing and assembly as well as:

  • Conceptual design
  • Computer-aided sketching
  • Heat transfer
  • Stress dynamics

10 Schools with Gunsmithing Programs

College/University Institution Type
Yavapai College 2-year, Public
Trinidad State Junior College 2-year, Public
Montgomery Community College 2-year, Public
Murray State College 2-year, Public
Sonoran Desert Institute 2-year, Private
City College of San Francisco 2-year, Public
Lenoir Community College 2-year, Public
Piedmont Technical College 2-year, Public
Yavapai College 2-year, Public
Jefferson Davis Community College 2-year, Public

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