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.

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Firearm designers should have skills in wood and metalwork and must be detail-oriented and able to perform precision work. Schools in the U.S. offer diplomas, certificates and associate's degrees in gunsmithing as well as mechanical engineering degrees with specific design coursework.

Schools with Gunsmithing Programs

Gunsmithing programs are offered at these institutions:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition
Sonoran Desert Institute Scottsdale, AZ 2-year, Private Certificate, Associate's $8,000 Certificate; $15,000 Associate's**
Trinidad State Junior College Trinidad, CO 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $4,530 In-state; $7,318 Out-of-state*
Montgomery Community College Troy, NC 2-year, Public Diploma, Certificate, Associate's $2,409 In-state; $8,553 Out-of-state*
Murray State College Tishomingo, OK 2-year, Public Associate's $4,340 In-state; $10,260 Out-of-state*
Lenoir Community College Kinston, NC 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $2,423 In-state; $8,567 Out-of-state*
Piedmont Technical College Greenwood, SC 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $4,049 In-District; $4,601 In-state; $5,801 Out-of-state*
Yavapai College Prescott, AZ 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $2,064 In-state; $8,688 Out-of-state*

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (2015-2016); **School website (2016-2017)

School Selection Criteria

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a gunsmithing program:

  • Individuals should seek schools with internship programs or hands-on workshops, in order to gain valuable experience in the field.
  • In order to fit a student's career goals, look at schools that provide generalized design programs, or others that have specific design models on offer, such as handguns, shotguns or rifles.
  • For a more comprehensive understanding of the industry, look for a school that covers regulations and legal issues with firearm ownership and transport.
  • In order to form business connections, students may want to select a program with relationships to the NRA, sporting good stores, custom gun shops or military bases.

Gunsmith Certificate Program

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

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.

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.

Gunsmithing programs are offered at schools with diplomas, certificates, associate's and mechanical engineering degrees. Internships, career goals and industry standards may all be factors when choosing where to study in this field.

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